Friday, October 7, 2011

Peacocks are awful.


Our internet has disappeared, so I’m forced to walk out by the pool to connect to some apparition called “linksys” to get my fix of the World Wide Web.  It’s not ideal, but it might be for the best.  I no longer sit in my bedroom until five in the morning watching videos of The Deftones from the nineties or videos of tigers mauling people on elephants.  Although those are definitely productive ways to spend time, it gets a little repetitive after a while.  Now the internet bill has disappeared with my roommate’s girlfriend and I have gained a little piece of my soul back.

I walked out to the pool today with my computer firmly tucked beneath my arm and heard the light strumming of a guitar.  “Oh shit,” I thought.  “Some boner is gonna be out here playing some shitty songs.”  Turns out, I’m a fucking psychic.  As I closed the gate behind me I heard the melody of a familiar song.  It took until I sat down on the other side of the pool from the guy for him to kick into the chorus of a Jack Johnson song.  Great.  

I looked around to see if he had any friends out there.  He didn’t.  He was simply sitting by himself in an area where people are constantly walking past strumming his shitty chords on his shitty guitar playing his shitty songs.  He immediately ripped into a castrated version of “Hey Jude” and I knew my e-mails wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

This may be my pessimistic mind working in an unproductive way, but here’s what I decided about the guy:  He decided to walk out of his apartment to sit by the pool where he knew a lot of people would be walking past to play his guitar in hopes of somebody hearing him, telling him he’s quite good, and then convincing her (because it would surely be a girl) to give him a blowjob.  These musicians are a slippery bunch.

I’ve played music for about twelve years now and it has always been in the back of my mind not to act like guys like this.  I call them Peacocks.  All they want to do is spread their musical feathers and have somebody tell them how pretty they are.  They don’t play music because they love it, but because they love having people pay attention to them.  This is the reason I’ve only played maybe five shows in my long career of practicing scales.  Sure, the first six show-less years are because I was deathly afraid of playing live, but after I got over that I still rarely make that jump.  It takes something away from the music to pimp it out in that way.  Once you try to market it, it loses its sheen and becomes a product instead of an expression.  I know, this is a silly way to look at it.  But nonetheless, here I am, sitting on my couch with the window open and still listening to this charlatan desiccate whatever song he attempts.  Right now it’s an Allen Jackson song. 

I sat around a camp fire behind some guy’s house while in college.  Maybe twenty people in various stages of sitting, standing, leaning, and passing out filled out the back yard.  Conversation was lively.  People were laughing.  And then some guy pulled out a guitar and started singing.  Loudly.  Everyone quieted down.  Nobody was smiling anymore.  Everyone was listening to the guy run through whatever song he was playing (most likely a John Mayer song since it was a college party and sometime around 2004).  It was like this guy had some magic spell that made everybody pay attention to him, and trust me, it wasn’t because they wanted to.  Everyone felt it would be rude to speak while he played.  I glanced around the fire with an incredulous look on my face, trying to get someone to make eye contact so we could share in mutual hatred for this guy.  But it didn’t happen.  People who don’t play music will often not know when they are being fed three servings of horseshit from some hack at a campfire.  Not to say people who don’t play music are less refined or more stupid than people who do, it’s just that they have a higher tolerance for this shit.  Or maybe I just have an unusually low tolerance.  Either way, fuck that guy and fuck this guy at the pool.

It is because of these people that I feel like an asshole by simply carrying a guitar around in public.  I always feel like I’m trying to get as much attention as possible when all I’m trying to do is go to a friend’s house so we can jam together.  That’s another word that’s been ruined by asshole musicians.  “Jam” makes you sound like a dick.  “Yeah bro, we’re gonna jam some sick tunes.  It’s gonna wail!”

I feel I need to make another clarification.  Not every musician that plays around a campfire, or in public in general, is an asshole.  It’s actually a small percentage that fall under the heading, “Peacock.”  You just notice the Peacocks more because that’s exactly what they want.  Here are a few ways to tell them apart:

  1. Level of skill – Peacocks will usually only be able to strum a few chords and sing like they are the retarded offspring of Jack Johnson and John Mayer (I hate to bring them up again, but I feel the need to be accurate).

  1. Flashiness – If somehow a Peacock actually possesses skill, they will rub your face in it.  This includes guitar solos played behind the head, excessive volume to make sure you can hear them, or simply an announcement to let you know they will start sharing their gift with you in a moment.

  1. Original material – Not all cover songs will point towards an asshole, but it will in most cases.  If you hear a plethora of songs you may hear on your local classic rock station, or any song that would be on the Dave Matthews Band Pandora station, you’re probably in the midst of an asshole.  If they do happen to play some original songs, they are very likely to be simple songs with lyrics that read like an eighth grader’s notebook.

  1. Type of instrument – Most of the time, you’ll hear people with guitars.  In this part of the world, it seems to be the most popular instrument.  This is the main choice for Peacocks.  Bongos can also point to an asshole, but this is more rare.  If the person in question pulls out an accordion, or a ukulele, or a banjo, or nearly anything else, they immediately move past all questions of being an asshole because that shit’s just awesome.  You could play “You Are My Sunshine” on a glockenspiel all night long and I’d think you’re kickass.

There should probably be a part of me that respects these people for simply sharing their musical talent, no matter what level they are at, with people around them.  If a guy is sitting in the grass at a park with three girls around him and playing a Sublime song, I should be proud of him for entertaining the girls.  Right?  If they are all happy, I should be happy too.  It certainly shouldn’t make me angry.  But, I also wish I didn’t like the taste of whiskey and staying up until the point in the night that you are forced to refer to it as morning (you can get away with calling one a.m. night, but you must call five a.m. morning).  There are just some things you can’t change.  I’m guaranteed to hate this theoretical guy in the park as well as his audience.  There’s nothing I can do about that.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as I can subdue the urge to slam the guy’s guitar into his throat.  And I feel like if I’ve made it this far into my life without an incident like that, I’ll be fine for the next twenty years or however long I have left.

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