Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Chroma Cues" (or "Baltimore Commercial Break")

Ed. Note: Today, I came across an old poem I wrote around the time my father passed. Part eulogy, part questioning my father's relationship with my mother, "Chroma Cues" is based around a time where I actually asked my parents why they weren't together, before I knew what "bastard" meant (or, at least, before I knew I was, apparently, one). It's weird that, all these years later, the idea of a Baltimore Commercial Break project has come back up--this time, as an actual musical compilation that isn't all gloom and doom, but more an homage to those days growing up. So, again, apologies if this doesn't really flow. It's mostly intentional, dealing with the issues presented in this selection.

"Chroma Cues" or "Baltimore Commercial Break"

Came into this thing, bout six years old...
Who would've thought the story being told,
Now, through the eyes of Speed
Would've survived all the craziness in my soul?
Saw my folks split, fight, then go amend
Only to see dad with another woman
But I knew that he had another family
Talked about that previously
But still! That hurt the very pit of my soul
I'm supposed to be you when I grow old
How can I be a "man" when you nail anything that isn't tied down?
And even if it is, you still drive through it?

But no, I changed my path to a new one!

Got my chroma cues from another son
Of the heavenly father, my stepdad was...
More of a dad than my biological one
More of a father than my biological one.
Yeah he left me property, gave me money
But all I really wanted was "l-o-v-e."
I'm sure he did, but I never understood
Why he and mom could--even after Geraldine went R.I.P--never marry?
I guess, by then, mom and pop were too happy.
Being BFFs, I guess. Easier without the stress of...
Dealing with potentially not being happy. 
Reeling me in with each passed night...
Mother and father said their good nights,
Cooing drunken sweet nothings as if she and he were the only souls alive. 

One day, before I knew better, I asked my father as the midday news played...
"Father, why don't you just marry mother?" "You love her, don't you?"
Don Scott's baritone echoed through the room announcing the latest tragedy
Marty Bass's thick, Baltimore accent tried to assuage my confusion, speaking about the weather.
Then, the familiar "Chroma Cues" played, as Kelly Lynn signed off.
Simple days with complex hours, my norm.

...but, still no answer.

Waited 'til my mother ranted about missing her numbers. She blurted out, as she took another sip...
"Shit! If I only had played 769..."
Now, drawing on a stale Salem cigarette, she spoke to me.
As the Baltimore Commercial Break grew to a close, she spoke to me.
As we finally found out if Victor would die or live, she spoke to me
"For John and me, love never could be enough," she told me.

All these years later, I finally get it.
Things sometimes, I guess, just can't work the way you need.
Proving, ultimately, the need you once had was a misguided want.

So, I got my chroma cues from another son
Of the heavenly father. My stepdad was...
More of a dad than my biological one.
But, even then, I can't help but give him love. 
And now? The emptiness in my heart?
It isn't for a father who wasn't there...
It's for a father who I just lost, who isn't here.

The death of innocence happened long ago...
During that Baltimore Commercial Break
The chroma cues I now receive? The spectrum, not just a few.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Speed on the Beat Interviews: Tray Chaney

In December, I said that this year would be the year where does things that I've always wanted to do. Well, let's kick the year off right. Today, I had the chance to reach out to actor, artist, author, and activist (wow that's a lot of "A's") Tray Chaney. Many of you may remember his five-year run on The Wire as Malik "Poot" Carr. In the years since we all found ourselves way down in the hole, Tray's been busy. Continue on for some insight into his music, his career, positive messages in music, fatherhood, and--because I couldn't resist--a couple questions about The Wire

Kurt Cobain Suicide Note Tees?!

Or "What's Next, An Amy Winehouse Autopsy Photo Hoodie?"

My goodness...even in death, some people want to take you for everything you're worth--and then some. In case you haven't heard, online retailers via Etsy and eBay, are selling tees and tanktops with Cobain's 1994 suicide note. No, I will not post a picture of it. For one, why would anyone really want to wear someone's final words on them? For two, I'm sure Kurt's rolling in his grave over the mass consumerist icon/symbol of "manufactured" rebellion that he and Nirvana have become/been made into over the years (and yes, I'm guilty of it too. I mean, I had a Nirvana tee or two). Three,

What do I know, though? I used to be one of the guys who liked all of Nirvana's pretty songs and liked to sing along and...well, you get where I'm going. But at least I finally got it and what Nirvana and Kurt Cobain were trying to get at through the music, unlike the "note tee" manufacturers. I get that, hey, money is important and Cobain makes money. But, this really is a low that I didn't think we'd get to. But, then again, when we had a Tupac hologram, I guess all bets were off. Anyway, just enjoy the music. Support the artists. Just...don't go off and buy tees with an artist's suicide note. Heck, I wouldn't even want to own the suicide note, regardless of the money it could be worth to someone. Some things should just, oh, I don't know, remain "sacred."

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