Girl Bands: What You’ll Never Know

We just didn’t care about what you thought we were doing or what you thought of us or our agenda. We weren’t driven by desire to please, and if you thought that we were thinking that way, I can tell you right now that we weren’t. The Jiffy Lube guy who traded us an oil change for a joint, he knew as much about us as anyone did. He didn’t try to hit on us. He knew the ball was in our court only. He bowed to the power of three.

We stood together no matter what the cracks internally. The best way to get us to play well was to insult us, one or all. In fact, sometimes we’d use that knowledge, the unity of the common enemy, to our own advantage. If we were feeling a little lackadaisical or unconnected before a show, one of us would bring up an old insult while we were getting ready to take the stage and then you could be sure we were going ram the music down your throats. You have no idea how we loved playing our instruments. How every night was different, the guitar unearthing melodies and new rhythms endlessly born, the left foot tries a different pattern, the tempo adjusts, the ear uncovers something new. So much of the van conversation could be so esoteric, about furthering the playing, about what we strived to find in the moment-to-moment connection on stage. We searched for words to describe language that has no words, only feeling and sound. You’ll never know the emotional nuance of writing out a set list. There’s so much you’ll never know. read more

Let There Be Rock: What Dragonflies Taught Me About Practicing Drums

Today in the little park, the pug was sniffing around and I sat myself down in the morning sun. All was quiet except for construction noise a little ways away. It’s San Francisco, where some rich person is always building something.

I guess I hit the right hour for dragonflies, because there were a number of them zipping around the park. So beautiful and careeningly free. I recalled Thoreau and his thoughts about the innocence of nature.[1] I remembered that dragonflies have sex mid-flight and flashed on the word “ecstatic.” At that moment, I saw a dragonfly just pop out of the air. One minute, barreling through the sky, one minute, gone. It was funny, it didn’t seem out of the ordinary that it, flying, would vanish in front of my eyes. They’re so chaotic and authoritative that surprise wasn’t my first response. read more

The Power of Loud

My first drum lesson. I’m in my 20’s, a bartender in New York. A customer had passed me a business card.

“Well if you want to play drums, here is the number of the best drum teacher in New York City.”

I remember that card coming toward me. I remember the blue afternoon light deep in the restaurant windows. I remember grabbing my future out of his hands.

My teacher sits me down at the drum set.

“Okay, now hit the drum.”

I look at the snare drum. It is vividly white. I gingerly pick up the drumsticks lying on the head, and tap the drum politely. read more

Bliss and Drumming: An Introduction

The house exists only in this dream. Smell of salt and sea, shade of mid-day. Nothing of street or sky, just a path to green lawn. Hard warm concrete gives way to soft clover, cradling my feet.

I toddle across the lawn. My legs are unsteadiness and resolve. A Bird of Paradise flies at the far edge and I’m pulled there. The flower bends level to my crown: brilliant orange, yellow, a stripe of red along the rippled edges. I hold it slick and weighty in my two hands. I tilt the tip of the petals toward my mouth. read more