June 13, 2002

Open Forum: What if You Could No Longer Blog

Gary Turner took the bait but fast on my Open Line Thursday, giving me an interesting question to blog about. Gary asks:

"What if you lost your blog and were not allowed to start another one?"

You've been hanging out with Frank Paynter, haven't you Gary? Lots of dynamite packed into this question.

First, I think about losing my blog, and assume you mean LOSING it, as in, gone, bye, finis. All the writing disappears, all the sweat and hard work down the drain. I'm left with two strong emotions: Terror and Despair. Terror: It could happen, couldn't it? My words don't live on my own server. What if, what if, what if it all disappeared tomorrow?

I remember getting the call from George a dozen years ago, him in New York, me at home in Rochester, him saying all that was left was the rock they used to bash the van window in. Everything was gone. The upright bass he'd had all his adult life, the Guild fretless he'd had since he was 16, the one he played with Jaco. His amps, too, everything gone.

Welcome to New York, Motherfucker.

What I heard on the phone was pure anguish.

"Honey everything's gone."
"What everything--what do you mean?"
"Everything. They got everything."
"The upright? They took the fucking upright?"
"That, the Guilds. Everything."
"Oh my god."

That was a day out of time, the room spun. He would later refer to that loss this way: "I lost my sound. My sound is gone." Those instruments were a second skin for him--they were his voice, and they were gone forever. The depression that followed lasted a good long time. Financially, the loss of the basses and equipment represented the loss of our only real assets. And even though other instruments would come along--the Sadowsky, the Padulla, even the 100+ year-old upright--well, even I knew, I know still. Beautiful, inspiring, lively, exotic, but not the sound of the man I met. Not worse, not better. But not the sound. One instrument meets two hands makes one sound. World without end, amen.

So how does this relate? In many ways. If words are our songs, then blogs are our instruments--carriers of voice. If I had been blogging here for 15 years, and all of my collective songs and voice suddenly vanished, I think I would feel much the same pain, dismay, drifting. Voice, place, song, home, center--to lose it then would be horrible. But the blog isn't my only instrument, and this day it's not my most "important" instrument. Blogging is my love, my hobby, but it's not my life. I will not die if I do not blog. I can write on paper if I have to. I can start an e-zine if the mood strikes me. One thing I've learned from that little PR gig that pays the bills is how to adapt. Adapt my voice, adapt my attitude, adapt adapt adapt.

The truth is, I have less than a year's worth of "me" here. It's important, yes, but it wouldn't kill me to lose it. Hurt? Yes. Badly. But, I would understand, at the same time, that it could be much, much worse. Like if it happened a dozen years down the road.

Consider then the Sessum's thoughts at the time of the great instrument hoist--if we can find the fuckers who took the stuff, and if we didn't slit their throats, how much would we be willing to give them to get it back? How much, then, is your sound worth? How much can you afford to protect that sound, or to get it back if someone takes it? All serious, relative things we should be thinking about in Blogaria. As it stands right now, if my blog disappeared and Blogger/Blogspot said we need $500 to get it back for you, I'd say, okay; here's a check. If they said, it will cost you $1,000 to get it back, would I? hmmmm. Ouch. I dunno. $10,000? No way. I can recreate. I will live to spew another day. So long, bye bye, what a shame. I can take a nice vacation with that money and drink my tears away.

Still, it may be time that we start putting a personal value on what we're doing here, just to level set a little bit.

In George's case, if we could have found the instruments--and we did check stores and pawnshops for years, STILL do--we would have easily anted up a few grand. (This is me talking, not him. Hypothetically. George can explore this on his blog if he wants to.) If we had $20,000, it wouldn't have been too much to pay to have those instruments back. $70,000? hmmmm. Feet are getting colder. $100,000? Het-hem. You can get lots of pretty sounds for $100,000.

But I digress...

The second part of Gary's question is just as loaded. Having lost my blog, what would I do if I was not allowed to start another one? Oooooh. Allowed. Interesting word. Who would be doing the disallowing? Work? Blogger? Spouse? The whole notion of "permission" is wrapped in here--a quagmire of its own. In fact, it deserves another post.... Stay tuned.