Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An Old Man Remembers Part 2

An Old Man Remembers

We walked up toward the house, Jamie constantly giving excuses to turn around, go
back, leave now. We quietly shushed her, told her she was being silly. But Janey slowed down a bit, and I matched her pace. The house was probably a few hundred yards from the barn and it was a long enough walk to think about what we were doing, which probably accounted for the slowness of our pace. A hawk cried out from overheard and far off. We turned to look. We'll just knock once, I said, apropos of nothing, but wanting to make at least one of the rules of this adventure known. Janey said, you're not losing your nerve now, are you? I just laughed and walked a little faster. Janey walked straight to the door, and looked at us, Jamie went to a window to look in, I leaned against a clapboard next to the window. Waiting for Janey to make her move. She never knocked though. The door was ajar. She called out, anybody home? The response from inside, come in dearies, come in. Janey pushed open the door and went in, I followed closely behind. Sun filled the living room, and everything was a matte gray. Couches Chairs, a television still on, blaring. We suddenly realized that the TV was the voice that authorized our entrance. Janey blanced and turned, I grabbed her by the arm. Look I said, under my breath, and took a finger and ran it along a book's cover. Where my finger moved a streak of color stood out amongst the gray. Dust, the whole room was covered in dust. Days or weeks or months of dust accumulating with no one to move it until today. I picked up the book and blew on the cover, sending a cloud of dead skin cells and other flotsam to the wind. It was a tome I'd never heard of, I put it down. Janey and Jamie split up and move. I can hear Jamie calling out, hello, hello, Is anybody home, hello hello, is anybody home? Janey moves silently to find the television. I move into the kitchen. I put my hand on the refrigerator door and then remembering the dust, think better of it. The cupboards are not bare, they are full of dry food and sundries. Nothing I like. Tile runs along the counter top, blue and white checkered pattern, which matches the floor. Nary a single picture adorning the wall, on the front of the fridge, anywhere of anyone. Which strikes me as odd, since I've seen very few homes without a single picture in them. Light flows through out, filling the room, Bunched up curtains sit over leaded windows. Pieces of glass that will eventually become too heavy and slide down, pooling like honey. I open up the fridge, there's some wilted plants and brown fruit. There are some beers however, and I go to grab one. Bent at the waist, leaning down, arm outstrechted to reach the loose bottled beers laying on their sides like bowling pins one finger touches the cool glass bottle and the hairs on the back of my neck shoot up. A shot of electricity flows through my finger, down to my shins and then back up my spine to my neck, it causes me to jerk and I hit my head on the ceiling of the fridge. I pull my hand back, curse, and shut the fridge. Jamie sings, are you okay? I storm out the door in the kitchen. Put my arms under my armpits. Sheets flap on the line outside, long johns, yellowed, wave like a flag. I start to wander around the house. Thick dark clouds are moving in from the south. I zip up my jacket, not that I'm cold, my heart's nearly settled, but my skin's still warm. The wooden slat porch runs around the entirety of this home. The wood is fairly new, and unstained. What happened? Must be that old fridge shorts out or something. Perhaps it was a sign. An old silo sits off in the back of the property. I'm starting to believe this place was abandoned, and rather recently. I make my way into the silo, which is empty except for the walls which are covered with chaff from the grains that were stored within. A stool sits in the middle of the silo, a milking stool. Strange. I sit. I'm quiet for a minute. Every time my subconscious tries to break in with some worry or fear I tell it to shut up. I can still hear the television. I don't know how I missed it on my way up. From where I sit my hands lay in a square of light, my hands are smooth, without scars or imperfections. I haven't used them much. My father's hands are old, and rough, like burlap or fine grain sand paper. Good for gripping and tearing, good for holding and shaping. I use mine to calculate. How many generations of hands were rough, how many soft? How many changed during life? Do all hands end up in the same place? Peter? Peter, where are you? In the silo I yell. Come back. Please. Her voice scratches and jumps, I immediately grow concerned but not afraid. Jamie can sometimes be, well, melodramatic. Peter please, come on. The television was off, or muted, either way gone. We marched through the kitchen and past two closed doors, the door at the end of the hall was open. Janey stood inside. In a chair, in the corner of the room, a shriveled, shrunken old man sat. Blanket pulled up to his chin. He had a terrible smell. Patches of hair, mottled skin. Jamie was retching somewhere outside. I couldn't stop staring. I'd never seen a corpse before, at least, not before a mortician had has his way with it, so to speak. Just meat, just meat. I reached my hand out, memories of refrigerators fresh in my mind and I pulled my hand back just a bit. What? Janey said, are you, are you going to touch it? Truth be told I hadn't thought about what I was doing, I was just doing it. Reacting. I looked at her, she was half excited and half ready to flee. What do you think happened? I don't know, if I remove the cover, maybe we'll see what happened. Pete, I don't, maybe we should call sheriff McGower. Well, I said, see if they have a phone. She left the room. I put one finger under the blanket, then two, then a third. I jostled it a bit. It was clear that he had died a while back, but I don't know, there aren't any rules to this stuff, you have to play it as it goes. I slowly peeled the blanket back, as I heard Janey opening other doors in the hall. Oh my God, was all I heard, and the sound of blood pumping in my own ears.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Metric, Codeine Velvet Club, Nico Vega Review

Metric, w/ Codeine Velvet Club and Nico Vega at the Hollywood Paladium
review by Brandon Gilbrech

Friday night, March 26th, Hollywood palladium, a concert goers landmark, people lined up around the block, kids wearing the latest hipster gear, girls in Metric shirts, people in jackets because of the wind. We got in quite quickly once the line started to move, the folks working security seemed to be orderly and effective, which is always nice when seeing a show.

Nico Vega, a band from our own backyard, kicked off the evening. A three piece of guitar, drums, and vocals, they sounded like the White Stripes with the love child of Janis Joplin and Bjork howling in the front. Songs of angst and rebellion dominated their set. Lead singer Aja Volkman, dancing around the stage like a woman possessed, long cape flowing as she ran, jumped, and and brandished the microphone stand like a throwing spear across the stage. During the most beautiful moment of their set, Aja disappeared and the drummer and guitar player jammed out a long call and response, blue lights bathing the stage while red highlights colored their silhouettes and cymbals, a calm moment in an otherwise stormy and rollicking set. The crowd was certainly pleased with their seemingly nonstop performance. Look for that band in and around town, they are a great time.

Codeine Velvet Club, featuring John Lawler, the guitarist and singer from the Fratelli's, was up next, hailing from Glasgow and performing a loungy 50's era influenced rock. The crowd seemed to have a more difficult time warming up to and engaging with the band, if audience participation and level of applause at the end of songs is any indication. Horns and wailing female jazz vocals over a rock backdrop just didn't work the way that it was supposed to. In their defense I had to miss their last few songs as I was attempting to deliver tickets to a friend who decided to show up late, jerk.

Codeine Velvet Club exited and we all waited with baited breath for the headliners Metric. Fantasies, their newest album, and the album they are touring to support, was amazing and I for one was terribly excited to see them perform their brand of dance-synth infused rock songs live. They walked out to little fanfare, put on their instruments and started producing noise, using bass, drums, keyboard and Theremin to warm up the crowd. The Palladium features a state of the art light show, which was used to good effect during the Metric set, although, at times the strobe lights flashed so fast and so bright that I was concerned for epileptics and my retinas. Metric opened the set proper with the song Twilight Galaxy, a slow burner that begins with nothing but a beat and prerecorded chord changes. Emily began to sing “Did they tell you/you should grow up/when you wanted/to dream?” The song ending with the entire band coming in, Emily behind a keyboard throwing her head forward and back, blonde tresses flying everywhere. They then ran quickly through tunes, pausing minimally and not speaking much to the crowd. They stuck to playing mostly songs from Fantasies and the bigger hits of their previous albums. Emily, utilizing a wireless microphone to full effect, was running all over the stage, standing with her back to the audience, leering over one shoulder to coo to the audience to the left, then snapping her head around to sing to the audience to the right, shimmying her shoulders and hips, legs exposed under her short mini-dress. Gimme Sympathy, a song rife with references to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, was begun with two lyrics from Neil Young's Hey Hey My My. This was a particularly good touch, and was the highlight of a night filled with great moments. The song before the encore was Stadium Love, a song about the populaces conspicuous consumption of entertainment, which is oddly ironic for a touring rock band. Emily and Jimmy Shaw, the guitar player, came out to finish the night with acoustic guitar and vocals. As we walked out of the venue, our ears ringing, discussing how amazing the new sound system was, and how much fun we had, we realized why seeing great bands are always worth the seemingly always escalating price of a ticket. Certain bands and performers have the ability to transport you, via their music, to a plane of higher consciousness or quasi-enlightenment. One becomes so enriched in the sound and performance that they forget about their concerns and fears, and just become one with the sound and the performers. Metric were more than capable to create such an experience and journey.

One last note independent of the review, there were these two girls we spoke to between Codeine and Metric, nice girls, attractive, and during the Metric set, some guy came up and stood crotch to ass on this girl, I noticed it but did nothing, assuming it was her boyfriend, or that she would give me a signal that something was happening that she didn't like. It turns out it definitely was not someone she knew and I was terribly remiss that I didn't do anything about it. To sum up, if you or your friends are going to a show and see something like that, do something about it, or if it's happening to you, and you don't like it, please make it known, someone nearby will notice and help you out. No one should be molested while they are trying to watch a show. Your experience shouldn't be ruined by perverts who see an opportunity because of the extra ordinary position people are put in at a show, were it is assumed that everyone will be in close quarters. It is not okay and should not be tolerated.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Old Man Remembers Part 1

This is a wholly owned work of fiction written by Brandon Gilbrech. March 24th, 2010

An Old Man Remembers

It was ten o clock on a Tuesday morning when we broke into the old farm. They had raised mostly cows here, keeping them in a large pen. Not too many heads. Enough to be sufficient for the needs of the town, before they moved the interstate over and increased the flow of traffic ten fold. The chain restaurants showed up and killed off the diner, which then forced this farm to close, since no one within a few hundred miles needed Russ's beef. They all started ordering from the local Tyson plant which produced a lot more meat but it was shitty, shitty for the animals shitty for the people shitty for the water and the air, just plain shitty. We liked coming up to Russ's farm because it was a broad expanse that crested up above the little city and we could see down into the long valley below. There were hot springs off way back into the hills which we hiked to on occasion once even in the snow. It had been terribly cold and we decided that a hot tub was really just as rewarding under the circumstances. Fortunately we didn't have to contend with the forces of an ill tempered season, it being a really temperate may morning, cloudless gigantic sky. Nothing is as impressive as the gaping open blue of a mid western sky. When God created it I suppose he started here and then moved on to other places, realizing he perfected it and now only need to attempt to recreate it elsewhere, it's a shame people came along and put building after towering building, eating it up. Maybe that's why God knocked down Babel, because he hated to obscure the view of all that blue. I do love the drama of the clouds but today it didn't suit and so I was glad that things were clear up there. The little creek that split the grazing pen was up today, due to the rains that had come the past couple of weeks. The snow pack was still apparent on the western mountains but we could feel nor find it here. We'd have to backpack a long way to stick our fingers in it, if we so desired. Janey wore tight blue jeans, and walked ahead, swinging her hips due to long legs, creating elegant strides and not necessarily because she realized the effect it had on the viewer but because growing up a tomboy she always moved more quickly than the dainty girls. We wore no gloves nor caps, it had just reached the mark on the thermostat where it was unneeded but could be allowed if personal taste dictated it so, Janey was never cold so she didn't. Jaime her sister always was and so she did. Jamie was that prissy girl that played with dolls and houses, dresses and tiaras, they despised each other growing up, not understanding the others' needs. Now that they were both on the verge of adulthood, if one could demarcate it, they realized how the other complimented the set. Every once in a while we'd come up to the old barn, smoke, and discuss our opinion on the nature of being and our plans once this last year of school was over and we need to formalize our life. This was a terrifying prospect to me. I'd had many dreams growing up that my mother or father alone or together had squashed as being terribly impractical. “Oh yes Tommy, I think that being an actor is an excellent pursuit, but Tommy, you do so well in school. You must have a back up plan. Well I understand that you don't care about being well off, but what if you want a wife or children?” I didn't though, most definitely not now and I didn't think ever, I realize that you can never be sure of those things, and that often times you don't make that decision. It comes as a surprise, or the person you fall in love with makes you do things you swore you never would. I suppose that's why love is so dangerous and disastrous to men who want to champion and control their destiny, it makes a man an idiot willing to throw away his ideals. Not that I'm shitting on it. It helps keep society running I understand that now. Maybe more than I ever did. It just seemed that at the time that nothing was impossible. We were going through such radical times with the most amazing changes in technology and understanding, the world was getting ever so much smaller. Although, in hindsight, I imagine that everyone alive since the Renaissance, and perhaps before has the same premonition about the time within which they lived.

Janey started climbing up the barn's ladder, to the hay loft, Jamie followed and I took up the rear. Appreciating the commonality and high quality of asses shared by Janey and Jamie, and presumably their mother when she was their age, so many years ago. Janey, who outpaced her sister up the ladder by a great deal caught me looking and admonished me for my lewdness. She said, you go up the ladder and down the ladder first from now on if you're going to be staring. What if she'd worn a skirt? I imagined I'd enjoy the view more if that were the case. Janey kissed me as I popped my head over the landing, hard. Jamie laughed. Jamie always had the prettier laugh, bell like and angelic. Janey laughed deeply, and ugly, which was the only thing ugly about her. I don't think angels would laugh, cherubs would, but not the angels. If I heard God's angels sing would it be terrifying or glorious? I asked the girls. Janey said that it would be the most terrifying thing that a person could ever hear, more frightening than guns from a ship or air raid sirens. If the angels come then it's for the rapture, and she didn't believe that anyone would be taken up to heaven. Jamie strongly insisted that it would be wonderful to see God's presence on Earth. Janey said that everyone in the world no longer was able to follow God's laws, since men had corrupted and used them for their own ends, and we couldn't possibly be expected to be able to keep the covenant since the tablets were gone and we could only trust the word s of the translators and kings. All people inherently untrustworthy. Jamie claimed that no one in the world could undo what God had done, that God's words were too powerful to be mistranslated or abused, and anyone who would attempt to do such a thing would incur God's wrath. Janey laughed and said, Is that why the Jews were put into those camps? Jamie barely whispered, that's horrible. We sat silent for a long time, not knowing how to pull the conversation back into neutral territory after such a fucking awful joke. Janey wasn't all that funny most times, she had an ugly laugh and an ugly sense of humor, gallows humor. It never ceased to upset Jamie. I got up and walked to the far side of the hay loft, a window looked out over the windmill and ranch house. We assumed that it had been long since abandoned, but we weren't sure, so we never went inside. Most everyone around here had a shotgun or two. We were afraid to risk accidental shooting by some myopic diary farmer. How long have we been coming here? I asked, not turning still gazing out the window. Probably, what, eight months, I guess. Jamie? Yeah, I know it was at least before Halloween because we came up here in our costumes, remember? I couldn't have forgotten, Jamie was a ballerina, beautiful in pale pink and tights, her lithe figure the perfect representation of those famous Russian dancers. Janey was Guinevere, robe tightly sashed, carrying Excalibur, no one knew who she was supposed to be. I knew who she was though, I'd like to think so. She was so upset that no one could guess her costume. I tried to explain that 13th century English queens weren't one of the more popular characters to portray. She just felt most people were dullards. I don't know if I disagree with her. Just for a moment I thought I saw a curtain wave. I slid back against the wall of the loft, waiting for my heart to pound 10 percent less, give or take, and slowly peered around the window. Janey thought I was joking around, which was fairly common for me. I for some reason think it's fairly funny to trick people into thinking that something is wrong. It isn't really, it's just cruel to those who go for it, but I do it anyway. Sometimes I don't even realize. Jamie was not accustomed to my behavior and asked what was wrong. I said I saw the curtain move, Janey told me to shut up. I said I wasn't kidding around this time, that I really did. Janey slowly crawled over to the window and looked out from the other side. Which window? she hissed. I said far left, with the white lace, above the sink. Jamie said, let's just leave, we can go right now. I looked over at Janey and I saw that she was hatching something, it's her eyes, her lids collapse and I'm left with the pinpricks of her pupils and a slit of white. Her brow comes together. Jamie quietly pads over and sees her sisters face. Oh no, she whines, what are you doing? Janey smiles, we should knock, why shouldn't we? We've been using this loft for months now, we've never paid a visit to the owner. We should, we really should. Jamie was clearly not interested in any sort of thrill seeking of that nature, she thought that the pot was enough of an adventure as it was. Janey, of course, was very interested. I went to work on Jamie, since I was also interested in learning who was living down at the house. No Jamie, wait, we won't say, oh hey Mr. farmer, we've been hanging out in your hay loft smoking grass, we'll say we're collecting money for the local high school booster club, something like that. Jamie thought it over for a few seconds and turned to Janey, do you promise to stick to that story? Janey smirked and said she would. We climbed down from the loft. Me first this time.

Well hello,

My plan for this site is to take my somewhat copious free time and spend it more wisely, I'm going to attempt to write at least one short story a week, for as long as I can keep it up. I beg of you to critique my work so that I may become a better writer. I also plan on doing short fiction, movie reviews, journaling, things of that nature either in lieu of, or in addition to, the short fiction. The critique rules apply for anything, even if you just want to tell me I'm dumb, although that wouldn't be very useful. I think that I might even start posting things as I write them, so works in progress can be shaped and manicured by the directions given by readers, if I feel that it's a particularly novel idea.