Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Best Pickles

I am resisting the urge to make any number of very obvious jokes...
Today’s unsolicited plug is for Paul and Morgan’s new podcast, The Best Pickles, all about their lives and loves “at the bottom of the barrel” of the music industry. The superlative comes into play, “because the best pickles are the ones at the bottom of the barrel.”

The podcast is a lot of fun. I especially love the “best pickles” concept. This is in part because I really enjoy deli sandwiches that come with a dill spear, and I’m a bit hungry right now. Also, I tend to like phallic-shaped foods better than all other kinds. But more to the point, there’s something liberating about the thought of those lonely, well-marinated pickles at the bottom of the barrel. The image is sure to resonate with anyone who’s ever poured untold amounts of time, effort, and/or money into an interest or passion that, at least in any tangible sense, may never pay off.

While I've never been in the music barrel, I, too, have been that fuckin' pickle (a sentence that could have a tragically different meaning if you switched only two of those words...). I've spent time at the bottom of the Mason jars of dance, writing, and cat ownership, among myriad other ill-advised pursuits.

Music in particular is a harsh mistress. She expects you to give up several evenings a week, including Friday and Saturday nights, to be with her. She always needs you to buy her a lot of expensive crap that you can neither eat nor wear. And, worst of all, she won’t even have sex with you.
This is what some bands make me want to do...
Having lived in New York, Gainesville (FL), and Seattle—all towns known for their music scenes—I’ve been to a LOT of live “rock & roll” shows. Many suck. But what never ceases to amaze me is how many truly incredible and talented Promising Local Bands and musicians are out there. For instance, I’ve really enjoyed all the bands that Paul and Morgan have been in (OMG, plugz!! Check out Kids on Fire and Steel Tigers of Death, a.k.a., the STDs!!). In Seattle alone, there are quite a few other local bands that I absolutely love, such as Bat Country, which has great songs and features an accordion (sorry, guys, but everything is better with an accordion—flashbacks in movies, Paris subways, Reuben sandwiches, you name it). Why all of. these folks aren’t super famous—whether or not that's their goal—is as much of a mystery to me as why Justin Bieber is. Maybe it’s the haircut?

Of course, I have absolutely zero musical talent (and don’t aspire to change this state of affairs), so maybe I’m just easily impressed. But I don’t think so. I know what I like, and what I don’t. Listening to some music makes me wish I were a cat, just so that I could flatten my ears against my head and hiss, and then use the musician’s guitar/piano/violin case as a litterbox.

There must be some mystical and mysterious algorithm that explains the success of any given musician or band (despite the fact that, in many cases, they suck donkey balls). It has to do with luck + talent + timing, multiplied by an imaginary number and raised to the power of God Loves Justin Bieber Just a Little Bit More Than He Loves You.

In some ways, those of us who have been the Bottom Pickles are the ones who understand [insert art form] the most intimately. When you do something for years and years without any resulting fame, success, or monetary reward, you come to understand/love/hate that thing with a depth of passion that is normally reserved for our closest relatives.

There’s a not-so-fine line between dedication and masochism. In fact, you might even say there’s an entire zip code. It’s easy to spend your whole life in this place. The question is, is that such a bad thing? I used to think so, but now I really don’t. Take me, for instance. Despite my best efforts—and against the recommendation of any number of psychiatrists, veterinarians, and Russian ballet teachers—it’s unlikely that I’m going to stop dancing, or writing, or owning cats and unwittingly over-feeding them. C’est la vie.

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