So, in high school I was in a band called DRDF, which was short for Dead Rats Don’t Fly, which was formed because our friend Tommy Kim wanted to record some songs he’d written in order to send a cassette of them out with his college applications (spoiler: It worked in at least one case). I played drums and contributed lyrics, most notably to a song called “It’s a New Reality.” The EP of songs was recorded and placed on about 10 cassettes total (one each for the band members; one each for the college applications), and since this was all 33 years ago now, they were all promptly lost to history.
Or so I thought! Turns out one band member had kept his cassette, and very recently he ripped the music on it into digital form and — importantly for this piece — sent the MP3 of our EP to me. And now, because it amuses me to do so, I’m sharing one of those songs with you, the aforementioned “It’s a New Reality.”
How does it sound? Well, pretty much as you would expect a band of 17-year-old boys in 1987, recorded onto C-90 tapes, to sound like: Terrible! But also, I have to say, awesome. Awesomely terrible. Terribly awesome. You get the idea.
I am positively delighted to be able to listen to this song again, and the other ones, which I will at some point get around to posting as well (or at least, putting online). In the meantime, enjoy 17-year-old me, whacking away at the drums.
1. Recent events have prompted some folks to ask me to assure them that I will never be problematic, so they can continue to read my work with a clear conscience. Folks, I have some real bad news for you: I can’t promise that, and here’s a thread on why. Ready? Let’s begin.
2. To begin, I can’t promise that because I have already been problematic at various points in my past — I’ve shown my ass in a number of ways. I try to listen to friends/others when I do show my ass, and do better, but it has happened before, and will probably happen again.
3. I can’t promise because there are gaps in my personal knowledge and experience, and sometimes I will do/say something problematic because I didn’t know, and also, I didn’t know I didn’t know. What one does from there is important, but I’ll still trip over lines I didn’t see.
4. I can’t promise because what’s problematic is a moving target, with different people, different audiences and different groups. What might be fine with one group (and a group close to me) might not with others. I try not to do harm but I also accept the view on that differs.
5. And I can’t promise because sometimes it may be that what I believe to be moral and correct may be different or even in direct opposition to what you believe is moral and correct, and we might not be able to bridge that gap (or want to). When that happens we can talk…
6. … and perhaps through discussion come to a better understanding. But sometimes we might not, or one or both of us might decide that discussion is futile in any event, so why bother. In which case: Hi, I’m problematic, and that’s where we are.
7. As an example, there are a fair number of people on the US political right who won’t touch my work because they see my personal political and social positions and are all “yeah, no,” and I’m fine with that because I’m comfortable with my positions and their response to them.
8. (There’s also some on the left! Although not as many, but even so I’m a pretty damn corporate straight white dude, and that’s a thing.)
9. Now, here’s a thing: I do try to learn and try to grow and to be decent to people. I’ve accepted I’ll be wrong, and I work to mitigate when I am. But I can’t promise I won’t fuck up, and when I do, I can’t promise you’ll always be happy with how I work to be better.
10. When and if that happens, and you decide you can’t hang with me or my work anymore, then take your leave of me. There’s a wide world of creators out there. Find the ones that speak to you. I understand that will happen, and that you may criticize me as you go. That’s fair.
11. In sum: I can’t promise I won’t ever be problematic, for whatever set of criteria you use to determine that. What I can promise is that I’ll always be aware I’m not perfect, and will continue to work on myself. It’s up to you to decide, as we go along, if that’s sufficient.
12. And this is the end of this particular tweet thread. To show my appreciation for your attention, please accept this picture of a cat. Thank you.