November - 2004




Letís face it, I am.


Try as I might to be responsible, the fact of the matter is that itís just something that Iím not very good at. Iím told I should be. I have said that before, and as I am sure that I will be told many times more.


At some things, if not a great many, it would seem that I am something of a slow learner.


We all have our faults.


It never ceases to amaze me how being a loser inevitably comes into style. Iíve seen a good number of people come and go who have traded in their loserness (I know thatís not a word, but give me a little room to move hereÖ) to become what might pass as cool. Somehow, the misfits inevitably become the fitted, like a well tailored suit or a specially made piece of jewellery. There are those that would call that a just reward. After being an outcast, itís only inevitable and fair that the underdog would have their moment in the sun. Every dog has itís day as they say.


A damn shame if I may be so bold.


The idea of ďfitting inĒ has always been somewhat nauseating to me.


Colour me jaded thanks to the glory of my grade school education (of which I have been reflecting on a good deal of late for some reason, but weíll get to that soon enough), but I realized a long time ago that as soon as people start telling you that youíre more than what you thought you might be, you start to believe it, and with that, have no illusions, comes arrogance.


If youíre told enough times that youíre better than the rest, youíll start to believe it. A very wise, but incredibly evil man once said that if you repeat a lie enough times, it will become the truth. This is true. I have seen it many, many times, as we all have.


Iím getting tired of the rhetoric.


Iím getting tired of people not only getting up on their soapbox, but thinking that they have a right to be up there. Iím getting tired of people who think that for whatever reason, they have the right and the ability to bestow the obvious on us. Iím getting tired of the after school special version of reality that the successes of the world (minor or major though they might be) feel they have the right to preach to us.


Mostly, Iím getting tired of the losers telling us how theyíre winners now, and dammit, they know better.


Hereís a simple truth.


If people canít think for themselves, it doesnít matter how much you attempt to shove down their throat, theyíll end up vomiting it up. Bile and all.


If people can think for themselves, they donít need to be told everything that is wrong with the world, because they will seek that out for themselves. If people can think for themselves, they can see the obvious.


The problem with the world today is not that people donít know whatís wrong.


The problem is that too many simply donít give a damn.


The problem is that people have for far too long said that they care, when they frankly, do not. Itís a well-practiced script that we all know.


A lie may become the truth when oft enough repeated, but the truth is lost even easier.


Itís easier to sit back and let the status quo be just that. The innovators become the norm, and they are all too easily lost in the lines that we have all heard a thousand times over. You simply canít reach people by saying what they have come to expect.


Your government is corrupt?


No shit.


Your rights are being trampled on?


No shit.


North American culture is one based on lethargy and greed?


No shit.


Here are two more simple truths, and then weíll move on.


First of all, desensitization is a wonderful thing. The greatest weapon of the 20th century was not, despite what some might say, the atom bomb and all it lead to. The greatest weapon of the 20th century is apathy. Apathy makes you turn a blind eye, apathy makes you disinterested in bettering things, and most crushing of all, apathy makes sure that you turn your back on the people that have tried to help you in the past. We learned to manufacture and bottle that, and it is the single most powerful thing that holds us back.


Second of all, to all those that call for revolution in any shape or form from the comfort of their secure lives, I would like you to take brief look at the successful revolutionaries of history, and know thisÖ


Revolution does not come without an enormous degree of self-sacrifice. Revolutionaries are born out of being left behind. Revolution does not come simply because you say so. Revolution comes because people can look at what one person has done and see that if the cause, whatever it may be, mattered enough that one person would give up so much, it must matter.


That is the only way to fight apathy.


So to all of you that want to see change, but are unwilling to sacrifice, and more importantly, accept the flaws that you are, kindly do me three small favours.


1)     Realize that if you think youíre fantastic or cool or special because youíre calling for change that is so obviously needed, youíre simply stating the obvious. Pointing out the obvious does not make you insightful, it makes you redundant. Change is not instigated by stating the obvious; itís made by giving a damn, and in the name of that, being exceptional. Not by saying that you are, but by acting in such a way that you show that your ego or pride or whatever is secondary to your cause.

2)     Accept the fact that in no way by condescending or making yourself out to be a guru will you advance what you believe. You canít reach people by only showing them what is wrong or abnormal about them. You can only reach people by making them realize that they are in fact, not alone, and that all of their flaws are shared by many. The apathy of the human condition cannot be changed by telling someone all of the things that are wrong with them. If you show them what is right, they will eventually figure out what is wrong on their own, because all of the things that are wrong will conflict violently with that.

3)     If you canít get the first two, hereís my third favour to ask. Please, Fuck off, youíre doing more damage than good.


Enough with that, letís be amusing for a bit, shall we?


I have never been to a clambakeÖ


I havenít.


At least not to my memory.


I canít be entirely sure, memory being what it is. I do know that the only opportunity that I would have had to be at a clambake was during my brief period living in the United States of America.


I was only about 8 at the time, so I canít be blamed.


For the record, save a few ignorant bigots and racists, the vast majority of the people that I met while living there at that young age were very kind folk.


Many gave me lemonade on the hotter days.


On the hot days, Washington D.C. can be a real bitch.


A real nice and well thought out bunch in my experience (limited though it is as an 8-or-so-year old).


God only knows what happened.


I like to think that all of the kind people that I met were among the folk that are disgusted at the current political climate south of the border, but one can only hope.


Most of those that I met were well under the poverty line, and most of them were black. That leads me to believe that they wouldnít have voted for the current incumbent, so hope lives on.


I could attempt to regale you with stories of giant cockroaches and Egyptian mummies and the political planning of the racist educational elite that I barely met (and if I at a child of my age could recognize it, that should tell you how bad it wasÖ) and ghosts of confederate armies, but that would be digression.


And lord knows Iíve never been a victim of that.


So back to the possibility, though quite remote, that I have ever been to a clambake.


There were several days when my family traveled down the east coast away from the dirt of the city to some very nice beaches. I remember very clearly doing some surfing on a styrofoam surf board, and I remember very clearly the discover of a giant horseshoe crab and a Man Oí War jellyfish (he was about 18 feet long as I remember but it was from quite a tall bridge so it could have been much larger), but I canít say for certain that while taking in all the local activities that my family never found itís way to a clambake.


I remember playing in a field with several other kids my age and squishing the behinds of fireflies in order to paint ourselves with their innards (brutal though that now sounds in hindsight) so that we could glow in the dark.


I remember catching a couple of fireflies and placing them in a jar so that I could bring them home and show the kids in my neighbourhood the wonders of incandescence.


They died within a day or two.


Nowhere in this, do I remember a clambake. Though trying to remember what was almost twenty years ago is a challenge, Iím quite sure that my family never found a clambake.


We may have.


But I donít think we did, and I certainly donít remember it if we did, so for all intents and purposesÖ


I have never been to a clambake.


To be honest, I donít actually know in detail what a clambake is, but I hear nothing but good things about them. I suppose that I could use the wonders of the internet to look up all the details, but I find these days that the legends of our time have disappeared thanks to fact.


Principally, mercury.


I donít know what the east coast is like these days, but I do know that whenever I have entertained the idea of finding a clambake on my various visits to the west coast, I have been told that such things simply donít happen because any shellfish have by and large become terribly toxic, and any eating of such shellfish could easily lead to a host of illnesses. Up to and including cancer.


I used to smoke quite heavily, so I suppose that I shouldnít worry, but I do. Enough to dissuade myself from thinking of trying to have a clambake on the west coast.


Silly really, when you think about it.


Also completely not the point.


The point is, to my knowledge, I have never been to a clambake.


And in my mind, that is nothing short of a damn shame.


If you listen hard enough, you can hear stories of clambakes from days past. Most, if not all of them seem to involve camaraderie between the folks involved that cannot be matched save for the clambake arena. There seems to be a mythos involved with the idea of a clambake that leads inevitably to discussion on how to make the human race a better and more equal competition. That and beach balls.


That and surf competitions where the local kids inevitably beat out the big hotel owner or local developer hell bent on ripping up some beautiful piece of beach.


I remember hearing (albeit a decade or so late) about Annette Funicello not showing her belly button because Walt Disney said that it might encourage unclean thought.


That was the innocence of a clambake.


You donít generally get that around the wood of a bar or any other common meeting place these days.


Mostly itís about how there is a lack of hockey. Either that or the latest playboy centerfold, and how she could have showed a little bit more.


Which, for the record, I havenít even noticed. Either or.


Given the choice, I would much rather sit on a beach surrounded by the smell of salt water and the sound of waves and an acoustic guitar while discussing the betterment of humanity as opposed to watching a small black dot make its way on ice.


But as I said, I have never been to a clambake.


And thanks to the wonders of mercury, I most likely never will.


Maybe one day, Iíll import some clams, from beaches not yet toxified, just so I can.


If I do, youíre all invited.


But I think you know as well as I do, that wonít be happening anytime soon.


On a completely separate noteÖ


At one point, I decided that if for nothing more than an exercise in writing, I would attempt to write, in as great detail as my memory would allow me, my life story.


And then my computer crashed.


All 100 and some odd pages leading up to the first 12 years of my life, simply deleted in a vicious act of reformatting.


That might almost say something.


If You Ever Doubt That The Universe Has A PlanÖ


You should spend a week in my life.




In a universe of infinite possibilities, it is without fail that the most interesting and unexpected will rear their heads.


You might think that you will see it coming, but donít fool yourself.


You wonít.


Not at all.


Hereís a working definition of peace.


Sometimes, the age old adage of ďwhat is understood need not be discussedĒ rings true. When it does, thatís quite a cool thing.


In the last week I have seen two things come about that I never would have dreamed possible.


One week.


Seven days.


One Hundred and sixty eight hours.


Ten thousand and eighty minutes.


Six hundred and four thousand seconds (with about thirteen left to spare).


I wouldnít have seen either of these things as being possible.


But I quite like that they are.


Back to the heavy shit.




Letís face it, I am not.


Iíve done my damage in my day. I have left more than a few smoking catastrophes in my wake. I have worn my fair share, and perhaps a little more than that, of darkness. Iíve been the bad man, and I have been the sad man. I am, to be honest, more than a little sick of it.


I would like to think that on the odd occasion I have done a little bit of good as well though.


For what itís worth.


Checks and balances.


At some point, the equation equals zero, and when it does, itís time to reassess. Iíve been told that my particular equation may have done just that, and while it happens at the tail end of The Year Of The Dead Rock Star (which I seem to have missed out on despite my best intentions), Iím told it has happened nonetheless.


So this is it then.


This is where it stops and maybe begins. This is where all the finality that we have both dreamed of starts to hint at itís presence. This is where the maybeís become nothing more than dreams. And thatís ok really, because Iíve always been very, very good at sleeping in.


Holding yourself to your own convictions can be, and probably is, one of the hardest things that a person can do. Standing up, even when you can feel your knees buckle beneath you, that is one of the hardest things that I have ever found. Speaking out, even when you know that you are simply spouting into a void, that comes with a weight that can crush even the strongest of bones to dust.


Because you know that you will never be heard, but it still had to be said.


At one point, a good number of people may have listened to what I had to say, but I fear that I may have bored them. Given time, I think that anyone can become boring, and luckily, time is all that I have.


Seems that Iím one of the few these days.


Coming into my 28th year, I find myself measuring what I have become. Inevitably, I tend to see my failures with a greater clarity than my successes, but that is to be expected. I can only hope that in my time so far, I might have left the world a little better than I found it. So far at least.


Anger is a wasted effort. In this little life of mine I have learned that.


Why bother with it?


In a way, this will be my last reprisal of the year. Next month is the last installment of Wally, so this is, in a way, the last chance of the year to speak my mind. I wonít go adding my silliness into Wallyís story, he doesnít deserve that.


So here we are.


Things have gone and shaken themselves up again. Thatís their nature and I suppose thatís a good thing. I think it is. Common Ground, having lasted slightly more than a month, has split up. The simplest explanation is that the idea of common ground was an easier idea than a practice, and that for our own reasons, we have decided to go our separate ways.


Good thing that domain name was paid for the entire yearÖ


Iím back to being just Nate Pike, but Iíve been just Nate Pike for as long as I can remember, so thereís no big change there. What will be changing is the way that I approach playing music. Enough with the ego and the expectation of some imaginary return.


Each month Iíll be posting a new song with the reprisal. Hopefully, you just might even like some of them. Or, alternately, you might not. If you do, pass them on, and if you donít, please feel free to tell me what a horrible person I am.


Iím realizing what this is, for perhaps the first time. Iím handing myself the microphone and saying, ďSo what is it you would like to say?Ē


And to an audience of many, or to an audience of none, I am realizing that my answer is the sameÖ


I tried.


And I think, for fun, I still will.


And I think, for fun, maybe you should too.


For fun.

As promised, here's the song of the month...(right click and save target as)

What We Have Become