560. Drive

(Remember next week we’re starting an “official” re-read of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles on Wattpad! Posts #1-30 are live already over there and on Sept 15, we’ll officially begin posting new chapters daily from #31 until we’re caught up! -ctan)

Remo waited until we were on the way to the airport to finally tell me what he thought of the whole BNC/Ziggy situation. He was driving and the plan was I was going to take the Jeep from there.

“So, let me get this straight,” he said. “What you had looming over you was a couple of potentially expensive lawsuits, potential blockage of your ability to perform, pretty much guaranteed death of the band, and debt.”

“Well, not guaranteed…

“Daron. Enough with denial.”

“Okay, yeah,” I gave in, not knowing that another shoe was about to drop.

“And what Ziggy did was wipe all of that out.”

“Well when you put it that way–” Why was I trying to argue?

“Listen here.” Remo cut me off. “I know you’re ripshit over it all, but is it possible, just maybe, that Ziggy really did think he was doing what you wanted? It kind of sounds to me like you gave him carte blanche. And if it sounded like that to me, how do you think it sounded to him?”

I had that carsick feeling I hated so much. It almost always meant I had fucked something up. I clung to the things I had been repeating to myself though. “He knew I was going to be pissed off, though. He knew. And he did it anyway.”

“Motherfuck!” Remo swerved to avoid a car that changed lanes suddenly. When he had put a couple of car lengths of distance between us and them, though, he hadn’t forgotten what he was going to say. “And maybe he thought your partnership was strong enough that pissing you off shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. Are you sure he’s the one who threw your partnership under the bus?”

I opened my mouth to be cranky that Remo was taking Ziggy’s side, but managed to stop and think for half a second–wait, there was no way Remo was in anyone’s corner but mine. In which case… one of the people I trusted and respected most in the world was trying to come up with a gentle way to get me to see that maybe I was the one at fault. I felt ill. “He should have talked to me,” I mumbled weakly.

“Yes, he should have. And maybe he’d apologize if you gave him the chance.”

And maybe I’d pour gasoline all over my self-esteem and set it on fire and watch it burn, too. Which for some reason is what it would feel like to admit to Ziggy I had been wrong about this. Which was why I thought I needed therapy.

“Okay,” I said. “Maybe it is my insecurity. Maybe that just proves it can’t work.”

He sighed heavily, like I was missing the point. Or maybe like I was just depressing the hell out of him.

“I’m going to see somebody next week,” I said. “I mean for counseling.”

His next sigh sounded more relieved. “It’s going to be good for you,” he said firmly. “You’re going to dredge up a lot of stuff, though.”

“So I hear.”

“Sometimes that can paralyze you creatively until it all settles down again,” he warned. “So don’t worry if it does.”

“Okay. Thanks, Reem.”

After I dropped him off, I headed back onto the highways of LA, and promptly got into traffic. I would much rather be doing anything in the world, even shopping for clothes, than sitting in traffic. I realized I was going to pass pretty close to Chernwick’s office. I decided to stop by there since I didn’t remember his phone number but I did remember how to get there. I figured if nothing else I’d pick up his card from his secretary and it would be an excuse to get off the highway. Maybe the traffic would lighten up by the time I got back on.

What ensued was a several hour excursion because Chernwick was there, convinced me to go with him to a showcase gig for a band who were pretty terrible but Chernwick wasn’t there for the band but to schmooze with all the music industry execs, and the next thing you know we’re at an afterparty, and to make a long story short I’ll say I woke up in Remo’s SUV in the parking lot of Chernwick’s office at nine in the morning. I’d smoked a little weed backstage and then pretty much didn’t say anything for the rest of the night. Drank a bit at the party but I think it was mostly jet lag that had done me in. After all, when I got back to the car at four in the morning it had felt like seven in the morning to me, right? Whatever. I got forty winks and that was good.

I had a vague memory that we’d discussed a gig. I drove a couple blocks down to a donut shop, where I cleaned myself up in the bathroom a bit, drank some coffee, then went back and asked Chernwick’s secretary about it. Chernwick himself wasn’t in evidence, but she had me wait for a bit. The office had a tiny waiting room with out of date issues of Billboard and Variety sitting on a glass table. I paged through Variety and heard the screech of a fax machine from another room.

Oh, hey, look at that, a shot of me and Sarah outside the theater in New York at the Star Baby event. It looked to me like Jonathan had been cropped out of the picture.

“Daron,” the secretary said, like she knew me–then again she probably did. “I have a spec sheet for you and some paperwork for you to sign.”

She was middle-aged and reminded me a lot of the well-meaning secretaries in the principal’s office at my high school, right down to the cardigan sweater and glasses on a chain. Except with a veneer of LA glamor. It’s hard to explain.

So I went back to Remo’s with a gig in hand. This time I had longer to work on it than the previous time: it wasn’t a rescue job. On the other hand I didn’t plan to stay in LA longer than necessary, Remo would be back for Christmas so I wanted it done by then. And check it out, I had a small budget to pay session musicians if I wanted.

I ate some tuna right from the can with a fork and then went into the studio thinking I’d get started noodling around on some ideas. The project was another nature documentary, this one for a series about indigenous species in the American West, wolves, buffalo, eagles, etc. It was kind of too bad Remo wasn’t around because he would have been perfect playing on it. I wondered if I had Cray Lucas’s number. I’d left my notebook in the house.

I went back into the house to get it and then went back to the studio, paging through looking for the page where I might have written Cray’s number. My notebook is generally chronological, so it was probably where the notes about Japan were, right? But sometimes things got written into the margins on other pages.

I came to a song about Ziggy. I mean, who else could I have been writing about? Actually, I think I was kind of writing this one as if it was from his point of view. Maybe wishful thinking about his point of view. Draw what conclusions about that you will. When I wrote it I had a really clear idea in my mind how the melody and vocal should go, too, though I’d never sat down and worked it out exactly… A really simple song, bluesy in an almost Ricki Lee Jones kind of way. Or maybe Paul Simon from the One Trick Pony era.

Next thing you know I sat down and recorded a demo of it.

I’m bad at promises
I’m bad at holding on
I’m bad at being true
I’m bad at being strong

The only promise I can make
is that every promise I will break
The only promise I can keep
is that I’ll always break my promise

I’m bad at promises
I’m bad at singing songs (about)
true love and promises
I’m bad at being strong

The only promise I can keep
is that promises will make you weep
The only promise I won’t break
is that I’ll always promise


  • Alan Katz says:

    Hey, Daron, thank God for Remo. He always seems to center you, to cut right to the chase. He’s the one you can always depend upon, the one who always has your own interests at heart.

    I also feel just a tad vindicated. I’d written a message when you first heard the news from Ziggy about the contract and also suggested that you’d overreacted, and that Ziggy had done the rational thing. Several people jumped on my back for saying that, so it’s good to know that the most seasoned and caring person in your life agrees with me. Perhaps it’s because Remo and I are both old farts who have been around the course a few times. 🙂

    In any case, the one thing Ziggy has really given you is a shot at a fresh start, a chance to re-evaluate the past and plot a better, more certain future under your own steam – one that will finally have you in control of your own destiny.


    • daron says:

      Well it’s like Ziggy always says, there’s not just one truth about anything. I don’t believe for a second he made the decisions he did for purely “rational” reasons or that he was unaware of how I would feel. But maybe I’m learning none of us are pure and we’re really not meant to be.

      I don’t know that this brings “a more certain future” nor “control of… destiny” for either of us at this point. He’s completely owned by the corporation now, while I’m “free” but if I want to keep a career going, I’m going to end up in bed with some record company at some point and I can’t say it’ll be better than the first time around.

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