650. Dog Eat Dog

(Site news: If you didn’t read the news yet about the DGC Amazon review campaign and how to get your copy of the much-wanted Daron-Colin-Ziggy scene, go check it out here: https://daron.ceciliatan.com/?p=4418. Meanwhile, meme contest ended last night at midnight eastern! Congrats to Lena who won the $25 Amazon gift card and some DGC swag {although I think she already *has* all the swag possible…}, and to Chris, Stef, Cayra, and Damaris who all get DGC swag packs!)

When I got back to Ziggy’s room it was more like 20 minutes later, as it had turned out I had no idea where the key to my own room had gone and in fact wasn’t even sure what my room number was. Thankfully I knew where the main Nomad suite was and found Flip nursing a hangover there, and he had keys and knew what room had my stuff and guitar in it. I told him I was going AWOL until sound check in San Diego and he seemed to heartily approve.

I changed my clothes and then dragged both my duffel bag and my guitar back to Ziggy’s. I knocked on the door and it took a while for him to open it. I could hear voices.

When he opened it I could see Barrett sitting on the desk, swinging his stocking feet, his dress shoes on the floor under him. “Daron, good to see you,” he said, as if he’d invited me there.

“Yeah. How’s things?” I said as I plopped my stuff down and took a seat on the corner of the bed nearest him.

“Excellent. Excellent. I want to thank you again for agreeing to that on-air yesterday. We’re poised to potentially make a major move. Major major move.” He swung his feet and I could see his trouser socks were subtly striped. His jacket was unbuttoned. He was hard to get a read on. “Potentially.”

Ziggy climbed on the bed behind me and draped himself on my back, his chin on my shoulder. I took this to mean really there were no secrets between him and his manager. I guess like there were no secrets between Carynne and me. It was kind of liberating not to have to do the bullshit dance, actually. “The main thing that’s holding us back is the unresolved lawsuits,” Ziggy said.

“It’s reaching pretty ridiculous proportions,” Barrett agreed. “Nuisance suits, countersuits—it’s like lawyers have nothing better to do.”

“What’s going to make it stop?” I asked.

Barrett shrugged. “Money, most likely. Greed motivates them to start suits, greed will motivate them to stop. Once they realize they could be making more money if they let things go. Several parties could be cashing in hand over fist if someone could press a single of the song right now, but they can’t.”

“They can’t?”

“Nope. Not with the legal bullshit going on.”

I rubbed my head like it hurt, because legal stuff always made my head hurt. “If everyone’s suing everyone, doesn’t it all… cancel out at some point?”

“If only. The big one is that BNC screwed us all over and gave Digger an opening.”

“How, now?” I remembered Digger was countersuing us but I hadn’t heard it explained that way. I was all for anything that bolstered my worldview of BNC as evil, of course.

Barrett sighed. “It’s like this. BNC tried to make the pre-emptive argument when putting together Zig’s development deal that any future recording that he does with you,” meaning me, “would be an incarnation of Moondog Three even if not operating under that name.”

I felt shivers crawl across the back of my shoulders. “Was that Mills trying to keep me and Ziggy apart?”

Barrett laughed. “Could be that or worse: trying to vest performance bonuses for himself relating to the Moondog Three property. But guess what? Digger got wind of it, and now he’s suing BNC for a piece of any future royalties you make, because he’s supposedly entitled as your former manager.”

“Is he entitled?”

“Morally? No. Legally….eh, he might have a shot to win a case just because the courts are stupid. I think he’s just doing it to screw you both.” Barrett shook his head as if he could barely believe how pathetic that was.

“You really think we’d sell a lot of this song?” I asked. “I mean, it’s a good song but it’s not…” I flailed for an example of a surprising song that made the charts and then stuck around forever.

“Not Candlelight,” Ziggy said.


“It’s not just the song. There’s a narrative out there, among the fans, among the press,” Barrett said, “that everyone loves. You see it again and again–if bands didn’t break up so often we’d almost have to break them up just to take advantage of this. It’s the redemption narrative: band breaks up, band gets back together. When you get back together it generate interest and creates new fans. It’s like BAM, like Luke and Laura on General Hospital.

“That’s a soap opera,” Ziggy told me.

“Even I know about Luke and Laura,” I said. I think I had been in high school when them getting back together had been a huge deal. I thought it was weird that it was a hot topic among high school girls who really couldn’t watch the show since it was on in the middle of the daytime when we were at school. I guess their moms were taping it on VHS or something. “But isn’t a ‘getting back together’ narrative kind of playing with fire?”

Barrett snorted and was refreshingly direct. “You mean like will the lid get blown off your relationship?”

“Yeah.” I felt Ziggy’s breath, soft on my neck.

Barrett explained it this way: “I think the vast majority of these people who are caught up in this story, this ‘will they get back together or won’t they’ hook, would never dream of the fact you two are romantically involved. It would never even enter their minds. Not consciously anyway. They’re not wondering if Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are doing it, either. Unless they subconsciously are. Either way, do you see what I’m saying?”

“Um, no?” I said.

“Don’t take this the wrong way. I respect you highly as individual artists, as creative talents, but you have to realize that you represent the latest iteration of Page and Plant, Townshend and Daltrey, et cetera. People fit you in a mold that suits what intrigues them. The singer-guitar player archetypes are pretty powerful and that template was stamped by those who came before.”

It was like a refreshing splash in the face, not shocking exactly, but it made me blink in surprise to hear him say it. “That’s what I’ve always thought!” I’d never heard someone articulate it like that, though.

Barrett was nodding. “Good, good. You know most of those guys are straight as whistles, even if they did some crazy stupid shit on tour and while on drugs. The thing is, when it comes to whatever you two have going on, you’re right, publicity-wise we have to keep it under wraps. We have to manage it carefully. We don’t want it to blow up to the point where neither of you can set foot outside a hotel or vehicle without a swarm of paparazzi hoping to snap a picture of you holding hands. Especially if they’re going to run with some kind of cheating angle or who the hell knows what they’ll invent for the sake of creating a compelling tabloid fiction about you. Once they get their hooks in you, you’ll be their soap opera, day in, day out. You don’t want that because no relationship withstands that forever, and also because it doesn’t fucking sell records.

This was all terrifying to hear on the one hand, because it was always terrifying to talk about relationships and outing and this was a guy I didn’t even know! But it was reassuring on the other hand: I wasn’t the only one who thought about these things. I wasn’t crazy.

And Barrett was very pragmatic about it. I’d never heard someone talk about our relationship like it was a business asset to be managed before. I wasn’t sure I liked it, but at the same time I didn’t dislike it nearly as much as one might think. “Bottom line, this is the tightrope we’re walking. It’s highly obvious to me that Ziggy isn’t going to move on from you emotionally, and business-wise there could be a huge payoff to the two of you working together again.”

“If only we could get the lawsuits settled,” Ziggy said. I could feel the warmth of his body right through my denim jacket and I liked that. I was like a puppy who stops whining when he has a hot water bottle, I guess.

Barrett nodded. “So I have a proposal for you. Don’t answer it now. But think about it. Look, I know you have an incredibly plum gig here with Nomad. You’re on tour with your mentor, you’re making bank, the reviews are great: I know all that. I’m not asking you to give any of that up. And remember I know there’s baggage between you and Zig but I don’t know the details and I can’t get involved in all that. I’m just looking at it from a business standpoint and trying to do what’s right for my client.”

“Okayyy…” I said, waiting for him to make whatever proposal he had in mind.

“We’re putting Ziggy onto a global tour this winter. The deals are being cut now, of course.”

“By global you mean outside the United States?” I asked.

“Right. Japan, Europe, Australia, maybe a few stops in South America? Maybe twenty or twenty-five dates in all, but it’ll take two to three months.”

I straightened up suddenly, accidentally dislodging Zig from my shoulder. “Wait. Let me guess. Outside the U.S. there’s less legal trouble?”

“Exactly.” He pointed at me as he said it. “There’s a chance to do some pressings in countries where the rights are still open. And here’s what I want, so that all the pieces are in place once the obstacles come down. Daron, I’ve seen your credentials, your experience. I’ve talked to a lot of people about you. We’re talking a major stage show, dance numbers, probably a seven-piece band… actually, that might be up to you. The proposal is I want to hire you to be musical director. You’d be in charge of musical arrangements and the band, hiring them, rehearsing them, all that.”

“For two or three months in the winter…?”

“Starting the minute you get off the road with Nomad at the end of the summer. The rehearsal run-up is pretty long for a production like this.” Barrett cleared his throat. “I want to put the idea in your mind so you can think about it. About whether that would work.”

I could feel Ziggy behind me, sitting perfectly still, like he was afraid to touch me and spook me now.

What spooked me was the phone ringing, though. Barrett snatched it off the desk next to him. He answered it with, “Yes?”

A moment later he had hung up. “I have to run,” he said, hopping down and pushing his feet back into his dress shoes with a grimace. “Like I said, think about it. I’ll need to know in the next couple of weeks because if you don’t take the gig, then I have to start looking for someone else. And I’m sure it’s no surprise to you to hear that Ziggy doesn’t want someone else.”

Ziggy made a dismayed noise behind me, but Barrett had waved goodbye and shut the door behind him before Ziggy could say anything coherent in protest.

I turned around to look at him.

Ziggy had his knees drawn up to his chest, his eyes wide, and was biting down hard on his lip. The first words out of his mouth were “Please don’t be angry?”

I punched the bed next to me but soft-sarcastically, not seriously. “I thought you liked me angry.”

“I mean, please don’t think I put Barrett up to that because I was afraid you’d say no to me.”

“Didn’t you?”

“No. It was entirely his idea.”

“And the idea to do a song using pieces I recorded in the studio?”

“Jordan’s. I swear.” He held up his hands. “Daron, I know how it is. I know I asked you before if you’d work for me and I understand why you said no. And I would totally understand if you feel like you have to say no again in order to preserve your…idea of artistic integrity. But please don’t say no just because you think it’d be wussy to change your mind. Or because you’re…mad at me generally.”

I lay back on the bed, staring at the ceiling, as if by lying down I could devote more of my energy to thinking and less to staying upright. “You’re saying, hey, I know I kicked you in the balls but please don’t kick me back merely because you could.”

“I guess.” He lay down next to me on his side. “Ultimately. Listen, though, don’t make any decisions yet. Let it sink in. Talk to Carynne. That sort of thing.”

“Sensible.” I wasn’t feeling sensible. I was feeling…numb. Like right now I couldn’t quite figure out how I was feeling or how I was supposed to feel. There was a lot to process, I guess, on top of a lot from last night, and it was all clogged up and going nowhere in my brain.

Ziggy’s breath was warm in my ear. “You went to get that guitar for a reason.”

“True.” I sat up slowly. It was like I was on autopilot. I took the Ovation out of the case and started tuning it to itself. As the strings came into tune, my mind felt clearer. It was an illusion, but one I clung to for comfort.

And then I started to play “Candlelight.” I hadn’t really thought about what I was doing: it just started coming out of my fingers. I almost stopped because when he started to sing it felt like everything in my chest was shredding. But then I saw the look on his face and it was obvious that he was feeling exactly the same way.

So I shredded him. I kept playing and I shredded him.

(P.S. Some folks have written me to ask me what they should write in their Amazon review. Your honest opinion is best, especially if you just say truly what you liked about a book or why you enjoyed it. These reviews aren’t to stroke my author ego, honestly. They’re to inform future readers if DGC might be their cup of tea. Details on the review campaign: https://daron.ceciliatan.com/?p=4418)


  • chris says:

    Sending Love and Hugs to Ziggy!

  • s says:

    *sings* “take another little piece of my heart now, baby”

  • Amber says:

    I really, really wish I could hear “Candlelight” right now. But if I could I know I’d be sobbing to the point of snot running down my face to hear Ziggy sing it.

  • Lenalena says:

    You say that if already having all the swag is a bad thing….

    Honestly, I was going to pass on the meme contest, because I already made some last time, and, you know, I already have all the swag, but then the deadline got really close and it just felt wrong NOT to make more memes. So I did.

    There is space in my life for more swag.

    Can you post all the memes sometime? I don’t have twitter or instagram and I’d love to see them all.

  • sanders says:

    I’m loving the idea of a collage of the memes so far, not just as a Pinterest thing, but as a piece of art on its own.

    I’m also loving Barrett. His practical approach is incredibly refreshing after watching our boys get dicked over by Mills and Digger. I’d love to see him working with Carynne sometime on screen. I bet they’re frighteningly efficient.

    The last line in this is perfect, Cecilia. Just right for shredding us in the audience.

  • Bill Heath says:

    In the DGC discussion thread I posted a belief that in the Jungian MBTI categories Daron is an INTP.

    I’m on my first re-read from the beginning.

    “I wasn’t feeling sensible. I was feeling…numb. Like right now I couldn’t quite figure out how I was feeling or how I was supposed to feel. There was a lot to process, I guess, on top of a lot from last night, and it was all clogged up and going nowhere in my brain.”

    That’s precisely how an INTJ works, and very close to an INFP. And Daron is NOT an INTJ.

    I can’t believe I missed this the first time through. In fact, I’ve said that to myself after almost every post.

    • daron says:

      ctan’s the INTJ around here. Whereas I’ve come up INFP on a couple of the tests now. I *think* I’m a thinker but really I’m a feeler, I just *wish* I was a thinker.

      • Bill Heath says:

        Daron, INTJ and INFP are preferences, not cellblocks. You exhibit highly competent “T” behavior from time to time, which is to be expected from someone bright.

        An INTJ, I’ve been forced by circumstances to exhibit ESTJ behavior, sometimes for a week. At the end of that time I start desperately seeking large doses of antipsychotics. No joke.

        • daron says:

          Yeah. One of the things my therapist did mention was that one thing isn’t “better” than another. In my head “thinking” is superior to “feeling” and so I had this idea that when I “grew up” my emotions wouldn’t rule me as much as my rational perceptions. It’s been a long road to accept that those two things aren’t in a hierarchy: they’re a continuum and maybe the best thing is to have some of each. But, you know, it takes me a long time to convince myself of anything.

          I’ve learned to pretend to be an extrovert in certain situations, but yeah, it can drive you nuts.

    • Bill Heath says:

      I’m sure I’ve posted this elsewhere, but here it is again. “Overthinking” is NOT “T” behavior, despite the seeming commonality. It is classic INFP. You overthink based on how you feel, not on empirical data.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *