I was thinking the other day about how great it would be to amass all the pictures we took from the Tar Hut days. Those of you who know Dave, one of the three Tar Hut principals, knows that he doesn’t go far without his camera. Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if Dave rolled out of his mother’s womb with a camera and strap wrapped around his wrist. His hair: straight up in a pomp, of course. Anyway, the amount of pictures he took in that period from 1996-1999 was, in a word, obscene. We’ll get them online eventually. As I look back, I’m so glad he took them, because I never really understood the importance of a camera until a few years ago. Oh, regrets. I have many.
Regardless, it got me thinking yet again about time. How, in time, the memories of things you’ve done or people you dated begin to play with your mind like those lottery machines on TV that have all those little balls shooting around them before those little ping-pong numbers come rolling out. We remember high school, college or a certain job with reflective fondness, yet we tend to forget how much we couldn’t wait to escape them. We look back on some past loves (and for some of us, marriages) with fondness but then one day realize why you’re not still with them – because you forgot about the few annoying little habits they had or how much they drove you nuts or just how plain wrong it was. I’m sure some thought the same of me.
In trying to think about a post for my latest Tar Hut installment here, I was going to write about one of our bands, King Radio. That will come soon. (Hi Frank. Send me an email!) Instead I’m writing about a period in the spring of 1999, when Tar Hut, unbeknownst to any of us at the time, was experiencing a strange combination of exciting growth and inevitable crashing. Don’t ask. Some recent email exchanges between the three of us had me laughing pretty good and then an email came in from Dave – he had forwarded an email to us that I had written in May, 1999 regarding an impending record release. Yes, Dave even kept all the old emails saying that someday he’s going to write a book, bless his heart. So here’s what I had to say in that email, with names removed to protect the innocent:
I just got the CD in the mail with a mock-up of the artwork. I must say, the artwork is absoloutly horrendous. Just fucking terrible. XXXX was talking like it was the next Van Gogh painting or something, but the artwork is so awful that I broke out laughing in my car at the post office when I opened it. People were staring at me. That’s not really anything new though, because I sit there and talk to myself all the time. I have conversations with myself in my head. Sometimes out loud. With gestures. And I find myself growing more and more anti-social by the minute. The only desire I have lately to see bands is if they’re on Tar Hut. Anyway, the CD sounds really good. Like I said, it really grows on you. I told XXXX to send you both mock-ups, too, so you’ll see it soon enough.
Well, there you go. I sat here this past weekend, just short of seven years later, my eyes scanning that paragraph over and over, wondering who the hell that guy was who wrote that. It’s obviously me – the writing style certainly gives it away, but I found myself full of regret that I ever let it get to the point where I had no desire to see a band live unless they were on my own label. How completely, utterly obnoxious. I’d like to think I was having a bad day, but why bother lying? I wasn’t. Our records were selling but not as fast as we wanted them to, I was heading towards an inevitable breakup with a girlfriend of two years (of course, the correct move in retrospect – it almost always is) and I found myself – all the time – seeing bands and thinking to myself “how the hell do they get away with playing on this stage when [insert Tar Hut band name] could blow thier doors off in their sleep?” Yes, bitterness 101.
Yet the end result seven years later? I ended up sitting here laughing. Hard. I mean, that’s the only thing I can do. The three of us emerged from the smoldering wreckage with minor scars, but we all remain in constant contact with one another and back to how it used to be – three friends talking about music, saying or writing dumb shit and remembering the good times. To hell with the bad ones and if you come across one, put your boot in it like you’re stamping out a cigarette and then have a laugh. Don’t forget that pain, though – it has without doubt helped me learn a lot. Just keep it somewhere in the vault where it’s dark and dusty.
The artwork? That wasn’t the mark of a bitter kid. It really was terrible.