Today is the last day of my four-day run at John Ascuaga's Nugget here in Sparks. And I've come to a bit of a revelation while I've been here. In simple terms, everything I do, everything I say - in the end, it's all bullshit.
I just haven't been in that good a mood since I got here. I can mask my feelings somewhat when I'm around the guys, when I'm around my friends, but I can't hide from myself. So I dive into myself, search for the source of my moodiness, and do what I can to excise the proverbial tumor before it metastasizes and becomes something much worse. And that exercise is usually good enough to bring me back around. And I know what it was that set me off. That said, I shouldn't really use a cancer analogy to describe my feelings when the source of my angst is the death of a friend of mine from cancer. Well, he wasn't a really close friend, he was more of a professional acquaintance. But he was a damn good drummer here in Reno, and among the first people I met when I first started. He was a real character, but then again he was a professional musician - that pretty much made him a character by extension. I knew that he'd been sick for some time, but I'd noticed that a lot of friends of mine were posting pictures of him on their Facebook pages when I checked my phone. I called Joy, and asked her to check Facebook when she was able to to figure out what was going on. She called me and confirmed that my friend had passed away while I was at a rest area just outside Susanville. Even though we weren't particularly close, I had to just sit in my car at the rest area and cry a little. While I know that there were a lot of people who'd lost much, much more than I did, the circuit dogs here in Reno are a closely-knit group, and drummers even more so. The loss to our community is hitting us hard. But we'll celebrate our lost brother and move on with him in our hearts for all time.
Rest in peace, Gary. I wish I'd gotten to know you better.
And now on to the more mundane elements of my life's work.
I think my right foot is cursed. In the last year or so, I've probably blown up five kick-drum triggers. Some through my own clumsiness - like when I ripped the trigger's cord out of the sensor itself while tearing down - while the last trigger literally exploded at my feet during our last Friday night at the Fandango. Joy and I decided that I need to move up to a sturdier trigger after that night, so I purchased a ddrum Red Shot trigger the next day. However, in my haste to purchase, I didn't really read the instructions all that well, and found that I needed a slightly longer lug screw to properly attach the trigger to the rim of my bass drum. I wound up having to secure to trigger to the rim with duct tape, but it worked. For all of ten hours. This most recent Friday night, here at the Nugget, I noticed that the trigger wasn't working just as we were taking the stage. With no time to effect repairs, I played the first set without a kick drum. Then I spent the following break switching out cords, hoping that it was a bad connection. No luck. I removed the trigger from the rim and examined it closely, and found that the trigger's ground wire had come undone - broken off cleanly from the point where it had been originally soldered into place. I was able to field-repair it somewhat, stripping away the wire's cover and shoving the bare wire back into place, and securing it with more duct tape before taping the trigger back into place. But the trigger was mortally wounded, and was only registering about half the hits it received.
Saturday saw me going back and forth between Guitar Center (where the trigger was returned and replaced at no expense and with no questions asked - thank you Joy, for badgering me into spending the extra five bucks for an extended-protection plan), and Bizarre Guitar, where their drum tech was able to find me the lug screw I needed to mount the trigger properly. And last night was the first night that my kick drum sounded right in weeks.
But I was still grumpy, and still grieving a bit. And in a plot twist right out of the Twilight Zone, the guy who had been posting status updates for Gary during the last few months for him was playing on the other side of the casino in the Trader Dick's lounge with his acoustic combo. We talked for a while, traded remembrances and war stories, and shared our grief at the loss of a friend and colleague.
Now if only I hadn't taken out my grumpiness on Joy later that night when she called. She didn't deserve for me to lash out at her. I think I owe her a bouquet of flowers or something because I was being a shithead unnecessarily. I should be happy that I have a wife who puts up with me being gone for so long, when I really should be at home to take care of her. I should be happy that I have a band that puts up with my weirdness. I should be happy that I have friends that like me for who I am, for family that accepts me for who I am. It could all be taken away from my at any minute, and one day it will be. I should be happy for what I have.
Thank you Gary, for helping me to appreciate what I have. Rest in peace, brother. We'll all miss you.