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Notes From The Flip Side: 06.15.2003

Everything Is Falling Apart ...

Back to the doctor. This time around, he referred me for an MRI. I spent a lovely Thursday night in one of the local radiology departments, sitting in a tube and being subjected to piped in Christina Aguilera songs. As if my back wasn't painful enough. However, the MRI scanner brought the rock. I later described it as the equivalent of listening to every Lightning Bolt album at the same time while sitting inside the speaker. It whirred and hummed and ground and clicked and made a joyful noise which was thoroughly awe inspiring. When I came out, I wasn't thinking about my back - I was asking the technician if there was any way to tape the sounds it made so that I could make a record with those loops. It was that awesome.

Of course, that isn't possible. An MRI scanner uses magnets - fairly high-powered ones - and traditionally speaking, they don't play well - at all, really - with any kind of magnetic media. Like - purely for example here - 1/4" tape. And why bother recording it if it isn't possible to do it right? Or, apparently, at all? I'm still looking into optical recording - i.e. burning directly to a CD. I'll let you know what I find.

Of course, every silver lining has a cloud associated with it and while the found music of the MRI scanner made my night, the scan subsequently showed that all is not right - in fact, things seem to be fairly bad. I'm being referred to a neurologist. Apparently, the pain that I've been dealing with is a symptom of some type of degenerative disc disease in my spinal column. Apparently, several discs are affected. Apparently, my best case scenario at this point consists of painkillers and some ruthless physical therapy. I'm not entirely sure what the worst case scenario is, but I know that surgical intervention falls somewhere along that line. I hope that surgery is the last point instead of another connector to something worse.

In the meantime, I can fall back on two things:

I've always responded to such things, at some level, with gallows humor. After all, if we can't laugh at impending disaster, what, if anything, can we laugh at? Disaster frequently tills the richest and most fertile comic soil; it's like a goddamned hydroponic garden for quips.

And on the bright side of things, at least it ain't lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, two initial possibilities. At least it's something I can deal with. And here's the funniest part about it all ...

You Can Feel Bad If It Makes You Feel Better ...

Degenerative disc disease doesn't really exist. Rather, it does exist, but it seems to be a generic catch-all phrase used to describe a variety of conditions which result in chronic back pain. In short, DDD, as it's commonly abbreviated, is a polite way for a doctor to say that you have back pain. In short, according to the research I've done on it so far, the term is a placebo, an elevation of a common condition to something that can be billed for (my MRI cost $1,589.50, for reference) while allowing a patient to place more faith in their doctor because a diagnosis has been made through a liberal application of syllabic pretension. I'm a little annoyed that Paul Fussell, to the best of my knowledge, has not yet turned his attention to the medical establishment in his pointed skewerings of our sacred cows.

However, don't make the mistake of thinking that it doesn't hurt - it does. It hurts like a son of a bitch. I can't really turn my head, nor can I tilt it to either side with any range of motion at all. My argument is simply that tarting pain up with a slew of words which lift something simple and easily understood by patients into the realm of experts and specialists is little more than perception management - disorder branding, if you will - which is more commonly called spin ... or, perhaps more accurately, doublespeak (I am well aware that Eric Blair is responsible for the term, but this piece by William Lutz hammers the point home).

My point is simply that I should be an agent in my own treatment as opposed to being subjected to a patient model in which things are prescribed instead of negotiated, told instead of discussed. I may be treated for a condition, but that treatment will fail if I don't agree with it. After all, it's my body, my health and my life. I should have some measure of input.

Narrowly Avoiding A Dudes Gone Wild Redux ...

I had been looking forward to Thursday for a bit. Another Give Up The Ghost show. Of course, I still haven't healed up from that planter incident in Iowa City and my neck still feels like evil little gnomes are jabbing it with knitting needles so I suppose it's a small relief that the guys cancelled because it gives me more time to recuperate but I had really been looking forward to seeing them and telling Wes that he was spot on about Black Dice and to thank Tim for suggesting Isis' "Oceanic" to me. And I really wanted to see The Hope Conspiracy again.

But with all that said, the guys from Irradio rolled through town not too long ago and brought rock, a tornado warning and an excuse to drink to excess with them. Thanks to Dan, Paulo, Chad and Collin for dropping in on a day off and bringing the hyphen core to B/N. I apologize for the bad pours - you'd think an ostensibly Irish pub would know better than to refrigerate Guinness. Of course, you'd also think a bar would know better than to refrigerate bourbon. All things considered though, it was a great night. No one puked. No one got hurt. Everyone made it through in one piece. In my book, that's a win.

On An Entirely Different And Rapturous Note ...

The only questions worth asking are the ones that force us to reveal something more about ourselves. The only deals worth making are with people who know what is truly at stake because they have experienced the aftermath of breaking those promises - or having those promises broken.

And the only thing I want to be doing right now is lying in bed next to you, skin against skin with Sunday morning sunlight streaming through the curtains, tangled up in each other and giggling, knowing all of these things but not caring about anything at all beyond stealing the next soft kiss. Who kisses who? Does it even matter? The only thing I care about is tasting you, feeling you slick and salty against me, musky odors permeating the room as we debate getting dressed ... and decide that there really isn't any compelling reason to do so.

Life is confusing. And sweet.

Off The Top Of My Head ...

  1. James Chance. Goddamn.
  2. I am loving the Jaga Jazzist "Animal Chin" EP on GSL. Ditto The Vanishing and JR Ewing. What the hell happened to me? I move out here and I'm suddenly all about chaotic screamo, dance-punk and electro ... or the New Wave Of New Wave (NWONW - which is right up there with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal for stupid acronyms). I'm not complaining, I'm just wondering why my appreciation for this music seems to be significantly heightened out here. In San Diego, I didn't give Swing Kids or The Crimson Curse a second listen. Out here, I listen to The Blood Brothers at least once a week. Maybe it's all the space. Maybe it's that most of the alt-rock sounds so five years ago.
  3. It's June and Nobukazu Takemura has already released three albums. What are you doing with your year?

Now Playing:

Dinah Washington. Via Tania. Prefuse 73. The Spinanes. The Suicide File. Tortoise. Blacktop Cadence. Leadbelly. James Chance. Velvet Underground. Saint Etienne. Curve. Crooked Fingers. The Hope Conspiracy. The Distillers. Gary Wilson. The Jealous Sound. The Dragons.

Now Reading:

Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Thomas Wolfe, "You Can't Go Home Again"; Andrew Feenberg, "Questioning Technology" and "Alternative Modernity"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"

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Last modified on Wednesday, March 26, 2008