I am just an advertisement, for a version of myself.
Photo from Phish N2, Alpine Valley 2022.
I was inspired to finally post this as I had an unnervingly dystopian conversation this morning that has catapulted me from an unstable precipice into an even deeper psychic chasm than I am used to being exposed to…
First some details on the precipice and notes about that chasm and how it relates to the above photo and caption; apart from a handful of stellar moments, almost all musically adjacent, the last year+ of my life has been a less-than-elegant disaster.
In Oct of ’21 I was suspended from my job and at the end of Dec I was let go permanently. I haven’t worked in a little over 13 months and, as you might imagine, it’s taken a bit of a toll. Due to the vagaries of the Illinois UI/ID system it took me most of that time to get access to UI funds and in the meantime I had to cash out my meager pension and take out a loan from my old man. It hasn’t been too terrible, to be sure, I still have my home and my music but the well is nearly dry.
“There are lots of jobs!”
While yes, that’s true, and I have been looking for work, I am regularly confronted with the chasm I mentioned and the reality of the photo caption provided by Mr. Byrne; I am just an advertisement, for a version of myself. I no longer really have any faith that what I’m selling is worth the effort it takes to market… if that makes any sense…?
Also; Depression is a bitch.
There are a number of other things, catastrophic things, that have happened in the last ~72 hours, that have made an already deep hole darker but I don’t want this to become any more of a novel than it is so I’ll just give you this morning’s catapult into the abyss;
My uncle just turned 79. We don’t talk often, like really at all, but he is among the kindest and gentlest people you could hope to meet. Always has been. In his day he was also something of a Chicago design hotshot. In fact I walk past his work every day. He’s responsible for the iconic Oak Park village identity* and accompanying signage that’s everywhere in my town.
He’s been functionally retired for some time now. I mean, he’s 79. But a few weeks ago I got a call from him asking, in halting and sometimes confused language, if I could help him source a new Mac laptop and assist in transferring his old files and programs from his old machine, a MacBook Pro I serviced for him 11-odd years ago, onto the new one because he was going to be going back to work…
At 79 he was effectively skint and the only option for he and his wife to survive was for him to go back to work 3 days a week in a design house…
Again, he’s 79.
And it might take him a moment or two to respond if you speak too quickly.
So he wanted to migrate a decade of unused design stuff to a new machine so he could work from home. I told him I was happy to help in any way I could and advised there might be some hurdles but I’d do everything I could to get him setup. Then I didn’t hear a word from him until today.
Plans changed. The people he was working for used PCs. They wouldn’t pay for a full work station to work from home so if he wanted access to new tech he’d have to come in to the office three days a week. No problem he said. He called me from that office today wondering if I could tutor him on Illustrator… Or if I couldn’t if I knew anyone who could…? He said he’d been trying to find someone for the last few weeks but all he could afford was $15/hr and anyone who would even talk to him wanted $50+…
He’s 79, legally blind and has gotten a job he can’t do to try to feed his family.
Maybe it was a trebuchet…
So, with all that in mind; if anyone out there in mltshp land knows a company that’s looking for a preternaturally loquacious, perpetually curious, incurable music nerd who never went to college, I’ll be doom-scrolling reddit, coaxing weird noises out of my pile of robots and continuing my pursuit of the perfect album.