Pearl Jam Days

After two shitty summers where my health was not cooperating, I finally have had a better one – not where I want to be, but better enough that I could participate in life.

The high point has been this last crazy beautiful week in Seattle, finally getting my chance to see Pearl Jam perform live in their and my hometown for The Home Shows!

It’s been a whirlwind of events this week, with the Wednesday night Home Show, the opera Thursday night, a day at Easy Street Friday, and the SubPop 30th Anniversary birthday party at Alki Beach featuring several of their rockstar label signees, including MUDHONEY — whom I never got a chance to see during the grunge heydays, just like Pearl Jam. I am making up for lost opportunity and time. I feel complete.

I also feel every aching bone and muscle in my body after being on my feet in crowds all week. I am not 14 years old anymore. My vestibular disorder has been challenged in this week of stimulation, so this next couple weeks is all about recovery, self care, and getting back on my vestibular rehab exercises which have been neglected in all the hoopla. I was determined not to let these special moments escape me, even if it meant paying for it.

I think come fall, I will have plenty of writing fuel, but for now I am living my summer like I should — in real life.

My favorite moment of the concert was when Eddie Vedder was gradually introducing band mates, he got to the story of how Randy Johnson’s favorite band was Soundgarden. The camera focused in on Matt Cameron’s face on the big screen and the crowd gave the most tender, passionate, and persistently lingering applause that wouldn’t end. He was visibly moved, and for the crowd, a very emotional moment. Longest applause of the night…we knew that moment was for Chris Cornell. Sometimes the most powerful tributes are the subtle ones.

It was all for a great cause as well, to help fight the homelessness crisis in Seattle. As the city’s boom continues to lead to greater prosperity, it has also created a greater divide between the haves and the have nots. Pearl Jam donated almost $12 MILLION to the cause through multiple efforts throughout the city. The whole city was abuzz with the marketing, and the tourists who traveled all over the world to experience PJ in the hometown.

In addition to the homelessness, we are also trying to fight the destruction of historic Seattle buildings that are its identity, and being torn down for more generic condo high rises to house the influx of Amazonian employees.

If you’ve been to Seattle, you know about the music venue The Showbox. It’s next on the chopping block. Seattle musicians are banding together to stop its demolition with a petition to the City Council to designate it as part of the Pike Place Historic District. The Showbox has been a part of Seattle’s music history for decades with the likes of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, and so many many more having played there over the years. You can visit HistoricSeattle.org for more information.

Enjoy looking through the photos! I hope all of your summers are going well.

~ Em 8.13.18

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Afloat

you died at the cusp of midnight
but no one knows for sure
the exact minute of departure
you carried your own sword

the sweat from life still dripping
down skin that kept you here
a shell around the broken
bones that never really healed

a voice that sang for the world
echoing truths in ancient air
singing intricate melodies
to words that carried fear

they carried love and anger
pain filled notes dance in black
dotted paper trails
lyrics of loss traced your tracks

giving your all to all, we followed
till your breath’s untimely end
yet we still follow to this day
since we haven’t found your end

woven like exotic tapestry
you weaved lives in decades’ time
as from restless times come beauty
painted true colors by your design

you died at the cusp of midnight
alone — so one would think,
yet souls of millions buoyed by you,
and your music won’t let us sink

afloat we travel onward
lightened by your light
never to be dimmed, nor
succumbed to endless night

~ Em C.

5.16.18

Mailman

Friday is the one year anniversary of Chris Cornell’s death. I have spent much of this year going through the grief of that loss, especially since I grew up here in Seattle during the grunge era — it is impossible to escape his essence here…he permeates every sea and mountainscape, every gray rainy day, sunny day, every bend in the road, he is the king of this city — his poetic lyrics and music are the soundtrack to my youth.

I have yet to decide how I’m going to mark the day. But, I will be sharing some of his amazing words and music in this next week. I encourage you to really read his lyrics, and listen to his bluesy soulful voice, all 4 octaves.  He simply has the best voice of his generation, and arguably all time. Rest in peace, Chris: “No one sings like you anymore.”

*

Hello don’t you know me
I’m the dirt beneath your feet
The most important fool you forgot to see
I’ve seen how you give it
Now I want you to receive
I’m sure that you would do the same for me

‘Cause I know I’m headed for the bottom
I know I’m headed for the bottom

I know I’m headed for the bottom
But I’m riding you all the way
Yeah, I’m riding you all the way
I’m riding, yeah

For all of your kisses turned to spit in my face
For all that reminds me which is my place
For all of the times when you made me disappear
This time I’m sure you will know that I’m here

‘Cause I know I’m headed for the bottom
I know I’m headed for the bottom
I know I’m headed for the bottom
But I’m riding you all the way
Yeah I’m riding you all the way
I’m riding you all the way
I’m riding you all the way
Riding, riding all the way

My place was beneath you but now I am above
And now I send you a message of love
A simple reminder of what you won’t see
A future so holy without me

I know I’m headed for the bottom
I know I’m headed for the bottom
I know I’m headed for the

But I’m riding you all the way
Yeah I’m riding you all the way
I’m riding you all the way

Oh I’m riding you, yes I’m riding you
Oh I’m riding you, yes I’m riding you
Oh I’m riding you all the way

~ Chris Cornell, “Mailman” on the album Superunknown by Soundgarden, 1994

 

Spun

you spun
with a fire that blinded the sun
words flew like daggers glinting with hints of love
landing in soft tissue, piercing shrill notes
twisting three-hundred-sixty
degrees

you weaved
like a master of musical tapestry
take that minor and slip into a major key
dancing on ladders of scales, out of our reach
we gape-mouthed,
breathe

you teased
with low baritone growl seducing slow
take it up high with a silky string of flow
soul-shuddering soulful croon
there was no where to go, but
other worlds

far beyond,
we flew with you, never looking down
lighting our own lamp, into black expanse,
face-to-face in the dark we embraced
spoken in songs we counted on you
to sing

~ Emily C.

5.26.17

Help Save Seattle’s Pearl Jam and Soundgarden Music History!

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During this week of mourning for Chris, more sad news has developed. Yesterday the news reported that the building that houses the basement where Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains all practiced as young bands in the ’90s is going to be put up for sale on the market.

It is under the Black Dog Forge ironworks company.  For decades fans have flocked from all over the world to visit the space.  It is still being used as a practice space for bands to this day. In a city that is on development steroids, it will no doubt be purchased and destroyed unless the Forge can come up with enough money to buy the building itself.

There is a Go Fund Me page where donations are being collected. Any amount is appreciated and even if they can’t reach the necessary target, the money will still go to a good cause in helping Black Dog Forge relocate.

I am going to try and find a way to share this link on some Pearl Jam fan pages in hopes that it will spread like wildfire.  I hope Eddie is aware, too, but not sure how to bring it to his attention.

If you feel you can donate anything, please do. And even just sharing the link would be a help because others may want to contribute.  You can share the Go Fund Me link, the news articles, and you can reblog this post here on WP to reach even more.

Thank you for your support with this, and for your understanding as I work through my time of sadness. I hope to be back to normal programming in the near future. Love, Em.

Save Seattle Music History!! ~ Go Fund Me fundraiser page

Help Save Grunge Landmark Black Dog Forge ~ a longstanding practice space for icons like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam  ~ The Stranger, Seattle

Black Dog Forge Building to be Sold ~ MyNorthwest.com

Long Live Rock ‘N Roll Campaign to Save Iconic Seattle Music Space ~ KIRO TV

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No Dream


Late last night, as I struggled to decide if I could write a poem…an anything, I decided to fold down the sun umbrella on the back porch. It had been an 80 degree day and the night sky was clear. Somehow, we went from having the worst winter in Seattle on the history books (4 feet of rain. Yes, you read that right.), to seemingly skipping Spring altogether, and going straight into Summer.

As the umbrella came down, the sky was revealed, and along with it, an array of constellations looming overhead straight out of a movie. I brought my laptop out, sat on my Mexican falsa blanket, and soon I was joined by my cat who curled up on my lap. She has been needing extra TLC since her surgery last week to remove a mast cell tumor the size of a silver dollar. She has to wear a cone for two weeks as she has an impressive set of stitches…18 to be exact. She’s beat my record of 13 staples. She’s only managed to pull out one stitch…so far.

As she fell asleep into kitty dreamland, I couldn’t move my arm. Well, I could, I just didn’t have the heart. So, I stopped trying to force myself to write and just sat there with her and stargazed. In the distant background, a chirping sound that at first sounded like crickets. “But…we don’t have crickets in this part of Washington. Do we? Could a five minute move north have made that much of a difference?” I thought to myself. The longer I sat, the more clear it became that they were frogs chirping their spring mating call at 11pm at night.  I guess that’s a popular time for them, too.

Above me, Ursa Major, the bear constellation from which the Big Dipper comes. Behind me, Cassiopeia. To my left: Jupiter as bright as a small sun, on an upward trajectory passing through a neighbors pine tree, shining still, like a spotlight.  As I watched a plane come from over the Puget Sound and pass by, I spotted a satellite. You can always tell by their predictable and steady line and velocity. I wondered what data might it be transmitting and receiving. Could it see me?

In my eyes, a huge shooting star fell from the sky.  In my ear, I was listening to Chris Cornell’s album “Songbook” from 2011, a compilation put together of live acoustic versions of his music spanning his career. I only just bought it yesterday. I kick myself for not catching up with more of his recent work in these last several years. This particular album is a work of art. What people may not know is that not only did he have “that voice,” but he could play one mean guitar. The two of them alone together is pure magic.

Do yourself a favor and give a listen to this album sometime. I promise you, you will be transported in its transcendency. If you only remember “Black Hole Sun,” whether by generational gap, distance, location, musical taste, then expectedly, you can not fully know the level, the depth of this man’s musical brilliance and talent and poetic beauty.  Hell, I’m still discovering him in new ways, at age 40, having grown up with him in Seattle.

Right now…I live five minutes north of Chris’s elementary school, and five minutes south of his high school.  This is within my very personal sphere of existence. I can feel him here. I routinely pass areas they were known to be inspired by, to write about, to sing and to film videos:

In Magnolia, Discovery Park is the site of the Temple of the Dog video “Hunger Strike.” At Magnuson Park, the sculpture they named themselves after, “A Sound Garden,” features tall pipes that turn in the wind and make sound. I was just there last summer.  At Volunteer Park, the sculpture “Black Sun” inspired their “Black Hole Sun.” The list goes on.

When I was in high school, I recorded my high school jazz band album at Bad Animals Studio in Belltown two months before Soundgarden recorded their Grammy-winning album Superunknown in the same studio. Crazy, right?

Seattle is one large neighborhood, as one speaker — at the packed and incredibly moving impromptu KEXP memorial — noted in his speech. At least…it used to feel that way back in those days.  With the overtake of tech workers eating up the city, we struggle to recognize the soul of Seattle now.  That is why being a local here is something uncommonly special.  It is why it was hard to be at the fountain with my flowers and only see a dozen or so others who trickled by over the course of the day show up with theirs.  With Kurt’s death, we had hundreds. Those who were not here during Chris’s time cannot have the emotional connection we do. It’s not a sleight, it’s just the truth.

This is why this is personal to me, to this city, to the people who have lived here with his music in their blood, his lyrics in their bones, who shared the view of a gray sky and ocean waves with him, who watched him explode into the spotlight.  He should be known, we want(ed) to share him, his voice is both alternately angelic and dark, whatever he needed to be, whatever we needed — he was.

On the day the news broke of his death, I went to my favorite record store and bought the vinyl for Superunknown and Temple of the Dog, two albums that have been on my must-buy list since recently coming back to owning a turntable.  Somewhere, in a packed box, I have my tapes and CDs of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Mudhoney;  all of which had been in heavy rotation in my bedroom of my childhood home.

While the world and time I grew up in had its struggles, trauma, pain, fear…I could count on the big 4 (or 5, if you want to included Alice in Chains) Seattle grunge pioneers, for respite in their lyrics, relief in their screams, tears in their ballads, to do what I couldn’t always do on my own: express my emotions to the people in my life.  When others were blind, would not hear, could not feel how I felt…Chris, Kurt, Layne, Eddie…could.

Chris’s impact on music cannot be overestimated. If it weren’t for him, Eddie would not have gotten his start here in Seattle. He nurtured him after Eddie moved here from San Diego, and brought him on to the Temple of the Dog album, his first time recording. And Eddie is not the only one. Chris had a way of inspiring musicians that he knew and those he didn’t. Just as his music has inspired millions of fans on a global scale.

Recently, I read an article with a video link to someone commenting on his passing.  In his segment, he mentioned that when artists are at the height of creating, it is usually after a period of time that had emotional significance, not during; that it is in the moments of clarity and reflection where the art is made.

This struck me. I look at my own writing. And while there are moments of venting in the heat of the moment, a majority of the writing I do to process things is after the fact (sometimes years), when there has been silence, down time, deep reflection.

Chris wrote about many dark things. He also wrote about light, fight, and survival. Even the darkness he wrote about had elements of light.  People will naturally look for signs in his songs, and of course connections will be made. He struggled and fought depression and addiction. He had been sober for many years. He most likely should not have been allowed to be on something with nasty side effects like Ativan (Dr. Drew also said as much). I am inclined to believe his wife’s statement that he told her he may have taken “an extra Ativan or two,” and was “just tired,” as he slurred to her in his last call.

Ativan can cause severe side effects such as hallucinations and suicide ideation/attempts.  I had to take it temporarily in high school during the years my brother’s bipolar episodes were causing emotional trauma. On a low and normal dose, I felt like I couldn’t form words. I hated it. It numbed me out.  I can’t imagine what adding two or three times the prescribed dose would do to someone, especially a recovered addict.  (Never stop Ativan cold turkey without seeing your doctor for supervision. It must be tapered off gradually with doctor’s permission.) I have no doubt he was not of lucid mind and would never have consciously left his three beautiful children and his wife, whom he loved dearly.

In the week prior to Chris’s death, my own writing was quiet. I have been writing virtually daily for over a year here with barely more than a day of quiet here or there. But, this last week, the brain stalled. Perhaps I sensed something subconsciously.

And then something that cannot be explained, or perhaps it can:  on Wednesday night, I had a lengthy, vivid, visceral dream of sobbing uncontrollably for someone who had died. I did not know who this someone was, but while in the dream, I clearly knew. I was reading their words and bawling incessantly.

I woke up disturbed, exhausted in body, in lungs; the kind of dream where you can feel you’ve been acting it out in your sleep.  The first thing I did was look at my phone where the notification had popped up overnight of his death.  Taken aback, shocked, in disbelief.

I have cried almost every day since. No dream. But life.

And I am merely one example of the kind of reach he had into hearts. Multiply stories like this a million fold, and this is why this man’s departure is so achingly felt.

But, nothing compares to his family’s pain. And if this is what we feel, one cannot presume to know the depths of grief they feel.

His beautiful daughter Toni has been gifted with a voice as well. You can see the love in both of their eyes in this heart melting duet:

Lands of Time

Jupiter drifted behind swaying pines
while Ursa Major’s bear lines
told me stories of my past

I let my mind, my love, drift to you

…somewhere there in deep dark blue

while meteors burned a trillion tears
in the fragile firmament
on this moonless night

— luna stolen when you died,

so all stars
would be brighter
in your absence:

their gain

our loss…no shame
in this kind of pain
that speaks of the impact

the black hole crater

your superhuman soul left

in shifting lands of time

~ Emily C.

5.23.17