Conversations with a kid whose toe is in my nose

To the child who has mysteriously appeared in my bed and is presently sleeping sideways with his feet in my face: I specifically recall tucking you into your own bed last night, reading you two books about a cat and his infernal hat, and activating your Sleep Sheep to make the soothing sounds of the Pacific Ocean. Now, you are here, in my bed, kicking me in the head like an object lesson in Freudian psychology.

Either you levitated here sometime in the night, or your mother or I were stirred by your cries and sleepwalked to your rescue. I suppose the “big bed” is a more substantial bulwark against whatever nightmare is loose in your room. It’s also not much of big bed when we’re all on it, despite how comparatively little you are, though, as you frequently point out, you are neither “little” nor, god forbid, a “baby.” You agree that perhaps you once were a baby, possibly, a long, long time ago, but those days are behind you now, like bottles and diapers. Mostly.

You are now 3, which means, so far as you’re concerned, you’re a grown up. Happy birthday. Welcome to the world of adult responsibility. You can put away your childish things over there — all over the living room floor. Be sure to leave out something with a good edge on it and invisible to old, weary eyes. So I can step on it and feel vaguely alive from the pain. It helps me remember that I’m not a zombie but somebody’s dad. Your dad, in fact, who’s been pondering replies to some of your queries and observations from this week, you know, since you became an adult.

You will eventually discover that the “Willogen,” that I’ve occasionally threatened to release from its lair in the hall closet, doesn’t actually exist. You will come to learn that the creature, with a purported sweet-tooth for naughty children, is merely the invention of a tired father who was simply trying to get you to go to bed. Of course, the exact opposite has occurred and my circadian rhythms have skipped more than a few beats in karmic payback. And now your toe is in my nostril. That I’ve permitted the Willogen to become real to you, I realize, was a huge mistake — ditto Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, I suspect, though neither are coming to eat you. At least not yet.

You don’t like my beard. You tell me this at least once an hour. I’m not sure if I like it either. I grew it because most of the dudes in our neighborhood have beards and I thought it would make me feel youthful since the’re all 15 years younger than me. The irony is my beard makes me look 15 years older than I am. You’re still in the period of life when youth is measured by size. As you’ve pointed out, you’ve gone from little to big this week.

I, on the other hand, have gone from young to old this week. I suspect you might be a Time Lord. Since you’ve come around, it has definitely sped up. Please stop.

Also, I don’t know where or how you acquired those army men, but you should probably know that the little plastic platforms molded to their boots are not actually surfboards. I let you believe this because a world where children play “ocean” rather than “war” is, in my opinion, a much better world. You don’t know what war is yet. I hope you never do. On that note, eventually, you will learn what happened to the singer of your beloved Beatles. I’m so sorry, man. I wish I could better explain why these things happen but I can’t.

You see, kiddo, you’ll find that your old man knows a lot of whats, hows, whens and wheres, but not a lot of whys. At least when it comes to why some people do what they do, especially grown ups. A 3-year-old grown up like you, however, I think I understand. You are a magical person who can be simultaneously big and little, wrong and right, silly and profound, yours and mine.

3 ways to (mis)interpret Sonoma’s ban on Plaza chain stores

1. Ties that Bind

chainsA single vote tipped Sonoma’s City Council to ban “chain stores” on the historic Sonoma Plaza. This begs the question, “What’s next, whip stores?” Seeing as whips and chains are paired in the popular imagination as frequently as wine and cheese, it stands to reason that the council would soon follow their Puritanical purge with a similar ban on not only whips, but cat-o-nine-tails and riding crops as well.

Clearly, what this amounts to is wholesale prejudice against the Valley’s Bondage, Domination and Sado-Masochism community. Statistically speaking, one out of five adults have introduced pain and pleasure at the precipice of a blushing buttock, which would theoretically make one of the dissenting voters a hypocrite – or two of the non-dissenting votes totally bummed. And by bummed I mean “having experienced a bummer” not a spanking (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

How does the Sonoma City Council expect Sonoma’s practitioners of BDSM to outfit their dungeons if they can’t proudly stroll into a chain store on the Plaza and say, “Please sell me 15 feet of our finest, stainless steel link, for I am having an adult party, sir.” By blockading the sale of chains to responsible, consenting adults, the council is effectively sending that business elsewhere, or worse, to the Springs, which, is presently the only place in a five-mile radius where one can still buy chaps since the so-called Plaza “western wear” ban of 1974.

Chain stores and the chains they sell are what bond us together as a community. And to the wall. Continue reading “3 ways to (mis)interpret Sonoma’s ban on Plaza chain stores”

My Videos for Falcon, now Live on

Interestingly, I began this project as an 8-year-old in 1980 using a Super 8 camera and a cast of neighborhood friends. Returning to the footage nearly 30 years later, while creating a music video for my brother Shannon Ferguson (Falcon, Longwave), I was surprised to find so many depictions of cartoon violence. Toy guns seem ubiquitous in this clip, which has a prevailing “Lord of the Flies” meets “Tom and Jerry” vibe. That said, I found that many of the nostalgic images complemented the wistful tone of the track and its exploration of erstwhile promise.

For “Say Goodbye,” we knew that it was likely that we would revisit the notion of found footage but wanted something that represented some of the darker tones in the song as well underscore a sense of sentimentality. After riffing on some notions with Shannon, we agreed it would be an interesting aesthetic challenge to create a new narrative arc from existing material and recombine it such that it comments and critiques the source ? in this case,?Kenner?s Star Wars toy commercials.

Suffice it to say, long live nepotism!

Gifted Child Marches to the Same Drum

My 3-year-old son and I have a nightly jam session ? he on guitar, me on bongos. When we switch instruments the results are actual music, but it?s somehow more musical when he bangs the guitar and I strum the drum. It must have something to do with anarchic spirit of children and how this can animate something primal and transcendent that completely sidesteps my studious years as a six-string samurai.

Is the boy a better musician than me? No, he?s 3. He?s not even sure if he?s right- or left-handed (or both), let alone destined to be the Eddie Van Halen of his preschool class. Could he be better than me? Seems likely. There?s a twist of DNA that winds through our family?s genes like a musical staff. I?ve got a small piece of it, which allows me to self-accompany a credible croon without too much embarrassment. My brother scored the complete box set of musical genes, which led to major label record deals and a recent turn scoring ?Dora the Explorer? among other commercial triumphs in the ?jingles trade.?

My brother was no prodigy, however, nor I suspect is my son, at least not in the strictest sense of the word. Sure, he’s a gifted child. They all are, aren’t they? But given his druthers, there are days he?d surely smash the guitar over the coffee table in some Who-infused Pete Townsend tantrum. ?And that?s ?Who? as in ?My G-G-Generation? not Whoville, you know, where the Grinch lives. I?ve learned that with certain cultural nuances, it?s important to clarify, lest mine and the child?s worlds unhappily collide. Continue reading “Gifted Child Marches to the Same Drum”

Covering the Apocalypse

I’ve often wondered what it might be like to be an embedded journalist during?Armageddon (sadly, my shrink would observe this says more about my career and the state of the industry than the end of the world). Happily, I’ve found I’m not alone:??On the Media offers an interesting segment, Covering the Apocalypse, in which veteran journos mull the possibilities of filing for the End Times.

Even if you’re not among those who believe the world will end on 12/21/2012, it’s gotta end sometime right? And if there are still journalists at the end, they’ll need a?game plan. At a recent journalism pow-wow, the role of journalists in two?apocalyptic?scenarios — global pandemic and alien invasion — were discussed with funny and useful results.?Brooke speaks with Andrew Fitzgerald?who suggested the topic.


Here are some related notions:

Apocalypse How: A chat with Daily Show scribe Rob Kutner about his hilarious survival guide Apocalypse How: Turn the End-Times into the Best of Times!

Zombie Suvival Guide: Revised & Expanded.