Saturday, March 29, 2014

No. 68 – Right in Two

Performer: Tool
Songwriters: Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Danny Carey, Justin Chancellor
Original Release: 10,000 Days
Year: 2006
Definitive Version: None.

The perfect musical vortex was October 1993 when Vs. by Pearl Jam and Counterparts by Rush came out on the same day. How could it be better? Well, how about a new album by Pearl Jam the same day as a new album by Tool?

That’s precisely what happened in May 2006, of course, and it was a bigger deal for several reasons: First, it was the first album of new music by either band since Pearl Jam released Riot Act way back in 2002. (I didn’t count Lost Dogs, Pearl Jam’s outtakes compilation in 2003.)

Second, if you can believe this, I might have been anticipating Tool’s album in 2006 even more than I had been Vs. in 1993. The anticipation wasn’t as intense, because after awhile, I felt that, well, Tool will release their new album when they’re ready (kind of like how I feel now). But I loved Lateralis, the 2001 release, and I was eagerly awaiting any new Tool music.

Third, and most important, it marked the first time in three years I could buy music with financial impunity. In fact, Pearl Jam and 10,000 Days were the first albums I’d bought in two years.

When I left for Cleveland in April 2003, I had $38,000 in the bank, including my share of the house and the gift Debbie gave me (as recompense for the engagement ring, as I mentioned). That was all I had when I, in effect, jumped out of an airplane without a parachute. I figured I had almost two years before I either had to get a job or land with a loud splat.

I nursed my savings as best I could, and I added to it a bit over time. OK, it was more I offset my spending, thanks to the Clippers gigs and a few Carried Away reviews for The Dispatch when I was around. I was able to stretch another year out of my savings, but by February 2006, I was down to a shade above $2,000. The book wasn’t finished, and the ground was coming up fast.

I then got two large breaks with freelance work—story to come later—that flattened out my drop. Then, when a full-time gig came through in April, I curved away from the ground. It wasn’t as much as I made at The Dispatch (although it was reasonably close), but it was enough that I knew based on carefully tracking my expenses over the past three years, that it was going to be sufficient. I was going to survive my financial freefall.

My first real paycheck in more than three years came at the end of April 2006. The next weekend, just before the release of Pearl Jam and 10,000 Days, Laurie and I went out to dinner with Steven and Michael. We hiked to a new upscale Mexican place in Andersonville called Ole Ole.

We had a great time, dining on ceviche and fajitas (in my case). It was excellent, although by the third and final time Laurie and I were there, Ole Ole had deteriorated significantly. (It’s been closed at least five years.)

What was more significant though was the feeling I had going through the menu. Being in Chicago, going out with Laurie as much as we did, I always was looking carefully at the prices on the menu. I was hyperaware of what everything cost, because I had only so much money. Then, when I’d enter my expenses into my spreadsheet later, I’d chastise myself for spending more than I should.

But that night at Ole Ole, I realized that I no longer cared about the prices. They were what they were, and I still entered them into my spreadsheet later (which I keep to this day), but I no longer worried about how much it was. I had it covered.

That was the first time I’d been able to do that at a restaurant—to order another round of drinks or get an appetizer—without any concern about how much it cost in five years. I could buy music again; I could buy wine again. I’d made it.

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