I grew up in a beautiful town out in the Soviet countryside. The middle child, I nonetheless experienced the nourishing tender love and care from my good communist mother and father. My father worked as an engineer and served for many years in the local Communist party. Due to his heavy participation in the party, he was justly rewarded with a plum position working at a local power plant. Playing in the lush green fields, we were happy to call this ravishingly beautiful city home. Even now, I remember my friends being jealous of my good fortune of living in Chernobyl.
One day I woke up and everything changed. Unbeknown to me, my parents were fighting against the Soviet occupation of their beloved Ukraine. Quickly we were rushed to live in an underground bunker and for several years we crossed between Ukraine and Belarus, seeking the liberation of each country. After the disaster in my old town, I understood why they did it. We were fighting against an evil empire, as Ronald Reagan stated over the radio. His voice reassured me that all was right with the world. Our father promised us that after Ukraine became independent, that we could head over to the US, to a land of milk and honey.
Milk and honey is what we lived off of from local farmers sympathetic to our cause. Finally when I was 12 I saw the empire keel over and die. Excitedly we packed our bags and headed over to America. Worried about the influence that a big city could have over my younger sibling my family moved to rural North Carolina.
As I entered Middle School there, I realized I was different. I didn’t speak any English, so I forced myself into American culture. I bought Nirvana albums and dressed all Grunge. My parents worried about my style of dress, thinking that American culture would take over my Ukrainian roots. Upon my constant grouching about everything, they felt reassured that indeed I would fit their hopes of me growing up into an embittered, disillusioned, over-educated member of society, just like they did. According to them, the Ukrainian way involved being deeply weird and being kind of a dick, but acknowledging that you’re an asshole. I passed this test with flying colors after I hurled a beer bottle at someone at school, only to half-apologize to them in front of the principal.
Upon graduation from Edenton, North Carolina’s school system, I decided to move to a big city. I missed being around large groups of people. Telling my parents I was going to study Dentistry in Chicago, they initially were concerned. After I told them about the high suicide rate that Dentists suffered from, they gave me a thumbs-up of approval.
Living in Chicago in the late nineties ended up being a magical time. Around that time, a record label called “Thrill Jockey” grew in importance. In order to pay for school, I did side gigs touring with the famous band Tortoise, playing the vibraphones. Since so many people were in the band, my name usually got mangled. More than a few times some of the musicians who opened up asked me for drugs, thinking I was a Russian gangster. Asking about this profession, I learned that apparently being a Russian gangster paid more than touring with a relevant indie-rock-jazz fusion band. I stood in disbelief, unable to comprehend crime paying so much better than underground rock.
Distraught at my attempt to create a hit TV show, I worked as a Dentist in the greater Los Angeles area, still pitching my ideas to whoever was interested. One day a dorky looking bald guy came into my practice. He stated that he read my work would fit his concept for a show. Intrigued, I asked him to proceed. Explaining how it would take place on a deserted island and would explore sci-fi and philosophical arguments, he told me how it could be one of the greatest shows that Television had ever seen. Throwing a few titles out there, he told me, they decided against “Airplane Crash” and went with the simple name “Lost”.
After having wasted most of my afternoon listening to this, I told him to get the fuck out of my office. This idea he had, I said, would not earn him a dime. Plus, I cancelled several dental cleanings in order to hear him yammer on about his gibberish, money that would take hours to earn back. Later that evening, I left a flaming bag of dog shit on his doorstep with a note that said “This is what your show will be”.
Even though the show ended up being mildly successful with tepid critical praise, I made the right decision. Instead of focusing on my writing, I turned to music. Working with James Ferraro, I helped the nascent hypnagogic pop and chillwave genres turn into the cultural powerhouses they are today. Due to my participation in this genre, I have made literally hundreds of dollars. However, after my street cred is converted into actual dollars, I’ll have enough money to buy a small Indonesian island.
My coverage of chillwave and hypnagogic pop on this blog isn’t exactly benign. I make no apologies for this, but rather ask what you would do in the same situation. Would you simply keep the good music for yourself, or would you share it with the world, like I have. Thank you for your continued support of this blog. It means a lot to me.
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