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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Groovy Times

The Dallas music scene lost one of its most vocal, opinionated, and well-spoken music ethusiasts last night. Evan Chronister was in his early fifties and passed away from injuries sustained in an accident with his scooter. I, along with many other people in the scene who see music as a never-ending rabbit hole, lost a good friend.

Evan was from Houston, but spent most of his life in Dallas. He lived for music as he bought records constantly and often went to shows. The stories he would share about seeing the original version of the Misfits and Echo and the Bunnymen were some of the ones that stuck out to me. He painted vivid pictures of these shows with his words, as well as when and where he bought a certain record.

Yet the guy wasn't one who lived off the memories of the distant past. He actively searched for new music every single day. He loved searching online for records and give you what you wanted and even more. He would even admit to spending more time downloading music than actually listening to it. That was the thrill of the hunt, especially as evidenced by postings on his blog.

In my time with him, he hooked me up with records from artists as diverse as Genesis, Richard Hawley, Tindersticks, and Killswitch Engage. He never gave me grief for liking bands that were off the "cool" radar. He saw music as music, and he thought people should like what they like regardless of what's cool or hip in the moment.

Under the alias of Captain Groovy, he could share with you about Japanese noise rock, but he could also share about sixties pop and arena rock from the seventies. There weren't any limits to his palate and he was always searching for more.

Only a few years ago, I discovered he loved Rush. I had no idea he was a fan since he never talked about them around me. Turns out he was a diehard fan. I sat down with him and interviewed him about seeing Rush in advance of their show at the AAC. What he shared blew my mind and very little was edited out of the interview for the article.

Going beyond music appreciation, the guy had a lot to say about life. Whether it was relationship issues, friend issues or work issues, he wouldn't hold back on what he thought. He'd tell it to you straight and directly, sometimes to point of submission, but he wasn't trying to wear you out. That was his way of sharing.

Sure, people could say he was arrogant, but he wasn't insufferable to me. He struck me as someone who was content with his life. He never married or had children -- things a lot of people find as keys to happiness -- but he was happy, effectively balancing work and play. 

When Joel got the news about Evan's accident and eventual passing, I asked if he wanted to grab a drink. We met up with friends at a couple of bars and shared stories. (I don't think I've hugged as many people in one place since my cousin's wedding last year.) Despite the solemn tone, we did have some laughs between the expressions of anger and shock. Evan brought a lot of people together and it was fitting to do such in his memory.

In moving forward in life as well as dealing with grief, I look back at some of the last conversations I had with him. Whether it was about record labels ripping off customers with vinyl remasters or places to go in the Los Angeles area, what was said is even more clear to me now. He loved life and wanted people to love it, too.

Looking at a full couple of weeks ahead of the holiday season, I want to do even more with the time I have. Sadly, it sometimes takes a death to realize that, but it's a reminder about the fragility of life and what we should do with the time we have.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ten Years Gone

Ten years ago, after thinking about it for a few months, I finally pulled the trigger and started a blog. Taking a line from Swingers that I loved, I dubbed the blog, Theme Park Experience.

Originally, I wanted to document the experience of writing my first book. Then it morphed into an outlet for rants about music, movies, TV shows, and books. Along the way, it became very philosophical by way of writers like Chuck Klosterman, Michael Azerrad, and Greg Kot. (I didn't realize how philosophical it became until my mother, a former philosophy professor, pointed it out to me.)

During the first few years, I saw the rise of blogs having an influence on breaking new artists. I tried to play along, but I really felt more comfortable writing about other things. Instead of posting (and raving about) an MP3 from some duo from New York that released an EP only months after forming, I was more interested in talking about the futility of remaking a TV show or movie for a modern American audience.

MySpace was in full force with social media, yet I kept spending hours writing blog posts. By the time of Facebook and Twitter, the desire to write lengthy posts diminished. There is a lot of convenience in writing about daily life when it's only a few sentences long or under 140 characters. Hence why I went from writing a blog post everyday to every couple of months.

I don't blame social media for this -- it's more of a relief for me.

When there's a topic that I can't fully explain in a concise status update or tweet, I resort to the blog. I like having the blog around even though there are plenty of older posts that are somewhat embarrassing to read now. I've tried to not let the writing become too personal, like a diary. (A diary is supposed to be private, not something for the world to see. Right?)

Over the course of these years, I've corresponded with many fellow bloggers, a healthy number of them I still interact with. They're good people, and if it weren't for blogs, I probably would have never met them.

For the past few years, this blog has been a hub for my writing for other outlets and as an "official website." Putting themeparkexperience.com on a resume or business card might sound like I'm a theme park reviewer, but when you start a blog around the time of Gorilla Vs. Bear and Can You See the Sunset from the Southside?, you know you're not alone in naming your site something more creative than your own name. 

With the immediate future, I see no reason to stop blogging. There's no shortage of things to say or share, but I prefer to write posts when they're appropriate. New posts could be a couple of days apart or months apart. There's no timetable, which is why having a blog is a wonderful outlet.