S.B. Butler (Official Music Video)

S.B. Butler is the first music video from Ellery Twining’s second solo album “RESULTS”, released 1 June 2023

On RESULTS, Ellery Twining follows up his critically acclaimed solo debut REVENGE with an exploration into the soundscapes of Post Pop.

He has described the work as “A contextual dissemination of the Generation X transformation into the Post Generation.” Further elaborating, he conveys that there are underlying themes of popular culture, childhood survival tactics, and the consequences of “socially acceptable divorce.”

“This group of songs illustrates the experience of seeing through the eyes of Generation X kids during their childhood, and its reflection.”

Written and directed by Mystic Photographer Michelle Gemma

Edited by Jim Canty

S.B. Butler song credits:
Released June 1, 2023
all noises by Ellery Twining
David Bentley / The Bass Guitar
Mixed by Eric Lichter for Dirt Floor Recording & Production
Recorded at The  Dirt Floor Studio
Haddam, CT
Recorded between December 2022 and April 2023

S.B Butler video credits:
Released April 1, 2024
All photographs and video by Michelle Gemma
Except childhood photos from the Freitas Family Albums

Model: Carly Straub

Photographed August 2023 at S.B. Butler Elementary School and on Ocean View Avenue in Mystic, CT USA, and at the Odetah Playground in Bozrah, CT USA

DISC40 is now live on TV!

Tune in to SEC-TV three nights a week for the next month or so to watch DISC40 on Public Access Television or watch here live on our very own PortFire TV channel over at YouTube. Thank you to all of the performers and presenters! Thank you to Frank Fulchiero at SEC-TV for filming and editing this TV video!


I heard you knocking
at our cellar door
shakey made a run to New York
and he had scored
and you were desperate

how did you know?

acceptance proceeds at
its own pace
perception is constantly
a step behind
a step behind

the bottle,
friday evening.

the needle,
thursday night.

it was a secret
until it wasn’t

the neighborhood kids didn’t hear our warnings
they were simply kids
tired of warnings
tired of fighting
tired of trying
some survived
some were revived
and some of you died


lyrics by Ellery Twining


from RESULTS, track released June 1, 2023

Love Conquers All

The Demeter and Persephone Story: The Genesis

As the legend goes, Hades rarely ventured out of the underworld. But, the few times he did, he encountered Persephone. She was the alluring daughter of Zeus and Demeter.

From the moment he first set his eyes on her, he was drawn to her and instantly fell in love. So, Hades went to his brother Zeus to consult him. Zeus had previously promised Hades one of his daughters in marriage. And when Hades told him that he wanted to marry Persephone, Zeus obliged.

He knew, however, that Persephone’s mother Demeter would never allow her daughter to marry the dark god of the underworld. Hades was heartbroken that he would never be able to have Persephone as his wife. So, the two brothers hatched a plan that would see him marry the woman he desperately loved.

The next morning, Demeter and her daughter descended upon the earth. The two were incredibly close just as most mothers and daughters are when girls begin to transition into womanhood.

Demeter was the life-giving goddess of agriculture, grain, and harvest. She provided mortals with plants, food, and vegetables. She also gave them the ability to cultivate wheat.

She showed them how to plant the seeds, nurture them, and harvest them. She even taught them how to grind the grain to produce flour, which they could turn into bread. Demeter left her daughter with the nymphs of the sea to watch over her while she went to tend to her earthly duties.

Zeus knew that the nymphs would never let Persephone out of their sight for fear of Demeter’s wrath. So, he had Gaia plant an enchanting narcissus flower in a nearby garden. As Persephone wandered away from her mother and into the garden, she saw the flower and was immediately drawn to its beauty.

The Abduction

No sooner had she stooped to pick it, than the ground beneath her feet began to quake and a gaping crack soon appeared. As the crack widened, Hades and his chariot of black horses emerged from it and began charging towards Persephone.

Before she could even master a scream, Hades grabbed Persephone and took her down with him to the world of the dead. The nymph named Sion witnessed the abduction and had tried to rescue Persephone, but there was nothing she could do.

She was no match for Hades. Sion was so distraught over her friend’s abduction that she cried until she melted into a pool of her tears, forming the river Sion.

When Demeter returned, she couldn’t find her daughter anywhere. So, she asked the nymphs about it, but they had no answer. Demeter was furious that they didn’t protect her daughter like they were supposed to.

Her wrath rained down on the nymphs, and she cursed them with plumed bodies, scaly feet, and wings. They would no longer be called nymphs of the sea. They would henceforth be known as sirens.

When Persephone’s belt was washed up by the river Sion, Demeter knew that something dreadful had happened to her daughter. She roamed the earth for days on end driven mad by her beloved daughter’s disappearance.

She searched endlessly, neglecting her duties to tend to the earth to nourish the mortals. Plants withered, animals died, and famine ravaged the earth resulting in untold misery. The cries of the mortals reached mount Olympus, and Zeus knew that he had to intervene to calm Demeter’s wrath and spare humanity.

Persephone: The Dark Queen

Zeus sent Hermes to the underworld to bring Persephone back home to her mother. When he got there, he was surprised by what he found. Instead of finding a sorrowful grief-stricken maiden, he was met with a radiant Queen.

During her time there, Hades had beautiful gardens built for Persephone. He treated her with respect and compassion, and she inevitably began to fall in love with him. She saw a side to him she had never seen before, and she embraced her new home helping the spirits of the dead to cross over.

When Hermes requested her return, Persephone was conflicted. On the one hand, she loved Hades and wanted to remain with him, but on the other, she loved and deeply missed her mother.

Hades was terrified that if she was presented with the choice of staying with him of returning to her mother, he would lose. So, he gifted her with six pomegranate seeds to eat, and she did. In Greek mythology, it was believed that if one ate food given to them by their captor, they would always return.

Love Conquers All

When Hermes brought Persephone back to Mount Olympus, Zeus asked her where she would like to live. She expressed that she wanted to stay by her husband’s side.

Demeter was infuriated by her response and was convinced that Hades had something to do with it. She wouldn’t have any of it. She said made it known in no uncertain terms that if her daughter did not return to her, she would never again tend to the earth.

Zeus decided that Persephone would split her time between her mother and her husband. Since she ate six pomegranate seeds, Persephone would spend half the year with her mother at Olympus and the other half with Hades.

The Changing Seasons

Many believe that the Demeter and Persephone story explains the seasons of the year. During the time that Persephone spends away from her mother, Demeter causes the earth to wither and die. This time of year became autumn and winter.

Persephone’s arrival to be reunited with her mother signals a renewal of hope. It represents the rebirth of untold splendor and abundance. The earth once again becomes fertile and fruitful.

All Photographs by Michelle Gemma

and featuring a collage by Ellery Twining on the last photo for “The Changing Seasons”
featuring Models: Jane Anderson & Julia Farrar
Gungywamp, Groton, CT USA

text courtesy of https://www.theoi.com/articles/what-is-the-demeter-and-persephone-story-summarized/

this is the resurrection prequel to my next photoseries:
Stay Tuned!

I made a music video!

Weatherall is the first music video from Ellery Twining’s debut solo album “Revenge”, released 17 January 2022.
It is a deep dive into intergenerational relationships…
Written and directed by Mystic photographer Michelle Gemma, featuring archival photographs from Mystic’s 1990’s underground dance party scene at Mars Hall, alongside video footage from last decade’s recreation of scene at the Workshop.
Edited by Jim Canty.
The song and video are a tribute to British producer/DJ Andrew Weatherall (1963-2020), who passed as Twining was writing the songs for “REVENGE.”
Song credits: Ellery Twining (all Noises) Dave Bentley (the Bass Guitar) Brad Bensko (Electric Guitar) Jason Curland (Percussion)
Produced by Eric Lichter at Dirt Floor Recording & Production Haddam, CT
Engineered by Guido Falivene
Video credits: All photographs and video by Michelle Gemma Except two indoor Mars Hall dance party photos by Kerry Niering and Mars Hall demo photos by Erin Pipping
Models: Carly Straub and Jane Anderson
Photographed March 2022 in Mystic, CT, USA

1 Comment


Full Moon in Sagittarius at 23 degrees

“The body’s wisdom musically in touch and in tune, sensing the resonance of cellular awakening. Eager and enthusiastic and bright, you have given over to the process. Always in midstream. Seizing upon opportunities, challenges, openings. Needing to know just how it feels at the micro levels. What is it like to be free, to be joyous, to be unrestricted, here in the body, in the world? You seek the full-on motivating spark of knowing what it feels like to be tuned out and discovering what it really means to be tuned in all the way.” from Sagittarius at 23 degrees by Ellias Lonsdale

In much the same way in which he characterized planets and asteroids as powerful, gendered beings in Inside Planets, Ellias Lonsdale gives new depth and nuance to degree analysis, an area often seen as technical or reduced to cliche.

Lonsdale builds on three main degree interpretations: Dane Rudhyar’s concept of the Sabian Symbols described in The Astrology of Personality and An Astrological Mandala, Marc Edmund Jones’s Sabian Symbols in Astrology, and John Sandbach’s recent Chandra Symbols. Beginning in 1988, Lonsdale worked with his wife Sara in tracking the Sabian symbol, the Charubel Symbol (the most useful of the other sets of degree symbology) and the Chandra Symbol. After Sara died in 1993 Lonsdale worked with her (as Theanna) and their friend Alita “to pierce through the veil,” as he says in his Introduction, “to find the angel behind each degree. This ultimate version is won from death and fused with rebirth and each word shows this power.”

The degree symbols are most useful in elaborating a personal birth chart. One can learn about personal cycles from studying the place of a transiting or progressed planet by degree at a given time, revealing collective as well as personal timings. The Zodiac degrees also act as an oracle. One can open the collection anywhere for a given day, or in reponse to a question. The degrees will reveal what is happening now and if we are attentive and responsive to the cues, what is required of us. Comparing charts of friends and famous people who are known for certain qualities, one can gradually discriminate among the degrees.

These beautifully written and fully imagined readings of the Chandra degree symbols speak to a deep level of personal change and authenticity.

Ellias Lonsdale is the author of Star RhythmsThe Book of Theanna, and Inside Planets. He lectures widely on astrology and is an astrological counselor in Santa Cruz, California.


featuring Model: Titus Abad
as Sagittarius for the Personal Universe Series
Photograph by Michelle Gemma

THIS IS NOT SLANDER Chapter Nineteen

Jeremy sidled up to me at the bar as I ordered another beer. In tow he had Bop, and his partner; the State Senator,  who represented Middlesex County. I recognized them from Jeremy’s Facebook feed.

“Joss, Ells, I want you to meet Bop and Tatum.”

I reached out to shake both of their hands, first Bop, and then the Senator. Bop’s hand was soft, his grip warm. The Senator’s grasp was firm; a politicians handshake. I was wishing that Jeremy had taken the time to show them the beak.

“And how are you?” Bop whispered toward Jocelyn, reaching out his hand with palm down; as if she would to be expected to bend over and kiss the exposed knuckles of his tanned right hand.

“Very well, thanks” as she grabbed his outreached hand palm up; her thumb clasping across to his ring finger. “Thanks for coming out, I know we had kind of an early show.”

“Girl, I wouldn’t have missed it if you went on at noon; we love your band.”

“Thanks, that’s nice to hear” I offer deliberately, as I think to myself ‘her band….’

Bop looks at me and rolls his eyes, ever so slightly, as if to say ‘Don’t even worry about defending your turf. I am going to own it.’ The THERAPY boys could be much the same. Never towards me, but I saw it happen frequently.

“Thanks, today has been fantastic” offers Jocelyn, obviously hoping to shift the topic.

“Well, nice to finally meet you both. We’re going out to the main stage.”

The Senator came across as genial, but somewhat distant. Perhaps it was simply because we were not part of his constituency. He put his right arm around Bop’s slender shoulder, and they turned toward the exit.

After they are out of earshot, I turn to Jeremy.

“Nice to finally meet you? How long have you known these guys?”

“Oh, I’ve been partying with them since I met Amber, about two months after I got back.”

“And what are these parties like?”

“You know man; I like to be in the company of men every once in a while.”

“I didn’t know.”

“Now you do!”

Jocelyn let out a hearty laugh. It was enough to let me know this wasn’t the first time she had heard of his extracurricular activity. Personally, I could care less, one way or another. And yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a vast world influencing Piercing which I was barely aware of.

As soon as Jeremy and Ian had committed to joining the band, I knew it would be at least a month to get a string of new gigs. In order to find something to keep the band in the public eye while we were re-learning the set, writing new material, and booking shows, I decided to make a four track CD, that I would mail out to college, independent, and internet radio around the country. I had a budget of $500, money I had stashed away from a few summer bonuses I’d received from the Palace.  In the ten days while I was awaiting shipment of the CD’s; I scoured the internet to divine the top 75 stations where we might get the most play out of the process. Day after day of sifting through best of rankings, visiting websites, copy and paste the contact info, listening to a few select dj’s to make sure they are part of the target audience, finding  them all on Twitter and Facebook. I was getting very good at this type of research, and its subsequent execution; but it could be tedious. The reward was acknowledgement.

The new lineup had five practices under their belt by the time we play our first show. The practices are efficient, and run mostly by Jeremy. Everyone seems to be getting along and the new sound begins to gel, even if Ian is a bit guarded. But Ian also went out and bought himself a high end, compact amplifier; an incredible piece of equipment that takes up less room in the van than Rudy’s tiny, custom built rig. The show is at the Well- after we did some low key warm up gigs at the Velvet Mill and a small record store in New London named Ruck & Rule. We were the opener at both shows; the Mill gig was a going away party for the drummer in Class Ring, and the record store was celebrating their third anniversary. The show at the Well is our first time on a stage with a real PA and lights.

“Hey, let’s do “Massive” into “Scattershot” to finish for tonight.” Jeremy hands out his last directive.

After he calls out for us to do our opening song into the second number on a split second shift, we execute- flawlessly.

The Wishing Well show goes as well as the entire month of practices would have predicated, but the turnout is somewhat disappointing. A touring band had gotten in touch with me looking to book a show in New London in an exchange for a show with them in Philadelphia. The chance of them adding to the draw was probably as minimal as our appearance in Philadelphia would be. But it was the definition of how everyone needed each other. The Ties That Bind were a hard working touring band, at the next level of what we aspired to be. These were the relationships that were necessary to break out into a larger world, and if we had to extend our PR efforts to bolster the audience, that’s what we would do.

And that’s what I did, in addition to our usual online campaign. I spent two frigid nights hanging fliers from Westerly to Niantic, and all of the extra effort didn’t quite make up the difference. As we begin our set, opening the night at ten pm in front of fifty people, I see Bop and the Senator enter the bar.

Todd is into his final semester at school, and we don’t hear much from him.  He returns all of the vital communication, but his head is buried so deep in his studies I’m a bit surprised when he brings a new song to practice. He has made every weekend practice, and even braved a few minor snowstorms to get in a mid-week practice. The tune is something out of left field for Todd; who was always consistent. But this was a new exploration of songwriting, and my first impression was ‘How are we going to make this song work live?’ Todd sat down behind the drum set; he was a decent drummer, and certainly could keep a beat and move the drums with depth. And yet, all he played was a galloping 16th note snare rumble.

“Can you play that beat, just like that?”

“Yeah, sure. Of course.”

I had to bite my tongue from saying out loud “Oh, now you’re going to write the drum parts as well? I suppose it won’t be long until you get rid of me and go on as TIR…..” But it crossed my mind.

“So, something like this” as I place myself back on the drum stool. I begin the gallop and add a solid four on the floor bass drum line.

“YES! Yes, that’s fucking it…. Now, just keep looping that. Jeremy, I showed you these chords over the weekend. Joss, here’s the lyric sheet. Ian, it goes A to Gm to D# to E, simple.”

“I like it” says Jeremy. “Does it have a title?”

“My working title is Cassiopeia”

The radio campaign is yielding few results. But I distract the lack of a monumental build in our public image by reminding myself of the one in ten rule. The CD garnered 7 fantastic reviews, and I was able to parlay them into weeks of social media content, but there had been a $500 investment to get that. Was it worth it? I had to remind myself that to bridge that gap, it would have been a minimum $1500.00 investment with a pro agency that might have brought us twenty-one great reviews, and charting on some obscure stations top ten list. It was everything I could do at the time. I was getting keyboard tension in my knuckles from tweeting the stations and dj’s that were actually playing us. Upon checking my email, I find that Maurice has reached out to me about playing in New London again. He sends along The Constitution agent email, and I immediately write to him and explain what Maurice had proposed.

“Yeah, he told me all about it. Let me see if I can squeeze the show in. what was the date again?”

I write back:  “November 30th”

“Ok, that’s going to be tight because the father of the brothers is having a 60th birthday party the weekend before, which they have told me in no uncertain times they will be attending. So, getting them here two weekends in a row might be tough.”

“No worries, if we can make it happen, fantastic. If not, we can revisit for next summer.” I replied

“Great idea. I’ll be in touch.”

We never were able to coordinate them appearing in New London with Piercing. They would, however, headline the NLNM, the following Labor Day Weekend, right in the center of New London on the Plaza.

After my exchange with the Constitution agent, I head into the Palace full of positivity. There was much work to do while we were rebuilding the band; but over the course of the past three and a half months of turmoil, we haven’t regressed in terms of how our audience witnessed our growth. Bands never survive what we had been through; unless they are a cash cow. It was basically me spending every available dollar of my own money to keep our operation functional. As I settled in with Darjeeling tea and the Moon and the Melodies playing quietly, I opened up the Palace email. I felt as if I was a piece of vinyl, and someone had just flipped the record.

“I’m so sorry to let you know like this, but before it comes out in the paper, I wanted you guys to know. Jerry passed away last night at 2am. You were one of the major things that kept him going through these painful years, and I want to thank you both for that. To all of the Palace people. God bless, Rita”

Beatle Jerry was gone. We had witnessed his deterioration as he battled cancer over the years; defiant against something that would get in the way of his time in the store, his time to pick up a new solo McCartney record. Benno and I attended his funeral, and we were in tears from the  moment we entered the church until we closed the doors on the Piercing van across the street from the sanctuary.  Jerry made one last trip to see me at the store, on a Friday; his favorite day to hang out as his work week ended. That afternoon, I caught a glimpse of him getting out of a car in the lot across from the store. He had lost the bulk of his hair; the remaining traces of his flowing sixties ponytail had been reduced to a tuft. He clawed his way into the store, using just a cane and visibly turning down assistance. When he made it across the threshold of the store’s front door, he flashed me his wicked grin; the grin he would introduce himself with after a boisterous weekend of being Jerry. What balls, I thought to myself, as I was fighting back tears- I did not want him to see me cry. If he could be that tough to crawl in to the store, I could be tough enough to act like it was just another day at the Palace. He asks me about the band, how we’re doing.

“Are you still getting regular gigs in New York?”

“Yeah, sort of. We had to get a new guitar player”


“Well, actually, that first thing was the bass player, we had to get rid of.”

“Oh, yeah, yeah. That’s right.”

“So, our guitar player moved from Brooklyn to Portland Maine within a week, at the end of the summer.”

“That was Adrian, yeah?”

“Yes, Adrian.”

“Nice kid.”

“Yeah, he’s doing well in Maine. And then we found a guitar player and a bass player here in town.”

“Ahhh. So now everyone in the band actually lives here?”

“Yeah, finally.”

“Good luck with the band, man, you know I’m rooting for you….  Well, I gotta get going, I get totally wiped out after these excursions. But I wanted to see you while we were out and about; my cousin is in from Nashville.”

“Always good to see you my man.”

I reached out with a beak; he gave me one back.

“C’mon man, I need more than a beak.”

I reached out and we embraced, like old hippies would. A subtle swing, side to side. He whispered in my ear before he let go of me-

“I’ll see you again.”

“Yes, you will” I replied.

I knew it was a mistake when I booked the show, but I did it anyway. A national touring band had reached out to us to open a show at the venerable BaBa’s, which had been displaced as the go to room in town by the Wishing Well years earlier. But BaBa’s had history on its side: in the heyday of touring bands working their way up the ladder, the club was the first rung for many later notable acts. The week before I made my club debut at BaBa’s, while faking birth certificates, a band named Dinosaur played. A barely known San Francisco supergroup  from the ‘80’s known as ‘Dinosaurs’ sued them for copyright infringement. They would then become Dinosaur Jr. But BaBa’s was a long way from those days. That was the reason why an unknown touring band would take a headline gig at BaBa’s- they simply didn’t know any different from a few cursory Google searches. But when the booking agent for the band guaranteed us $200 to play a 45 minute set to open, I couldn’t pass it up. We were making no money as we got our shit together with Jeremy and Ian, and in the very near future, we were going to have to return to the studio and follow up “Decisive/ High Tide”. I booked us a shitty gig because we needed the money. And I knew they weren’t going to take in $200 at the door on a Thursday night at a club in its death throes.

There was an unexpected experience linked to booking this show; it was the last time I would be in that room. After we loaded the gear in, I found a spot at the bar, alone, and ordered a beer. After my customary overtip, I pivoted on my swivel barstool, and my mind began to see the club in its various incarnations. The bar was now corralled by a two by four plywood wall with chain link fence stretching to the ceiling, in order to comply with the state law on alcohol being served at an all-ages show. The bar was literally caged off. But it wasn’t always that way. The very first show I played at BaBa’s there was a complete wall between the bar and the stage, with only a regular door as its entrance. That design of the club was left over from its days as a stripper bar in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, when New London was a Navy town; deep maroon vinyl booths with ornamental wood of Scandinavian influence crisscrossing the walls.  The lead singer for the headliner sauntered up to the four young members of Thames, as we were preparing our setlist in one of the booths before the show.

“You guys do ‘Celebration’ by Kool and the Gang?”

We could sense his dread at the thought of these skinny white kids playing a Kool and the Gang song, as if he were sweating profusely, but only on the interior of his skin. There was no visible sign.

“No, no, it’s a U2 song; the first single they released.” replied Steven.

“Phew…. I didn’t want to have to suffer that…..” and he walked away.

We found out a few weeks later that he was on a weekend pass from the psychiatric ward at the local hospital.

I could see the custom mini-helicopter that someone built in the 90’s to house the soundboard. It was an interesting sight to see a touring band, casually watching one of the openers, find the soundperson ensconced in such a set up; reclined as if in ascension, turning dials to hone the sound while sweeping through a possible sky. Tonight, the soundboard is behind a dull plywood platform at the back of the room, spray painted a matte black.

“Hey nice to finally meet in person. Robert Wahle.”

I reached out and shook his hand. Robert was the manager of Ties, and he had booked the gig. I immediately felt transported back to the early 1990’s- he was sporting a long ponytail, black jeans, and a floor length leather jacket.  I instinctively knew there was no way we were going to be paid $200 by Robert after we finished our set. Any money that came into his hands was going to be funneled to Ties, and we would be left with the promise of payment at a later date. I realized before we had even played a note of music, that I was going to have to explain all of this to the band. I had set myself up to be questioned. Robert finds me at the end of the Ties set.

“We barely made enough to cover expenses for the band tonight. And they have to get to Boston for the next show. I can’t pay you anything tonight, but I promise, I promise, I will pay you the full $200.”

“When do you think that might be?” I offer, trying to hide the disgust I had for myself; lest it be construed as contempt for his effort.

“As soon as I can, man. As soon as I can. The band has seventeen more shows, and I will get you your money before we head home.”


What choice did I have?

“Did you get paid?”

The first words out of Jeremy’s mouth are the words I wish to hear the least. But they all knew this night was booked solely for the money; and now the realization was setting in.

“What do you think?”

“No, of course. There were twenty people here for us and just the five of us watched them play.”

“Well, he promised to send me the money before the end of their tour, probably in about a month.”

“We’re going to need that money to get back to Stormy Harbor.”

“Yeah, I know, I know.”

It was tough to hear him discuss the bands finances when I had been paying the bulk of them for months, out of my own pocket.

We have a full band practice the following Saturday night, and Jeremy arrives with Amber and the Senator.  Since he has yet to learn to drive, she has to transport him to most places. Jeremy thought he would live in the city forever;  hence the lack of driving expertise. But why

was the Senator here? It was Saturday night- party night? Ian, Todd, and I are already set up, tuning the instruments when they arrive.

“Hey people, I have a great idea. Let’s do ‘Psychic Vortex’ from the Boyfriend set.”

“Oh man, I love that song. Did you write the whole thing? I thought that was a group effort.” I ask with genuine curiosity.

“No, no, no, I wrote everything; lyrics, the keyboard parts, the whole bit. Sheesh, you think I would just co-opt someone else’s tune?”  I could sense an early tinge of Chivas on his attitude.

“Well, we’ve rebuilt songs and re-purposed them from almost day one, having such little time to write when everyone was scattered. Now, it’s different. We all live here.” I reply in a soothing tone, so as to not wind him up at 7.30pm, especially with a new song on the table.

Jocelyn enters the studio as Amber and the Senator open the door to leave; she looks like a parting gift framed in the window for “our lucky contestants!” Amber throws a hug around Joss as the Senator looks over at the four of us.

“Hey Tatum, how are you?”

“Quite well, thank you Joss.”

Not everyone was afforded the opportunity to refer to Jocelyn as Joss.

I open a third beer, and it’s only 7.30. Every five months I would have a shitty day, and carry it over into that night’s practice; drink too much beer, get sloppy early. It was usually as a result of another screaming match with my estranged brother over the landline, or another plea for money from my Mom. But my instincts were pointing me toward a new direction- who were these people?

Since we’re all familiar with “Psychic Vortex’”, except for Ian, we plow through several rough versions and harness more on each take. By 10.30, Ian is absolutely locked in- the choruses build in intensity, and the only thing left is to nail a complete stop after the final guitar solo, and rebuild on a dime to maximum volume for a climactic ending. But I keep botching the middle beat because I’m now drunk. Jeremy playfully taunts me about messing it up, but we’ve made such progress tonight he lets me off the hook. That’s when I notice he takes out his Chivas and drains the last drop.  As if on cue, we all put down guitars and click off the PA system;  Amber and the Senator walk in.

“You guys sound good on ‘Vortex!” One session and it’s already that far along!” says Amber , as she sashays between cords and amps to give Todd a hug.

“Goddamn right, and it’ll be our next goddamn single!” states Jeremy

“I can get behind that idea.” I offer, quietly.

“Hey Tates- what idea are we getting behind tonight? Huh? Huh?” and then he cackled, catching the air at the back of his sinus to keep it under control.

“I have a speaking function in Hartford tomorrow morning, so tonight will be quiet. A few glasses of wine, although you might only get one, baby.”

“What about you Joss, what ‘choo up toooo.”

“I worked all day today, and the store was swamped. My voice is getting a little hoarse; a little tired. I’m going to go to bed and tea up all day Sunday.”

“Ian, IAN, what choo up to.”

“Umm, I’m going home?” most of his answers were starting to sound like questions.

“Twining, come out with us.”

“Jeremy, I’m done, I’m going upstairs to chill with Anne.”

I have booked us a “home and home” set of shows with Love Me Not, a slinky guitar driven band led by former All in the Family member Ira Walrath. Ira took an immediate interest in Piercing after the initial wave of Earcandy hype, and now that his new band was up and running, we decided to trade shows; Love Me Not would open for us at the Well, and we would open for them in Brooklyn at the Owls Nest, one of the all ages DIY spaces on Broadway. The shows were a week away; Friday in New London and New York on Sunday. We would only have one chance for the five of us to practice before the shows- the night after the BaBa’s gig, a Friday.

Ian is the first to show up at Centraal. I haven’t had much time alone with him, so I decide to ask him how he thinks the band is coming along.

“Pretty good, yeah. Jeremy and Todd are really good players, Joss is really good. I like it.”

“Cool, cool. I think you are adding the missing piece. I’m impressed with how quickly you’ve been able to get up to speed. Your dad told me as much. Not that I didn’t believe him…”

“Ha ha, yeah, my dad.”

“He’s a good guy.”


Todd and Jeremy arrive together a few minutes later, and they are excited by a new song possibility.

“Let’s rework ‘Final Time” into a song for our set! “ suggests Jeremy

“Final Time” was the single best song they had written as The Infectious Reality; Adrian had actually suggested it a year earlier when we were trying to build up the set. The song was a barreling rock number, with a piquant sweetness- a grappling desire between the lyrics and melody. It was also Anne’s favorite song by them; although she adored everything they had written.

“Have you heard from Joss today?” asks Todd

“Yeah, she texted me an hour ago, said she’d be here on time.” I reply.

“Well, fuck it, let’s just plug in and start getting Ian familiar with Time.” instructs Jeremy.

Jeremy and Todd quickly go over the chords and arrangement with Ian, piecing together the elements of the song for him to easily adapt to. It only takes Ian three or four passes on each section until he has the chord structure; I add quiet backbeats to underpin the direction. Once Ian is confident he knows where the notes sit in each sequence, I begin with four clicks, and we charge through a full version of “Time” at top volume. After three passes at it, there is a loud knock on the Centraal door. At first, I was a bit stunned because the only people we were expecting were Joss, who surely wouldn’t knock before entering, or Anne, who actually owned the house. Todd turned to his right and opened the door, and there stood Anne- hands clenched, with both held tight to her lips.

“Are you guys going to do ‘Final Time’ for real, or are you just messing around?”

“No, we’re going to add it; this is the first run through. Todd, Joss, and I have been kicking around the idea for a few days.” Offered Jeremy, excited to hear Anne’s immediate reaction.

She takes a seat in the room, and asks us to play it again. We get to the half way point, and in walks Jocelyn. She exchanges beaks with Anne, and sits down next to her, a near identical smile on each of their faces.

Anne’s father had been admitted to the hospital later that night with an irregular heartbeat, after Piercing began reworking “Final Time”. He’d gone through a bypass surgery two years prior, and this was his first complication since. Anne took the phone call during practice, and waited until the other members had left for the night to inform me.

“My dad’s in the hospital for some tests on his heart.”

“What?!?!?! Is he alright?”

“Well, he had some palpitations in the last thirty six hours, so he decided to check himself in. as a precaution.”

“Sheesh, it must be serious if he admitted himself….”

“I think it is serious, but he’s such a fighter. They said his potassium levels were drastically low, so maybe it’s just he lost his way on the diet end of things. You know how he loves garlic…. they don’t want him eating as much as usual…..”

“Always pushing the envelope, that man.”

“Too true. I’m going to visit him tomorrow afternoon. I’m going to leave work early at 3 and head over there until probably 7, maybe 8. Then I’ll catch the last of the game with you here.”

The Red Sox were in the World Series for the fifth time in my life. They had already won two titles, something I never thought I would realize during my baseball fandom. The Folk Mass and I made plans to watch the game at Centraal, and hopefully work the mojo to keep the game close until Anne returned from visiting her dad at the hospital. Benno also lived on my street, two doors down, in a small apartment he moved in with his daughter after divorce and the recession forced him to sell his house.

He would however not be watching the game with Folk Mass and myself- Benno, being a staunch Yankee fan, could never sit through a possible celebration of anything regarding the Red Sox. But he and I had a tacit agreement, along with Anne and his daughter Frances- if something was awry at their apartment, simply call Ells and Anne if you are worried about anything  while at home. At 9.30 pm, during the top of the fifth inning, our landline rang at Centraal.


“Ells, its Frances. You gotta come down here right now! I think my Dad is choking to death!!!!”

“We’ll be right there!” I throw the phone against the wall and tell Folk Mass “that was Frances, Benno is choking to death!”

I open the door and the Folk Mass sprints ahead of me. I am running as fast as I can, and the four beers I had in me made it feel as if I was gliding over the pavement. We open the door and find Benno hunched over at the waist, gasping for breath.

“It was something I ate” he mutters, a garbled explanation when we had no time for one.

I had always thought of the Heimlich maneuver as something akin to getting your wisdom teeth out- it was going to happen at some point and there would be nothing you could do about it. I grab Benno above the waist, and begin pulling my clenched fists into his abdomen; it almost feels like plunging a backed up commode- if I hit it just right, the food will dislodge and everything will return to normal. Seconds tick off, Frances’ face is frozen, The Folk Mass looks concerned, and I think we should be calling 911- it must be what he’s thinking. Benno is in top shape, and I begin to tire of lifting his muscle mass while exerting maximum strength for this  maneuver. How long has it been?

“Wait, wait wait, stop! Hold it!!!!” says Robert. “It’s lodged in his lower esophagus, below the windpipe. He can still breathe, but not swallow.”

Benno takes a glass of water and tries to down a gulp. It comes right back up, partly through his nose. I then notice there is phlegm and mucous everywhere; the table, floor, refrigerator door.

“We’ve got to get you to the emergency room.” states the Folk Mass in a very quiet, distinct voice.


Adrian calls my new phone at 7.05pm

“We’ve just cleared New Haven.”

“Ok, cool. Just keep on trucking. I have all of your gear set up; Todd is tuning the guitars, so you just have to walk on stage.”

“Alright, man. I’m trucking!”

I get a text from Brent moments later:

“Old Saybrook, on express to NL”

I gather a huge breath, and exhale slowly. Brent should be here with moments to spare at the worst, or at least have a few minutes to catch his breath. Adrian will only make it on time if there are no accidents on the stretch between New Haven and New London; a dicey proposition even in the best of conditions. I felt we had to come up with a contingency plan if one, or both of them, didn’t make it on stage by the time we had to start.

Ross Coscialetti was the manager of Royal Park, and he had booked the gig with Caron Morris. Together, they worked in tandem to bring the bigger shows in town to the Park, and were also the chief architects of the TAZZIES. We had also spent four years together in Bold Schwa; as he was the band’s bassist. Ross sidled up to me as we began to prep our gear backstage; the second band would  finish in about a half hour.

“Hey man, you look frazzled. What’s up?”

“Brent and Adrian are both coming in from the city right now, and they’re both delayed. I’m praying they get here in the next twenty minutes.”

“Do you need some time? With the drizzle, I could easily back it up ten, fifteen minutes.”

“Thanks. Ten minutes would be great. If they are not here by then, well…  the show will go on.”

“Alright, I’ll come back with a start cue.”


I was quite fortunate to have friends stretching back decades, who also were striving to live up to their responsibility in this creation of our own world. We had both been working in ways to build something that didn’t yet exist; secretly hoping for accumulation. I return to Jocelyn and Todd, reassure them that Ross has stretched out our start time by at least ten minutes. They both looked relieved, and simultaneously petrified. I decided to throw out a few scenarios where we could pull off a three person version of Piercing.

“Let’s do “Mind over Body”, but slowly. Lean on the country underpinnings, and stretch out the vocal. That could be about 5 minutes, and if it’s still the three of us at that point, I suggest we do “Spirit” as a slow, jazzy number, something I’ll use rimshots on instead of flush snare hits.”

“And what if we have to do a third number?” asked Todd. He’s worried.

“We’ll play that cover tune you love so much.”

“The Mac.”

The Mac.” I reply, heavy on the The. It was about confidence at this point; nothing else was going to salvage this situation unless we went out and were Entertainers.

I spot Brent strolling through the ornate wrought iron gates at the front of the Park. He is wearing his sheepish grin; usually reserved for when he had one too many and was caught at the fridge grabbing one more. I was delighted to see that wry smile, as I climbed down the steps at the front of the stage to exchange beaks with him.

“That was tight” he offered

“No worries. Ross gave us an extra ten minutes, we go on in fifteen.”

“Is Adrian here?”

“Last time he called he was in East Lyme. That was ten minutes ago.”

“Do we have a plan as a four piece?”


I went over the details of our backup plan with Brent, and he sounds confident.

“We can make that work.”

Ross comes up to the edge of the stage; Todd is getting in one last tuning of Adrian’s guitar.

“We have to start in two minutes.”

“No problem, we have a backup plan in place.”


“Hi, we’re Piercing, and as of now, we are missing…… one of our members…… Adrian is coming in from the city and he’s in a bit of traffic…… so…… we’re going to start with “Mind over Body”. And hopefully, you will see him come running down the center aisle between you all in a few moments. This is “Mind over Body”…..

I was impressed. She nailed the static electricity of the moment and did so completely unprompted- a perfect delivery. For a second I had hoped Adrian wouldn’t make it so she had to address the crowd through the whole set in that manner. As I raise my hands up to begin to click off the tempo for our first song, Adrian runs on to the stage through the open backstage door. He almost stumbles over his amp; as if he were a sprinter leaning forward to catch the finish line. The crowd began clapping in unison immediately. Perhaps this would be a victory after all.

Following our set, I grab a beer and find Ross to thank him for accommodating our hectic commute.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Maurice coming in the front gates, and excuse myself from Ross.

“Hey man, good to see you!”

“Good to see you as well. You guys were fantastic, much better than when I saw you in March.”

I take it as a compliment.

“Thanks man, thanks for making it out.”

“It was nice to come to a venue and just be able to chill, yaknow?”

“How long have you guys been out on the road?”

“About three months straight.”

The two of us talk through the next two acts, occasionally pausing to catch the general vibe of the songs,and the crowd. The Park is wall to wall by the time the headliner comes on, and I can sense Maurice yearing for participation in the scene that was unfolding in front of him. Tonight wasn’t about the “music business” which was obviously draining him of some of the spirit of performing; of making music. This was a large group of people who simply loved music, and loved seeing it performed live. It was the bedrock upon which Piercing existed, and Maurice was seeing it in full effect. When he was living here and coming of age, the Royal Park was a gravel parking lot. Now it was a first class outdoor venue, snuggled into the heart of a small city, and providing moments like tonight.

“Do you think you could book us a gig here in New London? It seems like people really love music here right now.”

“Of course!” When do you want to play? I can walk over to Caron right now and tell him you guys want to play and he would most likely book it and find the perfect venue.”

“Well, I’d have to go through all of our channels, but yeah, I think it would be an awesome time. Piercing should open for us.”

“Maurice, I would be more than happy to bring that to fruition for you.”


“Hey man, are you going to come down to the show?”

Adrian finds me talking with Maurice. Class Ring have booked a show at another club in town for later in the evening. He wasn’t going to be arriving at the last minute for that gig. I bit my tongue.

“Nah, I’m going home. We still have a long weekend ahead of us; Todd is shooting with Anne on Saturday afternoon, and we are heading back to Brooklyn to practice with Wall on Sunday morning, remember?”

“Of course I remember. Well, I just wanted to let you know- I gotta head down there now.”

“Cool, have a good show, text me tomorrow night so we can finalize travel plans for Sunday.”

“You got it. See you guys.”

Adrian leaned over and gave me the beak; I was thrilled to see Maurice reach out to Adrian with the closed fingers of our secret handshake. He beaked Adrian, and gave me a sly grin.

Wall called that Friday night- he eventually will need surgery on his broken collarbone; the initial set was completely botched.  And once that event took place, he wouldn’t be able to even pick up a bass for a month; much less practice or continue to learn the songs. He suggested we head into Brooklyn to practice one time before his surgery, so we could meet in person and at least begin the process. I thought it was a sure sign of his commitment, and the definition of why we were waiting it out for him to heal. Wall was going to be the New Bassist.

“I’m at Ellen’s house, across from the post office W Mystic”

Adrian’s first text of the day. Jocelyn and Todd were already at Centraal; I was plying them with tea.

“Cool. be there in ten mins”

When we arrive, the front couple of Class Ring are taking guitar amps from a Jeep and bringing them into the house, of which neither of them lived, or practiced in. It was a strange sight, as if we were seeing the film being rewound, not the forward expanse in present time. Adrian came running out of the same door the amps were being loaded into- he almost tripped over the second one on the porch. With bounding leaps, he made his way across the lawn and into the side door of the van.

“What’s up, people! My dudes!”

Beaks were exchanged all around. This wasn’t unusual for Adrian to minimize the emotional content of a moment with a quite masculine bond attempt. It didn’t work on that level, but it did clear the air.

“Hey, what’s up with those guys and the amps going into Ellen’s mom’s house?”

“We had a gig in New Haven last night.”

“What?” gasped Joss, Todd, and myself simultaneously.

“Yeah, I didn’t tell you guys before I came up, but they booked a gig in New Haven, a sort of “pay to play” gig. I didn’t book it, those guys did. They thought it would be a good opportunity to play since I was going to be here this weekend anyway.”

“You played two gigs with Class Ring this weekend?” posited Jocelyn. She had never expressed this kind of anger towards a band member outside of our own relationship.

“Hey, hey hey…” responded Adrian.

“Don’t get worked up about it, c’mon guys ….” offered Todd, playing the role of the referee.

I resisted commenting.

“Well, it didn’t fucking go so great, if you want to know!!!!” Adrian leaned on the van headrest to make his point to Jocelyn.

“Hey, take it easy” she responded.

I was proud. She had the high ground, I wanted to see her actually defend it- defend everything we had been building since she sat cross legged upon the Thames sound system in 2005; recording the first TIR EP surrounded by equipment from another age. That progress would corrode without enhancing its intention, it’s meaning. It was all at stake now.

“Me, and Sawyer and Heide (the Class Ring front couple) headed down there about three hours before the gig. The two brothers called us an hour later, said they were in bridge traffic, and couldn’t make the gig. He fucking booked a gig he ditched on two hours before show time. What a dick. Bridge traffic? Fucking bridge traffic? The fucking bridge goes up and down up and down every fucking hour. Did they think I was that stupid?  I’ll never play with those guys again.”

Jocelyn turned and looked right at me. I knew immediately what was on her mind:

‘See, I told you these things can’t be put back together again.’

I didn’t mind her being right at all.

In an unexpected turn, the palette was cleared. There would be no more interference from Class Ring. Rudy was gone, and Wall was playing with us today. The relief was palpable; it was the first time I had let myself truly exhale in ten months, since our first recording session at Stormy Harbor. The extraneous pressure had been removed, and we could rebuild the band with Wall without distractions.

We also now had someone in the city to help bond with Adrian; to bring him closer to the fold. The sky was cloudless, and the Sunday traffic was minimal. We should arrive in Brooklyn a full half hour before the start of practice, which should give Joss time to get another coffee, and walk the streets of Brooklyn. She often talked of moving there.

“But I actually want to be able to afford it, not just couch crash and beg for work. I don’t have that in me. I couldn’t do what Adrian has done since he moved here.”

Adrian asks me to pull over as we pass his apartment.

“I just wanna go in and grab some money; I’ll be right out.”

Ten minutes later, he emerges. I resist probing my thoughts for clues; we need to get to the Foundry. Unfortunately, my directions took us from the Williamsburg Bridge to the Foundry; now we were in a slightly different neighborhood, and I wasn’t sure how to get there from Adrian’s apartment.

“So, do I take a left up here at this light?”

“Yeah, yeah. Take that left, and then go three blocks and take a right.” Replied Adrian

Twenty minutes later, we pull up to the door at the Foundry. One thing I learned that I had never known before this afternoon, in all my time driving around the city: never ask directions from someone who only walks in the borough- they have no clue about the vagaries of one way streets. But we are there. As I begin unloading gear with Todd, Jocelyn tells me she wants to still get a coffee before we start.

“Ok, cool. but why don’t you get Adrian to go with you, we’ll load up the rest of the gear between the two of us.”

“Nah, that’s just wasting more time. I’ll be fine, I’ll be right back.”

“Do you know where you are headed?”

“Yeah, I saw a shop a few blocks back while Adrian was navigating.”

“Ok, cool. Be careful.”

She laughed her insouciant laugh and turned on the toe of her right, booted foot. The sidewalk was dry, mid-July, and I could sense the specific frequency of that small imprint on the surface of the city. I let her walk away with trepidation, because if something should actually befall her while we were here, or any of the other many cities we may find ourselves in shortly, it will be my fault. I will be responsible. I feel the same with all of the kids, but much more so with Joss. There are people in this world who might take the chance of getting their hands on her- I had seen the same reaction to her since the TIR gigs. I watched her fade into the heat blur of the sidewalk, and thought a silent prayer:

“Not today, Lord. Not today.”

Wall is already there, sitting in a deep recess of the entryway, on a tattered couch. He stands up as we pass him, and out of the corner of my eye I catch his movement and stop myself.


“Hey, Ellery, how was the drive down.”

“Easy. Sunday morning. Drove in circles a bit trying to find this place, but we’re here. Thanks for making it.”

“Thank you man. I’m the one putting some limitations on us.”

“Ha, no worries man.”

The practice space is surprisingly nice; baffles suspended from the ceiling, heavy red velvet curtains hung ceiling to floor on three sides- a Lynchian vibe in the depths of industrial Brooklyn. The Foundry was in the same neighborhood as Huntington Grounds, which made me a bit upset when we lost our extra half hour trying to locate the space. By the time we get all of the gear set up, prepare ourselves to play, and wait out Jocelyn’s coffee run, it’s 3pm. I recalled, for the first time in years: you are always going to pay for “unused” time at a practice space. The fantasy I had of us getting going at the of the two o’clock hour were always ludicrous; even if they were subconscious. Let’s just jam and see what happens.

And that is exactly what we do. Wall is locked in to about half of each song; but when he finds the groove and grabs it, you can sense a widening of our sound. It doesn’t become more intense, or louder, but more succinctly stated; wider. Wall was working in frequency ranges that allowed the main guitar riffs to have more bite, while also adding Tabitha’s promise- a funky underpinning that didn’t exist with Rudy. After an hour of working on six songs that he had somewhat of a familiarity with, we took a quick break and then began working on a new Adrian song; his first in months. It was trademark Pearson- a quick stuttering rhythm with melodies that turned on a dime. Wall found the core groove after two run-throughs, which was the most encouraging sign so far. If he could write this quickly in real time, the distance between Mystic and the two of them would seem to be an illusion. The constant effort to balance the band these last six months has been akin to standing on a tree trunk in the water of a cool lake. With the Class Ring dissolution, and Wall’s obvious integrity, I felt as if the current had begun to change course. It was as if I realized I had been wearing a lifejacket the entire time.

We pack the gear, load the van, and I wipe the sweat from my brow as I ask Wall to give me directions to his apartment from the Foundry.

“Take a left three blocks down, and then go four blocks on Humboldt- take a right on Siegel.”

I put the transmission into drive and hit the signal for the left blinker. As I stepped on the gas, I realized we hadn’t paid for the time at the Foundry. I hurriedly put the van in park, and told everyone

“I’ll be right back, I forgot to pay.”

This was met with catcalls and jeers, in a playful way. I had become so caught up in what the possibilities were now that the lineup was sorted, I was just going to head to Wall’s. I walked into the office and handed the Foundry founders the cash. They laughed.

“We thought you were going to ditch on us!”

“No no no , I wouldn’t do that. I ran a space like this in Connecticut for years, I know what it’s like. We just auditioned a new bass player, and he seems like a perfect fit. I lost track of my shit for a moment.”

“No worries. We’ll be telling this story to people for years to come.”

“Well, I’m glad I could contribute to the folklore of your fine establishment.”

They laughed. It was all good.

“We’ll be back.” I offered, turning toward the exit.

“We’ll be here.”

Once we settle into Wall’s apartment, everyone breaks out a bit of their stash before we head out and get something to eat. At one point Wall reaches into a canvas bag, and pulls out a prescription pill bottle, undoes the lid, and pops two pills with no water. He’s dealing with a broken bone, so I don’t give it a thought. All of the sudden, Jocelyn pipes up:

“Hey can I get two of those?”

“Umm, yeah, sure” replies Wall. It’s obvious that this isn’t the first time he has been asked that question.

“Hey, I’ll pay you for five right now, if you can spare them?”

It’s Todd. How could he not know that I knew what had been going on behind closed doors? If that was the case, why would you ask to buy scripts in front of me? I had bought into my own theory of progress, but now it was  being threatened. Was Todd still stuck in a cycle of using pills? Why else would he bargain for them in front of me? And how hard was Jocelyn’s day? Was she so comfortable in our burgeoning reality that this hidden realm would now come to light? In all the time I had known Joss, using pills was never part of her milieu. So, why now?

“Hey, guys, Wall probably needs them more than you. He just broke a bone, umm and you guys broke….. what exactly?” I decided to say something to turn the direction away from more drug use.

“Ohh, sorry, man. Old habit. You probably used to do the same thing if you found out there was LSD to buy on a Sunday afternoon in July…  of 1990 ….  unexpectedly …” Replied Todd.

“That’s true, you got me.”

“I’m just feeling really cramped up, like my stomach is shrinking. Can I still get two from you Wall?”

“Yeah, sure.”

That was totally unbecoming of Jocelyn. Not so much that she might like to take some pills once in a while, but that she would be so public about it. I had known her for seven years and knew nothing more of her extracurricular activity than smoking pot. I decided to file it away and see if pattern recognition would reveal itself.

“Didn’t Squish and English spend a summer putting pills up there asses? So they could get off more?” Adrian throws in a story from the old days.

“Hahahaha, yeah, I remember that. Those guys were really reaching…” replies Jocelyn.

“I mean, how high can you get? How high do you need to get? I understand the whole ‘there’s more out there’ argument, but really….  You can’t put the pills in your fucking mouth? Really?” risking that I was sounding like Dad. I didn’t give a fuck.

“I agree” replied Jocelyn “you should never put something up your ass that doesn’t belong there. I thought I had something wrong with me a few years ago; something digestive. So I did some research, and decided that a salt water enema was the solution to all of my problems. Again, you should never put something in your ass that doesn’t belong there.”

The only sound after that was the air conditioner, working perfectly.

We walked the four blocks to the coffee shop on Bushwick Avenue. I would imagine the denizens of this Burgh were in the presence of musicians all of the time, but something in the way the passersby’s double takes made me think:

‘We must look like a real band to them.’

And we did; without a coded, uniformed presence. We were separate from that presence, and did not have to adhere to its rigidity. We were free; and the music could be our sole focus.  Our image was like settling concrete. When Joss asked Wall what his latest musical interests were, he responded in a way that gave her the wrinkled, upturned smile that she reserved for moments of clarity.

“I love the new Daft Punk.”

“So do I” she replied, deliberately.

On the ride home, it was just the three of us; Todd, Joss and me. There was a new privacy between us that hadn’t existed in the period when Rudy was in the band. We always had to acquiesce to Rudy; to make him feel comfortable. When it worked, it was more than worth it. But those days are behind us now. We are driving north on the Hutchinson Parkway blasting Saint Etienne.

“Every time I hear this song, I think about living with Jackson in Boston. “

It was “Carn’t Sleep” from Foxbase Alpha, their debut album.

“I can’t sleep, wishing you were here with me…”

Jocelyn started to sing along with the main vocal; a wistful gaze out the mid seat window.

When i get home from work,

Sit down and watch tv,

The night falls

Just like a bad dream.         


“Why does that remind you of Boston?” I offered, quietly- inferring we could leave the topic off limits if she wished to.

“Jackson was always out late, and then I found out he was cheating on me the whole time.”

“Ouch, that’s a brutal reminder. We can skip the track when we listen to it.”

“Hahaha, no, it’s really not that big a deal. And I love this record, why would I let him ruin it for me?”

“Just offering.”

Jocelyn stood up, and lay down on the floor between the two front captain chairs.

“Are you feeling alright? Do you want a pillow?”

“Yeah I’m ok, my stomach is a bit grouchy. Where is the pillow?”

“It’s behind that seat, in the back pocket.” I pointed; my left hand on the steering wheel.

Joss finds the pillow, lays it on the van floor, and slowly lowers the back of head. She’s staring straight up at the ceiling.

“It absolutely sucked to deal with him cheating on me. We broke up over it after a few weeks of screaming at each other, but I would still sleep with him when I wanted to. And when that got tiring; I decided to just go back home.”

“Wha? You did?” asks Todd. “I didn’t know that.”

“You did the same thing Todd.” her voice trailed off into a resigned sigh, with the emphasis on same.

“Too true. I guess that’s why I’m feeling for you.”

I also didn’t know. I decided to look at it as a moment where she felt free to reveal more about herself than I had ever anticipated. This was a new level of trust; something that had been acquired navigating our way through the madness. Or was it that I didn’t really know Joss as well as I thought?