A Few Days in the Life (3/25/20)

March 25, 12:46

The Sonic Sanctuary

I’ve seen relatively deserted streets on a weekday while working before. But usually that was either Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. This, most certainly, is not that.

My first day back at work was quite adventurous. Two probationary officers to train, and more reports than usual. My shift ends at 23:00. I got home just before 02:00. Sleep didn’t come until 90 minutes later. So naturally, I was awake again at 07:00. Luckily, I was able to doze off for awhile longer. But it still threw my day off a bit. I’m in the process of catching up. I’m almost there.

You would think I’d learn by now: throughout my entire career, the first day back from an extended break is almost always an adventure. Some kind of major incident almost always prevents that first day from being smooth and easy. In the grand scale, yesterday wasn’t all that bad. There was just so damn much paperwork attached to it. Well, such is cop life.

I’ve been lamenting that with my last roll call rapidly approaching, we may still be in the “social distancing” phase of fighting this Bug. In fact, I’m almost counting on it. This bums me out. I’m not the most affectionate person on earth, but for ONE DAY, I was looking forward to handshakes, high-fives, and hugs. Well, shit …

Grooving hard to TOOL today. I am determined to learn this song, particularly the repetitive guitar riff at around the 8:00 mark. It just sounds like a BLAST!

I love having a musical mind that absorbs Miles Davis and TOOL with equal enthusiasm. Most people I know can’t (or won’t) do it. Music is truly the BEST!

March 26, 11:54

The Sonic Sanctuary

Yesterday, there was sun and a little warmth. Spring began to feel possible. Today it’s clouds, cool, and rain. It’s Fall again. Hmph.

Upstairs, the small children (a boy and a girl about 3 and 4) are starting to sound like the cabin fever has set in. Much wailing, gnashing, and thumping. I should probably be annoyed, but I can’t really blame them. I have to leave the house every day, so it’s possible for me to get a little air. Even if it wasn’t, I’m surrounded by more than enough to keep myself amused. But that wouldn’t mean I wouldn’t want to get out now and then. So, let them wail and gnash. I can only feel sorry for their mother. Thump. Thump. Thump.

At least two boxes of material are headed my way to aid in my research for the Worrell bio. I’ve ordered a ton of stuff from Amazon or found them at Planet Score myself. The foundation is being laid. Starting in May, things will get pleasantly intense. Intense to the point where I will chronicle my progress under a new heading on this page. Stay tuned.

Musicians being home means more interview possibilities. Requests are being sent, most of which are being returned with positive responses. I’ve often said that between law enforcement and music journalism, I lead a double life. Even in retirement, I will still lead a double life, this time between music journalism and being a biographer. But I WILL make the time to visit the golf course, unlike the last time I buried myself in writing a book.

Thump. Thump. Cry. Yell. Thump. Good thing I have TOOL to counter them.

 March 27, 01:51

The Reverberation Station

The afternoon watch was far less chaotic than it had been the two previous evenings, for which my young charge and I were grateful. The strange thing is, I sincerely believe little to none of it had anything to do with COVID-19. Those days may still be ahead of us. Time will tell.

One thing I haven’t been during this crisis is panicked. Concerned, yes. Mildly anxious (once or twice), yes. But there has been no panic. Just the understanding that I needed to make adjustments to keep things flowing as smoothly as possible.

People are too busy freaking out over what they see on the news. Thing is, most of what’s on TV 24/7 isn’t really news at all. To make matters worse, the people watching don’t really want any news at all. They want the validation of their own opinions. “I believe in this. The guy on the news said it, too. Therefore, I must be right.”

People are sheep.

I’m washing my hands. I try not to touch my face. I’m isolating myself as much as possible, which is primarily when I’m not working. For a cop, social distancing is the antithesis of what we do. We do what we can from a distance. We avoid unnecessary contact. We don’t shake hands (to the disappointment of some kids, whom I hate to let down). We try to be as safe as possible. We respect the virus. More than a few don’t. Some of them are starting to learn the hard way.

No panic. I’m hoping policies are not put in place to indicate otherwise. But that’s not up to me. I’m not in charge, nor do I want the job. I just want to make my way through these six weeks, and on to my next life.

And it would be nice if my daughter texted now and then. Teenagers …

Finally finished the main body of In the Court of King Crimson. Sid Smith did a fantastic job, even if it did feel like he went out of his way to portray Adrian Belew as the bad guy when my hero was not invited to return to the band in 2013. But if I’ve learned anything in 25 years of mediating disputes, it’s this: there are three sides to every story. The truth usually lies somewhere in between the two disputing parties. So I’ll leave that discussion for others to undertake. I have other things to do.

More thoughts abound, but I must sleep.

20:27

Afternoon watch.

At times, I feel almost prescient.

Last night, I was griping about people letting panic rule the day. This morning, I watched the final episode of Picard, where Patrick Stewart’s character said one of the most poignant things I’ve ever heard.

Mind you, he wasn’t talking about Coronavirus. That wasn’t even a thing when the episode was filmed. Yet Jean-Luc Picard could have been staring directly at our televisions when he said it.

“Fear is an incompetent teacher.”

That line hit me like a ton of bricks. When I mentioned it on my social media pages, a friend created a meme.

There’s nothing I can add to that. That line says it all.

Meanwhile, I marvel at the fact that next week’s shift change is my second to last. And it will be my final stint on the day watch. Wow. I’ve been asked how it feels. The only word I can come up with is … odd. In a good way.

There is no fear. No remorse. No trepidation. Only the overwhelming desire to move on. Tomorrow is the final day of training for my young charge. I’ll have his paperwork done by the end of the watch. That’s a big check mark on my list. One less thing.

I tell myself every day that I won’t bring up my retirement at work. I don’t have to. The talk comes to me! “Almost there.” “I can’t believe you’re leaving!” “Sure you won’t change your mind?”

Yep. It’s true. Absolutely not.

***

I do believe I’ve landed one of the major interviews I’ve been after. We exchanged texts yesterday. Time to do a little more research, though I’ve had a good idea what I’ve wanted to ask for quite some time. This will also be my first experiment with a talk-to-text app I plan to use for book research. Transcribing is a royal pain. The less I have to do it, the better.

March 28, 22:09

Afternoon watch.

It’s Saturday. But who can tell?

This time of night is usually us rolling past bars and through our busy nightclub areas, waiting to see what finds us. Tonight, nothing.

Most everyone is at home, where they should be. There are still calls, but most seem silly and unnecessary. What I wouldn’t give for people to work toward solving their own problems before getting me involved. But that seems to be too much to ask.

Only the grocery stores and places like Target showed any real signs of life, making for an odd feeling Saturday. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure what day it was. This isn’t out of the ordinary in my line of work. These “weekends” people speak of are few and far between. I often tell citizens that when I wake up, I ask myself two questions: do I work today? And what time?

That being said, I can usually get a gauge on the day of the week based on the traffic patterns I see. Needless to say, that is much more challenging in these crazy times. Even the convenience stores, normally bustling with gas seekers and last-minute drinkers, are doing little business.

Strange days indeed.

Tonight was supposed to be the Dweezil Zappa gig at the Ready Room. I would’ve been there. Next week would’ve been Stick Men in Cincinnati. Four road trips planned. None taken. This is the new norm. I offer this as temporary substitute.

March 29, 21:36

Afternoon watch.

Thank God it’s (my) Friday. I’m in the mood to tell people what I’m thinking. That’s almost never a good thing.

People have got to start taking COVID-19 seriously! Today in my favorite convenience store, I watched a 60-something man cough directly into his hand, then proceed to handle his money with the same hand. He got a gentle but firm scolding from me.

The man actually looked perplexed by what I was telling him. “I didn’t mean to,” was the best answer he could come up with. It’s not about intent, I responded. I should’ve sent him out of the store without whatever he came in for. But technically, I’m not allowed to enforce any potential health violations. Christ …

On the plus side, I was able to create a rough outline for the Worrell bio. Now I know both where I want to go, and how I plan to get there.

I told a friend of mine I would ha e to re-write the entire thing once the research and interviews were completed. She summed it up nicely by saying what I did today was creating the skeleton. The muscle and tissue comes later. Couldn’t have said it any better.

23:37

Home

Shift over, weekend starts. I plan to walk to the grocery store tomorrow, which will satisfy both my need for a couple of food items and my need for exercise. After that, it’s relaxing and writing.

The outline was actually supposed to be tomorrow’s goal. For once, I’m ahead of the curve. I’ll settle for reading and listening. And I have a separate interview to prepare for.

For now, time to chill out.

March 31, 21:57

The Sonic Sanctuary

Damn. Was that really two days already?

I hate two-day breaks. Especially when they involve rotating back to days. I would hardly call myself rested. And yet it’s time to go back tomorrow morning. Insulting.

Not much as gotten done. Nor did I think it would. I’ve done some research, which is to say I’ve been listening to Bernie and asking a few questions of a few key people. In spite of all around us, I’m getting a few things done.

Bassist Preston Singletary was kind enough to send me three records from Khu.eex’, one of Bernie’s final projects.

It is fascinating stuff, combining the sounds of Native American music from the Northwest (Singletary is in Seattle) with Bernie’s rock, jazz, and funk sensibilities. Bernie was an innovator until the end. I’m looking forward to going further down this particular avenue.

Preston was also kind enough to send a couple of cool t-shirts and books of his art, which are remarkable. I hope he has some art for sale, because I can definitely see it in my future condo.

Checked out a couple of Funkadelic records, and now I’m back into Praxis, an all-time favorite. How I longed to be in this band!

If I get anything out of this project, it will be the ability to hear things from the keyboard player’s perspective. As a guitarist, my bias is obvious. It’s always fun to hear the same music from a different angle. It definitely puts an interesting twist on things.

April 1, 21:40

The Reverberation Station

It was one of those days that only reenforced my overwhelming desire to retire. I am truly sick of people lying to my face like they are the first to tell the story and it’s my first day on the job. It’s even worse when the lie comes from the so-called “victim,” who clearly made a piss-poor life choice and now expects me to clean up the mess. Sorry, pal. You screwed the pooch. I’ll see to it a report is written, but that’s as far as it goes. Particularly because you can’t be bothered to tell the truth about what happened.

It’s bad enough I barely slept last night, which tends to happen during the afternoons to days transition. I should do a bit better tonight. The fact that this is my final such transition within the confines of this gig makes it a little better.

An otherwise crummy day was saved in a couple of ways once I got home. For one, a care package from Worrell HQ was waiting for me, offering a other dose of Full Bernie to explore.

I was also happy to see an impromptu concert from Scofield, Medeski, Martin, and Murphy (instead of Wood), who would no doubt be on the road if not for the Coronavirus. Lucky for us, they were able to get into a studio to perform a killer set, with John Scofield outfitted for the times.

Got a couple more email interviews out. Now it’s time for some of them to start coming back. As I’ve said, one upside to this bug is that the musicians are pretty much home. If ever I was going to find them, now is the time.

I’ll dig in to some harder work tomorrow after my post-work meeting. I never imagined having to create a spreadsheet for book interviews, but here we are. One of many things that need to be done.

April 2, 19:25

Home.

A relatively uneventful day tour, with nothing of consequence to report. My kind of watch.

Today was supposed to be the Home Opener for my beloved Cardinals. It’s practically a holiday in St. Louis. No kidding: people have pushed to make the Cardinals home opener a local holiday, complete with the day off work. And you know what? I’m right there with them!

We are serious about our baseball in this town.

Alas, there was no game. There is no season. For the longest, I thought we could get it going by June. Now I’m thinking July, at best. Half a season is better than none. Still, I wonder if we’ll even get that.

Funny thing is, I’ve all but pushed sports out of my mind, as far as this season’s games go. We should be into the Final Four, getting ready for The Masters, dropping the puck for the NHL playoffs, and starting the baseball season. But the new reality says “no.” So, I move on to other things.

Oh, I still watch the occasional recorded game. But I’m not jonesing the way I thought I would. Probably because I’m too busy with other things. Being a renaissance man (as a friend once called me) comes in handy. There are many other ways for me to stay amused.

So I made myself a curry dinner, had an important FaceTime chat, and now I’m chilling a bit before I get to work on a crucial spreadsheet, which will track all the potential contents for the Worrell book. There’s no way I can wing that. There’s too much information headed my way.

April 5, 16:09

Home.

The Bug runs amok. “Shelter in place” is leading to a “stay at home” order come tomorrow. It’s a good idea. We haven’t seen the worst of this in America. Hopefully we will in the near future, then get on the other side of it.

I must give my fellow officers credit. They show up and deal with whatever shitstorm comes their way, usually with good (and often gallows) humor. We’re as frustrated as anyone else, but there’s a job to do. So we do it. Say what you will about cops. Most can’t not do their jobs. It’s the calling.

And now I’ve let that go.

I took my uniform off on Friday, and couldn’t come up with sufficient reason to put it back on. It’s time to retire.

I accomplished my primary mission. My young charge has been trained, and is out on his own. My plan to work with another young officer went sideways when COVID-19 altered the way we do business. All I was doing was opening myself up to probable exposure.

So why am I out there?

Bad enough I want to move to Chicago, one of the current epicenters. Who knows how long it will be before I can do that? For now, the best thing for me to do is to do what I do best: play the odds. Staying home and isolated greatly reduces the chances of getting ill. There’s nothing more to prove, where my career is concerned.

It was the easiest tough decision I’ve ever made, once I started listening to myself.

And so I begin five months of a new life. I need to develop a new routine to help me live the life I want to live for the time being. Things will change, of course. But this will do for now.

#cirdecsongs

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs)

My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers.

Would you like to have your album reviewed? Contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com

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