August 22, 2003

You Were Always My Favorite Maniac

From: Roy Reed
To: Olivia Arroyo
Sent: Friday, August 23, 2003 11:17 PM
Subject: Re: You Were Always My Favorite Maniac

Goddamn Olivia, I gotta say first off that it’s never fun to be on the receiving end of a sardonically vicious kick in the balls, but in this case the shameful pain is slightly mitigated by two factors: 1) it’s you doing the kicking, and 2) I probably deserved it. So I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that, in reply to your first question, all that glorious and thick hair of mine submitted to stress, dye, and bleach, but the nail in the coffin was probably genetics. The fact that it's gone and not coming back is (hopefully) an indication that I'm not as mind-numbingly vain as I used to be.

No no, don’t apologize—I’d like to think I’m not a jerk anymore and can talk to anyone about anything. Life is good right now, I guess. I quit the magazine in December so I could get my shit together for grad school, which I should hear yay or nay about in April. Meantime I’m prolonging my arrested adolescence in yet another talented but introverted Santa Barbara rock band that’s not getting anywhere but which is still the best I’ve been in yet since the B-Nuts. To her vast and unflappable credit, my girlfriend Simone has patience with such silliness, especially since it helped grease the wheels of music journalism; you may have read the profile I wrote in Under the Radar of our old friends the Screaming Mimes. It was neither in-depth nor hard-hitting, and that was it between me and those elitist snobs at UTR.

And yes, I did actually hear from some long-forgotten source that you'd become an excellent photographer. If that's really true, though, then don’t give me that self-conscious bullshit about packing it in after the perfect shot. You never were one to rest on your laurels, no matter how glorious they might be. I can relate, though; I’m not sure I’ll be able to top my three or four best lyrics anytime soon. I don’t remember everything it takes to set up a great shot but if I keep working at lyrics the way I used to I’ll get nothing done for weeks.

Used to be the payoff was a great lyric, eventually, but they don't come so easy anymore. That's not a problem, except for te fact that the other three guys churn out great tunes, and they'd rather have me take a crack at words before they do (though that's not the only way it works). I also do the album covers.

But enough about that. What I’m really interested in is why the fuck you changed your hair color. Highlights don’t really compare with straight black. For my money, anyway. Why, Liv, why? Oh, kidding. Jesus. And of course I don’t hate you. I did for a little while back then but that always happens. Hell, you haven’t even called me “the boy toy” even once yet, and I appreciate that. Some people probably still think I’m a psychotic bastard, sure, but I can’t blame them for those conclusions, now can I? I can get pretty weird on people as you know.

These days I'm very much into stitching up cut connections- one at a time, but still. I'm into this thing now of showing everyone what they missed- not in a "so there" way, kind of in a "I've been doing great things all this time, are you impressed?" way. For some reason I feel like for years people have been excited for me about all the great things I could do or could become, and I don't like the idea of letting them down by not keeping in touch. Does that make sense? I'm not naturally someone who likes to keep up sophisticated neworks of acquaintances, so I guess it's like I swoop back inot people's lives briefly and then let them go about their business. "Who was that masked man? Roy? No, didn't have enough hair, couldn't have been..." The last song I wrote had kind of a simple chorus- just "if only you could see me now" repeated twice, but all that stuff is wrapped up in it.

Not to make you feel any less unique for your efforts. It’s flattering, cause no one else has really come looking for me. Guess I didn't really affect people all that much. No really, this is good. People get frozen in mind as these cartoons based on who they were when you last saw them, which isn't fair cause people change. I like being able to demolish my cartoon when people let me.

I also say that you can put all that "caustic vixen" business to bed. I never ever thought that, and whomever told you that was a malicious lying punk. That was not the vibe with us, was it? Forget about it, and forget about what people might misinterpret. Guys see what they want to see, and there will always be shameful depravity there. Anyway, I can’t say I have a similar experience with hot Brazilian men (fucking hell Liv, what have you been reading?), but I will say that it’s no fun to discover that the half-Japanese girl you’ve been dating has cheated on you with some haggis-brained frat guy. After going completely ballisctic, I retreated to 12 units a quarter with class on Tues & Thurs only, so my guy friends and I got perpetually stoned for most of spring quarter- dong silly tihngs like playing cards and arguing about music in a barn overlooking the ocean.

That summer was when R.J.'s class finished at Dana, so I went back Mr. Hep College Guy and showed them a thing or two until I got slobbering drunk for the first time in two years and passed out in the street. It didn't feel like fun at the time, but I'm proud of myself for defiling a pristine Laguna Niguel suburb on my own terms. After that it was mostly alcohol (pot really fucked us up whe nwe tried to play gigs- I can't imagine how people do that). It was the Year Of Decadence And Depravity, but on Roy's scale, which mostly meant it had to do with some substance abuse and some intense relationships. It was a very incestuous group of "friends"- I'll put it that way, and that was only '97.

But mostly I've been good & responsible too. Hell, at 8-5 for the last 3 years I've had to. I've only ever come in to work hung over once. R.J.'s quote was something like "Nothing's epic anymore!" Not like we;re up nights contemplating this. We all have better things to do, apparently. Next question? For my part I'd like to know how long you and Nadia thought I was a blithering idiotic she-man. I didn't like the idea of having enemies at the time, but I didn't care to know if I'd actually accomplished this, and thought no one would want me to ask anyway. Of course, it's far too late to project an aura of invincible cool-ness, even though I am now Invincibly Cool, albeit at a Safe Distance.

No, really. Tell me about your odyssey with Media Law. When did this infatuation begin? Your masterful wielding of the 409.5 must really be something to see; I'd love to be there when you give attitude like that. Cops scare the living piss out of me at most and annoy at least; here at UCSB/Isla Vista they get free reign to do whatever suits their fancy, since most eveyone doesn't know a thing about what to do & not to do. Down here they're all named Officer Whatthefuck. Seems like this is the first beat that county officers get assigned to, and I swear I recognize some of the younger guys from some of my early classes.

Anyway, media law sounds like fun, actually, in a gonzo sort of way. For years I'd been trying not to get into the media cause I didn't want to contribute to the rising stew of crap that threatened to engulf civilization, but yeah, I realized that was a bad rap a long time ago. I hold on tight to the times that I've done interviews and written columns/reviews about music; it's the only thing I've done that I liked. Besides the drugs, of course. Kidding. Sorry. I’m actually surprised that you’re so scandalized by my previous intake of controlled substances both legal and illegal. Your antipathy to nicotine is shocking to say the least. Speaking of escandalos, though, I've got something else to say that might gross you out: I have a tattoo. It's a bass clef about the size of a dollar-coin on my left shoulder blade. Nothing ugly or nasty, and not where a judge or cop can see it! One more reason for you to detest nudity.

Oh yes, I figured you’d hate it. What is it about living up there among granola-heads that’s stripped you of all that reckless abandon, babe? Honestly, the tattoo is not sick at all. And yes, one must be sober to do this- alcohol thins the blood and causes a slower healing process. Besides, R.J. has 3 already, along with a history of brow and ear piercings. Come to think of it, I like shocking folks like this. "Roy? No! He was such a nice boy, what the hell happened?" As if people forget my sordid history.

Please. All this silliness about "just because depravity no longer suits us does not make us boring" is just neo-Catholic bullshit, Liv. What, are you regressing to some weird inner dogmatism that I never knew about? You forget, I'm in the Main Nerve for such thinking & behavior- as you were once too when you followed in your sister’s footsteps to Chico. Here it's not like someone isn't cool if they're not depraved- though there definitely is that- it's more like "well, okay, we're gonna go have fun doing this- hope you have fun doing what you're doing".

Like one day when R.J. and four friends wandered off hopped up on at least 5 different substances simultaneously, and I stayed at home finishing some recordings. I mean, they're not Hard Core Drug People, and there was no pressure for me to go with, but they had too much collective fun to dismiss it as depravity. I don't see the world through morality-colored glasses. I thought you’d remember that. I don't deny I'd be a total headcase if I was single- the chemicals would surely beckon. You're jumping the gun on this one- I don't mean to gloat- I would get nuts, I admit it. So, I don't plan to do anything that will jeopardize that, even though it is, like you said, luck. I either misspoke or you misunderstood me or both. I never had fucked luck on a scale like you descibe in July; it was always April or February.

I actually find it mildly interesting that you’ve been in NYC for a week—including Ground Zero—and you’re still hung up on a guy that dumped you A MONTH AGO. So I won’t talk anymore about that and instead will make the hard right turn to the other happy topic. Namely, I'm not the kind of person who was altered by 9/11 for any period of time- that's not what I meant. I knew pretty much why it happened and I wasn't swept away by giref or hatred, even though I apparently was connected via family/friends/work to people who died. However, I'm not real keen on revisiting images of people jumping 110 stories to their doom. I'm more revolted by the way the president and his staff have appropriated this as a political issue, and the way they threw away the massive international goodwill the U.S. received in the immediate aftermath.

My little sister, for instance, is not a big flag-waver. During that time she was just ending up her 6-month stay in Wellington, New Zealand. She said that when she turned the corner one day and saw a mountain of flowers in front of the US embassy with the flag flying she felt very good and very different about that flag in such a context. Things like that choke me up. Also like the time in the UK when the US national anthem was played during the changing of the guard or aomething like that (a ceremony that is usually never altered from its very English nature) and all the British and Americans and whomever else watching it outside the gates just wept like children. Images like that are tough to keep composed through.

For better or worse I'm getting well into this 2004 campaign, especially since Wesley Clark entered. A new variable to fuck with the gamblers as it were. I have a terrible fear, however, that if Bush wins this time it will be a 1972-style morale-breaker, and that everyone who's been energized by opposing Republican fascism will give up and go home. Hopefully I'm wrong on that one.

Funny you should mention Cusack. No, I never thought I looked like him. It's just that I'm baby-sitting R.J.'s copy of High Fidelity (among other various dvds) while he's in Europe (I put him on a plane to Paris yesterday). When I read that book years ago I laughed and cringed and had to admit to myself that yes, I was the most horrible mixture of Rob, Barry, & Dick (music-critically, I mean). First step to recovery. My FAVORITE scene is the one where the one customer calls them elitist snobs. "Y'all are snaaabs" -just the way he casually demolishes them is awesome. That movie plus my faltering songwriting put the kibosh on the vast majority of my pop-music elito-fascism; once your own stuff starts to get torn multiple assholes by other elitist snobs, you learn not to be an elitist snob. Shit, is that enough elitist snobbery for one email? Sorry.

I'll thank you to not be so amazed at the byline of "Arts & Entertainment Editor." I’m not actually The Man at the News-Press, but “Editor” is technically the pay scale that I'm at. At this point I'm okay with that. Especially if you've converted from a hot-shit photographer into a designer. Your outrage about the faux-roughing it of the Nor-cal granola-land is funny but I daresay something of an overreaction. The main problem with most of those people up there is that they're Giants fans. Like my recently-transplanted Editor-in-Chief (a longtime SF resident) and my guitarist (who calls it "the greatest city in the world", but he's also a single vegan). Ah well. You can pick your friends but not, uh, your band. Or something. We're making a killer new CD at the moment, believe it or not.

Man, you really went off about all those dirty bisexual hippies, with their REI/Patagonia complexes and their damnable grade-less UCs and all. Well, you had to live up there for all that time and, AND, I seem to recall us discussing this VERY thing in the dreaded April of 1996. Not that you're contradicting yourself, cause you're not. Just saying- I still live at the beach, where I like it. Sorry you can’t say the same. Really. It's fine to realize you're not who you're trying to be. I do that all the time. I like it much better when I find this out for myself before further outside damage is done and I have girlfriends or band members or family members asking me what the fuck is wrong with me. I wish I could say this kind of embarrassing, head-slapping revelation doesn't happen so much these days but that's probably not true.

Of course, that's not The Point. Nor is it that SoCal-ers aren't big fuck-off posers too. They are. My brother has been reminded of this fact since April, when he moved back to Huntington. The Point is that in this big thing you wrote to me seems like you're trying to justify or clarify something when you don't need to. Just say "well, I used to want to be like that, but I figured out that's not working cause I'm really like this". No qualification necessary. If you like where you are then dammit, stay there for a while and drink it all in.

But none of that matters right now, because I’m sick as ten dogs. I’ve been completely consumed by the feral bastard offspring of migraines and coagulated snot. I get short of breath but when I take a deep breath I cough like a mofo- dry, lung-chucking spasms- exacerbating the pounding of my clammy bald skull. I sleep it off for a few hours and wake up caked in sweat and smelling like a dingo, and pathetically pray for heaven's mercy. How's that for colorful metaphor? English major moron, my ass. I'm quite happy I majored in English, Liv. I wiped the floor with my English classes and wrote some fucking good papers, thank you very much. Plus English girls are easy. Or so I was told. Not like you hot-blooded fractionally brown girls, of course. Never that.

So yeah, it's wonderful to hear from you, and write back whenever you wish. Just don't forget to appeal to my planet-sized ego, and I'll make sure to always behave with appropriate crazed enthusiasm. You're welcome.



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