Posts Tagged ‘rest in peace’

Breaking Bad: R.I.P. XP-30, 2001-2013

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Yesterday, while troubleshooting glitching technology, again, rather than practicing music, again, I came to a place of silence. I stopped hitting buttons and searching google, and sat, and thought.

I had already emailed the event coordinators for Tomb and the Womb and said that due to technical difficulties I would not be singing “Covering Lisa” for their show.

When I made that decision, immediately and in one swift motion, I was reminded all at once of every single one of the countless hours I’ve spent agonizing over unreliable equipment.

How that collection of experience lurking in the shadows of nearly every musical performance I have ever done has limited me, angered me, and frustrated me to the point of wanting to bash my own head inside out.

I remembered having to cancel the first house concert I was invited to because of similar problems. I remembered how often technological music equipment and every step in that direction has conformed me around the limits of the equipment.

I remembered that encountering this is part of the reason I don’t perform often. I remembered that, after years of thinking I was just stupid, hiring a sound engineer had not only failed to alleviate my tech problems, they had added to them and to my anxiety.

I once again got in touch with that deep festering feeling – my growing hatred for technology – remembering how it so easily came to rule my life. How insidiously my bad habits and obliviousness toward its role in my existence remain, having grown up consuming gadgets and socializing on computers, still sucking on tech like a dried shriveled up tit that stopped actually feeding me years ago.

I sat there thinking, playing an internal game of eeny, meeny, miney, moe.

Would it be the new mixer, whose highly reviewed onboard effects – the reason I bought the fucking thing to begin with – every single one of them, make me sound like a fucking diseased hobo barfing into a tin can?

Would it be the everpresent annoyance of my iPhone, which was currently skipping every other fucking letter I typed into a text message and interrupting me 3 times in the 45 seconds it was taking me to type and edit the fucking thing to let me know that, guess what, T-Mobile’s service is a fucking raging puss filled sac of fail and has cut out again? and again? and again? DO YOU WANT TO GO TO YOUR SETTINGS (which won’t let you turn this fucking message off)?

Or would it be my synthesizer, whose MIDI fuckups and inability to keep the default settings has been quietly invading my trust since preparing for Embodied?

I thought about the limits and usefulness of all of these things for at least 20 minutes, as my anger simmered. I thought about each piece of equipment, its monetary value, my relationships to them, my history with them, and I decided which one was the one that I wanted to be complete with.

I then spent the next few minutes silently raising my Roland XP-30 over my head and slamming it into the ground as hard as I could. I used my whole body for every throwdown, whistling it through the air and dropping it full force into the floor.

Each time I watched it hit the ground and react while a surge of energy ran through my body. Once it hit the ground, if it still had any piano keys attached, it went back up for another wide armed slam from over my head. Over, and over, and over.

With each throw I gave myself some time to soak it in all before continuing. I was half flourishing and half emotionless while I systematically destroyed the synthesizer I’ve used for almost exclusively for 10 years.

It felt like breaking out of a cage.

Once plastic stopped sailing away from the synths body when it hit the floor, I started taking a hammer to its fleshless metal skeleton. With each tiny crater my hammer made in the body of my synth I felt new space give way in my life.

I’ve been thinking about that space today, as I’ve searched around for the guilt, for the remorse, for the backlash of deciding to break the living shit out of my gear. I am finding that I have none.

Sure, there is a loss there, and a sadness, among other things, that surrounds it. I know at least one person who is likely upset that they won’t hear that music again. Era’s ending are tough, afterall.

Throughout my musical evolution, I’ve been restrained by these giant hulking heavy spacehog fucking keyboards, the problems they have and the sounds they make.

For 13 years I’ve looped endlessly between the same songs, the same sounds the same feelings, the same rutt, over and over again, barely inching forward with a new song every few years since my mp3.com explosion in 2000.

While identifying with what opportunities they paved for me a lifetime ago while I was discovering them, I’ve also identified with the barriers having them has placed on me and my musical freedom to explore.

I’ve held onto my synths because I identify with them. Because maybe one day years from now I will want to play a show again. Because I was afraid to let them go.

The UI for the XP-30 is horrible for my exploration and creation of new music. There are no sliders, no knobs, no instant gratification for sound editing, no accessible creativity for me like I have with the Junos. It was good to me in how far its default sounds took me, and I did some cool things with it.

However, the instrument had run its course, and the MIDI being nonfunctional was pissing me the fuck off. It was worth about $400 and I had just spent $150 getting a key replaced on it last year. I didn’t want to subject myself to another money pit diagnostic/repair bill.

I could have sold it, sure. But there’s no ritual in that. There’s no art in that. There’s no catharsis in that. There’s no finality in that. There’s no closure in that. And while none of these rationalities came to play while I was annihilating my instrument, I sensed that I needed a cleansing.

One awesome thing about being an unsigned, virtually unknown musician is that I don’t fucking owe anyone anything. I’m not obligated to play the same songs for 40 fucking years to giant arenas. I don’t have crowds of fans who are pressuring me to perform my classics. I’m not swept up in contracts and deadlines and money.

My XP-30 no longer exists, and because of that I will not play my songs from it as they were recorded again. In its demise a symbolism is also unearthed, as well as a new more flexible approach to my music.

I am thinking like a newbie again, feeling excited to experiment. The amount of agony I will endure bashing my head against a wall trying to make my shit work is diminishing. And the effort I am willing to spend searching the same places for the sounds and ease that excite me as a musician is a fraction of what it was before.

Tomorrow, I purge my music gear. Anything that isn’t high quality cabling/basics and doesn’t answer “YES” to all of these is for sale:

1) Do I like how it sounds?
2) Is it easy for me to use and intuitive to troubleshoot?
3) Do I ENJOY playing it?
4) Does it fuel me creatively?

For now, I am enjoying the immense flood of inspiration and creative ideas that are swirling into my consciousness about music, and brainstorming what I may want to trade for new stuff.

If I ever change my mind, I can rent or buy another XP-30 to play the songs I created with it. That inconvenience is worth the sense of satisfaction I got when I finally took that raging bull by its fucking nutsac, and slammed it into the floor. I hadn’t even realized I’d grown to hate that fucking synth.

Sometimes it takes a loss to break an infinite loop. I get the feeling I’m the person in my circle of friends who gets that the most.

R.I.P. Zita the Aerialist, 2004-2012

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

This year, more than most and less than some, has been a year of letting things go and allowing new things in. In that vein, it seems another identifying aspect of my life has come to a close.

Once first recognizing mixed feelings regarding how to credit my aerial acts in “Embodied”, and after months of knowing the time was drawing closer, I have decided to retire Zita the Aerialist, and allow the domain (which now redirects here) to expire.

There is an air of sadness and loss here, alongside a sense that this is the right thing to do. The persona and the theatrically engineered aspect of what Zita has represented for me, along with the dreams I once had of sharing her with the world, performing in a circus or ongoing show like Zinzanni, has run its course. I know those things are not in the cards for me. It’s time to leave that game, officially, to the people who actually play it.

Courtnee – There's Something in the Air from Paul Hawxhurst on Vimeo.

Instead, I want to continue to work and focus through the sense of failure to the other side; The side which allows me to integrate aerial into my life with no pressures or expectations, and see what happens. Keeping Zita around, having the website around with no one calling for years, was like a thorn in my sole, a reminder of what I wanted her to be, irritating and distracting me.

But Zita, it turns out, was the mask that allowed for me to be, well, me.

I still teach aerial, more than I ever have in the past really, and consider aerial to be a big part of my life. I may also occasionally perform one-off aerial acts like the level 1 demonstration I did for the “Show and Tell” event at Versatile Arts, or a party now and then, though I don’t know what will come of my signature act. I suppose, honestly, with how few opportunities I’ve managed to create to perform it since the Little Red Studio dissolved, it doesn’t really matter very much.

Zita, you were great to me. At one time, I thought we might see the world together. I thought you might flesh out into your own little person, your own character. I thought maybe you’d be my ticket out of this country and to a place where we’d be appreciated more. Regardless of the thinness of your veil, you helped me find my strength when I thought I had none left. You allowed for me to express myself in ways that would have been hopelessly difficult to have achieved without your shield as I bled in the air for our audiences.

Thank you for being there for me.

I can do it myself, now.

Rest in Power, Zita.

You may have seen Zita at:

I have trained with the following teachers and institutions:

  • Versatile Arts (Silks, Rope, Trapeze, Sling, Duo Trapeze and Duo Silks)
  • School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (Everything!)
  • Bobby Hedglin-taylor (Silks)
  • The Toronto School of Circus Arts (Static trapeze, Silks, Corde Lisse)
  • The Cabiri (Fire eating, Character Portrayal, Static Trapeze, Aerial Sling)
  • Trapezius (Corde Lisse, Static Trapeze, Aerial Hoop, Silks)
  • The UMO Ensemble (Aerial Hoop, Low Flying Trapeze)
  • Donia Love, formally of Ignis Devoco (Fire Spinning)

R.I.P. Neecam, 1995 – 2011

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

In 1995, I put one of the first consistent webcams on the internet, the neecam. It was, at one time, the focal point of what would eventually become phuqed.org, and then notso.phuqed.org, spend a short year stint as its own spinoff at neecam.net, and finally settle as a single, burried page on neevita.net.

The first neecam was a black and white connectix quikcam, that looked a little something like this. It had been gifted to me by lars, of #suicide on EFnet, and I’m pretty sure I masturbated with it more than once because I knew he’d touched it. It was one of those gifts, like the mixer that WhiteKnight sent me, that altered the course of my development as a person.

Pervert that I was, neecam was rarely used as a sexual outlet, and rated R, mostly — which is probably part of why you don’t know about it, even though it was around before Jennicam or Anacam and a lot of others that are much more famous. The cam would refresh every 30-90 seconds depending on my mood, and only when I was actually around and wanting to be on camera. Which was, frankly, a lot.

Around the same time I started using webcams, I began cautiously shifting my style from huge boys t-shirts and jeans and sneakers to tank tops and .. jeans and sneakers. Still, I was coming into my own and moving into adolescence. Through the neecam, my creativity, and the support of my viewers, over time, I began to realize something very amazing. That I could be pretty.

It was years later before I did anything sexual on cam, but finally, in the year 2000, some random drunken early morning late night, I used a vibrator in full view on cam while talking with whoever was awake on #suicide. That rare, thrilling, nerve wracking, and slightly awkward experience, in hindsight, marked one of the many progressive leaps in my journey of embodying and accepting my sexuality, and myself as a fundamentally sensual person.

Over time, the cam grew up. It went from the PS/2 connectix, to a color quikcam, to various logitech cameras, to the amazing and still unparalleled 3com HomeConnect USB, complete with the lens pack, which I still refuse to get rid of. My cam equipment was part of the elegance, and each camera I had gave me different freedoms that I exploited.

The neecam, over many years, was one of my primary social outlets. It was the first place to go if you wanted to know what kind of mood I was in. It was an amazingly effective method in which to express myself and reach out to people, even as I burrowed myself away in the dark cave of my artificially lit, tiny little room. I cried on cam, I laughed, I did drugs, I showed off my friends, my pets, my injuries. I told stories with it, mourned with it, celebrated with it.

I even went through a period where I slept on cam, kept it running at night, attached to my ceiling over my bed. For years, to be near me meant the potential of being broadcasted, in a world where that wasn’t normal, yet. My friends were such good sports.

As my relationship with this expressive outlet progressed, I became more discerning about the images I captured, and went from a single image format to a main image with three previous thumbnails displayed below it. I began thinking in terms of order and sets, and slowly, I began to create artwork with the cam.

The neecam became my gateway drug to self photography, where I’ve created some of the most profound imagery in my body of artwork. The cam was where it all started. Later in life, as I became more confident in my body and my looks, I began dressing up, taking more of an interest in clothes, and doing elaborate things with makeup in order to.. stay home, and do cam sets.

There was even a short period of time, circa 2001 (long before any software existed for it), that neecam images were automatically converted to ASCII art before being displayed. That was a collaboration with my friend Furan. There were a few other projects like that over the years, including a php authorization script felix (creater of camsnarf) wrote for me to keep haters from stealing and hotlinking my images, before mod_rewrite was in play on Apache servers.

Though at times neecam was archived, it was meant to be active and transient, in the moment. As time moved forward, and social anxiety relaxed its deathgrip on me, life started filling up. I discovered circus, aerial, and that I hated working at Microsoft. I began going out socially and meeting people in real life more. The cam, while still a large part of my life, began to take up less of my free time.

And less.. and less. The neecam became then what most peoples cameras or skype or google hangouts are now – another way to keep in touch with the people I knew in the meatspace.

In 2004, I ripped all three of my hamstrings doing aerial, and found myself rather immobile for a period of many months. I decided, to help pass the time and stay social, to join a website created by an old #suicide regular, stile, whom I had shown the basics of HTML to one day many years before. He took that ball and ran with it, creating stileproject.com, and eventually, camwhores.com — which I joined, anonymously, and began posting sets to.

For the first two weeks, my trademark was that I never showed my face. I was bald to the skin for a while back then, and so chose the handle Agatha, and for a time, neecam became its softcore alterego, Agathacam, wherein I did cam shows of my baths, cleaning the house naked, and other such torrid things.

The neecam was, for 16 years, completely free.

I’d say 80% of the snapshot photos from 1995 to 2007 are shots from one of the various forms of the neecam. I pretty much attribute any image I captured and uploaded through Webcam32, the only cam software I ever used to any notable degree, with being of the neecam ilk. But since 2009, neecam has been stale. Pictures stay up for months on end without being refreshed, and my use of imagery online, has matured.

Nowdays, I have a phone, and a few good cameras, and little reason to maintain a webcam presence any longer. Times have changed, and if I do say so, it was the people like me who socially pioneered them. I’ve integrated neecam into my life, into my world, and it’s time to say goodbye and honor what the original neecam brought to me, and to the lives of others.

So rest in peace, neecam, and thank you. Thank you very much.

courtnee@cerberus ~/public_html/neevita $ rm -rf neecam/
courtnee@cerberus ~/public_html/neevita $ ls neecam
ls: cannot access neecam: No such file or directory
courtnee@cerberus ~/public_html/neevita $