I called my dad today. figured I would ask him about card game rules. A very simple casual non-committal kind of subject. The perfect thing to talk about with your old man. He tells me he has a spot on his lungs. Doesn’t know what it is yet. tells me, listen Fishy, I don’t know if you’re still smoking but you have to quit son. Even if it’s just cigars. Just stop now. everyone in your family died of lung cancer. It runs in your family. I quit what 11 years ago and look at me now. just quit while you still can.
Fucking great. So we talk some more. I remember that the guys had an idea where after I interview this Vietnam vet then the whole crew goes down to Florida and films this reuniting scene with my father, who is also a Vietnam vet. So I just casually asked him about the idea, see if he was up for it. but he answered quickly and unequivocally no, not a chance. He then went on to tell me that he doesn’t like Fishy the rock star. That he likes Fishy the man, but doesn’t care at all for me as a rock star and since that’s what I would be when I came, that I should not bother coming and definitely don’t bring any camera crew.
Well if it couldn’t get worse he then went on to tell me that not only isn’t he a fan of Fishy the rock star, he isn’t a big fan of my music either. I tried to entertain the conversation as much as I could, but still found it quite disturbing. He said that the only good song on rise and shine was the journey and that he hated the sleep with you album so much from listening to it on the Internet that he didn’t even buy it. he actually said, and I quote, ‘for lack of a better word, it sucked. It just didn’t sound good. and I’m not the only one who felt that way about it. I have read many critics who felt the same way. I may not speak with you much son, but I keep my eye on you. You really got raked over the coals for that one by a lot of people and for good reason. Its just not good. your singing was awful on that album. Really out of tune and you have no rhythm… your voice wavers all over the place.’
I won’t go on. I tried to explain to him my side of the story. How I really challenged myself as a singer on the album. How I know I may never be a great singer but that I still like what I do and how I reached to a lot of places that I had never attempted before vocally. How much I like the album myself and I don’t give a shit about the success of a work. All that matters is that I am happy with it. that was my only obligation as an artist. To please myself. He would hear none of that and wrote it off as bleeding heart artist hippie talk.
I looked around me as I walked through the beautiful streets of central New York in the fall and continued to listen to him insult the very lifeblood of my being, and on my way I would see beautiful trees of yellow and orange and the sidewalks covered in red leaves and I just determined in that moment to listen without prejudice. After all, I have my mom, God bless her, and she doesn’t care what I do. she always thinks its great. Even if it isn’t. that’s what mothers are for. So maybe there is something to be said about having a father who is so brutally honest that he doesn’t mind telling his son who he barely speaks with once a year if that that he doesn’t like his music and explain the reasons why in such detail.
There was a moment there where I felt like I should be upset by it, but honestly I just wasn’t. perhaps a bit, but not enough to let it bother me too much. There was something noble about his reproach. Something bold and ballsy about a father telling a son what he really feels about his work. He hates what I represent. He hates my liberalness. He hates my protesting. He hates the constant onslaught of self aggrandizing press releases, even though he recognizes that its all part of the machine of the business. he still just hates it all. hates the sex, hates the fame aspect, hates the idea of the TV show, hates the free lifestyle, the homosexuality that is so prevalent in that biz, hates the drug scene, hated the blatant references to drugs I made on sleep with you, hates the image entirely. and me, I kind of like it all. I just think its all part of the moment. part of the bigger picture. I tried to explain to him that I was sure that one day I would end up a retired old man, happy and idle and just as conservative and family values as one could get, but that now this is where I am, and that’s the most important thing. that I remain true to that. I tried to get him to see the good in it. that I wasn’t such a bad guy. he told me he knew that I wasn’t a bad guy, but that my image was that of a bad guy. coming from his perspective, that of a Christian right wing conservative middle American view, I can see how he would feel that way. But I just don’t see it that way at all. On that we would just have to disagree we said and we hung up. told me he’d call once he found out what this spot on his lung x-rays were.
I don’t know what it is about us gen-x’ers and our fathers, but there was just something weird there that happened to them during the sixties and seventies that made things fucked up with their kids. Like the dads were having kids when they really didn’t want to be; maybe the moms too. but the moms stuck to their guns and raised the kids anyway, but the dads mostly just bailed. I can’t tell you how many people my age who say that they just don’t have relationships with their fathers. Its wild.
Well then I’m off to the smoke shop to sit with the old guys and talk politics and the like. And there’s this guy in there called New York mike. A famous guy for owning the largest harley Davidson store in America. Has his own radio show about bikes and all. and he’s the most conservative guy you’d ever meet. A radical conservative. So we’re screaming back and forth about pro-life and same sex marriage and the American Indians and who should walk in but the reverend al Sharpton himself. So I look at Al and I tell him ‘look man, I’m on your side, I go to all the same events that you do around the country, but I’m warning you now, you have just sat down amongst the most radical clan of conservatives I’ve ever seen. I’m just warning you.’ he looks at the group of guys sitting there, their faces all eager to get one in on the guy. they had heard enough liberalism from me to last them a lifetime. So you could see them drooling, just chomping at the bit to go off on him as soon as he opened his mouth. So what does he do? He thanks me, says ‘gentlemen,’ and grunts at the rest of them and just stands up and walks away. classic. Only in New York.
Oh yeah, and on the way home of course I noticed a man in a telephone booth peeing. This is actually a common site here. no matter where you are in Manhattan you cannot help but see some poor homeless guy just letting it rip right in the middle of the street or sidewalk. Crazy.