Friday, September 25, 2009

I Am Not My Hair


It’s a Friday. And while I had planned on going out for the night, here I am sitting in a cold room listening to Tori as she sings of a blossoming (and at the same time, unlikely) relationship—something I can very well relate to as of this very moment. While the rest of the household is glued to the boob tube, watching the one-hour series finale of Tayong Dalawa (seriously, when they say the ending is “unpredictable”, trust me, it’s still predictable), I have resigned to drowned myself with songs and the gushing strong wind which I can hear despite the hum of the AC and the sound from the desktop speakers.

I ditched the going-out plan for no apparent reason. Well, okay, maybe there is a reason. Maybe there’s more than one reason. Yes, there probably are reasons why I changed my plan. But I don’t know what those reasons are. Oh, hell, who cares? I already made a choice, and so I must deal with it. And besides, a storm is brewing. I don’t want risk getting wet, and suffer from extreme cold while hailing for a ride. My nose is in no condition to tolerate the bitter cold.

I had my hair buzzed earlier this evening. It’s a fortnightly affair to keep my hair from looking like a complete and utter disappointment. What with the receding hairline and all. It’s frustrating to have a hair of a forty-year old man when you’re just twenty five. I can complain, but it’s not like doing so will grow my hair.

Someone once told me that this ‘receding hairline’ thing is a trend now. And I was like, “Really? ‘Cause the last time I looked around, most of the guys around my age still have virgin forests on their skull.”

But I once saw on TV though that somewhere in Europe (I think), a great number of men have receding hairline. And it’s quite a swell fashion there that they’re actually showing off their buzzed heads. A research (I just don’t know how credible) was also said to have found that women (and some men) find it sexy having little hair. Well, whatever!

It’s in the genes, most probably; it’s not because I wear a cap often. From my father’s side, most of the boys have the family trademark of mane deprivation. And from my mother’s side, well, let’s just say they aren’t exactly the ones with thick hair. It’s in the genes, yes. So the cap thing has nothing to do with it. If it has, well, then it plays an irrelevant part. So spare me, I’m going to wear my cap anytime I want to.

I just find it a tad annoying that some people actually have the audacity to comment—and sometimes even poke fun at—about my hair. Fuck you, I think. Unless I’m shaving your head and using your hair to make a toupee, you have no—and I mean, absofuckinglutely NO—right to ridicule me.

My lack of hair does not make me any less of a man. And in the same way, your having a rather bushy head does not make you, in any way, better than me. Sure you may have a shot at being a shampoo model, so? We’re all going to grow bald anyway; I’m just one of those who are growing bald sooner. And if you have a problem with that, go get yourself a shrink—and a counsel—‘cause you have some serious issues.

I am not my hair. And what I lack in hair, I certainly make up for in brains.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Auditory Bliss


Good music is subjective; what passes as good music to one person may sound awful to others.

I remember listening to my grandparents’ vinyl records of ABBA, The Supremes, and Carpenters when I was seven years old. I was still too small to reach the gramophone then, which was enclosed in a huge—I mean gigantic—cabinet that also held two large wooden speakers, but I remember using every iota of strength I had to climb on a high chair to open the cabinet and play the records. I would listen to them every morning, after my grandmother had given me a shower.

My parents both love music. From them, I heard the likes of Seals and Croft, Eagles, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Bread, America, Simon and Garfunkel, etc. I remember singing along to these artists’ songs in the afternoon when, despite my mother’s efforts, I just couldn’t find the will to nap.

At a pretty young age, I was exposed to music- music that children around my period didn’t know of. So at the time when kids from my neighbourhood sang the theme to Batibot and Sineskwela, I sang “Leader of the Band”, “Skyline Pigeon”, and “Terminal”.

Of course, I’ve been exposed to other genres of music. When I reached my teen years, I listened to what my classmates listened to, if only to be able to sing along with them during recess. And during those times when a great number of music videos’ concept was having the singer’s face on the entire screen for the whole duration of the video, I listened to boy bands, divas, and pop royalties. Like any other kid in the mid-90’s, I enjoyed the types of music which every radio station liked—or were forced—to play.

My penchant for music that was beyond my generation’s usual—and widespread—taste didn’t die, of course; it was simply put on hold, burning dimly but constantly, as I would, although silently most of the time, continue to hum songs like “Starlight Express”, “Yesterday”, and “Imagine” before I went to bed. When I think about it now, my fondness for old (for lack of better word) songs spawned my love for, what someone once described as, “not so common” music. In short, it wasn’t mainstream. Someone even went beyond and called it “unusual”. I have nothing against mainstream music. I listen to it; like I said, I enjoy it. Sometimes. It’s just that I think it lacks a certain depth, a certain ‘personality’. It lacks the capacity to stir me, to exemplify who I am as a person. You see, I believe that a person’s preference in music says a great deal about him. When I want to get to know a person, I usually ask what kind of music he listens to, sort of musical interrogation. And if I’m lucky, it breaks the ice. I judge a person partly by the kind of music he’s into (yes, I judge people!). I see it as an indication whether or not we’d get along.

Some people I know don’t listen to the same types of music I listen to. And I honestly think that my relation towards music—how it influences me, how I allow it to do so—is just different from others. I guess I take songs on a different level. I like ‘dissecting songs’, as I call it. I go through a great effort in getting to know a song- why it was written, what emotion spawned it, how it fits into my personal life.

I think, too, that my sense of exploration regarding music is way bolder than people would expect. I don’t find it remotely surprising that I can sing along to all the songs the radio is playing. And I don’t find it surprising either that when I ask some people if they’ve heard this song from this artist, they shake their heads no.

More than the melody, I find myself drawn to the lyrics, especially the ones that are not pretentious, not candy-coated. I like lyrics that are ‘hardcore’, those that slap you in the face, like Alanis Morisssette’s that aim straight without dragging any sense of dullness. I admit, I am not a love-song fan, although I can sing practically every love song in a karaoke machine (blame it on familiarity); I think it’s too banal, too bubble-gum. And songs of that kind wear me out easily. I listen to basically anything that I can relate to. I don’t dismiss a song until I have heard its last note, and chewed on its lyrics. But there are those songs that I just can’t stand.

In college, I spent my days discovering music from practically everywhere. I listened to as much unheard music I could find, also slipping in critically lauded—albeit in limited brackets of audience—songs in the veins of Radiohead, Alana Davis, R.E.M, Moby, Beth Orton, Nirvana, Semisonic, Sarah McLachlan, Coldplay, Norah Jones, Sting, etc. I also dug backwards, absorbing outstanding works of The Cure, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, and others.

In the past three years, I’ve amassed a diverse digital collection, and of course a hardcore passion, for music that gratifies my craving for remarkable auditory experience. The Killers, Stars, Sean Fournier, The Cardigans, Rufus Wainwright, Sarah Slean, Carolina Liar, Stereophonics, The Flaming Lips, Spiritualized, Mathclub, The Verve, Fiona Apple, Citizen Cope, Damien Rice, Joshua Radin, Placebo, Sia. The list goes on for me. There just too much I can’t miss. With so much music in the entire world, it’s a habit that’s impossible to quit.

I take pride at the fact that my iTunes library does not hold “I’ll Be”, among other cheesy, schmaltzy love songs. I am not reluctant to say that roughly seventy per cent of the songs in my iPod have never been played on local radio. I am proud that some of my friends have come to make me their “music updater”, asking: “What new songs/artists have you discovered lately?” I relish the fact that I can associate every song I like to a certain person, situation, emotion, and thought. Ask me to give a soundtrack for a specific situation or mood, and I can give you a playlist in minutes.

Now, I remember when a houseguest came for a short vacation some years ago, and I was playing Tori Amos on the stereo. He said, “What’s that? You listen to that kind of music?” I wanted to answer his rhetorical queries, but I shut my mouth. Of course he couldn’t appreciate Tori Amos—he listens to Gary Valenciano and Celine Dion. Like I said, good music is subjective.