Metronome Farewell 

Good-bye, Chris, we'll miss you.

Happy New Year! Ah, 2003, I kiss you. Your predecessor sucked in so many ways, and now everything is better. A new set of dreams. A new bucket of hopes. And one big change to announce already: As of this week, Metronome Diary will be no more.

It's sad, I know, and I miss it already. But after two and a half years, I think it's time to put the column to rest. All of this was made clear to me this month, when I lugged home a new CD rack.

The rack in question is one of those industrial-capacity unfinished pine-and-putty jobbers that music nerds tend to accumulate like failed relationships. I now have three. And to make room for the new rack, I relocated one of the smaller ones to the hallway between my bathroom and bedroom.

Which is where all the trouble started, really. Because that hallway is the first thing you see when you walk in the front door. And suddenly it was a thing of beauty. I don't fully understand the mechanics of it all, but the blonde-wood tower totally humanized this barren thru-way, whose only previous adornment had been a faded Elliott Smith poster and a lot of dust.

I found myself spending more and more time in the hallway just so I could admire the new scene going on there. The conversations started soon afterwards. "Are you in line?" I would tease the CD holder on my way into the bathroom. It wasn't. We would laugh and laugh.

My budding camaraderie with the CD unit made me wonder what else I could rearrange. And that's when I got the fever. Amped on Red Bull and these strange meth-laced chocolate bars a friend sent from England, I decided that I was going to tear everything apart and start over. With this newly cheerful hallway as my anchor, I would rearrange every piece of furniture in my apartment. I'd take down the old posters and tack up crazy new art and throw my dishes out the window and then go get some new ones from the Salvation Army in Chinatown. And then maybe I'd throw those out the window too. Who knew? The only thing I was certain of was that nothing would be the same again.

It is a testimony to my mental state that this all made good sense at the time. Things have been sort of ... off ... for the past eight months or so. Not bad. But not really good. Just kind of numb. Which, after almost a year, starts to get a little worrisome.

The re-move-in worked about as well as you'd imagine. After four hours, my bedroom looked like it had been set upon by quarreling factions of schizophrenic feng shui consultants, all of whom had gone off their meds at some crucial point in the endeavor. I ate some lunch, got sleepy, and put everything back where it had been.

Not surprisingly, that dreaded rut feeling remained. What I really needed, I slowly came to realize, was to rearrange the things outside my apartment. Job things, mostly. I was craving some new tasks and new challenges and new adventures. Which, unfortunately, meant that I had to let go of some of the wonderful and familiar gigs that had carried me through the past couple of years.

None of which makes quitting the Metronome Diary an easy thing to do. Still, I think it's a good time to be stepping down. The East Bay is popping. Folks are founding new magazines and opening new galleries, and bands are finally realizing it's okay to look like total dorks in the service of music. Mark my words: 2003 is going to be the best thing that's happened here in a long, long time.

And then this: I was sitting on the edge of Lake Merritt at dusk the other night. A winter storm had tumbled through Oakland an hour earlier, and the clouds above the city looked like post-fight sex all furious oranges resolving to billowing pinks. The lake birds were gliding out from the safety of the shore, and the curved skyline of downtown was waving a tentative, glowing good-bye to the day.

I just sat there, in love with it all, thinking: This place is so good. Our time is so short. And I can't wait to get started.


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