Guest Entry – The Taoist Biker

Posted: September 22, 2008 in blogs, Friends, Music, Pimp, Readers Choice, Video

The first contributor for this week’s guest entry series is The Taoist Biker!


Howdy, y’all. (Pronounced: “Hau – dee, yawl”) I’m the Taoist Biker, or TB for short. (Insert “reading your blog is like tuberculosis” joke here.)

Laura’s tapped me for this here guest post on Monday morning, and as I type this, I’m pondering whether or not there would actually be a market for subcontracting Monday morning blog posts on a large scale. Surely there are tons of people who are unable or just plain unwilling get it done on a Monday, whether it’s because of hangovers, lack of sleep, lack of coffee, etc. So, TB’s Monday Posting Service?

Nah. Hell, I cheap out my own damned self by having a weekly music feature every Monday morning. Why? Because it’s easy, because I can (and do) write down ideas in an ongoing text file when they come to me, and therefore I already have at least six months’ worth of music blog topics all ready to go.

But as it were, Laura specifically asked me to go with a Monday Music-type theme for this guest post, so I get an easy one. And you all get to escape my other guest-post idea, which was some sort of a faux-anthrolinguistic discovery of the origin of the word “Snerkology.” So I guess it’s a win-win all around!

Getting to the point, I’ve had a couple of Monday Music ideas in mind for this week’s feature for several days, and Laura’s request that I do a music riff makes it easy on me – I can pick two instead of one. Very nice. So, with no further adieu, I give you:

Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here”

I can’t say I’m much of a Pink Floyd fan. I don’t own any of their albums, and I don’t often listen to their music. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m not a pothead, I dunno. The biggest Pink Floyd fan I ever knew was a girl that my friend AMP dated during our first year of college. She was such a laughably stereotypical preppy/flowerchild that I still find it hard to take Pink Floyd seriously.

But I will concede that some of their music is really quite good. Especially this song, and also “Comfortably Numb,” which has good associations for me largely because it reminds me of the little online environment where I met the woman who is now my wife – the game allowed you to buy and run businesses, and there was a fellow who created a bar called “Comfortably Numb.” I always thought that was a fantastic name for a bar.

But to get back to the point, I’ve had “Wish You Were Here” running around in my head for the better part of a week, and for no discernable reason whatsoever. I’ve also been particularly and mysteriously focused on the following lines:

And did they get you to trade
your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
a walk on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?

I have to say, there are lyrics that hit a guy in his mid-30s a lot harder than a guy in his early 20s. Seger’s “Against the Wind,” for example, or Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne.” Count this song amongst those.

As an idealistic young fellow, I didn’t pay those lyrics any mind. Rabble rousing, change-the-world, all that kind of jazz. Hell yeah. As a fellow creeping gradually toward middle age with a wife and a kid and a mortgage, though, they carry the power of accusation – the more powerful because, deep down, I already believed it to be true.

See, I was an ambitious youngster. As a high school student, I was going to law school and possibly onward to politics, to take a leader’s role and help take my state and my nation to a new era of greatness. Around the time I graduated high school, I started to rethink that whole “leadership” thing and decided that I didn’t really get much enjoyment out of a spotlight; and I’d been exposed to politics enough to be disillusioned with the whole shebang. And as for law, a little time in a mock court had me all fired up, but a little more talking with actual practicing attorneys helped me see the potential soul-sucking grind.

So I set my sights on a career in academia, a nice nest in the ivory tower from which to educate other young idealists to take leader’s roles toward a new era of greatness. But the closer I got to that goal, the more I saw it as hollow and filled with yet more soul-sucking publish-or-perish grind on the way to tenure. So I took a side path from grad school and have been there ever since – sometimes in academia, sometimes out of it. I make a good living doing something that I believe is important.

But not doing something I believe in. Really believe in.

So I spend a moderate amount of time lately trying to decide which is more important – the same old grind that provides a decent living for my wife and child, or something that I feel really makes a difference in my world? And, fertheluvvaGawd, what would that latter “something” be?

I guess that’s what getting older is all about, though, huh? Making those decisions and trying to make them work.

For the moment, though, I’m tending to think that the lead role in my cage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And I’m wondering which wars are auditioning walk-ons.

  1. Laura says:

    Editor’s Comments – Heh. I resisted the urge to respond to every paragraph within the text. Nothing worse than breaking up the flow of an entry. Anyway! I have to thank TB (so sorry I came up with that nickname for you, now it’s stuck and there’s nothing we can do about it) for coming through on a Monday morning. It’s terribly handy to have someone else have a bright and shiny entry all written and ready to go first thing. I highly recommend it.

    This happens to be my favorite Pink Floyd song – like TB (::wince::) I’m not a huge fan of their work, but this one has always spoken to me. Of course, I’m a huge fan of a well-turned lyric, and that’s all this song has.

    As for the origin of “Snerkology”, the official definition of “snerk” is, “An uttered noise which denotes amusement/disgust/derision/disbelief.” Archibael, a work friend of mine, and I used to e-mail in epic fashion “back in the day” and we were trying to come up with a word that combined “snort”, “smirk”, and also captured the essence of a good eye-roll. That’s what we came up with. Of course, tacking the “-ology” on the end defines it as “The study of those things which cause a feeling of amusement/disgust/derision/disbelief.” Hence my blog title was born.

    As for finding meaning in your life, I hear you. I have a mini-crisis along those lines on a frequent basis – basically, what am I doing with my life? Am I enriched? Am I making a positive impact on others? You, TB, influence others in a positive way on a daily basis. You BLOG, therefore you make a difference. That might sound trite, but I really believe that. I know I’m constantly enriched by your blog, and by the others I read. It might be a minor accomplishment in the grand scheme of humanity, but it’s something.

    We’re just all so grateful that you didn’t go into law. ~grin~ Your blog wouldn’t have been half so interesting, then.

    Thanks again!!!!! A great start to a fun week!

  2. Laura says:

    Also… One should consider one’s life to be less a lead role in a cage, and more a cameo appearance in a hit TV show. I mean, Christopher Walken has only been on Saturday Night Live a couple of times, but we ALL remember “more cowbell!” BWAAAHAHAHAHAAA… oh, I crack myself up.

  3. Jayne says:

    But you *are* making a difference! You’re raising a child and providing a home for your wife . Seriously, that’s the secret to life, the universe and everything. Trust me, I’m older than you so I’ve got it all figured out. ;-)If you want something that makes you feel fulfilled in a different way then nothing beats volunteering for charity work.
    BTW, have you heard any of Meddle by Pink Floyd? It’s one of their early albums and though I was never a huge fan I do remember owning this and wearing a trench in the vinyl through listening again and again. I just bought it on iTunes and I still like it.

  4. Heather says:

    This song always reminds me of going to the Taste of Chicago and seeing a guy walking around with his guitar playing his little heart out and singing this song very well. At the beginning of the song he said it was for his daughter. I dislike Pink Floyd a great deal because I find their music terribly boring (don’t look at me like that I don’t like Jethro Tull either), but this song never bugged me and I actually LIKED hearing that street guy singing it.

  5. Taoist Biker says:

    But…but..but… Jethro Tull won the first ever Metal Grammy!!

    Thanks all for your kind words. As for my role, I dunno, I could do with something akin to Janitor on Scrubs…

  6. Heather says:

    You’re lucky I know you’re being a smarty-pants, TB. We all know what a joke that award was!

  7. Kim says:

    Uh oh.
    I didn’t realize what a tough act I have to follow with my guest blog! Maybe by Wednesday everybody will forget what a great post this was!
    Now, off to spend a few hours reading all of TB’s archives…

  8. Taoist Biker says:

    Heather, I remember being a teenager and reading in ye olde “RIP” magazine a letter to the editor about the travesty of the Jethro Tull Grammy. I’ll never forget the writer’s analogy: “Comparing …And Justice for All with Crest of a Knave is like comparing the taste of fresh strawberries to the amputation of both legs.”

    There ain’t no flutes in heavy metal bands. No way. At least Anderson had the guts to say “WTF? We don’t have the slightest clue why we were even nominated.”

    Kim: Bah. It’s easy when you’ve had a blog idea based around a song building for 3-4 days and somebody says “Why don’t you write about music?” But I hope you enjoy the archives. (You’ll quickly see that not everything is up to this standard!)

  9. Laura says:

    Jayne – Hmm… more music to check out!

    TB – They like you! They really like you! Also, Janitor is my favorite character.

    Heather – Oh, wait, okay. He was KIDDING about Tull = Metal. I mean, really! (NOT a Tull fan, BTW.)

    Kim – Heh. I’ve read your entry and you have NOTHING to worry about.

  10. iamheatherjo says:

    Laura, you so silly! 🙂

    I miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisss you.

  11. Laura says:

    Heather – I miss you too!!!! I’m glad you had such a nice time with your friend. And, go Cubbies!!!!!

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