Drum Circles of Confusion

In search of the truest, sweetest kind of music, comedian David Cross journeys into the woods of Oregon – and lives to tell about it!

So I got someone to sub for me this week. His name's David Cross, a nice man, whose comedic gifts have graced the idiot box, the silver screen, and countless stages across this great land. In addition to having a new DVD out, Cross is appearing nightly at Cobb's Comedy Club here in S.F. this week, from Friday, Jan. 2, to Sunday, Jan. 4. Call 928-4320 for more info. I asked Cross to pen a few words on a simple subject: music. This is what he wrote. Enjoy. -- G.K.

Man, I hate music. It's been nothing but trouble since Judas picked up his first jew's-harp and sang campfire songs. Music is offensive if for no other reason than it makes assholes rich. And I don't just mean the obvious choices like nü-metal or hip hop, I mean ALL music. Klezmer, Delta blues, country, electroclash, whatever, it's all just so terribly wrong. But perhaps it's excessive to blame the music for the obvious moral faults of an industry so deeply corrupt and dishonest that it makes the Republican Party look like the Wobblies. To be less Dennis Miller-ish about it: Of course it's not the music, it's the people. The people who make it, perform it, produce it, sell it, promote it, introduce it, etc., etc. I mean, music is the one form of art that, above all others, people get "into" because they want to get laid. How fraudulent is that? I have to listen to some "boohoo, no one understands me" bullshit through the filter of some nerd's hard-on? No thank you. Which leads me to the following conclusion: There is only one pure type of music, and that is the sweet, sweet music that comes from a Drum Circle. No one of any worth has fucked somebody because he was an awesome drum circler. Nope, drum circles are monotonous, tragic, and full of pretend-primitive significance. Nearly all decent, logical people don't like them, and best of all there is no money to be made from them. Perfect! Plus, you really have to go out of your way to hear one. That's the true beauty of it. It will never be playing in the background at the super-duper market, or at your mom's third wedding. To find a drum circle, you usually have to go to some Godforsaken, sun-scarred, desert-y land, or deep into the woods where filthy, well-meaning, but impractical and deluded hippies run around pretending that electricity sucks. This is where I ended up when I went to talk to one of the better-known drum circlers in North America. He goes by the moniker "Half-Moon" (his real name is Geoff Hamm), and he lives in a 1998 Toyota Tercel behind a Hardee's in Yellow Knife, Canada. As I was heading out, I started to enjoy a sense of optimism that had eluded me since Kennedy was shot (shortly before I was born). Maybe music wasn't all so bad.

Who'da thought guest columnist, and 
consummate asshole, David Cross would 
be down with drum circles?
Ali Smith
Who'da thought guest columnist, and consummate asshole, David Cross would be down with drum circles?

After driving through various hobbit-manned checkpoints, I met up with Half-Moon at the biannual Drum and Drang Beat Off Festival, which this season was held in Coos Bay, Ore. When I arrived, he was wrapping up a three-hour-long warm-up session of drum circling with the Secret Seed Sower Singers, a group of 20-odd white folks who travel up and down the Pacific Northwest covertly planting hemp in the small gardens of elderly people. I approached Half-Moon and told him who I was and what my purpose was. He seemed a little taken aback at first and asked how I knew of him. I told him that I had Googled "drum circle" and his name had come up. He didn't recognize the term "Googled" and I had to explain to him what it was and how it worked on the computer. I then had to explain what a computer was and what it did. When my cell phone rang he looked at me as if it were the Dark Ages and I had just produced an industrial-sized flashlight. He sniffed and started to back away, frightened. I began to move toward him when he started wildly banging on his drum and baying loudly. A crowd quickly gathered and shook flaming sticks at me, uttering some guttural language I still can't place. I immediately understood what had happened. I had blown it. I had broken the first rule of journalism: Never approach a hippie with anything that has a microchip in it. Alas, I was dejected and hurt. I had traveled a long way to a place that, while stunningly beautiful, was filled with people who seemed to be put on this green Earth just to toy with my feelings. I vowed then and there that I would never give another drum circle the time of day. The whole trip was a waste of time. Oh, wait. I just remembered! I was able to free Mumia by purchasing a bumper sticker, so that's one thing I guess. But I still hate music.

 
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