June 21, 2005 11:03 PM

Less Than Zero -- a band I played bass for two years ago, before I left for school -- reunited today for a practice. It was pretty shaky at first, but we were doing surprisingly well by the end. The last half hour we spent mostly just mucking around (we had rented a practice space for 2 hours), and I got to mess around on a nicely-tuned, well-kept drumset. I was amazed by how easy it was to play, and how much better of a drummer I had become by simply being on a decent kit with decent hardware. I didn't realize how much I have to fight with my $40 kit to play it acceptably.

The rest of the evening was spent hanging around and drinking on a friend's lawn by a highway onramp, waving at the busfuls of tourists that passed by. Getting musically involved with my friends again, it reoccurred to me how remarkably self-contained and self-sustaining the music here is. Amongst my friends, having a band is a natural thing to do, even if that means playing to the same (albeit no less thrilled) audience who had danced along to all their previous bands. They don't start these bands for the audience (often largely made up of their friends), or anything as foolish as national or international stardom (such aspirations are actually quite a joke here -- no band who has remained in Hawaii has ever seriously made it). My friends form bands for themselves, to reassert a personal but uncertain visceral need, and to have a little fun. While they do attempt to produce something interesting and original each time around, that isn't on their minds; the audiences here are too apathetic or hypersensensitive for them to pay attention to such things, nor is that the point of having the band. I'm not sure myself what the point is (an answer like "making a meaningful artistic statement" seems grossly pretentious, and, more importantly, inaccurate), but in any case it seems to be an irrelevant concern in the face of the earnest enthusiasm shared by my friends (and myself).

I guess mostly what I wanted to say is that I can't help but be slightly awed by the simplicity and beauty of starting and working on something without any aspirations or pretensions preceding it. While I'm sure this kind of thing occurs everywhere, I feel it acutely here at home. I'll have to explain it further sometime, but I've long since come to conclude that Hawaii is an unsettlingly constant place; nothing moves or changes, nor can greater world reach and effect it. The fact that people are still starting things up here in spite of the prevailing stillness is reassuring to me.