Three Things I Accomplished this Year with the help of my friends.
Rich and Tabatha and I had started work on a new album to be released on my 80th birthday but the virus got in the way, We've finished the first two tracks above: a cover of Pumpkin by Tricky and me reading Jim Morrison's poem, Ghost Song.Mina Agossi in Paris, asked me to make a short video about arts and the corona virus. I live around the corner from this plucky little art studio called the Gamut Gallery which is struggling to stay open in the pandemic. One of the owners, Jade Patrick, is a cinematographer and she helped me do this clip. Mina is collecting a dozen other videos from around the world to release in 2021.
I grew up all over the world. Every two or three years it was a new country, a different culture, sometimes even another language. At the age of 14 I moved from the jungles of Paraguay to Geneva, Switzerland. In Europe I discovered culture: museums, classical music and jazz, Shakespeare. I realized I had an intellect and I consumed volumes of philosophy and poetry with the same enthusiasm (but not the destructive effect) of a barbarian descending upon Rome .
In 1956 I moved to the United States for my senior year in high school. It was a country where I had to hide my copy of Tropic of Cancer in my pocket to get through customs, where job ads in the Washington DC Post were separated by gender and then subdivided into White and Colored, where people were jailed for being communists or just gay. Everything in the U.S felt repressed: politically, sexually and culturally. It was a grey country, like The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit.
Tabatha's and My 15th Anniversary
I met Tabatha Predovich on the day I qualified for Social Security. She came to the Spy House coffee shop in response to an ad for a singer that I had placed in the City Pages (That's how people communicated back in the Stone Age.)
It was the luckiest day of my life. The punk tradition was that 3 or 4 friends with no musical background would go into a garage and emerge in a couple of weeks to take the stage with their own unique sound. I had no intention of auditioning a singer because anyone could be in a band. It was entirely by chance then, that I ended up with a classically trained vocalist like Tabatha who could perfectly articulate my lyrics. And her husband, Rich, played guitar and was a genius at music production.You can buy the book/CD on https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Jazz-John-Christopher-Shillock/dp/B000WMG5DW
A couple months into our project Tabatha was diagnosed with cancer and we went on hiatus while she underwent an excruciating course of radiation and chemotherapy. She was the bravest person I've ever met. As she said, sometimes you need to get close to dying to realize what life is worth.
|Tabatha swore she'd kick cancer's ass.|
|I cut my hair in solidarity.|
Several years later I was diagnosed with cancer and she became an inspiration to me and a comfort. Tabatha came to visit me in the hospital while I was undergoing chemotherapy. I was the envy of the cancer ward. My grandson, Justin Shilllock, calls this "World's Worst Shasta ad."
Later she took me out while I was recovering from the radiation. This was at a gallery opening.
We did a photoshoot at Chester and Marcia's campground under the 10th Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi.
Tabatha performing at Ground Zero
Us performing at Bosso Poetry - Recording at Terrarium Studios
|DAVID DANIELS with Tabatha and Chris|
Anne Calvit Shillock , my daughter-in-law, knit me a scarf the color of Tabatha's hair. - by the Ice Palace in the Saint Paul Winter Carnuival
...or her silly smile.
When I'm with Tabatha, she always makes me look good.
Sometimes we perform some of our old songs with Tabatha and Rich's new band, UZZA. My granddaughter, Marielle is dancing in front.
Tabatha made me what I am today. Without her I'd be just a songwriter without a singer. As for Social Security, well it barely pays the rent so I'm still working.
My 80th Birthday
The thing is, I still came from a middle class background. I had friends with large apartments; one of them was even a landlord. I still had my college education: in fact my old college roommate offered to help me out financially - not only had I been to college but I had lived in a dorm. Most tellingly I endured a year and a half of unemployment without falling into a depression and giving up hope (i.e I haven't been oppressed my whole life). Now I see myself as less the master of my fate than the recipient of unearned grace.
It's true that people are happy to help me. I'm mostly accounted a good person, even dismissingly a "nice guy". However others are not aware of how often I do the right thing because I want to keep people's respect. If I could get away with being a bad person, with being careless or even cruel, I'm not sure what I would do.
Lately I haven't even been true to my own principles. When Mullaney, the psychopath. was attacking the people in my building he filed restraining orders against us. In order to keep my home and preserve my good name I was forced to collaborate with the police to challenge him. In the last year I've donated thousands of dollars to Go Fund Mes for small businesses hurt by the corona virus. My new landlord hasn't raised the rent for 3 years and he takes care of all repairs within hours. My company moved back to the city. They're paying me $1.00 an hour more than I got before and the HR director delivers food to employees in quarantine.