Jimmyriggedness by Birdie Busch

I’m reading a book right now called Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. I have always loved David Byrne. True Stories is one of my favorite movies, which was done by him. I highly suggest that and anything else he’s done be it books, records, or movies.

My life is jimmy-rigged for sure. You know, put the rug down to hide the gaping hole in the floor. Line the cookie sheet with foil instead of getting a new tray. The other night I was on the phone with my mother and I heard a loud banging in the background in which my dad was hitting his TV with a hammer to shake things up hopefully to fall back into the right spots. My mom says just get the new TV. He’s waiting for some turbo model that’s destined to come out always in the future from when you’re buying it. I am not a TV person. I am a movie person though so as long as I have a little something to watch it on that’s fine by me. So I watch my movies on a little Colby, the “Colby” written in Sony letters like when you get those markers in the dollar store that say Shoupie not Sharpie. Yes, I own a rainbow spectrum of Shoupies. I may have even signed my autograph on your CD with a Shoupie.

I recently acquired my very own first car a couple of weeks ago. The car is a twenty-year-old Buick estate wagon with about 200,000 miles on it passed on to me by my parents. They acquired a different car, slightly newer, from my slightly older 89 year- old pop-pop. The shifting of old cars like tectonic plates within the kindred circle- and no less dramatic. My dad was very in love with that wagon and gave it to me like someone was asking him to throw out his favorite pair of pants that were like no other pants. But he could at least watch it from a short distance and see it sometimes. Well, within the couple weeks, the fuel pump went on Christmas Eve, it didn’t pass inspection by a whopping amount of repairs needed, and now its back in their driveway and what seemed like my first foray into owning a car (the title is being mailed from the state capitol right now) has ended. Just for the sake of making the most of some money spent I kind of want to put the new license plate on my back.

Well, there was a short honeymoon that took place in the big boat. For a couple weeks I lined up some amps and guitars and upright basses with the utmost of ease, like a mouse lining up crumbs on an aircraft carrier. I placed my show clothes on little side hooks and cruised down Philly streets admiring the sites of bottle dust, factory chimney flames, and the lady who begs for change on the median by Grays Ferry with a cat on her shoulder constantly like a parrot. I will dedicate a whole entry in this blog to images seen out of the corner of my eye while riding through Philly. And, because of the fact that there’s no functioning stereo in this car, we started to read out loud this book by David Byrne as our means of entertainment on a few long rides. The book, which I mentioned the title in the first paragraph, is all about his experiences riding around all the cities he’s played in on a bicycle. I had heard awhile ago that he did this, that when he got into town for a show he got off the bus and started riding around, that it was his favorite way to see a place and sometimes when you’re a traveling musician, it can start to feel like all you do is drive in, play the show, and leave. It’s a great book, great to read and read aloud in a car, preferably from the passenger to the driver, which is an activity that was born of a long line of jimmy-riggedness operations. Here’s a toast to that, may my dad be banging his TV hammer to the tune of Burning Down the House.

And now, a favorite passage of mine so far from Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne, be sure to sit down and listen to some “real music” today. Love, Birdie Busch

**I hear the faint cacophony of many distant cell-phone rings on the train car-snippets of Mozart and hip-hop, old school ring tones, and pop-song fragments-all emanating out of miniscule phone speakers. All Tinkling away here and there. All incredibly poor reproductions of other music. These ring tones are “signs” for  “real” music. This is music not actually meant to be listened to as music, but to remind you of and refer to other, real, music. These are audio road signs that proclaim “I am a Mozart person” or, more often, “I can’t even be bothered to select a ring tone.” A modern symphony of music that is not music but asks that you remember music.**

To Do Lists by Birdie Busch

I am a maker of “to do lists”. I make them on scraps of old show flyers and post-its, sometimes bigger sheets of more formal paper. I make them and I cross things off when I finish them. Sometimes I number each task. Other times just a hyphen. Sometimes I lump all the groceries under one task, as if all to be done in one place at one time. Other times each one is it’s own thing. Get toothpaste. Get dish soap. This makes the list longer. These tasks will share the page with other grander things like “try and get healthcare.” I put many things on the list thinking perhaps that because it’s on the list I can do it. I carry it around tucked into my journal or along with the paper bills in my wallet. I cherish the ability to cross things off like a nail-biter loves a good tear. Things are getting done that were there to do.


I realized in a quick thought a ways back that this was something I inherited from my father, much in the way I took on his olive skin or sometimes I’ll look down at the shape of my bare legs in the mirror and think, “I got my dad’s legs.” My dad always makes these lists. His usually are on pale yellow lined paper, sometimes done with thin red marker. He would leave them on the counter or on the desk in the kitchen when I was a kid. He includes things like “cut grass” or “clean out gutter” to things you’d not imagine as being on to do lists like “pick nose”. That’s a popular throw-in. Sometimes he’d write something like “hug Emily”. After awhile I realized he was writing these things to break up the heaviness of all the responsible tasks, perhaps leaving jokes and notes that he realized we would see, as we did, upon stumbling on his list.


I think I wanted to write about these lists because I have recently started to think about another thing, a list that exists less tangibly in my head but no less real just different. This list is less like a list and more like a circle, an invisible-ness of undendingness. like a railroad track that runs around the earth and joins up with itself in one streamlined infinite ride where I can never know where it started and ended, like a roll of scotch tape I pick away at furiously. I am trying to resolve these lists. I think that sometimes I mistake music or thinking about things that inspire songs like they are a grocery and then realize I can never be done this and it is a misfit of the highest order in the traditional to do list. How do I make peace with this thing that never allows itself to be made crossed-off? “PRACTICE” I’ll put right under “get toilet paper” and it seems absurd. It made me think of another thing to write on the list. Let’s say it’s number #27 on the list, a particularly overwhelming one.  Perhaps right after “send out heating bill.”


#27 Think about how some things can be put on a to do list and how there are other things that can’t and don’t mistake the two.


I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the satisfaction of the ol’ cross off but I want to find peace with the continuance. I want others to feel peace with finding the time and love to go towards their life’s loves and to not fear them because of the inability to make it a task. To each day be aware of the importance even if it can’t be controlled or totally understood or proven like laundry, liquid soap, and license renewal. My dad’s love has always been his time he gives to his family. Perhaps he was speaking in code with these quips, portals to help him and myself ponder our “other list”.