A Deeply Heartfelt Eight-Octave Thank You

I don’t know how to begin or end this.  So consider this a love letter.

Bach's handwritten dedication of the Brandenburg Concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt.

Bach’s handwritten dedication of the Brandenburg Concertos to the Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt.

At no time in western culture did the arts ever not rely on patronage.  Sure, the occasional dilettante with some wealth has undertaken to paint or compose or pick up a camera, but for most of us mere mortals, getting our feet off the ground so we can get our heads in the clouds has taken more than our own blown breath filling our sails.  Perhaps with visual artists it has been easier to see a tactile return on that investment, although sometimes one starts to wonder what makes a smear of oil paint on canvas so much more valuable when Picasso did the smearing than when anyone else did.  With performing artists it becomes more tenuous, in that there isn’t anything solid someone can take home and say “I commissioned that.”  You can’t take home a dancer and put him on your mantle if you subsidize a ballet.  Sure, for a composer there’s a score, and nearly everything Bach or Beethoven or Mozart composed comes with a cover page with a dedication to some nobleman who gave them money or a living situation or did some nice thing for them.  However, the score is only a description of a piece of music that a musician then has to realize.  Think of it as though instead of a Mona Lisa, you had a written description of how to paint a Mona Lisa, each brush stroke, what pigment blend it is, where to apply it, at exactly what time to apply it…  And every person who took those descriptions would paint a Mona Lisa, no two of which would ever be the same.  And what makes music almost noumenonal…  To complete the metaphor, as soon as you finish painting a Mona Lisa, it vanishes.  In this day and age, where having a thing to show for the investment is so much more concretely understandable as hard return for the investment, it’s hard to justify asking for that sort of patronage for something so intangible.

Photo Jan 19, 17 59 52

Against this worry on my part, somewhat over a week ago Jesse started asking me if I’d be willing to consider a crowdsource means of raising some funds for a piano.  I’ve been living without one for upwards of five years now.  My skills as a pianist have decidedly deteriorated, to my deep frustration, and it has slowed my writing nearly to a halt.  Compound this with physical problems I was experiencing with my vocal chords.  An excellent physician specialist in Boston has finally reversed those, and an amazing voice teacher who has gone through this exact problem is now pulling me back to being able to sing again.  Compound those again with as yet not having found any ensemble to play tuba with in Boston, and there’s only so much reward to playing in my little studio room by myself…  I was starting to wonder if there really was any point to having a piano at all, if it was simply time to give up and find a job-job, if after all these years of idealistic artistic masturbation it was time to pack it in and move on.

Okay, that's actually my old ophicleide, which I don't play any more, but it's a fun photo...

Okay, that’s actually my old ophicleide, which I don’t play any more, but it’s a fun photo…

It doesn’t help that my taste in pianos isn’t Bösendorfer concert grand extravagant (they’re awesome, but far more than I need), but I also can’t work on a $250 Casiotone keyboard.  It’s like expecting a computer programmer to devise a new operating system on a Speak-and-Spell.  What Jesse and I found which I can make work (and which we can get into our house!) is a “hybrid”, a Yamaha AvantGrand N2 specifically.  The works are essentially identical to the actual working action of a grand piano, so the instrument feels right under the hands, but the sound processors are entirely digital like top-of-the-line electronic keyboards.  It doesn’t go out of tune, it can be played with headphones in the middle of the night, and I can connect it via MIDI to my computer for input and output.  Kinda perfect, but steep price-wise.  I just couldn’t justify asking for help to the tune of the $15,000 list price tag of such a device.

End-on photo of the action of an American Steinway grand piano.

End-on photo of the action of an American Steinway grand piano.

But then we’d located a used one for less, and Jesse proposed perhaps just asking for some portion of the needed cash.  I said what the hell, go ahead.  I’d thought we’d get maybe $150 and a ton of well-wishers.  So he posted a kickstarter campaign at http://www.gofundme.com/piano-for-dirk.  Two days after he’d written the campaign, I finally allowed him to promote it.

And then this happened.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 9.30.33 PM

There’s data there that needs a little explaining.  That screen capture was taken as I’m writing this post, 48 hours after Jesse went live with it; the “5 days” actually reflects the time since he wrote the page.  The kicker is that we raised $5,000 in just shy of 24 hours after making this public.  Having promised to post a recording of a piano piece I’d not published before, Jesse jubilantly posted to his own blog here.  And even having reached this milestone, we’re still seeing you contribute more.

I can’t begin to say how much this means to me.  For some years I’ve been thinking more and more “Why write, when I can’t seem to get anyone to listen?”  Arts are about communication, about speaking to people’s minds and hearts in ways perhaps language can’t.  In a certain sense, even language itself is an art, an “artificial” (in the archaic sense, think of the meaning of “artifice” as an adjective) means of conveying not only concrete thoughts but feelings, conceptions, ideas…  And if you speak or write and nobody pays attention, how long can one really enthuse over the idea of writing or talking for your own enjoyment before it just starts feeling futile?

It’s been a revelation to me to know that you listen.  And you not only listen, you want to hear more.  And beyond that you want to hear more, to my utter astonishment, to want to help out with the purchase of a rather heftily expensive tool which will make it possible for me to create more.

We seem to have missed out on the used model we found earlier, but if years of watching eBay and other online sources have taught me anything, if it showed up once, another one will come along; we just have to be vigilant.  Now we have the means to jump on it when the next one does appear.  Meanwhile, the campaign is hardly closed; I’m still thrilled and delighted to send CDs and scores and manuscript pages to anyone who still wants to contribute, and believe me, every last little bit helps.  The campaign is still live at http://www.gofundme.com/piano-for-dirk.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!

I really, really hope that I can begin to repay this kindness.  It’s not just the money, as vital as that has been.  It’s the restoration of faith.  That’s priceless.

The composer at work. Thanks to you, back at work!

The composer at work. Thanks to you, back at work!

 

 

25 comments

  1. Lyne says:

    I will always support you.

  2. Izzy Ireland says:

    Hi Dirk! What beautiful music! I’m just curious if you ever did marching band or Drum Corp? When I saw the picture of you and the ophicleide I got curious! Great day to you!

    Izzy

  3. John G. says:

    You rock, Dirk – don’t ever give up! Prayers for piano funds.

  4. Cyn says:

    Dirk, this brought me to tears. I write, but then you know that, and I have two artistic “kids”. I also know scores of artists, writers, and musicians. Your doubt and wonder is all too common. I spoke with a Pulitzer prize winning playwright last night with a two year long case of writer’s block. You thoughts above and the analogy you use is spot on. I’m so glad some of your faith is restored and that you’re going to soon be on your way BACK. Here’s hoping the instrument of your dreams and the perfect amount of cash coincide so you can be back “at it” sooner rather than later.

  5. Wolf says:

    Hi Dirk,

    great that you engage into music – and especially Bach (one of my all time favourites). All the best for your own composings – keep the fire burning!

  6. Steven Hennessee says:

    So glad I could help out in a small way. I look forward to seeing your continued amazing growth with the new keyboard.

  7. Marvin Fogel says:

    Hi Dirk,

    I am so glad that you were able to restore the faith that you thought you had lost with your career in music. Thank you for the message of appreciation about the donations from so many people who helped, and still are helping, you with the purchase of a piano. The amount that has been raised for it is truly astounding. And the treatments for the physical problem with your vocal chords, also training with a voice teacher, are no less important for your health and future. Good luck. May the new piano open a bright and brand new world for you. :):):)

  8. Eric Farr says:

    AWESOME!!!! I can’t wait for your first full piece to be done!!!!

  9. Liz says:

    Dirk, not only are you a talented musician, but you’re also an eloquent writer of thank you notes. Your Mona Lisa analogy was perfect and impactful.

    Clearly, a Yamaha AvantGrand will be yours in the very near future and perhaps will even be an inspirational muse for you. This time next year, I expect my pre-commencement playlist will be 100% Dirk Caber.

    I’m a bit excited to be one of your patrons, and know that I’ve played a tiny part in helping you create beautiful art.

  10. Joey P-G says:

    Absolutely awesome…. I’m in love!!!

  11. david calhoun says:

    Hi – when you decide you need a harpsichord, let me know. I might even be bring a small one to boston for the Festival in June ….

  12. Terry Nelson says:

    Dirk: You are a very talented man in many ways. Of course you need a piano, you deserve it. I am always encouraging artists in all mediums. I might not be able to afford helping financially but I can sure share posts on your gofund request.

  13. Bruce Broughton says:

    Dirk. You have already repaid the kindness with your words and art. This is what has drawn us to you and the contributions made. Your words are art, your music is art, you are art. We thirst for more, and we can’t wait to receive it.

  14. sumon says:

    i am admiring u. u r so talented person i have ever seen in my life. i love u dirk. i wanna work with u. its my desire.

  15. Jeff Bowles says:

    Anyone with a pic of an ophicleide on his page, has to be a consummate musician.

    If you wanna “pay it back,” show it all the loving you know how.

  16. J. Valente says:

    Dirk,
    I already knew you to be a beautiful person in every sense of that much abused (not in your case, though) word that matters. Handsome and talented and articulate. I hadn’t quite got it – how your words can move to tears. Beautifully expressed. Apart from music and whatnot 😉 have you ever considered a writing career? Jesse is so very good at it but I reckon you could approach it from your personal angle. Well, I’m, babbling, rambling on now arwn’t I?
    Just wanted to let you know how I find you guys so great and yourself so inspirational.
    Enough of that ^_^
    I’ll be sending all kinds of best wishes in Love and Life and Art your way now – and Big Hugs

  17. William says:

    Hey Drik,
    I’m so excited to visit your blog!
    To be honest, it is amazing to see a porn star can be talented and sexy the same time.
    So happy to see you as a musican, and hope you can achieve your goals.
    WE LOVE YOU! <3
    P.S. how can I get an autograph from you…

  18. Jeff says:

    Now I’ve heard it all. You work in porn, make who knows how much money, and you have the nerve to ask hardworking people to contribute their money so you can buy a fucking piano?

    I don’t know what your back story might be, nor do I know about your personal finances, and frankly, I don’t care. I just know that you have a lot of nerve soliciting donations from people who don’t fuck on camera and call that “work” or “art.”

    Anyone who wants to give their money to you is free to do so. I, however, am not one of those people.

    • Dirk says:

      Jeff, without first going into the amount of misinformation you’re working from, lemme just say… You think its a bum deal? Then don’t invest. Just don’t. I don’t want your money, and the idea of feeling any sort of gratitude to such an ass is odious to me. However, I suspect this is more about your self esteem, as you’ve gone to such an effort to express your disdain on my blog. Do you feel better about yourself now that you’ve attempted to take me down a notch?

      • Terry ( Niall) says:

        Jeff’s comments were way out of line. I don’t understand the mentality of those who attack without knowing all the facts. Its more demeaning to them then those who are getting attacked. What is going on behind the scenes with him.
        I totally respect Dirk and Jesse and find comments like Jeff’s totally bewildering as to why he is so angry.

    • John G. says:

      Thank you so much, Jeff, for sharing your short-sighted thoughts and ideas with us – I’m sure it will only provide Dirk with more affirmation that he is, indeed, wise to think about, and plan for, a life beyond porn.

      Keep up the great work, Dirk!

  19. Marvin Fogel says:

    There will always be people who dislike you because you are a porn actor. It’s a shame that such narrow-minded people will not recognize you also as a talented musician and composer whose future may be brighter with the acquisition of a new piano. Why bother responding to the hate messages from them when we know that they will not change their attitudes about you and the industry for which you work? What is the point of sharing such messages with your followers? I don’t respond to people, in fact, friends if I cannot share a civil discourse with them, i.e., politics or any issue.

    I think you and your partner are real mensches who write very intelligent and thoughtful blogs. Your fans and I look forward to reading them. Cheers!

    • Terry says:

      Marvin – I totally agree. Haters are everywhere but I pay little to no attention to them. Yes Dirk and Jesse are Mensches – big time! ;}

Leave a Reply to Terry Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *