My Corvette Story

11/29/2011

Up until just a few years ago, I was the sometimes-proud owner of a shiny, silver, mid-80s Corvette. It was a big step up from my mid-80s Z28 Camaro, but where the Camaro showed its flaws on the outside, the Corvette was equally good at hiding them underneath its shell.

This Corvette had a beautiful paint job with custom pinstripes, shiny aftermarket rims, and a removable top. On the other hand, the previous owners of this mean machine had neglected to take care of the rest of it. The engine smoked and the exhaust manifold was caked in sludge, the carpet in the trunk area looked like glowing-hot metal had been set down on it, and the stock, Bose stereo hardly worked, among other issues.

One random, summer day in Ohio, inspiration struck and I wiggled under the car to see why the retractable radio antenna was permanently stuck in the “up” position. Someone had cut the wires going to the antenna motor and capped them, so I uncapped and reconnected them, only to discover that there was an electrical short – probably a grounding issue somewhere, anywhere – which caused the antenna motor to run continuously. This just made me wonder how many unseen problems I had yet to discover.

I should point out here that I don’t exactly consider myself to be a car guy. Sure, I can change brakes, oil, and spark plugs, and I once partially rebuilt a front-end after hitting a deer. But what I know about the subject is, by no means, expert level. A lot of it has come from trial and error, reading lots of manuals and message boards, and watching videos online.

The boiling point with this vehicle, both figuratively and literally, came when the Corvette overheated on the highway one Spring morning, on the way to work. The digital temperature gauge on the dash (pretty futuristic for that time) showed the heat going into the red, so I took the next exit, which was close, and I looked under the hood. The freakin’ coolant was boiling and steam was rolling out! I knew the car troubles were beyond my skill-set, so I limped the car to work after the car’s temperature and my blood pressure came down.

The Corvette stayed in the warehouse there for a couple weeks, until I had it hauled home and put it up for sale. I just wasn’t into the challenge and the money the car promised to require. I made a quick sale and left my job soon afterward to head to audio school. I am a pathetic consumer so, rather than buying a new, big TV or whatever, the money made from selling the car was used to invest in myself. Despite the many headaches, though, there wasn’t much cooler than cruising around, at 21 years old, in a Corvette.

The guy I sold it to was planning on fixing it up for drag racing. I hope it’s worked out as planned, although a small, small, very small part of me actually wishes I still had that danged thing.

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My lovely mother reminded me a few days ago of an old article I hadn’t even thought about for years. It’s from my old high school newspaper, Blue N’ Gold. Here goes:

Featured Story – “Living Legend”
by Rachel Flack

Aloof, arrogant, cocky… all characteristics expected of a musical genius. Justin Kilmer’s peaceful, charismatic nature instantly squishes those stereotypes the moment he speaks. His laid-back personality soothes any nervousness felt and replaces it with the feeling of being in the presence of an old friend. In possibly one of the most humble and enduring ways, Justin beings to weave the tale of his still developing musical career.

Kilmer’s brother played the drums when Justin was younger, and he felt his brother was having a lot of fun doing so. At age seven, Kilmer began to explore that chasm of rock life also. Upon seeing Wayne’s World, Justin had the desire to play the guitar. At the age of nine, his father bought him one. Along with the guitar, Kilmer soon conquered the melodic workings of bass and piano.

Influenced by greats such as Nine Inch Nails, Stabbing Westward, and Tool, Justin is now a driving force behind two bands: Masquerade and Latus Rectum. The latter is named after a trigonometry measurement.

Led by the searing vocals of Megan Dobrozsi from Middletown, back by the wicked onslaught of guitarists Tyler Zornes and Justin Tharpe, laced with the haunting underscores of bassist Mike Combs, and kept in perfect synchronization by Kilmer at drum, Latus Rectum performs their brand of rock for public events and parties. Last seen at Rachel Cayard-Roberts’s Live Stock, Latus Rectum had to take a short break due to Kilmer’s football player status. The band tried to get on at Monroe’s City Fest, but it was already booked up.

Masquerade, Justin’s other musical project, is topped with a serious goal, to have an album released before Kilmer graduates. However, Justin is not in this for the fame. “I don’t know if I’ll be famous, and that doesn’t concern me. I consider the music that we make art, and I just want people to appreciate it. If they can apply it to themselves, or interpret it in a way that it fits them, that’s great.”

A living legend in his own right, Justin Kilmer embodies the very thing a rock icon should be about, and that is to create music. Someday, when a haunting melody flows from the constraints of a stereo, and a creation of raw emotion stirs something long dead inside, Kilmer’s simple statement will have rang true. His ability to make music that whispers to the very essence of an individual will keep his mystique alive for many years. If one thing above all else is true, Justin Kilmer will not be forgotten.

I did it. I finally put some of my work out there for the world to hear. I have talked about some sort of distribution for 10+ years now, and now it’s finally…somewhere. Three songs have been posted for now, and more are in progress.

Posted on these pages:

http://www.reverbnation.com/leavingcelestia
http://www.myspace.com/leavingcelestia
http://soundcloud.com/leavingcelestia

The Haunting

11/08/2011

Sorry to just jump back into here like I was never gone, but I am trying to get be better… about moving more outward rather than inward.

So many dreams have been put on hold for so many people, and sometimes they simply just change. In a perfect world, many of my ideas and goals would have just been pushed to the forefront and seen fruition… but again, that would only be under different circumstances. Sure what we have here is vague, and sure I have had good intentions for so long, but now is different. I respect people who overcome fear, and those who possess very little of it to begin with. Everything I do is carefully calculated and taken with baby steps. I hate that sometimes, and other times feeling stable feels better than what it would be like to free fall and hit rock bottom again.

Sometimes, and by “sometimes” it’s closer to “every day,” I feel like throwing my hands up in the air and saying “fuck it, this is best it will ever be with the resources available.” But what wins out, always, is the perfectionist side. The problem is that art, in a way, never has any finite end. You can keep mixing and mixing, editing and editing, cutting deeper and deeper into your project, until you either drive yourself mad or someone tells you that you have reached that point where you aren’t really changing anything anymore. That plateau is extremely important to identify, and that’s where I think I am…. except that I see that higher peak and could reach it with a boost.

Right now this feels like an extremely vulnerable place. I prefer anonymity and privacy and enigmas, but right now it just feels that what’s best is to be honest and expressive.

It felt really nice submitting for copyrights recently because it was something official. It was a new step in a right direction. Now I just need to submit two more, although the second may be tricky.

I am looking forward to having a productive week because I am a few clicks away from doing what’s best. Good luck to you all in your endeavors, and I wish you a good week.

-JJK