From The Desk Of Michael Cerveris: The Break-In Period

It’s one thing to be a creative quadruple threat (film actor, stage actor, television actor, musician); it’s another thing entirely to excel as a quadruple threat for the better part of 43 years. From multiple Tony nominations—and wins—to starring roles on Fame and Treme, Michael Cerveris may be best known for his versatility as a thespian, but he proves just as formidable behind the mic on his long-awaited sophomore solo album, Piety. His sonic pedigree is unsurprisingly impressive, having shared the stage with the likes of the Breeders, Bob Mould, Teenage Fanclub and Frank Black. Cerveris will be guest editing all week. Read his MAGNET Feedback.


Cerveris: I like old stuff. I like instruments with cracks and flaws, clothes with worn places, people with some lines that show they’ve been someplace on their way to here. I don’t trust new things right away—even when I really like them. I mean, I get the appeal of pristine perfection in a paint job, say, fresh off the assembly line. But I can barely appreciate it fully before a nagging anticipation of that first scratch, that first dent, makes me almost reach for my keys or a belt buckle to just go ahead and get it over with already.

What I think I really value is the Break-In Period. Those days and weeks and months when repeated use starts to conform a thing to the use it’s being put to. Working in that baseball glove by oiling it up, putting a ball in the pocket, tying it up and sleeping with it under your pillow for nights on end. Wearing those boots with thicker socks and soaking the bridge with alcohol while you walk extra distances to hurry the process along. Except that, while you can encourage the process some, there aren’t really short cuts. It’s time that eventually fits the glove to your hand, the boot to your foot, the frets to your fingers and the face to your heart. Because people have break-in periods, too. New friends and new relationships are going to take time to fit. And what’s beautiful about the very scratches and dents and wear that you see on a cherished thing or a cherished person is that they are evidence of devotion and use. Of the willing expenditure of our most precious commodity: time. And it’s a comfort, I think, to have things and people around that remind me what I care about by showing me the cracks and lines and the places worn thin.