Friday, August 1, 2008

Let It Alone

A friend forced my hand. She is presenting a night of her poetry and asked me to be the opening act...sing 4 or 5 songs and set the stage. I've been frustrated musically for quite a long time, longer than I care to admit. From 1995 through 2003 I wrote roughly an album worth of material each year, sometimes a bit more, never less. The last 5 years have seen that pace slow considerably and if it weren't for the arrival of Cousin Timothy on the scene I'd almost have nothing new to show. And my collaborations with him aren't stand-alone songs, they are soundscapes that I contribute to.

So the singer/songwriter train had long since retired to the yard. Unhappily, I might add.

The invitation from my friend meant a lot to me. Oh to hell with it, it's Fielding. I swore I'd write new material for this evening. And last night I took a big step towards meeting that goal. Nothing final yet but some very viable seeds. Left me excited to hear the tunes this morning.

1. 'The Only Answer' by Mike Doughty from 'Skittish'

I was in Rhode Island again, listening to WRIU late at night again, driving home from visiting Jean who was bar tending down at the greatest bar in the world, The Ocean Mist. A song came on that stopped me in my tracks, stunned me to my core. The only problem was the boneheaded college DJ never said who sang the damn thing. All I knew was it was a voice and a guitar and it referenced the F train and Park Slope. My Brooklyn heartbreak seemed to be scraped off the pavement and reconstituted in its entirety in the most modern folk song I'd ever heard. I desperately stayed awake as long as I could to hear the DJ say who sang it but he never did. I called the radio station the next day to find out what it was but they didn't really keep records like that. I did a mad Google search typing in every possible genre/lyric/etc. I could think of. Nothing came up. Months passed and I was back in LA. I remembered the song again and rededicated myself to the Google mission. Ultimately I found it...'Thank You Lord For Sending Me The F Train'. I bought the album. 'The Only Answer' is another devastating track from the mind of the man who reached out to me with his description of what had become my hometown, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, USA.

2. 'STP' by Sublime from 'Robbin' The Hood'

I am not a big reggae fan and I am even less of a ska fan so I am puzzled by my infatuation with Sublime. They continually put me in a summer mood. They remind me of the hours I used to spend with sand between my toes and ocean salt all over my body, trying not to look too long at the girls on the blankets right nearby and dreaming of a day when I'd be on a blanket with them.

3. 'Ball And Chain' by Social Distortion from 'Social Distortion'

This is one of those songs that was here long before it was ever written. It lived in the Big House of Songs near 'Rock Island Line' and 'Erie Canal' and 'Red River Valley', it just never got asked to come out and play. Hundreds of years went by and finally this big lug named Mike Ness came to the Big House of Songs and saw it sitting there on the shelf. 'Hey you,' he cried. 'You and me might get along fine.' So 'Ball And Chain' said goodbye to 'She'll Be Riding Six White Horses' and exited the Big House of Songs blinking and excited to visit.

4. 'Low Side Of The Road' by Tom Waits from 'Mule Variations'

I was all ready to get my Waits hackles up, as they've been for several years now. But I found myself really liking this song in spite of how closely it hews to his i-have-no-formula formula. It's funky and weird and cool.

5. 'Downer' by Nirvana from 'Bleach'

This album was recorded for $600 but they sound like a million bucks.

6. 'Bed For The Scraping' by Fugazi from 'Red Medicine'

By this point Fugazi was like The Rolling Stones of the hardcore movement. They'd stood on the mountain top and no one even challenged them anymore. But obviously they challenged themselves. The funk is so hard, the lyrics are like ball bearings skittering around in hot grease, the unity is absolute. They have better songs, better albums, but they've never been more of a group.

7. 'Fireman Hurley' by Mike Watt from 'Contemplating The Engine Room'

A nice song about his buddy the drummer. The drummer came from a family of firemen and here Watt draws an interesting parallel between the combustible propulsion of Hurley's musicianship and his family history of putting out fires.

8. 'Sea of Secrets' by Joe Jackson from 'Night Music'

Heard it yesterday, skipped it today.

9. 'Windowstill' by Arcade Fire from 'Neon Bible'

Ugh. Shut up already.

10. 'Rock You' by The Roots from 'Phrenology'

I want to be in The Roots. I'll play the triangle, I'll be the guy who dances around and yells 'Put Your Hands In The Air!' I don't care. I want to be in The Roots.

11. 'Protection' by Graham Parker and The Rumour from 'Squeezing Out Sparks'

Odd, I listened to this album just last night as I cooked my tilapia. Then I listened to Graham Parker solo and heard this song in that version. A simply fantastic rock song. Legend has it that Graham Parker had a band before he put together The Rumour. That band had a harmonica player from The States who'd been backpacking around Europe and had settled in London and gotten mixed up in the burgeoning punk scene.

That harmonica player? Huey Lewis.

12. 'Winds of Morning' by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem from 'In Concert'

These guys bring me back to my childhood like no other artists. They are the best.

13. 'Everybody In This Town Is Drunk' by Pat McCurdy from 'Showtunes'

This live track demonstrates McCurdy's ability to engage a crowd which is almost wholly unique. If you are ever in Chicago or Milwaukee you'll probably want to see Wrigley Field, The Sears Tower, the breweries, etc. But McCurdy is as much of a landmark. Do not miss him.

14. 'The Ultimate Shit' by Pimp Fu from 'Raw Fushi...t'

Oh man he's good.

15. 'Perfect Hair' by Dangerdoom from 'The Mouse & The M...'

Head trip!

16. 'Boom Boom' by John Lee Hooker from 'Very Best Of'

This guy is a minimalist. Many of the beats are his toes tapping. You can hear the invention as it happens and that he'd never play the song the same way twice. There might be raw moments that could be improved upon but they wouldn't add up to the transcendence in the last verse. So he leaves the imperfection alone.

17. 'Cicatriz E.S.P.' by The Mars Volta from 'De-Loused In The Comatorium'

I try to resist, I swear I do. I try to be above it all, to look upon these freaks as self-indulgent deliberately obscure technophiles who are a whole lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. But ultimately I am swayed by the sheer audacity of their vision. To flout comprehension so willingly, to grate the ear with volume and shrillness, to stretch an idea twice past the limit of ingratiation...hats off.

18. 'Supa Star' by Floetry feat. Common from 'Umpg: Current And Upcoming Singles'

Supa yawn.

19. 'Cinderella's Big Score' by Sonic Youth from 'Goo'

'Goo' is in essence Sonic Youth's disco album. It never sits still, it sparkles, it leaves you likely to make bad choices in public places late at night, and it keeps pulling its skirt higher and higher and higher until...well, let's just say that when you bend down to put the glass slipper back on you get quite a show.

20. 'Pork Chop's Little Ditty' by Primus from 'Pork Soda'

Les Claypool got his hands on a banjo and PRESTO!

21. 'The Last Time' by The Rolling Stones from 'Out Of Our Heads (USA)'

Oh to be young and in The Rolling Stones! They sound like cavemen.

22. 'All Broadway Musicals Sound the Same, Especially The Baritones' by Lenny Bruce from 'The Lenny Bruce Originals - Volume 1'

A short interlude from the King.

23. 'Everlong' by Foo Fighters from 'The Colour And The Shape'

Foo fans don't seem to care for this album overmuch and I couldn't disagree more. I own no other Foo Fighters and don't care to, such is the perfection of this suite of songs.

24. 'Cleaning House' by Grandpaboy from 'Dead Man Shake'

The blues album Westerberg released as Grandpaboy is a kind of ragged perfection. Check him out.

And that is that for the day. Let it alone.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Car Crashes In My Dreams

I woke after a stunning series of collisions. In one a bus sat across several lanes of LA freeway having skidded to a stop with one end in the fast lane and the other in the slow lane. A Porsche or some such stupidity smashed directly through the bus at 140MPH and continued along. The bus shattered and lay in pieces. I could only hope that no one had been inside of it but from my vantage point (the height of a traffic helicopter) I truly couldn't tell.

Needless to say, this made my bus ride this morning very interesting.

1. 'Danny Boy' by Rufus Wainwright from 'Rufus Wainwright'

It didn't help that I was near tears by the time I left my apartment. The opening strains of this song are enough to disintegrate my personality entirely. The genius of a heartbreak song sung man to man using the title of perhaps the most famous song about death is just one tiny fraction of the power of this song. His voice drips with ache. Occasionally when I hear songs about break-ups I can't help but think the person is better off, that whatever pain they're trying to sell me is hooey. Not so here.

I first heard this song in Melody's car as she drove me to the airport to send me back to the life I had to change in order to be with her. I can still see the sky, the waving trees, the burning sun hotter than seemed usual for the season...the scope of the landscape obliterated by Rufus and his heartbreak. And so forever this song sends me mine.

2. 'Sultans Of Swing' by Dire Straits from 'Money For Nothing'

I feel cobblestones beneath my feet at the opening salvo of this perfectly etched sketch of musicianship. Mark Knopfler doesn't use a guitar pick for the most part, he makes his trips up and down the neck using skin only. And it shows, for there is something smooth and softer than plastic in his playing, something human hidden in the explicit virtuosity. And was there ever a more unlikely huge MTV star than Dire Straits?

3. 'Burning Down The House' by Talking Heads from 'Stop Making Sense'

This live cut really showcases the opposing forces that somehow cohere into a vastly unsettling party. You dance, you sing along, but you also must overlook a nagging sense of fear, the vague thought that you are being condescended to, and the general idea that you've completely missed the point.

4. 'Walt Whitman's Niece' by Billy Bragg & Wilco from 'Mermaid Avenue'

This was Cashel's favorite album right around the time he learned to walk. So whenever the bouncy strains of this or any other of the songs on this great album start, all I can see is his little diapered butt bouncing up and down dancing the only way he knew how. I have video of him on all fours perking up the instant it comes on.

5. 'You Got It And I Want It' by Andre Williams from 'The Black Godfather'

See previous entry 'The Black Godfather In Amsterdam' from January 29, 2008.

6. 'Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby' by Dinah Washington from 'Verve Unmixed'

There is something to be said for the notion that this era of music achieved a level of sophistication that is unparalleled in the history of popular song. The technical advancements of the rap era are close but to hear an orchestra of human beings articulate a song to the Nth degree while Dinah Freaking Washington purrs it to death is an apex of some sort don't you forget it.

7. 'Hot Wit U' by Prince from 'Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic'

At first glance this song is just another hot little Prince number. Guitars lick the edges of keyboard trills, his voice dances around like a stripper trying to get that dollar out of your hand and into her thong, drums rear up and down as if they are cartoon horses chafing at the bit.

So just another day at the Prince office, right? Well, yes and no. Because out of nowhere Missy Elliott comes and spanks little Prince right out of his normal mode. She transforms the song and does what I'm sure countless women have wanted to do over the years (I know Melody has)...put Prince in his place. Like, yeah, you are ALL talk MOFO. You are 2 feet tall and ugly. I am in charge. Otherwise you wouldn't have asked me to sing on your song. I am Missy Elliott. In a way, it is the bravest thing Prince could do. He lets her upstage him.

8. 'T'Ain't No Sin' by Tom Waits from 'The Black Rider'

I'm sure William S. Burroughs completists cream in their crusty pen-filled jeans over this piece of garbage but I have once again had it with Mr. Waits. W.S.B. repeats a boring few lines over some mellotron filtered through a jug of iced tea or some such nonsense. Good lord this is tiresome bullshit.

9. 'Legoland' by The Fatima Mansions from 'Viva Dead Ponies'

30 seconds of instrumental weirdness. I know this album so well that the song that follows on the heels of this interlude was battering my brain in absentia.

10. 'Shake 'n' Stomp' by Dick Dale from 'King Of The Surf Guitar: The Best of Dick Dale'

Don't you wish you could honestly declare yourself the King of ANYTHING unselfconsciously and have pretty much everyone nod and say, 'Yeah, they are the King, no doubt about it.'

I bet that's fun for Dick Dale. What is even more fun is the INSANITY he slings.

11. 'I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man' by Eric Clapton (featuring Buddy Guy) from 'The Concert For New York City'

There is something Al Jolson/Blackface/Jazz Singer about the faux blues growl that Eric Clapton adopts here. Sorry, but it's offensive. And when Buddy Guy's voice comes through the microphone he puts Eric Clapton and his bullshit to shame.

12. 'If You Were To Wake Up' by Lyle Lovett from 'Lyle Lovett And His Large Band'

So you are dating this quirky girl. She's not conventionally attractive but she has a very distinct personal style. She wears flapper hats and pearl necklaces. Her purses scream Zelda Fitzgerald. She makes her mole work like a beauty mark. The patchouli she now wishes she never wore still hangs around like the Ghost of Perfume Past, layered over with something vanilla instead of the lavender she really likes. You've gone to cocktail parties instead of bars, art house films instead of blockbusters, concertos instead of concerts.

And then you snap out of it, break up with her, eat a box of doughnuts, drink a couple of beers and go see a cover band in flip flops. God, the effort of all that quirk.

13. 'Hard Row' by The Black Keys from 'thickfreakness'

Oh these boys have grown on me something fierce. The first time Melody and I listened a couple of years ago we said, 'ok, fine' and moved on without a second thought. But the iPod, combined with a live appearance on KCRW's 'Morning Becomes Eclectic' has won me over for good.

They rock, plain and simple. A nice antidote to the Lovett schmaltzquirk.

14. 'Sea of Secrets' by Joe Jackson from 'Night Music'

This music is gorgeous. But I don't know what it means.

15. 'Night Rally' by Elvis Costello and The Attractions from 'This Year's Model'

He could churn out the 2 minute pop song by the barrel back in the day. I don't think I'd heard this song in 15 years and I was singing along right quick. I'm starting to open up to Elvis again after years of holding him at arm's length.

Please don't let me down, Elvis.

16. 'For You' by Prince from 'For You'

A-Capella 19 part harmony from a skinny 17 year old Minnesota black midget. Wow. Weird doesn't even begin to describe it.

17. '111 Archer Avenue' by Mark Mothersbaugh from 'The Royal Tennenbaums'

This soundtrack works as a whole but split up it loses most of its appeal. The movie made me cry. I will go see anything Wes Anderson does first weekend and then buy it and watch it over and over again. Even if I'm not sure how much I like it.

18. '(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle' by Hank Williams from 'Lonesome Blues'

How can a 20 something man sound so weary and old? You see pictures of Hank Williams near the end of his life and he seems 69 not 29. What a shame.

19. 'Aneurysm' by Nirvana from 'With The Lights Out (Disc 2)'

This song holds a special place in my Nirvana heart seeing as it was the 'B' side of the 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' CD single I bought in the Orleans, France FNAC store. The album was sold out so I bought the single and while I loved 'Smells' this song rocks just as hard and doesn't let you off the hook with the giant easy sing-along.

And so I got to work without a Porsche disintegrating the public transportation I hope not to have to ride some day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Carnival of Sound

This morning I read Virginia Woolf's 'A Room Of One's Own' as I rode the bus and I was moved to tears several times. She encapsulates the injustice visited upon women with such clarity that at times I felt claustrophobic and oppressed. But also oddly uplifted at the same time. She is such a great writer that the thrust of the book becomes appropriate to ANYONE who struggles with their artistic self, not merely women. I am grateful for that, there is forgiveness in it for me and my kind.

1. 'Crash The Party (Live)' by Richard Thompson from 'Watching The Dark (1)'

When Thompson gets loud and boogies down I get a little bored. His playing is still ridiculous, Stevie Ray Vaughan playing jigs and reels, but the faster songs get muddy.

2. 'Tired Of Being Alone' by Al Green from 'Al Green - Greatest Hits'

The only thing wrong with this song is that you can't really imagine Al EVER being alone. I mean, he might be with the WRONG woman, or just A woman, or three or four women, but ALONE? I don't think so.

3. 'Rain Street' by The Pogues from 'Hell's Ditch'

This is a great album, produced by the late great Joe Strummer. He was sort of a de-facto member of The Pogues for a while there, replacing/standing in for Shane MacGowan. They do make you wish you were a few sheets to the wind smoking a cigarette INSIDE of a bar, yelling down to someone about the latest news, catching a football match on the telly, downing fish and chips right quick so you could get the hell out of there and go catch that band before they break up.

4. 'The Way You Look' by Damien Jurado & Gathered In Song from 'I Break Chairs'

Damien Jurado has a voice that makes you sad. For some reason he reminds me of living in Providence, dying to play my music, jaunting down to a party on the beach in Westerly that ought to have been loads of fun and actually was somehow except that this great wave of despair seemed forever ready to break and sweep me out to sea. Instead, I drank too many beers and stood too close to the fire and talked a little too loudly and probably didn't listen to anything anyone had to say.

5. 'Change It' by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble from 'Greatest Hits'

I've extolled the virtues of SRV's guitar playing (who hasn't?) but on this track it is his voice which is killing me. Somehow staccato and legato all at once his voice seems more of an instrument than a vehicle for words. The interplay between the strings he's bending and the sounds he's making with his throat is quite unique...they don't seem to agree. There is tension, odd since both sounds come from the same man. Each heightens the other.

6. 'Isla De Encanta' by Pixies from 'Surfer Rosa & Come On Pilgrim'

Not crazy about this Pixies song but they could care less.

7.'Freetempo' by Montage from 'The New Brazillian Sound'

I felt like I was doing the tango on the bus. It took me out of 'A Room Of One's Own' and dropped me right into some sweaty red lit restaurant where my plate of shrimp paella had long ago disappeared and now I'd emptied many glasses of everything but the umbrella and now my sweat was mingling with the sweat of my partner whose head is almost on the floor and my hand is on the small of her back and my face is right up against the fabric of her dress and her necklace is slowly sliding down back towards her chin and her knee is higher than both of us and my other hand is on the back of her thigh.

8. 'The Wreck Of The Beautiful' by The Divine Comedy from 'Absent Friends'

The jewel of the British Navy has been consigned to the yard, destined to be torn apart and reattached to a thousand other lesser ships. It crossed my mind that this might be some convoluted metaphor for a lost relationship (get it, ship) but the funny thing is the song is saddest when taken quite literally. You feel all the work that went into building the ship, sailing the ship, mending it, keeping it afloat and firing on all cylinders. To see it slowly dismantled tied to some dock is to be reminded of our own status as temporary vessels, sailing a one way voyage.

9. 'Jackson' by Lucinda Williams from 'Car Wheels On A Gravel Road'

This album is a road movie.

10. '100,000,000 MPH' by Brendan O'Malley from 'Act 2: Americana Subversive'

Strange to see oneself come up randomly from 8,000 options. Another love letter to Melody. I wanted to write something in which each line could stand on its own without any help from its predecessor or follower. Judge for yourself...

100,000,000 MPH

You go 100,000,000 MPH
I stand so still I watch you fly so high
When you'd stop I'd feel like I was dying
Now I've started and I feel alive

You are a splash way out above the horizon
I squint my eyes before I know you're seen
I shut my eyes so I can see you better
I fall asleep so I can send you dreams

I fall asleep so I can send you dreams
I shut my eyes so I can see you better
I squint my eyes before I know you're seen
You are a splash way out above the horizon

Now I've started and I feel alive
When you'd stop I'd feel like I was dying
I stand so still I watch you fly so high
You go 100,000,000 MPH

11. 'Run Chicken Run' by Link Wray from 'Rumble! The Best of Link Wray'

Link Wray is THE MAN. So raw, so rough and tumble, so fucking cool. He makes Elvis Presley look like an actor. And I love Elvis Presley.

12. 'You're Stronger Than Me' by Patsy Cline from '12 Greatest Hits'

Good god I'm tired of this lady. I bought this as the other side of the Hank Williams greatest hits coin and now I cringe at the sound of her voice.

13. 'There's A Higher Power' by The Louvin Brothers from 'Satan Is Real'

The Louvin Brothers were the biggest country gospel act in the country in the 1940's. They sang gorgeous prayerful psalms, uplifting positive music. Then one of the brothers became a bit more evangelical and felt he wasn't doing his duty as a Christian. When they turned in their next album, their record label blanched. 'SATAN IS REAL'??? That's what you want to call your album? Yes, indeed. And the cover art? Look it up if you get a chance. The Louvin Brothers stand in some sort of otherworldly landscape which is all on fire. Looming over them is a large cartoon of Satan, replete with pitchfork, horns, and forked tail. They were actually in a dump of old car tires which they LIT ON FIRE. The Brothers stand there in their perfect white suits and guitars singing in the face of the Devil. By the way, the Satan cutout was made by one of the Brothers.

14. 'Weird Summer' by Velvet Crush from 'Teenage Symphonies To God'

These retro rockers are from Providence, RI and I've always had a soft spot for them. It isn't undeserved but I'm not sure if I would care at all were they from Dayton or Wichita.

15. 'No Man's Woman' by Sinead O'Connor from 'Faith And Courage'

I was smack in the middle of a Virginia Woolf chapter that imagined the life of a creative woman in the 16th century, Shakespeare's sister. She goes mad with the impossibility of the time, the total suppression of her talent and ambition. The juxtaposition of Sinead O'Connor declaring herself independent of any man's influence or claim was very powerful. Imagine a woman in the time of Shakespeare reaching out to MILLIONS of people and tearing up a picture of The Pope. Phenomenal. I always loved her for that, her utter inability to censor herself, her willingness to be consumed by the very rage that drove her to create in the first place. Sinead O'Connor would have been one of those women Virginia Woolf conjures up, driven mad by the times in which she lived. Hell, Sinead is mad TODAY let alone 350 years ago.

16. 'Parameters' by Ani DiFranco from 'Knuckle Down'

Against a very subtle guitar figure, Ani DiFranco does almost a spoken word piece. I was bored instantly and stayed that way until the very last thing she said which I can't remember what it was.

17. 'Ol' Diamondback Sturgeon (Fisherman's Chronicles, Pt. 3)' by Primus from 'Pork Soda'

The Pt. 3 tells you this is part of a series and I find it to be a fascinating group of songs. This one is from the point of view of the fish. It feels like a fish, weightless and lithe, rolling and burbling. There is more melody than usual in a Primus song and the tune recalls the gentle motion of any body of water under a sparkling sun.

18. 'Neverending' by Damien Jurado & Gathered In Song from 'I Break Chairs'

Damien Jurado again and again I am on a beach in my home state with people I don't know well enough to feel completely comfortable around and therefore try too hard to impress and don't. I am part of the party but separate. I won't be part of a circle of friends for another 11 years.

19. 'Beggar's Bliss' by Luna from 'Pup Tent'

Didn't register.

20. 'Dance The Night Away' by Blue Oyster Cult from 'Agents of Fortune'


So I've come to the end of another bus trip to work. It is not a room of my own.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Ice Coffee Freshman Debacle (For Larry On Account of Yesterday)

I didn't have a cup of coffee until the summer after my senior year in high school. I may have had a sip of my dad's but my distaste was such that I never ventured past that initial shudder.

I'd been working at Belmont Fruit delivering fruits and vegetables to all the restaurants within a 20 mile radius. It was the ultimate summer job. Driving around a tourist beach town to all the places the hot local girls wore bathing suits when they weren't working and cute little waitress outfits when they were? Forget it. I have never loved a job more totally than I loved driving a van for Belmont Fruit.

We did have to be there real early though because some damn restaurants put vegetables in their omelets. That was a drawback. For most of the wholesale staff the solution was Bess Eaton coffee and lots of it. But like I said, I didn't drink coffee. No one I worked with could understand how I could possibly drive a van at 6AM with nothing but orange juice and powdered sugar from the top of a donut running through my veins.

Every morning someone would trudge across the street to the Bess Eaton and buy a wagon load of coffees and donuts. And one lonely orange juice for me.

I had worked there for almost 3 years before someone made a mistake in the order and brought me a big iced coffee instead. I was just about to head out on what we called a 'run', a route of deliveries that would take me down to Galilee and the Block Island Ferry before swinging back up through the breakfast joints in Narragansett. I'd be on the road for a couple of hours at least. There was no time to switch the order and I'd already paid so I figured I'd just down the donut with a bit of iced coffee.

THIS WAS THE FIRST CUP OF COFFEE I'D EVER HAD AND IT WAS AN ACCIDENT. Looking back on it I feel as if I'd gone to the doctor to get a tetanus shot and on some sort of sick whim he'd dosed me with morphine.

I'd stopped for a refill before the end of that run. By the end of the week, OJ was no longer part of my routine. Remember, I wasn't drinking it to wake up as so many of my cohorts were, I'd simply been suckered into the enjoyment of a giant tub of sugar and cream with a touch of bitter java.

I worked upwards of 65 hours a week that summer, the last summer I'd spend as a child. I barely gave a thought to college even though it was right around the corner. Suddenly there wasn't a corner and I was living in a dorm a mile away from my parents house and going to a history class at 8 every Monday Wednesday and Friday.

Somewhere around the first Tuesday something terrible started to happen. I was sitting in some class and some unseen power was stabbing my brain with poisoned ice picks. I thought to lie down in my bunk bed between classes and wound up skipping one of the few classes I would skip in my entire college career. I always thought if you just showed up and listened you'd barely have to do any studying. I was right.

The afternoon of my first Tuesday in college dragged on with me slowly writhing away in scratchy sheets a few feet above the ground trying to dislodge the giant stone that had fallen from the sky and crushed my skull.

I had a brain tumor. I had migraines that would leave me a vegetable.

Something about the word vegetable struck a distant dim chord deep within the torture chamber that now constituted the lobes of my brain.

Vegetables. Oh my head I'm dying. Fruit. I'll have to drop out of college and ride a blue bus with a helmet on my head. Work. Still the clouds hung and the pain battered my thought process into incomprehensibility.

Then, as if in a piece of religious propaganda, light poured forth from the heavens in the form of a coherent thought, more of an image than a thought...a giant Styrofoam cup filled and refilled with iced coffee over and over again to the tune of several LITERS of caffeine per day...


I sent someone to Bess Eaton to bring me an iced coffee, it could have been 11PM by this point, I didn't care I needed my fix.

I can't help but wonder what I'm addicted to right now that I am unaware of, what string pulls my leg up independent from my wishes, what my aches and pains really stem from, and how I can wrest control of the marionette myself and I.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Power of Positive Winking

So no iPod today...drove my car. Which poses quite a problem as I face the blog. What the hell am I supposed to say? I could leave it blank, which would disappoint my sisters and Larry and my cousin and maybe Melody if she isn't too busy and my folks, but the whole thrust of a blog is to PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. Even if barely anyone is paying attention.

I could write about the music I listened to this weekend, Dwight Yoakam's 'A Long Way Home' while I did the dishes, Elvis Costello's 'King of America' while chilling and reading 'Then We Came To The End' by Joshua Ferris, both of which are pure joy to sing along with. In college I used to do work out listening to 'King of America', forcing myself to sing along in addition to whatever exercise I was doing. His singing on that is incredible.

I could write about finally seeing 'Knocked Up', watching it twice, once alone and once with Melody, laughing, crying, cheering. What is up with Apatow? Seriously, someone needs to elect that guy President. At the very least the country would be a huge hit and funny.

I could write about how much I miss Cashel while he vacations in Maine with his GrandpaMike, but at the same time how proud I am of him for taking it in stride and enjoying himself. Tough kid.

But now I've already written about all of those things, what now?

In fact, what now is the overriding question of the moment for me in almost every aspect of my life. Which, depending on the time of day you catch me, is either really exciting or terrifying. As I write this I feel a tug of both, with terrifying feeling unsure of itself and barely grasping me and really exciting has a nice hold on the end of my shirt.

What now?


If you throw a comma in there it becomes aggressive...

What, now?

Actually, not aggressive, but tentative! Which is really at the bottom of a question like that anyways. In many ways it is a question I already know the answer to. Posing it out loud is more of a mission statement than a query.

So today I'm going to focus on the now instead of the what.

And look forward to the iPod tomorrow so I don't have to dredge this hooey up again!

Wink, wink.