BLOG THIS! Highly Suspect Wisdom for the Widely Disinterested Masses
This is what it's like being on a big-money, packed-house, mega-promo book tour. Exactly what it's like.
Twelve years ago I paid WAY too much money to have a local company build a website for me. To be fair, despite the price, it actually was pretty cool, with lots of bells and whistles. And then a year ago it just stopped working. I gave them a call. "Yeah, the architecture is primordial" they said. "It needs to be fully upgraded". Okay, I said. What are we talking about here?" "Well," the local company said, "We don't do websites anymore. That's so last century. We're more into viral branding now." Okay, I said, then what should I do? "Well, we're sending all our business to a company in Malaysia." So I dialed up Kuala Lumpur and got in touch with that company and they were like,"Yeah, your architecture is antediluvian. Fortunately, we can can strip it down and redo the entire thing for just under five grand." After I got done laughing, I called my sister, who, like the protagonist in any number of Heart and Bonnie Raitt songs, is a woman of many talents. She said "Oh, I can do it for free. Give me an hour." And lo, I have this whole new website which is fresh, clean, optimized for phone, and approximately 188k times better. So cheers to the amazing Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz for bringing me into the new century. I love how it looks! Also, on the main page my head is behind a paywall. Trust me, it's worth it.
So I'm In This Cafe #62: So I'm in this cafe that's mostly empty, except for a few random dudes on their third hour of hunkering over the same cup of un-purchased creamer while muttering to themselves. There's also a young mother with her daughter at the counter, ordering. I’ve just completed yet another morning of exquisite literary alchemy, so I get up to use the restroom. Just as I lock the door, someone knocks. "I'm in here" I say. They knock again. "Occupied," I say. They knock again. "Hey listen-" I say, and then the banging really starts. KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. The handle is jiggled. KNOCK...KNOCK...KNOCK. The latch is fiddled with. KNOCKKNOCKKNOCKKNOCK! On the verge of genuine anger, I decide it has to be the little girl. Which is strange, because she's not three years old, more like nine. On the other hand, maybe it's Charlie Manson. Maybe it's the ghost of My Dipshit Twenties Past come back to rattle chains and then show me how if I’d spent less time shooting pool in filthy bars I’d be Secretary of State right now. Or maybe it's David Lee Roth about to bust out a few scissor kicks before doing an acapella version of “Eruption.” Either way, the pounding continues. At this point I've been in the bathroom for 38 seconds and someone has been knocking for 37 of them. I wash my hands and yank open the door, figuring if it's one of the creamer dudes, someone's going to get stabbed. And it's almost certainly going to be me. But if it's an oblivious hipster I'm going to say something so cataclysmically acerbic they’ll immediately renounce all their belongings and move to Nepal to become an apprentice monk tasked in silence to prepare celery root stew each night for elders and random Lamas. As it turns out, there’s no one there at all. The café is now empty except for the young mother and little girl. She doesn't look over, kicking her legs happily, chatting away. There seems to be nothing cognitively wrong with her, just a perfectly normal recitation of things about school, various toys she would like to acquire, how weird it is that some people pronounce her name an-dray-a, when clearly it's an-dree-ah. The mother doesn't answer or even look up, stares at the screen of her phone. While she rapidly texts. TEXT TEXT TEXT. TEXTTEXTTEXTTEXTTEXT. Of course, even for an espresso-addled, bagel-swollen donkey like me, the parallel is undeniable: rampant cell phone usage is directly responsible for a modern brand of sociopathy that, although yet to be cataloged in the Physician’s Desk Reference, is insidious and pervasive. I've already decided on a name. Research hospitals and larger branding firms are welcome to contact me with offers in terms of a usage fee, as well as my bio for the footnotes. Insensate Crack-Thumb Disgruntlement By Proxy Disorder. You’re welcome.
Was just sitting in a cafe working when I got a business call. I don't like talking on the phone in public places, so I went outside and stood beneath an overhang since it was (always is) pouring. The cafe is on a busy street that's two lanes both ways. As I'm standing there discussing logistics with someone three-thousand miles away, I saw a rat hunkered down, gnawing on something in the center divider. Cars in the inside lanes kept missing it by a fraction of an inch. Eventually it turned and started to dodge between Escalades, under Accords and F-150's. It was excruciating to watch, a game of daring, brute instinct, or just plain stupidity. I stopped registering the voice on the other end, missed vital information, engrossed while also averting my eyes, sure the rat was about to be crushed in a sickening cinematic spatter, but somehow it threaded through hundreds of cars and made it back to the sidewalk. Which is exactly when (zero embellishment here) a large bird swooped down and dove at it. "Oh fuck" I said. "Wait, what?" the person on the other end said. The rat cut left like Barry Sanders, juked right, and disappeared under a bush. I felt a clutch in my throat, which (after a lifetime of pretending to be a hard-ass) I now often do during commercials about children's hospitals and dog rescues and general interest stories where random people go out of their way to help one another. The call ended, and as I went back inside, the entire cafe was laughing and slapping five. A woman looked up and said "Did you see the rat?" I pretended not to hear, for some reason unwilling to share the drama I thought had been my own. I sat down and tried to compose some sort of deep metaphor, the struggle to live in an age of chaos, the purity of luck and politics of incoherence, missiles and wreckage and the savagery of the (un)natural world. But mainly the fact that, in the end, nothing ever really happens without the benefit of an impartial observer. Of course, that was all nonsense, so I gave up, ordered another coffee, and composed a delicate string of sentences about bands I don't particularly like.
Oh, just Kurt Bauermeister asking me a half dozen questions in a mini-interview for lit site Volume 1 Brooklyn. Check it out.
And my ears are for one thing only, ignoring pitch. And my cats are for steering this bike. And my sweater is for tying around my waist like it's 1985. Come to think of it, I actually use my feet for lots of stuff. Nevermind. #TheGMan
Hey, here's a short review I wrote for my boy Nick Droz' new record, which goes live tomorrow: "Nick Droz just dropped his latest collection of songs, although it may be more accurate to say he's shed them. These eight tunes are infused with the rueful melodies and whisky tones of Austin (the land of evergreens and basements) where they first began to percolate, and then lacquered with the high harmony lines of Seattle, his new home. Droz is among the rare songwriters who invert lyrical and melodic tropes as a matter of course, bending them into new and more interesting shapes. There is optimism, sincerity, and a certain low-rent grandeur in abundance, but mostly Droz sounds like Alex Chilton kicked Tom Petty's butt in a Sixth Street bar and then, after making up, went down by the docks to drink kerosene with Jeff Buckley and Paul Westerberg's first morning cigarette. Every Droz song is a story (confessional? testimony?), which is not to say a few stray evocative lyrics sandwiched between clichés, but a fully-realized tale prowling under layered guitars. Hey, if I'm gonna party on a fire escape or flirt with a bartender shaking a shaker of gin, I want Droz with me. If only because, as we all know, the gift of self-destruction is merely the chance to try again."
Should you download the entire album even before finishing this sentence?
As of today, Blade Runner is no longer set in the future.
Man, it would be tough to delete Facebook, although everyone along a certain ideological spectrum probably should. As frustrating as Facebook often is, especially since it ceased being an exchange of ideas and mostly rational discourse within a community that included friends as well as sometimes strangers of a different political bent, and instead morphed into an oddly sterile algorithmic vacuum in which no post is ever read by people who aren't mathematically predisposed to agree with it, the site remains a begrudged but vital personal lifeline to family, friends, and like-minded weirdos. There is no question my understanding of and communion with the people who genuinely matter to me would be greatly diminished without the Zuckerberg Leviathan. On the other hand, despite mounting evidence, I remain optimistic that there is a semblance of bedrock ethics in this country, not to mention an actionable way to demonstrate them. The fact that the (hardly progressive or even ideologically comprehensible) Twitter has just taken a brave and (lower case d) democratic stance, which will cost them a fortune, in banning the very kind of political ads that corrupted the last election and will surely corrode the next, while Zuckerberg recently declared that obvious propaganda and rampant misinformation are free $ speech, is damning. The truth is, despite its benefits on a personal level (posting record covers no one cares about) Facebook in 2019 has become Cultural Malware of a virulence that won't be appreciated for decades, if not a century. The hypocrisy of Zuckerberg's (last quarterly profit report) stance is staggering. On the other hand, my hypocrisy with continuing to use Facebook may be even worse. Posting individual political outrages on an outrageously monopolistic and politically destructive platform about monopolistic and politically destructive behavior may, in fact, be the most 2019 thing of all.
Today In Fat Wax: orig 1972 press Mack Sigis Porter "Peace On You" on Rifi Records (Italy, die cut gatefold). Can't say enough how much I love this amazing album, which is a mix of tender soul, funk, folk, and Afro-psych (Porter is Ghanian). Within a single song it can range from Cymande to Bill Withers to Ritchie Havens to early Sabbath outtakes, then toss in a few organ breaks and string arrangements. A blues-prog Hendrixian concept album before the concept existed. Worth taking the time to marvel at the breath of difference between the two clips below. Or just buy the recent re-issue, unquestionably the best $30 you will spend this decade.