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:: Why The Kimono Is Beautiful ::

fragments shored against ruin
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:: Thursday, April 1, 2004 ::

We've been having weirdly charged, poignant, even lovely dinner banter lately. chez Cafe. Anne was suddenly very emotional last night about the reality of Gabe leaving in the fall. It started w/ a small fight. He's been kind of aloof in general and Anne was expressing some worry about his blossoming cold (they do crazed shit like row on the Charles for 3 hours after school, w/ the temp 35 and rain pouring out of the sky) and was making suggestions, e.g., that he not wear his coat indoors when he gets home. He acts alienated much of the time. Unless we're discussing Bush or deconstrucing David Brooks. Even from his brothers. Anyway, Gabe got all persecuted and a bit condescending about it. Suddenly Anne just had her head in her hands. She was crying silently. I knew what she was thinking. Some of her dearest, profoundly happy memories are of she and Gabe, little boy and not 6'4" giant, bopping all over back bay, the charles river, cambridge, Gabe in his indestructible japanese stroller, hundreds of miles a week. Just rigging up the world w/ names. Like Adam. They did everything together, every minute. When Andrew asked her what was wrong she couldn't really answer. It was a very big emotion. I think that this rattled Gabriel. Anne doesnt' cry. He came over and gave his mom a sincere hug. Smugness gone. It had the understated dignity of an English coming together around some deeply emotional watershed. Few words. Like Graham Greene. I have the feeling this isn't the last of these.

The night before Andrew was talking about getting crushed over and over at rugby practice. Somehow this led to the subject of the pain of childbirth. Anne spent a little time tactfully telling her boys what it felt like. Andrew responded: "Thanks for taking that one for the team, Mom."

:: 8:19 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, March 23, 2004 ::
Stan woke up like 20 times last night barking at the ghost in our backyard. Anne finally let him out and he attacked a beer bottle.


Any you geeks out there, I need a robot that can do the following:

* kick Stan in the ass whenever I wave my arm
* yell "ANARCHY" over the fence into the neighbor's backyard, then duck
* bobcat all the garbage into a hole after the parties we're having
* record everything
* yell "WORMWOOD" at the ghost
* fill out my amnesty international form letters for me

futtin geeks.

:: 8:11 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, March 22, 2004 ::
Correction: According to a neighbor who was inadvertently not invited to the party, it was "Camptown Races" we sang on the back porch.

Come As You Aren't

We've decided to have one of these parties every night. They'll be theme parties; each based on the scene from Celine where he's in the cafe making fun of everything and in a beauteous self-contrarian moment sees a group of new recruits march by and joins up. So bear that in mind as you plan your spring wardrobe.

:: 8:23 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, March 21, 2004 ::
We had our november party friday night. it felt like november. at one point, all 300 of us went on the back porch to look at my new chestnut mare grazing on the tundra. in tribute we sang 'surrey with the fringe on top'. quentin bossed me around. we sang 'the look of love'. something else. i tore a ligament in my head. there weren't any johns at the party. next year. i put the dirty projectors on. someone took it *right* off. zack and patrick stayed over. zack left me a cd w/ 3 songs he did for some upcoming risd tribute cd. they're fantastic. one has the chorus: 'on my bed with you, on my bed with you, on my bed of glue, on my bed of glue'. one is about neil armstrong and buzz aldrin, first people in the universe. the chorus -- i think -- goes 'hand me downs are free, hand me downs are free'. Our band, Balloon Planet, will be playing all 3 songs at this festival in n. falmouth in july.

I need to change something tomorrow. I forget. Maybe it was today.

:: 3:35 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, March 18, 2004 ::
Last night I'm on the 3rd floor doing some work after dinner. Quentin comes in and hands me a sheet of paper w/ a list of French phrases on it. "Dad, can you quiz me?" He makes a couple of mistakes and takes the paper from me, goes into the family room beside my office. I hear him saying the French phrases out loud, over and over. As guileless and un-self-conscious as a human being can be. For some reason I find this emotionally overwhelming and I get choked up. He comes back in and hands me the paper again. I'm having a hard time reading the English that he's going to translate into French for me. "Come on, Dad. I need to practice."

Me 'n Lou Gehrig: The two luckiest guys on the face of the earth.

:: 8:50 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, March 14, 2004 ::
I spent the morning in the one still-living elm in new england trying to hum the same old late Brahms. "O welt, ich muss dich lassen". I won't gainsay my neighbor, but the country music station blasting from his kitchen radio wasn't helping. Someone borrowed my car. I don't remember who. But I remember the rotting carcass of a '39 Chevy truck out in back of my grandfather's chicken coop. The seats were just springs. The beautiful kind.

:: 1:50 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, March 1, 2004 ::
Inspired by Bill Murray, I did two hundred thousand crunches this morning. Felt good.

At the party I attended last night, I was the only one who thought that Sofia Coppola was beautiful to look at. When I got home I sat in the back yard revving the Bobcat to expel the images from my mind.

:: 8:51 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, February 29, 2004 ::
We went to Tim's party last night. There was a 6'4" guy from Macallan's there, pouring sips from $200 bottles of single malt scotch, including a brand of elaborately reconstructed 18th century variety. He called it: Macallan's Jurassic Park. Great food. At the Hosmer House in Sudbury center. Circa 1790. At one point Ethan and I were talking about birth order and child psychology when the lights went out. We did candles for a while. Sad and shocking moment: Ian suggesting that he and his partner of 18 years may move back to South Africa after listening to Bush's berserk, perfervid intent to attack same-sex marriage w/ the U.S. Constitution.

Yesterday I played my first basketball game of the year. Right now, I think I'm going to go roller blading. Maybe Quentin will join me. After that I'm playing guitar at Jim's dad's funeral. Grace's dad died recently. Paul's last year. We compare notes. Like Deborah and I did. Our dads died very close to one another. The haunted, abstracted sadness seems common. At least with dads that have lived long, full lives. Matt and I compare notes. Mostly remembering ridiculous stories because our father was a ridiculous man. But also similaries in the way the kids react. Andrew wrote his grandfather many letters. Some are sealed and tacked into his corkboard. I don't know what they say and I'm unsure what his plan is for them. Not that he needs a plan. I guess he just wanted to say some final things to his grandad.

Tonight is Dave's annual Oscar Party. I need to go read the newspapers to figure out who I should vote for. And kudos to Dave: He's just been appointed some kind of fellowship at Harvard. I think his job is to make predictions about the internet with Jesse Ventura.

:: 8:21 AM [+] ::

:: Friday, February 27, 2004 ::
Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I reach my arm across Anne and grab her hand and clink our rings.

:: 11:21 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 ::
I was really sick for two days. Fevers, delirium. Last night I was lying in bed imagining it never ending, shivering pleasantly in a kind of rhapsodic despair. My hallucinations included Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. escaping the Confederate rout of Unionists at Ball's Bluff; frenzied, trapped young men from Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania tumbling the precipitous grade into the potomac; desperate terrified man-boys, drowning, flesh split with bullets, dead, captured, the only boats capsized; that mingled w/ some images of Jesus I'd seen on the news from Mel Gibson's new film. On the ground, haunted, pleading with "Abba". Then: all better. This morning thick red sunshine came over the victorian homes across the street, through the naked sycamores and into the bedroom windows; fever gone. The world gone good again. The miracle of optimism. Quentin and Stan rolling around on the floor. The prospect of 50 degrees this weekend. Gloria in excelsis Deo. Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. As Mel would say.

Of course, I had a moment of doubt about whether my delirium had actually passed as I read this morning about Bush announcing yesterday his support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, in righteously indignant language not unreminiscent of Jefferson Davis' defense of a slave nation. Surely this will one day be seen as incomprehensible and barbaric. As even Jesse Ventura (teaching at the Kennedy school) put it "Can someone please tell me how this will affect me?" What a political dilemma. I can't vote for Nader again. Right? But clearly Kerry is extremely vulnerable; w/ the appalling voting record of a common opportunist. Sad to say, Edwards is a much better choice. His high-end ambulance chasing forensic skills could come in handy going up against the likes of hordes of savage Rovians.

:: 7:34 AM [+] ::

:: Friday, February 20, 2004 ::
Here's my new song. Hmm. I've just had a digital malfunction and can't get it x-ferred. Here's the words. It's the theme of the next poppies EP; i.e., pencil-thin nostalgia + strange backyard:


In light of what I am not
I think up involuted images
That cancel each other out
Breaking the many hearts of my back yard

In light of what I am not
A graveyard of green glass insulators
Shards of Sandwich glass
Victoria walking to the beach alone

[Scary Middle Section]

She waded
Through terrible waters

I watched from the top
Of a maple tree chair

I saw my large
St. Bernard move
Out of the wind
Into the shrubs

In light of what I am not
I make my peace with Connecticut
During the oil wars
A man tried to kill me
Because I tried to buy gas from him
And I was from Cape Cod

:: 10:34 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 ::
I just couldn't get warm last night. I was shivering. All this science hasn't worked. Finally I went out in the back yard to bowl a few strings. I had to sneak by Stan the Mesmerist. The grass on the winter lawn was golden. Right away I fell and ripped the knee out of my pajamas. Green plaid. I started up the Bobcat and revved the engine, trying to expel a dream from my head.

:: 8:57 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, February 17, 2004 ::
February Invasion - a sonnet

When a February invasion is successfully launched
The fields are brown non-meadows, and blend into stone borders
That go on for as long as a minuteman's life-line,
Hove to the hills, bloated and black in their world uniforms.

As the bloated hills frolic,
One on top of another,
Our bodices and breeches
Pop, and we mate.

High above,
Gray clouds puff,
The van Eck phreaking pink sky recoils,

High above,
the zig-zag stone piles
Are decodable death rolls.

:: 8:27 AM [+] ::

:: Saturday, February 14, 2004 ::
Chris points out that the front page of today's Chronicle includes a photo of our friend Doug's wedding ceremony in SF. I'd defy any of the ayatollahs ranting about sanctity of marriage to spend some time hanging with Doug Okun and not come away with their prejudices on same-sex marriage permanently mended.

:: 2:16 PM [+] ::

:: Saturday, February 14, 2004 ::
I seen a bunch of varmints booting outside my window last night. Onto the sidewalk. Into the ice chizzle.

"Remember this one?" I said.

next biggest head

the beast of proportion is divided
against itself.

"you're a good boy. a democrat.
a no-name,"
said a senator in my presence
(old what-was-his-name)
"while i'm an enigmat,
a flesh tryptich:
one part passed over;
one part never getting to introspection;
one last never getting to fucking me be."

she i saw as well:
jewels wet, and dripping down onto
an expensive chest as...
leave it at that,
that her jewels were wet,
let from droplets, slidden in passes
of curve across a beziered breast.
(it's a thing you need to see, i guess.)

when back from san
francisco i feel the friction
as against my life.
one thought a divorcee rolling
across a lawn blanket;
another a sound engineer
panning ever-worsening audio
into a private ecstasy of void;
useless wars declared; trajectories
cluck drunken as geese
skid-flapping across a rain-soaked grey lawn.
friction as against life:
too much of being
never enough.

so instead of thought or being,
let's try two "conceptual" "successes";
lesser frictions as against life
related but provisional,
tiny, motes,
(hence the quotes).

one the way for me found love endures
as static dissection;
static dissection in which
the temporal mystery of private optimism
yields to the metaphysical
footrace against the implications of birth
that it in fact is;

and second how,
despiting one,
through all the gotten head,
through all its getting pursuit,
its getting name, its forgotten pathos,
without even soft fidelity
to the heartbeating observation that
nothing in the litany of human sadness rings
more convincingly as not optimism

than the unsimple true nature of things
i continue to exist;
hope from keeping ahead of truth
the friction as against my life.

:: 11:58 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 ::
Just trying to stay sane until the end of March. I go out in the backyard at 4 a.m. every morning and hack ice. Like Ernest Shakleton. So that's cool. Then I go inside and read books about Mount Everest and Antarctica. Etc. Waiting for spring. Waiting for Anne to finish that biography of Samuel Pepys.

I love the beginning of winter. It's so weird. But SF was weirder in that regard. Out there they have winter you can drive away from. I.e., the Sierras. Speaking of winter, here's a poem I found. It seems to be about a first snowfall. But I no longer remember what any of my poems are about. So my guess is as good as yours.

Return to Plainclothes

Did it really snow a few windy flakes today?
Feels like a kind of enmity coming so early.
The wind has been funny, though; fighting back
Like an accused man in hanging days.
Nor do we seem able to find enough robots
To do the deed any longer. Not here.

So I'm in the market for a castle.
Simple dank stone. I need the spare
Stories, devised protocol of ghosts.
The few of me, armed and dangerous, like a young
William Penn at the bottom of his very own lake.

:: 8:54 AM [+] ::

:: Saturday, February 7, 2004 ::
I'm pleased to report we've successfully morphed Frank Drake Band into an acoustic version of Soft Machine. So that's good. The other night we ran all the instruments through the promised enchanted forest of stomp boxes and extended things and bolted one song onto the end of another. And during the finale I got Jeremy on my cell phone and had him sing "Lady Be Good", channeled through a Vocoder patch on my Korg MS-2000. The band was backing it up with 8th of January. Turns out he was in Las Vegas, sound asleep on a sidewalk grate when I caught him. So that was cool. Anyway, I think the logical next step for FDB Live is to run the entire mix through an echoplex, and hire somebody to manipulate the tape. In other news, I'm working on a setting of Ecclesiastes for my new prog-rock band, Balloon Planet.


We were watching the super bowl. Andrew said: "If there's an ad and they don't tell you what the product is, it means it's about viagra." Quentin said: "If you're too old to have an erection, I think it's time to move on and stop thinking about sex." ??


For those who've been inquiring about Poppies gigs, we're still waiting for Bridget's pregnancy to unfold. She's now in her 17th week of labor. For the time being, there's a beautiful non-EP cut coming up in this month's e-issue of The Hold.


Several of you have written to tell me I don't know shit about Justin Timberlake. I'll confess I had to re-read my own blog to remember who that was. Anyway, thanks for writing. But we stand by our statements.

:: 8:54 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, February 3, 2004 ::
My crack research staff (aka Quentin) has identified the mystery singer who copped a halftime feel on Jan. His name is Justin Timberlake and he used to be in a Ramones tribute band. He apparently also got pelted with beer bottles trying to similarly horn in on a rolling stones appearance at a "no need to worry about sars" concert in toronto last year. Eventually Keith Richard (Richards?) had to stand in front of him and scowl in order to prevent the mass of normally docile candians from turning him into St. Stephen the 2nd.

:: 10:54 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, February 2, 2004 ::

Today is James Joyce's b-day. This summer I hope to be in Ireland on 6/16 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday. Because of JJ, I know that today is not only Ground Hog's day, it's St. Aloysius's Day. And that in the UK a leaflet is called a "throwaway". etc.



Speaking of the Super Bowl: When I was in Inner Beauty I wrote this song for my idol, Janet Jackson, called "Take Your Top Off". I think it was in reaction to her infamous Rolling Stone cover. I think it also had LaToya in it. But I can't remember. I'm going to look for the original demo and see if I can x-fer it all the way to the world wide web! But what I'm wondering is, was yesterday's incident an actual wardrobe malfunction or some kind of mtv stunt? I think it's the latter. So I was arguing this morning that it was kinda subversive. Anne said, "What's so subversive. It's just a little nipple." Since I don't have cable and don't really watch any tv shows I concede my concept of "subversive on tv" might be a little dated. Anyway, eagle-eye Andrew muttered: "Actually, Mom, it was everything but the nipple."

om, Shakti

:: 8:54 AM [+] ::

:: Saturday, January 31, 2004 ::
A lot of my friends are upset with my recent name change. It's not just that Shakti Bush is hard to remember. It's that they can no longer find me on Tribe, Linkedin, Orkut, and Friendster. But it's been otherwise inspirational and conciliatory. I feel like Joseph Conrad. Other names changes coming up: Said Barenboim. Christopher Amis. Alice B. Tolkein.


So it looks like John "keep-the-puck" Kerry is going to take the democratic nomination. My only question at this point is: Why hasn't the "keep-the-puck" meme caught on? I'm at least expecting Al Sharpton to start referring to Kerry as "keep-the-mic", after one of those windy Transformer good-guy voiced orations.


Stan and I had a fight. We both wanted the turkey sandwich that Gabe had left in the refrigerator. I said, "Let's split it." But he kept whining and drooling. So I just ate it myself. We're no longer speaking.

:: 11:57 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, January 21, 2004 ::
On a mailing list I'm on someone sent a sad email. It said her friend had recently died of cancer and that the husband was moving out of the house and giving away their two dogs and a cat. It contained the following description: "The cat is very beautiful and likes to go inside and out." If I could live my life so that someone would say such lovely, koanic things about me, I'd feel very gratified.


Last night, watching Bush, at about mid-speech, I had an illumination. The illumination was that he was slowing spiralling into madness. That the inner circle knew it. Powell, in fact, looked stricken watching Bush rave about drug testing programs for high schools, "activist judges" defiling the man-woman sanctity of marriage, the insanely disproportionate tirade against professional athletes using "steeroids". All of it delivered with an Idi Amin-like megalomanaical/paranoid combo-smirk. We watched in horror. No. More frigid r's. Horrrrrorrr.

:: 11:57 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, January 19, 2004 ::
Sometimes you read something you've written and you just don't recall. This happens to me a lot when I write music. I write. Then I record so quickly that by the time I come down later to listen to the recording, it's like hearing someone else's music. It's wild. Sometimes it happens with poetry. But because I spend more time on a given poem, it usually happens when I read something that I haven't seen in a long time. Here's a poem I wrote a few years ago. I haven't read it in maybe two years. I don't really know what it means. I think it was somehow about the imminent end of dotcom. But I don't know. I also think it's strange and beautiful. Like someone else.

In The Sunshine of Chaos and Sex

An M Roadster
Wine stained wings
Yours truly, Yorick Nixon,
Forgetting things
At the wheel.

Salamander fire, girls
Inside and out
Are a kind of homage
To the hard-lined
Engineering of black
Germanic plush.

The enormous scene comes
And goes, plays dead,
Ancestral Marin-dream.

A blushing cloud, plush lover,
Like Old Man River's sister,
Comes and goes too.

And she wants to snuggle closely at my side.
Sunlit, silent, naked maenad
And fellow traitor
Whispering hot-eyed verities.
One heart convulsing for two.
Panties missing in the woods,
Objectifying the enemies of silence.
My chest an old blanket
In a poorhouse bunkbed.
You find yourself
With a small heroic army of
Silent bronze bears, laid out & buried
In shallow graves
Beneath black sand beaches
In Northern California
With all that unponderably
Real water.
Mistaking your heart
For an overpriced vintage shirt.
Portia and Rosalind
Tiptoeing over your bones.

:: 9:03 PM [+] ::

:: Friday, January 16, 2004 ::
My evening:
Thursday. Our night out. It's between dinner or going to the Coolidge Corner Theater to see some indie movie. We decide on festive Matt Murphy's pub. Lunar cold outside, so we drive. Anne drops me in front to put our names in for a table while she looks for parking. A guy is standing in front lighting up a cigarette. Shivering, doomed. Inside it's packed. The guy with the tin-can tenor is singing. Blaring, actually. I move to the back. I put our names in. Anne arrives. Eventually we get a seat, eat, drink. I tell her I may drive down to Falmouth tomorrow and see what the problem is with the furnace pilot. She looks dubious. We blab about our respective days, weather, politics, how cool Howard Dean's wife seems. We drive home. Gabe tells us there's no school tomorrow because of fear-of-frostbite. The boys are highly animated. I'm suddenly exhausted. I brush my teeth. I can't function in bed without that. I read one act of "As You Like It". Laughing out loud at Touchstone. Then fall right to sleep. I wake up at 3 a.m. "In the dark night of the soul it's always 3 o'clock in the morning" said Fitzgerald. Quentin's light is on. Andrew's light is on. I go into Quentin's room. He's reading. Japanese manga. Ruroni Kenshin. I fix his blankets. Tell him he needs to get to sleep. I go to Andrew's room. He's sound asleep. Big fat novel on his chest. I kiss his beautiful forehead, put the novel away and turn off the light. Next I'm standing at the kitchen sink, like Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City, staring out the window. I see the thermometer. It says -10. I could just get down on my knees and say prayers for anyone outside, the homeless, the depressed, the abandoned, the alone. Everyone else too.

:: 8:30 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, January 5, 2004 ::
My morning:
i wake up. it's 6:30. i smell coffee. i go to the bathroom and brush my teeth (i can't function until that's done). my new short hair goes straight up. like larry fein's. i come downstairs. anne's reading the new york times, eating breakfast: raisin bran. coffee. she heats up the milk. identical breakfast for twenty years. stan camped at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for quentin to get up. i say something to anne. she says something to me. "it's really icy out" or something. i start hauling trash and recyclables to the curb. it really is icy out. i can see my neighbor on a staionary bicycle through their basement window as I haul. one of the most structurally miserable days of the year and the weather is perfect. icy, cold, desolate, martian. i finish with the trash after about 4 hauls. i don't fall. i come in through the side door. i stamp my feet at the top of the basement stairs. i clear out the dishwasher. i pour coffee and cereal. sit down in the breakfast nook across from anne. i consider putting on some prokofiev. but no. i've already poured the coffee. i grab the times. nice black and white picture from mars rover, the overhead shot (there are two on the front of the globe, the overhead as well as a martian landscape). quentin comes down. wearing "trogdor" sweatshirt. stan goes berserk. the two of them wrestle around on the floor until anne finally orders quentin to eat. it's now slightly past seven. we hear the shower go on upstairs. gabe. anne yells to andrew to wake up. in a fake awake voice he says "i'm up i'm up". [i can tell from his voice that he was probably up until 2 a.m. reading; and i know that this sequence will repeat another 3 or 4 times before he actually gets out of bed.] gabe comes down. towering slo-mo in a "dartmouth crew" t-shirt. can't believe he'll be moving out in september. wasn't he tiny and helpless in an indestructible blue japanese stroller just a few minutes ago? i know that time doesn't really exist, but continue having trouble squaring that with my strong right brain confusions. andrew comes down. his hair is starting to creep down his back. he kind of talks to himself in the morning. cryptic, gnomic things. i usually walk quentin to school (he likes the company, even though he's 12 and the school is one block away), but this morning anne's run is timed right and so quentin gets to walk with she and stan. i'm in self-imposed international news blackout, so i keep reading all the mars stories (interplanetary is okay), then a review of a bette midler concert. i decide i like bette midler. she's kind of a throwback. an "entertainer". sings, dances, tells a joke. ridiculous picture. all boobs and mouth. my sister had the record w/ the slowed down "do you want to dance" on it. we did that version in my summer lounge band. Shady Lane. it's late so gabe decides to drive, even though there's no indoor crew training on mondays. just as well. it's kind of deadly out. anne's back from running. the energy level is rising. the boys get ready to leave. massive backpacks. anne's lunches. always made the night before. you see them in the refrigerator weekday mornings. i hug the boys. i go to the piano. start playing "low spark of high-heeled boys". little laugh to myself. i try singing but i think i'm in the wrong key so i morph it into that melancholy "christmas time is here" piano bit from Charlie Brown Christmas. i'm wishing a i had a band to play 30 minute long hippie songs with. bass, organ, flute, plus ten drummers. but everyone i know (i.e., art and whoever he introduces me to, since i have zero musical initiative) wants to play nothing but 3 minute long bluegrass tunes. i go upstairs. anne's in the shower. on the bed are her clothes for the day. all folded and ready to go. i feel like crying. which is what you do when you're still in love with someone after 20 years. you just feel like crying when you see their things. i walk upstairs and fire up the intuit vpn. check email. bugs. my window faces betty's brown tar-shingled roof.

:: 8:57 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 ::
I played a solo thing at this 20-something slacker house party. There were about 10 acts. It was fun. 3 songs + encore: 1) You, Ashcroft; 2) What Wound; 3) Julie Groans; 4) [my encore] Sail on, Sailor by the Beach Boys.

I eat lunch by myself everyday. Well, Stan and me. I find it strange when Stan is doing something on his own. His standard behavior is to do whatever we're doing. Otherwise, he finds a comfortable spot and stays there. He's not allowed on the couch. But he sneaks in there everytime I leave the room. Then when I come downstairs I hear his collar jingling as he runs into the kitchen to his puny, miserable bed. When I get to the kitchen, he looks away from me. He actually looks "guilty". Right now Stan is very fluffy. He looks like Ian McKellen's Gandalf beard. I look like Marley's Ghost.

:: 12:09 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, December 21, 2003 ::
Quentin hacked my site! Scoundrel! Wait'll I find him!

:: 3:18 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, December 21, 2003 ::
Quentin played Herod in the Christmas pageant. He did it in Don Corleone voice.

Most punk rock performance I've ever seen: Brian Wilson, thorazine-soaked, doing a solo, pounding-piano performance of "Good Vibrations" on saturday night live. Appalling, tragicomically sublime.

We get lots of Christmas cards. I need to send more than I do.

My friend Mike Hogan recently published his first novel. I didn't even know about it until Anne pointed out a very prominent 'debut authors' ad for it in the New Yorker. Buy one for a loved one.

Parties every night. All great. Lots of conflict. Tonight we're going to this annual mother of all Christmas parties on waspy Fisher Hill in Brookine. Some friends who've moved to western mass. are staying with us. It's the coolest party ever. You step into this giant house and it's suddenly 1890. They've got mulled wine and ham and one million pies; later they hand out booklets and everybody gathers around the piano in a football field sized living room and sings Christmas carols. Last year I spent most of the time up on their vast third floor where one of their weirdo kids had built this amazing electric banjo-synthesizer. Made music like the soundtrack for Dr. DeSoto.

:: 3:15 PM [+] ::

:: Friday, December 5, 2003 ::
He he this is Quentin. Dad, we all know how cool you are already, so you can stop it with the drugged-out 70's diary aproach -_-'. We're in the new-freakin' millenium here. Join us. Also, the cool christmas marquee thing up there is cool. But only for internet explorer. Netscape navigator doesn't support the "marquee" tag.
You should either make a DHTML gif where they flash, or keep the marquee tag and and put a "blink" tag behind it to give a cool affect for the Netscape guys who come here (that is, if anyone comes here) Now, of you'l excuse me, I'm going to go play in the snow. (p.s. check here agin in a little while to see a preview for my new book (requires Adobe Reader))

Fun gig last night. Zack birthday celebration. We had a list. 36 songs. We tossed it and did about 10. A bunch of 20 minute long bluegrass tunes. No smoke. I used my wire cutters to cut my strings up at the end of each set. Spent the breaks restringing. Forgot my wah-wah/volume pedal. I recall trying to jam these lyrics into Sally Goodin':

she wore these clothes
they really weren't clothes at all
so i made her get dressed
tho she told me that it made her feel invisble
now every time i make up this line
i'm really making up the time
in which priscilla recedes
when i stole a polaroid from her drawer
the gap was like infinity

:: 5:09 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, November Helios Tempe, 2003 ::
Gabe and I were having a fight at the dinner table. I think it was the first fight we've ever had. Seriously. He just doesn't participate. Then Andrew came into the room. "No more death," he sighed.

:: 4:52 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, November Helios 31, 2003 ::
No snow yet. I can still swim in the frothy river in the backyard and forget.

Marx wanted to launch a proletariat revolution but held "the idiocy of rural life" in contempt. You have to give him some credit for never having romanticized poverty. But his social life was worse than Coleridge's. He had debilitating carbuncles. He may have been miserable.

:: 8:31 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, August Mt. Ida, 2003 ::
there was a wind this morning. big high swirlie wind. It started around 4 a.m. I was outside digging a bunker w/ a brand new spade I picked up (a real beauty; a Life-Link Himalayan), pondering whether Wagner truly believed in the redemptive power of orgasmic Liebstod when it suddenly came on. I called it a green zephyr. Though Mars gave the wind a hint of red. I said: "Wind, may you be forever young" and a full can of beer fell out of the sky. Several of us, out in our backyards, had a good laugh over this marvel. I was just getting back to sleep when the Stealth bomber they've requisitioned to fly over the opening of the Falmouth Road Race roared low overhead, darkening the lyric ode to morning playing in my hedge of privacy.

:: 12:01 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, August 31, 2003 ::
more wind. pantheistic wind. and waves. the combined only noise on ancient fassett island. ancient tour from steve fassett. and leah.

and my glass is cracked.

:: 5:01 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, August Mt. Ida, 2003 ::
there was a wind this morning. big high swirlie wind. It started around 4 a.m. I was outside digging a bunker w/ a brand new spade I picked up (a real beauty; a Life-Link Himalayan), pondering whether Wagner truly believed in the redemptive power of orgasmic Liebstod when it suddenly came on. I called it a green zephyr. Though Mars gave the wind a hint of red. I said: "Wind, may you be forever young" and a full can of beer fell out of the sky. Several of us, out in our backyards, had a good laugh over this marvel. I was just getting back to sleep when the Stealth bomber they've requisitioned to fly over the opening of the Falmouth Road Race roared low overhead, darkening the lyric ode to morning playing in my hedge of privacy.

:: 12:01 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, August Zygotic, 2003 ::
A thing of beauty is a joy forever. I've discovered recently I need one of these in order to be self-actualized. Just so you know. It has a de-tuner knob. And I'm wish-list registered on ebay. Just in case I'm not able to steal this one from Jeff. Hey, to know me is to know me, to paraphrase Watts' dad. Or Socrates.

Do you think the person who created the Microsoft office assistant will go for the legendary short boatride with Charon someday soon?

It occurred to me this week that the cantab on tuesdays is kind of a low tech Flash Mob. Just ready to go. semper peratis. "Don't even have to think. Only have to do it. Results are always perfect. That's old news." Tuesday was exemplary. Andrew hadn't slept in 21 days. Looking admirably mansonian. Warren greeted me by throwing a drink. No Judy. Just her ghost. Chris gave me a copy of his new CD, 'Crowetrane'. [wow!]. Actually, it's 'handoff'; but I've effaced mine. Zack's amazing moustaches looks like someone stapled P.T. Barnum's bullwhip to his face. Just a magnificent piece of face art. And we planned upcoming flash mob happenings. Such as the 2nd-annual Megansett beach Jeremy-Vault; in which teams build mechanical launchers to see who can body-toss Jeremy furthest out into the Atlantic Ocean from a fixed place on the beach. Plus the Perry Garcia/Pukes of Hazard gig. Things take on new shapes as time recedes.

Speaking of Charon's boat, I once saw a movie about Hercules, I think it was. There was an early special effects version of Cerberus. Really well done. And completely terrifying. The worst nightmares of my childhood.

Speaking of nightmares, on bam's advice (she who can write penetrating dissertations on such things on a 30-second cue), I'm now writing down my dreams. Weird and intricate as a thumbprint. But, you know, trying to get in touch with my inner painting box.

Paul came to visit yesterday. We went to the N. Falmouth Diner and he rattled off his latest 10 or 15 company ideas. Plus a really exciting charity idea that I think he's going to be able to pull off. He's travelling like a maniac. Just got back from France. Is going to China and Haiti, where he's a major supporter of Paul Farmer's astonishing and important work. Farmer, mutatis mutandis, is a fucking saint.

Here's summer in n. falmouth. In an image. Picture a soundtrack comprised of "Stacks-O-Tracks" on random Play.

:: 8:41 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, August Reversal, 2003 ::
Let me be schematic for a moment. May I? I see two kinds of psychopathologies as I walk around talking with and fiercely hugging/hopping over members of my species: a) privileged gaddabouts who felt privileged and superior as child gaddabouts and whose adult pathologies are composed of the confusion/indignation born of the fact that the rest of the world will not bend to their way; b) unprivileged gaddabouts who felt unprivileged and inferior as children and whose adult pathologies are composed of the confusion/mortification that the rest of the world will soon unmask them. We know nothing about non-gaddabouts. I'm not sure which I am yet. But sometimes at night I begin to panic. Then my dreams get vivid. Mysteriously healing. [I don't think Freud ever explained this satisfactorily.] I wake up in the morning. I smell coffee brewing, hear the gladiolas fencing and I remember the purple treetops from the previous evening's panic with a mild detached amusement; if at all. I move on beyond Nixon's mess. I begin my day. "Who needs action when you've got words."

:: 8:27 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, July 20, 2003 ::
O universal face, i saw you! I had sunday morning out of body camerata this morning. I have these. And i saw beauty oceans freaking out in sap-rich tincanlessness. No really. Must be what E is all about.


I'm back from long stint in falmouth. I've driven thousands of miles in the last few days. Up to boston friday night for Dave's birthday party. To Vermont on Saturday and back to Falmouth. Back to boston today. Gabe and I going out to dinner tonight. Fugakyu, I bet. He went to Gloucester on a boat for the afternoon and is allegedly on his way back. He leaves for a rowing adventure for the week. He's got a job as a programmer and by pre-arrangement they're giving him some days off. He works in a cube. Quentin is trying to make a curved necktie for him.

I was in Vermont to pick up Andrew from hippie camp. Some girl had braided his hair. His band there tried to learn 'crown of jennifer'. Along w/ White Stripes covers. He made me a set of bookends. They're regular bookends, except they have a hand-carved replica of Stan, severed, his front leaping out of one bookend, his rear leaping into the other. He also took a few dozen photos. They all appear to be of fire escapes from strange angles. One through some kind of gate that looks like oscillating flamingo legs. Very beautiful. We stood on top of the hill, with the view of the hollow oval on another ridge. arm-in-arm. (cf, last year's Putney entry.)

Why did I ever?

:: 6:27 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 ::
Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space

This is the kind of thing you talk about with Andrew. That we're walking around on a rock with a vapour cloud around it, as it hurtles through the abyss. This stuff genuinely gives him nightmares.


Sidonians first gig. Power trio version. Falmouth Grange hall. Packed w/ e-d out weirdos from goodness-knows-where. We did two 30 minute long songs. First up was "You've lost that loving feeling" by the Righteous Brothers. Pure madness. My rig was: Gibson SG, Marshall 100 watt stack, echoplex. Echoplex was fried about 20 minutes in. Second song was a medley: Saturn Jane and Transylvanian Hunger by Dark Throne. Began as chant. Also rendered unrecognizable. One kid asked the guy at the door if he could drive his dad's Bobcat around inside. I think my rented Marshall head is blown. That sucks. They're allegedly going to give us another gig next month. After we finished a DJ played the Gorecki 3rd.

Strange contrast w/ "picking" on Art's new front porch in Somerville. A "pre-op party" for Becky, his roommate. Got to sing with Gretchen and Art. That was fun. Finally heard the Bags' arrangement of Johanna Jubilee. Did a bunch of very old tunes out of a book that d.d. brought.

:: 8:27 AM [+] ::

:: Friday, July 11, 2003 ::
Madcap adventures of Flotsamkrantz and Jetsumstern continue. Gabe got a job as a programmer. Unfortunately job's in lexington, far from any public transportation. So he has to commute. Anne didn't think rock blobster was reliable enough to be the only car in falmouth. So she bought fine working shitbox for the cape, Flotsaamkrantz' Toyota going to Gabe. Unfortunately, working shitbox very quickly turned into non-working shitbox. Out on Comm. Ave. Jetsumstern (anne) was going to stay and return shitbox, but desperately needed some n. falmouth beauty-is-truth-truth-is-beauty in order to stave off the everpresent temptation to swan dive out of 3rd story office window. So she rented a car. Which I was dragooned into returning this morning. Requiring my getting up at 5 a.m. On the way a typhoon blew in. SUVs turned into brigantines full of pirates. Fortunately, I was wearing a doublet and an eye patch; plus I always carry around the prosthetic hook I wore in my 7th grade production of Peter Pan. I waved and cursed going over the sagamore bridge. And beyond. When the storm blew off, not a Dutch flute in sight. "Coakley won that one!" as my uncle Gael once said. Anyway here I am, staring at same 3rd story window; wondering if there are things that need to be plunged; what kind of Truth do bills represent. Things like that.

I didn't know Data the robot died in the latest Star Trek. Why didn't someone tell me? But his robot brother shows up, in a bit of far-fetched, but intriguing bolt-on plotting. Hm.

I took Quentlet to see '28 Days Later' two nights ago. What's-her-name from the diner, Allegra's friend, was in front of us. "You can't take him to that," she said to me. About Quentlet. "I'm going to be completely buggered out by this." Her boyfriend smiled. I had to laugh at that myself. Though I admit that rte. 151 was disorientingly digital-looking and jerky on the way home.

My brother's mother-in-law is called "Bam".

Nerdiest-site-on-the-web much?

:: 11:51 FM [+] ::

:: Thursday, July 10, 2003 ::
Not To Choose

I should be someplace else!,
but pace around in the sweats
of inhumane endeavor and its trash:
goods, deeds, credits, debts.
Have it your own way, life:
I'm just here to die, but I
would rather live it out as a fool
and have a short life in contempt
and idle graces, but, instead,
the office telephone goes off
and voices out of its dark night
command me, "Choose, Choose,"
while women's angel voices call
the cities and their numbers. Then,
when I do choose: "I run away!"
the shop door opens and a copy
or statue stands there in the way.
What does he want? Blood. Oh
let me tumble in the wards, bolts,
and chambers of a police lock locked
so I can get to sleep again,
warm in the guaranteed steel!
Instead, I have to fake him off
with promises to pay. Cash!
How cold action is. I should
do spiritual exercises toward
the body of this world
and get in shape for choices,
choices, No! Instead, I leave
the dirty business by the back
window, climb down the fire escape,
and sneak off out of town alive
with petty cash and bad nerves in
an old Ford with a broken muffler!
So here I am again, July,
vacationing in your country broke,
in debt, not bankrupt yet!
and free to get your message!
What is it?
To begin again in another state!

- Good Ol' Alan Dugan

:: 2:10 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, July 8, 2003 ::
I can't even read the paper any more.

But I have a running inventory of things that are good, including * Anne * her genius for family * the mysterious soap she got me for my b-day * "I [heart] dad" boxers from quentin * going to boston for some bureaucratic mishigas, taking gabe out after crew and having him present me with a cd he'd stealthily discovered I wanted * watching quentin do 4,000 handstand/cartwheels a day * gabe winning the men's jr. 8 at the independence day regatta in philadelphia. (go c.r.i.!) * phone call from andrew at 11:30 p.m. Sunday night wishing me a happy b-day: "first chance I had dad; but i've got something cool planned". of course he'd called me the night before as well * the fishlight/keychain my sister gave me; thing is bad * my brother bill, slightly less-bohemian instantiation of my father, calling from boulder, co to wish me happy b-day and spending the entire call getting me to flail at translating misc. latin bits from ezra pound * my brother matt having two children both born on july 6 * my nephew zack's band's CD: "didimao" * the hip-hop zombie movie zack and quentin are concocting * the quickie bog-zombie movie they made with stan yesterday * paul's writing, like this one * zack h.'s call and story about his bass exploding one second into the first set of a gig in chicago * grace being in hyannis * catherine trying to buy the rosenberg's house * dave rosenberg's stories about "bwems" aka l. paul bremmer iii, current dictator of iraq, as an ascot-wearing freshman fop at yale * art coming down friday night, w/ becky, partying at my sister's, then playing and yakking out on the lawn until 3 a.m. * diane kitayama emailing me from mill valley to remind me i share a b-day w/ george w. * dr. susan woodward's re-christening of 'guns, germs and steel' as 'grain, urban filth and manufacturing' * curt's reminding me of 'saturn jane' * susan b. offering me a ticket to see the New Pornographers [ed. note: A fine band from Vancouver; one that has nothing to do with pornography] thursday night

i love everyone in my puny high-wire way. i know. fucking utopian commie.

:: 2:10 PM [+] ::

:: Friday, July 4, 2003 ::
Well, the Sidonians are off to a fine beginning with Saturn Jane We're kind of a BlueCheer-with-shittier-amps. We have words, however. And we use 'em.

:: 2:10 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, July 1, 2003 ::
Update on Scratchy: We let him go. I picked Quentin up at camp, told him there was a surprise at home. Got home. Told him to have a look in the jacuzzi. Followed him to watch his elated expression. He looked. He said: "ewwww". I looked. Like a recently committed mental patient, Scratchy had smeared feces all over the jacuzzi. It actually seems almost impossible, the amount of feces Scratchy produced while I was picking up quentin. And piss. So he was sloshing around in it. "Dad. You should let Scratchy go," said Quentin. "Yes," I agreed. So we let him go in the back yard. And I cleaned out the jacuzzi. Like Nurse Ratchet.

Andrew is now at Putney hippie institute and Gabe is rowing twice a day. He does the Independence Day regatta in Philadelphia this weekend, so he'll miss all the homegrown festivities. Which could get even moreso soon. Our neighbors, Dave and Deirdre Rosenberg, are selling their house. :( BUT. My sister and I are trying to talk my brother into buying it. We'll be like the Waltons. Or those southern families that own their own mountains. We'll have a still. Kayaks. Shitty beach Jeeps. We'll take up smoking!

Gabe, Andrew and i were driving to falmouth last Saturday morning. About halfway down, Gabe's asleep and I'm zoned out to Six Organs of Admittance. Suddenly Andrew taps me urgently on the shoulder. "Dad!" I was really startled and had a couple of scary kaleidescopic interior moments. I finally got my composure and said, "What Andrew?" He said, "I just realized something. It's probably obvious to you, but it seems very important to me." I said, "What's that?" He said, "I just realized that I will never see my own face out in the world. I'll only see it through glass. And it'll be reversed too." Gabe had woken up. He nerdily correct: "Well, you could use another mirror or technology to reverse the reversal." Andrew said, "Well, yeah, okay. But still. I'll never see my face. We, none of us, will ever see our own faces in the world." I said, "Unless you meditate like Quentin and have an ecstatic out-of-body experience. But Andrew, you've stumbled onto one of the great problems of western philosophy. Dualist epistemology. The mind/body problem. A problem that still hasn't had its ass properly kicked. Maybe you should read some descartes this summer. Then some Rorty."

:: 11:47 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, June 25, 2003 ::
So Quentin and I are settled in in N. Falmouth. After an inauspicious beginning in which I massacred my knee carrying a 140 lb keyboard out of my basement, plus continuing days of rain, things are settling in just nicely. Weather has been a beauteous buzz and pigging out on seafood makes me feel like one of the lost sons of Zebedee.

We're settling into our routine. In the morning I take him to camp, on small road, to Wing's Neck, avoiding the "power" walkers and moms with strollers and cartoonishly large SUVs. You can tell "power" walkers because they're dressed like joggers, only they just walk. Pretty slowly, in fact. One "power" walker this morning was lagging behind a fat guy (her mate?) pushing a baby stroller. The defining characteristic of the "power" walker though is the arm movement. They swing their arms like spasmodic Radio City Music Hall girls. I'm working this week, so the afternoons are somewhat freeform for Q. Beach, gymnastics in the yard, epic battles with Stan, reading japanese graphic novels, whatever they're called. When I'm finished work, we usually walk to the beach, come back and sit on the deck or in the back yard, snacking, perhaps my sister comes over and we have a glass of wine, or my friend Watts. My hair is salt-water greasy and getting rastafied. I need a shave. I guess.

This morning I was taking Quentin to his sailing camp. Of course he'd forgotten his lifejacket. I went all the way back to falmouth to get it. On the way back, coming around a corner I saw a box turtle in the middle of the road, waiting to be annihilated by an SUV w/ its many physics-concealing appurtanances. Like my father before me (o mighty and exalted rescuer of box turles, sun turtles and greatest frog and turtle catcher of all time) I pulled over to the side of the road, gimped out to the center where "Scratchy" (his name) was frozen, neck out and up, hissing. I picked him up, threw him in the back seat and proceeded to camp. On the way back, I'd actually forgotten about Scratchy. That is until he came from underneath my seat and played his first practical joke on me: scratching my achilles tendon and causing me nearly to drive off of Wing's Neck road and into Buzzards Bay. Now he's home. I've got him in the jacuzzi for the time being. He's got some lettuce and a milk cap I'm using as a make-shift drinking bowl. It's full of water. But Scratchy just knocked it over. And he hasn't touched his lettuce. All he seems to want to do is scale the sides of the jacuzzi. He and Quentin will be fast friends. I'm not sure where I'm going to end up putting him. Maybe I'll just return him tomorrow. Or her. Maybe she's got a bunch of babies somewhere, waiting for her to come back with some grub. Or some grubs. Though I don't think turtles do that. I recall galopagos turtles, at least, just laying their eggs on the beach and then taking off. My brother called. He says I need a box. "A box?" I said. "Yeah. Why do you think they call them box turtles?" Funny guy.

An F-18 just flew overhead. Just sub-Mach I. In addition to the sound, I saw its unmistakable murderous shadow on the front lawn through the window. I wonder what scratchy thought?

:: 11:47 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, June 18, 2003 ::
Sometimes at night I can hear Quentin singing softly to himself in bed. It's not his Roger Rabbit haywire-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= voice at all. Just a little boy, singing. It casts a spell on me. The most perfect thing I can imagine. My siren song. I always choke up badly when I hear it. Anne and I note every day how happy he seems and want so much for that to get wired up for life. He's a healing force. So last night I heard him. The tune was faint, but recognizable. I needed to know what it as. I tiptoed up to his open bedroom door. He was singing "you take the high road and i'll take the low road; and i'll be in texas afoooooore ye" over and over. So soft. Trying on accents. Sometime laughing to himself. Later I was in bed reading. Anne was out with Erika. He came in. It was late, well past his bedtime. He told me that a buddhist had come into their class and told them about meditation. Showed them how to do it. He said he'd just been meditating for forty minutes and that he had briefly left his body. Amazingly, I happened to be reading Hegel on 'abstract negativity' and some eastern influenced writing on inwardness and pure self. So I tried this out on him: "[the pure self] must enter also into existence, become an object, oppose itself to this innerness to be external; return to being. This is language as name-giving power. Through the name the object as idividual entity is born out of the I." He was kind of tangled up in knots and rolling around as he listened. He said: "The buddhist said that if you meditate long enough it's possible to levitate yourself. Good night dad. Iloveyouseeinthemorningsweetdreams." The latter is the last thing he says to me every night. And at this point he's boiled it down to roughly five syllables.

I'm pretty sad sometimes about the transactional nature of so many adult relationships. I work hard, I think, to foster something that isn't crassly quid pro quo. Though I'm probably fooling myself. Still, I'm never not disappointed when the pathologies of bourgeois relations manifest themselves in my life. But also exalted by the handful of relations I have that transcend. Which still seems better to me than buying into non-cooperationist darwinism. Dog eat dog. Wagner, as socialist, railed against this, quite powerfully as a matter of fact; though his relations were as pathological as anything imaginable; and, even in his art, "solved" the problem of the capitalist corruption of human interactions, in a kind of narcissitic inversion, in Siegfried, w/ incest. Doink.

I note the passing of Bernard Williams, one of the people I would most have wanted to hang out at a party with. Just listening. I don't think it would have been much fun getting into an argument with him. But it would have been a great ride, swilling wine, a ring side seat in front of the refrigerator in some fancy kitchen somewhere. Maybe I would have told him his characterization of Rorty's pragmatism and subsequent dismembering of it in 'Truth and Truthfulness' was unconvincing and a disappointment. Unconvincing because it's based on the usual characature of his epistemology. Disappointing because there are so many real enemies Williams' brilliance could've been leveled at instead.

:: 8:47 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, June 17, 2003 ::
It was getting late and the boys were moving in slow motion this morning. So I yelled out 'Get moving, slackers!' Andrew looked up from a comic book. "That's lame, dad. Slackers." I shrugged. "I'd like something classier. Like Slack Pack."


I was at a party. We were talking about poetry. Somebody said that the poetry you study in school is too academic. Boring. It doesn't ever get weird enough. You never read 'Howl'. I brought up 'Leda and the Swan'. What could be weirder than that? Admittedly, some of its astonishing strangeness gets devoured in the hoary myth. But think about it. Violent swan sex? It's like something right out of 'The Western Lands'. And what kind of swan was Zeus anyway? Did he fornicate w/ a swan's penis? What is a swan's penis? "her thighs caressed/By the dark webs". wtf is going on there?


I've started writing songs for my summer band. The Sidonians. I think the finalized line-up is me, Andrew and my nephew Zack. Zack has a pile of songs as well. Maybe we'll get someone to play synth. Gig at the grange hall. And Ruth what-s-her-name's party.

:: 8:57 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, June 16, 2003 ::
Happy bloomsday, vietnam! I arrived in Khe Sahn about eight hours ago. I need to do something tonight to celebrate. Seeing the John Coltrane documentary at the Kha Phen theater seems Bloomsday-ish. I have no idea why. Maybe just that Coltrane and Joyce are two artists I admire.

Also, being out of country may provide a better vantage for my latest efforts to establish whether John Ascroft is a robot. Here's one current hypothesis: if Ash celebrates Bloomsday it would indicate a subtle bit of mis-programming that would quite positively identify him as an evil infiltrating reconnobot. Anyone with info, one way or another, please let me know.

One cause for concern: Ashcroft celebrating Bloomsday would almost certainly cause some kind of lunar distress. Though, that may be another way of gauging what the AG is up to tonight.

Quentin was playing softball on Sunday. I was just leaving Falmouth (where'd I'd been warring w/ a satanic finch) for Logan Airport, but Anne told me about this. It was adults and kids. Larz Anderson park. A woman was running from 2nd base to 3rd. She was tagged out by somebody. She actually got a little huffy and was contesting the tag, based on some bizarre interpretation of the rules. Finally, flustered, she said: "I want a lawyer!". Quentin said: "I"ll be your lawyer." She said: "Great, Quentin." Quentin said: "You're out!" Did a cartwheel and landed w/ thumb pointing to the sidelines.

:: 9:04 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, June 11, 2003 ::
The Hold, online version, features the Nate 'Paisley' Leath-enhanced version of 'Violet's Coming Over'. Link is in the middle, down a few inches after you click thru the beautiful welcome page. Also, Art did a fine bit of pomo promo for the penultimate (I swear on a stack of Indian Ocean sponges) limited-edition installation of the Poppies' quixotic "{month} 68" series of surrealist pop. 5 left after today's shipment. Get 'em while they last. Each one personally inscribed by Judy the Cantab bartender. Or Warren, if Judy's pouring.


What was that strange bright stuff coming out of the sky yesterday?


I don't know. But it moulted into one of those nights. One star visible, hazy, warm outdoors after-hours Cantab jam session. Fine time was general (sic) over Central Square. Bagboy friendly vibe. Surprise appearance by Janet. Jrob's contact mic falling off because his fingerboard caught fire. Jeff Breeze evangelizing the insanely great The Ponys from Portland, Maine. Peter Wolf hanging out at the bar, "just listening tonight", though he almost got up and sang "Senor". Told him about the first (and only) time I ever saw J. Geils Band. Dartmouth Rock Festival w/ Manfred Mann. "Yeah, man, it was outdoors. It rained, right?" It rained. Manfred Mann played 'Quinn the Eskimo". And we hitchhiked home. because Nils and and Dave scammed me into believing Nils' dad was going to pick us up. Bastard. Four hours of miserable, strange hitchhiking in the pouring rain. Music will watch us drown.


I'm into text messaging. Hate phone calls. SMS is terse. Like pop culture should be. After jazz and blues, the blurb is the highest achievement of American pop culture. The only problem is none of my friends are into it. So my main blurbster targets in this benign form of guerrilla techno-warfare are my niece Ailey and my cousin something-or-other Allegra. Got this from Ailey yesterday, in relation I believe to her high school graduation party from last weekend: "Beber demasiado". Since she's going to Wellesley next year, I just make comments about Hillary's alma mater. SMS warfare is an artful thing.

I spend my days waiting for plumbers. And thinking about all of the unplayed musical instruments in the other room. 'Brick House' running funkily through my head. Thinking repetitively: "Who's going to video everything?"

:: 9:14 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, June 9, 2003 ::
They come back. Day 1 and Day 2.

:: 9:11 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, June 4, 2003 ::
Quick! I need more woods. The city can be an abomination sometimes. A toxic breadbox. The recording engineer I'm seeing in a couple of hours is moving to Vermont. Why? He's HAD ENOUGH!


Things I'm thankful for this morning:

* stairs: they're always at least a little mysterious; I'm thinking particularly of the old stairs in n. falmouth. the rope bannister;
* stars: especially the ones you can hear; like Sothis, Satais and Anu from Sirius the triunal stellar system;
* my friend Catherine;
* the fact that a Stratford bailiff's son and not the Earl of Oxford wrote 'King Lear';
* 'King Lear'. omg;
* The Ponys
* The fact that Walt Whitman once wrote: Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes).
* quentin's emails

:: 9:18 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, June 2, 2003 ::
North Falmouth was there, wonderful; honeysuckle and lilacs outside, old floorboards, creaky ghost walls inside. I want to move there. I want to have its babies.

Gabe's b-day on Saturday. the rain stayed away. beautiful boy. i've never seen him lose his temper. i love him with limitless scary irrational self-obliterating parent love. agape. even when he's grouchy and tired from rowing at 5 a.m. and staying up writing a paper until 1 a.m. his equanimity is staggering. He's like good old Cold Mountain. i love my boy. I got him the brand new hyper-cool led zeppelin concert dvd, replaced some of the CDs some devil had stolen form him, a u.s. rowing sweatshirt, the new tom robbins novel, etc. And the day was a beauty. Except for one thing. My friend brent fox and I used to like to walk on our hands. we'd walk across the gymnasium like circus clowns. I realized I hadn't done it in a long time; so I started walking around the large room in the new part of the house on my hands. then I tipped over and pulled a muscle in my back. got worse and worse. radiant pain. by party time i was grimacing like clint eastwood as i flipped things on the grille. self-medicated w/ zinfandel, watching the sun set from the deck, going over the 1750 front of the house. spooting creek.


Went to dinner and a great show with Curt. Great venue. Milky Way Lounge in J.P. To see a subset of the Pee Wee Fist. The Milky Way, where the musicians play around the bend from bowling lanes. good food upstairs. perfect setting. I'm suspicious of large faceless crowds. flashes of massed jackbooted brownshirts standing in front of the reichstag. the performance so one-sided. a debordian degenerate spectacle. like tinpot governments making gratuitous noise for visiting dignitaries for fear of risking classification as a non-entity. or something. But this was half a dozen people in the audience, happy to be just where they were and nowhere else, and the band, appearing equally present, in some kind of interactive aesthetic taffy pull. Could have been a disaster, but instead was a magnificent triumph. the band transcended and pulled us in. the songs vehicles for an awareness exercise. a limit test. drunken bowlers whooping incongruently w/ what was occurring on stage, providing cage-ian counterpoint. the singer, as curt put it, indifferent in exactly the right way. unlike the petulant show-off in the first band; or the sweet but over-rigged second band. This was loose and effective. I want to see them again at the chopping block on the 19th; but i'm almost afraid to see the whole band.


Bush has been talking about clear moral vision. We post-modernists get slashed to pieces about our skepticism over clear moral vision. I have no idea why it is, but I'm certain of the fact that strange compassion and evil co-exist and often can't be easily teased apart. Clear Moral Vision requires amputative simplifications. And the cruelties and barbarisms that attend them.

:: 9:01 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, May 29, 2003 ::
I decided to toy w/ Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos this morning. After announcing my plan yesterday to test for causation vs. correlation (or post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy) viz. my balloon<->rain observation, I went out for meditative grounds crawl and sky gazing at my customary time of 5 a.m. this morning, eyed the threatening sky, and did *not* rub my balloon against the sky. Went back inside, put on 'Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand' and read the nytimes. It's now just after 9 a.m. and the sun is blazing like a crime wave. No rain in site. I really think I'm on to something here.

I don't see much difference between bush regime's adherence to various all-embracing lies and that of other fundamentalists. Like crazy Sidney Blumenthal, e.g.

:: 9:02 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, May 28, 2003 ::
This is weird: I was rubbing a balloon against the sky this morning. Just now it started to rain! I'm going to try it out again tomorrow.

:: 3:03 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, May 79, 649 BC ::
Jezebel was a Sidonian. She married Ahab. Awesome.

Also, I'm starting a band with Andrew this summer. Coincidentally we're called The Sidonians too.

:: 1 after 9:09 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, May 35, 649 BC ::
Some things just stay with you. Memes. Somewhere in Kings, Solomon, deep into the work of building his temple, says something like "No one can fell a tree like a Sidonian". Perfect. No one says that kind of thing anymore. Which is mostly good. I, at least, equate human moral progress w/ receding tribalism. If I were omnipotent for a day I'd impose global mass-miscengenation in an attempt to throttle the demise of the ancient, socially profound, biologically shallow divisions between human tribes. We'd all look like polynesians. Still, there's something to be said for the ontologic convenience of knowing that a Sidonian can be counted upon to hew a Lebanese cedar better than your average moabite. Solomon knew right where to go to get elaborately specified temple timbers milled.

We had a version of this in the small inbred town I grew up in. Family clans instead of ethnic tribes. What we lacked in Sidonians we made up for in, e.g., Gibbses: hard-working trashmen; Earls: oil/gasoline/propane businessmen; Hoxies: brainy loners; Cahoons: ornery drunks; VanBuskirks: comically bossing everyone around. Mahoneys: heedless procreators; Hendys and Millers: "thint they futtin run the town," per a locally immortal proclamation issued by Alvin Gibbs. That's all gone. It's even too late to explain it.


Last night as we're setting up to practice "Quadrephenia" I was mentioning Martin Rees' depressingly apocalyptic book about the myriad scenarios now available for obliterating our species. I was telling Zack about out-of-control, intelligent self-reproducing nanoparticles that could eat us and every other living thing on Earth, reducing the biosphere to gray goo. Bridget walked in. "Huh. I bet some >really< smart guy thought of that. Everything begins w/ a Big Bang and ends in gray goo." Cheered me up for a couple mintes at least.


Gabe called from Connecticut on Saturday. Blandly informed us that they'd won their races and that they were going to the crew Nationals. First time ever for his high school. He carries me around on his back now.

:: 8:049 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, May 15, 2003 ::
Well, in desperation we've got gabe holed up in a turret like Rossinni; hoisting food up on a pulley as sheets of the "Tommy qua Operation Iraqi Freedom" libretto rain down upon us. Only problem is he's decided on a post-modern treatment involving a speaking chorus of oil wells and burroughs-esque random cut up style libretto. Which is fine if it's just text, but brutal on a band trying to play along. For example this sheet just arrived:

"George knew from the start
Deep down in his heart
Powell and Rumsfeld were worlds apart"

But his father said, "Never mind, your part is to
Be what Karl says you'll be."

--quick cut--

Condy Rice (Rummy pinching her ass):
"he's a had a few too many"

--quick cut--

"Hussein is out
Now I'm drilling about"

--quick cut--

Chorus of Iraqi Oil Wells:

Steam me, seal me
Torch me, steal me

--quick cut--

Listening to you I get appointments
Raging at you, I get the door
Karl Rove:
Following me, we'll smart bomb the pollsters
We'll trounce John Kerry in two thousand four

See what I mean? It's nuts. We'll never make it!


Ok, under cover here, a couple pix of chix in Truro. Pretty much heaven. Magnificent 40 year old women, early may on a cape cod beach, food, drink, apollo the sun good and the great, green mother of us all...

:: 8:049 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, May 12, 2003 ::
Since the Poppies are going to perform that mother-of-all pompous rock operas 'Tommy' at Club Passim's campfire night in couple weeks, the CD has been playing off and on around the house. Last night after a very late dinner (Anne didn't get home from Truro Chick-in until really late: (Quentin: Mom, you didn't come home on Mother's Day. Andrew: That's the point, Quentin.)), Gabriel and I were cleaning up. Suddenly he starts singing, in his preposterous Stephin Merritt basso-ridiculo:

Do you think it's alright?
To leave Iraq with uncle Rummy
Do you think it's alright?
He's had a few too many...

GW Bush:

I think it's alright, yes I think it's alright.

This then quickly led into:
Drilling about
Drilling about, drilling about

Uncle Rummy:

I'm your wicked Uncle Rummy
I'm glad you won't see or hear me
As I'm drilling about
Drilling about, drilling about !

"W" left me here to mind you
Now I'm doing what I want to
Drilling about
Drilling about
Drilling about!

You'll be devout
While I'm drilling about
Drilling about
Drilling about, drilling about!

So on.

:: 9:02 AM [+] ::

:: Friday, May 9, 2003 ::
Wow. Someone sent me a creepy email regarding some stuff I wrote yesterday about mp3s. This happened one other time. [Mp3s that time too. What is it about mp3s? Just because I'm calling most of the music listening public thieves, c'mon...] I forget that people other than my friends can stumble into this freehold, at the edges of the Oort Cloud. And then just pop off a villainous tirade. But that's the case. If I were to reply I'd say something like the Iraqi Information Minister, fascism's Samuel Johnson, said to John Burns of the nytimes: "I now inform you that you are too far from reality." In the meantime:

:: 8:52 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, May 8, 2003 ::
never mind. now go away.

:: 9:03 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, May 5, 2003 ::

We're having dinner. Anne's going out with Erika. She's on the phone, arranging things.

Anne: I'll just walk down Beacon Street and meet you at that tapas place. Cinco de mayo. I'll hang out till you come. The guys won't miss me. They're just sitting here having a manly conversation. I'm in the way.
Gabriel: No. We're just sitting here saying nothing. Staring at our food. Eating. Total silence.
Andrew: But that's the essence of a manly conversation.
Quentin: [rolls his sleeve up. makes a muscle. i applaud.]
Andrew: Come on. We can have a manly conversation. "Listen shweetheart, would you like an*other* black eye?"
Quentin: [drops his fork. Stan the dog goes after it.]
Andrew: Wait. That's perfect. Sound of dropping fork. Then: "GODDAMIT! Stan! Lie down in your bed. Or I swear I'll beat you with my slipper." [swings his arm. misses the dog.]


:: 9:18 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, May 1, 2003 ::
Quentin has been bitten by the programming bug. It's severe. Right now he's going nuts w/ javascript. Every scrap of paper I pick up is littered w/ ideas and snippets of code. In the morning I come downstairs and the refrigerator has "code quizzes" for me to take. When I sit down at my computer there are ten notepad windows open, full of the stuff. First experiments are here, click on "Games".


Poem week

Where's May Been?

I was walking from treetop to treetop
Unable to find May and boring myself half to death;
Unlike the naked racoons playing cribbage
With the nobody you've been trying to buy a noose from.

May plays the dulcimer. Poorly.
But knows how to build a campfire
Of druidic grandeur.
And what to do with an erection
And with the ghosts that visit
From time to time
Right here, in the middle of infinity.

May wants me to be a good man
And I want nothing but good things for her.
And our enemies will be punished.

And I watched May sleeping this morning.
She hadn't even changed out of her jeans, May,
Just her shirt, which I held, and she was so beautiful
And the gods and devils swirling
Around our paisley smoke just went, "Whoa. May.'

:: 9:12 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 ::
Poem Week

Beckett's Watt, lying in a ditch, thinks: "What is this being that is not our being?" Funny that I once could lose sleep over this. Already uncomfortable w/ being. Luckless in pinpointing a cause. Suddenly, not only is the Other other, I'm the Other too. From nowhere a disembodied chorus sings:

Fifty two point two eight
five seven one four two eight
five seven one four
two greatgranma
Ma grew
how do you do,
blooming thanks and you
drooping thanks and you
withered thanks and you
forgotten thanks and you
thanks forgotten too
Ma grew
and the same to you

Well, that's what the soprano sang. And that really sums it all up too.

:: 9:12 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 ::
Poem Week

Seven Selves

He has Seven Selves.
He is a yearning candelabra man
And his mirrors have all gone haywire.
He scratches one Self
And all Seven Selves wrestle
Out on the heath.
They're called: Lear's all-stars.

But O where is the meadow
The meadow of hyacinths,
Once one fence over,
Like the royal navy of heart and feeling,
Sitting and swaying
To the best offer
Any wind can offer:
Fawning wind waves,
Where is it now?

And O why is she cancelling again?
The depak-lotus and her beak of Seven Apertures?
How can her simple fingers on the phone
Make even the scratchy electrons obey?
And say such things?
As well the old record she said she liked
That he plays Seven times through
As decapitated scraps of ideas
Spring from the wind's lips,
Lips that kissed for him,
Whispering his words:
"O bring the One of
the Seven of me
going away
as One"
A One that shines by itself,
But how?

:: 11:02 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, April 28, 2003 ::
An Abandoned Quest For Sand Bags and Higher Ground

When the flooding finally came
There you stood, outside,
Trying on a pair of Pinochet's boxers.
Dead Serious.
Like your lifeline had gotten caught up
In the drawstring.
The general's black hose,
Stretched to breaking point,
Already covering your calves.
Sticky blood clotting the soles.
Heels collecting pine needles
Shuffling along the damp forest floor.

Not a proper getup
For pounding sonnets into trees
You reason.
And so, with duty kicking
Dust motes into sunbeams,
You manage your way
Through pinholes of light and otherness
Until all the forgotten trees

Have deserted you.

From there you follow hell's river
Into an empty parking lot
Behind an abandoned turquoise seacoast motel
Where a party explodes into life,
Where Priscilla the shepherd-garbed
Sitar dream
Flattens her plump breasts
Against the passenger-side window
Of dad's VW Rabbit,
Where you sit
Breathing the damp sea breeze.
In and out.

You reach across.
The window jams.
You struggle with the armature.
But before you can fix anything
Poseidon, an infinitely average god,
Has jumped the breakwater
And speared delicate Priscilla
Through the chest.

She dies.
You weep.
The window fixes itself
And comes down
As rain and wine pour
Out of a fifty-minute
Commerical free
Afternoon sky.

:: 9:02 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, April 24, 2003 ::
Strange to think that a few days ago I was halfway around the world. It's hard explaining the impulsiveness of such a thing. I tried to describe it to somebody. But I kept looking at Dewey. His eyes were wrong. Strings breaking. Overly kinetic motions restringing. Like a cartoon. A bag of coke come to life. I was laughing so hard. It's hard to hate modern bluegrass as much as one should. Like Wynton Marsalis. Sometimes an original gesture pokes through the straightjacket. Now I want to do a road trip. Just go to Oregon and climb a tree. Re-confirm my impression that the Pacific Ocean laughs at people.

Got a note from Priya. There's a weird sand-through-the-hourglass timelessness to her. I kind of don't get it. The message, always, is an old one: Not only are there not any answers, there aren't even any questions.

Hi Joe

Watching someone leave their body is as fascinating as the deep pain you share in their suffering. My father is suffering so intensely that sometimes it is difficult for me to see where he ends and I begin. And yet at times the beauty of it all is so striking and wondrous. I am in awe, pain, joy, sadness, love all at once.

Whenever I have a moment to myself i begin to judge this experience and then starts all the mundane stuff. Do I make sense?

[She claims she's going through menopause, even though she's only 31.] Menopause, I think it's the real thing, the doctors think so too. NOw those mood swings mama mia, even a saint would be intolerant of me at these times.

To top it all, one of my dearest friends decided to have a heart attack so there I was rushing from one sick bed to another.

There must be some divine reason to all of this, and if there isnt... so what!

Of course while all this is happening, life is taking its leisurely stroll through the corporate alley and business as usual transacts, unblemished by the chaos that reigns in my personal life.

It makes me smile. How are you doing?


:: 8:12 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, April 21, 2003 ::
I feel like a Hamlet embed.

I'm writing a comic strip called 'Shitty the Dog'. It's about a lesbian couple and their berserk dog Shitty. About his antics. Which they don't perceive. No, this'll be great.

Axiomatic: No bathtub can be complete without a rubber duck.

Had a fine day yesterday. Walked to the Aboretum, where we ran into the inspiration for Shitty the Dog. Walked the spiral to the top. Looking west you could be living in Thoreau's time. Mod the dull roar of 93. At the summit we joined the assemblage gathered to burn Dixie Chicks CDs and stand in line to urinate on the recently installed Uday Hussein tile mosaic.

:: 9:12 AM [+] ::

:: Friday, April 18, 2003 ::
Such a strange 36 hours. Went swimming early yesterday (?) morning. Lost all track of time. I was diving deep and getting terrified. Then I'd surface and the sky was the good form of infinite. Friendly and enveloping. Unlike the infinite deep. Which is suffocating darkness. I kept repeating the pattern. Dive. Panic. Sound. Breathe through the terror buzz. When I got back I found a peevish note under the door from Priya. Shit. I was supposed to have had breakfast with her and then taken her to Dabolim to catch her flight to Delhi. I was sad. I decided to go to the beach cafe. I brought my copy of "The History of the Peloponesian War". Bernard Williams says what's remarkable about Thucidides is he invented the western concept of historical, factual time. I.e, the Past. Now there's a Big Idea.

In front of the cafe I gave some money to a skinny crazed-looking sadhu w/ the blackest, densest beard I've ever seen. I asked him for the Answer. He grinned. "Keep jumping, sahib. Just jump!" He walked away laughing. I felt cheered. I know jumping. At the cafe I met an englishwoman reading the Herald Tribune. It's easy to meet people in Goa. Your guard's down. Dense affect split into its spectral lights. She had a copy of Roy Jenkins' "Churchill" on the table. I told her I'd read it. She said, "Don't tell me the ending." I laughed vaguely. "What's there to tell? He dies." "No, no. I mean it," she said. "I don't want you to tell me what he says about Churhill in comparison with Gladstone." "Ah," I said. "Well, that is indeed the ending. Ok." I told her about my obsession with Violet Bonham Carter and my plans to write a book about her early life. It turns out the woman is herself a granddaughter of Harold MacMillan. She said she was a Maoist. We talked about that for a while. She was pretty nuts. Very beautiful. Completely self-absorbed. Wearing a Beck t-shirt. Mellow Gold.

I caught my flight from Sahar in Bombay that evening. Layover in Frankfort. In a cab from Logan I called Art. "What up, dog?" Next thing I know I'm at Flynn Cohen's birthday party, Arthor pouring me a tall glass of chianti. We sat around and picked with a bunch of the usual crazies. Nate was there. Tie-dyed socks. Burning Man of fiddle. Gave me a copy of his new CD. Also one of my favorite bluegrass players: The mad cellist. We were playing "Soldier's Joy". It was late. Art and I started singing the verse we know from Riley Puckett: "Twenty-five cents for the morphine/Fifteen cents for the beer/Twenty-five cents for the morphine/Gonna take me away from here." The mad cellist's eyes lit up like baghdad tracers. The song had stopped. He asked us to repeate the verse. We did. He started the song again. Everyone joined in. He sang the verse. Over and over and over again. 100 times at least. In dozens of accents. The rest of us occasionally joining in. He played and sang. And danced. Finally he was jumping. Up onto a chair. Back down onto the floor. Back onto the chair. Playing the cello. Singing "25 cents for the morphine, 15 cents for the beer, 25 cents for the morphine, gonna take me away from here." He was levitated. He was trying to levitate the entire room. "Keep jumping, Sahib. Just jump!" I yelled.

:: 2:51 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 ::
I'll admit I have a crush. On Mrs. Weiss. Ethel. She runs Irving's Toy and Card Shop at the top of my street. She's 85. She's a philosotpher. Kindest and patientest person you'll meet. Like David Hume. And hot! I listen to WGBH because they play a tape of her. She's talking about kids buying candy and how she prefers the mothers to stay outside. The store is tiny. Once they played the tape right after Prokofiev's 1st violin sonata. Intoxicating. I asked her to run away with me to Goa. She just waved me off. Her boyfriend stared out at the street. He stands in the store like a cigarstore indian. I've never heard him speak. I think she could do much better. I bought a Hershey's with almonds and left.


Two days in Goa and no one I've contacted has agreed to visit. I write a lot into this laptop. Take lots of baths in the dacha thingy. Drink. I walk the beach. Visit the shops. Smile at the twirlers. Incense. My social life feels hollow. I try not to draw attention to myself. Some French kids asked me about my Stereolab t-shirt. We talked about the singer who was killed riding her bicycle in London. Their English was better than my french. Our conversation sounded like a Stereolab song. "The day is like wide water, without sound".


My friend Priya is very very busy. For one, her father is ill. So she's preoccupied. Plus she runs some kind of technology company I don't completely understand and is feuding with the board. We've had breakfast twice. She's always on the phone. She's going to London tomorrow. She owns a flat there. I told her that all I see is more wide water, inescabale. She sneered. "You sound like my father."


Happy birthday Quentin. I love you.

Haiku for my son

Holding hands keeps us
tight. But I love your arms, 'cause
they go around me.

:: 8:47 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 ::
Checking in from Goa, India. I'll be here for the next several months, banishing maya. Police and states of maya. The unresolvable awful tension of objects as objects and objects as ideas. I'm sorry for the short notice. Sorry, sorry, says Raman. Right now I'm drinking turkish coffee in a small outdoor cafe in the market on Anjuna beach. Afternoon breeze fans the palms and the makeshift tarps that cover the colorful displays of handmade crafts. Waiting for my friend Priya to come and lecture me. Hippies frolic in the water. Goa. The holophrastic power of the word.. Wait. Someone down the beach has a fairly large paper mache Patriot missile. It sits precariously inside a red wagon. A multi-colored parasol, like a Jamaican flag, hangs from its nose. A naked couple sits on a towel beneath the gently swinging parasol. I was born at age 16.

:: 9:03 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, April 3, 2003 ::
Yesterday morning Gabe was staring a hole in the front page of nytimes. Picture of Rumsfeld going apoplectic at a press conference. In low morning monotone Gabe said, "I think as soon as the Bush administration self-destructs that Rumsfeld should go to Saturday Night Live and offer to join the cast. Playing himself. The idea is they just stick him into random skits. As Don Rumsfeld."

Later, still staring at the picture, eating his third bowl of Cheerios: "I keep seeing the 'Jackass' ad. The one with Johnny Knoxville and crew in the shopping cart. Flying down the hill. Only it's Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, and Connie Rice. Rumsfeld with sunglasses in the front like Knoxville. Leaders of France and Germany looking on in horror. Like terrified parents."

:: 8:41 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, March 30, 2003 ::
After you see Terry Gilliam's "12 Monkeys" you're more conscious of air. You go out and breathe. So I wanted to go running this morning and breathe. No matter what. But I was shocked and awed at all the rain and cold. Decided I'd try yoga tape. Flicked on the tv. Crummy reception, as always, but they were featuring a weapon of mass destruction. One of the world's most dangerous warheads. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.


I went for a run in the rain. Taking exhilarating amounts of oxygen in. Like Bruce Willis.


Wrote a song I think I'll send to Thurston Moore's It's called "U, Ashcroft". It's about robot infiltration.

:: 1:49 PM [+] ::

:: Friday, March 28, 2003 ::
Hi. It's just before dawn. Even Stan is still asleep and I'm crawling around the backyard. All the snow is gone. Just mud. I look up. My house is immense. The difference between crawling and standing is one point five versus six feet. Four hundred percent different. When I crawl up close to the house it looks like the World Trade Center. A pink world Trade Center. I never thought my house would be taller than the World Trade Center. But it is.


We all felt better about dot com one day when an engineer told us that Elton John burned through seventy million dollars in three years. He was broke.


Anne bought a copy of Vogue. It had Brooke Shields on the cover. 'She looks better than she did when she was younger. Annie Liebovitz can make anybody look good.' 'She's huge,' I said. 'She's pregnant,' said Anne. 'At this point she'll pretty much do anything for attention,' I said.


I was thinking about Wack Osgood. His Volkswagen bug. Meticulously upholstered. Shag carpet everywhere. Sparkling paint job. He called it the 'Item Bitem'. On the back there was some sort of panel with 'Item Bitem' painted in white script. Wack always had a job. Teenagers lavished attention on cars then. And hung out endlessly. That's all over. I too hung out endlessly but lavished no attention on anything. At the drug store. I never had a job. Except gigs. The Item Bitem had a cassette deck and state of the art stereo. Wack would pop in 'Trout Mask Replica' and we'd take in 'Ella Guru'. Amazed all over again. Maybe chant along with 'The Dust Blows Forward and The Dust Blows Back'. 'Black coffee from a crimped up can.' Camping with Beefheart. In the middle of death valley.


We hadn't seen Wack in years. Someone said he'd moved to Alaska. That's another thing people did. While waiting for the revolution. One summer morning he walked right into our kitchen. No one ever knocked. They just walked right in. My brother and father and I were sitting at the kitchen table when Wack walked right in. Saturday morning. He'd put on 150 pounds, had a massive beard, and was wearing overalls. My brother and I had no idea who it was. But my Dad looked up and said, 'The Kodiak Brown Bear.' Wack let out a bunyonesque laugh and we knew it was him.


My dad had a way of knowing everybody. Or fake knowing the ones he didn't know. The fake was easier then because the quaint use of 'Mister' in front of the last name of the American adult male was still around. Wack's father would be 'Mister Osgood' to my brother and me. To my father as well, if he didn't know Mr. Osgood well. You never knew the first names of any adults. My father was able to exploit this isomorphic holdover into easy familiarity. If he ran into some adult male, say at the Post Office, and the guy knew him, and Dad didn't know the guy, Dad would say 'How are ya, Mister mumblemumble'. "Mister" clear; the last name a plausible blur. We'd be standing next to dad trying not to laugh at such egregious bullshit. Dad was the Harry Houdini of faking people's names.


Wack had a restless head. Always pushing me to go somewhere. I was content to stay put. The beach, the Atlantic Ocean were my back yard. Marybeth and Kathy had to walk by my house to get to the beach and lie naked in the sun. Priscilla's summer house was just over the boardwalk and across the parking lot into Town Neck. My fine maple tree. My guitars and records. My headphones. The basketball court. Gary's practice room. No one had a computer. I could hitchhike to Hyannis and meld with the hippies. Or hang out in front of the drug store singing 'My smile is stuck/I cannot go back to your frownland' at grown-ups. But no. Wack would haul me out of my room and onto the bus on a rainy Saturday in early December for a day trip to Boston. I used to be able to shiver for an entire day. Wack's older brother Ed worked at a camera store on Newbury Street. That was an amazing thing. Walking up Newbury Street, hassled by the maoist junkies and then stepping into a warm organized big city camera store and seeing Eddie Osgood behind the counter.


One summer day Wack drove up, walked into my bedroom and signalled me to take off my fucking headphones. No beard yet. Still skinny. Jet black mountain of curly hair. Like the guitar player for Acid Mothers Temple. 'Let's go to Provincetown'. I put the SG away, brushed my teeth. Wack went downstairs and yakked with my grandmother. I knew every note of 'Dark Star'. Twenty-three minutes long.


The Item Bitem was gleaming like a giant metal aphid in the July heat. I'd just turned sixteen. Hair down my back. Light blue corduroys and a shrunken green t-shirt. Black Keds.


Wack had a case of oil in the front of the IB. He popped the hood and took an oil can out. Went around back and loaded it into the engine. Shit.


Provincetown was jammed with people. Hippies, tourists, the Dancing Policeman. We walked up and down Commercial Street a couple times. Saw some summer freaks we knew. We talked to some girls. There was a communal house off of Commercial Street the girls were going to. One's name was Robin. A band called Wrought was staying there. I'd heard them at Apteryx in Hyannis earlier that week. They had a VW bus and two guitarists and sounded like Wishbone Ash. I'd asked one of the guitar players where they were from. He said, "Farnham's Freehold, man".


Somehow Robin was sitting in my lap while I was playing "Jack Orion" with one of Wrought's guitar players, plus an upright bassist and some guys playing percussion. There was also a beautiful woman singing. She had a flute. I'm serious.


On the way back Wack's car was throwing oil like mad. He was driving 20 mph, singing "Willie the Pimp". Monitoring for signs of overheating. He'd sometimes sing "Willie the Pimp" with my band. Kind of like the way Beefheart would sing it with Zappa. Every now and then he'd pull over. Pop the hood. Pull out an oil can. Pop the trunk. Pour in the oil. Pull back out onto rte. 6.


20 mph suddenly became a massive problem without our knowing it. Rte. 6 at that end of the Cape is single lane in each direction. With all the beauty and frustration of the single bottlenecking register in a von neuman machine. The Item Bitem was making a raging noise. The stereo. Wack singing away. "Primer mi carucha, Chevy '39/Going to El Monte, Legion Stadium". Hard to hear the screaming and blare of horns from the seven mile backup that had accumulated behind the Item Bitem. Then once the road became four lane divided a steady stream of enraged humanity went tearing past Wack and me. Cursing, shouting. Occasionally throwing something. Wack flipping the bird and grinning. Singing. "Pick up on my weesa, she is so divine/Helps me stealing hubcaps, wasted all the time".


I threw a rod and ruined my first car. On the same rte. 6. It just ran out of oil and blew up. A green VW bug. I got it from a mobster my father knew. Our family had some kind of mob connection dating back to the 30s. My great grandfather (read all about him) had been impeached and disbarred for pardoning a guy named Raymond Patriaca, head of the New England Cosa Nostra. Anyway, my father kept these shady connections alive for various and obscure purposes none of us ever understood. But one day he said "Joey, let's get you a car." And we drove to Raynham. A junkyard in Raynham. Inside the junkyard we drove along alleyways delimited by piles of car wrecks and eventually parked in front of a small shack. Inside sat Joe the Mobster. My Dad's friend. You didn't call him Mr. Costa. Just Joe. Dad said, "Joe, Joey wants a Volkswagen bug. Can you help us out?" As this was all pre-arranged, Joe says "Sure" and pulls out of his drawer a set of keys. "Here ya go, Joey" says Joe and throws the keys on the table. I say, "Joe, does this thing run?" Joe stares at me. Quizzically. Looks at Dad. Looks back at me. Opens the drawer again. Pulls out a .38 and throws it on the desk, next to the keys. "Joey" says Joe. "Joey, take these keys, okay? Okay? Take these keys and go out and start your new car. If you put in the key and turn it and the car doesn't start you come back here and shoot me. Ok?" Dad and Joe burst out laughing.


My spam catcher just caught an email entitled 'Do Not Look At This Email'. Fine by me.

:: 10:48 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, March 27, 2003 ::
Had lunch with fellow robotophobe Bob. Over fine vietnamese food we validated each other's intuition that John Ashcroft is a robot; a vanguard robot from an evil race, here to sew misery and discontent. We believe this recognition is growing.


Chris suggests that "the celebration of pointless anniversaries is a good dadaist response to current world events." Genius. And points out that we just passed the fourth anniversary of the launch of, our manically dadaist entrant into the senory deprivation tank known as dot com.


Apropos, I note in passing that I just blew past the anniversary of entry #1 of Why the Kimono Is Beautiful, my CD diary. The concommitant CD is, alas, still unfinished. If only I could get the three robots in my band -- Bridget 'footloose' Matros, Zack 'what's ritalin?' Hickman and Roland 'Do I have to go to Pandolfi's again?' DR-770 -- to stick around long enough to finish a couple of songs. But there was the EP, the last copies of which, incidentally, were sold yesterday to Beth, spreader of Poppies memes in Berekely, CA.


Got an email from a guy asking me if I knew any members of The Poppies. I said 'yes'.


Got a phone call yesterday from someone asking if I was Mr. Rogers. I said 'alas, no'.


I was in Gabriel's room the other morning, looking for a CD. I looked out his window. Behind the curtain I saw a piece of paper stuck up against one of the large ancient glass panes. I went over for a look. It was a hand made sign. It had the word "WAR" on it, overlaid with a circle and a bar sinister. Never even mentioned it. Such a sweet gentle boy. Seems incapable of saying anything self-promotional. I hope that's good. We talk politics, music, books. A little bit about crew. His personal life is something he's hermetically quiet about. As though it were something no one could possibly be interested in. Of course the reality is nothing could be more interesting to me. So I'm constantly probing, in between Ashcroft and Cheney jokes. He did tell me he might need some money for the junior semi-formal. !! But through subsequent relentless probing I discovered he's been putting off and putting off asking someone to go. On our way to Quentin's jazz band concert last night I asked him about it again. He told me it was sold out. Andrew said that he was walking home with his classmate Annie the other day. She told Andrew her mother told her she should marry Gabe. Comparatively, I know everything about Andrew's life. One day he's going to write sprawling 900 page autubiographical novels like Thomas Wolfe. Parenthood is a perpetual state of unbearable and perfect heartache. You've been warned.

:: 8:48 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, March 26, 2003 ::

Gulf War

Wasn't dad good?
He built a tall house;
Paid for the milkshakes;
Used words like 'lumber',
'Carpe diem', 'length'.
His breathing was loudest
Among the family
And he lived his life
So you felt you used him.

Dad became a beaver
In my mind;
My mind became
A strut for the dam
Of my mind's beaver.

He built a clothesline,
Circular and revolutionary,
And we fixed it
With an engine
And a pulley
And hung a cat
By its tail
And watched its
Private revolution.

We saw death become
The absence of an idea.

Dad crawled out
The timeforsaken bunker
Mouthed nugatory spittle
Into the absence
Which became
A permanent feature
Of his drive-by head:
His living hat, you might say.

:: 5:30 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, March 20, 2003 ::
My friend Dave reports that the Dixie Chicks are experiencing severe curtailment of airplay for speaking up against Bush II Iraq war. I'm proud to report that a copy of my first ever Dixies Chicks CD is on its way. And I bought mahn raht hee-er, y'all.

:: 10:33 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, March 19, 2003 ::

You gotta have fear in your heart.
You gotta have fear in your heart.
You gotta have fear in your heart.
You gotta have fear in your heart.

:: 12:43 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, March 19, 2003 ::

I've had the posthumous Brahms chorale preludes on this morning. 'O Welt, ich muss dich lassen' is a strange form of comfort, I concede. I need a break... wish it were 70 again, like Monday../ I'd walk up and down the river, having 'ineluctible modality of the visible' moments...


Yesterday allowed myself to be baited into sparring on a list with a enraged pro-war nut. It would be one thing if we were extreme nodes on a continuum. That could make for interesting discussion. But it's not a continuum. It's parrallel. Or disjunct. You try to be careful at least, nuanced maybe, sometimes but not always succeeding; and then your words are vomited back as a hyperchaotic mongrelized hash.

Here's what I wrote:


Paul wrote:

>Of course one can criticize Bush's handling of the situation, but either he
>is right that we should be afraid of terrorists, or he is not.
>Or is the complaint that even though there is reason to be afraid of what
>terrorists might do, he shouldn't talk about it?

Would that he were only talking about it. :)

Actually, much more terrifying to me than the eminently containable (ala Walzer and others) Hussein, are the implications of the Bush adminstration's every-man-for-himselfism on strategic issues of national defense globally; and by extension on the whole issue of weapons proliferation.

I.e., I wonder what national leaders, strategists and conflict scenario planners everywhere on earth -- friend and foe alike -- are thinking about this morning? I don't know for sure. Maybe they're all jumping for joy. But, forgetting about places like North Korea or Pakistan, it isn't hard to imagine that strategic round tables in South Korea, Japan, Germany, Taiwan (all of whom, I'll posit, could fashion nuclear weapons in less time than it'd take Saddam Hussein to set his VCR clock) are just buzzing with the implications of America the unilateralist superpower vs. American the coalition-building world cop. This is a pandora's box that's quite frightening to me. Not because any of these nations are inherently any more or less trustworthy than we are. But because of entropy and complexity.

In my own little world, the difference between a cop and a bully is the sense I have of where authority and accountability lie. Authority and accountability can be reassuring. Especially for demilitarized states, diplomacy and coalition building aren't just annoying formalisms ala Rumsfeld. They say something about seriousness w.r.t. global partnering. They say something reassuring to those without weapons about their security in the world. They take the pressure off of their governments to respond to the paranoiacs within their societies who do not approve of sub-contracting something as vital as national security to another nation.

Perhaps we'll all be safer after this tactical sideshow of a war. I hope so. But I can't help but feel that this action is a shattering blow to the hopeful, post-tribal stirrings that have seemed to me to be the best embodiments of moral progress our world has shown in the wake of the last century's carnage: in the west following the marhsall plan, and in the east following the end of the cold war. And that, therefore, this move is epically ill-advised from the standpoint of what is gained vs. what is lost. I can all too easily imagine the salient unintended (?) consequence of the Bush doctrine of preemption being the genesis of a species of what the NRA advises in America, on a global basis: If we all have guns, everyone will be safe.


p.s., Paul, apropos the apoplectic piece of stalin-baiting you forwarded earlier this morning, though it suffers, among other things, from what we used to call in logic class 'audiatur et altera pars', or failure to state your premises, I nevertheless think the basic logical argument of the piece can be formulated by analogy as follows:

premise: Trent Lott is a racist segregationist
premise: Trent Lott supports the Bush Iraq war
premise: the pro-war movement isn't coming out to vocally condemn the racist
segregationists amongst its numbers
inference: failure to condemn racist segregationist war mongers equates to tacit
conclusion: all supporters of the Bush Iraq war are racist segregationists"

After an iteration of trying to straighten out my antagonist's confusion about something, here's what I got back:

"So what you're advocating is abdicating our national sovereignty in favor of an organization that elected Libya to chair this year's Commission on Human Rights, has covered up its personnel's participation in prostitution in Bosnia, has a chief weapons inspector who thinks global warming is more important than war, and established a Conference on Disarmament which later this year will have Iraq as its president? "

A microcosm of the generally devolved state of debate in the country and in the world.

:: 9:04 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, March 17, 2003 ::
What a shame Mary Jane had a pain at the party.

:: 12:00 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, March 13, 2003 ::
I considered not posting Quentin's URL. But under enormous pressure, here it is: The Secret Stash. Last time I looked it was a brilliant fireworks finale of runtime errors and other forms of inverted brilliance. The 'trailers' link is pretty much required web viewing.


Anne had an Andy Warhol moment this morning. Yesterday I got a call from the New York Times asking if Anne was home. I said no she wasn't. They asked if it was okay to go ahead and publish her letter about the "self-actualized" food stylist. I said, "By all means." And so they did. Here.


In case you thought I was making it up, the latest GET YOUR WAR ON weighs in on "Freedom Fries". Who knows? Maybe it'll stick. "Hot dog" stuck. It comes from the time during WWI when patriotic US health food vendors started refusing to sell their fellow americans "frankfurters".

:: 4:20 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, March 12, 2003 ::
Quentin's been walking around with various of Gabe's programming manuals under his arm. I finally asked him what was up with that. Turns out he has a web site. I asked him to show it to me. It's ridiculous. Links to trailers, movie reviews (he liked "Daredevil"), superhero esoterica. I had no idea. I asked him: "Who reads it?" He happily answered: "No one."


I was walking past Andrew's room last night. He was lying backwards on his bed. Feet on the headboard. An Irish reel was blaring out of his stereo. I looked in and listened with him for a while. It was a poignant modal minor thing. He told me the reel made him think of camp in Putney, Vermont. One afternoon black clouds came rolling in over the mountain, "the one with the strange, circular clearning at the top." Rain poured out of the sky. Andrew said: "My friends and I all took our shoes off and started rain dancing. It was great. We were out of our minds. Laughing like crazy. I felt like I was two years old. Falling down in the mud. In retrospect it makes me feel like crying. I'm not sure why. Do you know that feeling dad?" I said I did.


There's a paper of Quentin's next to my keyboard here. It's called "Labrador Tea by Quentin Mahoney". Here are a couple of excerpts: "Labrador tea lives in peatlands, tundra, and moist woods. It can live anywhere as long as there is water or the ground is moist. Anywhere in the world, basically." The last sentence is crossed out without comment by the teacher. Here's the closing: "Labrador tea was used for brewing drinking tea in the old days, hence the name. It is not sold in America anymore, though you can still make it here. Apparently people like to have it in old country gardens. Drinking the tea can cause drowsiness and intenstinal aches."


Bush's epic miscalculation of a war is suspended bizarrely above our roof. Anne got a long letter from her German friend Anke yesterday. She briefly alluded to the war and to the feeling she has that Germans would no longer be safe in America. I know I felt weird in Montreal. A maniac Republican in the House, a guy who runs "administrative", recently decreed (unilaterally; without a vote; because he can) that all cafeterias in the Capitol building strike the word "French" from their menus. So instead of "French toast" and French fries" they now have "freedom toast" and "freedom fries". I'm not joking. I think these are very very dangerous memes. Klaus Dinger, irrascible co-founder of the German archetypal avant-electronica band 'Neu!' once said that no one should be allowed to run a business or a country w/out demonstrable proof of having used acid at least a dozen times. Seems like a better suggestion than the Bush cabinet's diet of raw meat and labrador tea.

:: 9:18 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 ::
Speaking of The Incredible String Band, I for some reason was singing my favorite paisleybuddha Mike Heron line in the shower this morning. It's the chorus from "You Get Brighter"; a kind of 'why not?' hippie romance number. In its moonbeam way, I thought it had John Donne forensic brilliance. It goes: "I know you belong to everybody, but you can't deny that I'm you." I laughed so hard the first time I heard it that my older brother (asleep in the bedroom next to mine) woke up and told me to shut the fuck up. I went in, But Dan, check this out, and sang him the line. He muttered, 'what an asshole' and fell back asleep. I got my guitar out and learned the song and probably played it until 3 a.m. so I could sing it to Priscilla the next day. I had 'Doors of Perception' and 'Circus' magazine next to my bed. Dan had vast stacks of Popular Mechanics and Sci-fi.

:: 9:02 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, March 10, 2003 ::
Paul Valery talked about producing future. That seems to be a pretty good description of what we do. Of what our brains do, ala Dennett. It's been so cold I think my future producer had begun shutting down. Yesterday cured that. I went for a long walk. Sun was full-on. Happy. Saw a lot of people wearing casts. But we were all a bright color shooting up the stem. Sunflowers.

I discovered this cool perceptual trick. Stick your guitar neck in front of your computer monitor. Angle doesn't matter, but vertical seems easiest. Facing the monitor turn the guitar neck so it's slightly off perpendicular, string side slightly toward you. Enough so all strings are inividually visible. High E and maybe B string should have CRT and not guitar neck as background. Strum the guitar. Instead of a tight vibration, the strings seem to wobble, flop, like rubber bands. Like sine waves. Weirdest part is I've found that doing this for more than a few minutes makes everything you play sound like an Incredible String Band song.

Wait. Was Zack wearing spurs at the Ritter show?

:: 9:07 AM [+] ::

:: Friday, March 7, 2003 ::
I just realized I can't ride my bike.
I haven't ridden my bike in months.
My bike is red and I bought it in Mill Valley, California, back in the 1990s.
Steve and I saw cars sliding down a hill in slow motion yesterday.
Against their wills.
One driver in a frenzy of helplessness yelled at the guy stopped at the bottom of the hill.
His yell was absolutely silent.
It was 100% captured within his Toyota Corolla.
The guy at the bottom was stopped, of course, because he couldn't just jump into the line of cars with headlights on trying to get home and beat the storm.
[Too late.]
How many of those in the long line ended up in hundred car pileups?
In Montreal you're required to drive with headlights on. Also on Rte. 28 past Orleans.
I would pick yesterday to go into the office.
Brenda made me wait until the sanders had come.
Does there have to be business?
What were the guys at Softricity thinking?
There aren't many uptopians left.
History doesn't approve of them.
Poetry is how I deal with the burden of my secrets.
Frank Drake is a uptopian band.
We had a fine Ehearsal wednesday night.
There are no more rules really.
We have songs and their structures.
But everything else is unrigged.
And you live with the result.
Maybe Utopias only work if you get to choose the members.
I wouldn't want Josef Stalin in Frank Drake.
Even though I think we could definitely use a balalaika.
Quentin informed me as we walked to his school this morning that we need to make a band field trip to see Blade 3 when it comes out.
Because there's a vampire hunter in it.
A vampire hunter named Frank Drake.
Quentin is a veteran utopian.

:: 9:55 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, March 5, 2003 ::
Chris reports that brother Andy is writing a story. The story is destined to become a movie. When it does, like all contemporary movies, it'll need... well (with permission) let's let Andy tell it:

>The Poppies are about to be catapulted into fame. i'm writing my
>english story about Eugene Wigner, a scientist in the 30's. i'm
>making up a whole faustian tale about how he sells his soul to the
>devil in order to come to 1999, the future, to use the modern
>technology to succesfully metallize hydrogen. the theme song, which
>will be on the soundtrack i will no doubt make, will obviously be
>Dave's Ant Farm, since it ends with very appropriate lyrics.

Chris also notes a) the worst company name ever (no arguments here): Softricity and b) the Cat Power website, which is currently streaming Chan's drenched-in-secrets new cd 'You Are Free'. 24x7.


Steve and I love synchronicty every bit as much as Joyce did. Here's a joycean moment: Anne sent this to me, both because I've been moping around like homer simpson muttering 'why did mr. rogers have to die?' for the last week and because she knows far too much about the loving, tolkeinesque maple tree in my backyard with the configuration of braches at the very top that made a seat so sturdy I could fall asleep in it. Plus it faced the Atlantic Ocean directly. My grandparents, my family, my friends, james joyce, mr. rogers, my maple tree: reason enough to believe the universe has some benign purpose. Which I do believe, ever since my grandfather abolished my atheism by coming to me (by prior arrangement) just after his death in a dream to let me know he was okay. As tolstoy might've put it: Every insane metaphysics is insane in its own way. Anyway, very much w/out the nytimes' permission:

To the Editor:

Re "Mister Rogers, TV's Friend for Children, Is Dead at 74" (front page,
Feb. 28):

What was it about a mild-mannered 74-year-old man that caused a 45-year-old
woman to stop in the middle of fixing breakfast and break down in tears when
the news of his death came?

Fred Rogers was never a flashy guy. "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," his
long-running show for children, was as reliable and consistent as
old-fashioned macaroni and cheese, and just as comforting.

My childhood was tumultuous. My mother was young and unsure of herself;
spankings for myriad infractions were frequent. I lived in a world of
uncertainty, never knowing when I would cross the next invisible line and be

I had two sanctuaries: a maple tree with high, sturdy branches, and "Mister
Rogers' Neighborhood." I was never afraid in his Neighborhood. I knew he
would always welcome me there.

My son, who is now nearly 10, also loved the Neighborhood, and we were both
sad when new installments stopped, but felt that Fred Rogers had certainly
earned his retirement. Today I am certain that this gentle man, who offered
so many children his simple message of compassion, has also earned his

Charlottesville, Va., Feb. 28, 2003

:: 9:10 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, February 26, 2003 ::
Because We Can

Crawled deserts of backyard tundra looking for Stan (dog). STAN! STAN! I bellowed. Nothing. STAN! No sign. Ah wait. Here's Stan. Shitting in the neighbor's yard is all. Now he too has been saved by visibility. We crawl up. Steep back steps. Into the warmth and the light, the chrome and vinyl. Away from the dark heart of Nature. Together. Exhausted phenotypes. Taking our water. Our life lights flickering slightly.

:: 9:32 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, February 12, 2003 ::
More snow this morning. I dug around a bit, looking for my bicycle chain and I found Dad. He was frozen and happy. I brought him in for some lamb stew and we chatted quietly. Mostly about his experiences in the Pacific in WWII. Guadal Canal. Shanghai. And his strange claims regarding a meeting with Stonewall Jackson (he once sent me an autographed photo of General Jackson). Anyway, Stan was edgy and irritable around Dad; so he chose to leave earlier than we'd have liked. Stan hates ghosts. Which is peculiar because he's very fond of witches.

Evil days? Hard times stalking us? Keep blasting away the song memes maybe. Here's this morning's offering, entitled What Wound?

Been listening to Codey Chestnutt's 'Headphone Masterpiece'. It's like, I don't know, a lo-fi Curtis Mayfield/Prince record. Very mac.

:: 11:46 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 ::
Got an email yesterday morning from Paul letting his friends know that his Dad had died. Paul's Mom died a year and a half ago. After that his Dad began a precipitous decline. He had a fall a couple of weeks ago. Then stopped eating. Someone was with him at all times. Paul has done that most human of things, paid exquisite tribute, at The heartbreak of the real.

:: 9:07 AM [+] ::

:: Saturday, February 8, 2003 ::
I woke up at 5 a.m. All the beauty outdoors. I stepped onto the back deck. Beauty waving, beckoning. Dark snow canyons. My back porch like Omar Sharrif's chalet. Bear prowling for fish in the stream I put in before the freeze. My Russian fur-flapped cap cutting emotional holes in my heart. The sky turned milky black. My wood floor seemed reliable. Even protruding nail said, 'Don't worry joe'. And the snow was extra insulation. The house warmer than it should have been. I cut down an elm and made a fire. Outdoors. I used my stone-age hand axe. My crazy neighbor fast asleep. I brought out skates for the bear. She could have skated I felt. Danced for us. Instead she punched a violent hole in my stream and loudly begged the elements for a testimonial. For proof.

Here are Quentin and me, first meeting.

This song and this song were uploaded but I never linked to them.

Cantab spaceride: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,

:: 1:01 PM [+] ::

:: Friday, February 7, 2003 ::
I've finally begun the final laps of finishing up Why the Kimono is Beautiful. Sequencing; that is, assembling individual absurdities into a skein of absurdities. It's audio collage-work. And since it's a Concept Album, a low-fi Tales of Topographic Oceans, it includes dialog and soundscapes and atmospherics. But I think I need a mac to truly pull it off. I need help, but I'm trying minimize that. Which is important since all my collaborators are scattered to the chill winds. I also just decided I want to do a solo acoustic gig. I don't know where. I don't know how. And snow is general over new england.


I have a bunch of pictures to put up of our Cantab gig last week. But that was only the beginning. We did two gigs on Saturday. Plough and Stars as BagBoys subs, followed by a dense private party downstairs at the Cantab, thick with revellers. We did a BeeGees tribute, a rap, grafted a bob marley tune into the middle of Big Mon(k) and generally rowed out into the sea like missionaries in a dinghy, paint chipping, we knew not wither. Not a bailing can in site.

I have a new song in my head. 'Take Out Your Gum'. And I want to see Devandra Benham at some Club in Brigham Circle on Monday night.

My next Poppies record is already crawling up my spine w/ a dagger in its teeth. It's about my backyard. I decided my entries about my backyard are poems. So I published one. It's here.

I can't find anything. Sorry everyone.

I broke my glasses. Sorry sorry.

Quentin's been sick the last two days. Raging fever. He went back to school today. He thought he needed a name tag since he'd been out for a couple of days. I said Ok. He made one and put it in a plastic sleeve with a pin. Pinned it to his shirt. Except it said: "Smizick O'Schwartz".

:: 10:19 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 ::
One of the sadder developments in the efforts of the bush regime to capsize the ship of state, is the recent hawkish turn by Colin Powell. Admittedly, with Rumsfeld having clearly won the day, it was that or quit. Disappointing nonetheless. Powell's quitting would've been magnificent symbolism. But somehow it feels like he's still needed to balance the real barbarians.

That said, I couldn't help but be moved by something Powell said during a speech/Q&A; session to a fairly hostile gathering of euro-mandarins yesterday in Switzerland. At one point Powell answered one hostile questioner by replying he felt America had nothing to be ashamed of regarding its historical role as a global super power. He defended America's military efforts over the past hundred years as being motivated by a desire to propagate freedom and right wrongs; claiming none of our interventions were imperialist. He finished this quite passionate defense by noting how "we've put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives," His voice grew hoarse. "We've asked for nothing but enough land to bury them in." I was struck enough by the rhertoric that I read it out loud at the breakfast table. Gabe looked up sluggishly and said, "You could argue that's because controlling markets no longer requires physically conquering a country." He looked like he was sleepwalking. He did.


Whenever it's this cold I can get pretty black-minded and all I can think of is stuff like the closing icy, silence of 'Titanic'; or this poem by Wallace Stevens:

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


Anne wistfully notes it was ten years ago today we left our home, in similarly frigid circumstances, to move to San Francisco. Beautiful San Francisco. With winter you could drive away from.

:: 8:43 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, January 27, 2003 ::
Thanks to Steve's wacky exerblog, I've been mostly able to stave off the pigpile of latent Hollis Brown moments thrown my way this satanic winter. Once again it's treacherous outside today -- thin layer of snow to cover fiendish black ice -- but I just went to exerblog and got shamed into popping the rodney 'you may need a block' yee yoga tape into the vcr. I can't go on; I'll go on.


When you're in a jamgrass band, you don't really rehearse. What you do is go out as a unit, no, a hive, and drink sake and eat vast amounts of sushi and then hive in a car caravan a few blocks from chris/jrob's and intuit your way around a party where everyone else is a non-musician and, ergo, knows how to dance. All my songs are about robots. Lately, they're mostly about dancing robots. I think this has to do with the universal musicians-at-parties plight: i.e., what to do after about 10 jello cups when Dr. Dre is blasting out of the state-of-the-art mp3 jukebox. You must respond. But how? You've been programmed to participate on the other side of the perform/respond divide. So you combine some basketball moves w/ other neurological deep structures and use your robot intuition to try and avoid hurting other robots. Then you practice some flirting-with-danger choke slam moves. Followed by some even loonier improvisations. Then bring it all home driving around in the ice in cambridge and somerville trying to retrace the original three blocks to your car, while avoiding fire hydrants; then give someone a ride home who has no idea where he lives. And then find it. And take a bow. And fall asleep. Unconventional. But it works.


In addition to Dre and choke slams, I got to see Andrew's 9/11 short documentary; shot by Scott in Tanzania in the days immediately following the WTC/Pentagon attacks; w/ Andrew, fluent in Swahili, interviewing some of the locals about their reaction. Absolutely gripping stuff. Also got an update from Scott on his environmental documentary and his career as an activist film maker generally. All going exceedingly well, despite recent tragedies. Not a hint of cursing the darkness. Inspiring. I keep puzzling over how to react individually to the Bush stampede into war. My boys are as enraged and Anne and me. And we're puzzled about how feckless all of the options seem. It's worsening the outrage. I mean we'll go to rallies. My neighbor Ed has a big red WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER sign out. (Though his hedge covers everything in it except WAR. Gotta mention that to him.) I wanted to go to Washington even if, like Prufrock, I'm just swelling a scene. But I couldn't. My friend Molly went and had some hope renewed. That alone would be a good thing. Someone with a sign that said: "This is what democracy looks like." True. And this one: "Drunken frat boy drives country into Ditch". Also true. But where's the outrage at this astonishingly subjective, surreally oedipal escapade, as filtered through Don Rumsfeld's addled coldwar imagination? Scariest to me is it seems there's nothing, not zip, the rest of the world can do. It's worse. American unilateralism makes all of the world more barbarically 'tribal'. Our retrograde manichaean example is overpowering. I see decades of damage to any kind of post-national future. Part of the outrage we feel is the incapacity of this polity to name and strive for a Good. Instead there's a politics of turning the spectacle of the economy into the object of an apathetic public consensus, as Alain Badiou has said. His "Ethics" should be required reading. Andrew's video required viewing.

:: 9:04 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 ::

Angry-faced Woman in Fur Coat J-Walking

Just then Carey strides heavily into the backyard. She sits in a lounge chair in the freezing cold. Whenever I'm confused I run downstairs. Or do something equally impulsive. Carey sips moonshine from a mason jar. I run downstairs. She's translated a piece of the Prashna Upanishad and it plays incessantly inside her head. Mine too. I run it backwards on my way back up to the third floor. Glue seeps into my joints. I stick my head out of the dormer window. I see my neighbor peering over the hedge. He hollers, 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,' and disappears. I toss the anvil from the dormer window and run downstairs. I pass the anvil and bolt the backdoor and onto the porch and kiss the anvil as it passes me. Carey looks up. My neighbor reappears. A car drives by. They know I know what happens next. Carey smiles at me. 'What wound?" I say before I can stop myself.

:: 9:18 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, January 16, 2003 ::
After strolling around arctic brookline last night, Anne and I came home and made hot cider. She went to bed. I sat in the living room. All of a sudden the ghost of my robot uncle Jim knocked at the front door. I let him in. He began right off with a bizarre pop quiz on 'Gargantua and Pantagruel'. We talked for a while about 'Samson Agonistes'. He made a case for the biblical Samson being the first terrorist. Soon I was really yawning. He got up to leave. I noticed bloody scratch marks down his chest. Some robot blood dripped onto the rug and onto the floor as he hobbled out the front door. As he stepped down the icy front porch I heard him mumble: "When you do dance, I wish you a wave o' the sea, that you might ever do nothing but that". Good line, I thought.


I have a spate of gigs coming up. I forget when they are. I'll find out tonight. I've been writing songs for Frank Drake Band. They sound like someone else to me.


I should write up the incredibly bizarre story Jeremy told Chris and me Tuesday night.

But no. Come take your flowers and go.

:: 12:27 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, January 12, 2003 ::
Again I'm the only person up in the middle of the night. The Book ("Beyond Good and Evil") turned boring and I threw it out the window. Made a hot dog. Threw that out the window as well. Thought I should retrieve the hot dog. Pajamas and boots. Took Stan to ward off the racoons, starving, mad, naked, fearless. I found the hotdog right away. Steam coming out of a hotdog-shaped hole in a snow pile. I have a friend who thinks you should live as close to a city as you can and still be able to piss in your own yard. Tried it. I think he lives too far away. Heard a sound. Sounded like a space ship. Maybe just Stan pissing on the other side of the house. Started thinking too much. Waved to my nest . Had "the fear that defeats and dreams are one". Did a frozen headstand. Couldn't shake the idea that the creatures from the flying saucer were laughing.

:: 3:03 PM [+] ::

:: Friday, January 10, 2003 ::
Saw a little bit of Boston musical history last night: James Levine in his premier subscription concert as music director for the BSO. Pretty great night, I must say. Roger Sessions' Piano Concerto is dense and orchestrally brilliant; John Harbison's 3rd rocks so hard Levine's baton went flying into the 2nd violins; JH was there to take a few bows; and what can I say about Brahms' 1st. One of the most ripping openings of any piece of music. ever. The cool thing about hearing Brahms live is you get all quivery with the unrelenting inventiveness. Guy never ever fucking milks anything. Every time you find yourself saying, 'Johannes, can we please hang out here a while,' he's on to something else. And then you're glad he is. It's maybe a little like riding around with Neil Cassidy. ?? Anyway, it's precisely this that caused Tchaichovsky to despise his work. And, conversely, the hey-let's-milk-that-again-and-again quality of Tchaichovsky's that caused Brahms to despise him.

Guy's fighting. Everywhere you look.


Later on, we're home and I'm walking past Andrew's bedroom. I'm in a trance thinking about the miracle that is Johannes Brahms. He says "Hey dad?" I never have any idea what he's going to say. It really could be anything. "Oh, hey Andrew. What's up?" I see he's reading 'Lonesome Dove'. "Listen to this." And he starts reading a passage about Pea Eye buttoning the 15 buttons on his pants and only then realizing he needs to taking a screaming pizzle; followed by a desperate race between the buttons and his bladder as he storms out the back door of the bunk house. We're laughing pretty hard. I'm afraid we're going to wake Quentin, whose bedroom door is open. I give Andrew a kiss and say "Good night, bud". He says, "Hey dad?" "Yeah?" "You sort of remind me of Augustus." "How so?" "Well, you're always going around reading Shakespeare and the Bible and you like to watch sunsets and the sun rising. You're both very spiritual people." Wow. "Thanks sweetie. I love you." Hug. "I love you too, dad." We're like the Brookline Waltons.

:: 3:08 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, January 6, 2003 ::
I realized my tulip bulbs never made it into the ground. I rented a Bobcat and tore up the front yard. Neighbors jeering. A couple of near square offs. It was rough. Snow and the first meaningful frost line in years. I somehwat brutalized our adolescent magnolia. But it's back in the ground; admittedly in ice pack. Hydrangeas will need complete replacement. But the bulbs have a chance. I feel it. You can't penalize the summer just because winter is so awfully self-penalizing. I haven't shaved in days.


First new song of the year, Brave Candle, came in at two minutes and sixteens seconds long. Here it is. Living room mini-disk demo from about six seconds after I finished it, kitchen bustle proxying for the Korg analog modelling synth.

I also finally got around to setting Bridget's Cleveland airplane ride song. She sang it a capella and said "put some schmaltzy chords under this". So I did. About three million of them.


Well, happy new year family, friends, colleagues, my two bands, correspondents. Love and peace, outdoors and indoors, all. -jm

:: 1:23 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, December 30, 2002 ::
There was an ad for a book called something like The Bible Code. It said I should buy it and 'join the phenomenon'. (?) The book appeared to have an anagramic illustration on the cover. The implication for those not yet in on 'the phenomenon' (?) was that the bible contains lots of encoded information, like predictions, but that it all had to be decoded. And now someone had! I.e., the author of The Bible Code. And the decoded information was in the book. The phenomenon. (I was thinking how Flaubert might get a laugh over that.) I rummaged around a copy of the Bible this morning like Alan Turing looking for some secret encodings. I didn't find any. But without having to do any decoding at all, the bible is chock full of information. Like that a homer is one tenth of an ephaph. I never knew that.


The Multiverse

I go to work in the morning.
My bed stays at home
Like an unemployment counsellor.
Patterned sheets
Mocking everything.

At home in the evening
The people in the next room
Sit in front
Of a screaming appliance.

Their mirth
Expresses itself,
In fact,
Like thorns crackling
Under a pot.

Back in my bedroom
I tighten the leopard muffs
And grope around
Inside the uplifted shirt
Of my imagination.

On certain January mornings
Faces collect in store fronts
Like the Etruscan Real
Realer than departing flies
In crow-black gloves from
The untouched last supper
Of the last of the
Once famous suicide monks.

:: 1:23 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, December 29, 2002 ::
Jungle tech skateboard walkmen: With everyone else off skiing, Q. and I have become One in fun: morning lounge-out, late sushi lunch, Q. polishing off unadulterated wasabe oblivious to the waitress' giggles; over to comic book store, pick up a couple reads; catch an anime at Copley; take in some sledding from atop larz anderson hill; over to the comic book store again, "heya quentin""hey ben"; sledding till we're invisible w/ glee; home for hot chocolate and popcorn; video store; quick drop-in at new england comics; home; repeat.

:: 10:09 AM [+] ::

:: Saturday, December 28, 2002 ::
I learned from spams today a) that I can have a larger penis and b) that mortgages are *down* right now but will soon be going *up* owing to an impending war with Iraq, so I had better act now! These seem like related pitches to me.

Because of what I've learned from reading my spam instead of deleting it I'm thinking of changing the name of my Carpenters tribute band to This New War Is Absurd. Actually, if it's This New Absurd War Is Absurd I can be TNAWIA, instead of the unpronouncable TNWIA. I think it's very important to have an acronymic rock handle for meme propagation. Like ELP. It also sounds like we're "World Music". Also important.

There are 4 copies of Nov. 68 left. In time you become your own grandfather.

Mind scribbled demo of the mantric beauty Shattered Door is here. It wants sitar and tabla. Sitar and tabla player too.

I thought this was pretty funny. Once you're there, click 'previous' 50 times or so.

:: 11:14 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, December 26, 2002 ::

My brother-in-law Peter introduced me to a man named Deo Gracias, a Zairean who suffered imprisonment, torture, etc. under Mobutu. He escaped, got a PhD somewhere in Europe, eventually made it to the United States. He wound up in Kentucky for a while, working some union job. I met him in Falmouth, where he was being hosted by a Good Family in Woods Hole. I talked with him at a couple of parties and after a yoga class he ran. In talking with him I found his story horrifying and moving. Most moving of all to me, heroic, weird even, was his active/centered, peace-filled way. Astonishingly, the guy's still mostly in love with this world; a world that's been inconceivably cruel with him. Thinking about Deo Gracias reminded me of my late neighbor Irving Lewin, who lost his daughters and wife to nazi butchers and was himself tossed naked into a pile of corpses at Auschwitz, left for dead. From within the pile of dead bodies he saw a light and crawled to it. It was a doctor's office. Luckily the doctor wasn't Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death, and instead of butchering Irving, he took pity and hid him away until the liberation. And here he was, decades later, serial number on his forearm, deaf in one ear from a nazi kick to the head, mentoring me as a young homeowner on the ins and outs of Brookline trash collection, the neighbors, home maintenance, teasing me about how much I paid for my house (vs. the $25,000 he paid for his) and being so solicitous to Anne, seven months pregnant with Andrew at the time we moved in. Loud voice. Big laugh. They'd invite us over for hungarian dishes. These are a couple of the guys I'd like to see running things. Yes. Des gracias. Donna nobis pacem.

Christmas eve day had our ritual lunch at Bertucci's in Brookline village. Have been doing this since before moving to San francisco. I have no idea how it started. I confessed to everyone my fear that everyone else is actually a robot. Quentin said, 'Dad, you're robophobic.' Andrew confessed having the same fear. Gabe confessed having a version of the fear that was limited to the White House. Christmas eve we partied w/ Erika and her family. A cool bunch of bohemian robots. Danced to the Mescaleros. Drank hard Swedish brew from small glasses. Came home and read Night Before Christmas to Quentin. Then Bernard Williams' 'Truth and Truthfulness'.

Christmas day we lazed around and finally headed to Falmouth in the early afternoon for dinner w/ my sister and her family, plus my cousin Vicky and hers. Pictures later. We're supposed to be going to NYC, but we cancelled due to pisspoor beautiful weather. So we're headed to do J.R.R. Tolkien.

Wrote two songs in the midst of all this. Hair Down, an old-timey existential ballad w/ some mayhem, a jailer, a gallows, intimations of strange violence, but no trains; and Shattered Door; spastertonic ragafolk. Mp3s later.

:: 1:18 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, December 24, 2002 ::
so up i went

the neighbors did some tree trimming. a bunch of stray branches made it into my yard. i thought, i'll make a nest. i've always wanted to try that. i got out a pulley and a long rope. i augmented the stray branches with some miscellaneous lumber i had lying around the basement. i put it all in this large denim sack i have. i tied the sack to my back. i repelled up a large oak in the back yard and contructed in no time a large, maybe 4'x6', nest. Because of the lumber and the size it looked very much like an osprey nest. or seaside motel ala frank gearhy. i sat in my nest for maybe an hour. i flashed back to my childhood maple tree, which had a built-in seat i could fall asleep in. i can't see the ocean from brookline; so my imagination went in the opposite direction. near the end of the hour i was picturing the world without trees or humans. it was a combination burlington mall on x-mas morning/gobi desert.

sadly, i've come to realize my neighbors dislike the nest. it's not just the advantages it gives me. i think they hate the bright lights, spilling egg nog and dean martin cd as well. the human ruckus. humans and trees. yahweh means 'i am'. which i think of as not just being but, brilliantly, consciousness of being. god the ur-ontologist.


oh yes, rip: joe strummer.

:: 10:05 AM [+] ::

:: Friday, December 20, 2002 ::
I got a new chainsaw. My usual brand. Dolmar PS3300TH. Migraine Man at the store said you need to get the thing inured to snow. That's my problem. Start with a light drizzle. So that's what I did this morning. Chainsawed a light rainstorm. It was nice. I like the way the drops just spin, the insistent hellish growl seeming to doppler ever so slightly. There were tears in my eyes. Not so much for the drops, but for all the time torn off, unused. In the words of the poet.


Had a leary-esque Frank Drake gig at the worthy Burren on Wednesday. To me we sounded like the Allman Brothers playing unplugged magic broomsticks after a couple lost weekends with Ray Milland. The two pivotal moments were: a) Chris' mahavishnu note whacking over the lazy waltz 'Ocean of Diamonds'; and b) Paisley Nate Leath's minute long one note solo over, um, I can't remember what. After that Zack politely drawled 'excuse us folks,' as we bid our fine universe temporary adieu. [oh, speaking of note whacking, email me if you'd like to see the highly uh secret footage of FD rehearsing 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown'.]

:: 11:40 AM [+] :: :: Tuesday, December 17, 2002 ::

From Chris P., hot tip on *the* most stoidal site on the web, frickin I shit you not. See you there. Source of unspeakably beautiful digital potpouri like xmastree.gif above.

I just realized I only have a week to finish shopping. I basically know what I'm getting everyone. I just don't know what to get our attack dog Stan. Maybe a cowboy hat. He hates country singers.

Since this week is already filled up with practices, gigs, parties I need to shop during the day. Anne and I went out to our local vietnamese joint last night instead of waiting until Thursday (Erika's party). It turns out Mondays are good nights to go roistering. Quiet roistering. We sat at the bar and ate spring rolls.

Celine once reported writing out an 'antivice' prescription in 'Journey to the End of the Night'. I wonder what it was? I think the vice was 'touching yourself'. Was there a Janet Jackson song about that? I wrote a song about Janet once. I need to find it. It was about Latoya, too. I think i was pro-vice.

My vice is the 1 minute song. Not sure what Celine would prescribe, but a day without a new song is like a day without a snowstorm. So my latest idea is to do 69 Love Songs on a single CD. 1 minute each. I need to count how many I have. I think I'm close. And getting closer. Like here's the one from yesterday. Though it turned out not to be a Turtles tribute at all once I got into my luxuriously ugly studio and started playing it w/ robot. It turned out to be a bit of Stoidus Brasillieros tropicalia. Carnival! Rio! Central Square! Since I was out roistering last night I didn't get a chance to put it up. It's a real just-add-water recording. And I'm not so brazillian on bass. So it needs Zack. And Kelly. Yeah, baby. Its name is Around Your Roof.

Speaking of Kelly, I forgot to say public thanks for his blazing contributions to late lamented Poppies. No rehearsal. One short discussion with Zack, me humming the line for Dandelion. Zack takes Kelly into his truck before the gig. Guy comes onstage and plays in that way some jazz guys do, where you can actually hear the universe splitting into its multiverse alternatives. Just like Einstein predicted! Dude.

:: 11:18 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, December 16, 2002 ::
At dinner last night, Andrew brusquely pronounces: "Quentin: You can't sing along with techno. Trying to imitate all that high-pitched beeping nonsense is inSANE." Of course that didn't stop him from inserting his fits-all lyric into Moby's 'Honey' just a few minutes later: "Je m'appelle David [Dah-veed], sometime/Je m'appelle David, sometime" over and over again as he was cleaning up. He sticks that in everywhere. I forget the genesis. But there it is. Everywhere. "Flew in from Miami Beach, Je m'appelle David/Didn't get to bed last night". Sometimes you have to punch out early to make it work.


Danielle, who has a knack for pegging musical influences before you know what they are, weighs in on the highly convoluted Fake Pain in/out controversy with: "Joe, you are rivaling Lionel Ritchie." Holy hemp, the Commodores! That's even cooler than the Carpenters and the Cowsills. Sadly, I don't have a picture of her making 'that gesture'. Coming up later today (as soon as I run downstairs and record it): The one-minute Turtles tribute I wrote this morning: 'Around Your Roof'.

I really need a job.


Frank Drake at the Burren Wednesday night. Should be nice and weird. It's Arc of the Diver night. I think.

:: 1:08 PM [+] ::

:: Saturday, December 14, 2002 ::
Got some time to kill? I like to write a new song. Here's one: Fake Pain, written, recorded, mixed, burned, ripped, uploaded in an hour. And it shows! [Apologies for the corny reverb; the ripper on this machine seems to do that, will ye, nil ye. p.o.s.]

I've decided to put this on the album. For those who've asked how I decide, here it is. The way way I decide is I ask my friends. Unanimity in any form is considered decisive in favor. So what do my friends think about fake pain? Let's have a look:

* Anne ("sure hon, that's great!")
* Dave
* Art, Susan, New Friend
* Bridget

It really has everything I like. One minute long. Universal opprobrium. What more is there?

:: 11:18 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, December 12, 2002 ::
Well. I think I uh neglected to have important policy discussion regarding placement of outstanding family pix in this hot zone. Which leaves us with:

* Pathetic Che-loving yuppie psycho self-portrait #1. [Last in a series.]

:: 11:18 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, December 11, 2002 ::
Saw Future Bible Heroes w/ Zack and Anne on Monday night. It's a darker instantiation of The Magnetic Fields. Ennui-rock. Brilliantly depressed. Standing outside, freezing in line beforehand, got harangued by a real future bible hero, waving a torah around and babbling incoherently.

Favorite bible story: Jacob wrestling with God after leaving Laban and prior to encountering Esau. Jacob puts up an impressive effort, but God finally subdues him by pulling his leg out of its socket at the hip.

The band at the Cantab last night was actually very cool. Just banjo, cello, bass, vocalist. Spare, modern arrangements. Chops subordinate to songs. The banjo player was Greg, seen here, to the left, foreground, curly hair. The cellist read a jabberwocky/finnegan's wake-like poem at mid-set. He occasionally played his cello like a turntable. Organically, though. Not as bolt-on gimmick. And quacked. The singer sang like Gillian Welch channelling Anita O'Day.

I have it on good authority that this is a true story: Among the many famous utterances of Neil Armstrong's upon setting foot on the moon, there was one baffler. It was: "Here's to you, Mr. Kuwalski." Years later Neil finally fessed up that he had once accidentally kicked a ball into his neighbors', the Kuwalski's, yard. As he was stealthily prowling around, looking for the ball, he heard an argument going on between Mr. and Mrs. Kuwalski. Apparently he was trying to get her to agree to some oral sex. Her final irate comment was: "I'll give you oral sex. The day they put a man on the moon."

:: 10:36 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, December 10, 2002 ::
This is an astonishing read.

:: 2:50 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, December 10, 2002 ::
I remember my brother Matt once asking a simple question that quickly hit a downdraft into the profound. (I regularly experienced this with my sons when they were little. I think the mean number of 'why's before you get to unanswerable is 3.) His question was: "Just what the fuck *is* fire, anyway?" Being the older brother I made a few feints. "Um, it's a combustion reaction." Everything I said sounded stupid, pompous or tautological. [Yeah, I know. No need to point that out.] Finally we just had a good old buddha laugh about unknowability and the wheel of things. Like mice trying to figure out that the way out of a maze was based on picking doors w/ prime numbers on them. But wait! Now, from a list I'm on, I get this cocky but thrilling explanation. Which not only includes many of my wild stabs, dispatched to the dustbin, but does a pretty good job of getting closer to nailing down a useful definition of fire. Though ultimately I'm afraid that definining fire is pretty much the linguistic equivalent of trying to, well, nail it down. I recall thinking about my 'fire' conversation with my brother when I was studying Derrida and Edward Said started talking about 'aporia'. My mnemonic was 'aporia=trying to define fire'.


The Hold print version is coming out. I haven't been publishing much there lately. But I did manage to get something into the print version. I don't think I'm in violation of anything if I run it here. Though you should buy a copy as well.


Finding The Moisture

I have long sensed the paradox of charity
And know well the devil carries a briefcase.
But you I found, nonetheless. In an empty beach parking lot,
Sick and cold, on a day of unexpected warmth.

Upon the one clean bench, inside a sun portal,
Seven times fired and pure as silver, you dried
Away a damp spot for me; though one churlish junkie
Demon boy after another had speared your leafy imaginings.

We could see a window washer
Suctioning up the decrepit blue motel, The Vista,
A tarantula's guardian angel,
Struggling with the sashes.

A storm brewed like witches tea
Across the black bedspring sea,
Scaring a girl in a bikini sucking a straw.
And on and on we played with each other

(But even that's not quite right)
Till sudden doordogs piled out of a parked van
And fell flat onto the pavement; giggling streptococci;
As a plumber on the next bench over wove a tale

About a toilet plugged with condoms
In the home of a long vascectomized man.
And we laughed at something.
And I licked your fingers.

And you wiped them off. And we kept each other company
Throughout the afternoon. Found new forms of help, through things,
Though it was all much faster than I wanted.
And I'd left my camera at home. And my eschatologist.

We managed to stay on until eve, vespers, the dry season,
Whose yoke is easy and whose burthen is light,
Before the outside thing could crash and rain its sad snares
And intone in finite: "This shall be the portion of their cup."

:: 9:43 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, December 8, 2002 ::
Today I woke up for a change and after I had some coffee got my chainsaw out and started chainsawing snow. My rig's a thing of beauty. A Dolmar PS3300TH w/ an oversized Oregon bar. The apocalyptic noise had me adrenalized into mild psychosis. It's a horrible noise. I think I ruined the thing. I took down several azaleas and one juniper. Butchered another one. I was trying to do a snow topiary of my hero Walt Whitman. I don't have any idea what day it is. I brought some hacked up juniper remnants inside and stapled them to various empty spots on the wall. I'll get the lights and egg nog out later.

:: 11:29 AM [+] ::

:: Saturday, December 7, 2002 ::
Since it's Pearl Harbor Day, icy and colder than gehenna out, I thought I'd try and conjure an ip-induced consentual hallucination that it's summer. And the living is easy. Fortunately, last summer we had many spontaneous retreats to N. Falmouth under any pretext we could think of. And owing to the kindness of my dear sister I even have a few digital mementos here to help fire up this morning's illusion. So:

1. Here is my alt(ered) bluegrass band, Skank Baked, getting ready to perform at a party at my sister's house. Skank Baked is comprised of: JM, guitar; Zachariah Hickman, bass; Chris Pandolfi, banjo; Jeremy D-Robin, mandolin.
2. Jeremy prior to e-rush.
3. Jeremy during e-rush.
4. Chris following his e-bliss.

And now, "black water breaking into reality."

:: 11:01 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, December 5, 2002 ::
Andrew and Quentin were watching 'Spiderman'. It was Andrew's first time seeing it. Quentin has seen it maybe, mm, 1,000 times? [He's already a hardbitten comic book congnoscente. No. It's worse. Comic books seem to be part of his synaptic being. There's an archetypal comic book operation in our neighborhood, nerds everywhere, Ed Wood movies playing on the VCR behind the cash register. You know the scene. Well, not only is Quentin a fixture there, but the nerds who run the place even leave him in charge when they dash out to Peet's to get recaffeinated.] Anyway, as I was saying, it was Andrew's first time seeing the movie. At the point where Uncle Ben gets killed, some creepy music starts drumming toward the impending disaster, as the camera follows the murderer. As Andrew tells it, as soon as the music started Quentin began singing softly, unself-consciously, in time [and 1 and-a 2 and 3 and-a 4] 'he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben'. Andrew was furious but, in spite of himself, fell on the floor laughing. Since I was near the piano as Andrew was telling me this, I went over and tried to conjure up the tune. I got the rhthym right, but Andrew said the music went 'C major C major C minor C minor', etc., melody on the 3rd. I started playing it. Instantly, Quentin came cartwheeling down the stairs like a genie, intoning: 'he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben'. Last night Anne and I went to dinner at Matt Murphy's. The whole night, through a million words of conversation, my private soundtrack was: 'he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben'. This morning, breakfast with Dave: 'he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben/he-kills-uncle-ben' Try it out. See if you can get it out of your head. If you can, please let me know your secret.


I just sent Anne an email. It said: "i love you a bushel and a peck/and a hug around the neck". Her response was: "You send me love notes. I send you lists." Instead of buried haikus, every Anne email contains a latent cat power song. imho.


Steve sent me an old poem of his that he was reminded of reading the lyrics to 'Bad Physics Grade'. It was excellent. Since Steve knows how to do everything, I suggested he set it to music and record it. Chuck everything. Go on the road in a van. Eat in diners.

It does feel like the dawning of the age of aquarius some days. Everyone dropping out. [An aside: I actually used to think that Leary's little credo ("turn on/tune in/drop out") would've made great ad copy for a TV manufacturer.] Elly, ur-webdiarist dropped out. She went to an astrology ashram. But people need to put food on the table and it's hard to farm in San Francisco. So to all the vicarious drop-outs out there: Consider a donation.

:: 11:17 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, December 4, 2002 ::
Well, we survived Poppies EP release potlatch at the Lizard Lounge. The place is like a living room, w/ nice old persian rugs on the floor; and was filled with friendly people. Due to some heroics by Zack, we showed with a batch of freshly minted 'Nov. 68' EPS. I have a few left. If you'd like one send me an email. 8 songs. 8 bucks. You know what I'm saying? Gorgeous cover art by Bridget. Plus Annie's mysteriously lovely photo of falmouth poppies garden on the CD proper. Anyway, thank you so much Bridget, Zack, Art, Curt. I just love all you mystical communal snowbirds so much.

The only thing I was supposed to do was get together a lyric sheet. I didn't. So here's 'Nov. 68' lyrics so you can sing along.


The Poppies - Nov. 68

1. Dave's Ant Farm
2. Violet's Coming Over
3. Bad Physics Grade
4. Tempt Me
5. Silver Moonbeam
6. Bored With Me
7. She's Not Around Anymore
8. Target Boy

:: 11:22 AM [+] ::

:: Saturday, November 30, 2002 ::

So in the immediate aftermath of the front page moratorium, what do I get? I get snow. Winter wonderland. Bing Crosby telling me in perfect WWII radio-midrange that next year, next year God willing, we'll all be together again. Sitting beside the hearth. Singing carols in the family key. Saw the first flakes leaving the Cantab the night before, after a productive barroom basement art session w/ Bridget and Zack; recruiting miscellaneous calligraphers to help finish off the impoverished bit of information that's going on the back of 'Nov 68'. Just a few friendly flakes harbingering a half a foot by morning. Getting a demo of Larry's hot rod. Air Supply. Matros doing a Goldie Hawn index fingers driver's seat dance for a passing Cambridge Police Officer with eyes in the back of his head. How do these guys do it? They probably looked like middle fingers. He turned and glared. Wanted to arrest *me*. Actually, being a Cambridge cop, I think it was the Air Supply cassette. I'd probably have gone willingly. Once the coast had cleared I pointed out that 'Even the Nights Are Better' was exquisite nonsense; the exact opposite of what they wanted to say... i.e., with a resucitated love life, the first thing to improve would be the suicidal night life. Anyway, I'd come from my house and a, well, a productive section rehearsal. And snow was general over Cambridge. And there was peace in the air. Had thankfully gotten to the trusty cantab for the climactic moments of Chris/Zack/Flynn burning down the house. [Who did Flynn leave with, btw?] Chris' tempos, like Crazy Eddie's prices, are *in*sane. Jono was there, promising ever trippier lewis carrol tea pots in my future. He had his mystical, pied piper mien and mood elevating goodness flowing. I thought we might hang out for another eight hours or so. Find some brandy and some hills to slide around on, become snowy blurs of pixilated wind. But he winked and was gone. Even before the bartender (he of the friendly red drinks) had to kick us out. Like a ball-busting leprechaun.

Thanksgiving we went from Falmouth to my cousin Chris' in Duxbury. "Fall comes to us as a prize to rouse us toward our fate," said John Berryman at the end of the Dream Songs, like someone coming out of a summertime trance. And so we gathered, massively, a family made up of cousins without the parents that link them. My siblings. Chris' siblings. And spouses and children and friends. We're extremely close to Chris' side of the family. Not the other. Like a good student of greek tragedy, I'll advance a first cause, House of Atreus theory why: Chris' dad, Uncle Ned, was a psychiatrist and bon vivant. His relationship with my mother consisted in his delivering me into the world when she went into labor prematurely. My other Uncle, Uncle Jim, was an investment banker who abandoned his wife and children. Who did he abandon them for? He abandoned them for my mother. The wife of his brother. Which isn't to say he was an evil guy necessarily. My brother and I even spent some time with them down in Hilton Head. We had a fine time. But here we were. Decades after the crime. Thanksgiving 2002. The ripples of Uncle Claudius Syndrome. Underwriting a fucking guest list. "About suffering they were never wrong,/The old Masters". Karma too, perhaps.

Oh, one other surprise: On the snowy morning after my front page abandonment Art calls to tell me he's reading 'Stranger in a Strange Land'. That morning, picking up where he'd left off, he began reading about Michael Valentine Smith summoning 'dripping Anne from the pool' and launching into a rant about the madness of reading the front page of the newspaper every day. Saying it was the madness of trying to follow 2 billion people's worth of gossip. Holy zeitgeist.

:: 3:01 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, November 26, 2002 ::

I read the newspaper every morning. Two of them often. By the time I finish the front section I have a kind of brain sickness. I feel like God just before the flood: 'Yahweh saw that human wickedness was great on earth and that human hearts contrived nothing but wicked schemes all day long. Yahweh regretted having made human beings on earth and was grieved at heart.' Anne thinks I should only read the Arts section. No front page. Anne thinks my relationship to the front page is demonstrably pathological and masochistic. Just now I was reading this lecture by Andrew Sullivan on the philosopher Michael Oakeshott. He described meeting Oakeshott at his bleakly beautiful cottage in Dorset, overlooking the English Channel. Sullivan was there to discuss his dissertation on Oakeshott. As he was leaving Oakeshott asked him what he planned to do with his life. Sullivan told him he wanted to be a journalist. Oakeshott replied: "I think the need to know the news every day is a nervous disorder." I'm taking this as a sign. No front page for a week. I'll report back on my nervous disorder in a week or so.

:: 8:51 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, November 25, 2002 ::

Another hot tip from Chris: an mp3 sample from the new Cat Power CD (first in 4 years), 'You Are Free'. I'm not sure what I think of it. It's got a puzzled-sounding groove, double-tracked vocals, bizarre lyric repetitions like 'he war, he war, he will kill for you'. I just love that crazy girl.

Bridget, Zack and I are scrambling a bit to get the 8-song Poppies EP, now entitled 'Nov. 68', ready for our debut [debug] gig next Tuesday (Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA, 9 p.m., be there.) I have to finish some cleanup and remixing, Bridget's doing stoidal nov. 68 cover art, Zack's doing the sequencing, mastering, production. Bring yr checkbooks.

This weekend I raked a lot of leaves and my cold bloomed. But there were highlights: Finished reading 'Atonement' by Ian McEwan; Poppies vocal rehearsal during which we realized we could scale this down to Kendall Cafe dimensions; sardining into the Plough to go 'whoop' for an hour; Andrew cooking 3 mushroom ragu for dinner Saturday night; Dave and Dominique finishing the night off for us by bringing over an amazing chocolate cake for desert. Dominique also has sent word about a "discussion centered around the experience of Lacanian Psychoanalysis", Thursday, January 30, 2003, 7:30 PM to 10 PM, The Barker Center, The Humanities Center, Harvard University 12 Quincy St., Cambridge. Too bad this wasn't sooner. Might be good prep work for the brand of Lacanian pop purveyed by the Opiates, I mean the Poppies.

:: 12:10 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, November 21, 2002 ::
Chris Hall sends word that the new Yo La Tengo single is a bunch of different versions of Sun Ra's ridiculo-funk classic 'Nuclear War'. I fired it up yesterday and it is a wonder: a masterful, reverent, faithful, 100% stoid scale rendition. I've always wanted to do 'Interplanetary Music' from 'We Travel the Spaceways'; but this is an even better, certainly timelier choice. The story around the song is that Sun was so absolutely convinced that the Arkestra had its first Top-40 hit on its hands that he made an appointment with one of the major labels, Epic I think, to get it released immediately. They of course rejected it on the spot. Not terribly surprising actually, given the chorus runs:

"Nuclear War, they're talking about Nuclear War/
It's a motherfucker, don't you know/
if they push that button, your ass gotta go/
and whatcha gonna do without your ass"

Genius, of course. And I bet it would have been a killer disco hit. But then I like to travel the sunbelt myself.

:: 12:07 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 ::
I'm in an office this week. Last week too. I have to drive to it. Until Interelaf moved to Waltham, I'd never had a job I couldn't walk to. My favorite commute ever was to my Barnes&Noble; job next to Carnegie Hall in Manhattan. I lived near the Dakota with my friend Tom. I walked past Columbus Circle. No matter what the weather it was exhilarating. I was very happy. I had no money. Every once in a while I would give this bum in front of the Gulf+Western Building all the money I had. It's because he looked just like Huntz Hall. And he was always friendly. Maybe it was Huntz Hall. Manhattan Stories. Anyway, we're working directly with the company we're building this software for. Here's a coincidence. It's Paul's brother's company. Paul's brother is a great guy. All Paul's brothers are great guys. When I moved to San Francisco, Paul's brother Tim became one of my best friends. Even after I moved back east I'd always stay with Tim, in his buddist, Japhy Ryder cleanly sparseness. Anyway, it's pretty funny working here. Why? Here's another coincidence: It's funny because Anne works here, too! So I go over to ask her for something and then I always give her a kiss. Usually on the head. It's weird to be kissing someone in an office when you're asking them for the bathroom key. Well, it's weird for me.


Out of the blue i got email from; elly; strange, inspiring, hypermediated, disembodied presence from my time in san francisco. I don't know her. Just her site. Though I think we tried to hire her at a startup I was at. Inspiring was the way she created dimensionality through sheer force of will over a bunch of packets. (There were some utopian things going on in San Francisco then.) Anyway, she bolted san francisco last summer for some kind of astrology ashram in upstate new york. i mentioned it in my journal. I may have sounded condescending. But it was supposed to be a lamentation. I compared it to the rural retreating of people like The Diggers. Whom I wish to join, once a month or so. I considered her inventiveness a tantalizing demonstration of how powerful hypermediation, or whatever, could be. One night recently I went 'blog hopping'. Steve gave me this idea. I didn't see anything that had the panache her site had. Back when only a few people in san francisco were doing it. [btw, Anne thinks I should call what I do a Flog, pronounced Ef-log. Done.] Paul Muldoon, the Irish poet, says that age 10 is the perfect time to start writing poetry. Why? he was asked. Because you have no idea what you're doing. It's kind of like that. Anyway, here's a song that was loosely based on her site. Particularly the email voyeur cgi it had. Basically, any email you sent her was subject to being tossed into this directory and called up for all the world to see. Including very personal stuff. In one sense, it was a violent transgression of email etiquette. And yet, it wasn't clandestine. And it was self-consistent. It was a strange new form of entertainment. It felt situationist.

:: 8:47 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, November 17, 2002 ::
Steve points to, sagely comments on, this provocative series of pieces by Robert Wright (author of "The Moral Animal" among other things) on full fathom five depression topics like world terrorism, the reality of increasing availability of weapons of mass destruction to smaller and smaller entities, the current U.S. regime's response. So forth. Always clear-headed and provocative, Wright here discusses such things as the fact that until very recently nations like the United States of America needed not to worry about pissing off any entity except another nation. Wright thinks (me too!) those days are over. Small groups (all kinds! not just muslim exremists! McVeighites even! Libertarians!) of pissed off people now have, or soon will have, the capacity to inflict lethal damage to large entities. This will become more true. Not less. Wright thinks these considerations ought to have at least some impact on how countries like the United States of America evaluate what they do in the world. How they do it. They should provoke nations to ask: Who will be pissed off? Can we do things differently, w/out compromising our interests, while pissing fewer people off? Is there a less bellicose, less provocative way? Can we move those hydrogen cell automobiles into the realm of the practical a little faster? Can Benthamite thinking be made to apply to global politics? [Okay, those last two are mine.] No. Or not yet. Every noise, every utterance, the sum cacophony coming out of the white house, gives no indication of an even rudimentary inculcation of Wright's seemingly obvious set of observations. Instead we have BushJr and Rumsfeld, clad in chain mail, in a cold war dinghy, at sea, going they know not whither, howling bromides into the wind and, Rumsfeld's having read 'Hansel and Gretel' once, dropping bread crumbs into the sea as insurance against losing the way home.


Meanwhile, back under the pillow of the provisional microsociety: Had our first Frank Drake practice in like a decade. Great night. Anne had individual bottles of wine lined up for each bandmate. Little nips for Zack, Joe, Art. 3 liter tub for Chris. We also added Nate. Nate is a young phenomenon of fiddle. He's a bit of a legend around Hickory, NC and environs, or so I'm told. (Go down there and see for yourself.) He needs a couple lessons in meter vaulting is all. And he got his first at Matt Murphy's Pub following rehearsal.

:: 2:28 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, November 14, 2002 ::
So whenever I bring someone to North Falmouth, I make them go to the N. Falmouth Diner. Because it's the one place that has something of the flavor of Cape Cod from my youth. Being a resort area, people expect the Cape to be swanky. These days it tries for that; though business economics and boorish impatience often turn swanky into tacky. When I was a kid there wasn't a lot of swanky. But there wasn't tacky either. The Cape was earthy. Quirky. My neighbors were The Quirks. Full of eccentrics, unironed weirdos. Some pleasant. Some miserable. Visiting weirdo general stores. Like the Barnstable Village General Store, whose motto was: "If it's any good, we've got it. If it isn't any good, we already sold it." Anyway, make sure when you visit me in Falmouth, you make me take you to N. Falmouth Diner. Right on Old Main Street. We'll walk. I'll tell you about Paul Quirk's new Cadillac and Roger Cahoon's goat. I'm serious.

:: 8:29 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 ::
My next job I'm going to recommend that all the engineers wear uniforms. I'm thinking Dickies. X-tra thick material. Creases everywhere. Brown or navy blue. 50% cotton. Matching shirt. 'Steve' over one pocket. 'Central Business Machines' over the other. Dot Com.


I was reading this passage in a book that made me remember my first crude cartesian meditations. You know: does anything exist? Well, yes it must because I'm thinking this. So I must exist. Of course, in Descartes' case, he then proceeded to build the world back up from that premise ("I exist") using means that have been subsequently, devastatingly, discredited. I was maybe 10 and my salient thought was either a) everyone else is conscious, which means there's this vast abstract metaworld of 2 billion interior lives just as weird and hyperactively struggling to exist, interpret and relate as mine (a very dizzying and slightly scary thought) or b) it's just me. Everything else is a projection of mine; or, more likely it seemed, a world ginned up for me to exist in. A metaphyisical truman show. A lonely, even scarier thought, unless it was a friendly God who'd ginned everything up. But I remember distinctly pondering how weird it was that I couldn't know with absolute certainy that anyone else had a conscious life. It still is weird.


I know that this: isn't me. Nor this. But after creating a zillion cartoons using these glyphs, I can't help but look at them and feel like I'm looking at a photograph of myself. I know some people who have no issue at all with the Other Conciousness epistemology problem (cf. above) who nevertheless have uncertainty about the reality of *my* interior life. I can tell you there's a gnostic clue or two to that mystery in these glyphs. But why spoil the illusion? Walter Bagehot: "We must not let in daylight upon magic." [Thank you Maureen Dowd.]

:: 4:18 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, November 10, 2002 ::
Yesterday I made a list. I never make lists, but it felt like it was time. It had things on it: replace the broken garbage disposal; pack up the Farfisa. I did all the stuff on my list. Except 'do yoga'. It was therapeutic. I may try another list today. 'See through the maya.'


The Plough was jammed and jolly last night. Anne stayed home and took a bath. I think she had a list too. I sat with Janet and told her about the new Cat Power album: 'You Are Free'. She told me about the Sleater-Kinney concert. With the 'Yeah, yeah, yeahs'. I told her about Terrastock. She said: 'You like all that Japanese commune stuff, don't you. Steve said that Curt went. We should have gone.' They should have. I randomly informed her I mostly disliked the testosterone leanings of punk rock. Combative bombast and rage. It stopped being Aristotelian very quickly. Though I got Johnny Rotten's 'We don't work/I just feed/That's all I need.' This was about as much social revolution as I had in me at that time. Living in New York. Trying to reconnect with my hippie avatars. I still have a formative relationship to the peyote-punk cut-and-paste glory of Meat Puppets II and the inspired, near-glossolalia of 'Fear and Whiskey'. Kate's mom tried to break my hand when I shook it.


The San Francisco opera is doing Messiaen's 'St. Francis'. Five hours long. "The grandest grand opera since Wagner's 'Parsifal'." My favorite late 20th century composer. I should use up a frequent flyer ticket and go see it. This is going on my list.

:: 11:44 AM [+] ::

:: Friday, November 8, 2002 ::
Ok. I was going to do some radical things here. But who has time? I'm too busy fighting off amazement.


Last night Gabe made chocolate chip cookies. He forgot the flour. After dinner he served them up. I said 'What're these?' Quentin said, 'They're excellent is what.'


Gabe said: 'Think of them as a kind of moonshine version of cookies.'


'Hey, you don't need to grease the pan if you use this recipe.'


'In fact you can create home-made teflon pans using this recipe.'


'Try one.'


We had our first Poppies practice on Monday. At Curt's. I didn't realize he had a fine little basement practice studio. Or maybe I knew it but hadn't seen it. I was wicked late and then when I picked Bridget up she already had her glue-stick out. But we managed to run down a half a dozen songs. I brought a manhattan trash barge's worth of equipment. My keyboard is large and unwieldy. There's not a sensible thing at all about my setup. 1,000 guitars, an ancient Fender Bassman w/ a ground switch, giving everyone shocks, no p.a. (which wasn't an issue for Bridget). It was a blast. It felt like 'Sandanistas'-era Clash trying to be a Carpenters cover band. Curt's drumming was awesome and the connection with Zack was a spacious adamant landscape for the rest of us to skateboard around on, Walkman's on full; Art and Bridget switching between synthesizer and guitar. Me at my giant weighted-key piano like a Munch painting of Burt Bacharach. We started with a slightly dissonant Inner Beauty classic called 'Hey Gland'. Zack learned it before I'd finished showing it to him. [How'd he do that?] Curt didn't know any of the new stuff. He'd ask me a musical question and I'd answer koanically. He'd nod and look over at Zack, who would proceed to render an actionable 'it's-just-ink' prose version. And then it would all be perfect. Just like on Meat Puppets II. There's a James Tate poem that starts: "The disorganization to which I currently belong/has skipped several meetings in a row/which is a pattern I find almost fatally attractive." Exactly.

:: 8:33 AM [+] ::

:: Thursday, October 31, 2002 ::

Never too late for loose ends, here's my Acid Mothers Temple @ terrastock review, originally sent to Curt, who left before the fun started:

Acid Mothers Temple were transcendantly ridiculous. They come out looking like living cartoons. Guitarist with hair like mt. fuji, other guitarist w/ long straight hair down his back and wool hat in his eyes; girl w/ lime green and white football shirt on, #69, w/ Suck as the team name and D Generate on the back as her player name, smoking cigarette after cigarette after cigarette and playing the shit out of a cheap yamaha synthesizer. They began with a 45 second long song and then said 'Thank you very much, thank you very much, good night.' Walked off the stage. Crowd had to shout at encore levels to get them back. Next song was 45 minutes of chaotic density. Then they did some a cappella song. Well done. I believe it's a patriotic japanese song that the emporer used to have people sing during WWII. I once knew a japanese exchange student who sang me the song and told me how everyone of her generation would go out and get shit-faced on sake and then sing this song. The end was an intergalactic cyclone of electronic rubbery aporia, unheard of sounds, like barking latex, smashed guitars, tit flashing, hair war rock show maximus ad absurdum. You go home. Neural patio set all rearranged. Nothing to say.


My street is Halloween woodstock. One million kids. Not a holiday I could ever get into, despite my obvious fondness for dressing up. Quentin said he wanted to be Mitt Romney, since he couldn't think of anything scarier. Andrew went one year as an Internal Revenue Service inspector. Got double helpings everywhere. The biggest haul I've ever seen. He needed a second bag.


I know someone who made a hat for someone else. It didn't go over well. It unearthed a buried memory. My brother and I used to think that a hat was one of the saddest human things. It seemed to epitomize an ever-present potential humiliation energy. Like it was there to get knocked off in a fight. Or it could get blown off by wind, sending its wearer scrambling into the street like a fool. It might just sit awkwardly on wearer's head, or skewed, the wearer oblivious. Or not. And the vanity of hat arranging had ineffable pathos to it as well. We of course both have grown up to understand that there are sadder things than hats.

J.D. Salinger made pathetic use of hat imagery in 'Catcher In The Rye'. Right? I remember my brother thinking that was validating of our original insight. On the other hand, there's Monk in a pork pie.

All I ever ask for is a clue.

Then I'm amazed.

:: 9:50 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, October 30, 2002 ::

I almost never remember my dreams. But last night I dreamt about my grandmother. (My grandmother who raised me starting at age 70. Lived till she was exactly one hundred years old. Just like she said she would.) I don't really even remember the particulars of the dream. Just that I woke up wanting so badly to talk to her. To tell her about Anne and the kids and all my friends. And what I've been doing since she died. I wanted to watch the news with her and yell at the politicians. I wanted to pull up a chair next to her big comfy chair and put my arm around her and let it dangle there heavily until she said, "Joe, sweetie, could you please move your arm." I wanted to share a cup of her perfect tea with her. Argue politics. Give her a kiss. I was in the middle of this insane revery when Quentin did a sky dive onto the bed and bear-hugged me. I must have looked strange because he said, 'What's the matter?' I said, "Nothing sweetie. Nothing. I'm happy. Keep hugging me. Let's just hug today. You can skip school." "Ok."


This was an admittedly warmer moment than one I read about in a Kurt Vonnegut book the other day. KV is describing a cousin of his. A beefy linebacker with a sweet disposition. He comes home from school and his martinent old man is holding up his report card, which was apparently full of bad news. Father says: "Son, just what is the meaning of this?" Son says: "What's the meaning? The meaing is: I'm dumb. I'm dumb."


The horizontalizing winds of the cantab were blowing full gale last night. The band was cool. Loch Benson and his crazed friends, including Flynn, whom we levitated. Actually we were battling on the sidelines. My faction was yelling CO-HEN. CO-HEN. Pandolfi, name-munger, and his band of chiselers were all yelling: CONE CONE CONE. Anyway, it worked. He was off the ground several times during the frenetic set. I was trying to tell everyone that "Cohen" meant he was from the priestly tribe of Levi. No one could confirm. No one cared. Even that good jewish westchester girl Danielle. But Flynn burst all that. I was all set to ask if he played bluegrass shofar when he casually reported: "I'm no priest. It's just an Ellis Island thing." Doink. Skor bars were in full force. Kate bought 100 of them and passed them around. Happy Halloween! Red wine flowed in de rigeur gin-and-tonic glasses. Happy Tuesday! Carolyn gave me a sweet picture of dear deceased Steve Rast (blogged earlier) that I'm going to scan before I return it. Alison called me a fire-starter. No way. I'm like ghandi. Waging peace. The real fire-starter last night was Andrew, who doesn't start his weird-o 300-males-one-girl-in-cubes firmware job for another month and is hell-bent-on-a-string to follow his bukowski-esque muse in search of gutters known and unknown between now and then.

Chris reports he puts Jeremy to sleep each evening with one swift knock-out punch to the head. He's got it down so that Jeremy sleeps exactly eight hours from the moment he hits the floor. Chris offered to try it out on me. I said, "maybe next week". He said: "Son." Which tied everything in the vast multiverse together.


Here's a scary google trick. From Dave.
1. Go to
2. Type in your phone number, in quotation marks
3. When it finds your name and address, click on "Maps"
4. You are here.


And while we're on nerd topics, this uber-nerd, i.e., the first reviewer of 'The Story About Ping', appears to have written the most popular review on

:: 12:48 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, October 28, 2002 ::

RIP Paul Wellstone. Now there's a guy I would have voted for.


I think the Poppies have their first, perhaps only, gig coming up. The band appears to be me, Bridget, Art, Zack and Curt. Not sure what everyone's playing. We've never gotten together. No one likes the same music. There's no template. It's really ideal. I've told everyone that they're playing 'contraptions'. I'm interested in textures. I think we'll sit down, chamber-style and play through some songs I made up. Maybe some covers. Maybe I'll have the EP done. Everyone's motives are different. Like in 'As I Lay Dying'. I want to texturize songs and be micro-societied. Bridget wants a chance to body-slam the enemy. Art wants to kill germs with mandolin. Zack's a budding impressario. Curt wants to whack out one samba in preparation for the day he and I finally get around to doing "interstellar space". I think we'll just sit down. I'll light up an incense stick. Things will get ridiculous. We'll finish with 'I thought I told You That.' If I don't just bounce, I'll pick myself up off the floor following climactic bodyslamming. People will start to show up and smoke. Death travels west.


Anne and I went to Philadelphia for the weekend. We watched Gabe row Head of the Schuylkill. That was early Saturday morning. Gabe was travelling with the team. Anne and I spent the next 24 hours spooting around the city of brotherly love. We probably walked 20 miles or until I was hallucinating. Whichever came first. At one point I felt like I was on the set of 'Beau Geste'. The Telly Savalas one. Philly's a great city. Historic. The Liberty Bell; which is in a bomb-resistant shell. Great tree-lined streets filled with ancient row houses. Many of the streets are named for the trees that were killed to make room for the row houses. I like that. Tree-named streets are usually my favorites. Or if not, I'll rename a street in my mind. Though I grew up on Harbor Street, it was always Maple Street to me, in tribute to the massive tree in my yard with the seat at the top. My current street is Sycamore Street in my own private idaho. I used to feel, wordsworth-like, that my maple tree knew me. I'm now pretty sure that the Jefferson Airplane were right when they said: 'It doesn't mean shit to a tree.' Also, as Nietzche said, that we love nature so much because it has no opinion of us.

:: 12:20 PM [+] ::

:: Friday, October 25, 2002 ::

So I'm in the shower this morning, getting ready to go to Philadelphia and watch Gabe row. I get out and Gabe's standing at the sink brushing his teeth. I grab a towel. He deadpans: "Dad. Don't worry. I've seen the cover of 'Two Virgins'"

He's kind of a cross between Opie Taylor and Guy Debord these days.

:: 9:18 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, October 22, 2002 ::
So as the world appears to be readying itself for its third suicide attempt in a century, what's the individual supposed to do? Don't ask I've been stumbling robotically into the eternal present for the past week or so. Terrastock was a celestial carpet ride. But things have taken a turn for the macabre this past week and I'm just kind of zombieing about, feeling kind of like this. In my good moments I'm trying to do what my grandmother was always telling me to do: Open my eyes and pay attention.


Andrew thinks of himself as something of an expert in things homeric. Recently Quentin finished a condensed Odyssey and has been trying to stump Andrew w/ obscure questions. Last night he got him, though Andrew protested it was a trick question. Andrew shot back: 'Name me four suitors of Penelope.' Quentin got a botched version of Antinoos out, but that was it. Andrew shot back at him: 'Antinoos, Agelaos, Amphinomes and, uh, hm, shit..., Zack Hickman.' Big laugh from Quentin and me.


I'm not much of a conference guy. In fact most of the conferences I've attended have strengthened my already strong, 'deep-structure' wish to drop out and join the Diggers. But Dave has recently been dashing out berserk and sponaneous highlights from something called PopTech that includes all kinds of cyber freaks and sounds like a total blast: freak list includes box-bashers from Stephen Wolfram and Ray Kurzweil to Vernor Vinge and Alexander Shulgin, the chemist who invented Ecstasy. If I don't go to Burning Man next year, maybe I can go to PopTech as Dave's amanuensis. No. As an X/Y chromosome chemlab beaker for Alexander Shulgin.

Oh and Bridget, just check out this entry from Dave's blog. Never put philosopher nerds in a box. The box isn't real. Unlike, say, Basra, Iraq or the Enola Gay.

:: 12:42 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, October 20, 2002 ::
Sad sad day yesterday. Got down to Sandwich early and went to the beach behind the family home. The boardwalk now extends all the way to beach, to protect the dunes. Walking (let alone drinking or fucking) on the dunes is strictly verboten. Still it's always a sweet brooding comfort. The view is unalterable. Like an archaeologist I walked along the edge of the parking lot to find the concrete slab, put in for the bands (often mine) that played the exotic summer beach dances (need to describe one someday) the town put on every Tuesday night in July/August; it's still there, dusted with sand, probably unused in years and stonhenge mysterious to the current inhabitants. More and more ghosts all the time. Coming over the main dune, even with the well-intentioned but annoying viewing platform they've put up, I always have a flash of a snow storm walk to the beach I once took. Senior year in high school. Snow swirling, in my eyes and mouth, the wind off the Atlantic screaming like death's large, lonely, angry archivist. I got to the jetty and went out to the end, crawling at one point. At the tip of the jetty I looked around and, unbelievably, saw the dorsal fin from a shark. Just hovering about 10 feet away toward the canal side of the jetty. After a minute or so it turned and I briefly saw its tail and realized it was at least 15 feet long. Huge. I called her Ethel Merman for some reason and put my mouth near the water and started shouting out her new name. Then I took my gloves off and began pounding on the surface of the water. I could still see the dorsal fin, now maybe twenty feet away. The shark was just drifting. I thought maybe she was dying. I wanted to see enough of her to be able to identify her. I wanted to look her in the eye like fucking Ahab. But she was moving away from me. Finally I rolled up my sleeve and plunged my arm into the frigid sea and grabbed a largish rock. Which I hurled just past the shark, thinking to drive her back my way, or maybe closer to shore. The rock went in, Ethel sounded and never reappeared.

No such adventures this day. The wind was hyperactive but friendly. A small party of yuppie sport fishermen. A pair of elderly couples strolling, taking pictures. No kids. The population when I was born was 954 (my grandfather was the selectman, so I have the town report from that year), it's now 20,000+. A zillion kids, not one of them at the beach on a beautifully atmospheric fall Saturday morning. What could be funnier than that? I drove to the local coffee shop, still owned by my next door neighbor's family. Saw no one I knew. I've always got this piquedly strange sense of adventure wandering around town; who will I run into? No one. Of course most everyone I knew was at a graveyard, burying a sixteen year-old boy. I figured my brother would by now have arrived at the beach club where the family was having a gathering following the interment. He was in the back of his van pulling out big overly-heavy sound system components. We shook hands and talked about Kyle. I steered him away from giving out any more details than were necessary. Gary and Jim showed up shortly afterwards. Those two and I represent three quarters of my high school band. The other guy lives in LA. Soon guests started arriving. Many of the boy's friends, but also some people I knew. Kyle's friends and family. Finally Kyle came in hanging onto my younger brother's arm. I've never seen a more desolate looking expression. I started to cry. I crossed the room and we hugged. We kind of said whatever came into our heads. Kyle peppered every second or third sentence with a ridiculous joke. Finally he said, I think I need to get a bunch of drinks. I said, well maybe, but I don't know if that will help. He looked at me and didn't even bother to ask if I could think of something that would. Surprisingly, the food was amazingly good. Giant vat of Kyle's lobster bisque and clams casino. I drank about 30 club sodas. Eventually we played. Strange combination of stuff. Duke Ellington, Allman Bros., Van Morrison, Santana. I thought we were way the fuck too loud. And experienced benign anger at Jim, who just blasted his guitar amp after I asked him to keep it down. (As everyone knows, I never really get angry.) One of Devyn's friends wanted to hear hip-hop. Thankfully Andrew had given me a stash of state-of-the-art gangsta. Though it kind of backfired. After a few ak47 references Anne, Devyn's sweet mom, politely asked my brother to take Jay-Z or whatever it was the fuck off. We did.

By the time I was packing up to go home the wind was really raging. My brother and I put Kyle in my brother's car. Diane, my brother's ex-g/f, mine too at one point, was there and went with them. I watched the ocean for a while and then drove home in time to make dinner.


Today's Anne's birthday. Happy b-day Annie. True [heart] 4 ever. We all made her cards. Quentin's was amazing. It looked like a Pee Wee Herman dream. Andrew's was full of love and gratitude, with this strange confessional bit about how sad he is about the world and its death and starvation and disease and poverty. But he pulled it off. The point was his mom represented the reallest of sanctuaries. Sadness about the world is what he's been talking about recently. Last night's dinner was Quentin, Andrew and me. Anne was with her pals and Gabe was a a crew dinner. Andrew told Quentin and me that he'd like to move to Vermont. 'It's a tolerant place. Places like Putney. They have a government that acknowledges gay and lesbian marriages. I'd just need to get used to all that creepy silence.' Gabe raced the head of the Charles this morning. We were on the Eliot Bridge watching him. His friend Steven came with us. His shoulders looked gigantic as his boat swished by below us. Tonight we're all helping cook a big family feast in celebratio of Anne.

Kyle said that every day gets worse.

:: 3:22 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, October 17, 2002 ::
So, inspired by Chris' version of the shaving cream on ear lobe joke, I was all set to change my name to Mahoneys in an attempt to defeat the indefatigable, unceasing wave upon wave of jokesters out to exploit the rhymability of my name. What happens? My friend Nancy, de profundus toney Connecticut, emails me on some business stuff and starts off, Lucy to Charlie Brown style, with: "Hey Joe Mahoneys (rhymes with cajones, doesn't it?)". Fuck.


And while I'm on shaving cream jokes: I checked with my new hero Masaki Batoh of Ghost about the spiralling kanji on the back of the wicked cool neon green Ghost t-shirt I bought at Terrastock V. It doesn't say 'Kick Me' or even 'Melt Banana'. It's a tibetan buddhist prayer wishing the reader peace, oneness and fulfillment. You know what I think? I think everyone in this sad world should go find a wacky independent record store and buy a Ghost CD. Today!

:: 12:33 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, October 16, 2002 ::
Found Email Art

I've had this inchoate, genius thesis rummaging around in my head that when you see a good line in an email, it's probably a haiku. I decided to put this bit of brilliant intuition to the test this morning. Ok. I received the email below from Ben Hyde of (reprinted w/ permission; respondee expurgated), sent to a list I'm on:

>I have seen that problem on a Mac portable and resolved it by fiddling
>with the connector between the built-in antenna and the card.
>Meanwhile at my house there is a large dead spot in the shadow of the
>upright piano. - ben
>On Wednesday, October 16, 2002, at 08:37 AM, *** *. **** wrote:
>> Has anyone used this combination. I recently bought a Mac with a
>> built in Airport card to connect to my Linksys AP. The card connects
>> but a gets a range of a WHOPPING 13 ft.
>> I have two other laptops that connect fine with DLink DWL650 cards and
>> the range is outstanding.
>> Any thoughts?
>> Thanks,
>> ***

I was immediately struck with the line about the piano. Well guess what? Fuckin ay. Perfect haiku:

there is a large dead
spot in the shadow of the
upright piano

Not only that, but Ben tells me he's on a plane for Japan tomorrow and has been cramming all things japanese into his head for days. Anyone needs a haiku dowser, I'm yr guy.


This morning I get to work and a colleague says: "I heard your buddy Josh Ritter interviewed and singing on the radio this morning." [Been trying to whip up support on the nerd front for Josh's epic appearance at The Paradise tomorrow night. See you there.] I say, out loud: "This morning??" I say, not out loud: "Wtf? Wasn't I just drinking moonshine w/ Ritter a few hours ago?" I betcha Charlie Parker never managed that kind of bounce-back.


Hm. I think I'm avoiding the thing that's most on my mind. That's because I have no idea how to write about it. It's pretty simple to describe, but utterly unprocessable as a piece of emotional information. My friend's 16 y/o boy was murdered this past weekend. He was trying to escort some uninvited guests out of a party. He's a sweet funny boy and had managed to get the thugs outside. Then some maniac stabbed him. He went back inside and thought he was okay. After 30 minutes he turned white and went into shock. A few hours later, with his mother and father and approximately 80 of his friends standing around in a collective grief-addled daze, he was dead. I keep hearing more details from people. Mostly my brothers. I don't want to hear them. Yet I feel a need to participate in sharing the enormity of this, if sharing in any way can mitigate the unblinking horror of the senseless hell my friend and his family are now living in. It's far from clear that anything will help. Ever. My brother just called to say that our friend would like us to play some music at a gathering on Saturday. I have no idea what that even means. But how can I say anything but 'Yes, I love you Kyle. I'll do anything you want me to'?

:: 1:33 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, October 14, 2002 ::

Today's Andrew's Birthday. (Yesterday was Nikko's. Art's other boy Max was born May 30. Gabe's b-day is May 31. We thought this was delightfully weird when Art and I first met. At his last interview before being hired at Interleaf. Delightfully weird it was and continues to be.) I came down this morning remarkably bright-eyed after quick-walking home from Terrastock V at 2 a.m., incinerating my smoke-clothes and sleeping the sleep of the just. Anne had made a placemat for Andrew that sat at the head of the art deco kitchen table. It was a collage of pictures. Andrew recent and Andrew long ago and far away. The one that took my breath away was him coming toward the picture taker, Anne or me, arms open, astonished smile on his face; back when the whole world for him was pretty much Anne, me, Gabe and Other. Such a beautiful boy. Has given me pleasures that surely rival anything anyone has ever felt. I love you Andrew.

Maybe I'll review final day of Terrastock V tomorrow.

:: 9:33 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, October 13, 2002 ::

Day three of freak fest terrastock V, which often looks less like the Human Be-in than Def Con with an E drip... Seems like about 50% Europeans. Too many cigar-smoking Danes and theramins, but wtf. Highlights so far: Tokyo's Ghost just shredding the old Boston Tea Party w/ Michio Kirihara's magisterial John Cippolina-perfect Gibson SG, tremelo bar intact, spitting Marshall stack-enhanced crystal worm holes to burrow down deep inside of, Masaki Matoh, in carnaby Street pink satin moon and flower pants, shrieking and whispering in sweet intense stoidal english, getting the perfect earnest/ironic posture that japanese refractive pastiche seems better at than any other culture's; Charalambides sedate droning; Greg Weeks' delayed but sweet acoustical psych nerd sing 'n strum; San franciscan Ben Chasny's truly astonishing embrace-and-extend channeling of John Fahey; Damon and Naomi when Ghost got up on stage and kicked their earnest asses out into the middle of a passing metereor shower; the revitalized Tom Rapp w/ family and friends reprising several celestial numbers from Pearls Before Swine's 1968 anti-war masterpiece 'Balaklava'. I could've done with a little less hypertrophic prog ala Norway's Motorpsycho and the pure noise stuff, like Surface of Eceon. Most out of place band: Dorset UK's Lucky Bishop's, an updated British Invasion pop band. Seriously.

On the slate for today, Sonic Youth deviating from the Murray Street tour and doing, according to my friend Mason Jones of SF's Floydian Subarachnoid Space, something 'terrastock-appropriate'; and Acid Mothers Temple closing the door on this space ship sometime around 1 a.m. Hoping to meet Steve and Curt and Julie there. And maybe foist Anne's ticket onto Art. (She thought Ghost was worth the 3-day ticket price alone.) I figure Art needs a neon green ghost t-shirt. Which reminds me: I need to ask Masaki Batoh what the snaking japanese text on the back actually says. For lots of Japanese bands, their version of shaving cream on the ear lobe is selling 'if-English-is-good-enough-for-Christ-it's-good-enough-for-our-kids' Americans t-shirts w/ nicely calligraphic japanese inanities (or worse) printed on the back. Pomo Kick-me's.


Dinner snippet: Quentin gorging food like a hungry zinjanthropus; Andrew looks over and just stares at his food-stained shirt. Finally says: 'Quentin, you look like the inside of Polyphemus's Cave.' Gabe gets the reference and laconically requests Andrew to keep his metaphors to himself.


Happy Birthday Nikko!

:: 11:36 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, October 9, 2002 ::

I forget if I've ever written about passive/passive aggressive jokes before. The first one I remember was one pulled by my younger brother in high school. His joke consisted of slapping a small dollop of shaving cream on his ear lobe in the morning and leaving it there all day. Or until someone or other would blow up and remove it. There are endless variations on this one. And last week we were at some function and Quentin found a 'My Name Is' nametag. He filled it in with 'Greg Shuman' and stuck it on the pocket of his shirt. Amazingly, he managed to keep a straight face as people came up and said 'Hi Greg'. Last night at the Cantab Chris told me about another great one. Sticking an 's' at the end of someone's name. Thus: Jeremy Robin becomes Jeremy Robins. Flynn Cohen is Flynn Cohens. Zack Hickmans. Adam Deweys. You do it in email as well. Of course some names are immune in speech. Paul Englishs doesn't work. Bridget Matross. Others are just a little to hard. Steve Yosts. Tim Andersons works great. Try it.

:: 1:06 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, October 6, 2002 ::

I ran into this Buckminster Fuller quote and we discussed 'obviousness' at dinner. "Everything you've learned in school as 'obvious' becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There's not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines." I also talked about the escher barn from last night. Not sure where we got. Andrew likes for things to devolve. And so they tend to. He also likes to tell stories. We got a report on his visit to the MFA this morning. Elaborate descriptions of Greek amphoras and a circa 500 b.c. discus. And then out of the blue he announces: 'I think I'm slowly becoming a taoist.' He was going to tell us why, but Quentin had begun a monologue on the different speaking idioms he claims I adopt on the phone and how easy it is, therefore, to tell who I'm talking to. My brother, my sister, Steve, bandmates, cape codders vs. bostonians vs. san franciscans. His imitations are loud. Particularly his imitation of my loud laugh. At one point Andrew says to me, index fingers in his ears: 'Dad, say 'yes' and nod if Quentin is through talking.' Gabe was ironic and detached. He'd gotten up at 5 for a regatta in Lowell. His boat won and he went out and bought 'Physical Graffiti' in celebration. I used to tell him that his favorite Rage Against the Machine song was a blatant rip off of Kashmir. Now he knows. I told him I thought he should have gotten 'Extended Revelation for the Psychic Weaklings of Western Civilization' by Swedish neo-hippies Soundtrack of our Lives. He looked at me uncomprehendingly, smiled, said: 'No, you should buy it with your nearly limitless entertainment allowance. Leave my twenty dollars a week alone'. We finished and Anne and I walked to the top of Summit Ave. and watched Boston twinkling like a pretty good imitation of a continuum.

Nils writes to affrim my decision to yank the post on watts. I'd post his reasons in full, but I'd probably end up retracting those too. Hm.

For some reason that reminds me of this scene in 'On the Road'. Kerouac and Cassidy are all worn out and filthy and beat up. And it's time to move on and they get on a bus to take them away from wherever it is they've outworn their welcome. Cassidy passes out and Kerouac sees this beauitful country girl. He strikes up a conversation with her and she tells him this story about making popcorn on the porch in the evenings. He thinks she's just being his idea of a country girl and that's what the story is and he falls into a kind of despair about inauthenticity and then makes this impassioned speech about how she needs to pop out of the package and figure out what she wants and it isn't sitting on the porch evenings making popcorn. She yawns.

Ok, I need to get off the computer because Andrew wants to scan in the inaugural issue of his new comic strip 'Ronin'; 'mostly a bunch of inside school jokes and parodies'. He's putting it on his friend's website.Maybe I'll point to it once it's up.

:: 9:51 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, October 6, 2002 ::

Hit the decks boys and girls, Geysergrrl is armed and dangerous. With the one weapon that matters. Josh Ritter said last night that he'd run into this mom and her little girl walking in harvard square. the girls says: 'mom, which is more important: words or numbers?' scary question, but I'd *never* want to vote against words. plus, being post-wittgenstein, anti-platonoic, i'm practically obligated to to assert that numbers are a subset of words; and that the answer is therefore self-evident.

As promised, went to party in the toney wasp-burbs. 20 minutes form Boston and you feel like you're in northern vermont. The barn/house was one of the most amazing structures I've ever been in. Really. Ritter and I wandering around like we're inside an escher painting. Stairs everywhere, going in every direction. You climb. You arrive in some suspended room. You look across the way and there's some other suspended room w/ a weird scene going on. You wave. They wave. Like we're all on wooden clouds. All kinds of wood. Redwood railing. Modern shiny oak floors. Massive hewn beams, joined with wooden pegs. Not an inch of fakery anywhere.

We played under this wooden canopy. Us at one end in front of cords and cords of stacked firewood; big table full of wine and liquor and eats at the other end. Very condusive to bluegrass. We did two sets, interrupted by one of the hosts doing a 'poetry reading' and a bit from 'the improv acting workshop i attended this past summer in New Mexico'. The latter replete w/ vaguely classist sounding woman-with-new-york-accent bit.

Afterwards there was a reggae dj and we just generally hung out, under the stars, fires here and there, wating for the man. Who never showed. Passed the time with the usual party stunts: moshing, wrestling w/ Chris and Kate (I think I lost both of those), headstands (won), cartwheel contests (lost, only because if you don't let Kate win she gets her dad to shake your hand and then you never play music again); eventually making our way far enough away from the dj to be able to do some song trading. josh played a great new song. jeremy, art, zack and i did 'dave's ant farm' w/ 9-part harmony. just gorgeous. though we definitely could have used The Stowawy for that one. It sounded as though we may have another one of these to do, just one mile from Escher-house next saturday. Though i was less and less clear on such things as night made its way through the vast supernal oneness.

:: 1:59 PM [+] ::

:: Saturday, October 5, 2002 ::

Donkey Riding, Donkey Riding.

For the first time EVER I removed an entry (see below). It was the one on my musical history. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought: I really don't like what I had to say about my friend Watts. Maybe I'll rewrite it. Although what would be left? Well, I think I'll still put up the tune we wrote as teenagers and recorded last summer.


Stuck Bridget in the cellar again to put some motown flesh onto the bones of 'Bored With Me' and once again she homered deep into the right field bleachers. She's turning into Nelson Riddle.


Went to the symphony Thursday. Saw Beethoven's 6th and Sacre du Printemps. I don't think anyone has ever written for winds and horns better than Stravinsky. And everyone should see that piece performed once.

One small bit of alarm. There's a sweet, elderly couple that have sat next to us for years. We make chitchat before the show and between pieces. I know they're from the south shore. And a few tidbits about their children. They weren't there. And we have no why. Maybe they just missed a date. ??!!


Zack's back and Frank Drake is playing at some hippie shivering house party tonight out in the toney suburbs somewhere. Sounds vaguely Marin County-ish. Friends of Chris'. Everyone should be here in a few minutes so we can run some numbers before taking the stage. Chris and Jeremy are promising a freak scene. I have no reason to doubt them.


Been listening to Hank Williams a lot. I still consider his sound amazingly weird and astonishingly original.

:: 3:59 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, October 2, 2002 ::


:: 1:45 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, October 1, 2002 ::

After a long hiatus on the music-making front (i'm of the whitmanesque belief that people should just splash around, drink, lay in the grass and climb trees in summer), Bridget and I regrouped this past weekend for the beginning of the last push to finish motherfuckingly beautiful Poppies record. Friday we recorded a simple little song ('Bad Physics Grade') and I played some new stuff. Saturday, on the other hand, was a day of epiphany. I've had 'tempt me' hanging out in an irresolute state for a while. I did a pseudo-electronica version avec nylon string backing and solo. Plus slacker vocal. Added Bridget doing octave, which improved things, but wasn't quite it. Had also gotten Josh Ritter to sign up to do a vocal one drunken night in my basement. But at a certain point I had the thought that I'd like to do this ala Serge Gainsbourg, ersatz samba w/ frenchpop vocal stylings and counterline. Also, when Bridget did her part there were flourishes she put in that suggested other doors to open. Sergio Mendes doors. For a while she's been telling me: 'Dude, fuck slack. This one needs to be fruity. Just show me how to lay down a vocal, give me two open tracks and go away.' So that's what I did. She was down in the basement for an hour or so while I shot baskets and when I came back and knocked on basement door: it was all done. And it's amazing. A little miracle of perfect ersatz 60s samba, w/ an extraordinary counterline. Like she was channelling dirty old Gainsbourg, whom she's never heard of. I'd put it up but a) I haven't really mixed it down yet and b) I'm thinking I'm close enough to having the whole thing done that I'm probably not gonna bother putting more stuff out. Just finish the thing. Zack is back from Greece this week; and he's gonna be my dog and work with me on sequencing. At that point it belongs to the ages. Or to nature rather: which we love so much, as nietzsche pointed out, because it has no opinion of us. Or as Molly Bloom would say: Yes.

:: 12:25 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, September 30, 2002 ::

I can't believe I haven't gone to Burning Man yet. I have a friend who goes every year. Always invited me. I just heard from her. The pictures are astonishing. Desert scapes and communal, techno-primordial amalgamating, chockful of misfits dressed like walking glyphs out of a Babylonian font set. So fiercely weird. And then burning the ever-larger guy in effigy. What else do we need? I'm actually more interested in the aftermath of dotcom. Though it was a pretty fascinating cultural adjunct to the bay area's late 90s consentual hallucination. Once again I vow: Next year, I'm so there.

:: 5:25 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, September 30, 2002 ::

Apropos of yesterday's satrean freak-out about aloneness, I found this 'glimpse' poem/song/petit lamentation. I wrote it for Jean; first classmate of mine to die. Breast cancer. My friend since age five. Didn't finish it in time for her ashes scattering at the boardwalk behind my house. Spontaneous tearful elegy by Scott Holt, another friend from age five; long believed to be the first classmate to die. But that's another story. Anyway, trying my level best not to pull back like I always do.


One day or another I'll get this to her.
Sea, clay, beach familiar:
She lies here with you.

Why go anywhere else
When she's made the path clear?
We've never been strange before now
We're not parted
Every life but one.

One god stretched her arms out
and cast the boat from shore.
who plays in the meadows
with gods anymore?

Yet in the meadow I feel a message
coming through my body
in my clothes that spare me, meadow garments
Every life in one

:: 9:51 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, September 29, 2002 ::

One thing I realize prominently, always have since I started thinking, though it recedes and then ambushes me, is how separate I am. We are. How much separateness there is. How defining separation is. Always. That there's no experiential oneness. Only an occasional illusion or glimpse. Or an intellectual piercing by oneness as an ontological truth. That separateness is nevertheless the cruel antithesis of oblivion. The open wound I should be thankful for. I'm here. And that there's no reconciling these. Argh.

Love like crazy maybe.


Gabe and I each just had a bottle of Jamaican Style Ginger Ale. Sitting quietly at the kitchen table, reading. When he finished his ginger ale he said: 'Dad. Can I listen to your new Beck CD?' I said, 'Sure sweetie.' Still have no idea why I started crying. No, he didn't see me.

:: 3:54 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, September 23, 2002 ::

Quentin still likes me to walk him to school in the morning. I consider this a blessing. My neighbor, Marc the Judge, told Anne last year that we look like different sized twins. Same dishevelled clothes, pillow head, sneakers, hands plunged in pockets, occasionally index-fingering the nose piece on our glasses, obliviously babbling away. This morning I kind of came to my senses for a moment and had this overwhelming emotion for him as he ran up the front steps of his school. I don't know why. But it took me and gave me a violent shake. It wasn't ominous. It was just immense. I think it's a gift that I love someone this much. But it's a scary gift. I had to stand on Beals Street consulting the sycamores for five minutes before I could go home. Thankfully, I have little awareness of how I look in these situations. I've always taken Johnson's dictum to heart. That being, if people only knew what little amounts of time others spend thinking about them, no one would be self-conscious.


Later we're at dinner. Quentin asks Gabe: 'What are you going to do when you grow up?' Gabe scratches his head, stares straight ahead with the deadpan puzzled/amazed expression he uses in answering most questions put to him nowadays. Finally says: 'Well, I guess I'm probably going to lock you in a closet, then take the key and throw it into the Marianas Trench.' Goes back to eating.


Speaking of Dr. Johnson, here's a hint of what he'd have been like as an end-of-millenium successful entrepreneur: "If I had had [Garrick's] wealth, I should have had a couple of fellows with long poles walking before me, to knock down everybody that stood in the way."


Later still, Anne and I are watching 'Henry Fool'. It's near the beginning and Simon is just out of work, taking his routine first swig out of single brown-bagged can of Budweiser. He hears some commotion and notices this couple starting to fuck. He stands up to watch. The girl is tossing her head back and letting out a feral moan when she catches a glance of Simon. She screams. The camera goes back to Simon. Our phone rings. Anne gets up to answer it. I hit Pause. Simon has just let go of the Bud can. It's two inches below his spidery unclenched hand. His face shows only a faint trace of alarm. I stare at this still for ten minutes as Anne talks on the phone.

:: 11:43 PM [+] ::

:: Saturday, September 20, 2002 ::
Well, here I am. Wandering around on the earth, amazed. Not too far from home. But it's been hard to write weblog things. For one, I've been so happy going outdoors lately. It's a siren song. I get that young Werther melancholy joy. Breeze in my eyes. I'm also trying finish motherfucking ep. And now I'm starting motherfucking screenplay. Maybe I should take a quick filmmaking course. (Or ritalin.) I'm recruiting my actors now. This thing's gonna be great. Working title: 'The Wheel of Things'. More later.

I used to have boxes and boxes of correspondence. Not organized, but amazing fun to rummage through. Sadly, for me, most of it was tossed when my youngest brother rebuilt our homestead. My friend Mark from grad school was the most organized correspondant imaginable. He had piles and piles of notebooks of letters he'd received interleaved with xeroxed copies of his replies. Organized by correspondant. I remember visiting him in Toronto where he was teaching and we were talking about some comments I'd made about a poem he'd written. Or something. We were in slight disagreement about what I'd said. Presto. He pulls out this fucking notebook with our entire correspondence and we quickly settle the dispute. I remember thinking: 'Now there's something I could never do.' I was thinking of this this morning because a) I was looking through a box of stuff I still have and b) I transferred to an empty drive nearly a gigabyte's worth of email from the last three years. In the box I found a card from my friend Cheryl, summer pseudo-girlfriend circa 10th-11th grade. It's got a bunch of 'cute' animals in the shape of the letters of the alphabet. 'C' is missing. Open. Card says: 'Long time, no C.' Sweet, but slightly aloof note. Another Sorrows of Young Werther moment. I have those. Instead of all my old boxes.

Going to see the venerable bagboys later this afternoon. Plough and Stars. Kicking off their, I don't know, 300th season? Every Saturday. Labor Day to Memorial Day. 5 - 7. See y'all there.

:: 1:43 PM [+] ::

:: Monday, September 16, 2002 ::
Sometimes I just want to yield to the fleeting moment. Ok?

:: 10:47 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, September 15, 2002 ::
The great american sunday afternoon. Ah.

I was just thinking about the upcoming war. Begin with the premise that Bin Laden wants to exterminate the governments of moderate arab states, Saudi Arabia in particular, and create in the aftermath a reactionary fundamentalist islamic meta-nation. Kind of khomenei iran, writ large. And ask the question: How's all that going?

The origins of bin Ladenist discontent seem pretty complex (in fact I'll leave it to Dave Weinberger to unravel the bin Laden family romance, where Osama was the only child of one of a few dozen wives of papa bin laden, and she a Syrian to boot, I believe); but, in addition to what he witnessed in Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan war, he's quite pissed off because he wanted the glory of routing Iraq following the invasion of Kuwait. He offered to raise an army. The royal family told him no thanks, fuck off, we'll use the americans. The al-Sauds are thereafter no better than the russians. And they're backed by the americans. So he begins to lash out at the americans, culminating (so far) in the 9/11 horror. US is temporarily, surprisingly, gracious and internationalist. You can feel people coming together in grief. But things rapidly turn chauvanistic. For example, Khatemi comes to the UN after 9/11 and offers a remarkable and clear olive branch, speaks movingly about american suffering; offers iranian help to downed US planes in the upcoming US military incursion into Afghanistan. All the while, he's at home in a raging pitched battle with the mullahs for control of the nation. What does Bush do? In a truly deranged speech, labels Iran part of the 'axis of evil'. wtf for? Khatemi is humiliated, retreats. The rejuvenated mullahs point their spindly fingers and rail against him. Only recently has he begun to re-emerge. Point: bin Laden. In Germany Gerhard Schroeder, magnificently supportive following 9/11, is forced into slightly squirmy denunciations of US unilateralism. wtf is the preemptive unilateralism accomplishing? Schroeder concedes to the NYTimes he's under enormous pressure to bow to US and be more Tonyblair-like. And he says that's something he just cannot do. Speaking of which, what's up with Blair? My friend Steve thinks that perhaps Blair's bellicosity is indicative of US possessing some truly scary, damning evidence against saddam. I'm doubtful. Otherwise, why share it only with Blair? Why not Schroeder, Chirac and Putin? No, I think Blair's pulling a Clinton. He's taking a presumptive attitude towards the left and co-opting as much of the right as he reasonably can. (In England, as in America -- and unlike Germany, where there's a substantive Green party -- there's no one of political consequence to the left of Labor, so there's little risk). Whatever the case, massive dissention in the international community is the primary result of US unilateralist rhetoric; its signal effect is the undermining of the position and credibility of many of US's european allies as well as every vaguely reformist islamic government on earth, in pretty much zero-sum favor of lunatic fundamentalists, of course, fulminating against American hegemony, arrogance and fun.

Given the fact that bin Laden's probably dead, the bin Laden cause is arguably being better served by President Bush these days than by anybody else in power on earth.


I have to start up yoga again. I'm all achy today. Like a horseshoe crab in the sun.


I got a free harmonium at a church fair yesterday. Worth every penny of it too. It's loud as shit, some keys are sharp and some don't work at all. Maybe I can fix it. Or get my brother to. But it looks beautiful and cool. And if you ignore the overall bellowing noises it makes, the keys that work sound delightfully stoid. Also it says 'made in west germany' on the side. Ah, for the good old global stasis of the cold war. As predictable as the great american sunday afternoon itself.

:: 12:47 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, September 11, 2002 ::
I want to row everyone away.

:: 5:18 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, September 08, 2002 ::
* I just saw Saul Bellow. I was out running. For a guy in his mid-80s who almost bought it a few years ago, the nobel laureate was looking pretty peppy. He was walking along Comm. Ave. with his young bride. She was pushing the baby stroller. (Yes, Saul sired his first daughter a year or so ago.) I'm usually pretty oblivious to what people are wearing. But in taking Saul in, I noted he had on a dark blue baseball cap and a dark maroon izod shirt. I was tempted to stop and ask him a literary question, but I was running, plus it's a slightly awkward question, plus he's Saul Bellow. I wanted to ask him if a line from a song of mine came from one of his books. It was something that was said to me by a really pissed off Barnard student, many years ago. And she was quoting something. And my recollection of it is it was a character in either Bellow or Roth. It would've been awkward if it were Roth and not Bellow. It would've been awkward if Bellow just couldn't remember. It would potentially have been an awkward thing to ask in front of his wife. So I didn't ask. And I'll probably never know.

* The Calvin 'K Records' Johnson, Microphones, Wolf Colonel show was a bizarre treat. Three completely uninhibited outsider art originals in some of the most stoidal performances you'll ever see. No bands. Just three spazzes, each with acoustic guitar, doing spartan, oddly passionate versions of the much more souped up (especially in Phil 'microphones' Elvrum's case) stuff from the CDs. Concert started at midnight and went until 3:30 a.m. They sold out the small theater and got the Coolidge Corner employees to move it to the larger one. Calvin asked everyone to come on up front and had Jason Anderson and Elvrum standing in the aisles defining a perimeter within which Calvin wanted you to sit. People sat onstage until the theater folks asked Calvin to remove them because people were sticking their feet into the fiery stage lights. Between acts they set up three stools and took questions, ranging from a ten-minute long pompous music question about the Microphone's development (maybe it was a satire?) that Elvrum answered in two words ("I morphed") to a question about American foreign policy. For the latter, the questioner got booed by some people. But Calvin answered with a longish, surprisingly cogent denunciation of Bush. The atmosphere was strangely relaxed. Maybe it was the time of night. At one point Phil Elvrum pointed out that the moment was a lot like the theater scenes in 'Mullholland Drive'. Bunch of wackos watching other wackos perform at 3 a.m. Exactly right. But not so creepy. At the beginning of his set Jason 'Wolf Colonel' Anderson made a short impassionated speech about his horrendous gig the night before in New Hampshire and how by comparison this felt like it was just 'us' (and I think knew what he meant) and finished by declaring that he was going to try as hard as he could to play better than he'd ever played before. It didn't seem faux naive. There's a strangely real, uplifting authenticity to all of these nuts. And so my boater goes off to Calvin Johnson, who's gotten his living for nearly 20 years now creating a remarkably uncompromised, fertile space for explorations of eccentrized art. And since everything we buy is a vote towards what our beloved economic system is going to give us more of, I highly recommend you go to k and stick some goods in your e-cart.

* Spent yesterday afternoon until the wee hours at Zack's for the gala season opening Nahant house party. Climbed down the rocks, bloodied my foot and swam in the ocean. Great food. Played a million notes' worth of music. In some sense it wasn't unlike the night before. No personality checking at the door. Microsociety spontonaiety. Glimpses of what kerouac wistfully called our 'promised tender nation'.

* I need a nap.
:: 12:29 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, September 04, 2002 ::
Misc. trampoline flips:

* Anne's on the Cape sweeping all summer's relics - fire ants, sand, party ghosts - out of the house. Just boys in Brookline. Boys who often seem to get choked up when someone cooks them a meal. Me too. I think that's a good sign. Or maybe it's just that tomorrow at the crack of dawn they'll be 'creeping like snail/Unwillingly to school'.

* My new penpal Don Fanger, harvard lit prof, has sent me his 'new republic' review of Leonid Tsypkin's 'Summer in Baden-Baden'. It's a novel about a retired doctor, obsessed w/ Dostoevsky, who pieces together the story of D.'s travels to Petersburg at age 46 w/ his young bride and amanuensis Anna Gregoriva. It's a rave. Sounds superficially like 'Flaubert's Parrot'. I suggested to Don that Julian Barnes might've been influenced. He dismissed the idea. Said the dates didn't work and the voice was wrong. I walked out earlier to buy it but neither of the neighborhood bookstores had it.

* My other new penpal Dominique, SO of Dave (he of 'Uncle Vanya' fame) and a psychotherapist, writes to tell me she's read my blog and wants to ask me some questions about writing publicly about private things. Shit. But also, most importantly, to tell me a) how surprised she was to see Lacan and Zizek popping up here and there and b) that, coincidentally, she's just gotten the schedule for the Humanities Center at Harvard and Zizek is speaking: 09/18 at 7:30. The Subject? "Passions of the Real: Happiness in the Times of the War on Terror". Ok I'm there.

* I'm also there for Calvin Johnson and The Microphones at the Coolidge on Friday night. Doesn't start until midnight. vay. In the slightly altered immortal words of Boel Hanson, Swedish exchange student: 'What am i doing to myself and others and will i ever stop?'

* We moved into new space yesterday. Two doors down, but a world of difference. Circular stairs, kitchen on a raised movable floor, no Tim to set up the network.

* Commencing the fall party season with maybe the first (of many?) Nahant slams on Saturday night.

* Another bunch of cantab shenanigans w/ some twists; Steve showed up and helped us levitate Tony, who's moving somewhere to take the lead guitar slot in Linkin Park. (no, that's not right), though he (Steve) didn't stay around long enough for our set of Linkin Park covers. Now that I think of it, we probably wasted our time learning all those tunes. I don't think it's Linkin Park he's joining. Shit. Nice to see Gretchen and Barb and Matt Cordis. Target boys were back from Ohio with tales out of J. Swift's 'A Description of Morning'. Zack's friend from Duggs Trio showed up. Ate his Chinese food dinner in NYC, then jumped in his car and neilcassadied direct to the Cantab to help us levitate the future guitarist for Linkin Park. Some of us discussed the short subject film we're making about a couple of folks we know, flying around in a huge jet, wasted, chasing a VW micro-bus containing... well, never mind. Rest assured, you'll all be invited to an N2O-assisted, turbans optional, screening when we finish it.

* 'On the FlipSide' by Looper is a fine instantiation of pop electronica.

* Another weird Carolyn coincidence. Turns out she lived in Tahoe with a guy who was a best friend of my brother's and mine. We got out of touch for a while and then heard he had died. Carolyn confirmed that he died flying a plane, but not in Alaska in a mail plane, as we'd been told, but in Arizona. His plane hit an electric wire while he was performing some stunt. Bleh.

* I've been thinking about 'roles'. You know, father, nerd, husband, musician. And how we sometimes occupy them like text poured into a template. Some roles are so large that the role is not just the template but the text itself. Parenting can be like that. Some people's careers. It's tempting to think there's something comforting in letting the role give you your shape. I don't feel like I exist within a role. I feel as though I walk around doing things, as much as possible, based on who I love and what I love. Roles flow through me. Or they're a multi-dimensional Mobius strip I'm escher-ing around on. Yes. Exactly.

:: 10:40 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, September 03, 2002 ::
Ok. First Poppies single can be found here. Interestingly, or at least for the record, none of it was recorded ensemble.

Been butchering this poem into a song the past couple days. Song-setting (like criticism in Sontag's view): a philistine refusal to leave a work of art alone.

Better Rendered in the Genitive

I've lost track of what goods I own
And which are yours.
I found the poppies in the back yard,
I remember that; they must be mine.
The airplane, mini-Moog, tricycle:
I just don't know.
Too terrifying to think about
Are the basement and its things
And will have to wait.
Would you agree with that?
Good thing we don't have an attic.
I'm not a fan of unnamable space.
My mother went away from me
Too long ago
With a questionable charioteer.
Remember me is all I ask.
I see sailboats in pattern-
Reflecting sunlight,
Tipping in the wind,
I stand on shore,
Memorizing me
In the images in my path.
And so on, from now on
Loving my life a little
The way I once feared for it.

:: 3:47 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, September 01, 2002 ::
Friday was Tim's last day at work. Was surprisingly sad for Mike and me. I'm going to miss the quintessence of curmudgeonliness I've lived with daily these past 3.5 years. Endings are always a big fucking headwind for me. We wanted to finish things off with martinis, but just didn't get to it. So instead we'll make a bigger, after-work event of it sometime next week; get more comrades to join us. Afterwards I went to Bridget's Campfire thing at Passim. The setup's a little weird. Four singer grrls in a line-up, like Gong Show contestants. Then a disembodied voice like Don Pardot saying things. But it worked. They alternate. She was great. Though not enough of her original witherograms and guitar stoid. I think she easily elicited the most noise. And I resisted throwing pemmican around and yelling WoHeLo after every song. Afterwards Tim (the other Tim) and I went to some outdoor bar where he told me a story before I had to flee for labour day weekend N. Falmouth.

Spent yesterday in Provincetown. Major intimations of fall. For some reason made me think of long busrides to play The Fishermen in basketball. Stumbling out of the bus, travel sick, wanting to puke. Provincetown, quiet but achingly pretty in winter; unlike Nantucket, which was stark, haunted, Melvillean bleak. Afterwards we crashed a birthday party for Erika's mother in Truro. Amazing beach house atop a sand hill overlooking the bay to Plymouth, the curve of Race Point in the foreground, the Monument w/in shooting distance and the illusion of the sun setting over the water; like I was back in san francisco. Great food, plenty of drink. Talked politics w/ Erika's mom (an energetic Tolman supporter) and had a pleasantly disputatious discussion of books, music, Peter Sellars, etc. w/ a Harvard Russian professor. I brought up and he actually remembered Sellars' production of 'Uncle Vanya' my friend Dave was in. We jousted about Dickens vs. Trollope, he made some kind of argument about Dickens' connection to Joyce that I didn't quite follow. Shared our love of Gogol, though he thinks the Richard Pevear/Larissa Volokhonsky translation I've grown fond of was shite; and rather than expatiate at a cocktail party, is going to send me his 'New Republic' review of it. At that point Erika's dad, another literature prof, made me a martini that made me feel like everything was rolling uphill, like Benjy Compson and a devil's haircut/ in my mind.

:: 12:21 PM [+] ::

:: Friday, August 30, 2002 ::
And this just in from the Sonic Youth hotline:

Hey Sonic Youth Fans,
This Sunday, September 1st @ 4:45 PM PST, Tune into KEXP 90.3 FM, RealOne,
and to Listen to Sonic Youth Live @ Bumbershoot in Seattle!!!

:: 10:00 AM [+] ::

After two whaleless spins around Massachusetts Bay in Paul's boat, I had the sublime pleasure this week of crashing pilot whale woodstock, less than a mile or so off the tip of Provincetown. Beautiful and also slightly haunted by the images of the pod of 60 that recently beached themselves to death in Truro a few weeks ago.

:: 9:27 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, August 27, 2002 ::
Spent an anniversary weekend w/ Anne and all 3 boys in Falmouth. Got down Friday night after making a quick diversion to Pandolfi/Robin Central to pick up a fine Jono Pandolfi tea pot for Anne. It wasn't one of the Lewis Carrol flip-jobs he does, but it was a sweet piece of work all the same. Friday night we had a dinner party to go to w/ summer neighbors, so I missed all the N2O avant-klingon goings-on amongst a crew that attracts revelry the way donuts attract police cars. Well, so be it.

N. Falmouth is really its own pocket universe. For us, I mean. Or me. Dinner at Dave and Deirdre's was a another bit of uncanny beam-work into an unexpected alterity. It's always remarkable to me the places you find cool people. Highlight for me was Dave's story about seeing Malcolm X speak in Harlem, where he was teaching during one college summer. The rally was 500 or so people, 498 african-americans plus 2 whities, Dave and friend. A woman just in front of them, a septegenarian neighborhood matriach and force of nature, Mrs. Johnson, turned to Dave plus buddy, warmly welcomed them and made polite conversation. About an hour into Malcolm's oration, Mrs. Johnson stood up suddenly and raged into the spectral heart of the space that it was time for blacks to unite! and deport all white people from the country. Wild applause. Dave sitting there applauding too, forever-smile frozen like a grecian urn. Oh oh, also, Dave, classmate of Dick 'What Karma?' Cheney's at Yale, insisting the inside story on VP Bunker Boy is, you guessed it: 'Leave of absence, my ass. He flunked out.'

Saturday Anne and I had lunch in Woods Hole together and then she surprised me in the evening w/ a Fedex-shipment containing a magnificent lobster dinner; we did it with all three boys and champagne and Anne making this beatific speech about how only two of us were there for the first one, then recounting memories, and I was just SUFFUSED w/ that closeness of a family that's together (and I know w/ dizzying clarity how lucky I am, i do, i do, and how provisional this is); the family, which is really a secret set of trapdoors to The special someplace, The secret indescribable unsharable place. I know This. When I'm out at sea, or running around jumping and spooting, or gigging like the fecking houseband at some misbegotten bar out of 'Blazing Saddles' (like at the Cantab last Tuesday), or like a cornpone Bang On A Can All-stars at Johnny D's last night, or at chris and jeremy's doing headstand contests, lighting the darkness on fire, burning misery in effigy, in every manifestation of teetering branch waving I do, every flutter, I feel, always and everywhere, the unconditional ground of my rootedness in this very uncontingent-feeling family soil; feel it keeping me up.

Happy Anniversary, Annie. I love you.


My buddy and the world's most literate economist, Dr. Susan Woodward, weighs in with this footnote to my exchange w/ Dave Weinberger re: the Bush family romance:

Some memorable character in Dance to the Music (like Moreland or Umpherville) says that every woman prefers her son to her husband.

:: 12:41 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, August 22, 2002 ::
The other day my friend Dave dubbed the immiment Rumsfeld-Bush invasion of Iraq 'Operation Oedipus'. He concluded by welcoming other suggestions. I took the bait, of course. With permission I'm posting the exchange because, in addition to David's typical hilarity, I think there's a useful forensic case study exemplified here in how to use extreme argument, the rhetorical equivalent of Massive Retaliation perhaps, to squash your opponent.

JM: I don't really like Operation Oedipus. Oedipus is a patricide, not an avenger. Even in Freud's appropriation, Oedipus is all about dissolution of the patriarchal order (or something like that). I'd vote for Operation Orestes.

David: Ah, but clearly (?) W is driven by the need to win Babs' affections. The contenders are both Poppy and Jeb. So, it is a mythic fratricide and paricide, and this seems to me to be the more relevant fact. Indeed, W doesn't want to kill Clytaemnestra; he wants to fuck her. (Yeah, well, who doesn't?!)

This Iraqi campaign is so sick. Apocalyptically.
-- David W.

JM: :-) Not implausible. But I think he lacks the imagination and cajones to be truly oedipal. I don't even think Babs registers. Too real. He's dry-drunk pissed-off and wants to be his dad. Simple-mindedly. Avenge his losses and humiliations. Kill Saddam and Clinton. And the only thing he wants to fuck is the woman on the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders poster in his rec room. And speaking of the rec room, he's clearly orally arrested. Remember the pretzel incident?

David: Oh, I so disagree (while completely enjoying your analysis, of course). The family is dominated by Babs. She is a classic bitch-tyrant, passive-aggressive mother. Jeb was the favorite. W was the drunk ne'er-do-well who had to be propped up by his father's cronies; his only validation, as a "successful businessman" he knows came through his father's largesse, which he hates because he hates his dependence on it.

Once in office, he has surrounded himself with Dad's pals because that's the only way he knows how to succeed, but he resents it and can't feel like a success (or a man) so long as he does what they say. (But he is afraid not to do what they say). He has to do Poppy's job better than Poppy did. Why? So he can beat his two rivals - Dad and Jeb - for the approval (= fucking) of his mother. So, it won't be enough for him to beat Dad at the presidency game. He's also going to have to do it in the face of the advice of Dad's Greek chorus that's been guiding him so far. The defection of elder Republicans from the Bomb Iraq cause only gives W a bigger hard on for it.

He has had two opportunities to beat Poppy. Only two people have ever caused Poppy to fail: Clinton and Saddam. Having beaten Clinton, it's on to Saddam. W has a love/hate deal going with Saddam because although Saddam humiliated the father who never loved him (and who still has the good graces to appear embarrassed with him), Saddam has also given W the opening he needs to win Mommy. He's not after revenge. It's approval he's after. In support: his overwhelming need to be liked is all too obvious, right down to the juvenile nicknames he gives people. His infantilizing of global politics (Putin is "Pooty-poot," the comic book rhetoric of "evil doers") undoubtedly (hah!) goes back to his failure to win approval as an infant. He is stuck there.

The Oedipal nature of the Iraqi threat (or opportunity, as it appears to W) implies that he will penetrate Iraq violently, preferably by inseminating it with sperm sprayed from above. His operative metaphor is probably (i.e., I'm making this up) "shoving a smart bomb up Saddam's ass" to degrade him (= Poppy) sexually so that the Mama Bush will prefer him. W's no bush! He's a bomber!

Your comments on his oral fixation ring true to me (which unfortunately does not mean they're any more likely to be true) and I assume that the oral sex with Laura - and whatever other Dallas Debbies he did during the Drunk Years - was one-way, brutish and unreciprocated.

So, if we could just persuade Babs to blow him, preferably after Dad's gone limp while trying to perform his husbandly duties, the world might yet be saved. Why don't you write to her and suggest that?

At this point, of course, I'm toast. Any attempt to refute the above requires a spirited defense of Babs. But as Lacan once said famously regarding feminine jouissance eluding the phallic domain (or some such): "I won't go any further here."

:: 3:47 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, August 21, 2002 ::
I like mornings. This one was no exception. Sex is good in the morning. Coffee is good in the morning. Desultory newspaper reading? Good in the morning. Running is. All of this is better outside. Especially running. I love my back porch. There's a bench with a cushion. An overgrown rose-of-sharon hangs over it like a canopy. I look at the sky. The sheltering sky. Though planes are weird now. I tend to look away from them. On the route I run I see the Prudential and Hancock towers, looking east on Commonwealth Avenue. The current flight patterns out of Logan take them seemingly right over the back bay. The juxtapostion is disturbing. Playing piano is good in the morning. Even sweaty. I wrote a few songs last week, but I erased them all. Trying to stop. One I'm now sad about. It moved me whenever I listened to it. Which never happens with my own stuff. And now I can't remember it. It felt like a gift song. Showering is good in the morning. As I was leaving I heard Andrew trying out 'Jingle Bell Rock' on Quentin's ocarina. In the kitchen Quentin said: 'Dad, take one of my muffins for good luck.' I kissed him and grabbed a muffin. The empty wrapper is sitting next to me. Right next to the toy VW bus w/ a piece of cardboard taped to the roof that says 'Community Bus'. Another Quentin good luck token from a few years back.
:: 10:51 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, August 19, 2002 ::
In high school, during the summer, I had a nepotism job working on the Park Department (in addition to playing in a variety of tin pan alley cover bands). It was in many ways the best job I've ever had. Outdoors. Insane co-workers. High profile (an important attribute; it being a resort town and all.) Driving a dump truck. Watering flowers in front of the massive greek-revival town hall (where'd I'd go after work, up to the theater located on the second floor, and play the piano). Long hot afternoons, ahem, picking up litter on the town's many beaches. Plus elaborate operations like putting in and taking out the styrofoam-and-wood rafts in places like Snake Pond and Wakeby Lake. The hardest part was mowing lawns; but even that was mitigated because we got to use brawny self-powered Graveleys with 36" blades. And usually by August most of the grass in town was as usefully mowable as dead goat skin anyway. Just to be clear: sere, dead grass in August was perfectly fine on this beach-lined windswept peninsula. Back then, at least, watering lawns was as incomprehensible to cape codders as some time traveller coming back to tell them about blogging.

I was thinking about that job the other night while playing my second bizarro-MIDI gig in as many weekends at this golf resort in Dennis. I'm not exactly sure why I was thinking about the Park Department, but Ockham's Razor would suggest it's because I was spending the evening playing tin pan alley tunes and was naturally experiencing a burnt-in association with the other half of my primordial summer experience. Anyway, I remembered an incident vivid enough that I used a version of it at work this morning. It's this: My friend Nils and I were in the large gray dump truck that we'd inherited from the Water Department. We were on our way to Snake Pond to replace a sign that someone had yanked out of the ground and thrown into the pond. On the way we stopped at the Forestdale Diner. We sat at the counter in a vague stupor. I'd played the night before until 2 a.m. and then gone out afterwards. I'd slept maybe 2 hours. Nils had probably stayed out all night as well. The waitress came over and wordlessly poured us some bunn-o-matic diner coffee. Nils was kind of muttering to himself. Suddenly he came to life, astutely pointing out that the waitress was the same as the one from the club the night before. And that she was even wearing the same make-up. In fact she hadn't even changed her clothes. She'd just put on a different apron. Her hair was insane. The morose delectation of teenagers tends to be different, more pitiless certainly, than the ripened, mortal, adult variety. We began a barely whispered revery about the details of our waitress' evening and morning. I remember feeling we'd gotten close to the heart of the abyss when she finally came over to us and asked what we wanted. Without hesitation Nils said, "I'll have the breakfast special: A revolver and three bullets." She and I both thought that was the funniest thing we'd ever heard. I looked right at her, laughing. I remember she covered her mouth as she laughed. Big wide existential eyes and a hand full of chipped, painted nails.


Someone belonging to a list I'm on just sent an email announcing the sale of a bunch of stuff from her home. She said she was moving immediately. It sounded distressed. It contained pictures of the stuff. For some reason I found the pictures -- patio furniture, a drafting table, etc. -- full of pathos and hard to look at.


I read in the nyt this morning a review of a book about the California Gold Rush. The guy's thesis is that this was a more significant event in the life of the american mind than the civil war. That previously, Americans had lived with puritan ideas, jeffersonian yeoman farmers, Franklin's poor richard, a slow but steady accumulation of security and position. After Sutter's Mill, the idea of the lightning strike in personal fortune took hold. Sounds reasonable to me. One interesting tidbit noted by the reviewer: It seems that certain 19th century Panamanian women, in order to make their hair useful as well as beautiful, could be found carrying around items such as half-smoked cigars inside the curls on the back of their heads.
:: 2:13 PM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, August 14, 2002 ::
What was funny yesterday:

* Tim's phone calls with Ellen;
* Paul's spam forging cgi;
* The email I got from;
* Andrew calling from camp looking for an infusion of money, when he's coming home today;
* Dinner with Jeremy and Art at Fugakyu;
* Playing 'Nuages' at Jeremy's house;
* Whatever those free drinks were that the downstairs bartender made;
* The ride home;

Since this is the first time in a couple of years I haven't published anything in the-hold, I've decided next month to submit a musical setting I did of a poem I published in the June, 2000 issue. A heady time that was. Part of my ongoing tribute to Groucho Marx's 'Tea or coffee?' 'Yes, please!'.

:: 11:49 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, August 12, 2002 ::
Weird shit. secretions of insight:

* Played a gig with my friend Watts Sunday morning. We were an entertainment stop along the seashore during the Falmouth Road Race. Right on the beach in front of the rest room. Across the street from a lemonade stand. 'Fat Cat's Lemonade. $5/cup.' Watts said: 'Free enterprise. Well, not free, but.' Bystanders giggling. Don't think Fat Cat sold any. Watts making conflative jokes about cats and lemonade. I think it was the price. What were they thinking? For one, they seemed to think Watts was trying to promote them because they kept bringing us cups of $5 lemonade that just sat on a table. What was weird was it was just the two of us with a bunch of remarkable midi disks he had, creating a totally plausible simulated backup for whatever we played. 'Stayin' Alive', 'Fly Me To The Moon', 'What a Wonderful World', 'Lady Madonna', 'Your Song', 'Runaround Sue'. In case you were wondering, Midi doesn't sound like the soundtrack for 'Pacman' anymore. No. It has that scary empty profundity of advanced technology. Bizarre premonitions of future helplessness.

* A bright red cardinal flew up in front of my car; went totally vertical from my street, straight up into a sycamore tree. Like The Discovery. We gasped at each other.

* I had two messages on my private machine. Both from me. One was my cell phone recording of Todd Rundgren doing 'Can We Still Be Friends' from a concert I went to on Saturday night. The other was me saying 'My life as a billboard for chloroform' like t.s. eliot. I think it was an idea for a poem that I've now, a day later, forgotten. Drove home from the concert playing 'Used to Be My Romeo' by Basement Jaxx on repeat to keep me awake. Got to Falmouth. Went to bed. Read 1 page of 'There is No Sexual Relationship' by Zlavoj Zizek and fell asleep.

* As soon as we got back from the road race gig we went to the North Falmouth diner, where Watts pulled out a box chock-full of old snapshots: our band, he and I at his recording studio in Harwich, recording, bus to NYC, gigs in Falmouth and Hyannis, friends, groupies (Sue before anorexia; Steve looking air-brushed as Barry Gibb; Terry before she got her teeth knocked out by Karen Parker's brick) and lots of other miscellaneous deep freeze. The waitress was Allegra's friend. I forget her name. She said. 'Hey, you and Zack were so hammered that time you came over to Allegra's'. I said: '??' Then she said: 'I paid $120 to get my hair fixed'. I said 'What's fixed?' She said: 'My normal color.' I said: 'Red's your normal color?' She said: 'No. My hair's the same color as yours. But the day after I got it fixed I decided I liked red better. My mother was so mad.' Her mother must have felt like Frege after receiving Russell's casual note pointing out the devastating Liar's paradox problem with his magnum opus' set theory. Already in press!

* Art and Nick were at the house when we got back from the diner. Nick's hair went straight up like a flock of gasping cardinals. We played music and went to the beach. Well, Nick slept. 'I'm not a beach person.' Later, Art and I drove around falmouth until we finally found a restaurant that had only an hour's wait for seating. And a place to sit while we waited. We had a fine seafood dinner and laughed at what a Loki time is. We got home afterwards and played about 100 non-bluegrass songs, including most of 'Blonde on Blonde', as bluegrass. I think 'I Want You' came out best. Or 'Ballad of a Thin Man'. Nick knows all the words. You could almost see liking bluegrass. As a place where you can exist, never as yourself. Nick ate ice cream for dinner.

* I found this poem today. Tried to mentally fling it out the window so it wouldn't turn into a song. Failed:

Hotel Room Satori

The chambermaid knocks.
Comes straight in
Like a
Fluttering curtain

Instead of a doe-eyed
INS girl,
Memories glancing off the bordertown targets:
A boyfriend, an engagement,
A lunchpail full of whispers.

Me lying in a tousled bed. A collection
Of pirate ships. One of us needs to not exist.
I notice the curtains getting jittery.
The pale utility cart makes a deft introduction.
Then scoots.

* I'm reading a refresher book on chemistry, trying to answer the old question: 'Just when was it that particles became the whole man'?

:: 10:46 PM [+] ::

:: Saturday, August 10, 2002 ::
A sad followup. Steve's dad passed away on Thursday. Steve was with his dad in Michigan just this past weekend and I know their recent closeness has been profoundly consoling.

Based on the little I knew of Steve's dad, I thought of these lines from Wallace Steven's 'From the Packet of Anacharsis':

In his packet Anacharsis found the lines:
"The farm was fat and the land in which it lay
Seemed in the morning like a holiday."

He had written them near Athens. The farm was white.
The buildings were of marble and stood in marble light.
It was his clarity that made the vista bright.


Steve, good father, good son, death as a part of Life's cycle, also reminded me of this:

Ecce Puer

Of the dark past
A child was born;
With joy and grief
My heart is torn.

Calm in his cradle
The living lies.
May love and mercy
Unclose his eyes!

Young life is breathed
On the glass;
The world that was not
Comes to pass.

A child is sleeping:
An old man gone.
O, father forsaken,
Forgive your son!

-James Joyce (written on the occasion of his grandson Stephen's birth and the nearly coincident death of his father, John)


My grandmother (who raised my four siblings and me, starting at about age 70) told us often she planned to live to 100. And no more. She did exactly that. We had a huge party for her on her 100th birthday. Vast family. Most of the town. She died three months later. On the night she died she called us all to come and be with her. I'm not making this up. Something about her tone of voice, placid but insistent, my sister's as well (she was with her), compelled all of us to get ourselves immediately packed up and by her side. So we were all there with spouses and, in some cases, children. She said goodbye and gave her good strong hugs (which she hadn't been able to do very well for a few months or so) and told us how much she loved us and had loved raising us with Carl and then went to sleep and died a few hours later.

'The daily things we do'

The daily things we do
For money or for fun
Can disappear like dew
Or harden and live on.
Strange reciprocity:
The circumstance we cause
In time gives rise to us,
Becomes our memory.

-Philip Larkin
:: 12:06 PM [+] ::

:: Friday, August 09, 2002 ::
As part of my mission to keep Flaubert in-the-face of everyone I know, I direct you to this excellent piece on Madame Bovary by A.S. Byatt. She says, amongst a feast of characteristically punched-up observations: "Recently Madame Bovary appeared in a British newspaper listing of the 'fifty best romantic reads.' It was, and is, the least romantic book I have ever read."
:: 9:58 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, August 07, 2002 ::
Steve, He Who Reads Everything, points out a recent discussion by David, responding to writing by his friend Akma on differential hermeneutics, with respect to scriptural revelation.

David's a great writer and you'd probably do well just reading his entire passage; but for the always dubious purposes of this monadic outpost, I've pulled out some quotes that were interesting/perplexing to me. And stuck some comments at the end. The excerpts are all David's, except the one where David writes "AKMA writes".

And yet, if there is such a thing as revelation (and I am required here to note that I don't think that there is), doesn't it have to mean that God is telling us something in a way that we can understand? And if revelation tells us something that we can understand, then isn't it telling us what God thinks and feels � God's intentions? I don't see how you can exclude the possibility of understanding what God had in mind and still think there's revelation.

Granting the impossibility of knowing the real, final interpretation of the author's intentions especially when it comes to God, there's got to be more to interpreting than imagining, especially when it comes to scripture.

Let me sum up (sorry for the length). AKMA writes:

I just don�t believe texts have �meaning� in any way that escapes our attributing meaning to them.

What I think is true of interpreting revelation I actually think is true of all acts of interpretation. I don't think we are as cut off from the author's intentions as AKMA seems to believe.

I think that David is clearly right when he says "I don't see how you can exclude the possibility of understanding what God had in mind and still think there's revelation." I looked briefly at some of Akma's writings and don't see any place where he's made any headway out of this. Yet I then find myself very much agreeing with the practical side of Akma's hermeneutics. Though in the quote above he seems to exhibit radical skeptic underpinnings; whereas I'd call my own stance on authorial intent disinterest based on a pragmatic acceptance on the impossibility of establishing it. David, on the other hand, seems to be pushing for something that sounds suspciously like cognitive metacontent; or even a convergence theory of interpretation wrt an author's intent. Again, I wouldn't go that route a) because I think the undertaking is hopeless and b) because my own ideas about intersubjective activities in hermeneutics don't require it.

:: 1:18 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, August 06, 2002 ::
My Three Sons

We pitched a tent
Just outside Gethsemane
Wild winds spearing and calypsoing
In and out of
A stand of armed poplars.

One son canted:
The intergalactic bank."

Another son said backwards:
"Dad, look at me. A
Spanish unicorn fight."

The last son climbed
The Mount of Olives
And hollered:
"Greetings from the Tax Collector."

As wind speared and calypsoed,
Little bats slapped out on ritalin,
In and out of
The jittery-armed poplars
Of madding downtown Gethsemane.

:: 8:36 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, August 05, 2002 ::
One year ago last Thursday, August 1, the start-up company I helped get going and grow and had so much fucking fun at went into the liquidation tank. I won't bother describing the surreal circumstances. Or the even more surreal aftermath. It shouldn't have happened. But it did. Business, as such, is not, has never been, very important to me. But the war against the ordinary must absolutely embrace 'getting and spending,' however you go about that. Meaning, for me, at all costs, making sure my gig is constructed to allow it to become a provisional microsociety. So, how did I commemorate the occasion? Blottification, aided and abetted by a microsociety. Zack was playing with Josh at T.T. the Bears. With James Taylor Jr. opening, the expectation was things would be pretty packed. They were. So Anne and I met Art and Susan and Chris and Jeremy and, later, Bridget (who was on some kind of week-too-early shopping binge) at the Middle East for food and drinks. After assembling and eating and toasting the something that is, as opposed to the nothing that isn't, we went to the club. First mistake: Drinking some shite called 'Vibe'. Second mistake: Ordering two shots of 'the cheap shit' for Jeremy and myself right as Ritter's set was ending. Jeremy instantly went from cheerfully rubicund to rancid-motel-sheet white and gakked. I held on for an astonishing (for me) ten minutes before joining him.

Next morning I had a 7:30 a.m. business meeting. I have no idea what I said. Though I think I was giving 'advice'. Got home and had a twitchy sleep. I recovered enough by dinner time to whip up a massive pot of spaghetti for a ribald Frank Drake rehearsal. We have a gig coming up and probably do need to practice. I guess. We actually got a whole lot done. Or at least we made lots of plans for the series of inspired gimmicks we'll be using for our follow-up cantab gig. Anne and kids went to Falmouth after dinner. Zack stayed at my place. I went to Falmouth in the morning and had an amazingly lovely day; either porpoising around buzzards bay or just sitting in the yard glued to 'Sentimental Education'. Frederic's obsessive dead-ending after the lovely but mortally aloof Madame Arnoux, in the hands of the incomparable Flaubert, is just the thing to accompany a scorching sun, boater, shorts and tacky Cape Cod tank top. Zack came down too late for the exquisite grillage. But not too late to hit Grumpy's pub where the Masters of Groove or some such, a new orleans funk band, w/ a couple of local ringers, including Mike 'Yes-I-Can-Play-Like-Wayne-Shorter' Tucker, took the latter-day Average White Band funk some places it would never otherwise have gone. Got to demo for Zack my cajun moon-landing style of dancing. Zack was spinning Anne arounjd like a sack of lentils. And we played pool. Drove home in the Rock Lobster, singing 'I Am Waiting' at the top of our lungs: i.e., slightly louder than the lobster's collection of stentorian noises.

Sunday, Paul and family drove down. I made chowder. Did more grilling. Paul brought an amazing bottle of Shiraz. It was again hovering around 90 and we were one with the water. Including a late night swim which has become a new ritual. Another glimmering filament bearing down hard against sin and barbarism and global market hegemony and unbridled competition, the end of ideology and ruin.

:: 3:34 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, August 01, 2002 ::
Footnote (headnote?) to cantab post below: And just how miasmic can it be? Here's an unexpurgated aftermath account from a fine friend, well met, who shall remain anonymous. For now. Entitled 'Holy Shit,' the e-missive ran as follows:

I ended up face down in the gutter, my clothes soiled and ragged, my lips
cracked and brittle after enduring hours of steeping in whiskey soaked stomach
lining, my hair matted into a crust as hard as a helmet. But not before I got
the number of the girl wearing the red and white striped sweater.

I can't go on; I'll go on.

:: 5:21 PM [+] ::

My friend Chris is posting some great writing on his site. Check out, for starters, the 7/7 and 7/23 entries.


The cantab is admittedly a miasma, little more than a cultural spittoon maybe. But in my own private war against the ordinary, it's Fort Apache. At least for the moment. It's at a situational cusp. This past Tuesday was once again a roiling festoon of spiky, contradictory moments, with those, y'know, glimpses of infinite indetermination accompanying my crawl through the void. My friend Steve has been speaking and writing, understandably, about community; bemused that he sees more of it online than off and thinking about radical solutions like moving to Europe to set things right. I see it a little bit differently. As I said to Steve out in the middle of Massachusetts Bay on Monday, sitting in the back of Paul's boat, the key non-family relationship needs to be the provisional microsociety, not local community. For those who want 'community', they're going to find that spontaneity based on residential proximity is a mirage. You end up either like Richard Ford, concluding you're a fan of community more in theory than in practice or hollowed out with the effort of propping up the necesssarily unfulfillable expectations of a mirage. Online community is an okay simulacrum. The internet is a vast conceptual space and can encourage Lacanian passion (ne pas ceder sur son desir) and fidelity. But mediation by bits is still a simulacrum. Art and I tried to jam from separate locations within a poetry chat room once. It sucked. [Though perhaps it was heard by some as an aleatory, Cagian deconstruction of whatever fiddle tune we were butchering.] I've known people who've collectively gotten drunk 'together' (parallel drinking) online. There are even rumors I've heard that people have sex online. That said, in the realm of the Real it's hard to just whip up a batch of microsociety. There's got to be a nexus. And then there's got to be a situation. And then there's got to be an almost Beckett-like determination. 'I can't go on; I'll go on,' is what I say every Tuesday as I get in the fucking car. Or when I go into my basement studio, another dauntingly vast conceptual space, or even scheduling Bridget to come over and sing. I can't go on; I'll go on. The alternative is Lacanian self-withdrawal. Severing extraordinary subjectivity from the situation. There was an article, I think it was in the Times magazine a couple weeks ago. I only saw the headline. It was about bored males and their bizarre relationship to sportscasters. I felt like I didn't need to read anymore. What else was there to say about that?
:: 11:38 AM [+] ::

:: Sunday, July 28, 2002 ::
Played an absurdist gig last night. Geezerpolooza III, Cootstock II or Loserpolooza I, depending on how you're counting. It's an anyone's-invited reunion of people from the high school I went to. My brother organizes the music for it so I feel obligated to go if I'm around. I go as a kind of lettrist sociologist. Though last year I swore I wouldn't do it again after a rhinoceros pulled the plug on my friend Scott who was just beginning a tribute to a classmate who'd died that spring. There he was strumming away poignantly and the power went out and the tribute quickly turned into something out of 'Hurlements en faveur de Sade'. But since my brother had given me an epicurean recipe for Turkish mint lamb on Thursday -- which I cooked up in tribute to Zack's triumphant return from his mini-vacation in michigan -- I felt I really had to make an appearance. 3/4 of my high school band was there. All but Timmy Hillman who lives in L.A. and works as a location picker for one of the film studios. We also had a horn section and did 'Mustang Sally' and some James Brown. My attorney brother was there was as well. Also my high school girlfriend, whom I hadn't seen in a bunch of years. Who was also, now that I think of it, later my attorney brother's girlfriend. (It was a small town.) (And she was really good at math.) There's usually this yodelling woman who shows up. And Jabu and the Tribesmen. But neither was there this year. Actually, Jabu's drummer was. And he's really excellent. There aren't too many younger, local bands; though Jen, the 19 year old who did some singing for me when I first got my recorder, was there and did some vocals with us. And the trombonist in our horn section is superb; I think someone said he's 1st trombonist for last year's college big band of the year. And I think I got a couple of geniune 'yeahs' when I asked if anyone wanted me to do 'Metal Heart' by Cat Power. There were a bunch of other guest musicians and it was all quite communally fun, though getting things to degenerate into some kind of paltry contest might have been more fun. I've been thinking about Lacan lately. His views about the Real as this unaccomodatable kernel of meaningless unalterability. Where we nevertheless get our consistency. In opposition to the Symbolic. Where we get messages from The Other. I think it's influencing my dreams. Not for the good, let me tell you.

:: 4:34 PM [+] ::

Golf Birds

First bird I ever loved
I was caddying for
A small band of high rollers
In candy colored golfwear.
They had those clothes
And a beautiful girl in tow.
Las Vegas green-on-brown golf.
Lives were shorter then.
Men too.
The girl said prayers
And the birds listened
And they forgave us
In the name of Universe Central.
One jackdaw remained behind
When the golf men began
Firing at eternity.
Flew close to my nervous head
And in the one brief span of calm
Dropped a cigar-shaped
Projectile at my feet and departed.
As expected, the projectile was the spare
Ring finger I'd been asking for.

In the morning the men had
Magically reinvented themselves
And gave good god
And brought the outside in;
Came back as golf birds themselves
And twinkled in the baking trees like
Feathery phase-shifted stardust.

:: 3:18 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, July 25, 2002 ::
Having once believed unquestioningly in the Popular Science promise of hovercraft, monorails and the 2-day work week, it's hard to let go. It's an idee fixe. A bit of seriously arrested development. Like my archetypally warping eidetic image of Priscilla; or Valerie and Victoria, the dentist's canny daughters; or Apteryx, the freak show hipster nightclub my friends Nils, Dave and I would hitchhike to, Sandwich to Hyannis, all summer long, sneak in and hang out. So the Situationist Internationale and, in particular, the whole question of a revolution in leisure time, remains a vague preoccupation. Urban adventures. There was a group of proto-ghost girls I once hung out with. I remember being derided by my basketball acquaintances because I wasn't going out with them. That they were my friends. I remember one guy in particular asking me, totally seriously, incredulously: 'Why are you hanging around with them?' I said, not even understanding at first: 'Huh? Because they're cool. Smart, funny as shit, cynical and adventurous.' I'm recalling this because later, when a bunch of us ended up moving to Boston, my friend Nancy was always trying to spur us on to assemble and go out and have urban, situationist adventures. So we would. She'd say: "What'll we do." I'd always say: "Let's go to some stupid dance club and vault around the dance floor pretending we're drunk or tripping." She'd usually counter with some weirder scheme, like going to a cafe together but each getting our own table and trying to carry on a conversation. Usually, we'd end up at some stupid dance club vaulting around like we were drunk or tripping. My father was the master of the urban adventure and the revolution in leisure time, way before DeBord; ably aided and abetted by two of my cousins who worked for the phone company and could patch him in to anyone's line, as well as a friend who worked for one of the big Boston newspapers. He pulled off stunts that ended up in the papers. Like completely manufacturing a parade out of thin air in honor of James Michael Curley w/ two grand marshalls, each of whom despised the other. There was a fist fight involved and a lot of headscratching. But this huge parade actually happened. He also used to stay at the Biltmore Hotel in New York for months at a time and wreak havoc with the guests. Again, the operator cousins were an essential part of the operation. One stunt involved his impersonating, alternately, Monty Wooley and Woody Herman, both of whom were staying in the hotel; and were at the time bitter enemies because of Woody's having stolen away Monty's mistress; or the other way around. He somehow managed to arrange a party that they both showed up at which turned into a drunken brawl that made the headlines in the New York papers the next day. Etc.

My online friend Lesley, geeky cool slacker poet from British Columbia, and I used to try to transact trans-continental/trans-national urban adventures. We'd have a plan. It would usually be me scripting the thing and Lesley carrying it out. For example, one time we decided that she needed to go buy a bunch of girlie make-up and a mirror and then sit in a cafe all afternoon being the perfect narcissist. Just trying on different stuff at her table and staring at herself in the mirror. To inject a little energy into the adventure, she'd sometimes aim the mirror at guys who were staring at her. Just briefly. Then back to total self-absorption. She'd come back later and write-up these hilarious accounts of what she did and who approached her and what they said. Another time, there was this guy she thought was kind of cute; hip with a slight hint of menace about him. We decided that she should wear some kind of safari outfit and a net and hang out and wait for him, make some eyes at him, see what happened. For all his attitude, he was never able to say anything to her at all. He completely froze. Though a couple months later at some bar she was completely ripped and the guy walked up to her and said: 'Hey, you're that lion tamer girl, aren't you. What's up with that?' She feigned complete non-comprehension. I think the denoument was the guy got trashed and hit on her for the rest of the night. He was both boorish and completely freaked out by the whole thing. Maybe some of her friends had to intervene. The menace part wasn't just an act. I must have some of her write-ups somewhere.

My friend Steve takes me to task for my comment on rummaging around through cracked software, after my righteous rant re: Napster from a few weeks ago. I pointed out that my attitude was the same w/ the software as with the music. Anything I end up using I'll buy. Um, yep.

:: 10:05 AM [+] ::

:: Wednesday, July 24, 2002 ::
Notes from Underwater

- Yesterday's waves were big menacing fun. We pull up to Old Silver and Andrew says: 'Cool. Ok, Quentin. Let's play 'White Caps'.' I think Andrew and Quentin have probably invented several thousand games that only they know the rules to. Once in the water, Andrew is transported. We know not whither. But the boy is 'gaiety transfiguring all that dread' in action. I was having own zen wave oneness fun. Though there was a bizarre moment of terror as well. I was doing some handstand thingy and came out of the water sideways. A large wave pummelled me. As I was going under I caught a glimpse of the large green bluff just to the south of Old Silver. Because of the overcast sky the bluff was very similiar in color to the water and so it looked like a gigantic tsunami, or a raging Poseidon. I bolted right back out of the water like a sea-launched MIRV, decrypted the illusion and did a celebratory backflip.

- Went to see my brother's band last night. It's kind of a warmup for our gig on Saturday night. Was a bunch of fun. Robbie Jarvis' face effulgent with the effects of pulling Jimi Hendrix' 'Spanish Castle Magic' together. Now there's a song I want to cover. On the other hand, I was also thinking yesterday I'd like to record 'A Foggy Day'.

- I've got a cd full of reams of cracked software to try out and master in order to create a few virile dance tracks for the couple of remaining things I want to get done for the
record. But as I stare at the listing of stuff, I feel overwhelmed by the ancient myriad of possibility. But, you know, fuck the myriads. Time to unzip a few things and get involved.

- Out of the blue someone asked me what religion I was last night. I said, 'Uh, buddhist episcopalian animist, steeped in the King James, Shakespeare, Bach and the Tao.
Big conversation stopper. I thought it was a weird question.

- Last night about 2 a.m. a beautiful rainstorm. I was just lying in bed watching Anne breathing in her sleep (there's this beautiful noise she makes; I wonder if I'd die if I recorded it) and the rain pounded out gorgeous tribal unpurged musical imagery like a bunch of cloud smithies. It'd been threatening for hours and hours, so it was also a kind of blessed relief. Then suddenly several F-18s scrambling from Otis flew right over the house. A really terrible sound. I suppose I'm meant to feel comforted. But I just held onto Anne and started reciting Dover Beach to myself.
:: 11:37 AM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, July 23, 2002 ::
Sitting here in the kitchen in falmouth and Andrew's CDs are on the table. He brought 4 of them down with him. They are: Basement Jaxx, 'Rooty'; James Kelly, Paddy O'Brien, Daithi Sproule [fiddle, accordian, guitar trio], 'Traditional Music of Ireland'; Miles Davis 'ESP'; Frank Sinatra, 'Songs for Swingin' Lovers'. FYI.


br>The other night my friend Dave described to me research that shows if you put a monkey in a situation where it's the best at something, its brain becomes awash in seratonin and the monkey is happy. It turns out to be the case with humans as well. Moreover, relativizing or perspectivist thinking ("well, yeah, but I'm only the best basketball player amongst these 9 year-olds") seems to have little or no effect in dampening this seratonin-spurting trigger. This would seem to argue for everyone flushing their zoloft down the toilet in favor of finding little ponds to be big fish in.


Here's my 9/11 song, which sort of haunts me, whatever the merits of the song. Words are here. Obviously a private bit of processing on those events. In addition to the missing slinky curtis mayfield guitar part, one is to imagine large gospel chorus and real human claps flamming away at the finish.

:: 9:07 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, July 22, 2002 ::
Last night Anne and I went to a surprise birthday party for my most durable friend/de facto brother David. It was at his new S.O. Dominique's in Cambridge. A whole bunch of David's friends and/or neuropsych/psychiatrist colleagues were gathered in Dominique's cozy, nicely shaded Cambridge back yard. Food was great and since Dominique is Belgian the desert table was completely over the top. For a while it was mostly shop talk, but at some point David, David's sister Sarah and I got on a roll telling sandwichmassachusetts stories (twist my arm) and then things took a mighty turn for the surreal. I told the amazing story of Scott Holt (coming here soon) and my serendipitous, sad story about Shawn, my first love. David told a story about his running the jr. prom committee (during a time of admittedly protracted unrequited love) and resigning when they wouldn't adopt his proposal to cancel the prom outright because the pitiless Junior girls were going to procure dates with Junior boys, get them to rent tuxes, buy corsages and alcohol and then perfidiously drop them for their older boyfriends as soon as the formal broke up and the real partying began. He was hooted down, of course, by all the Neville Chamberlains who went on to experience things pretty much as predicted by David. And, ok, speaking of durable. One other thing. Today I come clean (sorry Josh): I've had a durable crush on Lisa dating back to ~ 3/4 of the way through the previous century. Or since whenever it was I met her, which I think was at some harvard dorm party when I was visiting David. Though I no longer remember things like dates and places. And since >95% of my crushes have been on lesbians, what was it about Lisa? She's married to Josh and has two boys. Well, I know the answer. It's the Jokes. Lisa is a non-stop wonder of verbal ridiculousness. Like a Rosalind/Falstaff/Touchstone rolled into one and come to life. From the moment she arrives anywhere, she's ON. Jokes and puns flying. There was some conversation going on about divorces and she said something about just taking on a second husband. Or something. I said, 'Well, that's big of you.' Lisa snaps her head in my face and instantly quips: 'Do you mean that's bigamy?'

Anyway, now I'm back to Falmouth for a whole week! of impersonating a potted plant. An empty picture frame. A missing ceiling. Talking to the sand. Banishing paint and confine. Finding the moisture. Limbo's anti-volcanoes. The lissome sane fullness of not having to care.

:: 10:55 AM [+] ::

:: Saturday, July 20, 2002 ::
After a surreal forty-eight hours, had a joyous day picking Andrew up in Putney, Vt. Left at the crack of dawn and got there just as his concert was beginning. The ensemble had changed a bit from the previous year. But Sarah Cantor was still directing and other returnees included Will McCraw on all kinds of weirdo wind instruments and the amazing Anthony DiBeneditto, pitch black hair down his back, on harpsichord. The hour-long set began with Dowland's 'Lachrimae Antiquae'. Andrew had a cello solo just after the opening so of course I was having optical focus problems w/in about 20 seconds. Other highlights for me were Anthony D. ripping apart a killer Dominico Scarlatti Sonata (the program had no opus # and since he wrote about 500 of the things I can't just go put on a CD) and the Canzona #2 by Giovanni Priuli, which changed meter about every 12 measures. Afterwards we ate and then strolled around as Andrew pointed out various of his favorite sites and hugged and joked with the incredibly close friends he always seems to develop. Just below the crest of an adjacent mountain there's a wonderful elliptical clearing. Andrew said that when he got homesick he'd run outside and just stare at the ellipse. It reminded him of a mysterious lost world and assured him that other stuff existed. Like his family. He had slightly more homesickness this year. Mostly because of sleep deprivation. He told me that at night the sounds revealed by the silence were haunted and kept him awake. Indeed Sarah called me at one point to ask if she could give him some benedryl to take on a weekend camping trip, things were getting so bad. But even insomnia had its pleasant side; as Andrew spent about fifteen minutes describing to me the kinds of amazing games that mist coming in and out of the Green Mountain valleys at 4 a.m. can play. As we walked to Andrew's dorm I met some of his best friends, like Noah, a poet who lives in Manhattan and Ellis, a 17 year old writer and cartoonist ('amazing' according to Andrew), also from Manahattan (his mom watched the towers go down from a scarily small number of blocks away). Ellis and I discussed bands and movies (he gave a thumbs up endorsement of Andrew's suggestion - from the time he was 5 years old - that I call my band 'Central Business Machines') and then Andrew and he recreated their performance for me of a slow motion 'Fight Club' parody they did for the Last Night of Camp gala. It's also gratifying to see how many girls Andrew has as friends. His other best pal was Hanna, ('Dad, this is Hanna. She loves Sonic Youth and Cat Power.') who was apparently also nocturnal and would regularly recruit Andrew for commando missions to do stuff like get 3 a.m. parties going via precision rock throwing on select windows. As Andrew was saying good-bye she launched into this mad rant about how in love she was with Forrest, this slightly pompadoured violist, and pleading with Andrew to do whatever it took to make sure Forrest came next year and did Andrew have Forrest's number and email and did Andrew see how clean the white shirt Forrest had on during the concert was, etc. As we walked away I said to Andrew, 'That's pretty intense.' Andrew said, 'Dad. She thinks Forrest's an idiot'. 'Oh.'

On the way back to Brookline Andrew regaled me with about a hundred stories until he finally fell asleep. Stories like this: 'One day we had this dorm bonding trip to a bowling alley. Danner, our dorm head, was driving us in his mini-van and it was Nathaniel from Brookline, you know him, Noah, Nathan [a poet from Maine and a wonderful kid], Jonathan, Mike and Yaz, a Japanese exchange student. Suddenly we pulled up behind this green truck and the driver is this perfect redneck. Fat; purple face; greasy black hair with a vast bald spot. And on his back bumper he's got two bumper stickers. One says: 'STRAIGHT from VERMONT'. With 'from' so tiny it's supposed to look like 'STRAIGHT VERMONT'. The other one says: 'REAL VERMONTERS SPREAD SHIT; THEY DON'T PACK IT'. So Danner says: 'Alright guys, listen up. As I pass this truck, everyone flip this bastard off.' So he guns the mini-van and as we pass the redneck we all smile and flip him the bird. Even Yaz. The guy goes berserk. Just pumping his fist at us. The best part is Jonathan had told us that since we were going to a bowling alley we all needed to dress up in the weirdest getups we could come up with. So like Nathaniel had on this sailor's suit he got in Northampton. Not the white kind, but this awesome blue one. I had on this biker shirt with all kinds of moon designs on it. Mike had on a massive straw hat. And Nathan was wearing a blue Sunday best suit. Oh, and Yaz had on the tightest jeans he was able to find in the dorm. The redneck looked like he was going to drive right off the road.'

When we got home Gabe and Nikko were there. Everyone was excited to see Andrew and listen to his ridiculous stories. I cooked dinner and we all screamed and yelled through maybe the final bachelor dinner of this excellent summer. Afterwards Nikko and I were going to play some music, but I ended up getting preoccupied writing, yawn, another new song. It has this weird modal harmony line for Bridget, which I was battling with. I think I must've been autonomically thinking of this Orlando di Lasso duet from Andrew's concert. I don't know. And it's only 45 seconds long. So they all multi-playered WarCraft III and stayed up to watch Saturday Night Live. [This morning Gabe was telling me about a Jeopardy parody they did with Bjork as one of the contestants. After some trippy answer she gives, the host says: 'Are you Icelandic or retarded?']

In the morning, another sign of the end of this phase of summer: Zack's bass lying in my dining room next to the stereo. He'd come in in the middle of the night and left to catch a crack of dawn flight for a camping trip in Michigan. With Quentin out of camp his A+ stint as Quentin's best buddy in Falmouth is over. I felt really sad for some reason. I guess I hate endings. I really need an eschatologist. But since I don't have one I tried to picture Andrew's ancient and divine ellipse across the valley from Mt. Putney. And it helped.

:: 8:47 PM [+] ::

:: Thursday, July 18, 2002 ::
Art came for dinner Tuesday night and we split a bottle of wine and discussed epistemology; specifically the recent swirl around Stanley Fish's defense of post-modernism against attacks from people like Edward Rothstein. Without going into this business very deeply, I can't help but comment that Fish (for once) seems so reasonable in his pieces on this topic. And that his comment that much of the criticism is ignorant isn't just him slashing. I find disheartening amounts of the contemptuous dismissiveness of post-modern epistemology really not to have moved much beyond Johnson's famous, hilarious and utterly beside the point kicking-a-stone refutation of Bishop Berkley. Anyway, we played through a bunch of my tunes and then went into a bit of bluegrass before heading out to the Cantab.

The Cantab, always packed lately, was mobbed like I've never seen it. Apparently that Boston Globe Magazine piece on Sunday hit a nerve. Of course I didn't notice intially how extra packed it was. We went downstairs upon arrival and it's a little less dense there. Jeremy and Alison were there and Jeremy was well on the way toward the gutter and the sawdust and the oyster shells. The bartender, whom I obscurely, perhaps dangerously, referred to as 'the Walter Mondale of bartenders' since he wasn't Mike-of-the-Specials, was lining up full priced 'specials' at the bar, which Jeremy seemed to be going through like gatorade. I really didn't do much playing. The band featured one of my favorite banjoists Loch Benson, who seems to be getting just better and better (though it's hard to get used to him not wearing a fez and a dashiki). So we went upstairs to do some whooping. Zack showed up but Geoff Bartley recruited him to do the sound. So while the sound was consequently the best I've ever heard it there, I was temporarily without someone to spew my beam of running spiritually anarchic commentary at. Which can be dangerous if I'm not among friends. For instance, as soon as Zack left some woman I've never seen before commented on how 'cool' it was that I was drinking wine and asked me what I thought about the band. I told her I thought it was time for a return to Monarchy. Fortunately Bridget showed up about then. She looked 7'1" and it occurred to me that I was maybe blotto for the first time in my life. But no. I was okay. She was wearing huge heels, had on a cowboy hat and, indeed, Jeremy really was bobbing back and forth like a penguin in an auburn fog. Afterwards we played outside on the street and were joined by a blues/soul singing cat with a harmonica and with Greg, Hide, Jeremy, Nick and probably others, Eric?, accomanied this guy in stuff ranging from standard blues to Al Green to 'Stayin' Alive'. It felt both silly and yet totally uncompromised, like we stepped out from under history's gray bucket for a moment. It wasn't Cabaret Voltaire, but the combination formed a nice new chain.

Last night Bridget came over for a low-key bit of tweaking some stuff and then just running tunes, before I leave for Falmouth for ten days (yay!). She played me a totally excellent low-fi gem on her new MiniDisk player. It's called 'Spoon Bending' and was written completely independent of my recent imprecations about her telekinetic energy. I said it's going on the record, as is. She smiled and the spoon in my shirt pocket withered. Anyway, here's some more audio:

* Dave's Ant Farm: A poem sausaged into a song. Needs some vocal tweaks, Bridget's funky nylon guitar, plus Zack's bass (tonight). The, ahem, poem is right here.

* The Girl Who Laughed Like Unmortared Brickwork: Another poem. This is actually going to be a short pumping dance number. But this versions isn't. Lyrics, plus transcript of creative process verite is here, right where it should be.

* Secret Place: A song originally written for Inner beauty that just seemed timely. This is a slow piano demo version. I'm thinking this one over, arrangement-wise. Lyrics are here.
:: 1:21 PM [+] ::

:: Sunday, July 14, 2002 ::
I have a small announcement for anyone I've ever played pool with: I was recently recalling how my friend had this huge pool table in the room next to the music room our band, 'The Clap', practiced in when I was in eighth grade. [Somewhat bewilderingly, only the stodgy biology teacher, Ms. Phillips, got the jejune attempt at a joke [she laughed; and was kinda my friend thereafter]; the rest of the faculty, smiling at the 500 lurid signs we hung around the school must've thought, i don't know, we wanted applause? I guess we did.] I have no idea how they even got the pool table up there. The thing was collossal. Anyway, I remember once experiencing a rare moment of bleakness. My normal place of meditation was at the very top of a huge sugar maple in my back yard, which had an amazing form-fit seat, facing the Atlantic Ocean. I could even fall asleep there. It was incredible. It's where I should have gone. But I was bleak, not my standard, quiet euphoric. So I was confused. I went over to my friend's and just walked inside his house and up the back stairs. His mother shouted out he wasn't home. I said: 'That's okay'. (It never occurred to me until just now that it might not've been okay with her.) When I got upstairs I thought for a minute about just wailing away on his drums. But the pool table looked even more inviting. Big oak legs, the smoking-room archetypal green cloth on slate. I just lay down and fell asleep. It was one of those sedated-like dreamless knock-out sessions. I woke up a couple of hours later and went home. It occurred to me recently that's the reason I always get vaguely bored and restless when I play pool. It's my fucking eidetic memory of a pool table as one of the best, most curative beds I've ever slept in!


Another one of the best weeks of my life: wasted. j/k. But it's pitch black here as it nears midnight. Total Nstar blackout. Just me and my laptop. Earlier, Gabe and I were walking around Coolidge Corner getting milk and ice cream. We were discussing the virtues of an open society after some back and forth over a feature we saw on the front of a New York tabloid enumerating specifics on how a terrorist might use a power plant to wreak some havoc. His last thought was that maybe we should divide the country into two zones: 1) the censored zone where anyone who likes things censored for them can live; 2) the uncensored zone for everyone else. I said, 'Maybe we already have that.' Eventually I had to change the topic. You can only speak so long about the spectre of terror with your child. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Though it was slightly odd to me that by the time we got to back to our neighborhood, all was in darkness. Like the battle of Britain. Gabe said: 'I want some high beams for my eyes.' I laughed. Reached up to put my arm around his impossibly high shoulders.


Last Monday Bridget came over for some recording. I wasn't in my usual state of complete preparedness, but it was really the only night that worked. She was feeling somewhat under the weather (see below) but managed some grace under pressure (see below). We've been doing a bunch of performerish things. Pretending we'll gig. I'm finally thinking we have some musical overlap in, like, Bjork. We both like dance stuff. Plus Bjork's words can be both femslap-upside-the-head AND trippy as a banana boat. I think I asked her about Bjork but I forget what she said. Anyway, pigpiles of audio below.

Tuesday went to, well, ok, the cantab (featured in the Globe magazine today, with great quote from Geoff Bartley about how true bluegrass music is so fiery it could never be mainstream). Mostly stayed downstairs. Both because Zack and Josh and Jeremy were there, but also because the main band has this despotic leader, full of contumely. Corrosive. That dare not speak its name. But let it be known that I can now check off another important personal growth+development experience: I've drunk moonshine. Zack and Ritter and I were sitting at bar and suddenly Josh's friend Carrie (?) says: 'Wanna go drink moonshine?' And I'm the only one laughing. Everyone else follows her straightfaced upstairs and out into the back lot where she pulls out, i shit you not, a mason jar (!) full of a clear liquid. We start passing it around. Turns out she's from Tennessee (or one of those places that'd probably be in the Censored Zone) and had just returned. I was expecting it to taste like rocket fuel; you know, big manly chug, followed by my spraying the entire assembly with a fine mist of distilled corn liquor as my upper GI tract says, 'no NO NOOOOOO!@' But it was smooth. Really. Me 'n' my moonshine.

Wednesday I went to a cookout at Gretchen's, which was kind of a birthday party for Gretchen. Gretchen's living with Barb so it was over there in Cambridgeport and a bunch of houses seemed to be joining in a canonical kind of urban hot fun in the summertime. I was mostly hanging with Art and Susan. Susan was telling some pretty good jokes, which I forget, as I do all jokes. Art and I then went to my place and we hung out with Gabe for a while and then played some music. I showed Art 'Saturn Jane' and he started charting it. Not sure what to do with it. The previous weekend I'd practiced it with Zack on drums and we just kinda flung it around the room like a dirty piece of bratwurst. Now I'm confused.

Thursday morning I wrote this new tune, called 'Bored With Me'. It's white indie-nerd trying to do smokey robinson. Actually, here's a fragment, recorded on mini-disk about 1 minute after I'd finished the song (c'mon guys, this is priceless bootleg fodder). The former's from about 30 minutes later, following a bizarre dizzy spell.

Thursday night I met Anne in Brookline for what's becoming a sweetly mysterious weekly ritual and then headed down to Falmouth for the weekend. Upon arrival Zack and Quentin served up a superb gourmet mexican feast, followed by some music and a series of bizarre male contests, like doing push-ups on a stool. Quentin's training to become a Marvel Comic book character. Actually, he told Anne that as soon as he gets out of high school he's going to move to Manhattan, get an apartment and start publishing his own comic books. A couple years ago during dot bong I would've said: "Cool idea, Quent." Now I just shut up, do my stool push-ups and think to myself: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Next day spent big gobs of one of the best days of my life getting the Rock Lobster (Anne's '72 red Wagoneer) suitably road-worthy. As always, aided and abetted by my irascible older brother, whose birthday it was. I took him to lunch and then just rattled around, up and down the coast waving at all the neo-beach bums in their physics-obscuring SUVs.

After spending the late afternoon transferring tons of bits from my misc. recording devices to Zack's mac n motu unit, I whipped up a shrimp/risotto improvisee (courtesy of birthday boy), Zack dj'ing up a fine batch of eclectic music (what was the name of that strange indie band again? the one yr friend from virginia gave to you?). Then played some more music, tossed Q. around and wound up all buddha-ed out on the front lawn, listeninng to Zack run down his frenetic fall schedule and privately wondering what the fuck ever happened to Debord's exciting postulate that: "Leisure is the real revolutionary question."

Anyway, lots more revolutionary leisure occurred. Anne came down at 7 a.m. Saturday after dropping Gabe off at 6 a.m. for another weekend-eating crew meet; my friend Watts visited and played me a fucked-up Elvis Presley re-mix that's #1 in England; Art visited and stayed over (and finally did chart 'Saturn Jane'); Andrew called to say that one of his buddies in Vermont brought '69 Love Songs' and that they were spooting around Putney singing 'And nothing matters when we're dancing/In tat or tatters you're entrancing/Be we in Paris or in Lansing/Nothing matters when we're dancing.' And now it's midnight and the power's out and I'm weirding out and my laptop battery is screaming at me, so here's some audio. Have a nice day.


* Bored With Me. Beautiful words.
* Bored With Me, fragment, 30 seconds after writing (recorded on mini-disk; and, btw, apologies for the corny reverb on all the MD recordings; somewhere in my x-fer process some bullshit reverb is being inserted; need to debug; too otherwise perplexed to do so right at the moment)
* Limbo Road, FU: a collage of fuckups and withering exchanges, Gustavo, all by way of capturing ->
* this very beatific prototypish, pre-bjorked up demo of Crown of Jennifer: a small thing, obscurely about my mommy going ta-ta. Beautiful words and scorching dialoghere
* Bird singing. What is says. MD recording from the deck off the master b.r. in falmouth. Listen closely and you can also hear Cape Cod Man Hammering, plus Chris, Jeremy and Zack discussing New Ideas in Europe. Or something.
* Mercy In Paint. Neo incredible string band tune w/ hippie epigone performance by me and faux hippie musings by bridget. This was 30 seconds after i'd trotted it out. Lacks sitar, oud, licorice and backwards flute. Lyrics and guitar experiment dialog here.
* Pop Off the Top. Whiteboy attempt afro-pop tune, immortalizing the time I threw a copy of Finnegan's Wake across Harvard Ave. Haven't taught this to Bridget yet.

:: 6:22 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, July 09, 2002 ::
I have a friend who's having a crisis of confidence. There are a variety of confidence crises. This particular species is one I have a name for. I call it 'composite fallacy'. (I know, Steve, you'll find it's not my coinage and means something completely different than my version. But hey, 'it's my blog, and I'll make shit up if I want to, make shit up if I want to'.) Like other crises of confidence, it results in an individual feeling unworthy or in a state of low self-esteem. Feeling unworthy is something common, and seems to me to be vaguely, fluctuatingly indexed to circumstance or chemistry. But there's a version of it where the causality seems especially pernicious and vexed, and goes something like this: 'I'm no good because, well, look at Malachai, he can play Bach fugues on the harpsichord; and Electra has a green thumb; and Molly Bloom has a good bod; and Moses can get the sun in his mouth.' Composite fallacy is the pysychological predisposition to roll all of that dispersed competence up into a single imaginary entity against which the composite fallacist compares himself. The fallacy lies obviously in the fact that while Moses can indeed swallow the sun, he has a very shitty body, which the fallacist for some reason is prevented from recognizing. It's actually even worse than that. Often, in the fallacist's tortured imagination, not only does Moses possess sun-swallowing abilities, but the other enumerated talents to boot. Same with Malachai, Electra and Molly Bloom. Damn them. All appear to the CFist to be super human. So that super humanity seems the norm. Ergo, feelings of worthlessness. All for a mirage of a cause. So let's all try to stamp out composite fallacy wherever it may be found. If your friend Medea says to you: 'Everytime I see Martha Stewart I just feel like total shit. She's so perfect,' don't hesitate to mention that Martha will soon be rotting in jail, overweight and watching too much tv. Ok?

:: 4:51 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, July 07, 2002 ::
I've been in Falmouth since early a.m. of the 4th. Gabe and I just got back. The usual paradox of frenzied pursuit of relaxation to the point of exhaustion. Of course 'relaxation' on the cape has this strange property of regularly morphing into riotous living. My one regret is missing the vestiges of the old world Independence day activities in my former home town of sandwich. They were over by the time Gabe and I arrived in sylvan n. falmouth. A bit later on Jeremy and Chris joined all of us, sans Andrew, plus Zack, plus enough of my various family members and the extended crew of wacked-out lawyers, judges, WHOI PhDs, lefties, nieces, nephews, etc. to make for a perpetual critical mass of movable feasting.

We started right off with picking just to get our collective bearings, followed almost immediately by a preposterous 2-on-2 basketball game. Temp was 90 degrees, humidity 80%, the sun just baking the basketball court. After a rocky start, J-robb and I got into a first order approximation of a give-and-go rhythm and out-lasted the diabolical Zack/Chris amalgamation. From there we hobbled to Megansett Beach and bobbed around in the bathtub warm great green mother of us all like four clumps of flesh-toned sea algae. After al fresco-like showers in the locker roomish master bath, we began readying for the Feast #1, a cookout at my sister's house. Anne had brought down a duffel bag sized sack of grillable stuffs, marinated every which way but loose, and there were tons of vegetables and drinks and deserts. I was especially happy to see that Peter's friend Kenny, a tough, cerebral, earthy new york lefty, had driven down from Truro to hang out. We immediately jumped into the pros and cons of Don DeLillo's 'Underworld', and a general discussion of weird words. Afterwards Zack, Chris, Jeremy and I did a set of bluegrass and swing in the twilight; Zack finishing things off with a pretty damned thrilling, unaccompanied, double- and triple-stop filled rendition of 'Amazing Grace,' aka Amazing Bass. After desert we lolled inside for a while, Quentin and my cousin Vicky's son Ben regaling us with jokes, alternately precocious and just plain weird. Back at our place, the intrepid musicians decided it was time to go barhopping and bravely ventured toward the turgid mass of humanity that ritually gathers in Falmouth Heights for the huge fireworks display. Anne and I just lay on the bed and talked for two hours while Gabe and Quentin watched 'The Piano' (Q:"Dad, Harvey Keitel has this gross brown spot on his butt. I'm serious.") We were just falling asleep when the phone rang. It was Andrew calling from camp in Vermont. Turns out some kid there had gone berserk, some drug overdose or psychosomatic overdose, and was running around screaming, sobbing, smashing his head against walls. Andrew was so freaked out he said he couldn't go into his dorm room without crying. So a whole group of kids (mostly high school age; Andrew's one of the youngest kids there) just sat around together in the common area trying to calm one another down. I was dying to just drive up and give him a hug, but it's 4.5 hours away and it was midnight. Once he was calm, I said goodnight and we hung up. In the morning he seemed fine.

Next day I woke at 5 and went for a short run to see whether the fucking blister I'd got the day before playing basketball in my function-follows-form next-to-no-soled Converse low tops had healed. I'd resisted the many, ahem, offers from Zack and Chris to get me a knife and some Jack Daniels for a blister lancing; but the blister was healed enough to allow for a nice slow jog. Once the guests awoke (no trumpet reveille this time) we headed to the North Falmouth diner for some of their exquisite fry-o-lator avoirdupois. Chris and I have this riff going about J.D. Crowe's suppurating pustulant face, like the human equivalent of the scariest corners of the darkest of fry-o-lators, baking in the sun, lesions spurting continually, but replaced just as continutally from the flesh petrie dish located in the blazing, living, rubicund, undulant area surrounding his inner jawline. This got extended to include notions like toilet bowls filled with whiskey, and aphoristic spin-offs like 'madder than J.D. Crowe when there's a line at the men's room' or Chris': 'your brain is like a jello mold of Crowe's whiskey piss'. Needless to say, this stuff reaches a kind of aesthetic apotheosis whenever we're in range of the N.Falmouth Diner. My many hats off to Jeremey and Zack for their patience. After breakfast those guys met up with some friends and headed off to Oyster Harbors for a day and evening of near-violent comeptitions involving everything from basketball and bocci to tubing N2O and huffing anything you can light with a match. I, on the other hand, spent the day variously swimming, writing a song (I was shooting for ten), doing some cleanup and maintenance stuff, putting up a mail box for Z., and just hanging with Anne and boys. The evening consisted of seafood dinner out in the back yard; some night swimming; trying to write another song (I've gotta stop) and reading 'Love's Labours Lost'.

Saturday was my birthday and I woke at 5 again. I'd been making mini-disk recordings of the variety of religiously cool birds singing in the backyard. And for some reason the birds were absolutely berserk at 5. But I was feeling too feckless to get my recorder out and capture it. I remember telling myself I'd get it tomorrow (today). Sadly, this morning was overcast and there was a very muted response from the birds. Maybe they were annoyed I'd missed them yesterday. Anyway, I finally got up and on my way into the kitchen I heard Quentin croak from the loft: 'Happy Birthday, dad. I love you.' Just as I was thinking that nothing could possibly top that, he started singing: 'Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you'. I was in heaven. And then it took one of Quentin's neuralizing hair-pin turns: 'Happy birthday George Bush/ Happy birthday to you.' [Yes, 7/6 is that asshole's birthday too.] I ran up the stairs to the loft and threatened to paper-plane him over the railing. He was laughing so hard, legs and arms spidering all over me, I thought he was going to pass out. No, I thought I was going to pass out.

After breakfast Gabe, Anne and I all suited up and donned our numbers for the Paul White Memorial North Falmouth Road Race. Things had cooled enough so that the running was superb. It's a great course that wends around N. Falmouth, through town, down to the ocean, finishing at the Library. Gabe took the family 1st ("I'm just going to take it easy, jog lightly, and assume I'll come in first overall"), followed by Anne, followed by me. Quentin met me for the last half mile, in his bare feet. I'd been running with this random black lab and the three of us came across the finish line together in a photo finish.

In the afternoon we did some more picking, bunch of Django swing tunes, then went to Megansett for yet another swim, where we decided we were going to start a power trio called Perry Garcia (Chris was wearing sea algae on his head, claiming to be Jerry Garcia; but since they looked more like Perry Farrell's dreads, I dubbed him Perry Garcia) that does jacked-up thrashing versions of Grateful Dead tunes. We'll be making our debut at Zack's September Nahant party. Be there. We already do a blitzkreigian 'Casey Jones'. Chris does a wicked death metal dwarf grunt.

While we were starting preparations for the evening, Chris and Zack were giving Quentin a law boards-like examination on the big fat manual for a video game Gabe had just bought. Quentin had been studying the thing for the past day and both Chris and Zack swore he had total photographic recall of the entire manual. Chris would ask something like: "what are the 11 properties of X". Quentin would pause for a few seconds and then just start reciting with perfect fidelity pages worth of text to answer the ridiculous question, like he was reading from a page inside his head. They did this for over an hour.

My birthday celebration really started kicking in at about 4. Anne gave me my card, a custom-made beauty featuring a gargantuan close-up of my favorite red poppy; plus a note inside that made me cry. I also got misc stuff, including Flaubert's 'Sentimenal Education'. My friends Tom and Linda came over with a bunch of their provisional microsociety friends; and Tom, a bona fide gourmet grill chef, brought over a brisket, fresh off the grill, that had Stanley making some pretty valiant attempts at speaking English. After dinner we made a conga line across the street to Ruth and Eric's for a 250-person party, w/ live funk soul brother check it out now cover band and onsite rock climbing. I talked with some judge friend of my sister's about Shakespeare for a while and then we all danced for a couple of hours. Since my version of dancing consists, to a large extent, of constantly bouncing up-and-down without regard to tempo, I eventually pulled a muscle in my calf; something the basketball, the road race and all the swimming and biking had failed to do. Dancing would be better than anything if you could shut gravity off. We went to my sister's for a while and then went home. I was happy and Wallace Stevens came into my head, the way he sometimes does: 'This is the day/that we desired, a day of blank, blue wheels,/Involving the four corners of the sky.'

Later, as I was lying in bed reading, Zack tapped on the door. He said, c'mere quick. I followed him into the computer room. There on the screen was an Ebay page featuring a picture of one of those astonishing, ravishing, sublimely stoidal Casio guitar-synths. Zack said: 'That was supposed to be yours my friend, but I just got scooped. But, hey, there's more where that came from.' I tried to say, No. No way, man. Don't do that. Please. But nothing came out. My left brain had finally been beaten senseless with the sticks of overwhelming family love and the camraderie of luminant friendship. Again.

Today Gabe and I drove back to Brookline. I want to record his beautiful desultory conversation, but I've run out of time. I have some audio to put up as well. Ok, then. In the immortal words of Mark Miller: More later.

:: 2:26 PM [+] ::

:: Tuesday, July 02, 2002 ::
The other thing I did this weekend, besides mowing the lawn, was hang out with my younger two brothers on Saturday night. My youngest brother lives in Boulder, Colorado and I hadn't seem him in a year. We weren't expecting him because his wife had a minor medical issue crop up just as they were leaving. But there we were, sitting in my sister's backyard when this unfamiliar car pulls up their dirt road. A vaguely familiar-looking guy sat in the passenger seat. He gave us all the finger. My brother-in-law was the first to recognize that it was my brother.

I haven't described Bill before. I love him a lot. He's a guy filled with lots of interesting, gentle contradictions and enigmas. He's in many ways the most literate of us, or at least the guy who had the deepest philosophical grasp on what he read. Though he's also into crazy stuff like Extreme Fighting. I remember him reading Camus and Hamlet very early on and truly internalizing them. One time, in the midst of his shooting up to his full height of 6'3", he ran into a neighbor, Carol Morrow. She hadn't seen him in a while and said: "My god, Bill, I can't believe how much you've grown!" Bill answered, in his laconic fashion: "Yes. I'll be dead before you know it." Or when he first got married, at a disastrously young age to a disastrous partner, his stance about why he was doing this was right out of 'L'etranger'. Me: 'But Bill, why are you marrying her? You don't have to.' Bill: 'Because she asked me to.'

Despite his bookishness and his beat road trips with Swedish exchange students he was also a very earthy, outdoorsy guy. He worked, as did my other younger brother, as a fisherman and when the seasickness eventually became unbearable, he built houses. He went to RISD for a year, but quit and started building houses full-time, which he still does. He's also extremely gentle and generous. And yet, below the surface, or under unpredictable kinds of stimulation, he's capable of real rage. He's the only one of us who actually got into fights after high school. (My last was in 7th grade.) And he's huge to boot; which is perhaps related to why he gets into fights. I don't know.

On Saturday night he showed up with his 2nd wife, who's great, and his daughter Emily, aka Lou, a stunning beauty. He was extremely garrulous and happy to see everyone and just launched into a million stories, some about his current life but, over the course of the evening, increasingly about crazy old cape codders from our youth. He talked about he and his friend Billy Eccleston visiting this hermit-like descendant of an ancient Cape Cod family, the Hoxies (family settled in about 1630). Crawford Hoxie was about 70 at the time and lived on several hundred acres of land (now the site, no doubt, of several of the type of unspeakably hideous developments that certain cape contractor miscreants will burn in hell for) out in the middle of nowhere. Like lots of these cape outliers, he seemingly had no job and only appeared in town for supplies or to gas up his truck or to go to the Yankee Clipper and drink. Even then, it was rare to see him. Bill said Crawford was unfomfortable in the extreme with them being at his house, even though he knew our family and Bill's friend's. But he awkwardly showed them around his land and then took them inside the house for a quick snort out of a bottle filled with some kind of clear liquid. Something from Crawford's still, no doubt. As they were leaving he said: 'Thanks a lot for coming over boys. Don't ever do it again. Okay?'

My two younger brothers' best friend was another 70 year-old named Clarence Van Buskirk. He ran the Highway Department and was larger than life in the way that character actors like Walter Brennan in 'Rio Bravo' and John Huston in anything are. Giant, practically hairless dutchman's head, massive arms, cro-magnon hunch, jutting lower jaw. His speaking voice was so distinctive that it was impossible not to imitate him. So everyone did. My brothers would just go over to his house and hang out and listen to his amazing stories about growing up in a Sandwich, Mass. that had changed remarkably little since the Glass factory went bust in the 1880s. Or drive around with him in his massive Cadillac during snow storms, drinking from a jug. And of course since there was pretty much always drinking involved, things would often get out of hand, especially when Clarence's immediate family was around. Bill was telling us about a time Clarence Jr. was over visiting as well as Clarence's brother, Bogus. (Clarence had another son, Beavo, who died of asphyxiation following a bar fight w/ members of the crazy Cahoon clan, mortal enemies of the Van Buskirks). For some reason, Clarence, Jr. kept slipping mysteriously out of the house and then coming back. Bogus got suspicious and watched out the window. He saw Clarence, Jr. get into his car, pull out a jug of wine, guzzle it, then scurry back into the kitchen to drink Clarence Sr.'s whiskey. Bogus was sitting at the table with Clarence, Sr. and my two brothers. Maybe a couple of other drunks. Bogus was telling some fetid tale about a guy named Bull Govoni, who lived alone and typically had his clothesline full of women's undergarments. Clarence, Jr. was pretty hammered by now and he lit into Bogus about being 'A goddamned gossipy bastard'. Bogus lashed back: "What are you, some fucking wino? Drinking in your car like a gawwwwd-dammmmmned old woman." Clarence, jr. at this point flew into a rage, picked up a hammer that was lying on the kitchen table and smashed Bogus in the shoulder. Clarence, Sr. sat in his chair laughing as Bogus, howling in pain, ran to the stove, grabbed the boiling tea kettle and began chasing Clarence II around the house trying to scald him to death. Eventually the chase led out the front door, at which Clarence, Sr. jumped up and locked the door. The remaining party had a good laugh listening to Bogus and Clarence, Jr. running around the yard trying to kill each other.

One other story. One fourth of July (a huge day in the life of our small -- though large in the summertime -- town) a contemporary of ours, Dave, and a bunch of his friends, who had been drinking most of the day, decided to play some basketball. Dave was a fisherman at the time which, as in Melville's time, meant you tended to be slightly berserk whenever you were on land. Dave had sandals on and was getting increasingly pissed off at slipping and sliding around. So he eventually decided he'd do better in bare feet. This worked for a while. But by the time they'd finished a couple hours of full court 3-on-3 the parts of his feet that weren't completely skinned were covered with bulging blisters. Dave screamed over to Mike Finnerty: 'Take my knife and cut them!' Finnerty said, 'No way'. Dave screamed: 'CUT THEM!' So Dave lay on the ground and Finnerty got out a swiss army knife and started lancing the blisters. All the while Dave was pouring a steady stream of Jack Daniels onto his feet and shrieking so loud you could hear it for miles. Several times Finnerty offered to stop. But Dave insisted. 'KEEP CUTTING!!' he bellowed, a second bottle of Jack Daniels alternately pouring into his mouth and onto his open wounds. Eventually they stuck Dave in a wheelbarrow, pushed it up the hill and dumped him on his front lawn. (As a footnote: The last time I saw Dave he was happily married, proud father of a couple kids and was delivering a heartrending eulogy for his brother who was killed on 9/11.)


My friend Chris writes that he's going to see the second show of the Who's tour. Should be intense. Perhaps I can tease a review out of him.


RIP: Philip Whalen, 1923-2002.
:: 10:08 AM [+] ::

:: Monday, July 01, 2002 ::
Pete Townsend's blog, w/ some thoughts on why they're continuing w/ the Who tour.
:: 1:19 PM [+] ::