:: Why The Kimono Is Beautiful ::

fragments shored against ruin
:: welcome to Why The Kimono Is Beautiful :: bloghome | contact ::
[::..you need..::]
:: Paul [>]
:: Art [>]
:: Hugh [>]
:: Dave [>]
:: Steve [>]
:: Chris [>]
:: Poems, etc. [>]

:: 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 for 8 bucks. 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.org; 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 google.com
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 amazon.com.

:: 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 joemahoney.net. 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 apache.org (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 [+] ::

:: 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, dot.com 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 [+] ::

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?