hurricane blues

stuck inside today. just writing…

i’m always talking to myself
and i’m always never getting anywhere with that
feeling sorry for all the wrong things
still defiant
and i still do the wrong things
it’s warm,
this comforting malaise

of the all the people i know
bullies, drunks, parents, siblings, lovers —
thoughtless, unforgiving, uncaring, and mean —
the most tiresome is me

in a selfish way
i treat myself poorly
and revel as the victim
and take glory in the pain

if god forgives sinners
if parents always love
if blood truly binds
aalways forgiving
if everyone around me
is the greatest that i could know

then it’s not their fault
then the world is good to me
then i need their forgiveness
and then
i’ll treat myself well
and then
i will be better

Overthinking the Playlist

overthink much?Creating set lists. Whew! what a load of work. In a few days I’ll bust out a set of live music, but I wondered (to myself, but still loud enough to confuse the people sitting beside me on the train) how do I decide on song order?

This can’t be simple. That just won’t do. So let’s overthink it.

At first, I simply ranked the songs’ “goodness” but it was not enough to create order among the 14 tracks. So I added a few more categories: tempo, mood, dynamics, melody, lyrics, and playability—from those I derived the average score and the median score for each song. My initial plan was to use the average and/or median scores to determine which order I should play the songs in. But those metrics weren’t as descriptive as I’d hoped. So I decided to create weighted averages for the dynamics, tempo, and playability scores; my logic being that these three metrics somehow represented the three most memorable characteristics of a song.

So I have all these numbers, but what was I going to actually do with them? How was I suppose to arrange a list of numbers to translate into a cohesive and enjoyable set of live music? I began by plotting the numbers with the songs in a pretty random order. The graph did not look like a road that I wanted to travel on. And that pretty much became my standard for a good set list: would I want to drive a car across the graph of its associated scores?

I finally decided to choose “tempo weighted” as the most crucial metric. I did this mainly because the variance in these scores was highest, i.e., there were higher peaks and lower valleys than in other categories.

Next, I needed to decide on how i wanted my “road” to actually look. I chose to start the set off mid-to-high tempo and sustain for a couple of songs. Then slow things down and then back up to mid-tempo, and then slow things down again. The set would end with a climb upward to the highest tempo song. Here is the result:

it's like a rolley-coaster for my songs!

click to embiggen

All in all, I think it’s close to arbitrary but it always feels nice to have some reason behind “big” decisions like this — just come to my show already!. Thank you.

lyrics, yo

but here are the lyrics!

there’s even a track that isn’t on the album, “another world, another god” which was inspired by the three stigmata of palmer eldritch… it just wasn’t good enough for my exacting standards (also money-making re-issues need b-sides, so… there’s that)

the empire never ended is…

tEnEMany, many years ago (god, I am getting old), I read “The Futurological Congress,” by Stanislaw Lem. It was an instant favorite. After that, I absorbed every Lem book I could find and was constantly pleased. Then, in an old interview I found online, Lem claimed that he was just rehashing ideas that Philip K. Dick had already covered.

And so PKD entered into my life. “The Man in the High Castle” was first. Then short stories by the hundreds. Then, like a catch phrase that you never knew existed but is totally awesome, came “Ubik,” and that’s when the genius, power, and creativity hit me. This was my new Jorge Luis Borges. This was magical realism disguised by sci-fi. I was in a new Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius and it was as real and as pure as anything I’d ever experienced. It was maddening and confusing. The world of Ubik is equal parts “The Running Man” and Jean Baudrillard.

And then, everything else followed. I devoured every story, film, & biography I could swallow. Well, nearly everything. I still haven’t gotten up the courage to read these newly published non-sci-fi works… whatever. sue me.

And then a few years ago I wrote this song, “fake world, nyc” whose first few verses seemed to be about feeling stuck in a relationship where you are isolated but feel helpless to change things. After a few attempts at polishing it, I realized I was singing about “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Completely unintentionally I had re-created the world that Deckard lives in… but it was my life that I was describing. It was eerie, and one of those elusive pure moments of inspiration that artists live for.
After a complete overhaul, the song was completed and recorded for my 2009 album Simulation of an Artist.

But, that moment stuck with me and drove me to write (and to read) more.

The tumultuous relationship that was ending at the time—together with the idea of writing about my favorite sci-fi—pushed me to write other PDK-inspired songs. And then, it hit me, this is a concept. For an album. A “concept album” as it were.

tEnE 2That was the beginning. From that idea sprang forth a thousand words and a hundred songs—thirteen of which comprise The Empire Never Ended.

There are hundreds of hours, millions of gublots (a unit I just made up) of effort, and several garbage pails full of love, that went into these songs. (i think the secret is that these songs are actually more a part of me than PKD, but i’ll never tell…) so I promise that i’ll eventually write more about each of them.

Thanks for listening and for reading.

on the ground, a crumb

who is yr dog now?
and lo it was that soaring epic birds and fiery steel girders descended from the sky and there was a great tumult.
it is the end of all life on this back of this paper crane and we are sore.
i fell on.
and on.
and now on the grill: burgers and shouts.
it’s a time for drink and a time for us and there is a song and i don’t know who it is for, but i could guess, although it hurts my heart.
but i know that i am right.
and it was permitted, but there were also warning shots and nails to step on and torment to trip over and gerrymandering, whatever that means.
it all made sense.
we wandered delicately through leaves and bare earth whose tusks were tucked under canopies of fruit and fresh summer rain and coffee beans.

the empire never ended, tracklist and artwork

hi all
good news about the upcoming record.
the artwork and tracklist are below.

hey, i’m excited. my friend marc painted this portrait of me.
it’s an homage to this image but with my head on it.

1. the empire never ended
2. killing in the name of all that is good and holy
3. horselover (formerly “on writing”)
4. a life like god’s records
5. shortened life, part 1
6. abendsen’s dream (formerly
7. a precog never lies
8. twinless twin
9. shortened life, part 2
10. mercerism (fake world, revisited)
11. child of mars
12. i’m alive and you’re dead
13. the universe is cold

tentative release date: March 27, 2012

listen to demos on my soundcloud page

tube socks!!

  Tube socks are awesome… if you’re a robot with tubes for legs and no feet, that is!!

  What were people thinking when they invented tube socks? Maybe something like:

  “Eureka! I’ve done it! I’ve created the perfect sock for people with perfectly tubular legs!”   

  And that’s a quote!  

from this cat:  


whose picture i stole from the internet  


don’t sue me  


  who’s a wittle puddy cat? you are!  … yes you are!!

Tilva Ros… a most biased review

Tilva Ros is a Serbian film, directed by Nikola Lezaic. It is an understatement to say that I was pleased to see Tilva Ros in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Having my friends there with me as a lovely piece of art flowed across a screen was not only kickass, but terrifying.

Among other pleasant surprises, the movie was remarkable for it’s quality and style and thoughtfulness and grace and blood and tears and funny costumes and beautiful landscapes.

Here are specific remarks that I wish to make:

  1. desolate and beautiful landscapes of a run down copper mine as well as the city of Bor, Serbia and surrounding area
  2. surprisingly competent, tortured, and emotional acting by relative amateurs
  3. awesome soundtrack of mostly english/american-sounding music. despite my obvious subjective view of the soundtrack (i have 2 songs in the film), it really struck me the independent vibe that radiates from each song selection. what does the previous sentence mean? is it useful? no.

anyway, congrats to everyone involved for their many awards on the film… including top prize at the Sarajevo Film Festival.

there are two ieatpants songs in this film and both can be downloaded for free. “unt” from the 2008 album stuck in long island city with the brooklyn blues again and “my energy, my direction” from 2010’s ieatpants.