Archive for December, 2019

That strange time….

December 30, 2019 Leave a comment

It’s that strange time.

The week between Christmas and New Years.

Nobody is quite sure what day it is, or what we’re supposed to be doing. So we stay up late even if we have to get up early, and find reasons to sleep in even if we really should be rising to conquer real-life chores.

Post Christmas depression has set in, but everybody knows that a big party night is days away….along with some more time off. At the very least we’ll get a midweek break, and for many….another entire week to blow off, officially or (to judge by the many office workers online shopping) unofficially.

2020Nobody really likes being told what to do, so more and more we stay in on New Years Eve and drink beer and eat Doritos on the couch…..a final middle finger to a shitty year that’s been pressuring us to do stuff we really don’t want to do for the last 364 days. Most of us are in the sheets early, watch the stupid ball drop and Jenny McCarthy kiss NYC cops, and are asleep well before the parade of one-hit wonders start bad lip-syncing from the west coast. The new year is coming, and we give can start to give a shit in the morning.

New Years Day used to be a smorgasbord of great college football games, but the playoff system ruined all the old venerable bowl games, so football is relegated to background noise… Muzak on an elevator. Laying on the couch with a brutal hangover is a distant memory as well, since it’s hard to get good and drunk when you’re asleep before the local news is over. New Years Day is just another day to lay around and do nothing while contemplating either a shower or joining the gym.

On the whole, 2019 was straightforwardly ass-sucking. Our nation is filled with a very large number of gleefully cruel ignorant vile racist shitheads, which I suppose has always been the case but now they seem to be emboldened gleefully cruel ignorant vile racist shitheads, which kinda makes it worse. Whatever. I try to avoid such people. You should do the same. Make America less shitheady. That would look great on hats.

There are more good people than bad of course….it’s just that the shitheads are always louder so their numbers get amplified. If history is a guide, shitheadism can only be defeated when good people start screaming really loud about shitheads, so maybe 2020 can be the year that silent good people get fed up and start doing things like punching nazis in the face and the like. No more kids in cages. Stop judging the health of the economy on how well rich people are doing. Raise the fucking minimum wage. Such things don’t seem like huge moral leaps of faith to me….so I’m never gonna be totally convinced that we’ve completely jumped the shark as a so-called Christian nation. I think we can yet be saved, especially if we put all the rich white men on a boat and ship the fuckers off to Elba.

What say you? Hand the reins over to the women and children.

And learn how to spell. This needs to become a priority. You know how you learn this? By reading. So the fact that nobody can fucking spell anymore tells you what?

See how these things are all connected?

Shitheads aside, at the beginning of a new year we all sorta wish for the same basic things though. We don’t want a repeat performance of the past year (last year always seemed to be terrible). That would suck. So we ask for good health and not to get whacked from our jobs and to take care of our children and to have a few good friends to drink with and to not get fat. Some good new music wouldn’t hurt either. A few decent books and something bingeable on Netflix. A warm bed and somebody to fill the ice trays. To grow weary at the end of long days without the desperation. We wish for memories that make us smile, not the other kind. And peace. We want peace in our own heads and beds….in our own homes… our own corners of the universe….and to project that peace outward, to serve as an antidote to the chaos that so often swirls around us.

There’s only so many of these New Year’s left. There’s way more behind me than there is in front, so putting stuff off makes less and less sense. Make that/those record(s). Write that book. Stage that play. Take a crack at that screenplay. Let the dog sleep in the bed. Stop looking for excuses to tell yourself no, and find the ones that talk you into saying yes. Be the friend you always wanted and half the man your father was.

I want my kids to be safe and secure and well on their way to their own futures.

And I want my regrets to be swallowed up by staying busy doing what I love to do.

In a bit..


Categories: Uncategorized

Oh what days they were. I miss them.

December 24, 2019 Leave a comment

I wish I was still a kid sometimes.

Christmas Eve. The slow build. It was all coming together. Finally. The anticipation. Santa was loading up the sleigh, and like magic, no matter how early we’d rise on Christmas morning, the booty was always there. Despite hearing all sorts of bumps in the night, we never once caught Santa. He was a slippery bastard. And a logistical genius. Way more reliable than Amazon Prime. And he left the packages inside the house, so the meth-heads couldn’t steal them from the front porch. Ahead of his time.

santaThere was 6 of us kids, so things needed to be somewhat coordinated. Years later just about all of us copped on to slipping down the steps in the darkness to get an advanced peek….but we weren’t allowed to officially begin the wrapping-ripping until everybody went down together. What a wait that was. Me and my twin brother would sit whispering in our bunk-beds, checking our lists twice and then twice more. I can’t remember ever being disappointed.

I almost forgot….my Dad insisted on getting the entire melee on film….and he had one of those old movie cameras with the huge lighting rig that you’d have to attach, that gave him this look like a deer with large antlers. One at a time we’d go…..with my too-cool older siblings turning their heads every time he got near them, while my sister Erin (there’s always one) would pull contorted faces and ram a finger up her nose. Oh she loved the camera, that one.

And there is my brother and me…..most likely dressed in matching pajamas (as young twins we had no sartorial chance at all, we just grinned and bore it). My brother was always more outwardly excited than I. I was trying to be cool all the time, and failing miserably. He just smiled and bounced around like a lunatic. But you couldn’t hide it. We sat on Santa’s lap just a week or so prior….and ticked off what we wanted. And here it was, splayed before us. How could this not be the greatest day of the year?

evelTrucks and trains and baseball gloves (immediately rub it in oil, put a baseball in the pocket and tie it closed with a shoelace, and jam it underneath the tires of the station wagon, to break it in)  and nerf footballs and GI Joe with the kung fu grip. The Evel Knievel rev-up motorcycle. The Star Trek enterprise….complete with a transporter room! One year we got football helmets…..the Vikings for me and the Redskins for him (I was a big Tarkenton fan….and was always afraid the Raiders were going to kill him). Another year the “Johnny Bench batter-up”, which required a concrete base that weighed about 150 pounds and these large rubber bands that would snap after a few swings. The most idiotic contraption ever devised by man, but it was on my list….and there it was. (the concrete base would sit behind the garage for years. It might still be there for all I know….) I fancied myself quite the sportsmen in those days, even though I had no talent whatsoever and would get so nervous during organized games that I’d dry heave.

After gorging ourselves on Santa’s good graces, there might be a little nap. And then the company would start to arrive. Uncles and Aunts and cousins, with some great Uncles and great Aunts sprinkled in. My great Uncle Joe always got the chair to the right of the Christmas tree, and he’d sit there in his crisp white shirt and tie, with a constantly refreshed bottle of Schlitz in his hand, telling stories and jokes and watching the football while waiting for the call to move to the dinner table. My Mom would be preparing the works….Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and always 2 cans of cranberry sauce, one for everybody else and one for me (I was obsessed with the stuff in those days…). The smell was enough to transform an atheist. My aunts would be helping her, and anybody else ventured into the kitchen at their own peril.

Finally my Dad would be summoned to carve the roast beast…..and we’d all sit. Us at the “kiddie table” of course. Seats in the dining room only opened up when fully grown family members died, so it was considered bad form to complain.

It was all so incredibly frenetic…..but also as gentle as a sea breeze. I recall no bad scenes. No drama. Nothing scandalous. I’m sure that’s just the memory of an innocent child, but that’s what I hold with me. And so that’s what’s important.

Christmas Eve we all slept light. Christmas night we slept the sleep of the dead. It was glorious.

Oh what days they were. I miss them.

I miss my Mom and Dad. I miss the love they always provided. I miss always feeling safe in that house. Nothing could hurt us. I miss being that kid.

I wish things would have stayed like this forever.

I wish you these memories.

Merry Christmas.

In a bit..


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Hopefully despondent

December 23, 2019 Leave a comment

It’s been a whirlwind type of year. The good are getting better and the bad are getting worse. The loud are getting louder and the quiet have grown even more quiet. The lies are more outrageous and the truth is getting harder and harder to believe. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and those in the middle are in perpetual doggie-paddle mode. We’ve never been more divided…..but in a lot of ways I’ve been so inspired by what we can do when fate forces us to work together. I’ll never stop believing that the vast majority of mankind is inherently decent, but can walk around in a frothy rage for days at a time with a Pesci vs Billy Batts highlight reel playing in my head. I’ve never been so hopefully despondent for what comes next. I think that about covers it.

I make no resolutions for the new year. Treat others the way I’d like to be treated…and hope for the best. Take care of my family. Be something of a role model for my girls. I’ve been pretty lucky so far, so I’ll spend a lot of my time knocking on wood. When I make mistakes, hopefully I’ll be strong enough to admit to them. When I see a wrong I hope I’m brave enough to try to make it right. I’ll continue to despise bullies and those who only wish to lift themselves by trampling over the backs of others. Ignorance will continue to disgust me, but since it’s hard for me to believe we haven’t already hit rock bottom, I can’t be anything other than hopeful in this regard. I want our next President to be able to spell and to speak in complete, coherent sentences, which is a wish I never thought would be necessary but yet here we are.

I have a decent job, but with lots of jobs these days, it comes with staggering uncertainty. More and more of us are forced to live with the sword of damocles dangling over our non-unionized “at will employee” type heads…so I try to come to work and do the best I can, all the while hoping that some newly placed faceless corporate white guy doesn’t zero in on my position listed on some outdated spreadsheet and decide to offshore my ass to Bangalore to save some rupees for the stockholders. (On this day 7 years ago I was fired from my previous job of 10+ years via an early morning phone call, and informed that both my system access and my health insurance would be null and void effective immediately… I like to think my paranoia isn’t just me being, well, paranoid). They haven’t invented the drug that mitigates the fear of no longer being able to provide for your family. If they had, I’d be a happy junkie.

What we all need is a plan B. Unfortunately I haven’t come up with one yet.

I’ve got more songs in me. I’ve got more plays. The words are still there. The discipline has been a bit lax. I hope to correct that in the upcoming months. I want to work hard on these things, and be able to periodically rest in front of the fire without worry. I want a warm bed and good books and my guitar to always be within reach. I want spring to go directly to fall…..and for winters to be the kind that don’t physically hurt when the wind howls. I want to be missed when I’m gone and to see smiles when I return. I want to be a good friend and to be lucky enough to have a few of them in return.

I want to deal with that Lincoln called “the tired spot” and Churchill called “the black dog” in a way that doesn’t alienate those closest to me. I want to lie and be lied to less. I want to walk for miles and miles and feel better even while I’m feeling older. I want to contemplate retirement with something other than terror and/or loud guffaws as my companion. I want to sleep without staring at the ceiling waiting for it to fall on me.

I want love to find a way….and for those who don’t agree with such a sentiment to piss off and leave me and my family and friends be.

In a bit.


Categories: Uncategorized

Tough All Over and Tommy Conwell

December 13, 2019 Leave a comment

We all have our own ways of coping with the dying spasms of democracy. Yet another Trumpian buffoon has taken the reigns of a major power. So as Boris Johnson and his hideous mane tramp across Britain making dumbness great again, I’ve given up on the future completely and retreated into the past, diving into my childhood memories via music. With the help of my new Spotify account of course.

It’s all there. Every teen-era memory I can conjure up has a soundtrack accompanying it….and I’ve been pulling them up one at a time and smiling and longing for a time when our national IQ prevented such things like a viciously cruel fascist racist mentally deranged narcissist being elected dog-catcher, much less President of the United States. And having such a thing inspire other nations who think….”wow, if the US can do it imagine the fucking idiot we could put up.” But whatever, we’re here now and completely doomed and I don’t even pretend that we’re going to be able to redeem ourselves in the eyes of our children…..who will have to clean up the mess we’ve left them, assuming the planet doesn’t simply die from supreme neglect before they get old enough to vote, or be taken over by rampaging Nazis in khakis carrying tiki torches. Our kids are gonna toss all of us into decrepit nursing homes and never visit us, which is what we deserve.

Album_cover_for_Tough_All_OverSo it was the mid 80s……and it was the summer. Beer and girls and bon-fires and boom boxes, 4 of the greatest things in the universe. On magical weekend nights they’d all converge and time seemed to stand still. We laughed and sang and cried and thought things were gonna be like this forever….friends and warm summer nights and music and the water from the creek rolling by….promising eternal youth. And at the end of the night we’d break into groups….finding our way home….always on foot. Giddy from the beer, holding hands….with the free one clutching the boom box as we danced our way down  the street that curved like an S past the police station and the projects, singing John Cafferty’s Tough All Over….over and over again. We’d have to stop dancing and rewind the tape…..and then we’d be off again. Another 3 minutes plus of pure bliss. There was nothing special about that night….it was like 100 others…..except the memory is tied to that particular song. It’s a good song…..not groundbreaking…..but a solid bar-band song with a great chorus…..and I’ll forever be grateful that it exists because without it those special nights might have disappeared into the ether. For those few hours….or those few minutes….I don’t think I ever felt more alive.

Tommy_ConwellOne more memory……and that was this kid from Philly. My sister Eileen came home with this tape one day (I have no idea how she heard about him….but her tastes were impeccable so it was worth stealing). Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers. Walking on Water. It was a cassette. An independent release. This kid and his band were tearing up the Philly area….and she and her friend traveled out there one weekend night and caught his live set, which had become legendary. Climbing on tables…..the works. All word of mouth. She said the shows were Springsteenesque in their intensity. Word was that Conwell was gonna be the next big thing. He then released an absolutely killer song called “I’m Not Your Man” and those of us who were there on the ground floor felt superior to everybody else, smug in knowing what was coming next. Major labels came calling and all the attention apparently fucked with Conwell’s head…..and his second major release tanked (despite a brilliant song called “I’m Seventeen”) after 100 different industry types convinced him that he needed co-writers and a famous producer and famous guest stars and that he needed to get rid of his band and work with studio pros, and not to do what he had been doing which was strapping on his guitar and fronting a killer band of friends, and killing crowds with catchy songs and manic energy…and that was pretty much that.

He recorded another record that the label refused to release….and he was dropped. Conwell got a job as a teacher and eventually settled in to work for his Dad’s fencing company. These days he’s still haunting Philly bars….his 80s golden locks replaced by…well…nothing. A trucker’s hat covers his bald head….but word is that he ain’t mailing it in. He goes all out. He’s one of the great what-ifs that I know of. I wish him nothing but the best.

Hell, for all I know he may not have any regrets. But maybe I do. I remember how his music made me feel. And you probably missed it. The world would have been better if you didn’t.

In a bit..



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Spotify and a Monkees binge..

December 11, 2019 Leave a comment

I’ve always been a few years behind the times. I clung to my albums and tapes when others were buying CDs. When Itunes started taking over the world…..I jealously guarded my countless CDs and resisted (which of course I had owned on vinyl already and had to re-purchase…I’m still pissed at this record company scam but whatever…). When I finally succumbed (when CDs were topping out close to $20) to downloading music, everybody started to  jump on the streaming bandwagon. My current Ipod has about 30,000 songs on it…..and I treat it like a piece of fine china because they don’t make the Ipod classic anymore. So once it craps out (one already did….my current one I found used a few years ago), an entire life of music goes with it. My kids look at me the way I might side-eye a guy at the beach blasting 8-tracks. A hopeless relic.

Of course there is an alternative.

micky-dolenz-monkees-ftrAnd so here I am…..a brand new Spotify junkie, supporting the very platform that pays me as a musician a poverty-inducing $0.006 for each stream. Yes, I’m an idiot. But I’m also an idiot with sudden access to 30 million songs…..and I’m having the time of my life. As I type these words I’ve been listening to the entire catalog of The Monkees for the last 5 hours. Yesterday I listened to an entire shift of 60s garage rock. The day before I binged on the new Who album and the latest from Jesse Malin, this after listening to California Dreamin’ about 47 times in a row (how beautiful and perfect is this song?). All of this costs me nothing…..for now. I get 3 months free and will eventually kick in $14.99 a month for the family plan…..which seems an absurdly low amount for all the songs in the world but I’m not gonna argue (No wonder they only pay me $0.006, just saying….).

So as I said…..I’m sitting here now, and at my fingertips is a virtual jukebox that would have to be the physical size of a 21st century luxury liner. And I’m getting all sad and sentimental because Davey Jones and Peter Tork are dead and feeling pissed off that I didn’t write (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone. And I’m realizing that Micky Dolenz has always been one of my favorite singers. And that Mike Nesmith wrote (and writes) great songs. And I’m saying to myself that if the Hollies are in the rock and roll hall of fame (as they should be), why aren’t the Monkees? Compare their songbooks and explain it to me….and don’t tell me they weren’t a real band, because neither was the Beach Boys. When guys like Glen Campbell and Hal Blaine are in the room, do you know what you do? You get out of the way and let them play. And if somebody writes you “Last Train to Clarksville”, you record it and smile about it for the next 50 years.

Ok, it’s been a slow day but still. This is what music does to you…y’all. And I cannot believe that I never knew that the song by the Association is called “Windy” and not “Wendy”. When the fuck did that happen? I’ve only been singing it wrong for 35 years.

I can’t wait to see what my brain conjures up tomorrow. And the day after. I might go all Laurel Canyon…..or dig deep into 70s power-pop…..or stand on a barstool to scream about how underrated the Cowsils were. I might just throw in the towel and say Motown is the greatest music in the history of the world. And I can pull up Suite: Judy Blue Eyes and once again wonder why Crosby Still and Nash even bothered to do anything after releasing that song because clearly there was no way they’d come even remotely close to topping it……they could just lay back on a big water bed covered with beautiful girls and Tony Montana-sized bowls of coke and say “top that one, motherfuckers.”

And by the way you do realize that neither Warren Zevon or John Prine or Los Lobos are in the rock and roll hall of fame either, right?

If I were them I wouldn’t want to join a club that didn’t admit the Monkees. So there.

Happy listening boys and girls…

In a bit..



Categories: Uncategorized


December 2, 2019 Leave a comment

It’s December…..that strange time between major holidays when everybody is giddy and excited and homicidal all at the same time. Hurry up and wait and eat and drink and be merry and make sure you don’t miss Charlie Brown or Rudolph or the Grinch. Things seem to pick up and slow down simultaneously….with a lot of Office Space-type jobs going into semi-hibernation. Companies won’t admit to this of course, but the give-a-shit meter is barely detectable from now until the new year in a lot of places. Office parties…..loads of folks taking time off…..good luck getting somebody on the phone until the year 2020.

2390E7EB00000578-2852585-Scrum_down_Customers_push_each_other_out_of_the_way_as_the_crowd-72_1417213372623I broke one of my cardinal rules and left the house on Black Friday. I had the day off so in a fit of madness I volunteered to accompany my wife to the mall. What I saw was absolute chaos everywhere……while my wife kept saying “my God….this is nothing. There is nobody here….” over and over. I could not understand it. Checkout lines reminded me of Disney World. Parking lots were obstacle courses…..traffic law and order had seemingly broken down. I was just waiting for somebody to throw themselves across the hood of our car to reach their destinations quicker. I’m not good at this. At all. My wife is a pro. Apparently on-line shopping has taken quite a bite out of the Black Friday foot traffic….which I would have no way of knowing since it was probably the first time I’ve ever been near a mall the day after Thanksgiving. So the 8 billion people I saw that day is apparently usually 80 billion. Just thinking about gives me a newfound respect for shopping warriors like my wife, who seem to float above the crowds while I manage to get in everyone’s way. But right when I’m almost ready to accept that these people aren’t nuts I read about the Black Friday brawl outside of Nashville that apparently started over an argument over a pair of Frozen 2 slippers. And the fear and loathing begins anew.

I always feel bad for this shopping thing. The folks working at the stores don’t want to be there (looking at them reminded me of an assortment of hostage videos)….and maybe if idiots like me didn’t go to their stores 8 seconds after Thanksgiving dinner is over they wouldn’t have to be. But then if I stay home and order online I know I’m fucking over a pile of warehouse workers being paid like shit and treated like slaves by Jeff Bezos, not to mention the men and women who have to work a slew of overtime to drop the useless garbage I just ordered on my porch within 24 hours…..most of which I’ll probably return anyway. I’m an asshole either way.

And then came word that we were all going to die in a winter storm that promised ice and snow and unicorns. Folks forgot about buying ugly sweaters and flocked to empty supermarkets for bread and milk and beer….determined to ride the thing out while watching “The Irishman” on Netflix. And so while it did manage to sleet for 12 hours in a row, which is no joke…..the multiple feet of snow promised…..well….most of us swept it away this morning with brooms. My daughter’s college cancelled classes and she kept sending me photos of the green lawn of her apartment complex with the letters “lol” attached. She was grateful for the reprieve, but a little confused about how a forecast could be so….well…wrong.

And so here we are. A few more weeks and then Christmas. And then another week until New Year’s. And then instant depression, because it really is the best time of the year despite the madness and chaos and the fake snow storms and the brawls over children’s slippers. I think people are just a little bit nicer for about 6 weeks. Dicks are less dickish, and the normally charming practically glow. Everybody wishes you a “Merry Christmas” despite Fox news saying this isn’t allowed anymore because…..well… know.

But come the first week of January all of this illusionary stuff hits a brick wall and everybody is back to normal…..miserable and broke ready to shank anybody that looks at them wrong before they have that first cup of coffee.

Happy Holidays everyone!

In a bit..


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