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Friday, February 21, 2003


Knew I had to get up and make a plane today, so naturally I could not sleep last night. Kee-rist! So I watched "ESPN Classic" for a few hours: "Football's greatest games." Having less than no interest in the game of football, I view old NFL highlights films as abstract, mind-numbing entertainments akin to staring at a lava lite. The narration - always supplied by some husky William Conrad type of voice - groans about mysteries like "the line of scrimmage"and "roll out" ...names like Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath are invoked as nostalgic callbacks to earlier, equally football-oblivious times in my life ...macho production music blasts heroically as these guys run and knock each other down for reasons unknown. It's really good. It held my bleary attention until sleep eventually triumphed.

Before hitting the airport, Shelley picked up The New York Daily News, which I gave the once over before satisfying myself that there did, indeed, seem to be no article about me. So it goes. Hung out at the airport almost 2 hours before getting on the plane.

The flight seemed endless, but was relatively uneventful. First leg went from Long Island to Nashville, where I had to kill two hours before making the connection to LA. Spent those 2 hours in a bar, since that's the only place you can smoke. So I did, and drank a few glasses of wine, figuring it a light enough potable for afternoon swilling. Then the longer leg of the trip commenced, during wich I was treated to the shenanigans of some goateed douchebag and his frail, carrying on behind me like pair of 3 year olds. The jerk's voice was reedy and piercing, like a toy megaphone broadcasting some of the most inane chatter I've heard this side of "Def Poetry Jam." Dunno what he was doing to her, but she kept making with remarks like "Stop it! That hurts! Sto-hop! Sto-hop Tha-hat!!" To which he just chortled and, i guess, writhed ...enough to continually jostle and kick the back of my seat. Everytime I shot an irked look back in their direction, they apologized and stared as vacantly as a pair of bobble-head puppies. I had some more wine and napped whenever possible.

The flight itself was pretty bumpy (which I kind of like), so the pilot chose to remain rather low in the sky. This made for some nice aerial-relief-map vistas of the mountainous terrain, especially when night fell and the random cities and roadways below shined like gold jewelry strewn across a black blanket. All the while, these 2 carried on behind me.

When the trip was over, I commented to the guy beside me "what assholes!" (he agreed) and some southern nerd-daddy told me "ah got kids he-yur; watch yuh languitge." A burgeoning wine hangover already exacerbated my bitter animosity toward those other two jackasses, and I was in no mood. "Yeah... just what I need right now... bullshit from YOU!" He took umbrage at my ungallant tone and further vulgarity, and made as mean a nerd-daddy face as he could muster. "Go home... keep walking" I advised. He did, still shooting me that pissy-lemur look as he led his two fine young, heretofore innocent sons out of the airport. "Fuckin' prick" I snarled. Fuck him. Prick.

How very nice it was to step out into Los Angeles and have a smoke. Room temperature, just like I figured. Claudia greeted me and we drove to Tarzana, where they're putting me up in a small house all to myself. Here I am, then: a bit fried, sipping just enough Jagermeister to forestall the wine headache until it's slept away and I can begin my adventures, if any.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

OK - a quick one before I head west. Moved deeply by my gripping account of dashed hopes and broken feldezziks, Isaac Guzman has seen to it that an article on your faithful blog blubberer will see daylight in tomorrow's New York Daily News. Tomorrow (as of today) will be Thursday February 20. I hope to sit on the airplane, subtly drawing attention to the article about me as if to say "... again...? Press? Oh won't they leave me be!?"

Actually I'll be reading 2 books, "NYC SEX" and "REMEMBERING WOOLWORTHS." But what matters is that Mom and Dad will read this piece. That is all that matters. So if you read this in time, look for Thursday's News.

Looking forward to this vacation from the familiar, I am. Some loose plans afoot, and Liz Belmont has supplied me with a list of promising watering holes out there. Hanging with Claudia, Brad, Miles and old chum Rich Honig. Dwelling in a room temperature city for about a week is appealing to say the least, and I expect you'll all get this snow taken care of by the time I'm back.

I hope to provide daily reports. In the meantime, my love to the Great Gonzo for his bon voyage message, my thanks in advance to Isaac, and fond wishes to the rest of yez. Now barkeep: pour me a "Ray's Mistake."

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Several days now since the last entry, several days since I read any email, and a couple of days before I'm scheduled to leave for Los Angeles. An update, then.

I saw some guy on BBC news, a UK songwriter who is apparently getting "buzz" for writing an album based on "his reactions to the events of September 11th." The reporter notes that "the singer-songwriter is alive and well" from the evidence of this kid's work. Thank heavens! I should hear his work. I'm sure it must be rewarding! There really aren't enough credible artistic reactions to the events of September 11th, unless you count those those spontaneous outbursts of elated dancing from Muslims the world over. But those were immediate and now it's time for considered reflection. Thank goodness for this kid from the UK! But I want to hear something from the French. They are especially artistic, as we can see from their evolving, endlessly creative response to their European comrades, the Germans.

"Hello, America! Please help us destroy the Kaiser and his depraved teutonic hordes! Pernod?"
"Greetings, Monsieur Hitler! Welcome to France and, please, take full advantage of our every orifice for your pleasure! Brie?"
"Ah, General Eisenhower! Welcome to France and thank you for ridding us of those German bastards! Escargot?"
"Yes, German friends, these filthy Americans must be stopped at all cost! Gitane?"

Mind you, I have no consistent opinion on the war. I'm amazed that so many do. I'm as astounded by the eagerness of some Americans to sacrifice young people's lives down there as I am floored by the instant willingness of some other Americans to regard their government as evil and aggressive every time some difficult position is demanded by the evil and aggression of others. I'm as pissed at the sweeping international hatred for my country as I am by the reasons we keep giving them. I'm baffled by the ability of so many to hold such ironclad opinions, but I am not overly fixated on the unfolding pageant because the war already visited my home, so y'all have your fun.

I'm more interested in all this damn snow, or, rather, the effect it had around here.

With the snow-in preventing any normal activities, I finally spun some reel tapes sitting in a bag I acquired a few months back, the chaff of some radio station, it seems. One turned out to be an interview with Chuck Barris from around 1974. I like Chuck. Always did, as I said in an earlier entry. At this point, Chuck hadn't yet hit on the Gong Show idea, and waxed poignant about the moral ramifications of his racket. He sounded like a tired man about to quit in spite of the greed-satisfaction his success provided. Who knew his biggest hit lay just ahead and that this would, in fact, lead directly to his retirement? Amazing luck to find this relic. Along with this tape are pre-edit / pre-sfx segments of a drama, a full program of an interview with some psychic (inclusive of between-segment yammer with the host) and other oddities. (Why do I love this stuff so much?) There's also a soundtrack from some early 60s holiday broadcast, including spots for GE. One features Raymond Scott -type electronic noises; Just my meat, really. It was helpful to listen to this, and it provoked other cabin-fever activities.

Played with my Marx "Kooky Kombo" (a 60s, Marvin Glass-designed "one man band" gizmo for kids) and wrote a bunch of actual LYRICS for the first time in ages. Along with the Barris tape, other things caught my attention: an interesting E Jean Carroll comment - of all things - in some mag, the films "Amalie" and "Wings of Desire" (come for the Nick Cave clips: stay for Peter Falk!), so forth. Layabout hours with Shelley featured pleasures like that of observing the dogs romping out back in the blizzardry. Oh yeah, the dogs! We have this one dog, Cupcake - a huge Dog De Bordeaux, like "Hooch" from the movie - who, fixed in eternal, gigantic puppyhood, plays with a stuffed draydl. Whenever Cupcake squeezes the thing, an inner gadget plays a recording of kids singing the draydl song. So all night long, even as I contended with the usual sleepless tossing, I couldn't suppress howls of laughter everytime I heard "Draydl, draydl draydl... I made it out of clay..." The sweet behemoth squashes the thing in his jaws, sits staring at it as the song plays, tilts his head and bites it for another reprise. Sometimes he also works another identical stuffed draydl to create a megamix, alternating them with the precision of a turntablist.

So with all these things going on last night, the "depressure" building up in my head gave way, and blew out like a geyser.
Fwwwoooom! Old Fateful.
It left me in a condition (temporary, alas, but wot th' hell) of whimsical whatthefuckitude. Knowing fully that all creeds are hogwash and that in the eternal "for now" nothing is truer than the falsehoods one holds dearest, I've chosen to interpret transient thoughts and chance observations as signposts to Holy Truth. Feeling Jung at heart, I'm conning myself - like a d.i.y. John Edward - by seizing synchronicities and felicities and calling them epiphanies. All this high-flyin' hoo-hah is difficult to explain fully, but one grabs random, resonant pieces of information like those alluded to in the previous paragraph and forces their irregular contours into a jigsaw roadmap as uninterpretable to others as my albums themselves. Nevertheless, if the map leads yours truly from today safely into tomorrow, it is as valid as all the political discussions everyone else so passionately engages in these days, and far more useful.

As well as other ramifications which are none of your business, I've maybe hit on a way to mentally frame my musical pursuits: work which accepts and embraces the absolute refusal of "the world" to embrace my work. I'm gonna crawl off like Barris - with this streak of failures as stalwart as his successes - and amuse myself, in retirement from giving a shit. Maybe I'll do those karaoke shows, maybe not. I dunno. While the hopes I held for my work were small and had little or nothing to do with people's usual ambitions in the music biz, I no longer ask for a thing. With this home studio and assorted gizmos, toys and instruments, I'll set about making another album - tentatively titled "A Room Of Voices" - all by my lonesome. Maybe KRS will want it or maybe not, but right now it's well beside the point. I'd been considering offering full rights to all my previous work if anyone would pay anything at all for it, since money is a big problem right now, but certainly nobody would and that's also beside the point. Point is, that's all in the past.

I concede to Stephen Merritt (et al) all the credit for whatever it is he (or they) does (do) that I'm supposed to remind people of.
I concede to John Cusack all rights to the recognized face.
I concede to Sleater-Kinney the status of act that sells records for Kill Rock Stars.
I concede to that English kid the job of keeping the singer-songwriter alive and well by singing about the events of September 11th.

Nothing I ever create will be accepted or respected by anyone other than a tiny (and shifting) circle of friends, and that is gonna be fine. And if the stuff is never heard by friends, that'll also be fine. And if I never make the stuff at all, that also will also be fine. From now on, I'd like to live the way Cupcake does, biting the draydl for as long as it entertains me, and then trotting off to the foodbowl.