Thursday, July 4, 2013


I often write up excruciatingly detailed travelogues upon returning from a trip. But this trip, well, didn't lend itself to that. It wasn't an intensive, reflective and introspective trip, as most of my individual journeys are (Turkey, Cambodia, Japan). It wasn't shallow, per se, but it was designed to be a typical Caribbean getaway. Perhaps that's why, starting on day one, I decided the write-up was going to be different - short nuances - half poetic, half studies in prosody.

Day One: Queens, New York.

Fireflies over a sidewalk sugarcone.

Day Two: San Juan, Puerto Rico.

'Borderline' during a drizzled dusk traffic jam.

Day Three: San Juan.

Latin piano jazz mingled slowly with rainwater.

Day Four: San Juan.

Five a.m. beach taxi.

Day Five: St. John, US Virgin Islands.

After Cessna, the 'port Mormons said they'd been at Camp Gold thirty-seven years.

Day Six: St. John.

Forgot to spit, didn't see urchin.

Day Seven: St. John.

Their daughter said she would drink pure honey.

Day Eight: St. John.

At the bar I felt the day's sun seep into my skin.

Day Nine: Panama, Panama.

The obese girl next to me is on a mission trip to Panama, Pentecostal denomination.

Day Ten: Panama.

I haven't hung laundry on a line since Singapore.

Day Eleven: Panama.

Sneaking shots of Baha'i interior.

Day Twelve: Panama.

Egrets on the locks.

Day Thirteen: Panama.

Catching a last taxi at 'Tamburelli de Amador'.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Seven years ago, in an apparent fit of madness, I composed enough songs to fill an album. Why I no longer remember. I showed a few of the best, hesitatingly, to a friend, who quickly, and rightly, denounced them.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING SONGS SUCK. If you're a pop star who really wants to end your career they are yours for the taking. I don't want them, but please credit me if you are in fact foolish enough to make use of my 20 year-old self's terrible lyricism.

Why am I posting this? Because I have some 1,000 files saved in my doc folder, dating back to the week after 9/11. It's good to check on one's progress over the years. Most of these obviously are not intended for this blog, but some were and never made it on here. I forget which of those categories these songs were intended as, but it's amusing, now, to see me take a crack at a format that I don't usually engage in.

Rhyming Rambling

Clear, concise and boring language/ without inflection without direction.
Songs these days are indie garbage/ (and I don't mean the band)
They're as pretentious as this recording/ they'll steal right from your hand.
Just me and my friends making music/ but we want to make a new correction.

I'm babbling in jibberish/ it's fluent gobbldygook,
Hark to pop sensibilities:/ all songs need a hook.

I've read the works and heard the sound/ looked at paintings and traveled 'round
We're well-versed in culture/ the brit-americana
But remembers Woodstock?/ Who saw play Sha-Na-Na?
We're making up something new/ to this end we're bound.

Rhyming in Swahili/ conversational in Hindi?
Perhaps it's only Yiddish/ it surely isn't trendy.

The band is small and compact/ we play without a contract.
The instruments are real here/ and the noise is genuine.
This may be the last song,/ it may be where we begin,
Either way you know it/ nothings missing, it's intact.

Funny verses silly chorus/ the man has lost his mind.
The song's not going nowhere/ but is one of a kind.

I'm babbling in jibberish/ it's fluent gobbldygook,
Hark to pop sensibilities:/ all songs need a hook.

Why I Don't Like Indie

Don't label us Indie/ we're making something else
I don't know what it is/ perhaps different since it sells

I'm sick of the pretension/ tired of the credentials
They say it's like the 60's/ but those are the essentials.

I want everyone to hear me,/ I want this song to be known.
Not interested in obscurity/ not playing on our own.

Get a manager, a contract/ book some gigs and spread the sound
If you're bothering to play it/ should spread the word around.

Now hear me, this is real/ why are you singing songs?
If it's for your own enjoyment/ then the sentiment is wrong.

Sing and play for an audience/ if your music is important
Why shelter the rest of us?/ Stand up and contend.

It's an old ideology/ it works for aristocracy,
And also for oligarchy/ the chosen special few.

A New Song

Anathema to old!/ Borrow from the Past.
Create for the moment/ Make sure it can last.
Speed it up to slow down/ Halt to make it fast.

Study up your history/ Keep track of new affairs.
The climate is a cycle/ We're losing polar bears.
It's destined to repeat itself/ Attention to your cares.

I've seen this before/ It's utterly unique.
The knowledge is out there/ They discovered it this week.
And lessons from the ages?/ Music never peaked.

Tired and cliched/ Revolutionary ruckus.
Done and done better/ Old folks free to suck us.
What makes you different/ Others were just fuck-ups.

Labels and Me

You label me a novelty/ you can say that I'm far out.
You can say he's Dylan-esque/ or perhaps just sauerkraut.

But don't label me indie.

Our band isn't interested/ in mindless foolish sound
The ethics of not-selling-out/ have been driven in the ground.

Don't dare label us indie.

You say there's no such thing/ each band is different
I call B.S., you share a mindset/ of underground commitment.

We've killed greater men for lesser offenses.

What happened to serious rock?/ It went alternative
The mainstream pop died/ the music now is furtive.

We can track you down.

Get serious about your music/ stop wasting all our time
Promotion by word-of-mouth/ is akin to a thought crime.

I know where you sleep.

The internet has given us/ means to be heard, you say
I don't have time to track every band/ who makes CDs these days.

We want a major label.


I read a lot of Borges/ That's where I got the idea
Stairways to infinity/ I really hate Ikea
A modern Gregor Samsa/ Who shoots in heatstroke in Algeria
This room has no exit/ June 16th came, where were you?

Robert Johnson's making breakfast/ Muddy's in the can
Bo Diddley's pushin 80/ Fats turns on a fan
Chuck's been doing time/ Little makes heaps of sand
The house is owned by Jerry/ he sleeps down the avenue.

I can make it as obscure as you like
I can make it indecipherable
That doesn't make it any good
It merely makes it unlikeable.

Thucydides and Toynbee/ are arguing with Kant
Hegel is backing Nietszche/ Gibbon starts to rant
Khaldun looks on in wonder/ the philosophers start to chant
The historians record it all/ before they join the brawl.

Frank is drawing Batman/ Moore is writing prose
Art is more than tragedy/ Crumb's depicting hoes
Bode makes erotica/ Eisner really knows
Scott tries to depict it/ but the form is at a crawl.

I can make it as obscure as you like
I can make it indecipherable
That doesn't make it any good
It merely makes it unlikeable.

Munch is off heard yelling/ Magritte smokes a pipe
Monet is painting lilies/ Manet looks for a snipe
Michelangelo's on the ceiling/ Mattise's plums are ripe
They're all looking at each other/ wondering why they do it.

Twain is copying Swift/ Pope is in the corner
Poe's reading to the class/ Hawthorne's in another lecture
Eliot looks to no one/ Donne adds some texture
Masters Milton and Chaucer/ somehow will get through it.

I can make it as obscure as you like
I can make it indecipherable
That doesn't make it any good
It merely makes it unlikeable.

Today Never Knows

A quick nod to the Beatles
A song without the rhymes
A remembrance for the band
A tribute to innovation

Phony Beatlemania
Comes back again again
Cobain idolized them
To do so is not wrong

The songs were choice
The sound evolved
The music was on top
The listeners today still get it

Paul and Ringo are left
Changes have taken place
Charting no longer are they
They moved with the legacy

I wish I had heard them
I wonder about their minds
I never was there to hear it
I just have my records

Other bands paved the way
And of course they were succeeded
Modern Bachs of invention
A small congratulations

Or perhaps they didn't know
Or they didn't care to think
Or the lives they lead were phony
Or they truly meant what they said

Oh, from early stuff to late
Amongst the animosity
My fondness hasn't wavered
A Liverpuddlian still listens


I penned a trip around the world
It would take me nigh five years
Fifty countries, seven continents
But I procrastinated

Politics intrigued me somewhat
I thought I'd try and join the race
Become mayor of San Francisco
But I procrastinated

I considered a PhD
But I wanted to pay off loans
I got a job, and said someday
But I procrastinated

The world evolves without my help
But here I'm stuck within it all
I figured I'd make the change
But I procrastinated


If you are a fundamentalist/ I sing this song to you
Please stop foisting your ideas/ upon the you-know-who
He's done a lot of damage/ it just gets worse to bear
Perhaps he'd reconsider/ if it was his ass over there.

If you are a fundamentalist/ I sing this song to you
Please stop foisting your ideas/ upon the you-know-who
He's planning to do bad things/ to some people on a bus
He learned how from his friends/ yet he is one of us.

If you are a fundamentalist/ I sing this song to you
Please stop foisting your ideas/ upon the you-know-who
He's worried about the children/ and goes into the school
He wants to teach a lesson/ and not be made a fool.

If you are a fundamentalist/ I sing this song to you
Please stop foisting your ideas/ upon the you-know-who
He's done it all for Jesus/ he's done it for Allah
Perhaps he did it for Moses/ or fights for the Buddha.

If you are a fundamentalist/ I sing this song to you
Please stop foisting your ideas/ upon the you-know-who
He wars and fights think of the globe/ he resides in the lands of strife
He considers it a mandate/ if it cost us or him his life.

Album Filler

Spector said that two are good and ten are crap
I'm trying to get past that make it as fluid as a rap
Every syllable is choice, investigate the words I unwrap
They may be somewhat ludicrous, but they sound okay.

I require rhyme and meter
You've been drinking by the liter
Dr. Honeydew and Beeker
That verse doesn't make much sense.

We'll try and do some solos now to distract
And then just one more verse to complete this act
A pre-debut comeback attack
Though I don't really know what that means.

I could claim this was a concept album
Before this track was laid, and then some
But if I did so now I'd only sound dumb
How many times have I used the word sound?

Utah and Virgil

Virgil lived in Moab/ preplexed by popularity
People coming through his town/ they never would wait and see.

He started writing fantasy/ an unpopular genre that
But it paid his bills and his heat/ got milk so as to feed the cat.

Virgil wrote of heroes, tired/ tried and well-known, Joseph Campbell
Had heard it all before he knew/ the piece, though, had some potential.

'A sword-and-sandal standby'/ 'Unoriginal in its scope and theme'
The critics roundly panned it/ for not being close enough to them.

Virgil went off backpacking/ through arches park and the canyonlands
He decided to find out what/ the tourists came to understand.

He changed in there, came out renewed/ took on a pen-name and began
To write of something bold and new/ 'Abbey', they said 'I am a fan.'

Schooling Blues

Take yourself a little pill/ here its called a test,
We'll scoop your brains and/ add a hose to drain the rest.
If you are seven/ then you want to be the best.

We'll slowly teach the country/ lower standards now.
Until 100%/ can pass full know-how.
We can make material/ test-makers allow.

Why have recess anymore?/ Why let kids be kids?
Running, jumping and screaming/ why not call the feds?
Their starting to act up now/ go and get their lids.

Jimmy has ADHD/ he acts like a little boy
Full of vim and energy/ likes to play with toys.
Why isn't he studying?/ It should be his joy.

Throw out the testing system/ bring back real learning.
Progressive education/ teachers worrying,
Its challenging to teach them/ test-books are burning.

They don't demand it/ we need to do it for them
They aren't proper people yet,/ American citizens,
They just want to live as kids/ schools won't let 'em.

Obligatory Other-Sex Song

What did we do to deserve Stephen Malkmus?
What'd we do to him that he had to sing to us?

Oh wait, wrong song.

On Thursday Morning I met her and fell in love at sight
By Saturday she knew my name, and I was feeling tight
She hooked up with my best friend the Sunday after that
Thanked me for introducing her, otherwise they'd've never met.

That Wednesday I wrote him a letter complaining
About his Monday's interminable bragging
Come Friday he stopped talking to me for good
And on Tuesday I told him what to do he should.

Her name was Esmerelda, a beautiful gypsy girl
Her eyes were green, her skin was dark, her hair was full of curls.
She looked at me so coyly, and lead me on a chase
But in this relationship race I came in last place.

My friend is no longer a friend of mine, a Brutus or a Judas
She betrayed my heart's desire and slept with Aluitous.
She knew I wanted him for myself but didn't seem to care
I turned on the blender and put in her teddy-bear.

The two of them are happy and take all pains to show it
But misery with one another, the chapters I have co-writ.
The slut will move to another man, and I can make my claim.
With my outlook on love it's a wonder I've not gained fame.

His name was Aluitous, a swimmer's build he had.
When he asked me if I needed that chair it nearly drove me mad.
His blue eyes pierced through my soul and out the other end,
And that is why he is shacking up with my former best friend.

In the Forty-Eighth Hour

Up all night
One bleak light
Shines glimmering on my head.

Two days gone
Two days long
Without sleep, without my bed.

Evil red eye
As if high
The rabbit stares unblinking.

Eat ice-cream
And then scream
The fantasy is breaking.

Nightmare visions
No sensations
Can compare to the exhaustion.

Pumped on coffee
Pumped on caffeine
Pumped on frightened adrenaline.

Keep Rocking

Rock and Roll may one day day die/ But that day is not now.
We're going to keep the Rock alive/ and we'll show you how.

Write down a tune, get a band/ one that can really play,
Come up with some melodies/ and now you're on your way.

Make sure the drummer keeps the beat/ and the song's on-key.
Play around and mess with the sound/ and Rock will be freed.

A bassist and some piano/ don't forget guitar,
Then sing your song and maybe/ it will make you a star.

Take some money for yourself/ and give away the rest
Your company won't like it/ but fans think you're the best.

The point in all of this,/ is to make a better world.
Your life of Rock needn't be/ solely of drugs and girls.

I'm not a preacher,/ don't think Jesus was son of God,
Just throwing out suggestions/ of how to do one's job.

If you get the money,/ get fame and Rocker's glory
Do something with your power/ use your ability.

Make your many millions/ and play to millions as well,
Your'e a Rock and Roller now/ life couldn't be more swell.