Tuesday, April 26, 2016


This instagram photo collage came from a drive on Highway 54 this weekend, between Louisiana, Missouri, and Mexico, Missouri.  I blasted Johnny Rodriguez and Son Volt, but as a friend on Facebook noted, this could be an ECM label album cover.  Later I listened to the last chapters of Jim Harrison's The Great Leader.  Nice drive.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Grant Hart: Good News For Modern Man (reissue) 

Savages: Adore Life 

Don't Think I've Forgotten (soundtrack) 

Friday, April 15, 2016


Saturday, April 2, 2016


Maybe it was the loss of Jim Harrison this week that made me cook for the first time in a long time this week, using a recipe from Saveur to try something new.  A few days before his death I lingered over a handful of his books on my annual birthday run to Half Price Books, choosing instead a double 180 gram vinyl Little Richard anthology and David Thomson's New Biographical Dictionary of Film. I have some catching up to do with Harrison, since he was so prolific late in life, and what a pleasure that will be.  

The pasta I made had fried capers in it.  Where have fried capers been my whole life?  Mustard & butter, crisped cauliflower, red pepper flakes, paperdelle pasta--good with salmon one night and a fried egg the next.  Having just revisited Andrew Vachss revenger thriller Flood, I am moving on to a full reading of a Marcella Hazan cookbook.  For too long we have been making tacos out of whatever we had the night before.  I always suggest Minksy's and one out of 50 times, we do choose Minsky's.

It's hard to proceed with the next line of thought without sounding fruity, but anticipating Opening Day is different when your team has been to The World Series twice, winning the second time.  I haven't tracked every Royals personnel move the way I have the last ten years.  I don't know their spring training record.  I have neither unreasonable hope nor unreasonable pessimism.  The franchise is in a healthy state and the leadership group has earned the trust of the fans after many years of the punching bag treatment.  

I melted down plenty in my blog and on social media, in recent years.  Once, in early May, I even posted a picture of dirty dog water in the bathtub.  There were Royals cups floating in the muddy water and I compared it all to the Royals season: about to go down the drainBefore social media, there was just the ugly business of keeping my chin up in public after total strangers would mock my Royals hat or sweatshirt.

This year I'm more interested in player development and how the emerging stars settle in.  A breakout season for one of them would be fun but not required on a team that wins on hustle, execution, defense, balanced pitching, and fundamentals.

I had a weird notebook crisis recently after Tracy bought me a wonderful stack of Moleskins at Costco.  I had taken to using notebooks not for creativity but for lists that were impossible to execute and triggered depressions.  I would start a notebook, get one page in, and want to start a new notebook, because who wants a notebook full of stuff like:  

buy styrofoam cover for exterior hose valve
oil change

So, after reading Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids, I returned to a more agreeable use of notebooks: writing poems.  If a person writes one poem a day for twenty or thirty years, something good has to happen, something better than:

caulk upstairs shower 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016



Two of my favorite songs of late.  I hear a sweet echo/quote of "Love Reign O'er Me" at the end of David Bowie's last official album-released song, in the swirl of the windout, after the big punch.  Mariam The Believer gets real gone--I really want to find this on vinyl.

Heading back to the Northwest today feels kind of weird.  I'm totally psyched, but it's weird. The transition to KC was abrupt and happened suddenly; I jumped feet first into a work routine and life here and there was a weird stop action freeze frame thing that happened.  Ordinary life went on in Eugene but I was no longer there, and keeping in touch became something to practice, not as easy as it was twenty years ago.  

This is pretty ordinary stuff (change), and nothing brings that home like the transitions of parents into different levels of care.  Belongings, surroundings, and routines change suddenly.  The material things and the great luxury of privacy that helps define personhood in our culture can be dismantled in a matter of days or even hours.  Privileged people go from a house to an apartment to a room among many rooms.  "Getting settled" is a funny phrase when everything is bound to change.  I haven't led the charge on this with my folks; my older siblings have.  It is tough stuff.  The lesson for me is: let go, early and often.  

I have been on a helluva roll with audiobooks, and like them better than reading, at this point.  To listen to Patti Smith's voice, or Herbie Hancock's voice, that's a new experience entirely.  The music of stories started as music, long before the printing press.  I've always been a reader and always will be, but as I get older, I wonder if the profession of literature in recent centuries didn't make a practice of overvaluing literature, as kind of a nerd's marketing move.  Power brokers intimidated people with The Bible long before there were such things as Thomas Hardy scholars or post-structuralist literary critics making us feel dumb.  Radio preachers still strut the scripture as pseudo-scholars, and that makes me wanna gag.  

Libraries and bookstores are cathedrals to me, but different gods and different energies keep stories alive and it goes back to letting go.  The audio library in your phone weighs so much less than the bookshelf furnishing the front room.  Don't move my books, I'm not dead yet!!  Toggling between a musician's autobiography and a Spotify playlist of that artist's music is a new and nimble way to explore and learn.  (It seems natural that audiobooks could develop hyperlinks somehow.  If I'm reading about Kind of Blue, stopping the action to give it a listen makes sense.)

I keep waiting for an audiobook that is kind of a dud but when you go from Herbie Hancock to David Byrne to Patti Smith, that is some cool shit!

  Herbie Hancock: Possibilities How Music Works Just Kids

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I've started another non-practical project, listening to all the Sun Ra albums on Spotify in order, starting with the first available there, Jazz By Sun Ra (1956).  Saturday was such a beautiful day and it was a treat to run errands and blast this slightly off, early album on the cassette converter of the old Suburu.  Midtown KC seems like one of the best places in the world to explore old jazz music while driving.  

I'm only piecing together my jazz musicology.  I guess this has elements of swing and bop and maybe hard-bop or post-bop to it.  It sounds both old-fashioned in a bait-and-switch, tongue-in-cheek way, and just slightly twisted, like the acid is kicking in at a strange after-hours steakhouse.  A bass clarinet bleats where it should not; a bass pattern is repeated in a slightly neanderthal way like The Troggs might do; the song titles are goofy: Brainville, Call For All Demons, Fall Off The Log.  The voicings are weird.  African percussion rattles almost subliminally.  

There's a regularity to the patterns that has rock and roll appeal rather than that drive for speed and complexity that makes some jazz hard to grasp. (Metal shredders, bluegrass shredders, jazz shredders, they're all the same high-flying mathematical animal to me.)
There's nothing going here on suggesting Sun Ra hopes that jazz will replace classical music as high art that people will sit still and sober for in large auditoriums and cathedral-like halls.  Nor is it cool club music for late nights in hipsterville.  Some of the sounds here are the equivalent of the unique and wonderful non-actors Fellini cast in his films because they had strange, non-proportionate faces and physiques.