Sunday, October 19, 2014


     Yesterday I exposed a pretty nice compost pile in our back yard and hacked away at three giant fountain grass clumps, untended for probably years.  I am no stranger to untended fountain grass but in middle age I do not hesitate to cut it down to the ground.  My better half would prefer it 90% eradicated.  This is how I feel about any kind of ivy, only100%.  Shooting it with RoundUp is better than having an XBox.

     I also located the lawn and leaf recycling center on North Chouteau Drive.  It was kind of a long trip because of the KC Marathon, a traffic jam on 71, and my alternate route all the way down Prospect to Independence Avenue to Chestnutt Trafficway.  But I had a nice sense of adventure getting the recycling center dialed in and still appreciate how much of the city I do not know.  When I drive some of those blocks full of boarded up houses I try to envision how this will change for the better because someday it will.  On Woodland I saw an old theatre with a beat old sheet metal marquee and wondered what bands and movies played there.
    Lawn shears, snow shovel, foaming hornet spray for an underground nest--all while flea bombs off-gassed at home--this way my errand-y day.  And of course what errand-y Saturday would be complete without a trip to the carwash?  Always psychedelic.

     Stuck waiting for a train near Knuckleheads in the East Bottoms, I listened to Mose Allison's
Back Country Suite for about the 20th time and read the liner notes, soaking it in after re-discovering it in my cd re-organization and cull. (The Westport library now has our doubles of Sugar, Beach Boys, Flaming Lips, and Son Volt records.)  Witty, intelligent, and narrative with country blues soul, perfect for being stuck by the tracks for half an hour with 9 bags of black walnut yard debris and a gnawing appetite for fried food on a Saturday afternoon.

     For the first time in a long time I have my trombone out on a stand in a music room and I have been playing it for 15 minutes a day trying to get some kind of embouchure back.  The sound comes back, and it is relaxing, like ohming or chanting, just to play long tones.  But attacks are all spitty and florfy after only 5 or ten minutes.  I can't believe I played a whole 25 minute set with Drop A Grand. I don't remember the pain, and don't usually associate low brass with punk rock adrenaline.  Looping back to trombone as a classically trained player who plays self-taught rock and roll has always been really weird.  I immediately assume a strict concert posture even with Steve doing high kicks near my face.  Almost every time I pick up the horn I think of my old KC trombone teacher, Stephanie Bryant, who died this year.


Sunday, October 12, 2014


 The next SquidsKC show--as of now--is at recordBAR on 12/13.  Moving on to domestic concerns:

     I swept and raked and shoveled two full bags of black walnuts yesterday and there is already another pile of them in the street and on the sidewalk this morning.  I think that's why our neighbor Cedric was laughing yesterday, on the porch and talking to a friend on the phone, while I scraped walnut slurry off the street. 

     This happened last weekend too.  I did not learn.  Bushels of these greasy little walnut grenades thumping by the minute.  One knocked the rear window wiper blade assembly off of Tracy's Suburu.  Another broke a Tim Boyden found art sculpture--a guitar headstock epoxied to an old paver with the message "don't fret."  

     I haven't been drilled in the skull (resulting in a great idea for a novel) but that is a matter of time.  With more of that on my hands I could lay in the driveway for hours as a martial arts exercise, waiting to catch the black walnut of enlightenment inches from my face.  If you leave these things in your basement for a year they are good to eat, but it is work.

Royals magic has sure been fun, especially hanging with new neighbors.

I had the pleasure of adding backing vocals to an Ed Cole song, for the new album he is working on.  I played some trombone on it last summer and now it is heading toward mixing.  Can't wait to hear this acoustic Ed platter.  Here is one of Ed's old solo records, and of course you already own both The Underlings albums, which will peel the paint off the front porch of your psyche.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


It's great to be back at The Sunflower Resort at Lake Pomme de Terre on pretty much the anniversary of moving back to KC.  This place has barely changed since the last time I was here, maybe 22 years ago.  Neatly painted cinder block units in a row of 10 with a modern update: a communal microwave in the utility room.  The recreation room, which used to feature a ping pong table and a refrigerator with soda you could tally on the honor system, has been converted into "suites."  The minnow tank behind the rec room is also gone, and the badminton court is gone too.  TV's in every room now, too, and cable. But other than that, it is the same simple and affordable place to hang out at the lake and swim on the rocky beach (don't slip on the mossy boat ramp). 

It has been quite a year and now the annual seasonal cycle is almost complete, with the JC Nichols fountain dyed red Friday for the Chief's opener.  We closed on a 1919 bungalow about two weeks ago and I am enjoying eye-popping terracing and drainage bids as a form of comedy science fiction.  (Yet, the difference in housing costs between Eugene and KC, is still even more eye-popping.)  Our new place is around the corner from Go Chicken Go, so our first investment should probably be an elliptical trainer or rowing machine.  I'll have a studio space for music and won't have to worry about apartment neighbors.

I was thinking about taking pride in a city and what that means.  I didn't grow up in the city, I grew up in the suburbs, and we've only been here a year, so having pride in our city might be pushing it a little bit.  But I love our new city and love learning more about it. 

An informal anniversary top ten:

1. Jogging at Mill Creek Park (site of the pink Chiefs fountain, at the entrance to The Plaza).  I have logged many laps around this park and so has Tracy.  I was running the other day and she rode down with Pablo in a sling (her bike with the basket got ripped off).  That was a sweet moment, I'll always remember that.

2. Our neighbor Sara, who is 84, and still volunteers to help the elderly.  She picks up trash along the block every day and generally says "God Bless You" in lieu of "see you later."  She was a member of the church down the street when it dwindled to a membership of a hundred or so.  Now it is a booming youthful church and everyone there seems to be hot, well-groomed, well-dressed, and the young women are all pregnant or carrying babes in arms.  Walking past I feel like I'm in a Mumford and Sons video shoot.  Chatting with Sara is almost church enough.

3. Being among lifelong friends and family again.  What's better than this?  Maybe only playing in a band with lifelong friends, people I played with when I couldn't play a lick.  We made fliers and album covers before we could even finish writing an actual song.

4. Hot weather.  Humid weather.  Sunny weather, hot, cold and in between.  Weeks and months of it.  Dry, cold weather, snowy and icy weather, frozen nostril hair weather, slip and fall on your ass weather.  This is the first late summer in 23 years that I don't have a sense of dread about 8 months of barely modulated cool, wet weather setting in.

5.  The weird funky sewer smells that drift up from the drains at intersections.  Under the city is another city, it smells funny.  All the city workers--painting fire hydrants in a big Richard Scarry mural of my imagination.

6. Record stores: Zebadees, Mills Records, Vinyl Rennaissance, It's A Beautiful Day.

7.  Walking the different neighborhoods: Brookside, Waldo, Coleman Highlands, Hyde Park, Old Hyde Park, Manheim Park, West Plaza, Valentine, Roanoke, Midtown Wesport, The Plaza…

8. Fireflies, cardinals, lots of different kinds of bugs, tropical hibiscus blooming in the humidity, deciduous trees of all kinds: oak, ash, maple.  There's an owl who lives at the corner of 39th and Main. Our friend who is renovating the buildings there takes pictures and says it is a real rat hunter.

9. Restaurants: West Side Local, Baked in Kansas City, Pot Pie…and of course Minsky's.

10. Working at an architectural signage and design/fabrication firm that has existing work all over the city (and maybe in your city), with local work underway that I get to contribute to. Getting to know vendors of many types all around the area--metal fabricators, imaging shops, screen print, architectural glass--and learning more about all the expertise and skill sets and disciplines that I support at our shop, as subcontract guy.