further elsewhereness

budapest - polgar

The fine folks at Pure Slush have published a (very) short story of mine. It’s called “Last Night In Budapest” and it’s about my last night in Budapest (I suck at coming up with titles).  You should go read it, then maybe read a couple other stories on their site.

The photo above is of the jewelry store in Budapest that I briefly mention in the story.  If you read the story, you’ll understand why I took it.  So go – GO NOW!! – and read the story.

drag

I’m releasing a 5-song album on March 10 under my Paris Street moniker. As with every creative endeavor that I actually get around to finish, the post-finishing glow leads me to think that this is the greatest artistic achievement that man has ever produced. A couple weeks from now – once the album is released and quickly sinks into oblivion, which should make me despondent, but I’ll be too focused on the next greatest-project-ever for it to truly affect me – I’ll give it a listen with fresh ears and think, “man, this kinda sucks”.

Until then, though: greatest artistic achievement that man has ever produced.

All the songs in the album are set in bars. This song is set in 3 of them, all of which are located in Nashville (Tribe, The Gold Rush, and Blue Bar). It’s a song called, “Drag”, about a debaucherous, drug-fueled night spent at these 3 bars. In the spirit of the euphoric drugs involved, the visualization for this song is comprised entirely of different colors that come and go to the rhythm of the bass line. Turn the lights off and watch it in full-screen for best effect.

I’ll have another video next week, then some essays on the stories behind each song. Then the album will be released and I’ll look out my window and wait for the screaming masses to gather around me in awe. After a couple fruitless minutes of waiting, I’ll shrug and start work on my next project.

newbano

My experimental music side-project, JUBANO!, has a new album coming out on Friday.  Here’s the video for the first track, featuring some dude in downtown Topeka air-humping, plus the sound of cicadas and an old orchestral recording played backwards.  Watch it now – get in on the ground floor before this sucker gets viral.  Or something.

how to write a book: sensory overload

This is an occasional series of blog posts about my creative process as I work on my second novel. It’s mostly for me – to keep me motivated and in a writing mood – but if you dig around a little bit, you might actually find a useful tip or two.

I wrote a grand total of 2 paragraphs between Thursday and Friday.  During a significant portion of that time, all I was thinking about was the book, the book, the book, but I couldn’t seem to break through past those 2 paragraphs that I re-read and re-wrote over and over again.

This morning, I finally sketched out an idea for getting this chapter going again.  After grabbing a delicious Cuban lunch with a friend of mine, I came home and sat on my couch.  I was ready to write.  However, I was also completely surrounded by various things that would make it way too easy for me not to write.

From left to right:

- a book on the criminal underworld in Tampa, which my Dad gave me, and which I’m halfway through.
- another book my Dad gave me, a memoir – written in Spanish – by a Cuban journalist who bore full witness to the horrors of the Castro regime. I’m a third of the way through this one, but it’s slow going because I’m so rusty when it comes to reading in Spanish
- a big stack of printed-out Sunday crosswords from the New York Times
- my laptop, with its constantly updating RSS feeds and internetty goodness
- my Chromecast, which is connected to my TV
- a short story collection by Nabokov that I bought at a used book store last weekend for $1.75
- Tenth Of December by George Saunders, of which I’ve read the first 2 stories
- a book of New York Times Sunday crosswords, also bought at a used book store last weekend. Whoever had it last solved about 10 clues in the first puzzle, then gave up. I like crossword puzzles.
- my tablet, with HBO Go newly-installed, which sends all sort of great shows to my Chromecast. The tablet also features a zombie-killing game that I find quite relaxing. It also has the CBS app, and I have 2 weeks-worth of Craig Ferguson episodes to catch up on
- my phone, from which I check Instagram and exchange texts with a couple friends

Overwhelmed by all this stimuli, I ended up taking a nap instead.

If I wasn’t working on a book, the thought of a day spent reading, doing crosswords, and watching some Craig Ferguson and various HBO shows sounds absolutely lovely. Because of the book, though, all these items around me have proven to be too much – too many possible, probable distractions, all within arms-length. It’s Saturday; unlike the day I wrote about earlier this week, Saturday is free of all the syndicated TV shows (Community, American Dad, etc.) that grab my attention Monday through Friday.  Since I went out last night and got blitzed enough to last me the whole weekend (and since my throat’s still bugging the shit out of me), I have no intention of going out.  Today’s supposed to be all about writing, and I’ve gotten nowhere.  I look at the open browser window that holds my novel, and those 2 paragraphs keep looking back at me, waiting for some company.

So I write this because there are still several hours to go in this day, and airing my frustrations might get the novel-writing juices flowing again.  Now I just gotta find someone to come and grab all these books, crosswords, and electronics, and hide them some place where I can’t find them for a long while.

how to write a book: my writing day

This is an occasional series of blog posts about my creative process as I work on my second novel. It’s mostly for me – to keep me motivated and in a writing mood – but if you dig around a little bit, you might actually find a useful tip or two.

10ish am
wake up – would normally stay in bed for a bit and think about where I am with the book, and where it’s going next, then sketch some ideas out on my phone – on this day, though, I have a very bad sore throat and just want to get up to take some ibuprofen, take a swig of honey, and make some coffee

fifteen minutes later
sit in front of laptop – drink coffee while checking the news on my RSS feed and listening to whatever new music has been posted on Pitchfork and Stereogum – sporadically think about when to start working on writing

an hour later
after two cups of coffee and a sufficient amount of news-reading done, I pick up my tablet and play any existing moves in the various Words With Friends game I have going on (I play with 4 different friends, though I’ve started ignoring one of them after he’s suddenly gained an uncanny knowledge of obscure 7-letter words) – I also check in on my Simpsons Tapped Out game, mainly out of habit

let’s say noon
I go into the kitchen and take a chicken breast out of my fridge – I cut it into about 6 tender-sized pieces, then cover it in a mixture of thai coconut blend, garlic powder, jerk seasoning, chili powder, paprika, and sesame oil – I cover it and put it back in the fridge

12:15pm
I get dressed and leave the house, taking my car to Firestone to start the process of getting it road-worthy for another six months of traveling – it needs an oil change, new pads and rotors in the front, and two new tires – I drop the car off, then start the 25-minute walk back to my apartment – along the way, I sketch out more ideas in my head for how I want the next chapter of my book to start – I also stop at Walgreens to buy more ibuprofen – and gummi bears, because I’m sick and deserve an indulgence to make me feel slightly better

1:15pm
lunch time – I open up a packet of yellow rice and toss it in my rice cooker with some water, a pat of butter, and a pinch of salt – while that’s getting started, I take my large frying pan and put two pieces of bacon on it – as that heats up, I chop up some garlic, onions, two jalapenos, and a zucchini – once the bacon has released enough of its fat to coat the pan, I toss the garlic in, followed a couple minutes later by the chicken pieces, then a couple minutes after that by the other vegetables – after sprinkling more garlic powder, pepper flakes, and some Sazon into the mix, I toss things around, then cover the pan, letting it cook until the rice is ready – I serve all of it on an overflowing plate and eat all of it, along with about half a can of barbecue-flavored Pringles, while watching the newest episode of Archer

2:15pm – 2:30pm
did you notice how big my lunch was? if so, then you can probably guess how these 15 minutes were spent

2:30pm
my throat’s still sore – I make some green tea – then take another swig of honey, adding a little bit of baking soda to the spoon – my Mom told me about this – said to take some honey, add some baking soda, let it slide down your throat – gargle it a little bit – then swallow – said it was really effective, according to the Spanish TV show that informed her of this

2:45pm
with my green tea cooling, I sit down in front of the laptop – this would be a great time to do some writing – or I could do something easier and could cobble together some uninspiring pictures from a car museum, add a quick introduction, and post it on this blog – I choose the latter

3:30pm
I decide to re-record the bass line to a song I recorded a couple months back – I record two takes, then take the best bits of each one and mix them into one take – then I listen to the song over and over again to make sure everything sounds right – finally convinced of its quality, I mix all the tracks down to a single WAV file, then convert it to an mp3 – as this completes all the songs I wanted to include in a new, 5-song release, I then start listening repeatedly to all the songs in sequence, in order to assure that all the levels are even and that all the songs flow together nicely – because it’s important for this collection of songs that maybe 5 people will actually bother buying to be perfect

5:30pm
this would be a great time to do some writing – first things first, though – I get ready to make another pot of coffee – as its brewing, my phone rings – it’s Firestone – my car’s ready to be picked up

5:40pm
I begin the 25-minute walk to Firestone – 5 minutes in, they call me back and say they called me to soon – will need a tad more time because they still need to do the alignment – I walk a little slower – as with the prior walk, a good portion of this time is spent thinking about the book, trying to figure out how to liven up a particularly-dry section at the start of the second chapter

6:40pm
after arriving at Firestone and waiting another 15 minutes in the waiting area, I pay for the repairs, and drive back home – first order of business is to finally drink my coffee – for the first cup, I repeat my morning routine and check my RSS feed – for the second cup, I work on a crossword puzzle.

8:00pm
this would be a great time to do some writing – but, hey, some reading would be good, too – my new tablet came with a couple public domain ebooks, one of them being Treasure Island – I read the first 30 pages, then remember that I needed to buy some printer ink – the rest of the hour is spent on Amazon, buying printer ink, a book about the history of Radio Free Europe (for only 65 cents!), and George Saunders’ last book, which I’ve been holding off buying until the paperback came out

9:00pm
one of the local TV stations here plays back-to-back episodes of Community at this hour – I watch both episodes while (a) playing a little bit of Dead Trigger 2 on my tablet, and (b) doing another crossword puzzle

10:00pm
this has been my most common writing time lately – after Community, I write for an hour – if I have a good flow going, I keep it up for another hour or hour-and-a-half – my reward for doing this is to go to the bar by my house afterwards and have a couple beers – the problem today is that my throat’s still really, really sore and I don’t want to exacerbate the matter any further by going over to a bar that’s all smokey because this backward-ass state I live in still won’t ban smoking in bars – so I’m not expecting to go out tonight, which means that the reward for writing is gone, so maybe I’ll just focus on other things tonight, like . . . oh, how about another crossword puzzle (I really like crossword puzzles) while listening to my 5 songs again?

11:00pm
I’m still on my couch – Family Guy comes on, serving as background as I play around with Dead Trigger 2 again – killing zombies is amazingly relaxing.

11:30pm
the severely-underappreciated Cleveland Show comes on – seriously, they finally hit their stride throughout their final season – I watch an episode while starting yet-another crossword

midnight
I have some gummi bears and a couple handfuls of cashews for my dinner, then decide to take a shower

12:30am
clean and dried-off, I stand in front of my desktop and look at the tab on my browser that’s open to Google Drive, open to the last couple paragraphs I wrote the day before – I re-read the last paragraph – it sucks, feels completely flat – it needs to go, or be completely re-done – maybe I’ll just do that – I’ll re-write the last paragraph and call it a day, happy that I at least wrote something, no matter how small

12:35am – 2:00am
the quality of the re-written paragraph spurs me to write more paragraphs – 1,500 words later, my fears about the dryness of the second chapter have been erased – more importantly, I found a way to tie in the events at the start of the chapter with the event that serves as the chapter’s climax – everything’s back on track now – my spirits are high

2:00am – 3:00am
I watch two episodes of American Dad before going to bed – it’s been a very successful day

some covers

A couple weeks ago, I pointed a friend of mine towards my Soundcloud page, in which I had just posted a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Cry, Cry, Cry”. That cover was done by request. I’m not keen on doing covers, but I’ll give it a shot if someone requests it – if anything, it gives me a chance to experiment a little, as I generally try to make the cover sound as different from the original as possible, while still maintaining the elements that make the original so good (the trick is to tweak the main melody ever-so-slightly, then toss in a couple new ones). With that in mind, I told my friend that I’d be up for doing any cover she suggested. She wrote me back a day later, suggesting either one of two songs – “Born On A Train” or “I Have The Moon”, both from the fantastic album, The Charm Of The Highway Strip, by The Magnetic Fields.

I chose the latter (Arcade Fire already did a pretty swell cover of the the former) and got to work, quickly coming up with the version you see below. The one problem: a lot of times, my voice already sounds like I’m doing a cut-rate Stephin Merritt impression, so I didn’t want to sing on it. Thankfully, my friend Christy – who is awesome and always up for any song I throw her way – stepped in and did several great vocal takes, 3 of which I mixed together for the final vocal.

Here’s the end result. Hope you dig it.

I should also mention that the drums on that song are by my friend Darrin, though he doesn’t know it – I took them from a recording we made almost 7 years ago that I’ve yet to finish. Thanks, Darrin!

Lastly, here’s the Johnny Cash cover, which also features Christy’s lovely voice.

honey brown blues 1-21

hall of famer

I started Honey Brown Blues 3 years ago today. In honor of that, here’s the stream-of-consciousness piece from which this blog takes its name. It’s a love poem (not about Dale Murphy). Enjoy.

1

drunken inconsistencies — put these cancer fears behind — too much shark meat — too much honey brown — it was the way her blouse made her breasts seem all-the-more unappealing — let us hope for french cigarettes and time enough to smoke them — the light at the end of the carton is almost in sight — i am not a priority on your list of things to do and people to do it with — the cat is licking a puddle of sulfurous water from the sprinklers by the driveway — i am dehydrating — headaching — in a spot i didn’t imagine i would be — a plate of every kind of meat — the likes of which we’ve never seen — it’s a cozy little morning underneath these sheets — the smell of sun tan lotion from my roommate’s room — she is wide awake and slamming doors — there are men underneath the house sealing cracks — they are pounding the space below my bed — the neighbor’s dog is barking and making plans for birds — a rusting station wagon at the end of the road — it’s at peace with its fate — i wish i could say the same — there is poetry waiting north of here for my arrival

 

2

save the hassles for another day — bury them in long-forgotten society pages — it’s easter sunday and i don’t know where my parents are — but i’m diligently taking notes to the best of my abilities — knock the boys around — stroke their insecurities — there’s no room on this sidewalk for your smile — it’s the easiest thing to say — takes no thought — only reflex action of the tongue and vocal cords — all the smoke is traveling my way — it is all in your mind — change the delivery and don’t forget to practice — my wallet does not feel comfortable in the place where it always goes and has always gone without complaint — chambermaids keep falling out of season — wild west cinematography can never be wrong — wrap your neck with horse hair and pull — find every possible way to turn her on — wait, wait, wait — slow down — fuck man, slow down — this is not a race, a quest, a search for anything of value — there is egg upon your face — i am sore from laughter — the pain of growing up will follow you to your grave — all i can think of is death and its careful antecedents

 

3

a night of soft distractions — number theories reflecting on the ceiling — have you ever seen them so happy? — you bring out the nerves in me with every sly smile that hides a story i should not know — in my dreams i describe a san francisco i dreamt about years earlier to a sympathetic girl who joins me in my quest to find this hidden location — a record store and other shops — a large park full of springtime — i will take her by the stream and things will turn chinese — all will be revealed in this cold factory setting — who can measure the secrets in your smile? — i love your handwriting — the drawings along the margin — my fingernails are jagged and uneven — carved along where they may — i am two miles from the sea — the gulf will cool in time — there is so much meaning here — you will never know — the agents are snoring and hoping that everything will pass them by — i am at the edge of my seat in the hopes that it will all be over soon — this solitary weekend tucked away from inconvenience — they sing and it’s divine — as architecture makes its mark on our lives again

 

4

you will only make it bleed if you continue — examples of your disregard — subtle calculations to that effect — select the best intentions — you’re such a fucking wreck — your cat is going through an antisocial phase — he knows you’ll feed him anyway — everybody is asleep — i am supervising dreams — i have lost my accent marks — what has made me spanish is now yellow pages — is it true about your birth certificate? — dandruff on my shoulder — i shake it off — no time for showers today — no time for bursts of creativity — only beer and meats — now i get quesy every time i look down — now these words are spinning — my glasses are falling apart — more lists need to be made before departure — why did she give me that look? — what did she want? — a hug? — a kiss? — did i send her on her way frustrated? — what is left of puerto rico? — everyone hates me for proving them wrong — the smell of texas can never be avoided — lose yourself in extreme sports — lose yourself in the language — that kind of attitude will get you far — i am waiting patiently for your reply

 

5

sure, i’ll go to the movies — let me just finish writing this song about you — oh, you’ll love it — such a sweet song — full of surprising chord changes, lyrical twists, and “ba ba ba’s” of exuberance — now can i get laid? — all the action’s underneath the bed — they are banging away with their hammers and nails — i am pretending not to hear — babe, i finally dreamt about you or at least some aspect of you slightly frazzled and wanting more — who else would have the audacity to pretend it’s spain? — here comes the humidity — here comes the sweat, the discomfort, the higher frequency of showers — you smell like a dirty towel — i smell as if i just went down on you — and, funny thing, it’s all the same — you set yourself up for that one — bring on the castanets — they will spice up your life — “mi amigo”, where have your friends gone? — won’t the post office miss you? — more things should be debunked — chatter fills the room with indifference — the cello speaks in rusty tones — your life rewinds at a constant pace — love is in the air — and i must wash my feet

 

6

what heartache have you faced? — can you seriously say you haven’t suffered? — orphan of emotion — the mangos are in season — won’t you share a mango with me? — i am deeply concerned about your well-being — no one said this would be easy — the neighbor’s dog became too much of a pest — can you look me in the eyes? — prove yourself and stop rehashing — get your head out of the “poets market” and do something for yourself — the trumpets steady to raise tension — mother of pearl, this young bronx girl is trying too hard — cut to grand rapids and the youthful gloss of makeup — blame it all on the government and their zionist co-conspirators — she loves raw coconut — the asshole admits his mistakes — it’s the easiest way to make money — put me on top and watch what i can do — lead us to cohesion — a universal appreciation of your hardships — your “woe-is-me” gestures won’t take you far, so why do they still work? — there are not enough curmudgeonly lighthouse keepers — gordon, you’re a riot — the human stink of folly was your greatest reward — it is all that i could ask for — it is sticking to the sheets

 

7

get the laundry done — and hurry, it is almost time to go — all good planning gone to waste — what shore did you wash up on? — steffi is three thousand miles away and i am talking to her through the miracle of electronics — there are no trees where she is talking from — only mountains to climb — i will lie my way through the island — charm the locals with my witty human interest stories told in a folksy southern drawl they will not recognize — the mellow shuffling from the bushes — he will lead them with his flute — johnny-come-lately is lost on a cocaine binge and jessica is trailing — strike up the band — the fun has just begun — move your head up and down her leg and she’ll warm up — how could you love those thighs spilling over onto the sand? — they have a hard shell, these types — they can take it — they can take it lying down — people learn to scream out of the corner of their mouths — pick up where you left off and scoot across the room — clamp down on it as hard as you can — feel his nerves synapsing — sending confused signals through his doubtful body

 

8

what’s left of these streets that are littered with frenchmen? — i keep it all in for your sake — as you can see, i am the same person at work as i am whilst relaxing and that is not a good thing — pray that the methodists don’t steal our thunder — you’re averting my touch and showing me your legion of fans — i am stuck here once again with nothing to do but imagine expenses — where could they take me now? — slow interruptions for little girls expanding their horizons — kriztina, are you real? — how much more can you take? — electronic drumroll of tracks passing through a concrete wall — pan down across the house and accomplish a miracle — hump the couch if you feel like crying — a corkscrew to the eye — the spine curves a little more every day — warm vibrations from out-of-tune guitars — the cracks along the ceiling are growing — dust falling to the kitchen counter, into cups housing leftover pepsi now gone stale and collecting against glass — things are different in this environment or so they say — you can take a thousand sunsets and never come up with their formula — you are sympathetic to such treacle

 

9

i am enriching myself and the lives of others — they will not know about it until the distant future — if you write long enough without stopping everything becomes sadness, so shut up and stop criticizing — how much can she put in her? — it is not in my nature to go into detail — this couch is pink — what more do you need to know? — it’s age, maker, condition, and design have no bearing on the outcome — screw yourself with your mute trombones — tell me something without rolling your eyes — where in the world is the cock of whitman? — fuck, i can’t look at you right now — am i the only one who feels guilty about this? — mom makes sure to crap at least once a day — i am following her squatted footsteps — where’s my rental car, steffi? — this hair on the keyboard is not my own — the majority of hair in this world is not my own — i can see from here that you are not understanding — how much clearer can i get? — stop looking for difficulty — the dog has been silenced — it doesn’t take much to make a waterfall — just a ledge and some water

 

10

i could forgive the telephone just this once — got me closer to those i needed most — calling at the right time — validating my weekend — bring those muffins over, please — give me anything — overpriced meat flying off the shelves — priceless with the right marinade — are you still sleeping? — where did my plans go? — why is this so much easier when there is no one around? — you’ve lucked out on all the things you’ve managed to miss — he’s tripping on his words — indoor saturday far away — ideas of the silver screen developing slowly — can’t force it — frustration either way — can you see milan from here? — it’s good luck if you step on the bull’s testicle — even more if you finish the job with a twirly flourish — crazy europe, what will you think of next? — when do we run out of places to go? — pot pies in the freezer waiting for their moment to shine — his voice cracks at the thought of action — she forgot the catfish and he saved five bucks — get yourself a steel guitar from the greater toronto area — strap it around your neck and make the heavens jealous — fill your pockets with bread crumbs and eggshells

 

11

the slow heartbeat — the woodstock fantasy — swallow before you do any writing — girl, you’ve got me beat — a pail and a shovel in the wet sand — your slow, hippy days are over — it’s part of a balanced headfuck — mary full of clusters and the pulse of america taken with sticky fingers — where’d you get your mustache? — omnipresent such and such — you couldn’t be further from the truth — it leaves such a chalky taste in your steamy mouth — let the roaches be — how did i get so down? — where the hell is everybody? — he changed his mind in the 1970′s somewhere along the sahara with the AM ramblings of someone trying to be the next sam cooke — can you believe what this desert can do to you? — it’ll leave your head like an empty caravan — echoes of grace in the wind — the night is not all lost but it might as well be — how was your day? — did you change the world? — i didn’t think so — your address book gets thicker after every beer — a love note hidden in the heart of every man — let’s waltz ’til the end has finally come — just let me lead

 

12

call a truce — this refrigerator smells like my father’s aftershave — can you hear the workers in your dreams? — they work hard to keep you entertained — how have dreams changed since the dawn of man? — i was told to act like someone with attainable goals and aspirations — i will support my wife and kids and send them off to wherever they may want to go — at sundown, the youth depart the beach and let the elderly take over — i have spent the week in southeast asia — angkor wat and back again — charles de gaulle, have you seen what you’ve done — lava shifts in unpredictable ways — swallows up the researchers and teaches them a thing or two about irony — diet cherry coke will make it all better — if you really respected your body, you would put down that zucchini — when did your eyes glow? — squint and watch me fade to black — outline of the second act — will you shut up, i’m trying to listen to my shoes — stretch out your hands and count the space between — find what’s missing, then let me know — i’ll be waiting at my usual park bench downtown — i just thought you should know that

 

13

there are so many times when i could just reach over and kiss you and forget all the reasons why such a pairing would never work — there are other times to think of such things — i have just lost the hour — burning blubber trailing off towards the ocean – “takk” for the memories — what was your favorite tombstone? — i could buy it for you if you wish — the waste collected by the scrub brush has stained my fingers orange — now with one-third less fat — pay your way and get lost in the sunshine — your handwriting should be smaller — you will never succeed with a smile like that — all my co-workers hate me and make fun of my identity behind my back — there is no use for basalt mines — this is the twenty-first century, give or take a couple minutes — why must i always be next in line? — there are no smokestacks out west — the champions of nobility have watered down their cause — the suffragettes and their faulty pantyliners — evening will beckon the sailors to take action — i am intentionally forgetting to mention something of grave importance — you will find out in due time

 

14

i swear it only happens when i think about it — maybe i should go back to meditation — instinct and the will to power — blow me at the sparrow’s diner — we are all sick of infinitives — all the important places with pink highlighter — over and over we try too hard — i was unimpressed with the faculty — abandoned mountain outposts quiet after sundown — the rain streaks on my window are like falling time — why are you still here? — there is not a violent bone in my body but damn if i won’t try — her dress is ruined by design — the alpine men were unable to reach their quota — i am battling random impulse of someone thousands of miles away from me — the frantic search for an end — mistakes will be made, my friend — we must all learn somehow — my left-handed clumsiness leaves blue streaks on the page — this will have me dead before you — i’ll let you know what it’s like — who gives sympathy for tupelo? — why are you so obsessed with progress? — refect these crazy notions and settle down in a town you can’t pronounce — change your name and don’t let any locals in on your dirty secret

 

15

hold your head high and stop the bleeding — quit making it seem like more than it actually was — don’t assume guilt — relax for a change — you are my password — my way inside — stick a flower in my hand — two weeks from now i will be giddy — there’s no need to continue checking the temperature — it won’t do you any good — they are publicizing things that should remain hidden — scratch my beard and see what happens — the ice will melt in due time — the story of your life in pictures — a time to set things straight — the death of the “scratch and sniff” sticker did not go unnoticed — hey hey jelly bean, where does life take you? — this is exactly what you deserve — more practice is needed — soon we will all be perfect — first cigarette of the season — the puffins don’t know what’s coming — is it worth it, what with all this nervous planning? — a chorus at sixty-six degrees — all your life was spent waiting for this moment — flying in the face of images — we will meet at the abandoned laundrette and discuss the sort of things that grown-ups are supposed to discuss in perfect circles

 

16

your eyes light up when you think of hong kong — take me with you — she cannot understand meteor showers and for that we can’t forgive her — i promised not to write about you — is there anyone left to upset? — put down the phone and walk that extra mile — your motown strings will follow — pretty titty afterthoughts in southern california reservoirs — make me dirty, baby — keep me from these russian swindlers — cheap louses of the valley — tennessee is still a bottle of vodka away — fatty arbuckle never felt the consequences — the squeaky chair must be put down — he finally got the words right but now he won’t stop saying them — the letters blend together until his alphabet only features fourteen of them — bend the notes properly — the colored lights that take me over — i am rock n roll but that doesn’t mean anyone takes me seriously — you are asking too many questions — “what are you thinking?” — fuck you, that’s what i’m fucking thinking — ignore my frequent outbursts and focus on my ideals — you will be sorry if you think i will never change — all i ever think of is the possibility of change

 

17

too much internal pressure — in a crowded room looking for the exits — the perspiration between your nose and lip — cleveland’s full of anarchists who can’t feel their legs — writhing towards columbus — a black eye in the ladies room — condiments will cost you ten pence — let me be your applicator — aloe vera along your arm to soothe the burn — scratch out the names and start over — i will place myself in the back of the queue for the sake of literature — no one told me i would have to keep my promises — the sky is full of phone numbers dancing cancer through the clouds — midnight and the sound of typewriter keys pressed — why must they claim that i can’t perform miracles? — what have the danish got against me? — who’s to stop their savage trade monopolies? — there is no need for division — spare me your politics and i will open myself to you — i can’t let you get away with this — montreal does not know what we are doing — they lit fires in each other’s hearts and forgot to follow instructions — they burned from the inside — all that was found was some blackened jewelry and the remnants of time well spent

 

18

drown me in the eastfjords and don’t tell a soul — give sympathy to the insomniacs of the airline industry — the moon is at its peak and i am slowly unwrapping a candy bar so as not to wake up the person next to me — the sentries are out of commission — the waterfalls are harnessing rainbows at a rate of one metric ton per second — none of this incidental — i have been outbid again in my hunt for a honeytoned guitar — a moment of silence in the delivery room — he hit his stride in a pair of stolen dentures — the men’s room smells of leeks and the merchant marines — they are trained to face the oklahoma night head-on — the pilsner rebels and their homemade accruements in the south seas of your heart — what would you do if i turned the tables? — can’t you see i’m trying to sleep? — the agate mounds and the rockhound addicts — escape clause at the royal estate — you are bound to plastics and polycarbons — the night your charm hit bottom — what else is there to do in flagstaff but spit in craters? — breathe into the telephone and lead him to release — you are breaking up — i can no longer hear you

 

19

your silence is your best appeal — i am lost in daylight savings — a callus on my ring finger — follow the road to the sportscaster’s retreat — in the summer it is full of blackflys — her subtle snoring is all he ever asked for — your veins are flowing against their will — in a heartbeat they could destroy every dream you set your life upon — don’t pretend you’re not excited to see this end — do you trust me with your beauty? — it’s not too late to turn back but why bother? — i forgot to floss last year — who could forget your shrill laughter? — that toneless staccato — a waltz limping to its overdue conclusion — what’s on the mind of the tortured architects? — whose building will be the first to fall? — if i told you, you would only be confused — honolulu was an afterthought to your mountainbed delusions — the manchester deviants are on a roll — your tears will dry at the great divide — jazz me up with inconsistencies — the lonely oak tree in the selfishness of its own accord — there’s a dirt track by the azaleas that is bound by shadows — hold your breath and don’t forget to smile

 

20

translated literally from the german, it means “land of false endings” — your knowledge of the everyday fascinates — i have the number one record in peru at this very moment — it wasn’t intentional — i didn’t mean for it to get on your shirt — sometimes, you just can’t tell where these things are going to land — cue music and pan out to the purple polyp valley — can you make that piano hate? — so much buried in this crushed vernacular — the transit authority members walk home from work — she can’t stop skatting — she is turning blue-boop-sha-do — lie down and let your form unravel — leave your hockey sticks at the door — let your love come out in circles — back in the days of hair in those places — i am repeating myself so others can appreciate my sense of humor — auden was credited for essential travel literature — i’ll dot my i’s in all the wrong places — the rock is moving away from the plains — the stream will dry out and bono will come to the rescue — the saints of tomorrow borne from rock n roll — a bucket over your head and the force of nature quickly advancing — must we ever leave the house again? — your weakness was in finding fault where there was none to be found

 

21

3am in the midnight sun — he looks down at his compass and contemplates the merits of eric dolphy — why’d they have to treat him so? — the ground he walks on has consumed his time — rather, it has successfully vied for his attention amongst so many other things — his inability to get out of bed on certain days was long past — no more fighting with dreams — they said to carry extra water just in case and he has obliged — such a slave to water — upon his return, the foundation will be fixed and the house quiet again — all alone in this wonderful countryside, thinking of words he can’t pronounce — life and work a distant memory — he has been knowingly making the mistake of forgetting it all — hungry for the next pub — some ale, some lager, something oh-so-far-away from american imitations — as it stands, not much is different — he has finally learned to slow down — a calming drive on loose gravel roads — there is nothing to the sky but gas and good intentions — these basalt columns will never forget him — he wrote a love letter but never mailed it — he wrote a love song but never sang it — a love poem was buried in so many unnecessary words — all wishful thinking on this couch 5pm

more jubanage

My old pal Jack made a video for one of the tracks from my JUBANO! album.  Check out “Swing Low, Sweet Dong Sorcerer” below:

The rest of the album can be listened to over at Bandcamp. If you crave more moving images, though, here’s the video that I made for another one of the album’s tracks:

time for jubano!

JUBANO! - EP - Front Cover

So here’s the latest project in my ongoing crusade to continue throwing creative shit at the wall until something finally sticks. It’s a six-track EP of instrumental music made under my JUBANO! moniker. The songs are primarily built around loops and samples, with some additional keyboard work added in using my trusty MIDI synth. It’s good. It’s also free.

The songs can respectively be described thusly: 1) icy ambient, 2) dance-y!, 3) icy electronica, 4) noise, 5) all the previous descriptors smushed together, and 6) incredibly-long meditation. Did I mention it’s good? And free?

Give it a shot. You can stream and download individual tracks below or get the whole thing over at Bandcamp.

And here’s the video for the second track, “Drimdrim”, which I actually posted here a long while back. I’m hoping to have a second video finished (for “Jamaica”) in two weeks or so.

here’s a new tune

adfsaasasd

On the first night at my hotel in Queens last Monday, I opened up the window and stuck a microphone outside. For a little over 12 minutes, I recorded the sounds from the street below. Honestly, it wasn’t too exciting – the only worthwhile sound came at the very end, when an ambulance drove by as I was getting ready to bring the microphone back up. I still wanted to use the recording for something, though, so I started messing around with some loops until a song started to take shape.

Here’s the song. The loops consist of a kick drum beat, a bandoneon, and a ronroco, all of which came from a Spanish song whose stem tracks were posted on Indaba a month or two ago. A couple days later – at my hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey – I whipped out my MIDI keyboard and started adding layers and layers of synths sounds. These layers enter, one at a time, for the first six minutes, eventually coming together to form a melody that carries the song the rest of the way. Then the ambulance drives by.

So it’s long and requires patience – I’m not deluding myself into thinking you’re gonna give it much of a shot. But you should – it’s really good. Hit the ‘play’ button below, and chill out for a bit.

Enjoy.

honey brown blues recommends . . .

Endorsements of various things that make life on the road a bit easier:

c

Songdrop
Songdrop lets you grab all the various songs that you find enjoyable while browsing around the web and puts them on one page for you. Since most music blogs nowadays don’t give you an option to download the songs they feature – instead embedding a stream of the track via Soundcloud or Bandcamp – this is a good way to keep those songs handy, especially if you’re still not sure if you like the song enough after a listen or two to spring for a band’s album. This site and their Chrome extension replaces the one I used to rely on – ex.fm – a once-awesome site that went to total shit when they decided to update it (all truly handy web programs tend to go to shit eventually, don’t they?). If you wanna listen to the tunes I’ve been digging while on the road, you can check out my Songdrop profile here.

 more

TVfoodmaps.com
In my week in review piece this past Sunday, I wrote about 2 very good restaurants in New Brunswick, New Jersey. I found both of those restaurants through TVfoodmaps.com, a site that maps out a bunch of restaurants that have been featured on various gluttony-focused TV shows. If you’re taking a trip, just tell ‘em where you’re headed, and it’ll show you all the restaurants along your route. Or just type in the name of any city, and it’ll tell you what’s nearby. I would have never learned of those 2 restaurants in New Brunswick – along with a very fine burger place in Hackensack that I’ll be writing about this Sunday – if it wasn’t for this site. My stomach thanks you, TVfoodmaps. My arteries, on the other hand, do not.

Walgreens
I take medication. I’m also in a different city almost every day. When it’s time to get a refill on my prescription, I call the Walgreens nearest to me and they transfer things over to their location. When the next refill time comes along, the process repeats, delightfully-free of any hassles.

Also – and I’m sure I sound like a total shill saying this but it’s true – their sales don’t fuck around, especially if you use their rewards card at checkout.

The N

The Neon Lounge
Going strong for six years and getting better with each post, this blog by my friend Tyge in Vegas is must-read which I highly encourage everyone to follow. What amazing stories and photographs is Tyge gonna post next? There’s only one way to find out (i.e. by checking out The Neon Lounge every day, so as to take in all its fresh delights).

The Simpsons™- Tapped Out - Android Apps on Google Play

The Simpsons Tapped Out
By making every task play out in real time, this game really, really, really wants you to spend money so that you can speed things up. They also require you to pony up cash in order to get the cooler buildings like the Duff Brewery and Scorpio’s Lair. But there’s no way in hell I’m spending money on this thing because:

1) Brother, I’ve got all the time in the world. And I’m a very patient person. And there’s plenty of things I can do with my time while waiting for Jake’s Unisex Hair Palace to be built.
2) I would never give a single dime to a company that treats its customers as horribly as Electronic Arts.
3) Why would anyone spend actual money to buy intangible items that have zero value outside of a game that you’ll eventually get bored with? Yes, Scorpio’s Lair is pretty cool, but c’mon.

Really, the reason that I play the game – and the reason I recommend it – is because it never fails to bring a smile to my face when I tap on certain characters or see certain animations. Hearing Ned say, “Howdily doodily”, or Homer plead, “Stop it, giant finger!”, or seeing Moe spying on Marge while hiding in a shrub – these things are worth the game’s small annoyances. They’re just not worth spending money on.

Other recommended Android apps that have been very helpful during my travels:

1) Sworkit Pro – a great way to get some exercise without leaving my hotel room.
2) Songkick – when I pull into a new city, I use this to see what bands are playing nearby. It’s how I got to see Wilco in Brooklyn last year. It’s also how I lucked out in catching an absolutely amazing show by Jessie Ware – also in Brooklyn – this past Wednesday.
3) MLB At Bat – because obviously. Oh man, I’m so glad baseball’s back.

what i did on my winter vacation

me! - joshua tree national park

It’s time for me to head back out on the road again. As such, it’s also time for me start posting regularly again.  In a couple days, I’ll once again be documenting my travels here, mainly through photographs and lists of everything I’ve been eating.  How fun!

Before that begins, here’s how I’ve been passing the time since the end of August (i.e. the last time I posted anything of relevance here):

I fell for hot chicken.  Hard.

picture does it no justice

Upon returning from these long periods on the road, my usual goal is to focus on cooking meals at home. Part of that focus involves ditching meat and cooking almost-exclusively vegetarian dishes, with fish being the lone exception. The real reason for this is . . . well, I love cooking and miss it dearly while traveling. But more importantly, it’s to give my body a break from months and months of eating crap on the road. Like this. Or this. Or this.

Oh man, now I can’t wait to start eating crap again.

Anyway, my apartment was kinda-sorta destroyed over the summer (the story can be found here), so my return to Nashville found me scrambling to find a place to live instead of heading up to Trader Joe’s to buy tofu nuggets.  Things ended up working out really well, as one of my favorite friends let me live at her place.  However, the cooking-myself-healthy aspect didn’t work out too well, for three main reasons.  First, there’s a damn fine deli within walking distance, and their banh mi (among many other options) is awesome.  Second, there’s a hipster-foodie butcher shop not much further away and their pork chops (locally sourced and antibiotic-free, of course) are incredibly-thick cut and just blissful.

But the main culprit has been Pepperfire and their hot chicken.  That dish pictured above – hot chicken tenders on top of slices of white bread, with fries and potato salad (and a bucket of some ranch on the side) – has been ordered by me at least every other week (probably closer to every 10 days, which is as long as I can hold out).  Every time I finish eating it, a lovely, comforting warmth comes over me – I go and lay down, take in the warmth, and tune out happily for a little bit.

Many, many decades from now, I want this to be my last meal.  I want a member of my family (an unyet-conceived son or daughter, or – since it’ll be the future – a newly-purchased robo-son or mecha-daughter) to rush in to the hospital room with a to-go box from Pepperfire (if the restaurant’s closed by then, hopefully this will be achieved through time travel).  “Am I too late?” he or she will ask, breathing heavily (or with a slightly-overheated CPU for my mecha-daughter).  The rest of my family – gathered around me – will shake their heads as I frailly extend the hand I didn’t lose during Water War IV out towards the hot chicken.  He or she will then place the box on my lap and open it up.  With all my remaining energy, I will sit up and slowly start into my meal – only requiring assistance to open up the packet of ranch dressing, which is really tough to do with only one hand.  Upon finishing, I will smile broadly.  Bits of cayenne pepper will be all around my mouth, but I won’t care, ’cause who the hell would I be trying to impress at this point.

And then the warmth would come over – that lovely, enveloping hot chicken warmth.  My family would gather closer.

“Fuck yeah,” I’d whisper.  And that would be end of me.

God, I’m gonna miss that place.

 I went to Florida twice.

downtown tampa

And it actually wasn’t too horrible. For the uninitiated, I spent my formative years in Tampa and . . . well, I still consider moving away to be best decision I’ve ever made. My folks are still there, though, and – after six months of being unavailable due to work – momma wants to see her boy, so I end up visiting once I’m done with work in September and again when it’s time to resume my travels.  This year’s visits turned out really well, mainly because I managed to also spend a good amount of time with old friends, some of which I hadn’t seen in many years.  And I got to catch a baseball game while there.  And I got to ride a bunch of roller coasters while at Busch Gardens.

The only real downsides:  Holy crap, Busch Gardens is expensive if you’re not a Florida resident anymore!  Also, I ended up catching a pretty stubborn cold during my first visit.  However, both of these negatives were easily mitigated by the fact that I got to eat a bunch of home-cooked Cuban meals while there.  Mmm, ropa vieja!

(After reading these last two sections, it should not surprise you in the least to learn that I’ve recently been prescribed medication for high cholesterol)

I also went to Michigan twice.

 kalkaska

I was seriously considering moving there back in September, after finding myself weirdly-attached to the place during the six weeks I spent working in Michigan back in the spring.  Visiting twice during the winter, though, proved too much for my Puerto-Rico-born and Florida-raised bones – both visits justified my decision to stay in cozy Nashville, where winter isn’t much of anything most of the time (even though it’s snowing outside as I right this).

Anyway, both visits were lovely and I still very-much like Michigan – I just don’t want to live there anymore.

I made an extensive outline and did a lot of research for book #2.

a 70-page outline, some of which ain't crappy

Book number 2 is set in Michigan – doing research for it was the reason for my first trip up there.  My intention was to spend the winter months writing the first draft, but plans got derailed as other creative pursuits (see below) took over vast chunks of my free time.  The goal now is to write the book while I’m on the road – hopefully, work will take me back to Michigan (once its warmer) so I can get a bit more research done.

And here’s where I remind you that my first book is readily available and it’s good and you should buy it ’cause I love you.

I started making wood transfers based on the photographs I took on the road last year.

wood transfer of the packard motel

This was the first of the creative pursuits that took me away from book-writing.  These were fun to make, but incredibly time-consuming and incredibly easy to fuck-up (I fucked up a lot).  I ended up making enough good ones that I was confident to participate in one of those DIY-craft shows that seem to take place now every week throughout Nashville.  And I sold half of them, which made me quite happy.  Had an Etsy shop going for a little bit, too, but that’s gone now ’cause I can’t keep up with shipping stuff while traveling.  I want to do more of these, but it’ll have to wait until this year’s travels come to an end.  Also, I’m determined to find a less-easily-fuckupable method for doing these things.  A friend of mine has suggested encaustic, which I just might try as soon as I figure out what it is.

I went back to Vegas.

el cortez - vegas

And I only lost 40 bucks!  That’s $200 less than what I lost last year!  Can’t wait to beat the bank next year.

It has become something of an annual tradition for me to head west in the winter for a week.  And I always start things off with a couple days in Vegas.  I just really like that town.  More importantly, my great friend Tyge lives there and I really, really enjoy exploring the city with him and hanging out at his regular haunts while losing money (but only a small amount!) on video poker.

As always, I took a bunch of pictures while there, which can all be found at my Flickr page.  My trip also featured heavily-Flickrized stops at Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea, and Los Angeles.  Speaking of . . .

I went to Los Angeles for the first time since I was 9 and really, really dug it.

l.a. from the griffith observatory

Man, L.A. was a lot better than I was expecting.  It probably helps that I was there during a weekend, and traffic wasn’t too bad.  Also of help was the fact that I was staying in Little Tokyo (visiting my closest of friends, which clearly helped too), and there were a bunch of great places to visit within walking distance.  Of the greatest help, though, was the fact that the weather was lovely even though it was the middle of January and the rest of the country was freezing while the sun shone bright over Los Angeles and Hollywood and Venice Beach and Santa Monica and how the hell do people choose NOT to live in this part of the country?  Beyond Vegas, I try to vary my westward vacations by venturing off in a different direction each time, but my next western trip might be the same as this year’s, because everything about this year’s trip was awesome.

Except for the fact that I caught another cold while there.  And, sorry Tyge, but that raw food place we went to in Vegas was . . . oh, I’ll just call it poor, even though my burps were surprisingly tasty afterward.

I hunkered down and recorded a very long new album.

pretty, pretty album cover

This was the second of my creative pursuits that pushed aside the book writing.  The album is called Curtains, and it’s the culmination of 10+ years of recording music, either by myself (mostly by myself) or with a few good friends, in various houses, apartments, and motels around the country.  It’s also six hours long and features 100 songs.  But they’re all awesome, so it’s totally worth your time.  Seriously – I’m really proud of this release.  You can read more about it at my band’s site, you can download the whole thing for free by clicking this direct link (i.e. the whole, 785mb-shebang  will start downloading as soon as you click it), you can sample ten songs over at Soundcloud, or you can give it  a listen below:

And that’s pretty much it for my winter.  That also concludes my long absence from this site – I look forward to getting back into the blogging spirit once I start my travels again on Monday.

Thanks for reading.  Now I’m off to get some hot chicken.

the march of the tongue brigade

Persuant to last week’s bit of self-promotion (as if this entire blog isn’t one continuous exercise in self-promotion), here is the newly-remastered version of the album that I made with my friend Casey under the JUBANO! name. Give it a listen below, then – if you really dug it – go to Bandcamp and purchase a copy.

I wrote a piece briefly explaining how the project came to be. You can read it over at Lambright Press.

Lastly, here’s a video that I made for a drastically-reworked version of one of the tracks. If you check the description on YouTube, you’ll note that I made this more than two years before Geico used the same gimmick for one of their commercials. I’m always three steps ahead of those bastards.

a song, a video, a bear on a rocket, panama

I busted a tuning peg on my guitar about two months ago. Since then, all the music I’ve been making while traveling has been created either with my keyboard or by making loops from other people’s songs. The song below is an example of the latter – it takes bits and pieces from the song “Calgary” by Bon Iver and turns it into a soothing, meditative piece. Enjoy.

JUBANO! was the name I once used for all my experimental/instrumental music. Since that’s the type of music I’ve been creating lately, I figured I’d bring the name back. More JUBANO! tracks can be found at Soundcloud. Many more are on the way.

And just for the heck of it, here’s a video I made last year featuring a poem read by my friend Casey (I did the music, too) – both the song and the video are pretty high up on the list of favorite things I’ve ever done.