Thursday, December 30, 2010

Great Tribulation live at Woodruff's in Ypsilanti MI, 12.17.2010 ... "Chinatown" by Jeni Lee Richey.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fuckin' A. See you there?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

You know who's really great? Ol' Dirty Bastard.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Deming confronted me a few days ago over my lack of blog postings ... as always, there is everything and nothing going on, all at the same time at varying speeds. If you're still reading, I'm still here.

Job hunting and dignity control, lifestyle adjustments, quiet aging, actively seeking lapsteel guitarists for The Great Tribulation (email me), ridiculous SLA sessions, general housekeeping, secret small business meetings, not to mention my eternal quest to make Mark Lansing a star (rare public appearance coming soon) ... it's a punishing schedule.

I did minor cosmetic surgery to The End Times' website to better reflect the history and future of the brand, since its present is currently in limbo. Exploratory recording sessions have begun, however, and I'm on the right track. This Saturday I return to Ghetto to finish mastering the Great Tribulation EP, seven heavy songs that we'll be pushing online soon ... it would be nice to do a GT 7" on BSH, maybe I'll start a Kickstarter page and try to raise the dough, that seems to be an actual solution these days that people aren't embarrassed about.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dig The New Blacktree Singers. Recorded live in one take at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit, MI during The Great Tribulation Weekend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Two new hits from The Great Tribulation are available for probing on the MySpace ... the August sessions at Ghetto Recorders were held exactly one year after arriving back in Michigan, but I was too busy to note this anniversary. I consider that evidence that I am in the right place.

More soon. The following videos are dedicated to the staff of The Typing Monkey ...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I haven't been writing much lately, here or anywhere, really. I don't have the stomach to publicly air personal grievances so much anymore, and spending any time at all writing up my thoughts on the latest film/record/meme I've absorbed seems utterly ridiculous (it's easier to just post links on Facebook and let the followers make up their own minds) ... this era we "live" in is overloaded with opinions, half-baked judgements handed down instantaneously without a chance at reflection, usually informed by whichever pundits and cultural critics we are drawn to through our particular political/social leanings. I just can't help but feel that in a world where everyone's voice gets an equal volume (via the internet, which provides anyone with access a platform), opinion becomes devalued. It's a quandary I can't grapple successfully with ... the age-old fascism of "experts" (who are often wrong) and "tastemakers" (who are merely privileged) vs. the populist nightmare of simple minds brought up to believe that every impulse is pure and correct and must be expressed. I've lived my life believing wholeheartedly in the latter, but at 42 years of age, which includes a decade soaking in the internet's utopianism, I must admit that the answer, as usual, can only be found in the middle.

But who the fuck is me? I'm writing this at 1:43pm, I'll post it within the next ten minutes or so. I am as weak with zeitgeist as anyone. We are all wrong, so very, very wrong, about everything we think we know. And everything I wrote in the previous paragraph is simply a prelude to discussion about the Jeni Lee Richey Explosion, which seems to be the only thing I'm currently inclined to cover in this "online diary" (such an archaic term now, but one that I took a little too seriously for the first many years of my so-called "blogging"). My life is none of your business anymore, not what I think about the Touch & Go Fanzine reunion that I didn't go to last weekend, not how I feel about my rapidly aging body, not what's going on in my work as a professional microfiche technician, not nothing. Got my phone number? Give me a call, I'll tell you more than you wanna know.

Anyhow, JLR/TGT gigged last Friday night at the Old Miami, a legendary venue in Detroit's Cass Corridor, and while we've had some satisfying shows in the past, this was the first that felt really right. We had power, spontaneity and precision, and of course only my pal Ed was present to attest to this fact (word is there is video/audio footage available, but I've yet seen it and until I do I must assume it doesn't exist). Doesn't matter, I know that it's true, so does Jeni, who came to me wild-eyed later in the night to proclaim "We've done it. We are ready." She's right. We're going to Ghetto in two weekends to lay down some serious full-band tracks, so unless the muse quits us I'll have plenty to crow about before Fall hits. We'll be in Ypsilanti, Lansing and Hamtramck in the months to come, so please do come.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

OK, so the Elbow Room show in late July is effectively null and void due to sudden surprise developments, but JLR/TGT are still gigging at the Lager House this Saturday night, an evening that also heralds the sixth anniversary of my nuptials ... June 26th, 2004 is when Lori and I exchanged public vows in Swartz Creek MI (with Deming presiding), and we've promptly forgotten the anniversary every year since then -- both of us, this is no sitcom husband talking here, the date is inscribed on the inside of our wedding bands but we forget to mark the date nevertheless. One of us invariably remembers either a week before or a week after said date, and it's not the first time I've scheduled shows on our special day without realizing ("Hey baby, we got anything going on June 26th? Probably not? OK, we're gonna play someone's nephew's graduation party."). Anyhow, JLR/TGT will be opening the show (meet us there around nine or ten) and for the rest of the night after that Lori and I will fight ANYONE who has a problem with our relationship, we will FISTFIGHT YOU in the parking lot or street, whichever is most convenient. We dare you to question our love. Find more details here or here. Same show, different Facebook.

My new job in the microfiche industry proves endlessly challenging. I've spent days cutting and cataloging microfilmed editions of Newsweek, Playboy and Modern Psychological Disease (among hundreds of other popular magazines and trade journals). It's refreshing to know that nearly-outdated technology can still thrive in Michigan ... not a scanner in the joint, everything captured straight to real film on dusty 1970s-era equipment. It's a highly-classified secret government contract we're working on, so I can't give you any more details than that (I've already said too much), but I'm learning valuable skills that will translate well into civilian work at digital watch factories or some kind of post-doc pager technology work.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The preceding joke would also work with "Polaroid's Betamax division," "8-track tapery" and "typewriter repair." )

Friday, June 18, 2010

Updated logo and Lager House gig info.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Some upcoming shows upcoming for JLR/TGT, including the gig postered above with the thought-they-were-dead-but-they-ain't VOLEBEATS ...

June 26, 2010 -- The Lager House, Detroit MI
July 10, 2010 -- The Belmont, Hamtramck MI
July 30, 2010 -- The Elbow Room, Ypsilanti MI
October 16, 2010 -- Mac's Bar, Lansing MI

Yeah, that's what a happening joint Mac's has become, they're booking five months in advance. There are other shows being worked over that we'll be announcing soon enough, including (fingers crossed) my hometown of Flint, where a recent unexplained murder spree resulted in many panicked residents demanding the mayor call in the National Guard. He didn't. Here's hoping!

Anyhow, we'll have some new songs from the pen of Ms. JLR, more spooky laments about corpses and curses set to outlaw rhythms and wrapped up in barbed wire. Maybe a few more dusty leftovers from the Clutters era too, since I'm still trying to recover from my Seattle hangover and everything I write these days is either too true or too false.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You wanna hang out in Lansing tomorrow night?

Jeni Lee Richey and The Great Tribulation opens for Wally Pleasant at Mac's Bar.

First time I've played Mac's since 1999, when the inaugural End Times lineup was invited to an Etch Magazine-sponsored music festival (did they actually call it Etchfest? Or course they did). If I remember correctly, we had two fans drive all the way from Grand Rapids to dig it, but circumstances demanded that I play the whole gig with my back to the audience ... I promise that won't happen this time, because I sit down to play now and no matter how angry I get it just won't be convenient. I guess I did the back-to-the-crowd routine once before for a typically neurotic Clutters gig, opening for my then (and still) heroes Mike Ireland and Holler (whose rumored claim to fame is making the worst-selling Sub Pop LP of all time -- also one of the best countrypolitan records of all time, so I guess you just can't have it all), and I don't even remember what the problem was that night ... jeez, maybe I should be scared. Fuck it, the point is that I'll be playing Mac's for the umpteenth time since my debut there in 1996, and we're gonna be fucking great, I swear to god. Then you can dig Flatfoot, a married couple who play ukuleles and no less a man than Wally Fucking Pleasant. We go on first, so show up early, get loaded and stay as long as you're able.

I did visit Mac's a few weeks back to watch Scarlet Oaks play and I'm happy to report that while the bar still has a dozen TV sets mounted at various vantage points, they no longer broadcast strictly sports-oriented programming, unless you can call vintage Asian martial arts films "sports."

I'll meet you at The Best Steak House beforehand if you contact me in time ...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fan-made video slideshow to El Smasho's "May 11."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Didn't see it til this morning, but my soul brother KK wrote up his musings over the final End Times trio performance a week or so ago. He says the show "felt like a church service -- a little Robert-Mitchum-in-Night-of-the-Hunter, but mostly comforting in a 'we share your pain' way." I can handle that. Thanks, baby.

Don't know if I'd call Pillow Army "Americana," however, as their reliance on "orchestra nerd" instrumentation diminishes their potential for true traditional American folk sounds ... there's a higher brow sensibility at work there, even when you strip it all down to acoustic guitar, Tim Franklin's compositions are truly compositions, not the kind of simple three-chord melodies that identify American folk music. The songs still work stripped down to the base bones like that, though, as evidenced by Pillow Army's set with the End Times in Tacoma, where Tim took the stage alone with only cellist John Simpson as accompanist (aside from a lovely take on my song "Everything Breaks My Heart" that he worked up with Tyson, maybe the best version I've ever heard). Pillow Army worked hard and gigged hard to touch the tight bombast the full band is capable of on good nights, but I still have a soft spot in my head for Tim's early excursions, which featured him as strumming troubadour surrounded by only a string section.

Oh, and Kris, if you hadn't already noticed that band geeks have taken over indie rock, then you aren't paying close enough attention. Orchestral pop is the 2-piece guitar/drum combo of the late Aughties. Still trying to wrap my head around kids copying the Decemberists instead of Bantam Rooster, but I guess that's what the generation gap is all about ... I know a lot of jazzers had trouble digging Coltrane at first, too.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Once we secured ourselves a regular rhythm section, Jeni Lee made quick work of booking up the band's calendar ... The Great Tribulation are back at the Elbow Room in Ypsilanti this Saturday, and after that we have four (maybe five?) more shows in Detroit, Ypsi and Lansing over the next few months, including a stop at Mac's Bar, where we'll open for Wally Pleasant. Life moves sideways ...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I missed the dawn of Michigan Spring while on the road out West ... I'm back in A2 and beholding the wild splendor of our backyard through the sliding glass, noting not only aggressive outbreaks of dandelions but actual living/breathing leaves on the trees that I've only known as barren. We got here last November, and had time to rake the yard once before the snow took over, so my first months in Michigan were bitter, frozen days that had me stuck inside or shoveling the driveway, muttering curses.

I lived in Altamonte Springs, Florida for one month back in 1986 (hi Scott) and returned to Michigan on Halloween night, a beautiful blustery cool night that held so much more mystery than the humid torpor of the South, and for the first time in my life I appreciated the natural graces of my home state. I never knew Fall was my favorite season until I missed it that year, and I experienced the same kind of atmospheric disturbance when I returned from the Big Trip ... over the twenty two days I was away, Spring happened in Michigan, and now that I see it, I understand the value of this calm before the Summer bloats us with wet heat, angry sunshine and thirsty mosquitos.

The End Times shows were successful. Despite only a few brief practices, there were no major meltdowns and I believe it all came together on those stages, me & Abi & Tyson were back in step once the uniforms were on and I'm way proud of what we did. Thanks, guys. Thanks to The Pillow Army and Keg (The Lone Ranger of Rock), The Mix and New Frontier Tavern too. The End Times operate out of Michigan now, and plans are being laid to record a single to release this Fall -- if anyone is interested in signing on for The Blacktree Singers (MidWest Division), please let me know, I'm assembling a mailing list for future projects ...

So anyhow, the final trio performances were very emotional and I spent nearly every night in a bar, so I'm feeling drained yet relaxed and ready to muscle through. I made a lot of peace out there.

HonkFest was as retarded as I expected it to be, but goddamn if ol' Tyson didn't pull off a weekend-long traveling block party with the city's blessing no less. I had a great time the whole time, drank Four Loko in the streets, made fun of hippies, did a little pickpocketing, just generally set my chickens free. Seriously, there was a lot more variety to each act than you might expect out of an exclusively marching band format, and the groups ranged from Merry Pranksteresque amateurs with more spirit than rhythm to the military precision of local sports team bands. Who knew this was a genre? Anything that furthers the trombone's ascendence to its rightful place next to the electric guitar as a cultural symbol of youthful rebellion is okay by me. Someday our children (or nieces/nephews) will be telling us to shove it, locking themselves in their rooms to smoke dope and bleat and blurt the teenage blues on their battered brass machines while we plug our ears and curse those kids and their damn racket. We'll deserve it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The shows were fine. The trip was life-altering. The company was good. The worst was avoided. I sleep in Wisconsin tonight. Back home tomorrow. Starting a new choir. More later. I miss everybody.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You may have heard about these guys on the news. Michigan militias were a big story when I left the state a decade ago, but some things never change. Apparently these Hutaree boys are heavy enough that the mainstream Michigan militias are trying to distance themselves from them, that's really saying something. Let's hear it for the true patriots.

Monday, March 29, 2010

April snuck up on me fast (if anything can sneak "quickly," I'm happy to debate that point if we can all come to some kind of linguistic consensus), and now I find my trip to Seattle yawning before me, daring me to actually embark. Not like I won't, it's just that the whole business seemed so distant for so long, a vast insane plan to drive 2500 miles to play for 20-some souls less than a year after an extremely successful and satisfying "farewell show" ... but I've been convinced that it's the right thing to do, officially mark the release of THESE ARE THE END TIMES in the city of its birth/gestation/conception with the people who made it possible/inevitable, not as a publicity stunt or marketing ploy (as I'd like to imagine it) but as punctuation to a very important and fruitful chapter in the illegible book that is my life. And now it's here. If all goes as planned, I'll be on the road by Easter, hitting Seattle in time for some quick practice and Honk Fest (three days of tubas, trumpets, bass drums and outlandish costumes -- the kids these days just LOVE noise), then some more serious rehearsal/flyering and we visit Tacoma first, Seattle second. And then? Drive home. Take stock of whatever just happened. Start again, again.

It's gonna be good, though ... my new pal Jason is creating a minimalist video piece that should serve as a stimulating backdrop to our two performances, if technology doesn't fail us (which almost NEVER happens, I know, but I'm bringing the sign just in case), and the two joints we're hitting are cool places that also booked our friends Pillow Army and Keg, The Lone Ranger Of Rock, so at the very least we'll be in good company.

I feel like I've been straddling two coasts for the past nine months (yes, the Great Lakes constitute a coast, fuck off), with rapidly diminishing returns, and while the idea of cutting ties with Seattle is unthinkable, I definitely need to mark the achievement of the End Times' first (of many?) official physical document so I can figure out what's next. What's next? The inevitable eccentric part time job, more freelance writing assignments, another round of recording and gigging with the Jeni Lee Band (Detroit debut with the new rhythm section on the last night Michiganders can legally smoke tobacco in public places at the Belmont) and whatever comes after that. No answers. No solutions. No conclusions until it's too late to contemplate them -- that's the life I've chosen. It isn't easy, but it's honest.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

New flier for Seattle gig, featuring Tyson's back. At least, I hope it's his back ...

And the Tacoma show.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I posted this once on my old blog, but I'm giving it a rerun because that's just how I feel. Possibly the greatest photo ever.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sadly, I'm probably going to miss a couple of these fine screenings at the Burton in Detroit, but that doesn't mean I can't encourage all land-locked Michiganders from making the scene. Nail Gun Massacre on the big screen is gonna be particularly mind-bending. All hail Synapse Films.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bleeding Skull is back, with a broader focus than the purely anarchic trash-horror slant that initially beguiled me ... after two years away (thanks to some "personal tragedy" that may have informed one BS writer's musical output -- although perhaps I am extrapolating) Bleeding Skull returns not only to unearth the most eccentric and surreal gore/slasher art but also to examine the outre in other non-horror spheres, and I celebrate this development. Budnik and Ziemba never look down in scorn at the sublimely ridiculous works they encounter, but they don't whitewash trash either, a difficult tightrope walk to accomplish (and I know, I've tried it). Check out this piece on my favorite director, Doris Wishman, a review of Something Weird's Indecent Desires/My Brother's Wife double feature ... I thought I had laid down the last word on that particular pairing when I covered the DVD for Resonance Magazine some five years ago, but when it comes to Doris, there's always something more to say.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My grandmother's birthday was this past weekend. Esther Beldin (nee Griswold) turned 95 on Sunday and we visited her at her new home in Dowling, MI. She lived for decades in Florida, but circumstance requires her to be closer to family. She still looks exactly the same as she does here, so if any of you are wondering how I do it, well, here's your answer. Good genes.

My old man made a very cool slide show of 20th century photos in celebration, so if you're a relative or creepy stalker type (the line between the two is thin sometimes), you can check it out here. Please ignore the few pictures of me looking very uncomfortable around my family, they are situational and definitely not evidence of deep psychological problems.

PS. I really ought to point out this awesome photo of my late paternal grandfather as well.

I am lucky enough to have inherited my great hair and interest in music from both grandfathers, Beldin as well as Storz. Grandpa Beldin taught himself the chord organ in his retirement years and had deliciously wavy hair as a youth ... Grandpa Storz taught himself trombone so he could play along with his beloved big band swing records in the 1950s and still has a full, beautiful head of white hair to this day. Both of them were smokers but quit in their middle age and beat the odds by continuing to live into their 90s. I am truly blessed, genetically anyhow.

Monday, February 8, 2010

On sale now. Free MP3s will be taken down from the official website tonight. Vinyl copies of THESE ARE THE END TIMES are $15 postpaid in the USA, contact me at for details. Currently available at Flat, Black and Circular in East Lansing, MI. If you think you're due a complimentary copy, just hold your horses, they'll be shipped out this week.

Let's see what happens next ...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My stepfather Roger is the interim Clayton Township supervisor, and his civic-minded reign generated this article ... as usual, the only people worth voting for don't really want the job. Congratulations on being recognized, regardless.

BSH-002 LP covers are here. I just spent 8 hours assembling 500 records (518 to be exact, there was an overrun). Tyson, I'm on it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Yesterday was my first volunteer shift at the 826 Michigan Robot Repair & Supply Store ... while it might be odd for a person like me who hates children, retail, education and jobs that don't pay any money to affiliate himself with such an august organization, it's actually part of my brain therapy to expose myself to situations that might cause me discomfort (or discomfort to others) in order to break through the various walls I've built to shield me from the threat of enjoying life. Manning the register in the gift shop is one thing, I am still a bit intimidated about the prospect of serving as one of their after-school tutors. I mistakenly thought that 826 was strictly a writing workshop for kids, something I would feel perfectly competent being a part of, but the tutors actually help students with whatever kind of homework they might be bringing to the table, meaning I could be called upon to assist in various mathematical or scientific questions that I could never comprehend or care to comprehend the first time around. I've been assured by 826 brass that having no knowledge or skills in these areas won't detract from my usefulness, and although I'm still skeptical, I'm hoping that after a week or two in the store and watching the process from a close distance I'll finally find the gumption to try a little tutoring myself. Hey, as long as it doesn't interfere with band practice ...
Speaking of Jim Diamond ... there is a website bearing his name that sells assorted personal products, condoms and nitrous oxide. He swears it's a coincidence.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Great Tribulation session at Ghetto went well, with two songs attempted and much good work achieved. "Sure As The Rain" was simply too elaborate to finish in an afternoon, my plans too grand for a satisfying conclusion, but we have the bedrock down, so another round of overdubs should bring it closer to done. However, "When A Stranger Kisses Me" proved more manageable, and those with a yen to can hear a rough cut at the JLR/TGT Myspace site. Thanks to Jim and, especially, Pat, who had to spend the day translating my vague directives into recognizable rhythm.

PS. Happy birthday, Mom.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Master Lucifer

Lucifer, to you
my heart, my heart and my love
I hear you complain

in the gate of hell
your strong blood pulse
I see you laugh
I see you complain

You will have everything from me
I will do everything for you
I'm your instrument
My master Lucifer

I enter in the dark
in the warm of hell
I feel your power presence
hot like hell
powerfull like the forty-nine demons.

(Her official website is a fuckin' riot ... don't miss the wallpapers!)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

We've confirmed ... The End Times will perform at The Mix in Georgetown (Seattle, WA) on April 16, 2010 to herald the release of THESE ARE THE END TIMES. Possibly another NW date or two as well, but don't quote me. There are still no-cost downloads available at the website, but only for a limited time ...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I have no idea what iTunes is. But my friend Abi does, and her new record is available for purchase, track by track, on that "website." I would like to suggest starting with "The Prodigal," because I love that song so much that I wanna cover it (I made up my own arrangement already) and what are you gonna do with that 99 cents? Buy half a coffee? Make a pot at home for a change, put it in a thermos and take it to work or whatever it is you do, then buy the song. One song. If you like it, try "The Cycle" (listen for free here). Oh, you didn't like that one? That's cool, I understand, not everyone likes everything, but I like it, probably even more than "The Prodigal," it's the kind of song that really sticks in your subconscious whether you want it to or not. "Orpheus Bows" is good too, that's Tyson there playing the slide guitar. She has a habit of pulling away from what she loves before her heart breaks, a cushion of space, to keep herself sane. I wish I did. If you're still listening, keep listening ... Abi Grace has a long way to go, but she's already halfway there.

Can't commit? That makes sense, considering the way the world works. Check her out here, download free, where you can still hear "Nightingale For Grandpa," the song that caused me to fall in love with her in the first place.

All hail our conquering hero, Mark Lansing -- film star, R&B showman and cultural critic. Please join us as we usher in another half century of Deming.

It's a trend that I hope continues unabated ... stage banter from metal frontmen stripped out from live recordings and presented as standalone tracks.

King Diamond from Mercyful Fate (the best of this batch)

Tom Araya from Slayer

Paul Stanley from Kiss

Bruce Dickenson from Iron Maiden (no MP3s, audio loads automatically)

And the grandaddy of them all, Cronos from Venom, recorded and edited by a Black Flag roadie in 1986.

I am exhausted. Insomnia. Can't barely finish a sentence. Tonight I'm trying melatonin.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It has recently come to my attention that tracks from down MF's The Law of Diminishing Returns cd/7” are still digitally available here on the band's official website. If you haven’t already, you should ... I haven’t heard these songs in a long time, and they’ve returned to regular rotation in my car, kitchen and head over the past week.

Back in grunge-era East Lansing, down MF, or rather the band's figurehead Scott Sendra, was generally regarded as the wise-yet-unpopular sage of the local basement rock universe, a noisy, stiff-hipped bastion of straight-edge bad vibes that beer-drunk teenagers had to sit through in order to revel in the gory mosh pits of more crowd-friendly bands. But it's no surprise that every Good Time Charley act that picked down MF to open their shows would have swapped souls to be able to write songs with the same conviction ... not for nothing that my own pop/ska/rockabilly combo El Smasho opened up nine out of ten gigs with "Solid State," a down MF number that we turned into a bubblegum hardcore rave-up so frothy that Sendra nearly abandoned the song altogether (luckily, he later relented and released it on a down MF single infamous for having fewer than 60 seconds per side). It took a while for down MF to achieve the respect the band deserved, but relative obscurity was its only reward, as is so often the case.

The Law of Diminishing Returns was down MF's last (final?) release, and features the band's most high-concept anti-audience gimmick ever ... the inner sleeve of the 7" single is lined with sandpaper, meaning that every time the listener removes the record for play the vinyl is damaged that much more, resulting either in new, exciting sounds every time or ruined stereo equipment. The accompanying complimentary CD is easier to enjoy, and features down MF's best-sounding recordings ... start off with "Toast of the Town," "Brixless" and "My Trend," then keep on working down the list if you get it. It's easy enough to simply point you once again towards Deming's rave review to give you the jist, but am I really that lazy? Maybe. All I know is these songs still move and inspire in the same old way ... all that melancholy distortion and those bitter melodies, shambling rhythm and incidental noise, Sendra's clumsy baritone pointing out every fault and folly you thought you'd overcome, hidden or simply forgotten. I'm not sure what down MF makes me feel exactly, but it feels exactly right and these recordings are uncovered gems worth digging through the dirt for.
For nights on end now, I've been awakened at 3:00 am after intense, lucid, yet not exactly disturbing dreams, three in the morning every damn time ... over the past 72 hours I've fathered two children who called Lori "Mom" and me "Fred," served on Pat Bills' legal team to help him beat a court case for a crime he didn't commit, embarked upon a mountain climbing expedition only to quit after a few miles and go to an amusement park instead, helped my brother unpack a duffle bag full of tools, answered a cell phone while driving, stood in an unusually long line at a coffee stand despite being several hours late for work, and got sentenced to a women's prison -- this last bit isn't nearly as sexy as you might think, all that happened was I sat in a small cell with about eight female inmates and we all watched a stack of horror movies on VHS that the warden provided for us (meaning it was kind of a dream come true, if it hadn't actually been a dream). Then my cellmates gave me a pair of really cool sunglasses. My therapist doesn't know what to make of that last detail.

This night, after cursing whatever curse has been laid upon me and spending a few minutes brooding over some things in my past that I can't change, I listened to the house settle, the subtle cricks and creaks and cracks that pass unnoticed during the day but become obsessive after dark. Nearly a rhythm, so regular this pattern became, like a ghost tiptoeing through the hallway, an extremely polite and respectful ghost who doesn't want to alarm or awaken anyone, just wants to quietly haunt and not make a big deal out of it but doesn't realize how light a sleeper I really am. After those noises ceased, I became acutely aware of my forehead against the pillow, feeling the blood punch its way through the veins of my temple until resting my head became unbearable, and then my stomach started up, curling like a fist and flexing in its emptiness despite the lack of any true feelings of hunger.

So I'm awake now, hopefully not for good. Lori needs to be up early this morning to prepare materials for a class she's to teach today, and I have about an hour before the alarm ... I'll get back in bed and try running through songs in my head, composing new melodies that I have no hope of playing on any physical instruments. This will at least kill some time in the dark.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Running on very little sleep again ... insomnia claims me after several nights of vivid dreams in which random celebrities (Rush Limbaugh and Michael Nesmith thus far) reveal strange truths that, ultimately, I already knew. It's okay, despite last week's relative inaction, a lack of motivation compounded by lethargy and impatience with everything that would seem to be my due, I am filled with a strange energy, a directionless and dissipating energy but energy all the same. Gratuitous levels of stimulant and the soothing drones of Sunn 0))) are working wonders as well.

Proofs are in, so we're about two weeks away from finally having everything.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Also more recently R.I.P. ...

Porn legend Aunt Peg

Jay Reatard

I hadn't heard this news before today, but my favorite werewolf died a few months ago. Paul Naschy, aka Jacinto Molina, passed away thanks to cancer on November 30, 2009. He was best known for portraying "Waldemar Daninsky" in a long series of peculiar Spanish werewolf films including WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMAN, FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR, THE CRAVING and THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI, among others. My favorite Naschy titles are his non-lycanthrope films like THE HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE, CARNIVAL OF THE BEASTS and HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (find that one first if you need an introduction, it is completely insane). Good night Mr. Naschy, and thanks for all the strange memories.


I posted more Naschy nonsense at Frenzy Of The Visible. Blow your mind, if you dare ...

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Thanks to Tyson, I found my way to a website hosting four full-length Michael O'Donoghue rants from his Not My Fault! column in Spin. He was a cold, cruel genius and too good for this world. O'Donoghue, I mean, not Tyson, who is just right for this world.

Since I was in the mood, I searched and found a snippet of O'Donoghue's legendary Mr. Mike's Mondo Video special, which was prepared for but never aired on NBC. Like all Saturday Night Live spin-offs, it's spotty but often hilarious, like the part where they throw the cats in the pool. Anyway, it's over at Frenzy of the Visible and it's dedicated to Roy, who first turned me on to Mr. Mike, as well as Firesign Theater, Wire and the New York Dolls. My entire record collection owes him a debt.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A mid-morning lull between applying for jobs I won't get and scouring craigslist for musicians I won't call ... currently seeking a keyboard player to help me transcribe a few songs to piano so I can finally talk Diamond into producing the great soft rock masterpiece he was born to craft. Seriously, Jim, no cocaine need be involved, I know it can be done with prescription pharmaceuticals, coffee and tequila. A brave new world of MOR infamy awaits us, but we must get softer first. Softer, I say!

Jeni Lee and The Great Tribulation do have time at Ghetto scheduled for later this month, this time to record my songs, two freshly Michigan-penned numbers I have not yet had time to second-guess. One a potential New Country hit about crushing loneliness and casual sex, the other an epic apocalyptic gospel ballad that may or may not include kettle drums. Speaking of drums, Bills served his notice so we've been talking to other interested parties, and I even sessioned with one in the basement of an historic Ypsilanti mansion, a jazzer who took every song I threw at him into uncharted territories. It was intoxicating to hear songs I wrote deconstruct before my ears, it's exactly the kind of approach I need to burn the cotton out of my head.

Meanwhile, I heartily recommend downloading this recording of one of Anton LaVey's Satanic Masses. It's a laugh riot ... Cosmic Hearse is a godsend for anyone seeking infernal, profane sounds, there's a wealth of uber-obscure Black Metal from all over the globe available, although I'm more partial to this guy's extensive hardcore collection (SOA, YDI, JFA and totally amazing Japanese 'core).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Not yet accustomed to the format of the new blog ... tiny, tiny paragraphs. But I have certainly spent enough quality time on this project today, so I must move on. Nice to see you here.
Because I don't want this to ever be forgotten ... a rerun from the final moments of 2009.

The End Times LPs have arrived and currently sit packed snugly in boxes in a corner of my library (yes, that’s right, we call the unheated back room of the house our library, because that’s where we put the bookshelves and the record collection) ... no covers made yet, as everyone’s favorite local indie screenprinter dropped the ball for me and I ended up having to make new plans, but thanks to the limitless patience of my hero Pat Bills we do have a finished design that will be produced in Nashville, Tennessee. Life is constant compromise, unless you’re a dick about it. There must be a lesson here somewhere ...

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this record, what it means as a document of the past three years, what it might have been if it had been completed as originally planned and whether or not any of that matters. Of course, it doesn’t matter. Outside of a small circle of friends, These Are The End Times will be accepted at face value as just another product, one more quiet shout in a crowded, impossibly noisy landscape overrun with more media than anyone can absorb, offered to the marketplace on a format only the most stubborn music fans cling to, but that’s okay. I’ve had several bands break up immediately after recording a full-length album, only to see our record labels (wisely) opt out of their promise to produce and distribute an unmarketable release from a defunct act with regional-at-best appeal. Would the alternative nation have embraced Lover’s Wrists, Fighter’s Wrists without, at the very least, midwestern touring and a continued loyal local fanbase? I don’t know, but I do hope Trixie Rex would have spelled my last name correctly on the insert.

This record was too important to shrug off. A physical residue must exist to prove we walked the earth. We can provide the interested with spectral versions of the songs for transitory enjoyment, but once the computers finally become cognizant and commit mass suicide for their part in mankind’s downfall (within our lifetimes, friends, believe it), MP3s will disappear as completely as any anonymous 15th century troubadour’s favorite tune, and with generations raised on instantly accessible information, do you think anyone’s memories are strong enough to retain that which was never necessary to retain? Compact discs litter the earth, and are considered by most these days as a disposable vector for sounds -- buy, burn and then stack, sell or destroy. But vinyl collectors, for all their faults, they keep their records, usually in alphabetical order and cased in protective plastic sleeves, even the titles they’ve never actually listened to, and when the revolution comes all we’ll need is a sewing needle and a paper cone to access the precious information locked in those mysterious grooves. Of course, you’ll ruin the record at the same time if you do that, but I think you see my point.

So when I consider this record, I must herald the contributions of my partner and friend Tyson Lynn, the quiet third of the band who contributed a bottomless well of moral support as well as the glue that held the whole project together even when the seams strained hard enough to bleed. While I provided the rhythmic skeleton of each song, Tyson was in charge of melodic counterpoint, and he did so with an ethereal, eccentric style of finger-picked slide guitar that complemented my own whatever-it-is better than anyone before, and I fear better than anyone to come. As with most of the best artists, he is largely self-taught, coming to the band with rudimentary skills but finding his own way to communicate through perseverance and dedication, developing a style of slide guitar closer to the gentle pluck of a harp than the sharp country twang most players seek. There were many crooked notes and jagged time signatures along the road, but Tyson always found his own individual melodies within the confines of my chords, and it’s only now that I can see that the true formula for the End Times wasn’t me and a broad plus Tyson, but me and Tyson plus a broad.

I’ve pontificated loudly and often about the importance of the feminine quotient of the End Times here on this stupid blog and in countless drunken bar conversations, and who could blame me? All of the singers we’ve worked with (in End Times, the Blacktree Singers and Desperado) have been fascinating women in their own utterly different fashions, and anyone who knows me knows how little I care for my fellow males ... other men, who needs them, all they do is get in my way most of the time, everyone knows that women are far superior as companions and confidantes, lovers and friends, partners and nemeses, nearly any relationship can be enhanced with an extra X chromosome. I mean, I get it, some men are beautiful animals with a special energy that can’t be ignored (believe me, I understand better than I like to admit), but far as I’m concerned there’s only one thing men have that women don’t, and I already have one. More importantly, writing for the female voice matured my songwriting in ways I never anticipated, opening me up to colors and shades I hadn’t been able to express before, and the very fact that I can write a sentence as seriously gay as this one without remorse should be sufficient enough testimony.

But the fact is that without Tyson, the End Times would have began and ended with Kate and I sitting around smoking cigarettes and telling each other the same amusing anecdotes over and over again for a few months before the whole project just floated away. Tyson was solid in a way that we were not, and his presence made us a band. His initial contribution was volunteering a digital four-track recorder to capture our first fleeting bleats, cementing what might have been just a passing fancy into something a little more official. When I learned he owned a lapsteel guitar, I invited him to bring it to the next session -- he demurred, saying he didn’t know how to play it, but I figured that as long as he could slide the bar up and down the neck and scrape his nails across the strings we’d have a little extra texture to our cheap little recordings. Tyson was indeed a rudimentary player, but as I stated before, he doubled and tripled his skills within the span of a year and before I knew it, he was good enough that I feared another band might snap him up. When Kate was no longer available to us, it was Tyson who convinced me that the sing/strum/slide lineup we had was worth preserving (after I quixotically considered replacing her with a choir or restructuring the project into an instrumental noise-fest ala Gone), and he was right ... I didn’t believe anyone else would be interested, but within twelve hours of placing an ad we had attracted Abigail, and within two weeks of that she was making regular bus trips to Seattle from Olympia for rehearsals, within another month she was living in town and working in the same office as me, and within three months we were back playing shows. It felt like fate and I like to believe that it was, but if not for Tyson’s belief in the band I would have probably allowed despair to swallow everything we had worked towards.

Tyson and I communicate largely through emails and text messages, as we both tend towards shyness and I suspect we share an ability to express ourselves more deeply with words (on that subject, he writes a very good music column for the Seattle P.I., even if there isn’t nearly enough metal coverage). I think I’ve already shared most of these sentiments with him, and I hope he isn’t embarrassed by my stating them so relatively publicly, but I thought it was important to do so at least once. I promise it won’t happen again, because my New Year’s resolution is to stop telling people how I feel about things. From now on I’m saving it all for the stage.

A new decade. A new home. A new blog. Time was my weakness, but I no longer wish to dwell on my frailty. I have stronger medicines to lean on and a bitter skin toughened by ice and salt. It's a brave front I put up, but is it the truth? No one will ever know. I made myself very vulnerable for many years and my heart weakened under the strain of non-stop beating. If everything must change, then I must change everything.

There are good things afoot, with the usual reservations and implied warnings, but this year is off to an auspicious start. I will divulge more once these hopes calcify into facts. Til then, if you want to find me, I'll be right here.