Saturday, October 6, 2007

Favorite Album Search Terms

Whenever I'm in the mood for one of my favorite albums - yes, in spite of iTunes shuffle, I still sometimes listen to albums - I open up my iTunes library and type in a catchy little search phrase that will reduce the playlist to the songs on that album. The trick is to come up with a phrase that will include every song from the album and omit any songs from other albums that my sneak on becuase of similar themes/images/terms. Below are some of my favorites:

jew lite - "Starlite Walker" The silver jews

blood on the bob - "Blood on the Tracks" zimmy

enchanted men - "Slanted & Enchanted" pavement

forgot to impress - "The Young Mod's Forgotten Story" The Impressions

spring bra - "Nebraska" The Boss

mount the goat tree - "The Sunset Tree" Mountain Goats

genius words - "Liquid Swords" Genius/GZA

Whale call - "Woke on a Whaleheart" Bill Callahan

eat pepper - Sgt. Pepper's

plugged i n - Miles Davis, "Live at the Plugged Nickel, 1965"

Monday, September 3, 2007

Big City Sadness

My big city sadness began when all my favorite T-shirts fell apart and my apartment was just me and some cheap furniture. I started running for exercise through the alleyways until I found those dead bodies. I put my mattress out on the street and moments later it was running down the alley. I was glad to be moving out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

That Summer Feeling... going to haunt you the rest of your days.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

San Francisco at Night

Down from Mt. Davidson

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Uncle Andy's Screenplay

Sketch for Uncle Andy’s Screenplay

Jonathan’s latest poem:

The Voice Mail I Painted on your Brain:

I saw the inside of your flower bed, your neuroblastoma,
Your first unformed words and ideas. It was ugly in there.
I came out with paint under my fingernails and a new idea
Of how smell can reshape your opinion
Of someone you once thought you knew.

Odors fade when you leave the blower on, and so –
The bluster of saints and demons, flying around
Suffering aerophagia – burping, burping – hoping to fly.

Can you tell me what I was painting in there?
Read it back to me on my machine.

The phone rings. Jonathan is in the second bedroom, the study, the office, the place he never hopes becomes the place he sleeps because he always wants to sleep in the big bed in the primary bedroom with Marie. He is working on his latest poem. He can’t help but let the machine take the call. He can’t help but let the machine taking the call creep its way into the poem he’s writing.

“Jan-uh-thaaaaan? Jan-uh-thaaaan? I know yr there cuz yr girlfrenn sejude be home all day. So since yr there, I wanna know, Buster. How’s my screenplay comin’ along? Give me a call. Itsyr Uncle Ayndy!”

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blue Heron on Methadone

Blue Heron on Methadone

What kind of Blue Heron gets hooked on methadone? That’s just the type of question Charlie the Blue Heron on Methadone put to himself constantly. He sat on a park bench in the dog park hoping for a few crumbs from a passing human or, at worst, to be mauled to death by some unfettered pit bull. The Blue Heron on Methadone, who will henceforth be referred to as Charlie, was working on a poem. It was a modernistic and linguistic jaunt through early 21st century imagery that both cut to the bone of our dying society and gently stroked a hope for the future. He couldn’t quite get the last line right, but it went something like this:

Ma, why did you leave me?
My wings hurt. Do you remember Suzette?
She’s a pretty bird, that Suzette.
But I’m flying away to the cape today
Where the skeletons of my grandbirdmothers
Writhe in the agony of blue, blue life
Of a Blue heron on Methadone
With one foot on a Cell phone?
With…dirty angel foolish cones?
With…fuck, I need another pill.

Charlie lit up a cigarette. How, I do not know. But he did it. His thin feathers, the breast feathers, looked frayed and stringy. He seemed injured, but he wasn’t. He’d always looked like an injured bird. He’d always liked the attention it had gotten him so he exploited it. He never spread his wings unless some dumb fuck was chasing him.
Charlie hadn’t ever done needle drugs, he’d just found himself resting in a park near a methadone clinic. He had friends, mostly street teenagers, who scored for him. Most of them – Tony and Timo and Tim and Tim’s girlfriend Pamela and Pamela’s sister Bandana and Bandana’s boyfriend Eric and Eric’s brother Sean and Sean’s boyfriend Parker - would place the methadone in slices of stale bread and feed it to him from a park bench where they sat chilling out on their own doses. The dispensary was notorious throughout the city as the easiest place to cop. So Charlie lived there as the only Blue Heron in the world who had a methadone habit.
Charlie pulled hard on the cigarette and watched a corgi run up on a homeless dude with disgustingly gnarled hair. The dude was pissed about the corgi. The dog ran away before the dude could whack him, though he tried. Charlie laughed which sounded like a pretty amazing screech.
Charlie saw a cop staked out behind a tree with his hand down his pants. He freaked out a little bit but then he saw two women with a bunch of dogs enter the park. He waddled tentatively towards them, hoping he might have his misery ended once and for all. A Siberian husky regarded him with disdain. Charlie craned his neck forward hoping it would be some instigating manoeuvre. Charlie liked to throw in useless frenchy words whenever possible. He was a real plongeur that way.
Charlie read somewhere, because he was a bleu éron on methadone who was completely literate and fairly well read, that the point of writing anything was only to examine the way in which a world could be created outside of the author’s suffering and in that way everyone was the author of everything. This thought occurred to Charlie as the seven dogs looked on with shame while their masters were dressed-down by a chronic masturbator in a uniform. Charlie realized that nothing was doing with these dogs and their contribution in his quest for a quick death. What he really wanted was a hit and he decided he had better do something about it because just sitting there wasn’t getting him anywhere. He wasn’t closer to death and he wasn’t closer to flying again. He was depressed but he knew his depression was just a bandied-about word that filled in an even more excruciating place of complete emptiness. At least he didn’t have to talk to anyone, one of the few saving graces of being a bird.
Charlie decided he might try something different. He was ashamed of his wish to die at the hands of bourgeois dogs. It was unfair to them, yes, to attempt to entice them into avian murder (or ornicide as it had become popularly known to anyone who has read this far). He felt like he was robbing his grandbirdmothers and his grandbirdfathers of the majesty of his species – species so very near extinction (along with all of you fucking people).
And so, as simply as that, with little fanfare and not much challenge to his psyche or general well-being, Charlie never took another hit. After six months of sobriety, Charlie regained his elegant plumage for a final flight into sweet, sweet OH-blee-VEE-Ahhhhn. Which is to say, he is the bird in that fucked-up video circulating around the internet that flew, inadvertently, into the engine of Boeing 747 and was instantly incinerated into one trillion easy pieces.
But truthfully, there is no internet.

Dogs on Leash

I. Dogs on Leash

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Its a flashy little feeling of confidence. Its an embarrasment of riches. Its a cheesy pile of stinky, fusty expensive cheese. It laughs a lot.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Really Great Book About A Baseball Player

If I were a Rothian or Bellovian or Fordian American writer - like the contemporary version - I would write a novel about the son of a famous baseball player who grows up to become an even MORE famous baseball player but does a lot of shitty stuff to get there. He breaks his wife's ribs, he takes drugs, he sells out friends, he may even be responsible for a few "gangland" style slayings. His wife bears him only daughters. That novel would be America.

Outtakes from the Wedding Vows

I promise to “astound” you “with my velvet suit and Faustus hood” (Gregory Corso, Marriage)

“Let love to man be only a part of that glowing flame of universal love, which, after encircling humanity, mounts in grateful incense to God.” (Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman)

I promise to be your best friend always in all weather at all times of day even at 3 in the morning when you can’t sleep and have stolen the blankets from me.

I promise to not be angry when you have forsaken the blankets in your sleep and awakened to presume that I have taken them.

“Prince thou art sad; get thee a wife, get thee a wife; there is no staff more reverent than one tipped with horn.” (Much Ado About Nothing, Wm. Shakespeare)

Let our union be the continuation of a great adventure from California to Illinois to England and across the universe (jai guru deva om).

“We shall scrimp and save.” (Paul McCartney)

The most beautiful sound to me is the sound of “Anne and Ammon”.

Do you promise to do me?

I do you.

I do you, too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dead Bird Window

I think it was a shopping mall of unforgiving angles surrounded on all sides by parking garages. Or was it downtown in the financial district? Was it San Diego or San Francisco? The windows were scrubbed and windexed daily. Everyone peeked at their reflection as they strolled by. It was cold and sunny.
The birds kept coming. After the third dead bird, someone laughed. There were more. The continuing onslaught of birds expiring against the window was gluttonous. It was darkly celebratory. Too much thought ruined it.
The sound of their bodies breaking on the glass made some think of the French fries upstairs or the hot dog on a stick. I thought of the terrible dead baby jokes a classmate insisted on telling me.
Was it the mothers and fathers upstairs away from their children for the lengthy workday that made me think this was remarkable? No, I never think of that when I’m eating a hot dog. Was I eating a hot dog? Did I wonder how they would taste? These sparrows, these swallows, these birds nesting in an underpass?
It happens. It’s a great tragedy of architecture. We forgot to take this into account: living in a glass house kills unsuspecting birds that just want to fly there. It’s some fucked-up juxtaposition that makes some think of suicide and others of the foolishness of governments. Its not quite like lemmings, though. It’s an aerial fish-in-a-barrel scenario. For the birds, it’s a narcissus moment. For the birds. I am certain I was one of those birds. I am certain I am “for the birds”. In an election, I would be for the birds, or even Senator Byrd.
Do they live for a few short seasons and then perish ridiculously? Do they come back and crush their skulls against it in yet another meaningful life?

Getting a Handle

I’m well into my shift – its 4 a.m. and I’ve been on the job twelve hours, smoked a pack of Reds and downed two liters of Coke, listened to rock radio, news radio, sports radio and then back to rock radio after a few minutes of classical but no fuckin’ country for me – when I get a call to pick up a woman stranded just the other side of the Caldecott tunnel.
I don’t generally have to deal with people for more than a few seconds – whether they’re stranded or trying to bribe me into letting them go this one time and they’ll never park here again, hell, they’ll never park again, they’ll never even come downtown, they’ll send someone to do their errands. I’m either the best or the worst kind of person, and it changes by the hour. People don’t want to think the worst about anyone when they first meet, but when you’re towing their car… well…Anyway, for this lady stranded on the other side of the tunnel, I’m the best protection she’s got from the elements, thanks to her trusty cell phone and her no-good Audi’s transmission.
Most people will just assume you’re a regular Joe, God-fearin’, America-lovin’, ex-Marine humbled by the insanity of his youth and the honesty of a steady job. But anything, be it a little bit of an accent to your English, a dreaminess to the tone of your voice, a funny stride, will make them nervous. They’d just as soon throw you in a nice little category than try and figure what might be eating at you, what keeps you from blowing your brains out, you’re so depressed, or opening fire in a shopping mall. I got one thing and I think about her about half the time I’m driving this tow truck around. I got two hands on the wheel and the other scratching my ass when I pull up on this lady and her flashing hazards. That’s right. Three hands.
I wave to the lady and she stands out of the way as I back in to hook her car up. Usually, I can just guide the hooks in, lift the car up and I’m ready to roll without leaving the comfort of my cab. But this time I didn’t back up the truck at exactly the right angle and the lady had pulled off at a kind of slant and was facing down an incline on the shoulder and I get real pissed at first, but take a deep breath and get out of the truck to do it by hand. Once I get my hooks in it, I can maneuver the car any which way I want. I bend over, and when I bend over, something happens to me, my jeans stretch in ways that normal people’s jeans don’t stretch and some things appear beneath my shirt in ways that would startle even the most casual viewer.
“What’s that under your shirt?” the lady asks me as I’m struggling with her goddamn car.
“Its my cell phone,” I say and I crawl a few more inches under the car so she can’t see me anymore and so I can hook up her car and get the hell on.
At this point this is what she’s doing: She’s thinking. She says to herself, “That was not a cell phone under his shirt. That was some kind of alien creature, moving around. Maybe he keeps a little dog under his shirt. But that didn’t look like a dog. What the hell is this guy doing to my car, anyway? Why does he have to crawl way under there? What sort of a tow is this?
I know she’s thinking by the way her eyebrows are working when I get back out from under her car. The sun is starting to break through and the morning commute is starting to pickup a little bit – the real early-bird mother fuckers, the traders up in time for the East coast markets and the coffee shop personnel (you can distinguish them by the year, make and model – lots of Benzes and Beemers for the former and Hyundais and Fords for the latter). I stand up right in front of her and I let her know how it’s going to be.
“Listen, lady,” I tell her and she’s got some obvious and understandable fear in her eyes when I take such a stern and direct approach, “I got three hands.” I hold up my grease-stained arms and show her my normal hands. “I got these two hard-working appendages and then I got a third one on my back, just above my ass. Now, I can give you a ride where you need to go. You can sit up front in the cab with me and my three hands or you can ride in your car in the back. And even though that’s highly illegal and against the code of ethics that comes with towing, I will understand if that is your desire.”
“Jesus Christ,” she said, “I guess this is California, isn’t it?” I thought that was about the dumbest thing she could say, but it was her way of saying she’d ride up front with me and that she could get over the fact that I had a third hand because I threw that fact down on the table up front. It explained that my mutation wasn’t something in my head that would make me want to skin her alive and hang her up in my closet. But what if I had made up that story about my third hand? What if it really was a dog under my shirt? She’d be dead meat.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

April is the Foolest Moolest Droolest...

OK, so I realize I haven't made a post in over a month. Well, I got engaged, asshole, so I haven't had the time. I've been planning a wedding to the most beautiful and awesome and smart girl who has {ed. Anne - thx.} ever considered my existence...So, I figure I lucked out and I'm marryin' up...

I just read Don DeLillo's latest story in the latest issue of the New Yorker (which reminded me to do my taxes with such artistic flair and subtlety). And, well, the story is called "Still-Life" and its OK, but it's about Manhattanites and 9/11 and I feel guilty for thinking it is so dated...Though it did make me think about the way the day unfolded (e.g., 1 plane = accident, 2 planes = no accident).

I guess its the [historical, big picture-ass] defining moment of my lifetime (so far) and it was inevitable that DeLilo, whose fiction predicted such an "airborne toxic event", would ultimately weigh in. I was counting on it, in fact. So why did it feel so...anti-climactic...

My wedding won't be that way...Back to it...

I need to write more myself. Remember that you said that.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The List of Books I read in 2006

1. Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides done
2. 14 Stories Stephen Dixon done
3. Light in August William Faulkner (2/16/06)
4. Bad Behavior Mary Gaitskill (3/1/06)
5. You Remind Me of Me Dan Chaon (3/7/06)
6. The Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie (4/18/06)
7. The Thin Man Dashiell Hammett (4/25/06)
8. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Alexander Solzhenitsyn (5/3/06)
9. The Moviegoer Walker Percy (5/10/06)
10. The Whore’s Child Richard Russo (5/13/06)
11. American Pastoral Philip Roth (5/24/05)
12. Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson (6/8/06)
13. The Amalgamation Polka Stephen Wright (6/25/06)
14. The Bridegroom Ha Jin (7/2/06)
15. The Shell Collector Anthony Doerr (8/9/06)
16. A Bit on the Side William Trevor (8/21/06)
17. The Barnum Museum Steven Millhauser (9/10/06)
18. 21 Stories Graham Greene (10/11/06)
19. Gilead Marilynne Robinson (10/18/06)
20. The March E. L. Doctorow (11/2/06)
21. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline George Saunders (11/6/06)
22. The Dead Fish Museum Charles D’Ambrosio (11/14/06)
23. Bad News of the Heart Douglas Glover (12/7/06)
24. Beloved Toni Morrison (12/15/06)
25. Twilight of the Superheroes Deborah Eisenberg (1/3/06)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Somedays, I feel like Björn.

Somedays, I want to be Björn.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Places I Lived in Chicago (to be expanded)

Ukrainian Village

In Chicago, On Chicago

Logan Square

General Logan, Here's your square. Highest Murder Rate Per Capita in Chicago that year...

The Fateful Year on the Gold Coast

I learned so much here. And not just about free improv comedy.

Roach Infested Colony of Cool Parties

We lived across the street from this high school. We broke several "Safe School Zone Laws"

College DAZE

I work in a Coffee Shop. These 2 guys came in on the same day.

Willie McGee, 1985 NL MVP

Wavy Gravy, 1968 AL MVP

Hey - I've actually made a 2nd Post!

OK, so here I am again to write in my blog, again for no particular reason, which seems silly because blogs are supposed to have reason and they are on the internet so they are publicly available, in a way, so nobody really wants to read it if you have nothing to say, but maybe I want a place on the internet to go and read what I had to write on the internet. Its not going to be a meta-blog, though. Maybe it will be about the books I read this year. I read 25 last year and kept a list of them on my computer but I didn't really write much about them.

I'm still trying to finish the Book of Dave. I admire what Will Self is doing but the story has yet to pick up some momentum. And I found Dave's relationship with his child's mother to be a bit of a stretch.

I finished the McGuane stories and the Wilbur book. I found Wilbur to be a little too formal for my taste. I wanted more violence. I did thoroughly enjoy the poem dealing with a friend's hike into the woods whereupon he discovers an old mill, no longer used and in disrepair, though the wheel still turned. There was something very real and visual and pleasurable in that image, which, to state the obvious, is what Wilbur's poetry is about. Y'know - "The Things of This World". I like concrete things. I like realism. This might just be a statement of self.

The McGuane stories were good in an old-timer, leather-faced cowboy way. I can't quite crack the short story code, it seems like, other than to know when a story is good and when it is not. I am just in awe of good short stories. I have been trying for the past five to eight years to write one. I have been considering returning to poetry. Not that it is any easier. But I am reminded at different points in my "writing career" of something a professor told me: "I think you may just find out that you're really a poet." Or not. I am reading more poetry now.

Right now, I've got two poetry books going. Michael Palmer's First Figure and Frederick Seidel's Ooga-Booga. They are great, though I'm only one third of the way into each. So, without saying anything more, here is an especially delicious line from Seidel's "From Nijinsky's Diary":

"I flee in terror to my tranquilizer the Sahara."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

For the love of God...Write!

I've started this blog really just for myself, so if you happened upon it, it is probably because you did some serious internet digging for me, wanting, for some weird reason to see if you could get some information on what I'm up to. Tough shit.

I'm reading Will Self's The Book of Dave right now and when that gets slow, because it kind of is even thought its interesting, I pick up a book of poems by Richard Wilbur "Things of This World" or Thomas McGuanes book of stories Gallatin Canyon which I can burn through in no time because they're fucking good.

I will curse alot in this blog and maybe write some poems or something about how hot my girlfriend is or how fucked up and stupid my job is or how much I can't stand the Berkeley elite, whomever they may be that day...

So fuck off. I'm done.