Monday, March 24, 2014

Clipper of wings

I didn’t have to fall for you.
It was a Tuesday and the bums from the stadium down the street made their way into the dimly lit room. Ray worked the bar and had run the place for the last six or seven years. He’d seen it all and he looked like he had seen it all. The last grip of youth hung around his jaded and tired eyes. 

There are not very many people who can walk up to a mic in an empty room and turn the place on. The spark you put forth jolted the ancient electrical wiring in the place. You even made Ray turn his head and actually look at you. 

I would have been better off if I had just left then. Packed up my guitar and pretended you never happened. Believed that what I saw was in a movie somewhere and wasn’t real. I would be better off that way. I could have stayed in my own little fantasy world without you. 

But if I had not met you, I probably would have never written another song. The damage you managed to direct towards and at me took out parts of me that I had to fill with songs. When you have been reduced to nothing it leaves space for something and in that space I became something more than your wounds. 

This was for you, my dear cobra. The strikes left their poison and who I was, died more quickly than I realized.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


As my dad has gotten older his love of baseball has become more of his persona. I appreciate him more because of it. Baseball is America’s story. In this day of modern toys and access to any information with a few clicks of a keyboard we still will huddle around a transistor radio and catch nine innings of the Cardinals versus the Cubs. It is what we do in STL. Church, family, BBQ, and Baseball and not always in that order.
When I sat down to write and record these songs the stories told to me as a boy came through. I come from a family of storytellers. Give us a good kitchen table, something to drink, and an unsuspecting audience and the laughter will echo through the house, out through the garage, and into the neighbor’s yard. It starts off innocent enough until some poor victim asks a question and then the yarns start to spin. I think I was always meant to be a songwriter because all those stories needed to go somewhere.

We’re coming into opening day for baseball. The winter has been refusing to loosen its grip. Since the last significant snow fall a few weeks ago there has been a handful of days about 60 degrees and it is the middle of March. That just doesn’t make most of us in STL very happy.

All of this is to say these songs are stories. They are the last in this series from Fingers Crossed, Pygmalion, and now Nines. They are threaded from the stories I heard as a young boy watching drunken uncles dance around open fires as Grandpa told stories about the great war. My dad and brothers early on a Friday night sitting around the table with each of us laugh harder as the jokes and far-fetched adventures took life in our vivid imagination. The purpose of these albums is to share how life looks through my eyes. I hope they bring something to you as they do to me.

This newest collection of songs can be found at:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Jaws. Disappointment in a book.

I'm pissed I read Jaws.

I have always been a big fan of the movie from the late 1970s. The movie instilled a healthy fear of sharks. 

Rarely do I venture out into the ocean. Ankle deep is about as far as I need to go. The ocean is a pretty thing to admire but thanks to the movie Jaws I know there are man eaters just waiting for me beyond the waves. Duh nut, duh nut, duh nut.

The book shows its age. The book came out in 1974 and was a pretty good success at the time. There are a few passages I think are racist. It has a few parts I think are smut. Classic 1970s smut. Both of these examples are not reflected in the movie adaptation. In the book version Brody's wife has an affair with Hooper. Yeah. I don't like that at all.

When you have seen the movie and believe this is the definitive version of Jaws and then you read the book and see these characters doing things they are not supposed to, you feel violated. It is wrong. Hooper can't have an affair with Brody's wife. They are the Batman and Robin of Jaws. They take out the devil shark. They don't participate in an affair. It is smut. Useless smut added to distort the story.

The other part that bothered me, wait for it... The shark lives. How can the shark live? The whole point is man versus nature. Man should always win. It is the story of the ages. We can't lose to the shark. And for the seven year old me, this means the shark is still out there. Waiting for me. Thank you Spielberg for killing the shark. I would have never set foot in the ocean if you had let that damn thing live.

I would recommend reading the book. It comes across as a time capsule of the 1970s. Both the good and the bad comes out. It has its place in the annuals of popular culture but the movie is by far much better.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Left Bank Books in the Central West End in St. Louis, Missouri is one of my happy places. At least once a month I try and find a new piece of literature to read. It keeps me well read and current. I hate looking at the best seller lists each year and not be able to recognize a single book. I believe the good stuff floats to the top and I hate being on the wrong side of a good book. When those best sellers start getting steam and it seems everyone is getting gushy over a book is my least favorite time to read something. That is why a monthly trip to Left Bank Books is almost a necessity for me. They keep me ahead of the curve.

They have a wall where they post books with reviews by the folks who work at Left Bank Books. Like most independent bookstores the individuals who work there are well read and typically are writers themselves. And they have fabulous tastes.

Just before Christmas I stopped in for some gifts for the family and stumbled across Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell. I thought my significant would appreciate some light reading before she had to return to the desert of grad school required reading lists. By the first of the year she had devoured the book. It was just last week that I finally finished up what I was reading. This had been on my short list to read after my significant gave it such rave reviews.

I had not read anything by Rainbow Rowell. Wow. What a gem of a writer. I can't recall falling in love with characters this much since Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird or George and Lenny in Of Mice and Men. She lured me in slowly with each character's actions for the first half of the book. By the end I felt obsessed in our relationship.

It has been a week since I finished the book and I am still thinking of them as friends that came and visited over the summer and have recently left. They were great friends and we had the best visit. And now I really miss them.

I felt like she left some loose ends open for another book. I hope I am right because there is enough life in these characters for several books. Last night I purchased Eleanor and Park by Ms. Rowell. I anticipate I will be obsessed and up late making new friends.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Another hospital waiting room...

This is the second time in less than a year I have spent in a waiting room at a hospital. Pops has not had much luck with some previous surgeries over the course of the last two to three years. Each time the routine of a hospital sinks a little deeper. Early operation, numbers given, hospital coffee, strangers in a waiting room. We get thrown together out of circumstance. As different as we appear a hospital waiting room seems to be the great equalizer. 

Surgeons come in and out. We all turn to see who gets the conversation. We watch, pretend not to listen knowing that bad news has equal ground with good news when it comes to surgery. It is not our time yet to speak with the surgeon. I keep watching my mom interlock her hands trying to keep herself distracted. Given how many times she's been through this with Pops I don't think she finds it any easier. Each time brings its own stressors. 

My aunt has stopped by. She acts as the resident nurse and advisor for these kinds of crisis. Family does help in these moments. Her visit has reduced some of the tension. My mom has relaxed for the time being and stories come in go through the lulls of our conversation. While the TV drones through its daytime shows I find myself thinking I am losing faith in the average person's intelligence if these shows occupy a space in popular culture. Kathy Lee and Hoda make me want to scratch my eyes out and move to Canada. Seriously how did we get this far down the rabbit hole? 

I'm sure the next few hours will be populated with a lot of the same. It will most likely resolve itself and Pops will ease into recovery over the next few weeks. And sometime in the next year I fear we will be back here again tweaking a body that is doing its best to stay functioning as age keeps throwing curve balls to Pops. 

The point to all of this is that life goes forward, We never expect to go through these things, and if you know someone heading off for surgery, be there for them. It is the right thing to do.