Tuesday, December 29, 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.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Today is Friday.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I woke up in a cave
Surrounded by broken skulls and pine needles
I saw strange electronic equipment stacked against one wall
The technology obviously highly advanced
But each piece was scratched by rust and decayed by time
A shaft of sunlight stabbed through a hole in the ceiling
But it would not reflect against the dull, grey metal
The craftmanship it took to make these machines was apparent
Imagination combined with a supernatural understanding of science
And then the neglected fruit went unused underground
Until I came along

Friday, December 11, 2009

Push it. Then push it again. All of your dreams will come true.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Minor rehauling of the official End Times website to make way for no-cost MP3 downloads of each song from our debut LP, These Are The End Times, still expected to become available at the beginning of 2010. Test pressings sounded fine, so I'll have half a thousand recds on my doorstep sometime in the next week or two. More soon, of course ...

Jeni Lee Richey and The Great Tribulation have three shows lined up for January and February, including the first annual Mark Lansing 50th Anniversary Roast at the Elbow Room in Ypsilanti, MI ... anyone who appreciates Deming should mark their calendar for 2-19-2010 and make the scene to slap a genius on the back and see the debut of his latest band, Mark Lansing and His Biscuit Eaters (featuring former members of Piss At Midnight, Bad Oskar and Down MF). Cover ought to be reasonable. As for JLR & TGT, filling a setlist was easy, but next comes the slow, grueling rehearsal process as we pit pedal steel against twelve strummed strings and find common ground between the beards and the sideburns. Check out our preliminary work (recorded by Tim Pak at Woodshed Studio in Detroit) on MySpace, two songs by JLR that run the emotional gamut from vengeful to defeated, or fan us on Facebook, if you're one of the 350 million.

Friday, November 27, 2009

All this plus Beatles cartoons, naked girls falling down stairs and other ghastly sights available now at Frenzy of the Visible.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Today marks the 25th anniversary of me seeing Slayer play at a tiny Ukrainian wedding hall in Flint, Michigan. As the first time I had ever seen slam dancing and headbanging in real life, it was an important formative experience, not to mention one of the coolest dates I've ever gone on (hi Melanie!). Incredibly, video evidence of this gig exists on YouTube ... sound and picture quality is dodgy, so if you want a better idea of what I heard that night, I recommend downloading this brutal live bootleg of Slayer playing in Holland a couple months later.

Perhaps it's obvious, but we've got internet at home again. So I might answer emails quicker from now on. Or maybe I won't. I'm unpredictable.

Or am I? Check out these great movies that Hulu posted while I was unplugged for the past few months. Seriously, you haven't lived until you've seen a snowboarding-themed slasher film, totally worth 90 minutes of your day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Third time's the charm ... HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13TH TO ONE AND ALL.

Lori and I are all moved into the South House and aside from needing a few bookshelves, a futon for visitors, a dresser and maybe a couple more lamps, we've got the place right side up. Words can't cover the relief I feel from finally landing somewhere ... another month in that dingy little apartment with all of our possessions in boxes and I would have lost my mind (again). Still waiting for landline service to start (I have some angry phone calls to make later) so we can set up internet at home, and our landlord has to replace an ailing clothes dryer that had become a fire hazard -- last night the two of us dragged a replacement up and down the basement stairs, learning too late that it wouldn't fit into the laundry room. Oh, and I guess we need curtains too, as our kitchen window displays us to the neighborhood like a big screen TV (sometimes strangers wave as they drive by). But I am not complaining, we're fitting into the new space with precision and I feel a world of weight lifting from my shoulders, I've let go of a lot of baggage that should have been left in Seattle (I'm keeping some of it in case I decide to visit again). For three months and change I've been in an uncomfortable limbo, unable to either begin anew or bid farewell to a significant slice of my life, but none of that even feels like an issue anymore. Did I ever really leave Michigan in the first place? It seems ridiculous to me now that I could have ...

The second step in adding a period to my sentence out West will be the End Times LP, which currently is experiencing production delays (like I said, I have some angry phone calls to make) that I hope can be rectified today (UPDATE -- I have been temporarily placated regarding the vinyl, but I am still wondering when the graphic designer will resurface). I suppose I can take solace in the fact that no one is waiting for this record, so I don't have to worry about missing any deadlines, but as my musical activities in the Dirty Mitten increase, I don't want to lose sight of completing this project properly. Next weekend I'm hitting the studio with Jeni Lee to play on a couple of her songs, and as we add percussion and steel to whatever it is we're doing together, we both glow ever brighter with confidence.

The Reigning Sound hits Detroit this coming Monday, and I'll be a big stupid girl if I don't go. Perhaps this preemptive public shaming will do the trick ... make the scene if you can, it's worth your while.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Lingering illness caused us to miss Roky Erickson, but we're all moved in to the new house and I'm spending my Monday nesting. Later this week, a job interview and the above public event.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


"This isn't a joke!" -- Soren Davis

Thanks Henry. This is the transitional band I played in with Soren, Jim Diamond and Tim Ford for one glorious summer. El Smasho had just broken up (badly) and Diamond had just returned to Lansing from Austin, where everything had gone wrong, so we all healed together ... I learned a lot just by watching Jim play, and when the Pop Tarts were finished, Soren asked me to join The Apollo Nine, which is where I learned everything else I know by watching Aaron Vanderpool.

I had already met my future wife Lori by this point (at the first Pop Tarts gig a week or so before), but this is the show where I noticed her in the way a man notices a woman. She still had braces then, but she was essentially legal (19 years old) ... anyhow, we didn't get together for at least a year after this. Lori is the girl in the blue and white shirt on my side of the "stage."

We played many bigger and better shows than this (our house party appearances generated genuine teenage mayhem), but we're lucky this one got captured ... the grand opening for Gen X, an East Lansing comic book/video store, where I first encountered the Something Weird Video company and realized that everything I ever dreamed of as a child was possible.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We got it. Lori and I signed a lease last night for the house I mentioned a few posts ago, after a long, frustrating wait ... the owners aren't landlords, they're a young couple with a gaggle of kids who outgrew the place and moved across the street, so they were less eager to rent than to sell. We liked the place enough to start the process of making an offer before another buyer beat us to it. Lucky for us but not for them, the financing fell through and the owners decided to cut their losses and rent to us for six months before putting the house on the market again after the spring thaw. If we love it as much as we think we might, we'll put an actual offer on the table, but that's way up in the air. It's a small house, one true bedroom and two extra rooms that lead into each other without doors -- they're marketing the place as a two bedroom, but those other rooms don't provide much privacy, so they'll be a library and an office for us. A basement again after so many years, plus a big private backyard where Lori can garden (if we decide to stay, that is) and a reasonable walk to campus. It's been a decade since I lived in a true house, not since leaving Michigan in the first place, and I never really got used to the constant flow of apartments I endured in Chicago and Seattle. We'll still be looking for a permanent home, just to keep our options open for the next half a year in case something else smacks us in the face, but this place is a perfect location, decent size and in our current price range, plus we both responded to it immediately, so perhaps South Boulevard will end up being home.

My debut with Jeni Lee went fine, no meltdowns of any sort. It's time to build again ...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I won't be there. I'll have school the next morning.

I am indeed taking a class, virtually, through Washtenaw Community College with hopes of professional advancement. It all starts today at 3:00pm, and since it's online only, I'll have to do my business in public at the coffeeshop of my choice (although there's a certain laundromat with wifi I've been frequenting lately that's much more comfortable). I am a very bad student, barely managed my college degree, so this will be an uphill battle for me. So why not add to the stress of moving cross country to the state I once fled forever, searching for a permanent home before the next month is up, sorting out my employment possibilities in a depressed local economy and all the other stuff that I'd rather not get into right now? At least I'll have lots of time to procrastinate.

Friday night I'm going to be joining Jeni Lee Richey onstage somewhere in Plymouth for four songs (maybe five? the new one is coming together quickly). This will be my first public performance in Michigan in a decade, not since the End Times 1999's last show in Lansing, which I played with my back to the audience after some unpleasant inter-band tension. Here's hoping Jeni Lee and I can make it through the rest of the week, at least ... anyhow, I'm not going to tell you where this place is, I'm not asking you to come, just making conversation. What's up with you?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

As alive as a music sequence can get, the raucous final scene of Simon of the Desert. Check out the gal in the plaid print outfit at 3:20, she's outtasite ...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My latest favorite song, "War Eternal" by Cirith Ungol. You can get the whole record here ... while you're checking out that particular heavy blog, don't miss Satan's Massacre (imagine two 14-year old nerds trying too hard to sound evil) and Black Task (pretty ragin' occult-themed thrash).

RIP Dickie Peterson from Blue Cheer. And Brendan Mullen too.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Enjoyed an encouraging first practice with a new girl, this round goes to my long lost pal Jeni Lee, who I worked with at a now-defunct hipster boutique in East Lansing some twelve or thirteen years ago and haven't been in touch with since. She responded to my ad for lady vocalists, unsure if I was who I seemed to be, but since I am and as we are both fans of serendipity, we've tentatively joined forces to work out a few demons together. It's not The End Times ... far as I'm concerned nothing without Tyson and Abigail can be (although I've been disloyal before), but we ran through four of my big hits last night and might very well be on our way to something else. Maybe an appearance at one of her upcoming solo performances if practices prove fruitful, but more on that later. In the meantime, meet my new/old friend Jeni Lee.

As for The End Times LP, production continues, and while I expect to have physical copies in hand before the new year, it's looking like an early 2010 release for us. Following that, I hope conditions allow a chance to reunite with my fallen soldiers and storm a little bit of the West Coast, but I've come to understand that hope is a useless thing ... who knows if we'll even have a West Coast come 2010? For all we know apes will be our masters by then, trees will be extinct and the oceans will become flammable. But as long as boredom reigns, all things are possible, no matter how improbable.

Haven't bought tickets yet for the Roky Erickson show on Devil's Night yet, but I probably should (should probably arm myself before heading into downtown Detroit on the most violent night of the year as well). Diamond is bassing for another Rationals "reunion" the weekend before which ought to be a riot of a different kind. And Lori's off to Portland for a weekend conference mid-month, and I have not yet decided how best to misspend my time alone ... I am open to suggestions.

PS. Welcome back.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

While I refuse to ever truly relinquish a mood, I'm in better spirits this week. Lori and I are seeking rental and/or purchasable houses in earnest now, and last night we found one that seems perfect, with just enough space, a great kitchen, fine family-style neighborhood walking distance from campus, big private backyard, basement perfect for potential band practices and even a jacuzzi. Of course, we won't get it ... there are already interested buyers and we'd be coming in on a rent-to-own basis, so I can't get my hopes up. But it is proof that comfortable houses in our price range exist in Ann Arbor, and it's much easier to imagine a future here when I walk through a place like that. Too many times I've driven through the city or searched online only to see condo after condo after condo, shoved between shopping mall after shopping mall after ... the core of A2 holds plenty of charm, but step a few miles away where the rents and mortgages are a little lower and it's just as ugly as the rest of the state. Or country, the whole USA looks pretty depressing to me these days.

Going to the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale last weekend also went a long way toward making me feel more at home. One thing you can say about Detroit, no matter how devastated by blight it gets, there are always people dedicated to making something happen there ... there was plenty good art and a whole weekend worth of bands that, well, I didn't like so much but fuck it, I don't like hardly nobody no more. I'll put it this way, watching all the twentysomethings nerd it up with their Decemberist imitations and 80s new wave fetishism made me feel like I was back in Seattle, which for better or for worse was a cultural climate I could function in, if not actually fit into. I nearly started crying during Great Lakes Myth Society, struck dumb by some warped feeling of homesickness ... why is it that I always wish I was where I used to be? Anyhow, I got very very drunk on lots of great Michigan beer, hung out with at least one of my oldest friends, ran into a bunch of people I used to know and got on well with (despite my slurring and stumbling) and bought the greatest t-shirt ever (you'll have to see it to believe it). Speaking of t-shirts, the level of local pride on display is staggering, easily one out of three chests bore some sort of Detroit-centric message. You don't see that in Seattle, people don't just walk around constantly declaring their allegiance to the Emerald City, but there's something about Detroit that makes people downright proud enough to shout it out to the world via the clothing they choose. So the question is, do I buck the trend or succumb? After all, isn't Ann Arbor just a distant suburb of Detroit? I mean, the MC5 didn't change their name to the AA5 when they moved here, did they? Maybe I'll just buy a Detroit Tigers t-shirt, I don't give a fuck about baseball but I've always loved that logo.

This weekend promises to be a busy one ... Friday I'm going to Ypsilanti for a "Stoner Rock" event to see the original End Times 1999 drummer Ian play in a purported Hawkwind-style band called Blue Snaggletooth (named after an obscure Star Wars character, a fact which I'm glad to say I didn't know until I tried Googling them). The band has been described as some sort of local supergroup, which could either mean the cream of mid-Michigan rocknroll combining into an unstoppable force or a bunch of drunks from defunct local bands getting stoned and charging people to watch them noodle onstage -- either way I'm looking forward to it. Saturday night Deming is coming to town and we'll be seeing the Richard Lloyd Band, a show which is being advertised as a huge punk rock blowout ("Party Like It's 1977!"), which might disappoint anyone who's never actually heard Television, the band that made Lloyd's reputation. The night is gonna be a lot more interesting to guitar technique types, but it seems like the opening bands are suitably noisy, so everyone can work out their aggressions before the headliner. I'm also very very excited about seeing the long-awaited reunion of the Wayouts (pictured above left) on October 9th in East Lansing ... that's the band that made Jim Diamond a local celebrity (the first time), a powerhouse trio that could play frat houses and hardcore shows and please 'em all regardless with their pumped-up surf/garage/pop sound. They were hugely influential to me (note matching black outfits) and everybody else, and I'm anxious to see my old pal and former bandmate (Clutters, Mark Lansing and His Board of Water and Light) Steve "The Steve" Simonson behind the drums again, and while I never knew bassist Eric well at all, we're Facebook friends now and these days that's as deep as it can get, right?

PS. An extensive oral history of one of my favorite movies, Over the Edge, well worth your time to either read or just go ahead and see it (thanks, Tom). And since I can only steal wifi in public places these days, I haven't been able to check out the Apostolic Pentecostal Christian rock group Winterband yet, but that's no reason you shouldn't, which you probably haven't unless you also frequent the WFMU blog.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Friday, September 11, 2009

Hello from Michigan, where everything is better.

My time here has not been spent in ease, I'm experiencing all the stresses I expected, mood swings and long hours of isolation, vague regrets of what might have been, more fear of the future than anticipation. Just in the past week I've developed some strange sleep disturbances, vivid dreams that wake me at irregular intervals and leave me wide eyed in the night. After four days of this, I'm feeling very shaky, so perhaps I should keep my mouth shut ... of course, I've had some good days and positive signs, but I'm anxious to find my place and I get more impatient with every year that gets crossed off that giant scoreboard in the sky, so I'm more uptight than not.

The good news is that Lori's job is going very well. The work is challenging, but her boss is the type who encourages long lunches and insists that Lori manage her own hours and make space for a life outside of the library. We've reconnected with some old friends, the kind where our understanding of each other is strong enough that not even decades, careers or children can fundamentally change who we are together. Also, cursory exploration of the Ann Arbor public library suggests that it's as good as Seattle ... I found Jandek CDs, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a fine selection of documentaries (did you know that the first working television network was run by the Nazis? Me neither) and I can only imagine they got some good readin' books too. The restaurants are also impressive, for the most part, bettering many of Seattle's better eateries -- they're often equally expensive, but Lori and I don't walk away disappointed like we did most of the time back West. Oh, and the beer ... Michigan harbors a number of excellent breweries so we do our best to buy locally, and I must attribute my recent weight gain (I'm nearly up to 170 lbs for the first time since Chicago) at least partially to Bell's, New Holland, Arbor and Short's.

However, the apartment we were forced to accept sight-unseen turned out to be a bit of a dump (no matter, it's only a three-month lease, we'll be moving shortly), we're having trouble with our new insurance and Ann Arbor happens to be the worst fucking city to drive in ever. Ever. Narrow roads, inconsistent bike lanes, a dearth of street signs, and you can't take left turns anywhere, it's a constant maze of U-turns and missed connections. Buses are not a convenient option, because this is Michigan, and we just don't do that here. I won't even start on the shrinking job market right now, because it wouldn't really be a sincere complaint, but eventually it's going to be a problem that will require a creative solution.

In a sudden fit of positive thinking, I placed an ad on craigslist for a new girl singer ... I did the same thing exactly a year ago in Seattle and got very, very lucky, so I'm hoping to strike oil again, perhaps a redhead this time? There have already been some responses, a few very promising and a few very not so, but of course I still feel like everything is moving too slowly, and I had such a great lineup in Seattle that it's going to take a miracle to come close. I hope to have better news soon. The End Times LP gets mixed and mastered at Ghetto two Tuesdays from now, so we'll be able to start infecting the rest of the world with the truth soon ... the world isn't likely to listen, but I want to make sure it can't say it wasn't told.

PS. Since it's a national day of mourning, I must reminisce, as it was eight years ago today that convinced me to move to Seattle in the first place. I had just been laid off from my Chicago dot com job and was extending an already-planned visit to Lori when the planes hit. I was so thankful to be near her during what I assumed was the beginning of total war against the country, rather than a thousand miles away and not knowing which of our cities would be destroyed first, that I completely abandoned tentative plans I had to stay and work in the Midwest where I still had some writing opportunities ... if America was finally going to get what was coming to her, I wanted to be by Lori's side, and I have been ever since. Bring it on.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Today is Lori's first day of work. It took us ten days to get to Michigan, then another four to get our furniture and etceteras moved in -- all that time in hotels took its toll, both financially and spiritually. The Scorpion vs. Tarantula Ghetto sessions were kinda righteous, we did 16 songs in three days and I still have blisters. Finally got to see Scarlet Oaks, about half a set's worth, anyhow. Bourbon sold in gas stations, smoking sections in bars and restaurants, everybody driving everywhere all the time, endless miles of road clogged by construction that never gets done, bottle deposits, state income tax ... it's a lot to drink in all at once.

Hello to everyone I left behind in Seattle. A couple more days and I'll have it together.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

So for the 7.25.2009 End Times performance, Tyson arranged to have the show recorded, but the soundman didn't hit the right button until the very end of our set. It's extra vexing because the tape turned out pretty good, so if you're interested in hearing 2 1/4 songs ("Cursed With Hot Blood," "Got Caught Waiting" and "Stay Where You Are") from the last End Times show, you can download the MP3 here.

Lori and I spent a few days driving up and down the Oregon coast, and we're currently holed up in Missoula, Montana, visiting Bryan Bong, his old lady Julie and their genius son Manuel Mars. After that we high-tail it to Michigan and expect to hit Ann Arbor somewhere around Monday. We'll call you when we get in.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The End Times, post-finale hugfest

Goodbye, ladies. We're really gone now, on the Oregon coast (Depoe Bay at this moment), still not sure what we wanna do with the next ten days before I'm due in Detroit. As I expected, I'm experiencing mixed feelings about the move and as relieved as I am to be finally finished with our business in Seattle, I'm still mourning a very fruitful period in my life. While living in the Emerald City, I:

1. Wrote a handful of articles and numerous reviews/previews for the much-lauded gay-themed alternative weekly The Stranger. Interviewed Rudy Ray Moore and Greg Ashley.

2. Served as Film Editor for nationally-distributed quarterly arts magazine Resonance. Interviewed Johnny Strike from Crime, Lech Kowalski, Miranda July, Rick Prelinger and Daniel Clowes.

3. Performed every song from the Damned's debut LP (Damned, Damned, Damned) for a Halloween show at the Funhouse with a band that featured a former member of Cat Butt.

4. Wrote numerous articles for an upstart Seattle music magazine called Seattle Sound. Interviewed Dr. Know from Bad Brains, Brandi Carlile and a guy who plays glass armonica on Linda Ronstadt records.

5. Formed the perfect band, wrote the best songs of my life, lost the perfect band, cried for a whole summer. Resurrected the perfect band with new personnel, came back stronger than before and learned lessons about confidence and self-esteem that I hope I can actually retain in the future.

6. Put together a choir and played bass in a band that included pretty girls in skimpy Santa costumes.

7. Fried bacon for the first time. That's not a euphemism, I hadn't actually done it before. I also helped roast a pig, had to pry its rigor-mortised mouth open while someone else pulled the tongue out. This at seven in the morning after three hours of hungover sleep. It was surreal.

8. Worked in an adult novelty/bachelorette party supply warehouse, and wrote the text for said organization's porn trivia card game.

9. Got married, twice, to the same woman.

10. Recorded dozens of songs at Egg Studios with Conrad Uno at the helm.

11. Got airplay on nationally-recognized local public radio station KEXP and performed live on Evergreen College's student radio station KAOS (earning my very first speeding ticket on the way).

Since eleven is my favorite number, I'll leave it there. There's way more I could add, but eventually we'd be getting into more personal territory (new friends, bitter fights, confusing relationships) and some things I still need to keep close to the vest. I have loved Seattle despite the city's tendency towards smugness, insincerity and bleak weather ... I am better in many ways because of it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

So, here we are, packing out the apartment on the hottest day in Seattle history. We are out of our minds. Last night's Desperado show found me on stage in shorts, drinking vodka, playing every song in new tunings and facing an audience at an hour when I'm usually either sleeping or being startled awake by one of my night terrors. In other words, sheer chaos. Sorry if I was a little glassy-eyed last night, everybody ... I'm feeling overwhelmed by the gravity of our path.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Last Saturday's End Times LC (Left Coast) show fulfilled every wish I harbored for it, and despite some slight exhaustion on my part we performed up to code, and perhaps even beyond it. My life with Lori is consumed by boxes and the day leading up to the evening of the show was spent finishing mixes on five of our eleven completed tracks so we'd have something to pass around to interested persons (while still not "finished" officially, the Three Dead Crows EP can be had for asking, and a few new tracks are up on MySpace). The heat, the traffic, the terror ... Abi kept me sane in the dressing room by talking me through a mild freakout (oh my God, thank you) and then we just did it like we always do, except perfectly and for the last time for a long time. But I hope not forever.

Tyson remarked on Saturday afternoon that I hadn't posted anything about the show here, as is my habit, and while the big reason for that is The Big Move (we roll out Friday morn) and all the activity that generates, the little reason is that I can't get my words together for what the End Times (past and present) meant to me. Both Tyson and Abi eulogized the band, saying far more than I can right now. But I have the feeling that I'll be writing about all this for the next decade at least ... these kids have given me much to consider.

Today is Tuesday, right? That means Desperado plays the Jewelbox tonight, so come see that, we'll be playing the exact same set you loved so much at the Wild Rose last month. We're on late, so plan accordingly.

PS. Lori and I have enjoyed an outpouring of love and support from a lot of friends as we prepare this transition into the next world. Thank you.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A few more non-Polaroid shots of last night's End Times recital.

Last night's End Times show was like this.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You ever seen Targets?

Curiously, there's no mention of Boris Karloff, who turns in a great late-career performance in a pivotal role as a burned-out old movie star. At least he gets a brief salute in this next trailer ...

Anyhow, it's one of my favorite films, and its available for screening in its entirety on YouTube.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

One more shot at Desperado before I blow town (and the perfect excuse to post this lovely photo of Jeannene) ... we'll be slugging it out with the Linda Ronstadt songbook Tuesday, July 28th at the Rendezvous/Jewelbox Theater, performing with The Loveless Estate. Time and money TBA. It ought to be a riot.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We got a lot done at Egg yesterday. Good results very soon ...

I have been in denial about moving for the past few weeks, and am only now grasping the enormity of the task ahead. Boxes are being prepared, plans drawn, and it all needs to be done by July 31st. In the meantime, I hope to see everybody I like as much as possible. What's everyone doing on July 26th? It's a Sunday. We might have a garage sale somewhere.

Lori's been out of town all weekend (a librarian's conference in Chicago), but I kept myself busy and alive for two full days, so far so good. There's only 18 more hours for me to get myself into trouble ... universe, do your thing.

How many music videos end with the guitarist shooting the lead singer in the back? At least one ... a stirring anthem of courage in the face of blindness and choosing righteousness over the petty laws of this bastard earth.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


It's a hard film to find, but if the prospect of seeing a twitchy, bug-eyed Johnny Cash use six-year-old Ron Howard as a human shield during a violent shootout sounds promising, then Five Minutes to Live delivers in spades. This long-lost picture starts off with Cash riddling a policeman with machine gun bullets and never lets up, piling one raw act upon another with the Man in Black turning in a wild performance as a feral killer. In nearly every scene Johnny is either wielding a weapon or obsessively strumming an acoustic guitar (the tasty riffs he picks were post-dubbed by co-star Merle Travis), and Cash channels something very dark and very disturbed in this role. He nearly trembles with his aggression, and it's clear that if Cash hadn't been the seminal music figure that he was, he could have had a fine career as a Hollywood heavy. Director Bill Karn gives Five Minutes to Live a breathless, desperate energy that transcends its obvious exploitation roots, sometimes coming close to capturing the same vibe as Russ Meyer's early black-and-white melodramas. The film also takes a healthy satirical poke at the sterile face of suburbia, a theme that hadn't yet become standard in American cinema. The Wilsons put on a good show for the neighbors but their lives are a mess of hangovers, adultery, and lazy parenting. When Johnny arrives he makes his disdain for their lifestyle plain, muttering "I never saw so much of nothin' in my life," and smashing the tacky knick-knacks that decorate the Wilson home. There are a few loose plot devices that need tightening, but with a film that moves this fast and furious, it hardly matters. By the time this thriller was re-released (with the lurid moniker Door-to-Door Maniac), Cash was on his way toward cleaning up his own troubled life and embracing Christianity, which might explain why such a vicious portrait remains difficult to see. However, while Johnny Cash's larger-than-life persona depends on his image as an elder statesman of American folk music, there are plenty who still relish his early hell-raising days, and Five Minutes to Live is the film that those fans need to see. FRED BELDIN

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I was feeling perverse this morning, so when it came time to fight my exhaustion with a stimulating drink I opted to spend an extra buck for a "Jimi Hendrix Liquid Experience," the latest cash-in from the psych-guitar legend's estate. The packaging finds our hero surrounded by flames (is he in Hell?) beneath a bold promise that the beverage will provide peace, love and purpose. I don't know if that's truthful advertising, but the can is packed with almost 200mg of caffeine along with the usual vaguely-recognizable pharmaceuticals, and the taste is refreshingly tart unlike similar sickly-sweet energy drinks.

I can't help but think that if only Jimi had a can of this stuff by his bedside that fateful night, he might have been wide awake when the barbituate vomit started bubbling up and would still be with us today, performing slick, overly-reverent blues pop for Baby Boomers ala Clapton ... perhaps he might have even been among the performers at Michael Jackson's funeral, hushing the crowd with a mournful, spiritual version of the "Beat It" solo after a warm reminiscence of mentoring MJ in the early days of his pop/R&B crossover success.
Uncovered in early preparations for the move ... alternate press shots of The Clutters, Lansing's first and only alt-country band in two distinct moods. My basement in Michigan's capital city circa January 1997 -- that's right, kid, before you were even born.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Taliban buying children for suicide attacks

Now THAT'S how you write a headline, CNN. Too bad it got buried under the coverage of the big funeral ... say, when are they burying Sky Saxon, does anybody know?

In other important media news, Joe Carducci has a blog now, or at least he's one of the contributors. I'm still hoping he has one more book left in him, so I'll keep an eye on it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Friday, July 03, 2009

We've been sitting on the news for a while, waiting for contracts to be signed and essential people to be notified (employers, parents, Tyson), but Lori and I are going to be moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan in August. She accepted a science librarian position at University of Michigan, and I'm proud to say she was courted and pursued by the school the whole way ... we love Seattle and don't really wanna leave the Left Coast, but we've both had employment struggles over the past year, so this is an uplifting development for sure.

I'll have a lot more to write about what I've done and seen over seven years in this city as days progress, but right now I'm hoping for some loose ends to resolve themselves before I close this bittersweet chapter once and for all. For everyone in the Big Mitten, we'll see you in a month and a half ...

Michigan-related announcement coming soon ...

Monday, June 29, 2009

If you're already on Facebook, then you can see this official announcement for the next performance of The End Times. If not, let me turn you on -- the Rendezvous/Jewelbox Theater at 7:00pm on July 25th with a cover price of $7. We will be opening for Bri Anne Michelle. That's about it, for now anyway ...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wow. Talk about it coming in threes -- I'm counting Sky Saxon even if most "mainstream" media outlets won't (he went out like Darby, unfortunately), plus Farrah, of course. If you haven't already heard, you will soon. Let the speculation begin ...


This song has been on repeat in my head for a couple days now ... welcome to my head.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Desperado slayed the ladies at the Wildrose and I drank for free all night. I was king of the lesbian bar. It was a very heavy evening, the repercussions of which will affect us all for some time. 91 more photos available here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers' Day to all of those who are or who have fathers. God bless us, every one.

Tonight, after years of research and months of rehearsal, we finally debut DESPERADO, a musical tribute to Linda Ronstadt ... I already thought out loud about this project, so perhaps you remember my position here. Say what you will about Ms. Ronstadt's platinum-quality MOR pop vocal stylings, the woman has great taste in songwriters, so we'll perform compositions by Lowell George, Warren Zevon, Roy Orbison and more. Lineup finds me and Tyson electrified, plus a father/son rhythm section called Jeff and Tony and the daring Jeannene fronting the gang, and despite the drunken leisure of our initial sessions, the set list is tight and our arrangements are robust. So we're at the Wildrose at 8:00pm ... that's right, tonight I'm gonna be on stage in a lesbian bar playing "Blue Bayou." We always knew I was destined for this.

More info via Blue Notes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The wit and wisdom of Mick Collins, via VBS.TV.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

This Sunday eve, 7:00pm, Desperado finally debuts with Linda Ronstadt-approved setlist to help raise funds/awareness for the politically-charged documentary For My Wife.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A painting my friend Suzi Twister made circa 1994, a barbed commentary on my romantic pursuits of the day. The secret to that beautiful blue sky? A cake of toilet cleaner.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I know it will end eventually, but I wish I knew when. I am exhausted from waiting.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Our next show.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Nancy Sinatra, "Sorry 'Bout That"

GG Allin, "Tough Fuckin' Shit"

The Pop Tarts (ELHC Class Of 1994) covered this song all the time too. Our version was more faithful than GG's.

"I'd like Nancy Sinatra to come see me play. She's great. I'm totally into Nancy Sinatra. I'd marry her in a second. She's the queen of whores." -- GG Allin
Saturdays have been inexplicably depressing for me lately, and this one started out much the same but I'm pleased to report that I somehow rebounded by mid-afternoon. Suitably refreshed, Lori and I took a nice rambling walk and ended up at the Stumbling Goat Bistro where I had one of the best steaks I've had in months, at least. By the end of the night we were feeling quite romantic, in the best non-euphemism-for-horny sense of the word.

Sunday I went back to the studio to try making sense of the huge volume of half-completed End Times tracks we've ground out in recent weeks. Multiple takes of fourteen songs with multiple takes of each individual instrument, and there's still much to fix and evalutate. Conrad and I stitched together rough mixes of two songs that I'm not yet convinced by ... these are far denser than the stark End Times vision we've plied for the past three (yes, Jesus Christ, three) years, augmenting our simple strum-slide-sing formula with additional voices and guitars, bass, cello and drums both snare and conga. I'm soliciting outside ears, so let me know if you wanna take a listen and provide a blunt opinion.
WFMU offers us an episode of Firesign Theater's Dear Friends radio program from October 4th, 1970. Those with an interest in the possibilities of free-form radio broadcasting should take heed and download.

Learn more first.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Savage on the politics of the embrace.

My hugs mean something. They are not a handshake. They are relative to the moment and the person. Please do not be offended if I do not hug you upon every meeting/departure. And if I do hug you, please accept it as an honest gesture of my affection and esteem. Thank you.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Recording the LP continues in a three steps forward-one step back rhythm, each advance revealing new challenges, but yesterday went smoothly enough and everything happened on schedule, so we can't complain with 14 songs in various stages of completion. Thanks to John and Jeff for cello and percussion.

The End Times play tonight at the Skylark in West Seattle, an all-ages show with four acts that starts at 7:00pm and costs nothing. We are slated for 9:00pm.

My toaster oven caught on fire before we left for the studio yesterday, and it turned out to be a good omen. This afternoon I had to kill a wasp with aerosol insecticide and it took a long time to die. What does this sign bode for our performance tonight? I don't know, but right now it smells like poison in my living room and I'm feeling a little light-headed. I'm gonna go open another window, I'll see you tonight if you can make it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Awoke with a relatively clear head this morning, my first in weeks ... the stars must have aligned last night, or perhaps the moon affected the flow of endorphin and serotonin in my brains, because I am feeling steadier than usual. I could attribute this even keel to the good news Lori and I received yesterday (details of which will have to be concealed for the time being), but as good as this news may be it's also potentially life-altering, so our stress level remains as high as we've known in recent months. I'd love to have the answer to my ever-shifting moods ... I could write a self-help book and clean up. Oh, and also be happy.

Tonight we take The End Times back to the Egg for another round of recording. Last week we had a promising start, but we have 16 hours booked over the next couple days so we'll have a much better idea of how the album is progressing by Sunday. Speaking of Sunday, if anyone is left in Seattle (er, West Seattle, actually, which isn't the same thing) over the holiday weekend, The End Times will make a personal appearance at the Skylark Cafe. Show starts at six, we're headlining at nine and all ages are welcome.

Also, if anyone wants to see the Melvins and Green River with Lori this Friday night, she has an extra ticket. I'm not going, I need to protect my delicate hear-holes ...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I just discovered Monster Brains. Thanks, Kris!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy birthday, genius. Because of that fuckin' song, I'll never forget this date. Are you lying about your age yet?
The world's finest distributor of forgotten exploitation films, Something Weird Video, is now selling their wares as inexpensive downloads. While SW's penchant for stuffing their videos/DVDs with extras (vintage ads, trailers, cartoons and forgotten ephemera) doesn't translate in this format, the bargain price and lack of superfluous plastic makes this a hit in my house ... last night I nabbed Doris Wishman's masterpiece of repressed sexuality Bad Girls Go To Hell and the brutal-yet-touching Basket Case for $5.99 each. They both look and sound great, so why not call in sick to work today and explore the dark obsessions of generations past?

And if you're wondering what to get, may I suggest The Ghastly Ones, Gore Gore Girls or Nude on the Moon? You trust me, don't you? You should ...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

OK, this is making me feel a lot better ... photos of my nephew Brandon at a recent dance recital -- he's into ballet, and from all reports excels at it. He made it onto the Whiting Auditorium stage, the heart of Flint, MI's cultural center (that's right, smartaleck, and there's a planetarium too). As a child growing up I dreamed of performing there in some capacity, but the closest I came was being an usher for a production of Oliver! starring Rip Taylor.

I have very high hopes for this kid.
Hey, good news, my insomnia is back so for the past few nights I've had more time to obsess about mistakes I've made, sins I've committed and people I shouldn't have trusted. Also I have to go to the dentist to have a permanent crown installed this afternoon -- when I got the temporary two weeks back it took three shots of novacaine before he got the needle in the right place to numb me, and I could still feel the drill.

So don't fuck with me. I'll return to posting amusing anecdotes and ephemera stolen from other blogs and news sources shortly.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Bob Log III was suitably demented last night, and I was surprised to see him draw such a good crowd on a Monday, a drunken, dancing crowd at that ... it makes me happy that Seattle can support something that eccentric, and at a class joint like the Crocodile, no less. Everybody else in the world has held forth on the "new" Crocodile, so I will too: it seems fine. Lori says it smells like sawdust. A double-Jack-Coke-back costs sixteen dollars, more than I paid to get in. Lori and I have a few warm memories of the old Croc -- New Years Eve 2002/2003 with the Monkeywrench in particular, but since then we've averaged one or two visits a year at best, so it's not as romantic a rebirth for us as it is for the townies. Anyhow, I often get disoriented in noisy, crowded rooms, unless there's a performance happening on a stage that I can focus on and that's usually only a small slice of any evening out, but I had a good time last night and Bob Log played my favorites, "I Want Your Shit On My Leg," "String On A Stick" and "You Wanna What?"

Monday, May 04, 2009

I had my biorhythms mapped on Friday. My handsome naturopath stuck wires on my forehead and palms and then sadistically challenged me, grilling me on my colors like I was a kindergartner (I got them all right, by the way), making me count backwards by seven and recall traumatic childhood memories. The resulting data will be used to establish why I am whatever it is that I am, at which point we still won't know what to do, but at least we'll know how.

On Saturday I got loaded at the Little Red Hen with a couple other idiots, gossiped about each other for a few hours and then I walked home in the rain. Lori's been sick this weekend, not with swine flu as I paranoidly assumed at first, but with some benign yet still certain illness that kept her pretty homebound. We watched some 70s redneck/revenge-type thrillers, one of which pitted Jan Michael-Vincent against Kris Kristofferson (KK was the villain, a rare combination of alienated Vietnam vet and corrupt small town sherrif) while Bernadette Peters stands by and sticks out like a sore thumb. It's on Hulu, you can figure out the title yourself ...

Sunday we enjoyed a fruitful End Times practice, solving some puzzles and tightening some bolts on the songs we'll be recording over the next several weeks. It's totally gonna work. Lori was feeling better so we took a walk and stopped at a fancy CapHill-style joint on Greenwood where I had Canadian whisky for the first time in years and remembered why I only ever order bourbon.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cinema showman William Castle's best films are imbued with an infectious sense of mischief that overcomes deficiencies, and House on Haunted Hill is no exception. An excellent vehicle for star Vincent Price and one of Castle's most beloved concoctions, this lightweight ghost story is lots of fun even without the director's trademark theater gimmicks. Price is in prime form, alternating between pure ham and quiet subtlety, able to express a macabre notion simply by arching an eyebrow. Co-star Elisha Cook Jr. has only one task here, to look shell-shocked and mutter predictions of doom, and he performs it with twitchy, sweaty aplomb. The rest of the cast is serviceable, with only ingenue Carolyn Craig standing out via her shrill shrieks and stilted line readings. Castle directs House on Haunted Hill to be spooky rather than frightening, with floating skeletons and flickering candlelight, but a few ghastly images of acid baths and hanged women slide in for the E.C. Comics crowd. Campy and creepy in equal measures, House on Haunted Hill deserves its status as a horror classic. FRED BELDIN

Learn more about the late, great William Castle.