Some guy named Dustin emailed me a mashup of Jay-Z’s “Threats” and Soul C’s “Screenwriter.” NICE.
Dan Chen and I are doing production rehearsals this week for the tour; our illustrious and wonderful soundguy/tour manager Chuck has come in from Los Angeles. So fun to tinker around with the songs. And mildly melancholy that we’re gearing up for the Farewell to Small Rock run.
Five days ’til Haughty is in the stores. It’s exciting, and terrifying–as I keep saying, over and over.
Minneapolis, briefly; reactions; mingle-dom.
So Haughty Melodic has been clicking with some people out there, and I’ve been running around doing radio stations and print interviews. I went to Minneapolis on Monday to do a few appearances, and stayed at Dan’s; the first time I’ve been there since we finished the album. I woke up the next morning and instinctively felt like we should be getting to work again, like, Hm, OK, well we can start by trimming the solo on “Looking”–I had to shake myself out of that mindset. Like one of those apocryphal Japanese soldiers, still stranded on Pacific islands decades after the war’s end, still believing the war is on.
The nice thing about shilling for this record is that it feels really complete to me; I really like it. I hear it and think: Yep, that’s what I meant. Nice feeling.
Reading some reviews out there on the intraweb, and they fall into three categories: 1. It’s awesome! 2. It doesn’t sound like Soul Coughing! 3. (and this I find the most intriguing) I’ve been listening to these songs live for ___ years, and I thought this would be different!
It’s funny, the last time I heard that reaction was when Soul Coughing put out Ruby Vroom; the crowd that used to go to our gigs in New York, and knew the songs backwards and forwards were disappointed in the album, it didn’t live up to their ideal of the songs. For months I felt like they might be right, and we didn’t nail it. It was only at a Boston show, at the Middle East, a long time after the record’s release, that I heard the whole crowd singing along with “True Dreams” and reconsidered.
I’ve been playing some of these tunes for five years, a lot longer than Soul Coughing was an unsigned New York band, and I guess it’s to be expected. The audience I’ve had in these past few independant years has been a real gift, and it’s unnerving to think that they’ve developed ideal versions of the tunes in their minds, and they feel I haven’t lived up to it.
I know there’s an audience out there that haven’t experienced these songs yet. Trying to keep my eye on the ball.
I’m newly single, and it sucks to a big degree. A new loneliness, the loneliness you never expect. I’ve gotten so used to reporting my life to my girlfriend that things that happen to me don’t feel real because I’m not telling her about them.
And I keep flashing on that one billboard in the opening sequence of Futurama: BACHELOR CHOW.
But, I’m mingling. Went to a SuicideGirls party at the Hotel on Rivington, that monstrous/stylish structure they put up in my neighborhood. I’m focussed on my work. Keeping my head down and taking it as it comes.
Jury duty is over now. Every day I walked from my place on the L.E.S. to the court building on Centre Street, passing through Chinatown; on Chatham Square there’s a statue of an imposing Chinese man in a conical hat, formal robe, and a sort of Van Dyke beard, with the inscription:
LIN ZE XU
1785 – 1850
Pioneer in the War Against Drugs
Yesterday, there was a scruffy junkie couple canoodling on the benches just below the statue. In general, the heroin seems to have gotten really strong in that vicinity; I keep seeing junkies on the sidewalk, stopped dead in their tracks, nodded out while standing up.
Some rough events in my personal life, and I’m kind of reeling. Consoling myself with the Spring warmth, and the soothing sounds of Handsome Dan Chen. Not to mention Shanghainese soup dumplings.
I do believe my iPod has shuffled off this mortal coil. It made a whining, buzzing sound from the depths of my murse/man-sack, and now there’s a graphic with an empty folder and an exclamation point where my songs used to be.
I named my iPod “The Biscuit.” Au revoir, The Biscuit.
I looked myself up on iTunes and found there’s another artist with my last name, Francis Doughty, whose album contains tunes such as “Hermit Thrush” and “Gandalf’s Guitar Garden.”
Three boys walking down E. 14th Street on this spectacular Spring day:
Boy number one: “White girls are getting sexy now.”
Boy number two: “You know, I was noticing that.”
Boy number three (exasperated): “I told you that. The other day.”
This jury duty is generating material like a mofe. After every case I scribble like a madman–cops, jurors, cases, attorneys, circumstances. I’ve filled up half a notebook.
I can’t write about these cases/people, so I’m gonna funnel this excess of writing into…a short story? Something like that.
Culinary discoveries in the winding streets of Chinatown.
Andrew happened to be around Centre Street when I was on my lunch break from Grand Jury duty, so we met for lunch at a Shanghainese cuisine place on Bayard and Baxter. There I had a thing called a soup dumpling. Have you heard of these things? Astonishing. They’re dumplings–WITH SOUP IN THEM.
I am not messing with you. Seriously. Not like a sauce or anything–actual soup within the confines of a dumpling. You have to either pop it whole in your mouth, or pry it open carefully while balancing it on a spoon.
The streets of Chinatown, and that weird Centre Street judicial district fascinate me, because they used to be the Five Points slum described so vividly in Luc Sante’s Low Life, a great book about the old, dirty, sinister Lower East Side of the 19th Century. I don’t know precisely where the Five Points were–they renamed the streets, presumably to shake off the bad reputation. I do know that Doyers Street, which curves sharply, used to be known as The Bloody Angle.
I saw David Gage on Centre Street.
They gave me a lunch break from jury duty and I went to Pho Nha Trang, something of a judicial institution down there, nestled amid the stately court buildings and the boxy, 70s-era federal buildings. Tasty stuff. I need to thank the readers who wrote me to recommend the place.
Lunching across the room was David Gage, the maverick string repair guy of Tribeca. Weird as it is to call a string-instrument-repair guy that, you gotta trust me, the vibe this guy has couldn’t be described as anything but maverick. He looks like if Marc Ribot was an Eastern European carpenter.
My bass player Andrew and I went over to his shop a few weeks ago, and played some instruments. “It’s like Six Flags in here,” said Andrew, a note of wonder in his voice.