Boston, I Owe You a Cookie.

I don’t actually know what the hell went on, but there was a ticket-selling fuckup, they went on sale too early, got snapped up, and a bunch of Boston peeps who dutifully showed up at the appointed hour got rooked out of buying tickets. I’ve been inundated with emails and MySpace messages about it. Hoo man, you guys, I’m so sorry.
These venues are rull small on this tour; that’s kinda the idea of the Question Jar Show thing.
I’ve been watching that Ken Burns The War documentary. Ken Burns docs–my kinda arty-bourgeois diversion. That’s Doughty Country.
The best part is that, before the show, when PBS acknowledges its donors, they open with: “Corporate funding for the war is provided by…”–!!!
And then non-commercial commercials for sponsors Budweiser, General Motors, and Bank of America.
I saw the video for Vanessa Carlton’s “Nolita Fairy Tale.” Nolita is a neighborhood in downtown Manhattan that’s turned upscale in the past ten years or so–the name is a portmanteau for North of Little Italy. It’s an enclave of petit-bourgeois grooviness.
I know I’ve blogged about this before, but I lived there in ’91 or so–wrote “True Dreams” on the roof of my tenement at Elizabeth and Spring streets. It was, at the time, a nameless DMZ between Little Italy, Chinatown, SoHo, and the Lower East Side. My friends and I called it “Laundrytown.” There was a bread factory on Prince street that stacked bundles of loaves on the sidewalk, ready to be trucked, at 4 am when I was walking home from whatever misadventures. There was a crack spot, disguised as a bodega, that kept a hog’s head in its glass butcher’s case as a statement of personality. There were signs, left over from a location shoot for Godfather III, for nonexistent emporiums, hung above empty storefronts.
So its transformation has been hilarious to me. That Vanessa Carlton is rhapsodizing about it–that one could rhapsodize about a place that’s basically a blank canvas onto which a fake neighborhood was painted–identifies her as a rich Californian girl on a temporary urban escapade.
No bad vibe on rich Californian girls–seriously, some of my best friends are rich California girls. Nor Vanessa Carlton–I love that piano riff from “A Thousand Miles.” Nor temporary urban escapades–I’ve been on one since 1989.
I saw the video for Matchbox Twenty’s “How Far We’ve Come” and dug it, dug it, dug it. That frenetic little be-hatted guitar player is the baddest man in rock and roll. I iTunes-ed it and rock it multiple times in a row while riding the B train.
I amuse myself with my musical tastes, which veer from the far left to the far middle-of-the-road, with nothing in between. My other regular listen is WFMU, which devoted itself the other morning to Beatles CDs played with the fast-forward button pressed down, and the weird, noisy fake tracks that Britney’s record company put up on Soulseek and Limewire to fuck up illegal downloaders.

Dispatch from Jena.

My cousin Kim Ganey is a nurse living in Jena, Louisiana. Her daughter goes to the high school where the noose incident took place. This is a little late (she sent this email the day before the protests), but here’s her take on the Jena 6.

Tomorrow there will be more people in Jena than I ever thought possible.
Weirdness and wonder.
That’s the two words that come to mind about tomorrow. I can’t imagine what the day will bring, hence the wonder. I can’t imagine that I sat on my floor and watched news anchor after news anchor talk about Jena, hence the weirdness.
I can’t know what tomorrow will bring. These are the things I DO know.
– The media has painted a rotten picture of us. I can’t help but take it personally.
– I will never again wholly believe what I see on the evening news or read in the paper. Ever.
– I had to reassure my daughter that things will be ok tomorrow. I don’t know for sure that they will be ok. I don’t like feeling like I’ve lied to her.
– There ARE racists in this town. Thankfully, they are the minority.
– The boys accused of beating Justin Barker were NOT nice boys who made poor decisions that day. They are thugs. Ask their teachers. Ask their neighbors. Ask the elderly people in their neighborhood that they terrorized. Ask the judges who presided over their juvenile cases.
And lastly, I know:
– We will never be the same after this is over.
My brother-in-law will be on duty downtown for the march. I’ll be working at one of the hospitals in the parish. My co-workers will be manning ambulances at the courthouse tomorrow. I have friends who are law enforcement officers and will be on duty tomorrow. I’m worried.
I pray for a peaceful day. I pray for safety.
I also pray that the stupid redneck white people all get flat tires and have to stay home. I pray that the violent people all get horrific diarrhea and have to stay home. I pray that those with evil intentions get lost and end up right back where they started.
I also pray for the safety of those who are coming. Some genuinely believe that the Jena 6 have been wronged. They are misinformed, but their hearts are in the right place. Some of those coming truly care for their fellow man and want to make a difference. They don’t know they’ve been lied to and misled. It should give us some glimmer of hope that people can care enough to attempt to make a difference.
I pray for the young men who committed this crime. They are the center of a storm. Hopefully at some point, they will admit their culpability in the creation of that storm. However in the mean time, I pray for them.
I pray for the Barkers. Tomorrow will be difficult for them I’d imagine. They have been much more stoic than I think I could have been. I pray for their continued strength.
It’s been difficult to see my town portrayed as a haven of racism. It’s been difficult to hear the misinformation and sometimes downright lies about Jena and the Jena 6.
I have to believe that when the day is done tomorrow, somewhere there will be a blessing. I can’t believe that all this has been for nothing.
So, tonight and tomorrow, please keep us in your prayer and thoughts.

“She’s More to Be Pitied Than Censured.”

Scrap and I played in Santa Fe on Saturday. It was another rough one. I’ve been blaming humidity for my tuning problems–it’s been a season of so-so shows–but I think my 1978 Gibson, my newest guitar, the apple of my eye, has some kind of problem. The G string goes wildly out of tune, unpredictably, at inopportune moments.
I used to bring my guitars to Susan at Ludlow St. guitars, and she’s great, but she’s left and I don’t know where she’s at. I gotta get this dialed before Scrap and I tour in November.
We did two shows in one day in New Mexico. The first place we played was an amphitheatre on the grounds of an Indian school, designed by Paolo Soleri. It was beautiful, but I don’t know how functional it was. He’s a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright.
He’s building a proto-Utopian town in the Arizona desert called Arcosanti.
The other show in Santa Fe was IN A MALL. Seriously. We were the featured draw for a contest giving away a limo-conveyed VIP concert excursion, and a pink Vespa ‘Buddy’ scooter. We played under big pink WIN A BUDDY! banners.
I’m in Chicago for a day–not playing, just hanging–and I might go to the big library to photocopy some sheet music for songs from the 1890s. I went there a couple of years back and photocopied some of the oddball, creepy selections, like “My Dad’s the Engineer” (about a train going through a burning forest, and the engineer’s daughters implorements for faith), “She’s More to Be Pitied Than Censured” (fallen Bowery showgirl), and “The Man on the Flying Trapeze” (a song much weirder than I expected; a fiancee is stolen, and the trapezist forces her to join her act and makes her “take a mannish name”–?!).
I chickened out on photocopying some minstrel songs, which were in the same folio, and were fascinating and scary. Songs like “Run N____r Run.” Weird songs about all the happy n____rs in N____rtown doing n_____r dances and eating n____r delicacies. Very shocking, especially for their blithe jollity. I recommend reading John Strausbaugh’s Black Like You for a history of Bowery minstrelsy.
I’d love to do something with these songs, but I don’t know what. An art installation?

Mather Zickel Gets a Shave.

I just got back from a trip to Portugal, for the wedding of my old friend Peter Mack. His best man, Mather Zickel, went to a gorgeously shabby old barbershop in the gorgeously shabby old city of Oporto.
Mather’s an actor–go see him in The Ten, directed by David Wain, who also did the genius Wet Hot American Summer.