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Feb 16, 07 01:03 PM

Busking.

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Pat Dillett and I went down into the pedestrian tunnel between the 1 and the L trains on 14th street and did some recording.

This was the site of my first attempt at busking, when I was 19. I had a friend who was making a living playing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" over and over again on subway platforms. I made it all of ten minutes before I split, completely demoralized by the people rushing past without paying attention.

Now that I make a cushy living as a singer/songwriter, I make it a point to give two bucks to every busker I encounter in the subway. They're the hardest working people in show business.

Pat held a mic up to me, and I did maybe ten songs, sometimes between trains, when the tunnel was empty, sometimes when the tunnel was full of voices and footsteps, all of which I hope made it onto the tape. I haven't heard it yet, but there were certain seredipitous moments that I think would sound fantastic; somebody humming along tunelessly with their iPod just as I ended a song, drunk voices shouting between tunes.

I got lots of smiles, and made $3.10. Two dollar bills, four quarters, and a dime.

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I reconnected recently with my old friend Rachel Benbow Murdy. She was the girl who did the answering machine vocal on "Janine". She is amazingly sharp, crazy, and funny. She has an incredibly precise and psychedelic view of reality. She has a fantastic gift for connecting the dots. She used to videotape conversations, years ago, when we lived together, and then watch them immediately afterwards, cackling at all the perverse cosmic connections she saw.

We both just got out of relationships. Personally, I've been feeling like a sexual ghost; just not interested. I've met some beautiful women in the past couple of months, have tried to shake myself into pursuing them, and just can't do it.

I wrote that line in "40 Grand in the Hole," "What is a life without my heart at risk?" because I hadn't put my heart at risk in a long time. It is wonderful and amazing to do so, but this is an unexpected cost. I expected the pain, but not this kind of weird refractory period of being alone.

I broke up with her, then regretted it, and then she turned me down. I did it, of course, because I still love her, but also because, maybe, I just feel more comfortable being rejected than rejecting. People have been saying, "Oh, this will be good, you can write songs about it." But I've been writing songs about the same kind of composite, ideal psychometaphoric-shadow-woman for a long time.

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One-Sentence German Poems:

I've been writing these in the morning, to keep my Deutsch sharp, and because it throws my writing mind a curveball:

Sie hat die ganze Welt gegessen (She has eaten the entire world.)

Ich habe den reinen Prunk gesucht. (I have sought pure splendor.)

Sie hat die rauhe Stimme gedämpft (She has muffled the rough voice.)

Der Umriß deines Körpers (The contour of your body)

Der Henker wünscht sich Glück. (The hangman wishes for happiness.)

Du kriechst in meinem Hof. (You creep in my yard.)

Ich glaube an das mystische Rechteck (I believe in the mystic rectangle.)

Ein kleines Kind ißt ein kleines Ei. (A little child eats a little egg.)

Der Selbstseher wird die grobe Erde kauen (The Self-Seer will chew the rough earth.) *

Er hat das Ungetum gefressen (He has fed the monster.)

Sie fing meinen Stern (She caught my star.)

Die grüne Teufel hat mein weißes Herz getrunken. (The green devil has drank my white heart.)

I am recommending:

The Swedish singer-songwriter José González. Yeah, Swedish. He's from Göteburg. Yeah, that's what I thought, too.

The Japanese noise-funk duo Uhnellys. They've only got 229 friends on MySpace! Get in on the ground floor, people. Bizarre and fantastic grooves and Japanese rapping.

Plump, brassy 1960s German singer Trude Herr. Go, and click on the link for the mp3 of her song "Weil Ich So Sexy Bin." Amazing! Hilarity!

The Club der polnischen Versager in Berlin. Actually, there's many arty salon/bar/cafés to recommend there, but this one's called "The Polish Loser's Club." Opened by the same dudes who run Berlin's Kaffee Burger.

I'm going back to Berlin right after I play the Old Knitting Factory 20th anniversary show. I used to work there, as a doorman. I have funny histories with some of the artists on the bill. Joe Lovano was the guy who played the first night I worked there, in a trio with Paul Motian and Bill Frisell. I asked Marc Ribot to be in a band with me, a comical act of hubris for a 21 year old. And Don Byron once got so offended by a sign I put on a tip jar that he burned it. When I was working there, I couldn't have dreamed of being billed equally with the big stars of the scene. John Zorn! Unbelievable.

The Australian quasi-porn site Beautiful Agony is all video of people jacking off, but shot only from the shoulders up. Very hot, and most appealing to the performance art loving part of me. I learned about it when MySpacing, I saw a video on the page of a woman from San Diego who had two Guggenheims--New York and Bilbao--tattooed on her. The video is below--a compliation of clips under the song "Romantic Death" by the Ohio band The Sun.

[* = "Der Selbstseher" is an Egon Schiele painting that I saw in Vienna and loved, of a beautiful, creepy, haunted dude. I could write a concept album about the Self-Seer.]

Posted by Mike at February 16, 2007 1:03 PM