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Oct 31, 04 12:42 AM

Cue The Devilish Laughter.


And so, as I type this, we're nine minutes into Halloween:

I went out to Bushwick tonight and sat for my friend Todd, who's painting a portrait of me. He's been petitioning friends to model for him, and I assented; actually it's kind of enjoyable. Meditative. It's not the most flattering portrait--he's a real artist after all, not out to win me over via my vanity. But. He makes me a cheeseburger every session, and he has a way with cheeseburgers.

He dusts the cheeseburgers with an essence he got out of an Emeril cookbook. The essence is spectacular. I went to a bookstore last week, got the book off the shelf and covertly wrote the recipe for the essence in my notebook.

I came back on the L train. The Halloweeners started coming on in a trickle with each stop: the first, a Frida Kahlo, got on at Jefferson Street. A Steve Martin, with banjo, hair spray-painted silver, white suit, got on at Montrose Avenue. At Grand, there were a few more, and double that at Graham. By the Bedford stop the train was packed with costumed partiers.

It made me feel lonely. I don't think I've worn a Halloween costume since I was a kid; you'd think I'd give it a shot, the way I look at them and feel a sense of yearning. At some point between Montrose and Grand, the Frida Kahlo looked over at the Steve Martin with a warm smirk. I wished I was a part of that.

I got off at First Avenue and walked downtown; there were revelers all over the place. The streets were really packed.

A fight broke out among a bunch of boys. I walked right into them. One tackled the other. One of them stomped off in a huff. They stood there, two cliques of friends (I couldn't tell who was with whom), yelling at each other: WHY THE FUCK DID YOU TACKLE HIM?! FUCK YOU, WHY DID YOU HIT ME?! IT'S NOT YOUR FUCKING FIGHT, WHY THE FUCK DID YOU THROW THAT PUNCH?! They jabbed their fingers at each other.

One of them had had his shirt ripped off, and he stood there shirtless, with a big dirty pavement-mark on his back. They all seemed to have tears in their eyes, though nobody was weeping, just jacked-up to an emotional extreme. It occurred to me that maybe these boys jump into fights to access just the most modest hint of real feelings.

I may go to the Halloween parade tomorrow, and bring the camera. Although it will no doubt further this sense of melancholy.

Let me end this entry, in honor of the holiday, with my favorite Edward Gorey limerick:


A dreary young bank clerk named Fennis
Wished to foster an aura of menace.
To make people afraid,
He wore gloves of grey suede
And white footgear intended for tennis.

(That would actually make a good costume for me, wouldn't it? I might have to xerox the limerick and tape it to my chest to make it look like a costume at all. Kind of like the Frankenstein costume I wore in kindergarten, which my Mom bought at Wal Mart--the prototypical 1970's store-bought kid's costume: a cheapo mask and a kind of plastic smock with a picture of Frankenstein on it. I was all like, What the hey?!)

Happy Halloween, everybody.

Posted by Mike at 12:42 AM | Comments (12)

Oct 30, 04 11:17 AM

'El Plan de Bush.'



"Spanish-language stations in Miami also jangle with clashing messages...

"...A Kerry commercial about 'el plan de Bush' says millions of people have lost their financial aid for higher education. A Bush one says Mr. Kerry will raise taxes. Mr. Bush delivers his 'I approved this message' tagline in Spanish, but the commercials that showed Mr. Kerry speaking good, if plodding, Spanish were not being shown much if at all this week."

Posted by Mike at 11:17 AM | Comments (6)

Oct 29, 04 10:03 AM

'....With Technicolor Haloes of the Usual Around Them.'


At this precise moment, I'm optimistic about Kerry taking it. But. Even hearing mention of the Election makes my heart race. Anxiety.

Doug Schulkind, the WFMU Friday morning DJ, is cracking me up with black humor: "If you're voting for the right guy, I would like to encourage you to vote. If you're voting for the wrong guy, I would like to ask politely that you stay home on election day."

I saw the Eminem video on ABC news last night--it's amazing how galvanized previously apolitical artists are. Howard Stern's site is nothing but anti-Bush links! Incredible.

I've been thinking about a lyric in that song I did for the Future Soundtrack compilation: "I can feel a change is coming on/Bloom like a flower in bluest night/Bloom like the sunlight in my song."

I thought: what a sad bust that lyric may be on November 3rd. But then it occurred to me: There's going to be a change, no matter what.

It may be 1968 all over again. Artistically, socially--there'll be a tremendous groundswell of consciousness. Thank God, the Paris Hilton era may be done.

But then. I'll take Paris Hilton and lipsynching teen idols over however many thousands of lives lost in Iraq. Any day. ANY day.

Posted by Mike at 10:03 AM | Comments (17)

Oct 26, 04 08:05 AM

More on Shahzad.


While I was touring with Shahzad in June, there were innumerable times that he would walk into, say, a Subway in South Dakota barefoot, playing a Steinberger guitar--one of those little black 80's guitars without a body or a headstock--as he ordered his sandwich.

He has a certain guilelessness in this behavior. Often after soundchecks, he'd wander around whatever town we were in, playing a banjo. And after a gig in Milwaukee, he went to a Monday night open mic, horned his way onto the performers' list, and did Tom Waits' "In The Colosseum" in a burly, mock Tom Waits voice.

I was talking on the phone with Jonathan Maron; he plays bass in the Groove Collective. He cowrote "Down On The River By The Sugar Plant" with me, and is an old school friend. We both met Shahzad at Simon's Rock--we were on our way out of there as he was an incoming student.

He said that a while back he saw Shahzad for the first time in years; he was onstage at Wetlands, and he looked out at the crowd and saw a South Asian guy, taller than anybody standing around him, playing guitar soundlessly in the middle of the club.

He bumped into him recently, and Shahzad reminded him of this. "I almost didn't remember it," said Jonathan. "It was such a strange image--it was as if I filed it with my dreams."

Posted by Mike at 8:05 AM | Comments (5)

Oct 25, 04 10:12 AM

Ship 'Em Back To Personnel.


I did a guest spot with Galactic last night, at Irving Plaza.

We did "Move On," "Circles," and a tune we wrote at a soundcheck in Memphis, "People Are Bad." I wrote lyrics to their melody--they are, in their entirety:

People are bad
People are a bad lot
Ship 'em back to personnel

And then there's lots of rock and roll screaming, ad-libbing of in-jokes. Last night, among other topics covered, I yelled: Ben likes Gypsy bitches! He's got six nipples, like a wolf! Bobby Mac's got a hangover so bad I suspect him of being bulimic!

(I'm paraphrasing that last one, I phrased it in a much hipper way that I can't recall precisely)

The good, good dudes: Galactic. So nice to see 'em again.

JJ Grey from Mofro opened with a solo set. He's phenomenal.

Their drummer, Stanton Moore (who is forward-crazy: he forwards me like three forwarded-joke-emails, or political-conspiracy-forward-emails, every other day) just had a daughter. He said: "I like women so much, I made me one!"

He's a lovely, kind man, and drums in a frenzy, sometimes standing up behind the kit, bashing the cymbals, tongue stuck out.

They played Saturday night as well, of which I was unaware. I spent that night lazing on my couch, watching the marathon of the PBS series on Broadway musicals, eating chicken apple sausage and linguine.

I said to Stanton: I'm sorry I left you hanging on Saturday night. I would've come and done some tunes if I knew.

Stanton: "Oh, that's OK."

I asked: So how was the show?

Stanton: "It was good. Mavis Staples sat in with us."

I said: So, uh, I guess I really didn't leave you hanging. Yeah.

Posted by Mike at 10:12 AM | Comments (5)

Oct 24, 04 10:43 AM

I Dine On Soy Cheese.


What happened to Ashlee Simpson on SNL last night? I missed it.

I was laying on the couch websurfing, with SNL in the background--I was filled with loathing by Ashlee's initial tune--I mean, the tune was OK, but the lipsynching is an abomination, how can they let them do it on SNL? Is it not a litmus test, to be able to shine as a live act on national television?

Anyway, I wasn't watching, and the song started, and then I noticed out of the corner of my eye that, not more than a minute into the song, they cut to a picture of Jude Law, which stayed there for an uncomfortably long time, with the Ashlee tune going on vocal-less behind it. And then they went to a commercial.

What happened? At the curtain call at the end of the show, Ashlee Simpson, tucked under Jude Law's arm, said something like: I'm sorry! My band started playing the wrong song!

I suspect they accidentally played-back the same tune as the first time--a version of the old Milli Vanilli gaffe--leaving her holding the bag. But I didn't see. What happened?

Posted by Mike at 10:43 AM | Comments (13)

Oct 23, 04 04:42 PM



I lost a sheaf of particularly important photos when my hard drive died its terrible death.

I have a clique of friends with whom I meet at a park in midtown (it's one of those mini-parks built by a developer--in New York one can circumvent some building ordinances by putting a little public space on your property) and have coffee and banana bread. The kiosk used to sell the coffee for fifty cents; we took to calling it Fiddy.

(The kiosk recently upped the price to 75 cents--I mean, $0.50 is just ridiculous, really--and we had a small crisis. What do we call the place now? But it occurred to us that the place's name really never was Fiddy, it's _______ Park. So it's still Fiddy to us.)

I brought the camera out there a couple weeks ago--the whole contingent was there--the full coterie--and I took a series of photos--everyone having coffee, laughing, everybody's smiling, and then going to a diner and eating eggs.

It was really beautiful, and I was hoping it would be the kind of thing where I could take out the computer if I was, say, blue in Omaha, and have a Virtua-Fiddy to soothe my homesickness.

So I'm pretty aggrieved at the loss.

But, it's funny--I remember each of those photos so specifically--it's almost like I actually did end up with my Virtua-Fiddy to keep in my pocket for a lonely day. Kind of like when you write a number down and it becomes etched in your memory.

Posted by Mike at 4:42 PM | Comments (7)

Oct 21, 04 09:59 PM

See You On The Other Side.


I've developed this ritual before I go onstage.

There's invariably someone I see right before the show starts, who says, Good luck, or Are you ready go on? A monitor engineer or guy that works at the club. And I say to them: See you on the other side.

Some think it's funny. The lovely stoner stagehand with Galactic, John, always laughed. To some it seems like a non-sequitur.

I don't really have an explanation of its significance. I only started doing it a couple years ago. I can't even remember where I picked up the phrase.

See you on the other side.

Posted by Mike at 9:59 PM | Comments (10)

Oct 20, 04 08:51 AM

'What Rough Beast, Its Hour Come Round At Last...'


I bought a new computer yesterday; I bought it because on my old one, the hard drive ground itself to death, taking with it a bunch of photos I hadn't backed up. Agony!

It's covered under AppleCare, so they'll fix it, and it'll be back home in two weeks or so (wiped of my photos, my journal...agh). But I've been through the two weeks without a computer before, and I'm just doing too much work nowadays to spend two weeks computerless again.

I feel slightly weird, having dropped 1000 bones, and having basically the same damned iBook G4. I wanted a retail high! No such luck.

Hm, you know what--when I get the old thing back--anybody out there in TV Land want to buy it? It's a 12 inch. It's not even a year old. It's got an AirPort card, and it'll be covered under AppleCare for two years. (does that transfer if I sell the thing to somebody else? I wonder.)

I'll sell it for, like, I don't know, $700?

(with the AirPort card and the AppleCare I paid like $1500 for it.)

The only bad thing about it is it's got those weird discolorations in the beautiful iBook whiteness, where my wrists sat.

About two years ago, some dude offered me $2000 to buy the guitar I used on Ruby Vroom. Now, that guitar is a cheap-shit Yamaha telecaster copy, and Lord knows what shape it's in--as a matter of fact, at one point, when I still lived in Brooklyn, I took a screwdriver to it and attempted to scratch the purple paint off of it. (Yeah, OK, in a bit of a druggy haze)

Feeling weird about selling a guitar in such shitty condition for such big bucks, I turned him down. Now I regret it. Some dude, come back! I have reconsidered!

Posted by Mike at 8:51 AM | Comments (29)

Oct 19, 04 04:38 PM

I Get A Feeling That I Should Have Been Home Yesterday.


The first music I ever owned was a cassette of John Denver's Greatest Hits.

I had a mono cassette player of the type you used to find in school libraries. I would hold it to my ear, transfixed by "Country Roads," riding around Leavenworth, Kansas, in the back of my Mom's boat-like, green, 1976 Oldsmobile.

I remember as a six year old being mystified as to why anything would be so compelling as a song could be. It didn't make sense to me.

By the time I was ten, even my Mom's ABBA was hipper than John Denver; I was into Billy Joel's Glass Houses, Christopher Cross, and the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie. By the time I was twelve, it was Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, and, until recently, that's when I thought my musical existence began.

At 21, I was living in an apartment on Elizabeth and Spring Street in Manhattan. It was a shity neighborhood then. There was a crack spot down the street, a fake bodega with a severed pig's head in the glass case. It wasn't NoLIta then--it was nameless. It was no longer Little Italy, it wasn't quite Chinatown or SoHo or the LES. It occurred to me that nearly everyone in the neighborhood would consider themselves to be in a different neighborhood than the next guy.

My stoner friends and I called it Laundrytown, because there were sacks of laundry stacked in the windows up and down Elizabeth Street--many of which had fake old-timey signs that said "Antonelli Musical Instruments," or "Fine Meat Purveyor," that the crew of Godfather III had put up when shooting in the neighborhood a year or two ago, which no one bothered to take down.

I lived with a 34 year old computer programmer. He would come home every night with two quarts of Olde English and a pesto slice from Ray's on Prince Street. He had a giant collection of vinyl LP's, of which I listened to two, obsessively: Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True and Toots and the Maytals' Funky Kingston, on which the Maytals cover "Country Roads."

Somehow the hipness of Toots outweighed the "corniness" of my childish tastes. I listened to it, again, obsessively. I taped it and listened to it at work, driving around Manhattan in a van, delivering gourmet ice cream.

Sometime after I quit Soul Coughing, I went out and bought John Denver's Greatest Hits on CD. I listened to it nearly non-stop on my first solo tour; I had a tour manager that drove the rental car on that one, while I sat shotgun, getting drunk the whole time.

I stopped the liquor, and ended up firing the tour manager in favor of driving myself, but I still went through obsessive periods of "Country Roads." I still do, actually.

I wrote this in an earlier entry: in August of this year, on one of my last nights in Ethiopia, I went to a bar in the town of Bahar Dar with a bunch of waiters, drivers, and guides from my hotel. They got shitfaced and danced; I didn't get shitfaced, but I danced with them, or watched them dance in the dim space walled with warped mirrors and lit with Christmas lights.

At one point, after an Aster Aweke song, or maybe R. Kelly's "Step in the Name of Love" (a ubiquitous hit in Bahar Dar), a cheesy house version of "Country Roads" came over the soundsystem. The whole place surged out onto the dance floor with wild energy of abandon.

What an incredible tune, even in that weird Eurodisco version. All of those Ethiopians were shouting the lyrics, or syllabic approximations of the lyrics. I was sitting on the couches in a dark corner, with the only other guy in our group that wasn't drinking, a guide named Genanew.

Mid-song, I turned to Genanew and sang along with every word of the bridge. Much to his astonishment. Because no one else in the whole fierce, crazy, drunken place seemed to know that part: "I hear her voice, in the morning hour she calls me--radio reminds me of my home, far away..."

Posted by Mike at 4:38 PM | Comments (14)

Oct 18, 04 10:44 AM

I Wrote A Letter To The London Observer.


Dear Sirs/Ma'ams:

Your review of a Billy Graham crusade in Kansas City, published on October 17th, trots out familiar tropes: the fat American Midwesterner in big shorts, the knowing disdain for clerics seeking lucre from the faithful.

Here in the U.S., I read a similar piece so often that I wonder if it's crafted from a template, downloaded from

It should be pointed out to your reporter that, while there is a Kansas City in Kansas, the Kansas City where this gathering took place, at Arrowhead Stadium, is actually located in the state of Missouri.

It's remarkable to me that "What's The Matter With Kansas?" is published in the UK as "What'sThe Matter With America?" It's maddening to us New Yorkers, not to mention people from Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, and perhaps the most liberal city in the world, San Francisco, that while London is Britain, Paris is France, and Amsterdam is Holland, the United States is Springfield, Ohio.

Mike Doughty

Posted by Mike at 10:44 AM | Comments (11)

Oct 17, 04 11:19 AM

The Soup Was Prompt; The Chicken, Tardy.


A gig last night at Fez; just me, accompanied by Shahzad on guitar. He was fabulous. What a genius this guy is. He sounds like Bob Quine, Marc Ribot, and Jerry Garcia mashed up together.

Actually, no; he sounds just like Shahzad. He sounds like himself on any instrument (he was my drummer on the June tour; he's generally a bass player). That's the mark of a man with a true style, a real musical voice. I'm lucky to be able to share a stage with him, and just to enjoy his brilliance.

I made a joke that, being that Shahzad was the drummer on the last tour, and now he's been bumped up to guitar player, that I was grooming him to be my successor in the Mike Doughty organization. People, meet Shahzad, the new Mike Doughty.

Fez is on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, in the basement of the Time Café. It's a glamorous and slightly disheveled room. We could feel the 6 train rumbling through the tunnels below us as we played.

Showing my Letterman influence, I kept deferring to Shahzad, asking him questions; whether or not we should do a certain song, apologizing for starting songs in the wrong key, asking him to weigh in. A la Paul Shaffer. My good friend Mara came up to me afterwards and said: "I loved that you made Shahzad's happiness the theme of the show!"

Darren Jessee also played, with his new band, Hotel Lights. I know Darren from doing the Horde tour with him, way back in the 90's. And Alexi Murdoch, a solo dude. It can be dicey, showing up on a CMJ bill with two acts one is unfamiliar with, but I lucked out. I dug the hell out of both--Darren's wan, yearning tunes, bolstered by analog synth and pedal steel, and Alexi's trance-like guitar grooves and hypnotic refrains--I recommend 'em.

Posted by Mike at 11:19 AM | Comments (7)

Oct 16, 04 10:15 AM

I Link With Impunity.


A Cambodian freak-out jam; a Vassar girl rants over noodling--

1) Cambodian chapey singers play this kind of weird, joyous, tumbleforth music, alternating improvised sung-rants with wild playing on a two-stringed, guitar-like instrument, the chapey dang veng. Kong Nai is a badass, a blind man, and can be found on the above link. Scroll down a little and click on either of two tunes by the sunglassed, grinning Khmer hipster.

2) I found this on Friendster. A student at Vassar extemporaneously holding forth on some hilarious shit. Enjoy this tune by Leanne Handelsman.

Posted by Mike at 10:15 AM | Comments (9)

Oct 15, 04 09:56 AM

Abolishing the 'Ing' Flick.


I'm seeing ads for this Affleck/Gandolfini flick, "Surviving Christmas," and it's depressing me for two reasons--

First of all, the unstoppable sprawl of the Christmas season, having breached Halloween, is now marching inexorably toward Labor Day. Not that I dislike tiny twinkly lights or tinsel.

Secondly--there is a cancer on the entertainment business. It's the ING movie. "Saving Silverman." "Chasing Amy." "Finding Forrester." Et al.

For some reason, I find three-word ING movies less objectionable--"Kissing Jessica Stein," "Breaking the Waves." Especially if there's an article in there--the 'the' in the latter title--the rhythm, it seems to me, is less generic.

But can we please, as a society, abolish this practice? Fire the marketing departments? Force filmmakers into poetry classes at the Learning Annex?

Among the reasons I've neglected to finish my novel, "Ray Slape Is Dead," is a fear that if I do find a publisher, they'll force me to call it "Killing Ray Slape."

(Well, OK, it's more for the terror of embarking on the task--for a songwriter, used to terse, four-line verses, it's like scaling Kilimanjaro. As a novelist--I forget who--said in an interview, "It's like trying to cover the Empire State Building in text.")

Also--another grammatical note--how do I do italics in HTML? Such poor form, on my part, to put film titles in quotes!! Gentle readers, advice please?

Posted by Mike at 9:56 AM | Comments (18)

Oct 14, 04 11:52 AM

Folksy Japes.


Kerry by a hair.

W is a formidable opponent, considering how quickly he got his shit together, dropping the hunching and grimacing of his Nixonian performance in the first debate.

The most remarkable thing to me was the last question, the softball about what they've learned from the strong women in their life. I hated that the question played so perfectly into Bush's folksy shtick, and of course he knocked it out of the park with a joke about how his wife told him not to hunch and grimace. Even Kerry laughed.

Then Kerry said: "I think we've all traded up with our women." Beat. "Especially me." And the whole house laughed at the joke about his zillionaire spouse. Except Bush, who grimaced. Apparently it doesn't please him that someone else could pop off a down to earth quip.

Posted by Mike at 11:52 AM | Comments (8)

Oct 13, 04 01:33 PM

Baby Star Chicken-Flavored Crispy Noodle Snack.


Pollster John Zogby, in this week's New Yorker:

"Before the election in 2000, I called my call center in Utica and said, 'Put this in the poll: You live in the land of Oz, and the candidates are the Tin Man, who's all brains and no heart, and the Scarecrow, who's all heart and no brains. Who would you vote for?' The next day, I called Utica said, 'Whaddaya got?' They said, 'Well, we've got Gore--,' I said, 'I don't care about Gore. What's Oz?' It was 46.2 for the Tin Man and 46.2 for the Scarecrow...

"...But I asked this question again two weeks ago and the Tin Man led by ten points."

Posted by Mike at 1:33 PM | Comments (8)

Oct 12, 04 09:23 AM

Like a Chicken Leg, Writ Large.


Cambodia's King Sihanouk has selected his son Prince Sihamoni, who lives in Paris, and has been a choreographer, as his successor. Prince Sihamoni is the only guy I've ever heard of that studied cinematography in Pyongyang. Yeah, North Korea. Yeah, cinematography.

(I know this site is your main source for Cambodian news. Don't front!)

Cambodian strongman (I love that term) Hun Sen, as well as Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who heads the opposition party, are backing the King's choice.

The NYTimes says of Sihanouk: "Although the country is now run by commoners, the king's word, founded on a centuries-old royal line and strengthened by his personal charisma, remains almost impossible to defy."

The Times also describes Sihamoni's mom, Queen Monineath, as "The king's current wife." CATTY. (Sihanouk is renowned as a player.)

The coronation's not going to be soon. I want to go over to Phnom Penh and write about it when it goes down. Any editors out there that want to buy me a plane ticket?

Posted by Mike at 9:23 AM | Comments (7)

Oct 11, 04 08:11 AM



Now having this camera I'm obsessively taking self-portraits and pictures of buildings.

I'm consumed with the water tower across the avenue from my apartment, and the CHEF building on the Bowery. And clavicles.

Songwriting for me is often writing a couple words or a phrase down every now and again, and plugging them into songs at some point later; so my creative day often amounts to lengthy dream-journalling in the morning, keeping myself occupied artistically with photography or lunch, and just waiting for the good shit so I can jot it down in the little notebook.

Posted by Mike at 8:11 AM | Comments (10)

Oct 9, 04 10:08 AM

Emo Game.


My dear McGonigal, on dating in Seattle:

"Girls are really psyched if you ask them out, because the guys are too lame to ask them out. The guys have no game. Well, some of them do, but the only kind of game they have is....EMO GAME."

Posted by Mike at 10:08 AM | Comments (8)

Oct 8, 04 12:12 PM



Oh man! Colossal news for Cambodiaphiles like myself!

"Tired, frustrated and sick, King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia said yesterday that he would give up the throne he has held, off and on, for more than half a century, throwing his nation into confusion and doubt.

"...King Sihanouk, 81, has repeatedly expressed anguish over the poverty and political turmoil that continue to torment what he recently called his 'Kafkaesque kingdom.'

"...The king has indicated a preference for Prince Norodom Sihamoni, 51, a dancer and diplomat who lives in Paris. The prince is one of the king's two children by Queen Norodom Monineath, his fifth wife.

"...'I express my gratitude to the people who would like to allow me, in waiting for my death, a tranquil life, in serenity, which I have not had since 1940,' he wrote."

The NYTimes says there's a personal message from the King on his website, Norodom Sihanouk dot info. My second-favorite thing about Sihanouk (after his saxophone playing) is that he actually maintains a website.

Good Lord, I want to get over there and write about this...huge changes...Cambodia is so delicate...I'm frightened and thrilled...

Posted by Mike at 12:12 PM | Comments (1)

"Well Here's A Funky Introduction Of How Nice I Am."


I'm having recurring dreams about Van Halen.

Last night I dreamed I was in David Lee Roth's role; we played "Unchained" to a bored lecture hall at a Lutheran school in Minneapolis.

The night before, I dreamed I sat in David Lee Roth's Trans Am: he said: "I don't like Black Sabbath." I said, What are all these Black Sabbath tapes doing in your car? He was a little ashamed.

Posted by Mike at 10:49 AM | Comments (11)

Oct 7, 04 10:16 AM

"I Hear What You're Saying, And Your Rap Is Strong."


Dougie Bowne, regular at the Pink Pony and a good friend. We call the Pink Pony "The Office," because we're there so much. "So, you want to come out? I'm at the Office."


Posted by Mike at 10:16 AM | Comments (5)

Nushu: Secret Chinese Code's "Last Speaker" Dies.


Yang Huanyi, Last User of a Secret Code, Dies

"Yang Huanyi, the last woman to communicate secretly with others in a rare script used exclusively by women, died Sept. 20 in her home in Hunan Province, China. She was believed to be in her late 90's.

"...A script specific to one sex is rare among the world's languages, and popular writers have called Nushu 'the witch's script' and the 'first language of women's liberation.'

"...A principal function of the script was for communication among women who called themselves 'sworn sisters.' Writing in verse on handkerchiefs, fans and elsewhere, they often used Nushu's vocabulary of more than 20,000 words to communicate about marriage as a tragic event. Hardbound booklets conveying deep anxieties about marriage were common wedding gifts in the region.

"...Once Ms. Yang mastered Nushu, she, too, wrote for others, but charged only for marriage booklets. She married, but her husband died two years later after he was bitten by a snake. She then married a gambler who ran up big debts. They had eight children before he died."

Posted by Mike at 10:11 AM | Comments (1)

Oct 6, 04 10:58 AM

"I Broke Up With Jazz."

When I went to Simon's Rock, in 1986, I met this kid named Jeremy Brooks. He had a sphinxlike mullet with dreads hanging in the back. He wore a long olive-colored coat emblazoned with a Who style target-symbol. He was the hippest boy I had met in my life.

He was a drummer; we put together a little band and played the campus snack bar. He was studying his instrument with a renowned musician named Randy Kaye, who used to play with Jimmy Giuffre. He was always a good friend, but artistically we grew apart.

Years pass. He changed his name (legally!) to J Why. He lives up in Inwood: he runs a record label called Head Fulla Brains. His latest CD is called Urban Shocker--it's a found-sound collage kind of a situation. He also plays in a Spanglish rock band called Caramelize with his sister and a mysterious man called El Chapulin (the Grasshopper).

We had lunch recently. I asked, What's going on with you, musically?

"Oh," he said, "I broke up with jazz."

Posted by Mike at 10:58 AM | Comments (1)

Shahzad: Fantastic


My special gig at Fez on the 16th will be a duo situation: me and the South Asian Sensation, Shahzad "Smiley" Ismaily.

He was the drummer with me and the Doveman on our June tour. For this, he'll be playing guitar and bass.

He's a superskilled bass and guitar player. And a BRILLIANT inventor of melodies.

Posted by Mike at 10:43 AM | Comments (4)

Oct 5, 04 02:26 PM

Muppet of Yesteryear.


The late, lamented Roosevelt Franklin, preeminent hipster of Sesame Street:

Posted by Mike at 2:26 PM | Comments (8)

In the Tunnel.


For the first time in my life, I rode at the front of the B train from Columbus Circle down to the Lower East Side, watching out the front window, looking at the tunnels. I've been riding for years but have never actually looked.

In 1989, when I went to the New School, I lived in a dorm that was four floors of a co-op building on Union Square West converted into extremely cramped student housing. It was the building above the restaurant that housed the nightclub Giant Step in its basement

I had three roommates that got drunk one night, got tired of waiting for a train, and hopped down onto the tracks, stumbling around the tunnels for a few hours. They nestled in crevices while trains hurtled by.

Eventually they found their way out through a manhole. They found themselves emerging from the sidewalk in front of the Palladium, when that club was at its Deee-Lite era, pre-Michael-Alig peak. They climbed out of a hole in the ground to the applause of a line of delighted clubgoers.

Posted by Mike at 2:21 PM | Comments (3)

Oct 4, 04 10:25 AM

Night Life.

I dreamed last night I was on a beach, throwing apples to a tiger.

I'm going through an uncertain, transitional period. I've been petitioning the universe for something; it seems to be coming through for me. I'm keeping it under my hat for the moment, but it's looking good. I'm very happy, but still: uncertain.

My dreams have been rich with this kind of beautiful, enigmatic, scary imagery.

Relief has given way to new anxieties. I'm parsing for messages.

Posted by Mike at 10:25 AM | Comments (16)

Oct 3, 04 11:00 AM

The Uptown Life.

I went to a friend's place last night--a gigantic Tribeca loft. I live in a Lower East Side apartment that's really quite cool--great blasting sunlight, great roof with a panoramic view of the skyline. and my friend Amity hooked me up with some excellent interior decorating, it looks supercute. But, let's face it: it's SMALL.

I want room for a dining room table I can spread out a Sunday Times on; I want a piano. (not that I play piano, other than in a two-fingered techno-producer style; I just like messing around on 'em)

I want to move to Washington Heights. Way uptown, north of Harlem. Get a big place for the same dough I pay down here. What do I do around here, anyway? There'd be a long commute to see some friends; I would miss the vegan club sandwiches at Teany. There's great street art around here, too. But all the bars and sceney stuff--I just don't take advantage of it much.

I wonder if the commute would wear me down; then again, what do I do? See friends, get dinner; no job to go to. My day amounts to writing, playing, lunch; do I need to be in this groovy nabe to do that?

Posted by Mike at 11:00 AM | Comments (12)

Oct 2, 04 11:32 AM

"1973 Was A Bad Year For The American Farmer, But A Great Year For Joe Tex."

"I've been taken outside,
and I've been brutalized
and I've had to ALWAYS
be the one to smile

"But I ain't NEVER
in my life before
seen so many LOVE AFFAIRS
go wrong as I do today--

"I want you STOP
find out what's wrong
get it RIGHT
or PLEASE leave love alone..."

Joe Tex, "The Love You Save"

(he gets the living hell beat out of him and yet the main issue on his mind is the lovers' quarreling! Joe Tex: Jesus of Soul Music.)

Posted by Mike at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)

Oct 1, 04 02:44 PM


I think Kerry took it.

I said to a friend yesterday afternoon, "I think Kerry's going to look nine times smarter than Bush, but everybody will like Bush and his 'folksy' shtick better." But I think homey stepped up to the plate and rocked it.

There was a good 45 minutes in there when Kerry was hammering Bush on Iraq, and the President looked anguished, flustered; I thought, I can't understand a word Bush is saying! And not just for his verbal flubs per usual; he seemed to be on the run, ideas coming in and out of focus as he struggled to stay on message. I thought: If I can't piece together what the dude is saying, who can?

When the debate turned to arguments for and against bilateral negotiations with North Korea, both candidates veered a little too far into what seemed esoteric to me. Neither seemed particularly strong. And I thought Bush got his shit together for his closing statement. Also, I was bummed that Kerry didn't have his kids up onstage, like Bush did. (I think Kerry's blended family of stepchildren would look a lot more like America to America than Bush's party-girl daughters shoehorned into their roles as smiling offspring)

Still--those 45 minutes of Kerry being forceful, direct, rocking it on the flip-flop issue, clear, concise, referencing his war service but not grandstanding--a fantastic performance, just the thing. Bush's late gains were kind of like the losing team that scores a single touchdown when it's 28 to 0 in the 4th quarter.

I wondered if my bias was making me think crazy. But NBC interviewed a half-dozen undecideds in Ohio, and they all said: "Kerry seemed more on top of it." "Kerry really did well. "Kerry won." "Kerry." "Kerry." "Kerry."

I think he'll take it November 2. I think America is seeing the incompetence of the Bush administration. They may not love Kerry--many of the undecideds mentioned above remained undecided even after declaring Kerry the winner--but when they get into that voting booth, they're just not going to be able to endorse the Bush agenda.

A psych student friend of mine once told me: "The subconscious doesn't hear the negative." Hence, when a parent tells a child, "Don't drop your plate! Don't drop your plate!" The child subconsciously recieves a suggestion to drop the plate. I know that when people are telling me, "Don't blow it!" I'm more likely to blow it when they put it positively--"Succeed!"

So I was VERY glad that W kept repeating, "My opponent says this is the wrong war, in the wrong place, and the wrong time." Because I think the American subconscious kept hearing: Wrong War. Wrong place. Wrong time.

Posted by Mike at 2:44 PM | Comments (9)



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