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Jan 31, 05 06:18 PM

Oh, Genius.


Jim Grant hipped me to the wondrous ways of Rockin' Rickie.

Posted by Mike at 6:18 PM

Jan 30, 05 10:23 AM



In spite of my anger at the Bush administration's arrogant assumption of America's divinely conferred status as global missionary of an unquestionable value system--and the hypocrisy! Where are the troops for Darfur? Would we be taking on Kim Jong Il if there was oil in North Korea?--I'm praying hard for these Iraqi elections to succeed.

Posted by Mike at 10:23 AM

Jan 29, 05 02:03 PM

The Cheap-Shit Yamaha.


Looks like I've sold it. (I can't believe how many people were interested in this thing!) Sorry guys.

Posted by Mike at 2:03 PM

Jan 28, 05 09:19 AM

Russian Tonality.


I've been listening to audiobooks while I practice guitar in the morning.


I've been practicing really intensely in the morning; running scales. I found a music theory website (I don't know a lick of music theory; I mean, I should say, I know it when I feel it, when I play it, but the names of the scales and the chords I never learned) and I've learned stuff like the Mixolydian mode, the Dorian mode--things which previously seemed incomprehensible and hilarious to me.

I'm peculiarly drawn to the minor scale. I've never cottoned to that scale, until now.

I think it's because I downloaded an audiobook of Chekhov's short stories--the Black Monk, the one where the pudgy officer goes into a dark billiards room and makes out with a girl he never identifies--and they're great. I've never read them. All those doleful Russian dudes wandering through spooky gardens with pale Russian heiresses--it imbues that minor scale with a certain melancholy Russian ambience.

Posted by Mike at 9:19 AM

Jan 27, 05 04:17 PM

Lonely Guitars Looking for Homes.


Above is the back of the cheap-shit Yamaha telecaster copy I played on Ruby Vroom. I got more guitars that I need to find happy homes for; see below.

Let me reiterate my earlier entry--

Hey--I've sold some of these already--see below.

I have a bunch of guitars to sell. A few things I should note:

1) It disturbs me to keep a guitar in a storage space; guitars need to be played and loved.

2) People keep telling me I should hang on to old guitars I don't play any more, because I may need them, but I can't help it, it's my psychic disposition to travel light.

3) I don't want to fuck with eBay.

See below for more information--anybody interested, please email me at

Oh, and I'll be humbly asking the purchaser to pay for shipping--shouldn't be more than $30 in most cases.



This is a beautiful guitar, and I adore it; I played it on about half the tracks on Smofe + Smang. But I just can't lock it up in a storage space anymore with a clear conscience. I took it to Susan at Ludlow Guitars today, it'll be spiffied and awesome, no buzzes or nothin'. I bought it new in 2000. I'm selling it for $1,351.08.




I've sold this one already.

I played this one on the El Oso sessions; if memory serves correctly, I recorded "Circles" and "$300" on this guitar. (my other Coronado, the famous green one that I played Letterman with, I actually didn't like as much sound-wise, so it's a reasonable guess that this one is the one on the album)

You'll probably need to take it to a shop for a set-up; it hasn't been played for years. I'm selling it for $805.27.




I've sold this one already.

I played this on my first solo "small rock" tour, although the pickup is newer. Baby Taylors sound really beautiful, but here's the thing--they're REALLY fragile. The hardware on the headstock is really heavy, and thus I've had the experience numerous times of the headstock snapping off the neck. No fun. So beware!

The pickup doesn't actually come out, the screws that hold it in having been stripped. I'm selling this for $227.53.

Oh, and one more thing--all I've got is a soft-case for this. So, please be in the New York area, or visiting New York, so I don't have to put it in the clumsy hands of UPS.




I've sold this one.

Do they make these anymore? I don't know. This is a reissue circa 2000, not vintage. People keep writing and asking about this one--the truth is, I have no idea what to ask for it. Somebody want to hip me to this guitar's value situation? Somebody just wanna make an offer?

This is another one in a soft case, so a New York area person is preferred.




I sold this one already

I bought this to use as a secondary guitar on the Rusted Root/Volkswagen tour.

The jack that you plug the Roland synth cable into has been broken--the jack still works, but what held it in place is gone, so the cable dangles precariously (see the pic below). There may be copious futzing-about involved.

I'm askin' $335.03.




I sold this one, sorry to the billions of people who inquired!

OK. So, this is the guitar I recorded Ruby Vroom on; I also played every Soul Coughing show up 'til about 1996 on it, and wrote "City of Motors," "Supra Genius," "Sugar Free Jazz," on it.

Now. Here's the deal. THIS GUITAR IS A PIECE OF JUNK. (like you can't tell that by just looking at it!) It should be noted that the duct-tape around the high pickup holds the pickup in place. Actually, I played with duct-tape holding the pickup in on Ruby and on tour; it worked fine that way, though who knows if anything works on this guitar now.

I gather from the torrent of email that lots of people are interested in this guitar (which, me being a dumb-bag, I was actually surprised by), and I think are prepared to offer WAY more money than this thing is worth. Which does make me feel a little weird.

So. I'm open to whatever anybody wants to offer for it. One of the reasons I'm selling this stuff--besides just wanting to unburden myself of unnecessary items--is that I need to go out and get some new guitars, work out a new guitar sound that will slot a little better into a full-band's sound--and I need a little cash for that.

But, if someone should be willing to buy this thing for too much money, I'll be donating half the proceeds to the Musicians' Assistance Program, a group that helps musicians with addiction problems get treatment.

Fun facts: The ugly gashes come from a night I got really high and tried to scrape off the blackish-purple paint with a screwdriver. That's my old Brooklyn number on the sticker on the front-page photo; I printed the stickers up to put on Soul Coughing demo cassettes. On the other pic of the guitar's back, that's a half-photo of Atlantic Records A&R guy Jason Flom, and a sticker meant for the back of a remote control, listing the Time Warner cable channel lineup circa 1992.




I sold this one.

Here's another one for the "Who the hell would want this thing?" category. This thing was great stuff in 1998--the drum-and-bass producer Optical recommended it to me. I played a few things on El Oso on it; the Chris Rock sample ("How much! She said!" etc) on "$300," some of the samples on "Monster Man". I've heard a Kazaa'd live Soul Coughing track called "A Milkshake" that's me playing samples of Bette Davis saying "Fully equipped with fire and music!" and "A milkshake?" and "Sole and exclusive rights and privileges!" on this thing.

But, do you want it? It's big and heavy (in a very sturdy enclosure, I might add.) It's eight years out of date. It'll cost you a ZILLION BUCKS to have it shipped.

But if you live in the NYC area and want it--I'll take best offer--hey, otherwise I think I'll be putting it out on the street!

(Those pieces of tape with multiple area-codes written on them in magic marker were done by my guitar tech RJ on the El Oso tour; he would research all the local area codes and put those stickers everywhere so I could shout out, "Is the 516 in the house?!" etc.)


Posted by Mike at 4:17 PM

Jan 26, 05 05:51 PM

The Island of Misfit Guitars.


I have a bunch of instruments I want to find good homes for.


A few things I should note:

1) It disturbs me to keep a guitar in a storage space; guitars need to be played and loved.

2) People keep telling me I should hang on to old guitars I don't play any more, because I may need them, but I can't help it, it's my psychic disposition to travel light.

3) I don't want to fuck with eBay.

So. The one very good guitar I have is a Gibson J-150, which is gorgeous; I feel particularly guilty about keeping it locked up. It's in OK shape--neck's a little buzzy. The pickup is kinda muted and weird. Clearly it needs a little trip to the guitar hospital for a touch-up.

The other things are:

The cheap shit Yamaha telecaster copy I recorded Ruby Vroom on (I doubt the pickups work, the hardware is rusty, and I took a screwdriver to the paint job once when I was high, leaving ugly gashes).

A Danelectro Baritone guitar. (It's a reissue, not vintage)

A black Mexican stratocaster. It's got a Roland guitar-synth pickup in it, but the jack is messed up (not the actually part where you plug the cord in, just the plastic bit that keeps it in place), so you'll either need to do some gluin' or just resign yourself to a permanent condition of futzing every time you play it (that's exactly what I have to do with my other two Fender/Roland strats, sigh)

A Baby Taylor with a nice Fishman pickup in it.

A greenish-yellow Fender Coronado II, my secondary guitar from Soul Coughing days--it's all over El Oso, though I couldn't tell you exactly which tunes. It's one of the "Wildwood" series, where Fender in the hm, late 60s? stained the wood in this manner where, though the guitar is really colorful, you can see the grain of the wood. It's quite beautiful.

All of these guitars have been sitting lonely in a cell at Manhattan Mini-Storage, unused, so they'll all probably need a little tune-up. (I take horrible care of guitars; I'm a bad daddy)

I'm going to head up there and take some pics in the next few days; in the meantime, if anybody's interested, drop me a line at


Posted by Mike at 5:51 PM

Jan 25, 05 10:48 AM



I had a bizarre and great gig in Park City, Utah.


The film festival sent this extremely odd and chatty guy to pick me up at the airport. The moment I got in the minivan he started complaining: "What time are you going to the show tomorrow? 5 pm? I tell ya, I told 'em I needed five hours off tomorrow, just five hours, you know I told 'em last week, so maybe 5's not gonna work, maybe somebody else's gonna drive you there, you know, I mean I've been driving ten hours a day, and twelve yesterday, that's just too much, you know, that's a lot of driving, let me tell you..."

And on and on all the way to the hotel. At one point he turned to me and asked, "So, what is it you do, you're a guitar player?" Yeah, that's right.

"I'm a performer, too," he said. "I do an Elvis show."

The next day, as foretold, a different guy picked me up to drive me from Salt Lake to Park City. Nice, normal guy, which was a relief. His cell rang. "Jerry wants to talk to you," he said.

I figured it was one of the festival's organizers, so I took the phone. It was the driver from the day before. "Hi, Bill, oh did I call you Bill? I mean Mike, sorry Mike, I just got mixed up there, well anyways, hi, this is Jerry, and I wanted to tell you that I'm sorry that I couldn't pick you up, that's my son that's driving you right now, and be nice to him, he's a good kid, heh heh, you know, a very good guy, and once again I'm real sorry I couldn't be there myself to drive you..."

I got off the phone. So, your Dad's an Elvis impersonator? I asked Jerry's son.

"Well, um, you know, for karaoke and stuff," said Jerry's son. "He sure is into Elvis, though."

Park City was packed. There are something like 200,000 film festivals appended with the word "dance" going on simultaneously. My favorite was Thumbdance, which I was told is all movies shot on camera phones.

I anticpated a rough, talky gig, full of industry schmoozers, and that's what I got. But, with a heaping dollop of pure weirdness.

In the front row were a pack of maybe five or six really big Mexican dudes in blue football jerseys. They were ridiculously into what I was doing, yelping and hooting. So weird! At one point I had to (VERY nicely) ask them to stop whoop! whoop! -ing. They stopped for a minute or two.

One of the security guards came over to the big, blue-jersied Mexicans, and was waving his flashlight at them. I thought he was shushing them, but in fact he was doing some kind of disco light-circle over them, egging them on. Apparently, at one point in the show he got onstage behind me and was dancing and waving his flashlight in time.

A drunk girl walks up to the stage. "Could you play 'Tiny Dancer'?" I made fun of her, and her friends laughed, and she slinked away.

A few songs later, a guy walks up to the stage. "Mike! Mike!" Um, yes?

"I'm the percussionist who played before you, and I'd love to do a song or two with you."

Um. Thanks for offering, man. But, uh, I have no idea what you sound like, and I usually like to rehearse with people I'm playing with...

"Oh, I totally get it, Mike, you do your thing, Mike," he said. Like he was being magnanimous about it.

A few songs later, a DIFFERENT drunk girl walks up to the stage. "Excuse me," she said. "Could you play 'All Along the Watchtower'?"

You have an interesting sense of entitlement, I said.

"What's the matter?" she said, entirely friendly and unfazed. "You don't like that song?"

It was a pretty fierce gig though, even with the strangeness and the talking. Apparently Denis Leary came; the guy on the door told me he walked up, said, "Where's Doughty?" and was pointed up the stairs.

A local Salt Lake guy named DJ Knuckles played after me; REALLY good, with turntables, laptop, and the aforementioned percussionist.

I was driven back to Salt Lake by the fabulous Spencer and Maggie. In this strange weekend of existential mishaps, the minor miseries were capped off when I woke up with a stomach flu, and enjoyed a very pukey flight back to New York.

Posted by Mike at 10:48 AM

Jan 23, 05 11:53 AM

Mountain Time.


I'm in Salt Lake. I was planning to console my blizzard-missing self by looking at the mountains. But--the mountains are shrouded in fog, and there are only bland bank towers to stare at. What did I do? I'm a good boy. I promise.

Maybe I'll see 'em when I get up to Park City this afternoon.

Posted by Mike at 11:53 AM

Jan 22, 05 11:49 AM

How Can You Laugh When You Know I'm Down?


Oh, I'm depressed today. I'm missing a snowstorm.


I adore a blizzard, especially in Manhattan, where the whole city shuts down and becomes eerie and pristine. There's going to be a foot and a half of snow in New York today, and I'm in San Francisco. To make the irony crueler, I'm flying to Utah today, where it's positively balmy in relation to gorgeous, frigid New York.

I remember a blizzard in 1993 when I came in from Brooklyn and trudged around looking for Magnetic Fields records in an East Village that was rendered so quiet that you could hear somebody's footsteps crunching the snow a block away.

I really get into these exorbitant spirals of blue funk when I miss a blizzard (I missed the big two-foot one--last year?--when I was, again absurdly, in a relatively temperate Minnesota) I mean, almost Germanic depths of bleakness. Pretty comical.

Posted by Mike at 11:49 AM

Jan 21, 05 11:28 AM

Jacob Epstein's The Visitation.


I had a an hour to kill before catching my train last week, when I was in DC doing an XM radio appearance. The Visitation is in the sculpture gallery at the Hirschorn Gallery. It scared the hell out of me as a twelve year old, visiting DC on a family trip.

I'm in San Francisco ("San Francisco--an oasis in the California desert!" opines George Sanders in All About Eve), opening for Gomez, who are fantastic, and their rollicking, woolly sound is beautifully suited to this chilly, mysterious town.

Posted by Mike at 11:28 AM

Jan 20, 05 06:18 AM

I Want a Prius. I Really Do.


I mean, rah rah for saving the Earth, but I really just think the thing is cute.

See you all in Utah and San Francisco this weekend.

Posted by Mike at 6:18 AM

Jan 17, 05 10:38 AM

Fileteado Porteņo.


An Argentine folk art, they paint buses and trucks and billboards and wine bottles and shop windows with it.


On the heels of this record's completion, suddenly I'm BANG! in art mode again. Journaling extensively. Practicing constantly. I've been really turned on by the musicians I've been auditioning--I'm kind of amazed how deep a talent pool there is out there, that have responded to my ad.

The last time I ran an ad looking for musicians, it was in the New York Press in 1991--I had a band I called M. Doughty's Soul Coughing, there were ads in the Knitting Factory schedule for it, but I had no players--and all I got were a few freaks, and one guy in the Coast Guard.

I put a stack of poetry books beside my bed. I read 'em before sleep, a few poems at a time, then switching poets. Dylan Thomas, Zbigniew Herbert, Borges, Robert Kelly, Rimbaud, Whitman. I get good dreams.

Posted by Mike at 10:38 AM

Jan 16, 05 10:42 AM

Art and Title Crisis.


Having petitioned the universe for months to have the opportunity to get this record out to a wider world, suddenly I'm annoyed at all the extra labor.


I keep titling and retitling this thing--there was a title I loved for years, intending it to be the one even before I was done writing the album, and then there was another one--and when I went down to DC this week and recorded a show for XM radio, I announced authoritatively what the new title was, and then changed my mind on the Amtrak back to New York!

I'm spinning obsessively through art options, as well. My ideas for covers are always too dark--I mean, too emotionally dark--I keep coming up with these melancholy ideas, and then backpedal on myself, realizing that want I want to transmit to somebody in a record store is an almost psychedelic, explosive color scheme--that's how I hear the record, anyway. The melancholia and the psychedelia, which do I underline? I have ideas that I love and then abandon.

The good part of this week is the auditions. I'm hearing some really good players, and am pleased to be beginning the audition process. I was completely swamped with applicants, and I'm sifting through 'em.

Posted by Mike at 10:42 AM

Jan 11, 05 08:02 AM



When I was 5, my family moved to Kansas from New York. 1975. We crossed a river and the sign said WELCOME TO INDIANA. "Are we really in India?!" I asked. Yes, my distracted parents said.

I spent the next hour staring out the window, spooked, worried about cobras.

Posted by Mike at 8:02 AM

Jan 8, 05 12:10 AM

I'm Putting the Call Out.


I'm looking for a band. Wanna join?


I've found all the visual artists I've worked with over the past few years--all the covers of my solo albums--on the internet. Now, needing a band, I wonder if I put the call out here, if I'd find some musicians...?

Here's the ad I put up on my bulletin boards at Friendster and MySpace:


My next record will be out in the Spring, and I plan to tour like a fiend; so, I'm putting a new band together. (the guys I did the record with live in Minnesota, and the guys in New York I've been playing with are just so happening they don't have time for me!)

So--if you're a player who likes my scene and wants a gig--or you know someone who is, and does--

I need a drummer, an upright bass player, and an electric piano player (Rhodes, Wurlitzer). The sound, is, you know, my vibe--singer/songwriter-y, hiphop records circa 1991 ish, weirdness and simplicity in liberal doses. Not quite like Soul Coughing--less hardcore freaky--but not the stripped down Skittish thing, either.

Be in or near New York; don't be a weed addict. And be awesome!

Send yer links or MP3s to

Posted by Mike at 12:10 AM

Jan 7, 05 01:13 PM

Ici Depot de Pain.


"We sell bread here," is what that sign means, on a restaurant in my neighborhood that we call Fake France. But everytime I see it, I read: "ICY DEPOT OF PAIN."


This morning, I'm in my shrink's building, heading downstairs. I just make it onto the elevator before the doors close. There's a guy in there who hit the door-open button just in time. "I almost hit the alarm button," he says. "That would be bad news--me being black, and wearing a kufi."

"Oh yeah," I say, "I guess it's rough being a Muslim these days. People panic really easily."

"Well," he says, "the scriptures say that if you serve God, you're going to be persecuted. The prophets were persecuted. So I don't mind." He smiles. "He knows better than I do. That's why I read the scriptures, so I know what's coming."

Elevator opens, and I say, "As-salaam walaikum," and he replies, "Walaikum as-salaam."

I meant it genuinely, but on the train back downtown to my house I felt a little cheesy about it.

Posted by Mike at 1:13 PM

Jan 5, 05 08:09 AM

I've Been Reading the Upanishads on the F Train.



"It is not outer awareness, It is not inner awareness,
nor is It a suspension of awareness.
It is not knowing, It is not unknowing,
nor is It knowingness itself.
It can neither been seen nor understood.
It cannot be given boundaries.
It is ineffable and beyond thought.
It is indefinable.
It is known only through becoming It.
It is the end of all activity, silent and unchanging,
the supreme good, one without a second.
It is the real Self.
It, above all, should be known."

Mandukya Upanishad

I love that "It" is capitalized, as Christians capitalize "Him".

I read a piece in the Times yesterday about scientists and unprovable beliefs. There were some resentful remarks about the nonexistence of God--which I guess I should take as arguments for the nonexistence of what George Carlin calls "the invisible man that lives in the sky," as opposed to an Eastern/Upanishadic idea of God.

There is an arrogance, a very human arrogance, to that kind of vehement disbelief in things that can't be empirically proven; that there is nothing to existence that can't be comprehended by the human mind. That everything about existence can be massaged into data. I believe that there is something, or there are some things, about the universe that are just too big for the human mind to wrap itself around.

(There's the old Alan Watts argument for God--you can't prove the existence of God just as you can't prove the existence of love. You feel it.)

A central component of my spiritual life is that I don't force myself to be beholden to what I believed God was yesterday. It's pretty difficult! I want something to hold onto. But sometimes I think of it as the spirit of humanity, or the nature of Nature, or of music; sometimes it's just whatever that huge knowledge is, that thing which is too huge for the human brain to understand.

Sometimes--in hours of extreme trouble--I do believe in the invisible man in the sky.

Posted by Mike at 8:09 AM

Jan 4, 05 09:18 AM

Ego = Liver.


According to my guru, David Johansen.


"Your ego is like your liver," he said. "We evolved with egos because we need them to survive. The problem is once you start letting your ego run the joint. It's like letting your spleen be in charge."

Posted by Mike at 9:18 AM

Jan 3, 05 11:03 AM

The High School Nights of Steve.


There was a guy who went to my high school a couple years before me named Steve.


Steve was this huge, hulking guy, but low-voiced and very gentle. They called him "the human tripod" because the A/V club couldn't afford them, and yet the shots in Sam Saldivar's 11th grade opus The Day The Earth Turned Vertical were impeccably steady.

Steve lived in Garrison, NY, which was across the river from our high school. There were four towns feeding our high school's student body; West Point, where I lived, was generally the obsessively high-achieving, secretly-haunted kids of Army officers. Highland Falls and Fort Montgomery were, respectively, lower-middle and working-class towns characterized by extreme resentment at living in West Point's shadow.

Garrison was where the rich kids lived. On that side of the river--the East--was the commuter train to New York, Grand Central Station. This was an extreme demarcation--the West side of the Hudson is forever the thrift side for lack of of this pipeline. Garrison kids tended to wear clothes bought at Canal Jean in the city, had excellent multicolored Vans shoes, and good cars.

Steve's dad was a famous artist. But Steve was humbler by nature. While his dad was travelling the globe being celebrated, Steve mostly lived by himself through high school. He had an autoharp. Matt Saldivar--Sam's younger brother, and my oldest friend--I literally went to preschool with him--told me that Steve would sit in his empty house at night, playing an autoharp.

Steve's still around--in fact, my whole high school crew is still loosely confederated, is that not weird? One friend has kids and runs a major recording studio, another is a struggling actor of awesome talent, another spent his twenties shuttling to and from the UK until he married his girlfriend, another joined the FBI. Such disparate corners of life to which we all went, and yet when we get together for barbecues it's like no time has passed.

Posted by Mike at 11:03 AM

Jan 1, 05 10:53 AM

I Went to Times Square and Took Pictures of the Cops.


And then I went to the annual non-drinkin'/druggin' dance.


It was a hoot. I haven't gone for a number of years--since my friend Kelly Sue got married and moved to Kansas City, in fact--since then, my potential companions for the non-drinkin'/druggin' dance have been hipster boys prone to skulking by the wall. I like to dance like an idiot and, as Bow Wow Wow have said, Go Ape Crazy.

This year, I found a friend to go with --actually, a non-non-drinkin'-druggin' friend, just tired of boozy so-called festivities this year, who was astounded at the depth and breadth of the non-drinkin'-druggin' subculture--how many of us there are, how young we are, and, most pertinently, the ridiculous joy and abandon on the dance floor. Lots of young ex-ravers freaking out in front of the speakers. We danced until we were literally soaking wet.

Benefits included not having to keep an eye open for scary drunk guys; feeling a spray of liquid, one knew that it was water, not beer, getting splashed; girls not having that fuck-you-get-away affect, as no lone scary drunk guys were there to grind on their asses uninvited.

A delicious irony of the non-drinker-druggers is the joy found in drinking-drugging songs--50's "You know I got the X if you're into takin' drugs!"--et al. Wild enthusiasm ensued on the dance floor. Confusing to my dancing partner but made perfect sense to me. I have nothing against drugs--love 'em, in fact--I just don't do 'em anymore.

We left, I walked her up to the L train, we were both completely drenched. I found a $20 bill on the sidewalk, which I plan to give to the first busker I encounter as a merit-making gesture for 2005. I got a slice at Stromboli's on the walk home; a leggy blonde lurched into the pizza place and unsuccessfully tried to get a Diet Coke. "Nobody in this establishment is drunk enough," she said to me.

"You mean," I said, "nobody that's working here is drunk enough?"

"Yes." She smiled crookedly, flirtily; I guess she thought it went without saying that I was as drunk as she was.

I thought: You're absolutely right; as a matter of fact I don't believe that I've ever been drunk enough.

I passed misfortunate girls as I made my way home. One squatting between cars on First Avenue, in a nice dress and heels, puking. Another passed out cold on a bench in a bus shelter, ministered to by friends stroking her hair. She was shoeless, for some reason, and the bottoms of her feet marked up with pavement dirt.


Posted by Mike at 10:53 AM



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