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Jul 29, 05 10:45 AM

The People-Who-Are-Summering.

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A strange and fun gig in the Hamptons, at a very groovy, vibey old joint called the Stephen Talkhouse.

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We drove way the fuck out to the near-tip of the south fork of Long Island to play a gig at this odd, homey joint called the Stephen Talkhouse. The cover charge was the most spendy of my entire solo career--$20!!--and they paid us a busload of dough for a gig there couldn't have been more than 80 people at.

$20 was pretty cheap, too. Joan Osbourne and the New York Dolls were $100 tix, and $125 VIP tix. What the hell VIP means in a bar smaller than the Mercury Lounge I couldn't tell you.

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Fun show, though. A clique of that certain variety of sexy, well-dressed normal girls--the kind you see on Sixth Avenue, heading back from their lunch breaks to jobs as assistant-something-or-other--were drinking and got up to dance wildly. Just maybe six or eight of them, all shimmying in the front. There were a couple grey-haired rich dudes, very coiffed, in pennyloafers without socks and pastel shirts, escorting their younger wives. Or perhaps concubines.

We left the stage and went upstairs to the dressing room. We were sitting there all sweaty when two 29-ish, well-tanned, well-groomed blonde girls with gigantic rocks on their left ring fingers came stomping up the stairs, hooting and flattering. They offered to take us to the beach and smoke us up. We declined politely.

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Posted by Mike at 10:45 AM

Jul 28, 05 10:11 AM

...

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Something very bleak and horrible.

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A guy walks up to me after the Hoboken show last night, and says, "Hey, I saw you thanked ______ on the liner notes for your first album. I'm her brother."

Wow! _______?! We dated when we were in school together.

"Yeah, I know."

That's crazy. Where is she these days?

"Well....she's not anywhere."

A sinking feeling.

He told me that she committed suicide about ten years ago--around the time that album with her name in the liner notes was released. She shot herself in the heart. She was a sweet, slender girl with some eating disorder struggles; she was deeply involved in anti-1991-Gulf-War activism, and our relationship was brief, because as I was out doing open mics and trying to get gigs, she was doing mass mailings and rallies.

So I'm feeling this crazy stunned grief. It feels almost illegitimate, to grieve somebody ten years after their passing. Like I should've been dealing with her ghost a long time ago. We weren't incredibly close. Still. Scary, stunning, and this huge empty feeling that I feel guilty for not feeling a long time ago.

Posted by Mike at 10:11 AM

Jul 27, 05 10:50 AM

Rock the Bokey.

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We did good in Hoboken--aka "The Bokey"--last night.

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Ah, Maxwells. A club I've been playing for years. Todd, the booker, used to do garage rock and punk rock shows on Wednesday night at the Knitting Factory when I was the doorman there. Karl, the bartender, used to work at Warner Bros., when I was signed there.

I wore flipflops to the gig. On purpose. I thought that in this blog entry, I might be all like, "Oh, jeez, I was just wearing flipflops around NY and minding my own bidness, and suddenly there I was onstage in flipflops." But no. I did it on purpose. They had just replaced the carpet on the stage, so mid-gig I actually took my flipflops off and did the gig barefoot. Scandalous! An absolute first for me.

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Posted by Mike at 10:50 AM

Jul 26, 05 12:41 PM

More Pixx of the Boston Gig.

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Posted by Mike at 12:41 PM

A Placard of Fantastically Curvy Girls on the Wall of the F Train Station.

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I have become hypnotized by these omnipresent posters of the ridiculously hot and curvy Dove soap ladies. Those two on the far right in particular, holy fuck. I can't help myself. It's the heat.

How infuriating that they call it "The Campaign for Real Beauty," as if they were some sort of softspoken feminist organization, rather than trying to sell soap. Nonetheless. HOTNESS.

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Posted by Mike at 10:11 AM

Jul 25, 05 10:46 AM

Live Fotos Ganked from a Fan.

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These pix of the show at The Call in Providence, RI, were ganked from the famous Alex R. Mayer: armwriting.com

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To my surprise and delight, the hit of the gigs has been Face Calls, the Zorn-style improv game that we play. We do a couple of 'em as segues right out of tunes, and then we've been opening the encores with a Face Calls in which I play vocal snippets on the sampler--something I haven't done in years.

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Posted by Mike at 10:46 AM

Paneering the Band.

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Scenes from the touring life.

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Sure, we play music, blah dee blah blah, but really our thing as a band is eating. Above is our post-XPN-fest cheesesteak excursion. And yesterday, we went out to Jackson Heights, Queens, and ate at the mother of all Indian Buffets, Delhi Palace.

The post-Delhi-Palace state of slightly queasy bliss is referred to as being "paneered." Get paneered!

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The Philly XPN gig was located in a park across the river from the city. Surreally, there was a battleship parked right behind the amphitheater.

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Posted by Mike at 10:43 AM

The Video Kids and I.

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This pic of the awesome kids that played ring-around-the-rosie over me in the video courtesy of Marina and Sydney's mom, Angela Gulizio.

Posted by Mike at 10:21 AM

Jul 24, 05 12:35 PM

Boston Copley Square Gig Vignette #1.

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Listener William Horne sent me these pics of mindblowing dancers that rocked as we played the outdoor show.

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A few high-school-aged girls were milling about to the left of the stage as we played. A couple started dancing. Then they began to dance IN UNISON. They were jawdroppingly good. Then the boys they were with came up and starting doing their own routines--BACKFLIPS! They would trade off, boys vs. girls, then together, then solo dancers, and so forth.

We all watched from the stage with our mouths hanging open. Pete McNeal (the man of feel, the admiral of the fabulous) called a Face Calls from behind the drums--an extremely intense and rhythmic Face Calls. "This is for you guys!" he yelled to the dancers.

I don't know who they were; buskers? Passersby? But they were amazing. There were dudes videotaping; I hope they put it up on the web so people can see it. It made a very hip gig into a crazy feverish rocking gig.

Posted by Mike at 12:35 PM

Boston Copley Square Gig Vignette #2.

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This very hyped-up homeless guy stood in the front row, just freaking out to the band playing. He kept trying to hug the dudes standing next to him. Between songs, he would yell "AC/DC!!" or yelp the riff to "Smoke on the Water": Bamp bamp BAAAAH! Bamp Bamp BAH-NAAAH!"

This pic courtesy of my MySpace friend Dali!

Posted by Mike at 12:29 PM

Jul 20, 05 08:30 AM

The High Line.

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We did a long rehearsal at a studio near 10th Ave, and the High Line--disused elevated train tracks that used to haul cargo from the piers to the West side warehouses, and are now covered with weeds and tall grasses. During the dinner break, waiting for the Thai food to arrive, we all went outside and squinted up at the High Line, trying to figure out a way to get up there--shimmy up that girder there? Use hedge clippers to cut the fence there? Make friends with the owner of the auto body shop and see if there's stairs to his roof? Jump up onto that fire escape and climb over, being mindful of the barbed wire?

Posted by Mike at 8:30 AM

Jul 19, 05 08:59 AM

So I've Got a New E.P. Up on iTunes.

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Yeah, it's called The Gambler EP, it's got Magnetic Fields, Kenny Rogers, and Neutral Milk Hotel covers on it, two of my fave tunes I wrote for Soul Coughing, one of which I played to the people standing in line outside my gig in Seattle in May.

And, naturally, I've misplaced my copies of all these recordings, and thus had to go onto iTunes and pay $5.94 to get them. Sigh.

Posted by Mike at 8:59 AM

We Play!

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Rehearsing for the upcoming shows, and it's really exciting.

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Being with these guys makes me really happy. We spend a lot of time in the rehearsal room playing this jamming/improvisation game I wrote called Face Calls, sort of an iteration of John Zorn's game pieces. It's a blast.

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Posted by Mike at 8:48 AM

We Eat!

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After rehearsal, Pete and Scrap and I drove out to DiFara's in Midwood, Brooklyn.

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Yeah, my inner fat man won last night. It was paradise rendered in cheese.

We ordered too much, and as we drove through Williamsburg, we realized that we were right near Handsome Dan's place, so we called him and told him that we were parked on his corner with DiFara leftovers for him. He came out of his building running.

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Posted by Mike at 8:42 AM

Jul 18, 05 09:10 AM

DEEP ROY!

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I saw the Burton/Depp Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last night, and I adored it. So. Great. The best part is that all the Oompa-Loompas are played--and played in an awesomely hilarious deadpan--by the same actor, whose name is Deep Roy. Deep Roy!

Posted by Mike at 9:10 AM

Le Rap? Les Anglaises?

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British peeps: do you refer to the rapper as Jay-ZEE or Jay-ZED?

Posted by Mike at 9:08 AM

Jul 16, 05 06:54 PM

A Guy Named Atom Sent Me this Remix of 'Starbucks' That He Did.

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Check out this awesomeness.

Posted by Mike at 6:54 PM

We Rocked the Block Party in Minneapolis.

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This gig was huge.

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Oh, it was fun. Scrap and I flew in from New York, and Cee-Huck from L.A., and we played this Block Party thing, and there were fried cheese curds, and we hung out with Ben Lee:

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(directly above is Ben woodshedding harmonies with his band in the artists' trailer)

It was really fun. Chuck and I went out to a bar with some friends post-gig, and as we sat there chatting, the Last Call With Carson Daly performance came on. The sound was off; we sat there watching it as the closed-captioned lyrics scrolled by. Well, at least we looked OK. Nobody in the bar noticed.

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Scrap and I went to the Cinnabon in the airport as we waited for our flight; it was staffed by Ethiopians, who bugged out that I had a tattoo in Amharic on my arm.


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Posted by Mike at 6:50 PM

Chuck (Or, As Andrew Calls Him, Cee-Huck) Was Overjoyed to Have Found This Beer Called GRAIN BELT, a Staple of his Wisconsinite Youth.

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Posted by Mike at 6:39 PM

Jul 13, 05 09:02 PM

Exit the Shrinks.

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I'm cramming appointments with my shrink before I head out on tour again. August, when I get back, is the traditional shrinks' vacation time. It's like Ramadan for all the neurotic artists in New York.

Posted by Mike at 9:02 PM

A Plea for Noises.

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I just bought a new sampler, and I'm loading it up with weird sounds to use during shows. Does anybody have sound effects CDs that they'd be willing to burn for me? Email me please. Link's in the left column.

Posted by Mike at 8:59 PM

Jul 11, 05 08:13 PM

Ikea: The Happiest Place On Earth.

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I took the Free Ikea Bus from the Port Authority to get a table and a chair. Everytime I go there I resolve to come back on the free bus some weekend for the sole purpose of eating the amazing Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce from the Ikea cafeteria, and watching the planes take off from Newark airport, which is directly across the street.

Posted by Mike at 8:13 PM

Jul 9, 05 10:11 AM

Scrap and Handsome Dan in the Halls of NBC.

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We taped Last Call with Carson Daly last night--I think it airs next Friday, the 15th.

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I get a perverse satisfaction from turning down the limo that NBC provides, but rather taking the F train to Rockefeller Center. I did the same thing when we did Letterman a couple weeks ago. I don't know why. I get a little jittery doing TV, maybe taking my routine public transport makes me feel a little more on a normal plane. I'm no self-abnegating indie rocker, I'll take luxury when it's on offer. Usually.

The show tapes in a studio on the same floor as SNL; we were hanging out in those hallways that always appear on the show when, like, Hillary Swank or Alec Baldwin walks offstage mid-monologue to talk to Lorne Michaels. That was quite trippy. And they put us in a dressing room among the cast dressing rooms, down the hall from Rachel Dratch and Kenan Thompson. I wandered around looking for Maya Rudolph's dressing room--huge crush on Maya Rudolph--until I looked at the little plaque on the door, and realized that they had actually put us in Maya Rudolph's dressing room.

It was just a drab, institutional old dressing room with tattered carpet and a ratty grey couch. The only hints that she might've been there were VHS tapes marked "Next Top Model" and "Diana Ross"--both characters she does on the show, were these study guides?

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Our drummer, Pete McNeal, the Man of Feel, the Broth Cop, was unable to fly to NY from LA, so we did it stripped down, just Dan and Andrew and I. Sounded good, especially "Starbucks." There was a cute Latina-looking girl wearing a grey top in the front row when we played; when I got back to the dressing room, Chuck and John B. from ATO went, "So who was the girl in the front row?!" You saw the front row? "No, but we were watching you on the monitors and you so obviously gave somebody the look."

I have a "the look" look? Sigh. I spose I do. I went down into the SNL hallway to wander nonchalantly as the audience filed out, in the hopes of bumping into the cute Latina girl in the grey top, but all I found was a dude handing out free t-shirts promoting Vivica A. Fox's new Lifetime movie.

We packed up the gear and went far far out to Midwood, Brooklyn, where we did a little post-taping get-together at DiFara's, which is--and I loathe hyperbole, so this is saying something--the best pizza I've ever had, and ditto for Dan, Andrew, and Chuck, their girlfriends, and Andrew's friend Jason and daughter Larry. The pizza is made by this shuffling, sweet old guy named Dominic, who's been there a thousand years. He grows his own basil in the shop's windowsill, and removes the hot pizza--cheese bubbling like lava!--from the oven with his bare hands.

We neglected to invite Carson, who was a very, very nice and genuine guy. I thought he'd decline, but then again, we exchanged email addresses, and I emailed him when I got home to thank him for having us, and he emailed back thirty seconds later. So perhaps he wasn't busy that evening.

Nor did we invite Vivica A. Fox, whom I did not meet, but saw striding imperiously through the SNL corridor as I munched on an oatmeal raisin cookie from the buffet in the dressing room.

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Posted by Mike at 10:11 AM

Jul 8, 05 09:08 AM

And So, at this Uneasy Time in this Scary World, I Will Be Spending the Day Taping 'Carson Daly.'

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Posted by Mike at 9:08 AM

Jul 7, 05 10:04 AM

...

I never turn on the TV in the morning--I just heard the news from London, so disturbing and scary. I lived in London for a while, love it there, love the people. Praying for them. (is it stupid for me to feel obligated to blog about this? Does it not go without saying? Is it just a dumb semi-celebrity illusion that I'm required to comment?) The entry below that I just posted couldn't look stupider, that ghastly lame September 10th feeling. I know those tube stations well. Emailing my exgirlfriend to make sure she's OK. Londoners reading, we in New York know how it feels and we're praying for you.

11 AM: Edgware Road was my old tube stop so I'm doubly frightened now.

Posted by Mike at 10:04 AM

Angelina Jolie: My Secret Admirer?

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Uncanny.

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It's been a long-running joke with friends that Ms. Jolie's fascination with Cambodia--years ago she adopted a Cambodian child and promptly gave him a mohawk, which looks rather awesome on a toddler--signaled our compatibility. I love Cambodia, and hope to get there for my third visit later in 2005.

Now she's adopted an Ethiopian child. What, is this woman obsessed with me? This is getting very "If you like Pińa Coladas and getting caught in the rain."

The next time I'm on late night TV I plan to wear a shirt that exposes my tattoos in Khmer and Amharic--the Cambodian and Ethiopian languages, respectively--and hope that Angelina's a night owl and channel-surfer.

Posted by Mike at 9:56 AM

Jul 6, 05 10:47 AM

I've Become Obsessed with Moving to the Pacific Northwest--Maybe Seattle?--Maybe The PDX?

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Posted by Mike at 10:47 AM

Jul 5, 05 10:37 AM

Fire/Works.

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Posted by Mike at 10:37 AM

Jul 4, 05 09:55 AM

Citizen Mike.

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This is an embarrassing admission.

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I have the credit history of an ex-drug user. Meaning: I have no credit history. I was too busy getting fucked up, so I never got around to it. Since I first got a record deal, I've always used my manager's AmEx to buy plane tickets and stuff like that, but secretly I've been a blank page as far at the financial world's concerned. A thirty-five year old man with no credit.

That is: until now. I got a secured credit card about a year ago, on the encouragement of Rich from Galactic. "This is America," he said. "They want you to have credit." I did my 12-month bid as a pretend-credit consumer, and then decided to take the plunge. I sent in one of those credit card application YOU'RE ALREADY APPROVED! packets my mailbox always mocks me with, and promptly forgot about it. But on Friday, I got an envelope with an actual credit card in it.

So I took Scrap and his wife and daughter Larry (yes, Larry) and their friend Sara Champagne out for lime rickeys and a peanut-butter-bomb at Teany, and paid with my brand new Chase-endorsed piece of plastic. And here, today, on the Fourth of July, I'm here to tell you: I'm in debt! For $54.54, to be exact. Now I'm an American for real.

Posted by Mike at 9:55 AM

El Ocho.

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I watched a brief snippet of the Live 8 shows backstage in Burlington, VT.

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Somebody ran through the dressing rooms yelling, Pink Floyd! Pink Floyd!; me and Scrap and everybody in Ray LaMontagne's band crammed into the narrow office of the Higher Ground to watch them. During "Comfortably Numb," they cut to Aamer Haleem and some other VH1 personality:

"That's Pink Floyd onstage behind us!"

"Yeah, it's the historic reunion of Pink Floyd!"

"They're playing 'Comfortably Numb' right now!"

"Yep, that's right, Pink Floyd, they're playing at this exact very moment!"

"Yeah, Pink Floyd, they sound amazing!"

And we all yelled: Aaaauugghhhh!

Posted by Mike at 9:47 AM
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