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Apr 25, 06 09:13 AM

Endorsement of Tori.

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Everything I've read about So NoTORIous references the phrase "Donna Martin graduates." So I won't do that.

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My first attempt at blogging--before the word was invented--was a weekly thing I called Peach Pit Babylon, a response journal to 90210, that I wrote--it seems quaint now--on a Soul Coughing message board on AOL.

About my campy devotion to 90210, the record producer (and former head of A&R for Columbia and Reprise) shrugged and said, "Everybody needs church."

I really hope Tori Spelling's new show catches on. It's good. It's funny. She still looks weird.

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Posted by Mike at 9:13 AM

Apr 24, 06 06:39 PM

Poetic Self-Diagnosis at the Health Food Store.

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I went to get some Valerian root, and found a bottle self-proclaimed to soothe "mild to moderate despondency."

Posted by Mike at 6:39 PM

Squinty/Rainy.

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I spent yesterday in Rhode Island with Chuck the Legend and Scrap aka the Scriggity.

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The show at U.R.I. was sposed to be an outdoorfest, but it rained like fuck and we were driven indoors. The very kind U.R.I. peeps were apologetic, but it didn't matter to us; Scrap and I had fun.

I feel like I'm on a roll; sometimes I get to this place onstage where I can really focus on either the singing, or a component of the guitar playing--the fretting hand or the strumming hand. Like it's going on without my conscious participation, and I'm just in there being an observer. Like: BE the hand. BE the strum. BE the chord.

I know: I'm a fucking hippie. Right?

But there was great embarrassment as well. I've been wearing glasses onstage recently, and they alway slip down my nose, old-lady-style, when I sweat. My friend Dawn in Indianapolis is an optician, so I asked her what I could do; she had the novel idea of dabbing a little antiperspirant on my nose. It worked brilliantly!

Except: I also dabbed a little on my forehead. And halfway through the show it started dripping into my eyes, and it HURT. Oh man.

I made a joke onstage that I was stoned. When I got offstage and looked at myself in the mirror, I realized that I DID look stoned. REALLY stoned. Like, my eyes were red slits.

I was walking around the theater, and all the kids hanging out were giving me these conspiratorial grins like, Yeah! Allright! You are FUCKING STONED.

One guy asked me if I had any weed. Then he asked me if I was 43 years old. Sigh.

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Posted by Mike at 3:12 PM

Credit: What It Truly Means To Be an American.

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Cautioning myself.

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I didn't have credit until really late in life. Right when Soul Coughing became a major label band, I was 24, and some manager or other was always co-signing an AmEx or something. Then evenually I was just too stoned to bother.

Now I have credit; I am officially an entity in the eyes of Experian. (it's kind of bizarre to do a credit check on yourself and be told you basically don't exist) I'm calling up my credit card companies to get modest increases (MODEST, I tell you) for expenses incurred in moving to Brooklyn. I must keep reminding myself: THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU GET FREE MONEY. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU GET FREE MONEY. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU GET FREE MONEY.

What luxury problems we have in America. When I was in Africa, I gave my camera away to this guy named Menges, who could support his entire family by taking wedding pictures with it. His rent, on a small room in a sort of multi-family compound in the suburbs of Asmara, is $5 a month. He and his three kids--and other on the way--live in that one room. Fucking hell, we all should thank God for our credit card debt.

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Posted by Mike at 3:07 PM

Apr 23, 06 03:04 PM

Do Yourself A SuperSolid.

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Download Regina Spektor's new song "Fidelity."

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Man, I'd love to tour with her.

Although we did a show together at Maxwell's in Hoboken; she did it solo piano, and the crowd wouldn't pipe down.

Posted by Mike at 3:04 PM

Reunited, and It Feels So Good.

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The prodigal pianist Handsome Dan Chen joins Scrap and I onstage in Jersey.

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We played in Teaneck last night, and what a show. The Jersey crowd was awesome, yelling along with "Madeline," "Tremendous Brunettes," "Looking at the World," and joyously singing the backup parts on "I Hear the Bells." it made me so happy that I made Haughty Melodic.

We had the splendid singer songwriter Nicole Atkins--I highly recommend you listen: myspace.com/nicoleatkins--who, besides being blessed with a gorgeous, gritty voice (which Scrap found to have uncanny traces of Siouxsie), is also the lucky girl who stole Handsome Dan Chen away from Scrap and I.

So Scrap and I persuaded Dan to join us for a bunch of the old numbers, and it rocked like fuck. We love Dan.

During their set, Nicole repeatedly called him Handsome Dan, which made me proud that the nickname stuck, but apparently Nicole otherwise uses a new nickname, which is Cashmere. To be said always in a whisper: Casssssshmeeeerrrrrre. Nice.

Also: very fine tacos.

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Posted by Mike at 11:15 AM

Apr 22, 06 01:06 PM

To Paraphrase Matt Dillon in Singles

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"We may be big in Belgium, but tonight--we rock Teaneck."

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Posted by Mike at 1:06 PM

Apr 19, 06 10:53 PM

Scrap Saying of the Day.

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"Dumber than a pair of pants."

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Posted by Mike at 10:53 PM

Weekly Post-Game.

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More or less glad to see Ace go.

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I was pretty certain in my heart that they weren't gonna send Chris home, but it was fucking scary to see him up there next to Ace, who was clearly headed for the chopping block.

The redness of Simon's face, the stunned look, was phenomenal. Because I think he realized that his advice to Chris to switch it up almost got Chris axed. My theory is that everybody thinks he's gonna win. Ultimately Simon's an A&R guy, and nearly losing a star must have scared the bejesus out of him.

I love Taylor, but I think Chris will take the big prize. Hopefully Kellie Pickler won't get 2nd. Loathe her, loathe loathe loathe, and yes I do feel bad that her Dad's in jail.

Taylor handled the pick-the-winners thing with aplomb. Looked scared and shocked when the task at hand was revealed, but he played gracefully (and unapologetically, which was smart) for the camera when he had to pick.

Although I wondered if he was smart, and turned around when it became clear that he picked wrong. I don't put it past him. Smart dude.

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Posted by Mike at 9:47 PM

Apr 18, 06 09:44 AM

Bammy!

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Scrap, Chuck, and I go to Mobile.

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I've been playing the eat-less game for a few weeks, and have skinny-ized considerably, but this was the first time I'd been with the fellaz out of town for a while, so we killed it. We went to a Ruth's Chris (the most surreally difficult-to-enunciate restaurant name) and ate massive hunks of beef, as well as two different kinds of potato bathed in cheese. Also, broccoli bathed in cheese, and broccoli is green, right? Right?

Cute vegan girls, please disregard the above.

Mobile's a vibey old town. I spent a year living in Pensacola, FL in the mid-90s--Soul Coughing's beloved tour manager Gus lived there, and I needed an antidote to a rainy year in London filled with romantic upheaval--and my friends there spoke of Mobile like it was a hideous anomaly. My friends in Pensacola were all dissolute punk rockers and zinesters, I guess they feared rampaging fratboys. But as I walked around downtown early in the morning, I found it to be atmospheric; romantic old Southern storefronts, and rickety houses on sidestreets.

I heard a woman behind a screendoor yelling at her grandkids. "Your Mama needs to get a job!" Said hello to dudes incongruously hanging out on streetcorners at 7 am on Easter Sunday. The smarter classes of Mobilians have long since decamped to the suburbs--presumably--leaving behind one of my favorite American phenomenons; a slightly crumbly throwback urban center. That vibe that the Japanese call wabi-sabi (if indeed I'm understanding the term correctly).

Gig was OK. Scrap and I woodshedded a lot for it--I felt we were a little spazzy on our Indianapolis gig a couple weeks earlier--but I would have been happier if it was a second gig, not a first, and we were a little more settled in the pocket. A lovely day out there in the Alabama woods though--a fairground with people sprawled out on lawnchairs.

A stage tech guy was wearing a Taylor Hicks t-shirt. An original one, as the dude's from Alabama. A woman who worked for the promoter had a big box of original SOUL PATROL buttons, that he used to give out at club dates! I took a big handful.

Scrap and I have flown to Minneapolis, to do some preproduction on a new record; Dan Wilson didn't know what the SOUL PATROL button on my shirt meant, except he recognized that a guy in an SNL sketch (he didn't know that they were parodying Taylor, or indeed who Taylor is at all) was shouting SOUL PATROL! superfluously.

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Posted by Mike at 9:44 AM

Apr 14, 06 01:44 PM

I'm a Brooklynite Again.

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Just signed a lease! Yeah!

Posted by Mike at 1:44 PM

Apr 13, 06 04:57 PM

I Am Not One to Gloat.

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Yeah.

Posted by Mike at 4:57 PM

Apr 11, 06 09:03 PM

Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go. Bucky Must Go.

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Paris was the only one worth a damn tonight.

Posted by Mike at 9:03 PM

Internet Monument to Drunks.

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My girlfriend appeared on LastNightsParty.

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I feel kind of oddly honored-by-proxy. She wasn't naked, but caught mid-dance with a surprised look as the flash went off in her face. Her roommate apparently was coaxed into the bathroom for one of the topless shots that the site is famous for. It doesn't appear on the site. Which is a relief to me: Hey Honey, I saw your roommate's titties on the web! No. Awkward.

Have you ever seen the guy whose site it is? Merlin Bronques? A thin black man of indeterminate sexuality, wearing tinted glasses and a blonde Prince Valiant wig. I saw him at the Sub Pop party at the Sundance Festival and was half-star-struck.

Handsome Dan Chen once got into trouble with his beloved because he was jokingly biting the shoulder of a female bandmate and Merlin snapped it.

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Posted by Mike at 10:51 AM

Relative Currency of the Famous.

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I saw Chuck Norris at the airport once.

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It was in L.A in the mid-90s. Chuck Norris was wearing aviator sunglasses and a sort of leather trenchcoat. He was with an L.A. blonde also wearing aviator sunglasses and a leather trenchcoat. The skycaps were very happy to see him. He gave them a crisp little salute-wave.

At the time, I thought: What a boring celebrity sighting. Now, Chuck Norris is the hippest with the children; I was struck by this when I saw an ad for Chuck Norris t-shirts on MySpace, depicting the man in mid-flying-kick.

I saw Liz Phair in an airport once and she recognized me.

I saw Gilbert Gottfried in an airport and I think I was the only guy who knew who he was. He wandered away from the gate, and the stewardess started calling, "United Passenger Gottfried, please come to the desk at gate B27." I looked around for him, hoping I could be the guy who said, Excuse me, Gilbert? You got your upgrade.

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Posted by Mike at 8:43 AM

Apr 10, 06 09:01 AM

The Horny Mormon Show.

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Let's dispense with politesse and start calling HBO's Big Love--a show that fascinates me--by what should have been its real name: The Horny Mormon Show.

Posted by Mike at 9:01 AM

Apr 9, 06 11:56 AM

What Could Be More Boring than Blogging Your Dreams?

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OK, yes, but I can't resist.

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Last night I dreamed I was on a cruise ship, smoking crack with Loni Anderson.

Posted by Mike at 11:56 AM

Mason Televised.

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My brother in arms Mason Jennings on television this morning.

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When I'm up on Sundays, I watch CBS News Sunday Morning, which I like to call Old White Dude Television. The ads are for commmunications conglomerates clearly promoting their stock to the old white dudes who buy stock, and for golf gear. The host wears a bow tie and pronounces 2006 "twenty oh six" rather than two thousand six.

There was a thing about singer-songwriters on there, and I was all prepared to get bitter about not being featured next to Jenny Lewis and Rhett Miller, when who should show up onscreen but my homey Mason Jennings. Genius guy, great artist.

Literally I shot up my arm in a devil-horn salute and said YEAH! when he unexpectedly appeared onscreen.

There was also a piece about the renewed popularity of meditation, which was a fine coincidence, as it was Mason that helped me get into meditating. And along the same lines, apparently Mason's new single is called "Be Here Now."

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Posted by Mike at 10:49 AM

Parade of the Mitzvah Tanks.

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Like an army of Judaic salvation.

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The Hasidim--for those in the Midwest, that bearded Jewish sect where the men are clad in all black, looking like they walked out of the 18th century, and the women all wear wigs--are out looking for converts. They've long had these "Mitzvah Tanks", which are RVs with the emblazoned slogan MOSHIACH IS COMING! Guys stand outside with fliers, asking passersby, "Excuse me sir, are you Jewish?"

(Moshiach = the Messiah. Mitzvah = blessing)

I read something on some blog somewhere about a giant convoy of Mitzvah Tanks in SoHo. Last night, I heard jaunty music blasting outside my window, on Allen Street--a big artery street onto which a great honking volume of traffic coming off the Williamsburg Bridge flows. I hear a lot of Reggaeton blasting out of cars down there, heading uptown. So this was unusual.

I looked out the window and saw a parade of Mitzvah Tanks, lined up behind each other, cruising up Allen Street, each booming the same upbeat, mildly-klezmerish tune out of a loudspeakers. It took a long time for the convoy to pass by.

Behind them there was a swarm of honking yellow cabs.

One of the Mitzvah Tanks had a bumper sticker that said TREY IS A JEDI.

Actually, no, of course it didn't. But I saw that on a Ford Focus on Allen Street this morning and thought it was funny.

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Posted by Mike at 10:39 AM

Apr 6, 06 11:17 AM

The Prophet Speaks.

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I got this spam this morning:

From: Prince

Subject: everything you know is wrong

And then, something or other about H0t H0rneee T33nz

Posted by Mike at 11:17 AM

Apr 5, 06 09:34 PM

Who the Hell Are These People That Love Bucky?

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Criminal.

Posted by Mike at 9:34 PM

Cake-A-Thon.

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WFMU does a tribute to Todd Colby.

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WFMU's doing a three hour show--right now!--of people doing versions of the Todd Colby poem "Cake."

Seriously.

My girlfriend and I did a few versions and sent 'em in. I'm actually quite excited to hear myself on WFMU--I don't know if they've ever played me on there before.

If you'd like to hear all 208 versions of "Cake" clicky linky.

I specifically recommend Todd Colby's original version of "Cake," this Spanish version of "Cake," called "Torta", three-year-old Irving Sendra's version of "Cake," and this mash-up of Todd Colby and the Who.

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Posted by Mike at 3:52 PM

As I Try to Make the Rock.

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Trying to rock by example.

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Been sleeping poorly. I don't know if it's too much coffee at night, or obsession with work, but in any case, I've been running my own tunes over and over in my head as I toss and turn in the sack. Pruning a lyric here and there, occasionally having to interrupt the hypogogic state by scribbling a phrase down.

Daniel Johnston's guileless, lit-up style has been haunting me lately. I lay awake, thinking: How do I write a lyric like this?

CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST from Yip!/Jump Music.

He was smiling through his own personal hell
Dropped his last dime down a wishing well
But he was hoping too close
And then he fell
Now hes Casper the friendly ghost

He was always polite to the people whod tell him
That he was nothing but a lazy bum
But goodbye to them he had to go
Now hes Casper the friendly ghost

No one never treated him nice
While he was alive
You cant buy no respect
Like the librarian said
But everybody respects the dead
They love the friendly ghost

Well never forget
What he learned us
We were mean to him
But he never burnt us

And so the legend grew
And all the people that he knew
Go and spread the news of
Casper the friendly ghost


(He was "hoping too close"--?!)


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Posted by Mike at 3:07 PM

McPhee Reconsidered.

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OK, maybe rethinking her a little.

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There's a questionaire on the Fox site for each contestant--Tiger Beat style--and her answer to "Do you think the audition process was fair?" is: "No, they let go of some really good people and kept people who were pretty."

The other contestants all pretty much hold the party line, yes-of-course-it-was-fair. Perhaps in the interest of their own self-esteem.

I still find her to be the bland bland bland and the terrible awful.

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Posted by Mike at 2:31 PM

Apr 4, 06 09:41 PM

Loathsome McPhee.

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I hate her. I hate her. I hate her.

And now that I've said that, I will likely end up at a dinner party seated next to her.

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And: I bet she might win. Bleh.

Taylor fucked it up with "Country Road" which baffled me--if Toots Hibbert can make that song soulful, can't our brother Mr. Hicks? What I love about the man is that he plays it straight--avoiding those tiresome vocal runs that the youngsters are always doing. The first week I haven't voted for the man.

"Country Road" was my first favorite song. At age 4, I owned the cassette of John Denver's Greatest Hits and listened to it in the family Oldsmobile, ear pressed to a tape recorder. So double my disappointment.

Chris the Rock Guy--dug him. Dug him big. Very real, owned the tune. Three votes from me for Chris the Rock Guy.

Paris--dug her. Dug her almost as big. Again: inhabited the tune. Voted twice for her.

Bucky: also loathsome. Fucked up his tune on country night! HA!

What's up with none of the girls doing Patsy Cline? Who couldn't nail a Patsy Cline tune? Big notes (suitable for those wretched runs) and everything.

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Posted by Mike at 9:41 PM

The Usual Speculative Hooey About Who's-Really-the-Crazy-Man-Here.

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I saw--and highly recommend--The Devil and Daniel Johnston

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Daniel Johnston (official-ish fan site here) is this incredibly compelling outsider artist and songwriter that was sort of the pet naif of the late-80s indie rock world. His recordings are these primitive documents taped on cheap tape decks, staticky and strange, in the garages and basements of relatives. He dubbbed them onto cheap cassettes and passed them around--often to customers at his job at a McDonald's in Austin, TX.

My interest in him was recently revived when Mike McGonigal showed me an old VHS tape of Daniel singing "Don't Play Cards with Satan," this sublimely ridiculous and very sincere-seeming folk-art-gospel tune; Daniel weeps, and then gets weepier and more anguished as the tune goes on. It's just wrenching. Then he hits the final chord, and, on a dime, picks up a copy of his album and holds it up to the camera with a smile on his face.

After seeing the movie, I downloaded three albums--More Songs of Pain, Yip!/Jump Music, and Hi How Are You?--and I'm loving them. The guy knows from composition--really well-built tunes--but the over-the-top oddness and sincerity, and the lo-fi production, turn them into these haunting documents. It's the closest anything modern comes to the terrifying oddness of the Anthology of American Folk Music.

Listening makes me want to throw all my gear away but a cheap guitar and a hand held recorder, and make all my albums messily, with the TV blaring in the background.

What's fascinating about Daniel, and about primitivists and folk artists in general, is the degree of awareness in their art. Daniel would skip his medication in preparation for gigs, so he'd be crazier for them.

My personal observation is that suffering doesn't improve my music in the present tense. Now, in this happier life, I'm still drawing on the suffering in the past. Without that suffering of my past, would I need to make music? Isn't it dangerous to romanticize pain, addiction, depression? What price? Death? Or the debilatated life that Daniel leads--obese, struggling to keep a grip on his consciousness, living in his parents' basement?

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Posted by Mike at 11:25 AM

Apr 2, 06 10:49 AM

Of and By the People.

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Am I running for the New York State legislature? No, I'm not. That was Mike Doughty HQ's annual April Fool's joke. All hail the genius of HQ.

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Posted by Mike at 10:49 AM

Apr 1, 06 10:40 AM

The Bad Neighbor.

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So after yesterday's blog about morning rock, the guy in the apartment next door knocks on my door in his pajamas, asking me to pipe down. Sure, you're a Mike Doughty fan, but would you be into hearing me yelping the same two or three phrases endlessly at 10 am on a Saturday?

Posted by Mike at 10:40 AM
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