Sunday, February 27, 2011


No More Rain

What's the matter?

"I expect incompetence. I mean, that's part of the package. They're always incompetent."

Not always, but okay...

"But I don't expect stupidity."

No, you expect them to be smart. That's why they're running the company.

"Exactly. Although they don't actually run it..."

Which is where the incompetence comes in.


"But today. Today they did something. Something stupid."

Sure, but they've done stupid things before.

"Lots. Lots and lots. But this is different."


"Much stupider. And arrogantly stupider. It's like they're trying to destroy the company.

But it's their company. Why would they want to destroy it?

"Because. They're. Too. Fucking. Stupid. To. Know. How stupid and incompetent they are."

Oh. Right.

"And even if they knew, they wouldn't care."

Because they're stupid.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

The 8-Minute Story

A Spectre's Haunting Albert Street (Not exactly music, but...)

(This is going to be a bit vague -- sorry.)

A while back, I was driving and listening to the radio.

A woman came on as a guest on a talk show. It's a woman you might know -- and if you think she's a bit of a ditz, I wouldn't disagree.

But she had this amazing story to tell. A story about personal history, bravery, redemption, and secrets. All true. And all something she realized very late, but happily just in time.

The story resonated deeply with me. It was so powerful that I had to pull over to the side of the road to listen. And by the end I was shaking and sobbing.

And she had written a book. About the story.

So I thought that if the story could move me like that, the entire book must be 100 times as moving.

And then yesterday I got the book.

And it's... well... to be blunt, horrible.

The story is in there. And the parts that were moving on the radio are still stark and amazing.

But the writing is awful. The woman keeps inserting herself and making the story more melodramatic instead of trusting the power of the events. What was simple in 8 minutes over the air becomes clunky and cliched over the course of 300-and-some pages.

And I finished the book quickly and felt puzzled and upset.

Because I can't tell how much is the ditzy author's fault... and how much is because some stories really only should be 8 minutes long.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Go Hear, Go Listen

Two Quick Things from the Internetzes

I'm sure they meant it differently back in January, but here's an exuberant blast of power-pop from Badger Staters Locksley:

The song is free, but you can donate to benefit Wisconsin public schools.

And surely this has to be why Al Gore invented the internet:
5 seconds of every billboard #1 from 1955 to 1992 (h/t to Wisconsin's own JB, who tweeted this a while back):
Five Seconds Of Every #1 Pop Single Part 1 by mjs538

Five Seconds Of Every #1 Pop Single Part 2 by mjs538

Monday, February 21, 2011

Or It's Real But It Ain't Exactly There

The heart has got to open in a fundamental way

There's something really important happening. And if you're not paying attention, you'll miss it. And if you're relying on people on TV to tell you, you're not going to get the real story.

And while I'm waiting for Americans to wake up, here's an actual conversation I had a while back.

"This is a great street," said my friend Jeff, who'd just moved into a new house. "The neighborhood is amazing and our neighbors are so cool."

"Yeah," I said, "it looks great."

"Like my next door neighbor is this amazing singer/songwriter. I don't know if you've ever heard of him: Leonard Cohen."

"You mean Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Famer Leonard Cohen?"

"Yeah, that's him. Really great guy. We're having him over for dinner."

At which point, if memory serves, my head exploded.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Michigan Seems Like a Dream to Me Now

It took me four days to hitchchike from Saginaw...

"Don't be sad," Kathy said.

She always talked like that when she didn't want to deal with anyone else's feelings. Which was, pretty much, all the time.

"You never can predict the future," she said.

He nodded. Not wanting to speak. Afraid he'd blurt out "I love yous" that would have no effect.

"It's only for a few months," she said. Even though a few months was longer than they'd been together. Much longer.

He looked at the stones on the sidewalk. Fancy grey stones. Kathy would know what they were called. He never would. He wondered if they'd laugh about this moment decades later -- her gently correcting him as he got the name of the stones wrong every time he told the story.

"I should get going," she said.

And he nodded. Not looking at her. Not trusting himself to make the right decision about whether or not to say anything.

So Kathy hugged him. Impulsively. Because she wasn't a hugger. Not usually. Not even with boyfriends or... whatever it was he'd become over the last 12 days.

And he looked at her briefly. Shocked to see a tear coming out of her left eye. The eye that was just slightly bigger. The eye that made her face just asymmetrical enough to be unforgettable.

And then she was gone. Hundreds, then thousands of miles away.

He replayed the scene dozens of times over the next few hours. He'd been sure that his feelings would embarrass her. But it was her own feelings that were overwhelming.

In the middle of the night, when she was in the great uncharted area west of Chicago, he woke up suddenly from a deep sleep, sensing her wet teardrop on his fingertip, finally saying "don't go."

But by then it was too late. And he knew she was gone.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Sampler

Three Holiday Songs from Billy Bragg

The road stretches on forever. And she sleeps in the front seat.

While you drive.

From time to time, she'll make a noise. And you keep driving.

Your leg cramps and you think of sleep, but you keep going.

There are no other cars on the road.

Okay, one. But that was hours ago.

And it's strange because this is the highway. This is the open road. This is America.

But you drive and drive, occasionally craning your neck to look out at the stars.

There's snow in places. Then there's not. And you try to remember the last exit you saw, the last town you passed.

But you can't.

And after what seems like days, you realize you need to stop.

You need to pee. You need caffeine. You need to rest.

And the long, soulful guitar solo ends.

And the radio fades out on the road. Long and straight.

Darkness with just your headlights to illuminate the way. And just the soft sound of deep breathing inside the car and the occasional thump of the tires passing a seam in the roadway.

When the need to stop outweighs the desire not to disturb her sleep, you turn to her.

But she's not there.

Somewhere on the long, dark road, she left.

And now it doesn't matter if you stop because you're alone.

Somehow. That gives you the jolt you need to keep going.

At least for now.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

So Much Juice You Make the Telephone Ring...

You're A Beacon of Light When the Sun Goes Down

Late at night.

Sitting in a porch in a city I didn't particularly like.

Drinking bad beer with a guy I worked with.

He was lamenting the way the girl he was dating treated him. How she kept him waiting for hours, had no consideration for him, and generally treated him like shit.

"Sounds like you should dump her," I suggested helpfully.

"Nah," he said. "She's got this light in her eyes keeps me coming back."

So we sat there in silence for a bit. And we drank bad beer.

And listened to the radio. And, for some reason I still don't understand, this song came on:

"I need some of that," I said. "I need to meet a woman who's so electric she literally makes the telephone ring. Someone who lights up the universe just be being alive."

And my work buddy stared at me. And took a long drink.

"You do realize that the song is supposed to be sarcastic, don't you?"

And I thought "Oh, fuck. Really?" But all I said was "Of course. I'm not an idiot."

And my work buddy grinned. And I grinned back. And we both started laughing, because we've all been that idiot.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Telling Tales of Drunkenness and Cruelty

The Day After Meeting with the Tax Guy

We met yesterday with our accountant.

If Hogwarts had a tax department, this guy would lead it.

The meeting underscored what I already knew: 2010 was a shitty year financially.

And we're getting a refund.

Which is great.

But it doesn't make up for having a shitty year financially.

It's not that I mind paying taxes.

I'd just like to have more income. Preferably a lot more income.

Then I'd be more than happy to pay more taxes.