Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The End Of The Pier

Blaine was sad. He sat in the sun-drenched breakfast nook of his family's 32-room mansion, an impressive structure with a lawn rolling out to a private beach on the South Shore of Long Island. Imelda had cleared the breakfast dishes; there was nothing left but a few errant waffle crumbs and a pulpy ring from Blaine's orange juice glass. These, too, would soon be gone, wiped from existence by Imelda's sponge like so many unread texts deleted from a lost love's IPhone.

Blaine checked his phone again, just in case. Nothing.

Summer was over. Sure, there were a couple of weeks left before Blaine would start his senior year at Buckley but, really, who gave a shit. He was already into Harvard; early acceptance or early infusion to the endowment from his father, he did not know or care. This was how things worked.

To the West, the city was waiting for him, as it always would be. Limo, helicopter, train, Jitney... sure, let's smoke a fatty/pop two Adderall's/get a bag of chips and hit that thing... You could go back whenever. It would only change so much. Blaine's New York was far more stagnant than most people's. 99.876% of the city's population were beating down doors every day, looking for a way up, gakking on the friction of the streets, jostling in the subways, seething in coffee lines: Et Cetera. Blaine had been born above all that. His people had been doing the same fucking thing in a twenty square-block radius of the Upper East Side for, like, hundreds of years, probably.

Awesome new app, you say? Cool. Tell you what... how about I just buy the company that made that piece of shit. Then I'll buy you. I'm from New York, motherfucker: that's why. Now tell me something interesting.

Sometimes Blaine felt like he could see the end of his life right in front of him, no further than the end of the pier that extended off the mansion's lawn into Shinnecock Bay, just outside his breakfast window. Shinnecock, Shinnecock. Blaine wrote the word on the glass table top with the grease from his fingertip. It was all so obvious.

His phone vibrated and shimmied a few inches across the glass. Blaine tilted it towards him with his pinky finger. A text message cut across his screen saver, a picture of Eleanor in a purple bikini taken only a week ago.

I don't forgive you.

The phone vibrated again. A new text appeared under the last, the combination of the two now obscuring Eleanor's tanned face, reducing her to a pair of anonymous B-cups, belly and crotch.

I never will.

Another vibration. Eleanor, my love. Your bottom half.

You disgust me.

And now the phone began vibrating so furiously Blaine thought it might jump right out of his hand.

I don't ever want to...

Blaine turned the phone face-down and watched as it slowly shimmied itself right off the edge of the table and fell to the travertine tiles below. Rising from his chair he noticed its glass face had cracked and that Eleanor was now completely obscured by incoming texts, none of which Blaine could read but all of which, more or less, he got the gist of.

The grass on the back lawn was freshly mowed and raked and Blaine remembered playing golf with his father once on a trip to California when he was nine, or maybe ten. He paused at the steps to the pier and wondered how many years they had been preserved this way, the wood drying and cracking just so, you know, like you were some goddamn fisherman in 1915 about to walk out to your beat-up boat on your beat-up pier to accomplish things. The warp and curve of the planking pressed right through his flip flops and he moved towards the ocean. People always mentioned the smell of the ocean, the fresh air and words like restorative, peaceful and aromatherapy. The lines were blurry between this world and the next.

Reaching the end of the pier, Blaine placed his palm on top of the last piling and rotated it against the grain of the wood.

There was a huge sky and a sparkling chop on the Bay. Sailboats in the distance, angled against an unseeable wind. Beyond them a pale white cruise ship sat still at the edge of the world but would soon shift to the left side of Blaine's vision, then on to storybook ports: Bar Harbor, Halifax. Et Cetera. Shifting his weight to the hand on the piling, Blaine kicked one flip-flop into the water, then the other. Then he pulled off his boxer shorts, the last item of apparel keeping him from the end of the pier.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Into The Void

A friend of mine who is a gifted photographer recently sent me a link to a new project she has been working on. She said she felt good about it but was decidedly underwhelmed by the amount of people who had viewed it. She felt like she was posting her work into a void.

Which got me thinking about why one bothers with this stuff anyway. If we desire recognition, views, likes, subscriptions, advertising income... then we should all stick to making videos of kittens or stealing other people's work, apparently. A piece of art, or even an attempt at creating one, is and has always been a weighty investment of time, energy and emotion that merits a very low percentage rate of return. It doesn't even exist in the realm of Good vs. Bad, really; it's more like Right vs. Wrong. Right if it is the particular thing that the audience needs to experience at the time. Wrong if it is not.

This is very finicky territory to be operating in. As I get older and the last of my trumped-up sense of self-importance finally seems to be eroding, I am realizing that I probably got into all of this with the mistaken intention of being understood, an idea requiring an act of extreme reciprocity from an audience, most of whom are not particularly interested. I wanted to be mulled over and picked apart in the manner in which I had dissected all of my idols. But most people don't have time for that sort of thing. And probably shouldn't; they have their own lives to lead. So do I.

Another friend of mine, a musician, once said that when you make music you have to hang on to a shred of belief that it might possibly change the world. I am slightly embarrassed to say that I know exactly what she meant. Yes, I still like Bono. But the same idea could be applied to just about anything we do, intentional or unintentional, during any moment of any day. For example if, while driving my son to day care, I don't see a car pulling out in front of me and smash into it... I have probably changed the world a lot more than any of my songs ever will without even meaning to.

So when the need to be understood/liked/recognized/etc. ebbs away along with the notion that your work is somehow important, where do you go? I truly don't know. You just keep going. And going. We're all going to die sooner than we think, so why not leave a trail of tasty crumbs behind us? Good work. Good deeds. Good relationships that, hopefully, beget more good relationships. Pay it forward. What the fuck. Make the effort. We all have the ability to tap into a rich stream of goodness, to take from it, add to it. It will keep going a long time after we are gone; maybe our only job is to feed it, keep it healthy and brimming with life.

There are worse ways to spend your time.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tiny, Tiny Machines

I had a brief flirtation with competitive running a few years ago. When the weather got cold I invested in a pair of spandex tights. Save for a few chance encounters with leotards, I had never experienced the power of tights before. Perhaps it was the compression of leg hair or something more Freudian... but I liked them. They made me feel lighter, more aerodynamic. They made me feel fast.

One day on a hike through the woods my wife spotted a few chipmunks cavorting across the footpath and remarked upon their cuteness and frenetic agility.

"If you look closely, you'll notice that they're wearing tights," said I.

"No, they're not," she replied.

"Yes, they are," I said. "Look very very closely."


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Perfect Toenail

The power washing of the deck was a massive success, thanks for your supportive cards and emails.

During the process, I had a moment of clarity regarding FORM. The physical movements required for operating a power washer are not unlike those used in weed eating (or, as you dedicated readers might recall, the involuntary manslaughter of poisonous reptiles). Whilst working on his farm, I had recently observed that my father-in-law, Bob, prefers to move the head of the weed eater back and forth in small, 2-3 foot arcs. Initially, his method seemed to me to lack ambition, to cover less ground more  than my wider arcs.

But one day after returning home, while rubbing myself in the shower with a heavily-soaped loofah sponge, I saw that the laws of science negated this assumption entirely. Furthermore, I realized that, by keeping the range of his motions smaller and more controlled, Bob was maximizing his physical stamina, which really means something when assaulting buggy, snake-infested areas with a 25 lb. piece of machinery in the 8000 degree Tennessee Summer. Whereas I was wearing myself out with my larger, less controlled movements which, as previously stated, weren't really accomplishing a goddamn bit more than his.

So I kept it tight and controlled with the power washer wand and found myself hale and hearty two hours later, the proud owner of a mold-free deck. In fact, I had so much energy left over my wife had to pry me off the lawn mower to make my afternoon pedicure appointment. They serve mint pinafores at the salon.

But I digress. FORM: I have also been in the process of conditioning my 39 year-old body to play competitive soccer again. Approaching my training with the goal of getting form right first has made all of the difference. Things as basic as running or touching a ball with your foot can be done in ways that maximize your potential for the next movement. Visualization is important, too; creating a mental snapshot of what you want to happen in the split second before you attempt it sends nano-information from your brain into the appropriate muscles and appendages.

Which leads me to the conclusion that things we want to happen might just want to happen themselves. Our only responsibility is to provide a context in which they can occur. To get our bodies and mind into the the right positions to allow them to manifest: FORM.

And yes, I realize that this sounds like magical thinking, The Secret, blah blah... but before you judge me, dismiss me as another Oprahian dreamuh, ask yourself one simple question: Which one of us has a slip-proof deck, mightily-improved ball skills and immaculate toenails? That's right, Junior. Suck it.

And here's a new song that has nothing to do with any of that:


Friday, August 23, 2013

Smooth Move

Today I am going to power wash my deck. It has been gathering mold and mildew for about two years now. After a good rain, its surface is like green ice to walk on; I am shocked that we haven't been hit with a lawsuit yet based on how many people have come very close to breaking their backs. I have come closer to falling more often than anyone, I imagine. And yes, I would sue myself. My mother-in-law is a retired attorney and I think she would happily give me a good rate for both the prosecution and defense.

Some highlights from the week not involving my family:

M- Reunited with main songwriting squeeze Bill DeMain, wrote something for new Swan Dive album. Very Hall and Oates-y. Discussed flooring, real estate, break-up techniques.

T- Worked in studio; recorded Ruby Amanfu's insanely good vocal on a song we wrote a couple of weeks ago. Ruby completely re-arranged our tea cabinet; I have no idea where the Smooth Move is now.

W- Worked in studio until 1:00, took Mom to doctor's appointment. Played pick-up soccer in Bellevue and scored four goals. Pleased with skill and stamina progress.

Th- Worked on song with difficult Bachrachian time signature changes until petering out around 1:00. Wondered if anything in 2013 can benefit from difficult Bachrachian time signature changes. Took Ike to coffee shop. Went for a short evening solo training session that left me pretty winded and revealed serious flaws in my left foot distribution techniques. Not pleased with skill and stamina progress.

F- The world awaits.

Here is a new tune from the VITAMIN D project. Initially intended for the world of television advertisements, I am now thinking that this line of lite composition might make a fun musical about rich stoned teenagers during a New York Summer. Hmmm.

Have a fine weekend.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Successful Dairy Farmer

1. Forgiveness is a twisted concept. Don't believe the hype; choose to evolve. Understanding + Acceptance = Peace. If you feel someone has wronged you, try to understand why they did what they did. Then simply accept that they did it. You can't change it. OK, that's over; in the words of my esteemed colleague Colonel Emerson Hart, "Let's move on."

2. And some more unsolicited advice: No one looks good operating a mobile device. Try to minimize usage in public, if only for fashion's sake. A few months ago I ended up in a watering hole in which I had no business and was a little shocked to see the multitude of faces hunched over something or another, illuminated by a horrible ghostly electronic glow. A bar full of hot young things transformed into a dungeon of Frankensteins. It occurred to me that many of these people had probably put a considerable amount of time, expense and effort into what they were wearing and other aspects of their appearance, only to ruin it with the harsh reality of their electronic tethers. Think about it.

3. I believe in the United States Men's Soccer Team. Ike and I watched a replay of the Bosnia-Herzegovia friendly Sunday and I was blown away by the resilience of a side that managed to answer a two goal halftime deficit with four unanswered goals in the span of thirty minutes. In Sarajevo, to boot. If I had that much composure... well, shit, I would probably be a successful dairy farmer by now.

4. In honor of the aforementioned team I dedicate this week to the practice of overcoming and kicking ass. And Jozy Altidore. Let's get this party started with another track from the Brand 0, "Power of Imagination." Strike out and conquer, my friends; or, as my esteemed colleague Jared Moontz of Online Soccer Academy would say, "Believe In It!"


Friday, August 16, 2013

This Country Life

This week I encountered not one but two 3 foot + poisonous reptiles while working at my father-
in-law's farm. The first was a Copperhead that I involuntarily manslaughtered with a weed eater. I didn't see him for the tall grass and, for some unknown reason, he chose not to move out of the way of an incredibly loud piece of machinery buzzing in his direction. It's been a long time since I watched anything die. It was creepy as shit and I can't stop thinking about it. Heeeby heeeby heeeby jeeeby.

The second was a four foot rattlesnake that was stretched across a gravel road. (Not the specimen pictured above, his cousin. I am not nearly cool enough to pull out a camera when encountering a rattlesnake.) Thankfully, I was on a tractor this time and neither one of us got within ten feet of each other before going our separate ways.

Still. He or she was a beautiful specimen. So pretty. So deadly. What does it all mean? Most likely nothing, but creative minds will wander.

Anyway. Last night I witnessed a fantastic performance by a jazz group called the Double A Octet at The Basement. One original tune and ten original arrangements of standards. So good. Nashville has been getting a lot of hype for various hype-y reasons lately. This is all well and good but, for my money, a city has truly arrived when you can pay five bucks to hear music of this caliber on a Thursday night.

Roy Agee, AA's main arranger and composer, told a story about his moment of musical clarity in the middle of an Ellington piece that the band had just performed, then had the horns replay the four measures to which he was referring just to make sure we got the point. Which made me think of my last moment like that, one that occurred a year or so back during a NSO performance of Ligeti's "Atmospheres." Hearing that piece was like hearing U2 for the first time when I was 12. So I decided to begin dabbling with some orchestral stuff. I don't expect to get very good at it for the next 15-20 years but you have to start somewhere. Here is one of my first attempts, "Through Alleys Of Havana."

Have a great weekend.


PS- Thank you for all the well-wishes and nice comments. I apologize for not having them up sooner but I have to moderate them as I seem to get a lot of spammy comments from China whenever I post something. Go figure.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Well We Tease Him A Lot 'Cause We Got 'Em On The Spot....

Hi Friends, Readers and Friendly Readers. I hope this is finding you well.

Please excuse my absence. There are a whole lot of reasons as to why I haven't dropped much on the Internets in the past year or so. Some are interesting, most are not.

The "I" column:

1. Six-month home renovation requiring 8-10 hours of manual labor most days of the week. My pregnant wife made due living in two Sheetrock dust-infested rooms. Not much energy left for Tweeting about favorite new breakfast spot. Sorry, I know you were dying to find out.

2. Arrival of baby boy October 27, 2012. Isaac Magnus Mead. Come on, feel the love:

3. Damn, that's one first-class child.

4. Acquisition of new home studio gear that has led to many more hours spent creating music as opposed to reading about/listening to/writing about/attempting to market/keeping tabs on the industry of... music.

5. Renewed interest in playing soccer/football.

The "N.I." Column

1. Re-prioritization of free time, probably due to arrival of aforementioned first-class child, that has led to the conclusion that, for me, there is not much worth doing on the Internets besides tracking down vintage Umbro soccer jerseys on Ebay and answering the very occasional personal email.

2. Moment of clarity...

Wait, this stuff has already been declared 'Non-Interesting;' why am I still writing it down? My apologies, let's move on.

Something about becoming a parent has made it clear to me that I have fewer purposes in life than I thought. This is a relief. Things seem to fall into place when I simply dedicate myself to being a better father, husband and maker of music. And soccer player. And not much else.

I have been making a whole lot of sounds in my little basement studio. Most of it is all over the place, stylistically, so I have felt unsure about 'properly' recording it (with people who actually know what they are doing) or releasing it on my own. Regardless, I can't sit down here forever claiming to be a music maker while never letting anything escape these grimy stone walls, so I'm going to just start putting things up here. I don't have designs on compiling any of it into a larger compilation for the moment, so think of this as an audio diary with very little shape for now.

This first number is something I wrote for one of my fake bands, who had a name until I just wrote it here and realized how stupid it looked. We'll call them Brand 0 for now. You will be hearing more from them in the coming weeks.

Thank you for listening, I hope you like it.


Saturday, April 28, 2012


I am beginning to understand why gardening is popular with older people. Nutz-deep in the planning process for what will be our new front yard, it seems obvious to me that the amount of patience and foresight required does not cater to the young and their need for immediate gratification. Working from bed with colored pencils, paper and a perennials catalog, I am taking a painter’s approach, organizing color, height, sun/shade preferences, bloom cycles… and none of it may necessarily take. Things die, things refuse to grow in certain soil, drought happens, floods and hail come, etc. I should have a solid idea of what’s working by, say, 2015.

I fear Stan has succumbed to a Spring depression. He spends many hours of the day curled on the bath mat in front of the shower. I have no idea why. When I attempt to engage him in a conversation he gives me the ‘asshole’ look and waddles away to the bedroom rug. When I return to the bedroom to get back into bed, he gives me the ‘asshole’ look and goes back to the bathroom. He has always been a moody little fucker but this sort of behavior is wearing me down. It is true that my current condition has severely cut into his walking time; it is true that the carpenter bees, whom he fears terribly, have returned to the back deck, rendering the prospect of hitting the back yard for a leisurely deuce into a potentially traumatic experience. That said, I wonder when some of his old obstinacy might return. It pains me to see him this way.

I just strayed into the YouTube© to watch a gardening video. Big mistake: A series of crappy photos, featuring many of the plants that I have been considering for my yard, Ken Burns-ed over the most obnoxious Euro trash dance music, the kind of soundtrack you might expect to accompany the violation of Albanian minors. Goddamn it. I fear my arboreal aspirations have been forever smeared by some suburban hack’s lifestyle confusion. Like, seriously, what does this guy, this Manwininwrit, do every morning? Put on a spandex unitard, pop a Red Bull and head out back to urinate on the begonias? Get out of my head, shitbag.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Absolute supinity has driven me back to Facebook. Facebook is like the New York City of the Internet; who would believe it could be possible to be surrounded by so many people and feel so alone. I attempted to reverse the usual process today, making a concerted effort to look through photos and posts and think about the authors in a favorable light, sending good energy their way instead of wondering to myself what were they thinking. Instead, I asked myself, what are you thinking?

As of today I am decidedly post-Instagram. Yet again, I got suckered into another product that purported to confer cheap and easy coolness upon a life that, apparently, just wasn’t interesting enough. The upside is that, in the process, Instagram has deconstructed the essence of itself for us: It demands we confront the fact that we don’t like ourselves and our surroundings enough to examine and find pleasure in the real and actual detail they possess. Instagram suggests that if we augment what’s already there by filtering, saturating and weathering our every days into something that more resembles 32 years ago… it’s somehow better, cooler, more relevant. The fact that very few people have actually mastered it to the point of evolution only proves my point. Which brings us back to nostalgia and our goddamn weird fascination with it, our need to be validated by it. Truly, I cannot go on any more about this.

(That said, there is this one guy named Gerter who is really amazing with the Instagram. He uses is to create something new, new on a phone. Check him out.)

Either the New Yorker has made a conscious choice to go annoyingly global or I am becoming a goddamn stick in the mud. I just can’t seem to get through an entire article anymore. This week: Radical muslims in Alexandria (yawn), purported comedic piece on DPRK (20 words stroked into 600), investigative piece about raw dairy wars in California (enjoyable), ominous observation of Stanford U. connection to Silicon Valley (Internet wealth, Internet wealth… yawn) and what appears to be about 15,000 words devoted to a secret vault of riches underneath a temple in India (mmmmm… maybe Netlix is streaming  Indiana Jones) Come on man, what the fuck? I’m on muscle relaxers, I’m all the way over heah. Already.

Last night I watched a Robert Redford stunt pilot movie set in the 1920’s. Redford, now there’s a man of passions. My wife once met him when she was five years old. My wife has relatives that used to live in the apartment next to his. Liz n’ Red were introduced in the hall. He was very kind, she said.

Liz and I also met Ethan Hawke last week. What a guy. We were at a party together. It must be a real trade-off, being that famous. He never seemed to get comfortable. But we played guitars with some other people in a circle and he sang a duet with his daughter, which was sweet. I told him that I enjoyed his second novel, which was mostly true. Liz said he was as nice as Redford. This may be true but I seriously doubt he can fly a bi-plane.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vung Tau

I am not a big fan of pharmaceuticals, but I have made an exception on this occasion. Which alters the playing field a bit. I think it was the phrase ‘pinched nerve’ that sent me over the chemical precipice. And boredom. I have not intentionally ingested any intoxicating substances in over four years, simply because I constantly ask myself, “David- what about this situation makes you not want to be here?” And usually, by the time I get around to answering, I am not really interested in escaping it anymore. But lying in bed alone for most of the day presents a different version of that conundrum. I get tired of answering the question. Pain, blah blah blah. And whump, there it is, and here we are, writing paragraphs about nothing in particular, mostly just to enjoy the segmented pressures and rhythms of a computer keyboard on fingertips.

 It is a gorgeous day in Nashville. We have had a long run of gorgeous days. It is the best Spring I can remember, a Norman Rockwell Spring, a light and pleasurable thing full of sprites and nymphs and freshly cut pineapple juice dripping off nipples.

 Paul Deakin and I began building an awesome fence around my front yard last week. (A mishap with an 80 lb. bag of concrete had a lot to do with my current condition) Paul has soldiered on without me and is making fantastic progress. The fence will be 36 inches high with horizontal slats of 6, 4, and 2 inch widths, arranged in a pattern that implies modernity without looking too pretentious in front of an 80 year-old bungalow. Once the wood dries out I will stain it a dark chestnut. I am completely revamping the landscaping of the front yard, bringing the beds well out into the middle along a border curved like the Cumberland River. I think this will contrast the sharp angles of the fence nicely. The holly bushes I transplanted to the corner seem to have made it through the worst so I think I will counter them with a big winged burning bush in the opposite corner flanked by this particular sedum I found online a couple of months ago but have not been able to locate since. Stan will spend hours prowling the new beds, nose down, pausing occasionally to execute that particular hunch of his before fertilizing, mightily.

 Liz opened a window in the bedroom yesterday and it has made all the difference. I can hear the finches and the cardinals and the reassuring thump of pneumatic nail guns finding their purchase at the construction site a block away. Most of the slats on the blinds are still closed, filtering the Spring; Spring louvered, Spring geometrisized, le d’Angles of Spring. Even though, or perhaps because, the temperature is absolutely perfect, I indulge in hallucinations of hypothesizing in a sweat-soaked bed, perhaps in Marrakesh, or Ho Chi Minh City, the clatter of a town square just below a window ledge over which I can only see endless powdery blue. The ceiling fan spins and wobbles on its arm. A small child knocks tentatively at the door, then enters upon receiving a wary nod. Hesitant, he holds a folded piece of paper towards me. Read it, Harry, I wheeze. He unfolds the parchment. Monsieur Govou, he begins in a tiny voice, we have reason to believe that your true identity has been compromised. There is movement in the corner of my vision: a catch of heron rising against the blue outside the window, then flying off together in the direction of Vung Tau.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


There are a bunch of old jokes that have something to do with being on your back. I think most of them relate to prostitutes. I, having spent all but a few of the past 96 hours on my back, can relate, and find these jokes very funny, although I cannot remember any of them at the moment.

 Dawg, let me tell you, watch out. Past the age of 35, a back injury is just waiting to happen. It’s like you get roughly half your life to enjoy the physical freedoms that you will spend the other half ruminating upon. I don’t believe this is actually a better:worse situation as much as an apple:orange conundrum or, perhaps, a Spike Lee Joint. Like Bruce Hornsby sang, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til you lose it all again, Listen to the mandolin rain, listen to the music aahhh-luh, listen to the tears roll down my face as she turns to go.

 I took up the mandolin when I was 12 or 13, I think. I got into it because of Johnny Marr’s exquisite usage on The Smith’s “Please, Please, Please Let Me, Let Me, Let Me Get What I Want.” It was a real slog at first; the pairs of strings were very close together, pulled to a very high degree of tension. I found the picking style to be next to impossible; in spite of having spent a fair amount of time in my room with a weathered Victoria’s Secret catalogue, I seemed to lack the dexterity in my wrist required to flutter a plectrum across a pair of strings at high speed. Inevitably, REM released their break-through… you know, the one with “Losing My Religion”… which was full of Peter Buck’s rather pedestrian, although highly-effective, mandolineering. Suddenly everybody had a mandolin and was playing it badly, almost as bad as me. What was the point? I went to the pawn shop and traded mine in for a flanger pedal and a weed eater.

 The good thing about back trauma is that it makes you very thankful for the good times: retrieving a magazine from the floor, turning on the water faucet to wet your toothbrush, sitting down on a toilet seat all by yourself. A big part of living life is appreciating life. Sometimes in the morning I remember to do a quick meditation on ten things I am grateful for. This sets my day off in a good direction. Then I go downstairs and make toast.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011