Sunday, November 30, 2008

Scrabble in Chicago with Charlie and Leah

This is Charlie. He is winning.

This is Leah. She's doing pretty well, too.

I just got this patch. It was custom-made by Lizmiera embroidery. Her designs are inspired by Mexican traditional art, and I like them. But Charlie and I made a late-night whiskey run and ended up in a liquor store run by Mexicans. I found out later from Leah, who works in a hospital in a gang-heavy Mexican neighborhood here, that this patch might contain gang signs. Oops.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No More Cartoons

I am a bad dad. This morning, a conversation between Claire and I as she ate her blueberry waffles and waited for me to make the TV play something good.

Me: Claire. I have some bad news.

Claire: [Blank faced] What?

Me: There are no more cartoons.

Claire: What. Do. You. Mean?

Me: The people who make cartoons went out of business. There aren't going to be any more cartoons.

[Silence. Her eyes go cold. Her lip begins to quiver.]


Claire: I knew that.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pianos in Forrests

I really believe that if the news was full of more stories like this the world would change for the better.

-- Was it a theft? A prank? A roundabout effort to bring some holiday cheer to the police? Authorities in Harwich, Massachusetts, are probing the mysterious appearance of a piano, in good working condition, in the middle of the woods.

A police officer examines an oddly placed piano in the woods of Harwich, Massachusetts.

Discovered by a woman who was walking a trail, the Baldwin Acrosonic piano, model number 987, is intact -- and, apparently, in tune.

Sgt. Adam Hutton of the Harwich Police Department said information has been broadcast to all the other police departments in the Cape Cod area in hopes of drumming up a clue, however minor it may be.

But so far, the investigation is flat.

Also of note: Near the mystery piano -- serial number 733746 -- was a bench, positioned as though someone was about to play.

The piano was at the end of a dirt road, near a walking path to a footbridge in the middle of conservation land near the Cape.

Read the full story.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship

Posted this on Fone Culture last night:

(L-R, Trevor Naud and LTD)

Back in June I leaked some early mixes of Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship, a new project of my good friend Trevor Naud in collaboration with Pas/Cal drummer LTD. (I hesitate to mention that Trevor is kin because I don't want to imply that my fascination with his music is in some way pro-rated by my affection for him as a person. The majesty of Trevor's gift is wide and timeless and I just happen to know him.) And now, I have the final album in my hands and I need to talk about it.

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship is like some rare exotic flower that flourishes in the secret dark and contains double helices of hallucinogenic gunpowder entwined deep in its stems if you know how to unleash it. Trevor told me he made it in a period of extreme personal blockage. No doubt, part of that frustration was with his own band, Zoos of Berlin, who, with over four years of stunning gigs and avant-garde alchemy under their belts have yet to produce a full-length album (there is every indication that dawning of the Zoos long player is finally nigh). So Trevor set up some mics and a computer in his kitchen and made this in a season. His impatience emerges in the ADD'ness of it all, the quick-acting brevity and the conjuring of swift, but complete, worlds of sound. They are less songs than glints of melodic hooks strung together like Christmas lights to form a shimmering path. The best way to listen is to avoid grasping - just let the vignettes fly by fully formed in their warbled and buttery baroque shapes.

HGBS came out more gentle than early mixes suggested. The first mp3 Trevor slipped me last summer was "A Head For Gabriel Dove," two and a half minutes of compression-crushed jazz drumming and reverb-soaked baritone that was as carnivorous as it was surging. But a listen to the finished record shows something much more haunted than hunting. It is a quiet anxiety slowed into sadness, more in keeping with the winter around me and things falling into sleep and death. It's a pop requiem for emotional shut-ins and the spiritually claustrophobic.

Fans of Scott Walker, David Bowie, Arthur Russell and Eric Matthews - in other words, artists trying to repossess dead rock forms with the jagged spirits of 20th century classical and avant garde - will come pre-primed for going deep with these tracks. But it doesn't require some kind of exclusive, arty membership to respond to something this gorgeous and immediate. It's very tuneful, very lucid stuff.

As far as I know he's currently figuring out the terms of the record's release. Go bug him about it.

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - "Glass Case"

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - "Jonaccce"

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - "Nineteenth Usher"

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - "A Head for Gabriel Dove"

Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - "Once Outside"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Camera Envy

I'm hooked on anything combining traditional photography with manipulation to produce surreal effects. Flickr streams are the new art galleries. I have a mad case of camera envy.

Today on Zach's blog, I learned about Andrea Galvani, who makes images like this:

And yesterday I learned from Mike's blog about Tilt Shift Photography, where, with a special lens and some Photoshop, real-life photographs can be made to look like shots of miniatures. Go here to see a collection of some of the best examples of this. Here are my favorites:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beyonce, Another Race

For "Single Ladies" and its accompanying video alone, Beyonce had my jaw-dropped awe. But her performance of it this past weekend on SNL only furthered underscored my deepening suspicion that angels once walked the earth mating freely with humans, and that their progeny are gorgeous big-bootied divas with digitally-perfect banshee voices, special-action swivel hips and complexions as golden and creamy as a smear of stars. I mean, let's be honest here - it's Beyonce's world and we're just swimming in it. Goddamn I love the "ring finger"dance. I love it good!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


From artist Li Wei:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This was also exciting yesterday, some sweet, sweet words in Metro Times about my music. I did not see this coming and it's nice to hear.

I am in the process of hand making promos of Lazrus to shop around to labels big and small. Hey, we all have our dreams, and I've got mine....

I've been stenciling the discs with a can of hot-ass gold spray paint. Tre Naud is helping me print out some words and paper to shove in the packages. And then we go at it, guerilla style. Wish me luck.

Speaking Couth to Power

Jason Gaylor, one of my finest friends from my Springfield, MO days is part of a design collective there called Departika. This guy always makes the tightest stuff and he's been good to me, throwing me the odd freelance gig over the years for his various endeavors.

He asked me to loan some music to an installation piece they did in the lobby of their studios this week where people wrote a message to the new president on the wall. They filmed the whole event and cut the video in time lapse to an instrumental version of my song "Heart of a Dog." I think it came out pretty good.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This was recorded Sunday night, moments after returning home from High School Musical III. Claire loved it. I survived it. Notice how my hand stays on her belly the whole time. This was partly to keep her in frame and partly because I just love touching her belly.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Back to the Future

I spent part of the weekend up in Flushing, Michigan working on new recordings for In Civilian Clothing. Those guys and I have history. They're the first band I ever produced, way back in '01, when I had just gotten my first ProTools rig and needed some rats to do tests on. We ended up making a full record together eventually, which was released a few years ago. I love those guys (Leslea, Troy, Clay and Chris) and the hang is always first-class.

Troy is their multi-instrumentalist and owns a house out in the country where he lives with his beautiful family. It's good for me to get out of the city. You can see stars walking back and forth from the house to the converted shed where the band rehearses and records.

We rocked it. And digital cameras were everywhere.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monkey Necklace

There is no school today for Claire so she's home with me. I'm in the middle of finishing a piece for a new publication I'm writing for and it has been a challenge with her figuratively, and sometimes very literally, hanging around my neck.

But the day has had its moments. It was especially nice to take her with me to vote, answering her questions beforehand over coffee and chocolate milk ("Do people in China vote today?"), telling her about the concept of citizenship and the miracle of peaceful exchanges of power.

It's gorgeous and unseasonably warm fall weather out and the buzz of election day is definitely in the air. I think Claire could sense the momentousness of everything and as we were walking in to the middle school where I was going to vote she stopped me and urgently asked: "Do I have chocolate milk on my face?" I said: "No, why? You want to look your best for this?" And she said: "Yes!"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bananas for Monkita

I feel that Kirst has turned a bit of a corner recently with her knitting designs. I was into the coffee cozies and scarflettes she was making last year, but I think I like the new designs she's been improvising lately even more. And it really has been improvisation, fueled by the pressure of deadline: she got a table at the Detroit Urban Craft Fair, which takes place in less than two weeks. Since she's spent most of the summer crafting a never-ending string of baby blankets (the most time-intensive thing she makes) for all her fertile friends, she didn't have much opportunity to stock up for the fair. So she's been knitting-manic lately and it seems that every time I glance over from our Project Runway marathon she's come up with a new shape, or a new pattern.

First there were the new scarflette color schemes:

Followed by this new kind of seam thing she started knitting into her long scarves:

And then there was the long cowl, which you can wrap up several times into different shapes:

And the shorter cowl, which is in the form of a tube which you just slide down over your head:

You can check out her shop, La Femme Monkita, here. And the Detroit Urban Craft Fair takes place at the Fillmore Detroit (old State Theater) on Saturday, Nov. 15.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Picture Roundup

I don't know how this started, but karate matches have become a nightly ritual for Claire and I.

I carved a pumpkin while the ladies collected the seeds to toast and eat later, a painstaking process (note: days later I saw these same seeds in a bowl and threw them out, thinking they were trash):

Wonder Woman:

Wonder chop:

Cashed out on the way home:

This is Anton Chigurh, the psychopath from the movie No Country For Old Men.

And this was how my costume was supposed to look:

And like this:

But I couldn't get the wig right, and so I ended up looking like unfrozen caveman lawyer in cowboy garb.