Monday, March 30, 2009


I've had this concept for an image in my head for years and finally decided to make it happen this weekend. Luckily Kirst was game, meeting up with me after working a long day at her job, driving with me from tanning salon to tanning salon until we met someone nice enough to let us break the rules, and laying in a hot ass tanning bed with me while I fooled with the camera timer. I promise you, this picture represents love.

BULBZ is an EP of cover songs that's going to be out on Moodgadget Records in the next few weeks. It was originally going to include my cover of "Damn (I Wish I Was Your Lover)" but apparently that is going to come out on the next Ghostly Records compilation. So BULBZ will just have my cover of "Love Lockdown"/"Reckoner" by Kanye West/Radiohead, "Does Not Compute" by Prince and "Cruise with Me" by Smokey Robinson.

I'll post a link as soon as it's available.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The View

The view from our kitchen window.
The view from our back porch.

The view from our sidewalk.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Money Pit

The Johnson-Buys clan is once again on the move like the suburban nomads we are.

It's hard to believe it was just last March that I rescued Kirsten from her well-paying job and killer-location apartment in Chicago and whisked her off to the safety and comfort of my Ferndale Manor.

It's hard to believe it was just last July that we had enough of the Ferndale Manor and got ourselves set up in a cleaner, larger pad within walking distance from downtown Royal Oak. I know some of my friends look down their noses at such a character-less, gentrified town like Royal Oak, preferring the vandalism, violence, decay and all-around dysfunction of Detroit city proper, but Ima have to confess I don't get it. I like safety and order. And in any case, I have a kid to keep alive. So Royal Oak it is.

The place was a big step up for us. On the dead end of a quiet little street. We took a lot of walks in those early days. Claire chased birds and rabbits. The house seemed like a small paradise.

We weren't alarmed the day we signed our lease and Sam the landlord gazed out the window at the vacant lot next door and said, "You know, there's a slight chance they might start construction on a new apartment complex there this year. But they say that every year. Probably won't happen...."

We weren't alarmed when the refrigerator failed to keep our food cool or frozen the first week. Especially since Sam was Johnny-on-the-spot about it and had a new one installed a week after our complaints. (This is Sam's first time landlording and he is so responsive and accommodating it's like he's trying to win some kind of prize.)

We weren't alarmed when the garbage disposal exploded, beyond the general shock of the noise and wet mess, but we did feel a little bad that Sam had to make a second repair within as many months of us being in the house.

We still weren't alarmed when the tree branch the size of our house split off and crashed, missing my Jeep by inches. Okay, we actually were alarmed, but not in any way that it seemed significant. Mostly, we just felt bad that Sam had to foot the bill for tree removal, and wondered how he could possibly be turning a profit on us at this point. Did I mention that Sam is the nicest, most attentive landlord either of us have ever had? Seriously, World's Greatest. We felt for him.

As the months went on, we weren't that alarmed when the toilet leaked, or the kitchen sink went bust again. We weren't alarmed because Sam was always there, that night or the next day, fixing everything without as much as a grumble. (While visiting once he even spotted what he saw was a problem with the handles in the shower and tried to make a quick fix - big mistake. This turned into a whole afternoon's project in itself.) But no, we weren't alarmed. We just made a joke out of it, "This will be the month that we don't have to call Sam. I just know it!"

We weren't alarmed, but we were a little put out, when the drain in the basement backed up, oozing black sewage into the laundry room, forcing us to spend the night elsewhere to avoid getting poisoned by the fumes while Sam called in a plumber to snake the drain.

We actually were alarmed, as well as annoyed, when the basement flooded the morning after our Christmas party. It was an unseasonably warm day that got up almost 60 degrees, melting nearly all of the snow that had accumulated for months, and causing some kind of overflow in our drain system. Yes, we were sad for Sam, who had to pay big for this, but also exhausted by the work of hauling all of our belongings from room to room in the basement so many times. "So many times?" you ask. Yes, so many times, because the flooding happened again, and then again. Once Sam thought the problem was licked, and the floors had sufficiently dried, he had the carpets professionally cleaned - twice, since the first time didn't take - to get rid of what was a now daily mold stench in our house reminiscent of cat piss.

We were definitely annoyed at the fact that whenever we opened the door of our own home we now flinched from the whiff of whatever mildew madness was happening in the basement. But we adapted, learned to live with the smell, and mostly felt bad for Sam.

How can I put this? We were... not furious, but full of consternation when the construction crews arrived at the first sign of warm weather. We were sad not for Sam but for ourselves when the constant sounds of sawing, beeping and booming began waking us up before our alarms did. We were maddened by the effects of drilling noises that go on for hours and seemed to be boring into our very minds. Nay, into our very souls. We were flat-out depressed the first time we looked out the kitchen window and saw not trees, not sky, but a massive mound of soil.

But none of this diminished our love and loyalty for Sam, the World's Greatest Landlord. In fact, when the toilet wouldn't stop running, we took it upon ourselves to buy the parts and make the repair ourselves. To give him his first month without having to fix something that had broken in our house. That was the theory anyway, and we were so proud of ourselves when, after about four hours of wet, pinched and frustrating plumbing work, we had successfully repaired our own toilet. What happened next might sound like fiction, but I shit you not: within ten minutes of our celebration, the kitchen sink suddenly started shooting water all over the place (this was in no way related to the toilet plumbing). You want to know something funny? Before Sam could arrive the next day to fix the kitchen sink, another leak had begun in the bathroom (also unrelated to the toilet). Hoping to make Sam feel better, when he arrived to make the joint repairs we proudly pointed out the money and work we had saved him by fixing the toilet ourselves. "Hmmm," he mumbled, making his best effort to seem pleased. But Sam's eyes had gone vacant. The sad, inescapable truth none of us dared say was that the house was clearly fucking with us. It was a living, evil thing that now openly mocked our efforts. The message was clear: we fix one thing, it'll break two.

Well, the flooding kept happening. Other things broke. The constant smell of cat-piss-feet-and-ass returned. We stopped inviting people over for dinner. The laughter stopped. Claire began having nightmares that the house was trying to eat her. How could I bring myself to tell her that it actually was?

So that's how Sam pulled me aside during one of his now-routine repair visits a few weeks ago and gave me the news: he was breaking the lease. He was going to gut the basement and then try to short-sell the house. I wanted to tell him that he might consider getting an exorcism, if not ritualistically burning the place to the ground. But I said nothing and shook his hand instead. "Sam," I said. "You're still the World's Greatest Landlord."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Essential Music

There is a WDET radio show on Saturdays called Essential Music. They're having a competition to come up with a theme song and Kirsten encouraged me to enter it. Take a second and vote for my track (Number 7):


Friday, March 20, 2009

Stroking It

This past Valentine's Day was an anniversary of sorts for me. An insignificant-in-every-way-that-counts kind of anniversary that I did not celebrate with flowers or wine or any kind of gesture at all really, but one which I did take note of internally. You see, it was about one year ago this past Valentine's day that I decided to start blogging on a somewhat regular basis. On this blog, in fact. (That's right, I am now blogging about blogging.)

It was all Megan's fault really. She talked me into trying it out with promises of vast wealth and notoriety, and I took the bait. At the time I had a pretty slow-going office job with lots of down time in which my choices were: play copious amounts of online Scrabble or blog the hours away (I chose both).

I always viewed it as an experiment, a new form to play with. Something that I could try to express myself with more completely and accurately. My music has generally tended toward the serious and sad and I've been dying to let my goofy, profane and domestic side get a word in edgewise. What I learned was, there's a lot you can do with a blog. A whole hell of a lot.

I started things off light, with a blog about the fact that I've become co-branded with the Starbucks corporation. But things quickly took a turn for the dramatic when my eye nearly rotted out of my head (I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for any vomiting that picture of my blood-soaked eye might have caused).

I made a cathartic confession to the internet with a heartfelt post addressing my crippling Scrabble addiction. (I am still seeking treatment.)

I had the pleasure of introducing the terms "bompliment" and "non-pliment" into the wider lexicon (to this day I receive requests via text and email asking for me to classify a statement someone has just heard as one or the other. Hint, if you get the sense that you've been insulted, it's probably a bompliment).

I entered into the high-stakes world of celebrity cooking with my own creation, Breakup Soup, to which one of my friends simply replied "wow."

I fooled dozens of Kirsten and I's friends and family with an April Fool's Day prank for the ages (my mom even wept, which made it funnier) and then regretted the whole thing the next day.

I reached my infantile lowest by posting an audio mp3 I made where I've edited Falcor from The Neverending Story to sound like the heavy-breathing pedophile he really is, ruining forever whatever innocence remained in all who heard it.

I reported on my conniving attempts to pry stock tips from the receptionist at my contract gig. (This went absolutely nowhere.) I also reported on my Michael Bay-esque car collision, in which my iced coffee straw was decapitated.

I let everybody watch my daughter turn five. And I also let them see what happens when you shave two fur manatees.

I moved out of the house I'd been living in (and regressing in) for eight years.

I watched in horror as Kirsten was corrupted by the vast wealth and power of her knitting empire.

I called out Shepherd Fairey on his bullshit before it was fashionable to call out Shepherd Fairey on his bullshit.

I reported on the end of cartoons.

I got overly worked up and spiritual about music for a second. Then I went and got overly worked up and spiritual about my life.

Coming on the heels of these overly serious posts, I should have posted something lighter, something sillier. Instead I capped things off just over the one year mark by making a bunch of people cry at their desks at work (which is better, I guess, than making them vomit at their desks at work).

So yeah. My there's a lot that you can do with a blog.

Thanks to anybody who checks in.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Sign of Spring

It was chilly enough to need a jean jacket when I left the house today, but when I got in my car it was warm already, from the sun coming through the windows. This, to me, is one of the best temperatures.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two Things

It's always bothered me a bit that President Obama is referred to as a black man, for the simple fact that it's inaccurate. He has one black parent, one white (and was raised and socialized by whites). I also think that by rushing to call him the first black president, rather than the first biracial president, we miss out on the true significance of his race, put so eloquently by my favorite blowhard Kanye West in last week's VH1 storytellers:

"In a country full of immigrants, where no one really was born here, but separated here; it's a beautiful thing that in a country that was so divided by the concept of black and white we now have a black and white president. And this is what the future is to me. The juxtaposition of two things that you don't think go together."