Sunday, May 31, 2009

Time, music, injuries.

This guy Felix (right) is a time traveler who slipped through town briefly on Saturday, accompanied by his space/time sherpa Roger (left).
Below, sidewalk selections at Turn It Up, where CDs soldier on as a viable source of music. The store is the one true music hang-out in town, where you can run into fellow music freaks and talk unabashedly about Mr. Mojo Risin' being an anagram of Jim Morrison, the Velvet Underground being the title of an old pulp novel, and Cat Stevens songs that went on to be covered by the Tremeloes and then Yo La Tengo. They have a shop up at the Montague Book Mill now too.

Injured vet. No benefits. This is his daily post.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Feral Child" Genie, discovered in Los Angeles area in 1970

I never heard this story but it's so moving and sad that I had to ruin your day too.

I've become newly obsessed with this subject and discovered a dedicated web site;

Below, the implications on learning language are discussed. Are we hard wired? Is there an age deadline after which we can no longer learn a language?

The child discovered in Siberia last week is the latest case; post below this one.

Not much up in Northampton today but there's a five year old girl raised by dogs in Siberia

...or should I say I'm having a bout of agoraphobia and insomnia and haven't been out for a while to take stock of what's up in town. I'll venture out later and be back with a full report. Meanwhile, there's this girl raised by dogs in Siberia that seemed blogworthy. Read this, and tell me if you can figure out if her parents were also living in the house.

This is Natasha Mikhailova – the five-year-old who walks on all fours, laps up food and drink with her tongue and communicates by barking after being raised by dogs.
Natasha, who is only the size of a toddler, is thought to have never left the squalid, unheated three-room flat she lived in with her dad and grandparents.

Rescuers found her dressed in ripped and soiled clothes and surrounded by dogs and cats following a tip-off from concerned neighbours on Monday.

Police said: “For five years the girl was brought up by several dogs and cats and had never been out.”

One neighbour in the city of Chita, Siberia, said: “We didn’t know she existed. They have three vicious dogs they took for walks but we never saw this child.”

Natasha, nicknamed Mowgli after the Jungle Book character raised by animals, is now at a rehabilitation centre where specialists are shocked at the way she leaps at humans and plays dog games.

They say she is not mentally retarded, just starved of contact with humans – and shuns other children.

Centre boss Nina Yemelchugova said: “When I went out of the room she jumped at the door and started barking, not just mewing or something, but barking. She laps up food from the plate.”

Police chief Larisa Popova, one of the first to enter the flat, said: “Her father was not there, but the dogs sought to protect her. She was living in filthy conditions. We were almost knocked over by the stink.”

Dad Victor Lozhkin, 27, and mum Yana Mikhailova, 25, who has had no contact with Natasha for two years, have been arrested on suspicion of neglect. They could face three years in jail.

Natasha’s case is the latest in a number of feral children in the former Soviet Union. In 2004 Andrei Tolstyk, seven, was found living with dogs in Siberia after being abandoned at three months. Like Natasha, he adopted traits including walking on all fours.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New York Dolls gig at Pearl Street this month.

I designed this alternative poster to supplement the official Pearl Street flyer just for fun. The lipstick spells out their name in addition to its official lipstick application.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge
Kevin Hagan White (statue below) was the longest-serving Mayor of Boston, from 1968 to 1984. His successful run, at age 38, in 1967 was based on a populist platform highlighted by support for rent control. White unsucessfully ran for Governor of Massachusetts against Republican Frank Sarent in 1970. In 1972, he was a front runner for the Democratic Party's vice-presidential nomination, but the offer was withdrawn after Ted Kennedy and economist John Kenneth Galbraith voiced their opposition. In the 1970's White presided over the public school segregation controversy and the revitalization of downtown, culminating with the reopening of Quincy Market in 1976.
(Fanueil Hall) I thought this guy was from the DPW. Patty thought he was having issues.
One view of the city from the waterfront, along Atlantic Avenue.
North End on a quiet Monday.
Springfield Peter Pan Bus Terminal
Northampton. Piano busker on Main Street.
These guys.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eggleston, Neill, Bukowski, no lies.*

(Caption: "Old writer puts on sweater, sits down, leers into computer screen and writes about life. How holy can we get?" -Robert Crumb)

Paul Eggleston, my lifelong pal from various record stores and general musical over-indulgence (also a teacher at PVPA) and I were talking over a beer at The Deck in Northampton tonight (the old train depot...maybe soon to return?) about our latest plans to collaborate on a music related project that will win the ears of millions and engorge our retirement funds with honest dough. We ended up talking about Charles Bukowski, and I told him why I liked him; actually LOVED him now, after avoiding him for decades based on his base reputation as a vulgarian and cad. Paul thought that I was referencing my newfound apreciation of Charles because I went through some sketchy and downtrodden times in Los Angeles and felt the empathic resonance, but no. I told him that my love for Bukowski lies in the fact that he was not merely (or really EVER) a drunken celebrant of overindulgence (a portrayal that a simple-minded marketing mainstream decided would best provide a monetary return) but a true beautician (a word wasted on the cosmetic vocation).
The gutter bravado that people came to demand of him gave him a steady outlet and captive audience of unsuspecting readers who looked to him for hedonistic validation but ended up with secret doses of Bukowski's profound and first-hand tenderness , love, and beauty, warts and all. Read enough Bukowski and you don't feel like you're revelling in Bacchanalia but in the highest levels of human love and experience in the plainest language. His best work is as profound and universal as the bible gets all the credit for. The basic message I get from "Hank" is that happiness and sadness are not opposites but partners. I just randomly searched for a Bukowski poem to illustrate my point ands I swear this is the first one I found in the Google search "bukwoski poems."

A Smile To Remember
we had goldfish and they circled around and around
in the bowl on the table near the heavy drapes
covering the picture window and
my mother, always smiling, wanting us all
to be happy, told me, "be happy Henry!"
and she was right: it's better to be happy if you
but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week while
raging inside his 6-foot-two frame because he couldn't
understand what was attacking him from within.

my mother, poor fish,
wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a
week, telling me to be happy: "Henry, smile!
why don't you ever smile?"

and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the
saddest smile I ever saw

one day the goldfish died, all five of them,
they floated on the water, on their sides, their
eyes still open,
and when my father got home he threw them to the cat
there on the kitchen floor and we watched as my mother

by Charles Bukowski (below, with parents)

*Blog post title inspired by the knock knock joke:

Knock Knock, Who's There?
Eskimos, Christians, Italians.
Eskimos, Christians, Italians who?
Eskimos, Christians, Italians no lies.
---(ask me no questions I'll tell you no lies.)

so you want to be a writer?
by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in

there is no other way.

and there never was.

--From sifting through the madness for the Word, the line,
the way by Charles Bukowski.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Streets of Your Town

Django in June is New England's premier occasion to celebrate, study and just plain enjoy the musical tradition launched en France some 75 years ago by guitarist Django Reinhardt, a tradition now known by many as "Gypsy jazz."

The streets of their town: Inspired by Spain’s famous "Running of the Bulls," Brattleboro’s annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade features scores of heifers ambling up the town’s historic Main Street, along with many, many farmers, future farmers, cows, bulls, horses, goats, poultry, floats, tractors, bands, clowns, and much more. When it’s over, the crowd follows the parade to the grounds of the Brattleboro Retreat and enjoys food, music, dancing and fun at the Dairy Festival.
Paradise Pond, artist unknown.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Three Wolves Shirt and Zubaz Pants for the Wal-Mart Hipster Set sells much more than just books. David Kutcher at Confluent Forms tipped me to this beauty. But the "customors also bought" items (see Zubaz pants below) and customer reviews are really where the magic begins. Click on the shirt and see for yourself. Here are some samples.

"The manager at my local McDonald's refused to serve me when I entered shirtless in my buffalo-skin chaps and beaver pelt moccasins. I've since been searching to find the perfect top to go with my turquoise necklace and bolo tie. $35 bucks later, I can hold my head high as I wait for my Filet-O-Fish."

"Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women."

"Whenever I wear the wolf shirt I have a lot less issues with involuntary urination."

" Would make a great gift for any man who loves the "call of the wild" thing."

"I've gained a new found confidence that has allowed me to defraud over 200 elderly couples in the past 6 months alone. "

Zubaz Pants
"I wear these pants with nothing more than Crocs on my feet and hair on my chest, and prance around the block like the mighty, legendary Zebracorn."

Monday, May 18, 2009


New Rules: You must be in costume to eat burritos outdoors.

Shop window. Salem and Parmenter. North End, Boston.

No memory of taking this photo.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nohodome Film Friday! Wholphin: DVD Magazine of Rare and Unseen Short Films. "The Pity Card" by Bob Odenkirk.

I picked up this DVD Magazine at Broadside Books. Bob Odenkirk from Mr. Show was behind this short film, just one of the 13 works on this worthwhile compilation. It's called "The Pity Card" and you can click on the cover to watch it or just play it below.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Les Quatre Vents (The Four Winds)

My 1999 collage from yesterday's post has an odd coincidence attached to it. My childhood friend John Huntington sent me this email after reading it: "Your collage here from 1999 actually features a building in Quebec I worked on!!!! That's weird, I don't think I ever posted pictures or wrote it up anywhere until very recently." Here's his post about the building from his Entertainment Technology site Control Geek.

John installed a system that would play Charles Trenet's Le Jardin Extraordinaire whenever people walked into the Pigeonnier, the building above, on a mountain in Quebec. Below, the Pigeonnier as part of my collage, used prior to any knowledge of John's connection to it.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I haven't been blogging as much lately since I have been living so much more vividly, but that's a bad excuse. I aim to post once a day, with whatever momentous minutiae arises. I want to give a shout out to Mary Carey, one of my favorite writers and readers, who was laid off this week from the Gazette. Local journalism is worse off without her, and I'm sure she will land somewhere that deserves her. This is Mary's marvelous blog. Also I want to express my indignance at Joan Holliday's dismissal as the mid-day jock at WRNX. This is unjust and frustrating. Clear Channel, the corporate ownership behind the station, slashes line items from a distance that represent our friends and colleagues here. Joan, you'll be missed on the air, and I hope to hear you back at another frequency soon where you may have a chance to express your excellent taste and music smarts.

I discovered a ten year old collage at my sister's house. This was one of my first, produced under the influence of narcotics, in the previous century, which makes it sound long enough ago to admit. My sober collages are much better, I think, but this has some historical significance to me. It was a gift to my sister Amy and her family in December 1999.
My nephews Noah and Sam made a point of playing me the exact parts of this classic Descendents album that include "swears." Parents grow weary of censorship sometimes and just let go, though I doubt the Dead Kennedys are in the offing. Meanwhile, Noah (right) aproached my sister (his mom, Emily) and said, "Mom, I have a question and you're not going to like it." "What is it Noah?" "Can I cut my t-shirt?" " mean cut the sleeves off?" "No, the bottom, to show my belly button." "Noah, NO!"
Mother's Day, playground in Cambridge MA.
The Saturday farmer's market on Hanover Street in Boston's North End.
Northampton Gothic. Llama and Jim launch their summer garden on Market Street, despite allegations of rodents and threats of lingering frost.
Boat On The Charles
Boat on the Charles
Train on a spur down by the riverside
The door's open wide
Planes in a line just seven miles away
They leave every day
And someone's always going south
A guy with a truck here about is going New Year's Eve
Why don't you leave

Why don't I leave
I can't make myself believe
No one really cares for me here
I can't make no sense of this place and I fear
I can't spend another day without hearing from you
Throw my life away and pass my body through into the Charles

Boat on the Charles
Bird on a wire outside my window pane
It's started to rain
Buses in line just seven blocks away
They leave every day
And someone's always asking me why I can't seem
To make myself see
That you won't answer me
Why don't you leave

Why don't I leave
How many times can a man be told
How many times before I lose control
I don't give a damn for my immortal soul
It's just about time I let my insides show
So here I go
-Todd Rundgren (from "The Ballad of Runt" 1971)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

There's a fine line between dodging a bullet and missing the train.

Tonight I was out at Pearl Street, totally digging The Thermals (left), a Portland, OR trio that plays very satisfying rock music...indie rock if you must. I am 45 yet this is a typical evening for me, not a wild night out. It is my actual JOB. Sometimes I feel like I've escaped growing up. Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if I had married or had kids. I'm sure I'd be just as happy. I tend to be happy (with a slight undertow). But tonight I was feeling great about my autonomy, my life-long career in music, and the fact that in a culture of 20somethings, I've recently met someone my age in a similar...untraditional situation. No prior commitments or obligations.

As for the music, tonight Brendan and I were working late watching old YouTube videos of Joni Mitchell and Loudon Wainwright. When Hannah came into my office to say goodnight she caught me crying at the Joni video. I wasn't even aware of it until she came in. Joni's first few albums resonate for me because they were always playing in my house when I was in single and early double digits. That shit echoes in your bones.

But Brendan turned me onto this new breed of video from bedroom musicians playing versions of their favorites, from the Innocence Mission to Nick Drake to anyone you can think of. If not health care, then certainly music has become socialized. The raw emotion of these videos can bring tears to your eyes. Well...especially if you're a little drunk and feeling sentimental. Go to YouTube and enter the name of your favorite song followed by 'cover' and see what I mean. I mean, Jesus, watch this. How awkard and beautiful.

And tonight, after watching the Thermals with about 75 people I thought, why aren't there more people here? I realized that the era when we could realistically know most of the major acts is long gone, as is the era that was the birth of the rock and folk genres and the lucky artists who got to make those sounds and put those words to them for the first time. They were talented but they were also the lucky ones. You hear these old classics and you realize that someone was going to write them. Jackson, Joni, James, Nick, Sandy, Bob....they were just there at the right time and tuned into the collective consciousness and playing the right chords in the right order with the right amount of emotion. It's all old news to us oldsters. We hear the sources too easily. It's not as obvious to the new fans, and that's okay. But the kids are finding the sources too and embracing them, playing them.

And there's so much to choose from for the new generation that any long term relationship with a band is rare. These days it's about flings with bands and singers. There are so many that are excellent, or at least competent, that there's no end to the supply. So except for the Radioheads, Decemberists, and Modest Mice, the rest are out having fleeting love affairs with fans that are madly in love with them...for the time being. But oh, look, who's this? The Pains of Being Pure at Heart? Indeed.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Four Weekend Photos and Laser Jesus

North End, Boston. Greenough Street. Sat 5/2
Hanover StreetLaser Beam Jesus.