Wednesday, December 31, 2008

in with the new

2008 was that year in my life where the changes that were beginning manifested themselves, the year that I moved out and the world around me opened up more than I ever thought possible.

I'm not one of those people who tries to be "weird" or "random" but I've always been open for letting things just happen as they were evidently meant to be, but it gets harder and harder to explain how I can be so incredibly in the box and yet so out of it at the same time.

Evidently "meant to be" included immersion in cultures very different than my own, random music-making and staying out all night on front porches, spending Saturday afternoons hanging out with refugee kids, exploring new corners of the city because there are always new places to discover, slacking at Edgewater Park, ending up with a time slot on the local college radio station, having my ideas about the world spontaneously turned upside-down and reaffirmed at the same time.

I don't have much but I am surrounded by amazing people and the work of God is always evident. That's all I'll ever need.


So I get a phone call today from someone telling me that because of the car accident, I'm entitled to a free chiropractic exam recommended by the doctor. This all seemed kind of weird, as they said they're not affiliated with any insurance companies or lawyers so I've put some of my mad research skills to work and it turns out this is part of some scam.

What I want to know is how these people got my cell phone number.

Monday, December 29, 2008

rust belt christmas

This Christmas was the Christmas that my sister got engaged and the car crash that left me in a state of thanking God and awe at still being alive.

We were on our way to get some Ethiopian food on the east side Tuesday night and got no further than the Cleveland-Lakewood border when my friend started skidding on the ice and we spun across four lanes of interstate traffic before getting rear-ended on the other side of the road by the on-ramp.

As scary as it is to feel like you're on a Tilt-a-Whirl but with huge cars sliding towards you, I felt this weird sense of peace as my roommate and I prayed and realized that even as we weren't in control at all, God definitely was.

It looked like it was going to get ugly when the one guy got out of his car and started screaming at my friend about how his car was brand new and he was a Cleveland cop and that we were all in trouble but when I started dialing 911, he shut up pretty quickly. Didn't ask us if we were ok, just ranted about how his shiny new Ford Fusion was smashed up.

Meanwhile, we're standing on the side waiting for the real cops to come as cars slide like bowling balls down the highway. When they told us to move the car off the road at the next exit, we refused saying there was no way we were getting back on there.

Nobody was hurt too badly and we walked up the hill to a White Castle and I was craving everything on the Church's Chicken menu but decided against it and Kristy and her dad showed up to pick us up. In the meantime of Triple-A towing Daniel's car, her dad made a new friend that we gave a ride to.

But it really was a good few days here, the usual good food and good times with the family. I'm realizing more and more that these things are not something that everyone has, when I talk to friends who say that they spent Christmas alone. If you've got no one to spend the holiday with and it doesn't have any spiritual significance for you, that's got to be depressing as hell.

In the coming years, when this wouldn't involve inviting a crowd of lost souls over to my grandparents' or whatever, I'd like to at least make this time less solitary for others.

Checked out that Faberge/Lalique/Tiffany exhibit at the art museum, which is the first time I've been there in forever. The new wing feels so different, but the exhibit was great even though I couldn't look at the Faberge eggs without thinking about how the Romanov family died a few years later. As far as modern art goes, I love the whole Art Nouveau era and still don't understand why it fell so drastically out of favor. The museum store isn't as cool as it used to be though, because it now sells things like this:

Otherwise, totally loved the momentary thaw, spent the day with Kristy doing our usual running around with cameras taking graffiti pictures, hanging out at the West Side Market, getting cold at Edgewater Park. We revisited the Fun Wall, but someone painted over the building down there with that nasty gray color.

Still some good stuff around, but I wonder if the legendary spot's days are numbered.

Sunday, my roommate's sister was in town and we ended up hanging out with people from church doing the potluck thing, watched the Browns lose pitifully, still finding ways to laugh. Her sister and another good friend of ours were Steelers fans so they were entertained. I still still can't totally hate on Pittsburgh due to some kind of misguided Rust Belt solidarity I inherit from my dad, so I hope they do well since we were hopeless this year.

Had dinner with the Ethiopians, watched cute little kids run around, joked about how we nearly killed ourselves earlier in the week in pursuit of savory dishes and injera, and ended up with beautiful jewelry and scarves that our friend's wife brought back for us.

I only work 2 days this week, which still feels weird. But I do get to see a very dear friend tomorrow that I haven't seen in two years, and that's going to be a wonderful thing

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

playlist 12/23/08

common - time travelin'
madlib - slim's return
angelique kidjo - voodoo child
folk implosion - my ritual
luiz bonfa - manha de carnival (black orpheus soundtrack)
tricky - joseph
gua - gatwitch jal jak (african garden compilation)
pharaoh's daughter - haran
keur moussa -magnificat
john coltrane - my favorite things
tesfa maryam kidame - tezeta (ethiopiques vol. 10)
jeff buckley - corpus christi carol
john frusciante - ramparts
U2 - miss sarajevo
mogwai - 2 rights make 1 wrong
pearl jam - let me sleep (it's christmastime)
cafe tacuba - tengo todo
dis-moi la verite - bamba, sory (golden afrique, vol. 1)
breakestra - recognize
soul messengers - savior in the east
chambers brothers - love, peace, and happiness
lonlon nyeku - napo, tchandikou ma (golden afrique vol. 1)

Monday, December 22, 2008

everything old is new again, or my year in music 2008

Unlike the previous post, this has nothing to do with Autotune or bad holiday music.

I don't really have a year-end favorites of 2008 because I hardly listened to any new stuff this year and overdosed on obscure Numero Group discoveries, old favorites doing new things, and a lot of trip-hop and African pop.

So, here's a very limited sample...

The Gutter Twins - Bete Noire
(As if there hasn't already been enough Lanegan/Dulli love here)

Funkadelic - I'll Stay
(favorite Funkadelic with Eddie Hazel cut outside of 'Maggot Brain')

The Dirtbombs - various live
I used a really bad comparison to describe the awesomeness of their live show like seeing Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana at the same time.

Cafe Tacuba - Encantamiento Inutil
(video is lame but the song is gorgeous)

Digable Planets - black ego
(this was the soundtrack to several lazy sunny Saturdays driving around Cleveland in search of graffiti and adventure)

The Roots - Rising Up
(favorite cut off the new record)

Randy Watson Experience - Morning Bell
(awesome chilled Radiohead cover, thanks to ?uestlove & friends)

Diplo - Sara
(don't know why I didn't get this earlier)

no expectations

3 days til the holidays and most of my presents are wrapped except for the massive quantities of coffee that I'll have to obtain at some point to make the relatives happy and not feeling neglected.

A good friend of mine came up Saturday afternoon who I haven't seen since this summer and got to hang out with the Burundi kids who instantly adopted her and by the end of the afternoon they were showing each other dance moves.

We went in search of the tacky Christmas house in Westlake with all the inflatables but they didn't have any up this year so we did some low-stress Christmas shopping at Half-Price Books and drove to the old hometown of Parma to get the best Vietnamese food in the city at Tay-Do and catch up on life.

The holidays came quick this year and I'm not stressed out at all. It's so good to feel that way.

Also, that awful "Wonderful Christmastime" song is evidently unavoidable on every radio station in this city. I don't know why anyone ever thought that song was a good idea but evidently being a member of the Fab Four means you can make complete crap and people think you're a genius. See: anything that John & Yoko did together and Ringo's solo career.

This is why I'm a Stones fan. We've got no such expectations.

Anyway, when I was driving to the Rapid station I heard an even worse rendition of "Wonderful Christmastime," which I never even knew was possible. Evidently Rahsaan Patterson is responsible for this. Seriously, this whole Autotune thing needs to stop.

Friday, December 19, 2008

i hate that song that says "let it snow!"

Once again, public transportation is AWESOME because you can let other people do the driving for you instead of pulling over every ten minutes to scrape the rapidly freezing sheets of rain off of your windshield and driving with the windows rolled all the way down because there's a covering of ice on that too and you can't see a thing. Got all sorts of weird looks from people as I'm driving down Detroit Road to West 25th with the windows down, the heat on maximum and the Afghan Whigs cranked up.

But tonight I'm accompanying my wonderfully talented roommate providing dinner music at a nursing home and hoping that I'll be able to get out of downtown without too much craziness.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Due to the water main break downtown, I ended up going home early yesterday, which was really nice, like a snow day for grown-ups, especially since I ended up hanging out with Kristy for the first time in about 5 months since she's been on a whole other continent.

We chilled at her house, listened to music, caught up on everything that's happened since we last saw each other, made chocolate covered pretzels and it was just so good to be seeing her again. She also hooked me up with some beautiful cloth, silver earrings, African tea, and cassette tapes (Tuareg desert blues! Nigerien hip-hop!). She'll be going back this summer with a friend of hers to bring medical supplies that are hard to come by over there.

Hit up the library, did some more Christmas-gift-shopping and got all existential in the Westgate mall parking lot thinking about how much we have and how little everyone else does.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

all i want for christmas...

but to you, I'm nothing but a number...

I read the Plain Dealer online now since I don't subscribe to the paper anymore, and I saw a name I recognized as someone whose path I crossed this summer.

He also showed up to volunteer and help build a playground on West 89th. We shoveled mulch and nailed boards together, hung out and enjoyed the beautiful day and the sun when they ran out of work for us to do. I never saw him again after that and then saw the listing for a vigil his family was having because he got murdered.

And sure, he probably wasn't a totally innocent guy, and I had that feeling at the time as I watched him get stoned on the corner and noticed that he was pretty cryptic about his personal life, but none of us really are when it comes down to it. The idiot commenters on celebrate that another "thug" is off the streets, but what if that was your brother or sister or neighbor or cousin? What if he left behind two kids?

It's not that people I know haven't passed away. I've lost friends to old age, cancer, natural causes, freak accidents, suicide (the other thing I can't completely get past), and whenever life ends early or unnecessarily, it truly saddens me. My friend's husband just came back from Iraq and I'm so glad he's ok, but I think of how many other thousand kids my age never made it home, and the families and cities there where things went from bad to worse for the people living there.

I guess I see things like this in the paper all the time and it doesn't always sink in. It's a name and an age and a street name, another faceless statistic for some group to compute and explain why we're in the top ten in the nation in poverty and violence and for the people in the suburbs to justify themselves in moving out of the big, bad, city. As if we didn't have our own problems in the burbs, you know?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

playlist 12/16/08

fugazi - the kill / strangelight
omar rodriguez-lopez - grey (cancion para el)
regina carter - don't mess with mr. t
jurassic 5 - quality control
demacustico - brazil
lee perry vs king tubby - african roots
massive attack - man next door
kasai all-stars - drowning goat
louis mhlanga - international rhumba
femi kuti - truth don't die
toubab krewe - hang tan
mamor kassey - mossi gaydou
fela kuti - jeun ku ko
the upsetters - popcorn
gregory isaacs - reform institute
gaspar lawal - kita kita
outkast - liberation
gnarls barkley - who's gonna save my soul
beck - modern guilt
cafe tacuba - eres
william devaughn - be thankful for what you've got

Monday, December 15, 2008


I don't feel like I did much this weekend, because I ended up sleeping way more than I usually do. I never want to be that person who works all day and then comes home and doesn't do anything but sleep or watch TV, but I can see how easily that would happen.

Still, problems with the wheels on the Sexy Saturn notwithstanding, I did get some good stuff knocked out this weekend. While getting my tire patched at the Parmatown Wal-Mart, my sister and I knocked out some Christmas shopping which was no stress because evidently no one shops there anymore.

We threw a Christmas party for the Burundi kids, and they got to play games, eat pizza, and get some gifts. Brittany and I drank ridiculously sugary Tampico punch and enjoyed the chaos.

We drove out to Coventry and giggled at self-help books at Mac's Backs and I picked up this:

How awesome is that?

Otherwise, it was pretty chill, did some art, made some music, read some books. Kristy's coming home after spending five months in the West African bush so we'll be at the airport welcoming her home. It'll be great having her around again and hearing what she's been up to.

"They need to leave the planet. They need to go to Texas"

So says the guy on the Rapid this morning as we're heading into downtown talking about Cleveland's favorite football team. Usually I don't take the Rapid into work but today I felt like it and it was nice to have some freedom from the mundane in the early morning. It wasn't technically eavesdropping because the guy in question is one of those people who likes to have an audience for his theories on life, including how the world's going to end when we have an Irish pope.

Some people I know think they're too good to do that whole public transportation thing. I'm still convinced they're missing out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

totally irrelevant yet interesting

Since I do not have the resources to set out on great adventures to exotic parts of the world, I do what I've done since I was a kid and I just end up reading a lot. I walked down to the Cleveland Public Library on my lunchbreak and picked up a few volumes worth of travel writing about Southeast Asia, Morocco, and Cape Town.

So I was reading about this one girl backpacking through Vietnam and she mentioned this temple for this religion called Cao Dai, which evidently is a combination of pretty much every major world religion imaginable but mostly Catholicism and Taoism.

and I guess the Illuminati is somehow involved in this. I'm waiting for the Art Bell types to jump on this one

From wikipedia:

According to Cao Dai, before God existed, there was the Tao, that nameless, formless, unchanging, eternal source referenced in the Tao Te Ching. Then, a Big Bang occurred, out of which God was born (emanationism). The universe could not yet be formed and to do so, God created yin and yang. He took control of yang and shed a part of himself, creating the Goddess to preside over yin. In the presence of yin and yang, the universe was materialized. The Goddess is, literally, the mother of the myriad of things in the Universe. Thus, Caodaiists worship not only God, the father, but also the Goddess, literally refer to as the Mother Buddha. Note that God's importance and role is higher than that of the Mother Buddha. Also, the Mother Buddha is male, as are all buddhas. The Mother Buddha only oversees yin and is not a part of yin, which is female.

Anyways, that has no real bearing on my life or that of anyone else I know, but it is interesting, I guess...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

wu-tang is for the children.

self defense 101

This is going to be me someday
Shopkeeper fights off knife-wielding raiders with cup of tea

Varsha Patel, 45, was about to take her first sip of the drink when two men wearing balaclavas burst in to her village store armed with 10-inch blades and made a grab for the till.

Reacting swiftly, she hurled the steaming tea into the face of one assailant and then threw the empty mug at his companion's head.

As she stepped back to grab a bottle of whisky to hurl at them, the two shocked thieves fled the shop with just a scratch card dispenser.

Other gems from the Telegraph, which for you Cleveland people is like the 19 Action Newspaper of the UK...

Primary school teacher tells class that Father Christmas isn't real

A grandmother was sent a machine gun intended for a police station through the post after an address mix-up.

worst feeling ever...

When something totally, utterly falls through the cracks. This happens more than it should.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

incoherent holidayness

So, I just realized Christmas is two weeks away.

I've been enjoying the Christmas lights, successfully avoiding much of the sappy holidays. Of all places, the first bad Christmas music I heard was on the radio at the African/Caribbean grocery store around the corner from where I volunteer. I got to hear the joyous strains of "We Need a Little Christmas" and that damn "Christmas Shoes" song with the children's choir while looking for plantains, jerk seasoning, and strong coffee.

Working two weeks of retail at a now-deceased Parmatown department store when I was 19 made me want to kill myself and denounce the capitalist system in its entirety after seeing people with three maxed-out credit cards trying to buy hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise, and getting cussed out and yelled at by bitter managers and angry shoppers who wonder why the temporary help can't find that certain sweater in that certain size.

I was able to go all local last year and I think I'll be able to pull it off this year too. Between Gypsy and Phoenix for the coffee drinkers in my life, and Local Girl and City Buddha, I think I'll be fine and not stressed out. I'm also trying to find a midnight Christmas Eve service to appease the inner Catholic still in me somewhere that wants candlelight and reverence and refuge from all the craziness.

My roommate and I were talking the other night and we decided that if we were to have kids, we're not going to buy them all sorts of crap for Christmas and instead have them learn how to give things away.

and on a less serious note, it's not truly the holiday season until you revisit this:

I still do not understand my enjoyment of stoner humor.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

playlist 12/9/08

It's a coffee and cinnamon pop-tarts morning. Got kind of folky later on in this set.

radiohead - there there
burial - shell of light
erykah badu - bag lady
soul coughing - lazybones
morcheeba - let me see
people under the stairs - l.a. song (sensitive remix)
tribe called quest - check the rhime
the verve - life's an ocean
U2 - 4th of july
the telescopes - spaceship
manu chao - mentira
souad massi - houria
soulsavers - arizona bay
red house painters - priest alley
nina simone - mood indigo
scrawl - guess i'll wait
r.e.m. - drive
julie miller & steve earle - all my tears
alvin youngblood hart & the carolina chocolate drops - city of refuge
calexico - dub latina
cafe tacuba - encantamiento inutil
john frusciante - a song to sing when i'm lonely
habib koite - i ka barra
sierra leone refugee all-stars - seconds (U2 cover)
bb seaton - summertime
raphael saadiq - 100 yard dash

Friday, December 5, 2008

light, bright, and sparkling

So it's been an interesting week... almost-drama that's amusing in its absurdity especially since I was unaware of any previous relationship, strange characters in and out of my workplace, and the small wonders and frustrations that is the daily grind.

I wish I was as gifted of a writer as Jane Austen because like her, I find the quirks and small dramas and greater universal issues apparent in my small little corner of the world fascinating. I wish I could capture and distill like she did, but I doubt I will ever be able to do that.

When I look back at my Kent State education, I'd have to say the highlight of my English department experience was my Austen seminar I took senior year where we read everything she wrote, along with "Reading Lolita in Tehran," "Persepolis," and the not nearly as exciting "Jane Austen Book Club" which maybe I'd appreciate if I was closer to middle age, but I'm not there yet and will hopefully be reading more exciting things than that.

I was afraid that I would hate Jane after a whole semester of immersion but it turned me into a fangirl even moreso. Not that I run through the streets of Cleveland in empire-waist dresses figuring out when the next ball is, but I found the books entertaining in the extreme. I guess it's a predisposition for dry British humor that I always fall for and the hope against hope for happy endings in spite of my preconceptions.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

there goes the last dj, who plays what he wants to play...

I know I shouldn't admit this as a devotee of all things college radio, but I have the local "K-Rock" and all three classic rock stations preset on my car as well, in case I don't want to listen to ambient drone, macedonian pop, or speed metal. Besides, being a native of the North Coast, I still love my classic rock and the Gen-X equivalent thereof. Despite my excursions into other sonic territory, these are where my roots are. In my universe, you can't hear "Evenflow," "When the Levee Breaks," or anything by Soul Coughing too many times.

But I felt a small sense of loss, when I hit 92.3 and realize they don't have DJs anymore, because as corporate as the station is, they actually seemed to have some personality or something, and in some cases you got a sense of what they were into, as opposed to what was on the playlist. The generic voiceover format is disconcerting, as is the sudden influx of blandness (whether or not this is better than 20-year-olds with bad hair and who were signed by pete wentz is to be debated). I also think about how these people lost their jobs too. I know times are tough, but sheesh.

I keep hearing the claims of terrestrial radio being a dying format and maybe for some it is, at least the segment of the population that has satellite radio or the Internet or their iPod but for me and probably others, but for those of us with a tape player and some presets on their dial, it's still a big thing. I've got my personalities that I enjoy, and I appreciate the eclecticism of views and styles that I get exposed to, whether it's gamelan orchestras, Rastafarian philosophy, obscure garage rock gems, Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonations, or call-in shows where people talk about neighborhood community service, their favorite haunted Ohio spots, or the local hip-hop scene.

But then again, this is coming from someone who currently does not own her own computer, laments that she can't find blank cassette tapes anywhere, and gave in to having a cell phone only because it was cheaper than having a land line in her given situation...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

my girl, my girl, don't lie to me...

driving on the slick cleveland roads, skidding around the corner of 30th and St. Clair, laughing as I listen to the show before me.

playlist 12/2/08

radiohead - talk show host
cut chemist - the garden
caetano veloso - haiti
holly golightly & the greenhornes - there is an end
twilight singers - hit the street
keur moussa - ethiopie
manu chao - por lo suelo
antonio carlos jobim - generique (black orpheus soundtrack)
ceu - concrete jungle
blockhead - cavelight / breathe and start
seungchul ahn - my heart is azure
beginning of the end - funky nassau part 2
segun bucknor - la la la
black keys - i got mine (request)
cloud cult - da dum (request)
mexican institute of sound - el microfono
tinariwen - qualahila ar tesninam
the clash - london calling (live)
herbie mann - cajun moon
mark lanegan & kurt cobain - where did you sleep last night
gutter twins - bete noire
blind melon - 2X4
mike odemusu - chant
fela kuti - jeun ko ku
aretha franklin - rock steady

Monday, December 1, 2008


So in the spirit of holiday cheer and togetherness with family and friends, I forgot to renew that fun little sticker on the back of my license plate. I'm going to catch it tomorrow when I drive down here and hopefully avoid law enforcement figures in the meantime because I have neither the cash in hand or my registration papers.


Though I have to say this was a pretty good weekend. Hanging with my mom's side of the family, feeling really short (I'm on the taller side of average, but 5'7 feels lilliputian in the face of my 6'8 cousins), chilling at the apartment, catching up on desperately needed sleep and time to read, successfully avoided any holiday shopping madness.

Made it to the 5th annual Thanksgiving feast thrown by one of my former housemates and a group of our friends from the Kent State days. They've been doing their own Thanksgiving ritual for the past five years, born from a love of cooking, football, classic rock, and simple just hanging out.

There were fewer of us this year, most of us having graduated and scattered across the country, those who stayed anxious about an uncertain future in Cleveland, and there was no record player cranking out the Violent Femmes, Queen, and Jimi Hendrix, but it's always good to hear stories of Joel's adventures in Bryce Canyon, me and Danica reminiscing about our English major days and trading ESL teaching stories, reliving of past broomball glories, and the spirited discussions of politics, music, and sports.

By the end of the night, the food was gone, the wine drank, and the music had shifted down from Cake to Mazzy Star, and while I don't yearn for the carefree college days, it's good to know there's still a few of us still alive and kicking.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

look at all the love we found.

As messed-up as some things can be, I am still amazed at what I am surrounded by. Serenades and phone calls and little gifts and the best thing ever: time with the people I love and care about, whether it's long distance over the phone, or just chilling out.

I am so blessed to have what I have.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I turn 25 today. I don't think I'm a midlife or even quarterlife crisis kind of person but I've been feeling pretty low the past two days. Still, I feel good about the show I did this morning and I'm just going to try and get through today.

playlist 11/25/08

diplo- summer's gonna hurt you
tv on the radio - family tree
lupe fiasco - kick push
joe gibbs - universal dub
dr alimantado - here for a purpose
love - alone again or
kristin hersh & michael stipe - your ghost
gutter twins - who will lead us?
ollabelle - no more my lord
martina topley-bird - anything
cut chemist - the garden
joe strummer and the mescaleros - tony adams
regina carter - higher ground
outkast - liberation
irene stevenson - if it had not been for jesus
the masonic wonders - i called him
sonic youth - tabla in suburbia
mazzy star - take everything
U2 - acrobat
afghan whigs - uptown again
the cure - cut
lamb - this could be heaven

Monday, November 24, 2008

picking up.

There are some people that you meet and you feel like they're in your life for too short of a time and you wish you had more of a chance to get to know them. One of the problems with living in an area with a notorious "brain drain" is that some of the best minds end up leaving and only returning for holidays and funerals.

The one girl was roommates with one of my best friends and when I first moved back here, I loved hanging out with them, sharing a similar love of creating and the Creator, and when she and her fiance got married and moved to the Carolinas where the jobs were, I assumed that would be the last I would see of them.

My sister and I were thrilled when we learned they were moving back to the area, and not just to Cleveland, but to East Cleveland to take the art and the skills they learned and give them back to the community. We're sitting in an apartment overlooking Euclid Avenue, trading ideas and catching up and we didn't realize how much time had passed. It's so good to know there's others who share similar visions and are digging in for the long run.

Friday, November 21, 2008

makes me wanna holler...

I hate it when I hear people complain about their jobs when so many people are losing theirs. I really hate it. I can't tell you how many people I know and friends who know people who are losing or have lost their jobs. The ones that are working are barely making ends meet or are dealing with eviction notices and family drama and general life stuff. We're letting people store their stuff in our attic while they find new places to live, offering the use of our couches and the spare room in the back, trying to connect people and their needs so we can all help each other.

Talked to a friend last night who's raising not just her kids but her sister's too, and whose husband just lost his job. They had nothing to eat for dinner yesterday and while she said I didn't have to "put myself out," I ended up bagging up some cans from my pantry and some veggies from the fridge, making a run to save-a-lot on 58th and driving over there.

I don't have much, but dammit, I've got a steady paycheck right now, and evidently this is something that's becoming harder and harder to come by. Besides, I'm supporting me, myself, and I, right now and, as my dad says, I live like a monk. I wouldn't and shouldn't be able to sleep at night.

It seems like some of those who claim to be loving God ignore this or have other things that they're freaking out about, but this is what's been resonating with me:

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (james chapter 2)

There was an article in Scene about how for every homeless person in Ohio, there's three abandoned homes. I'm no urban planner by any means, but evidently we worry if these guys fix up these homes on the east side, they can't afford property taxes, yet it's totally ok to give tax breaks to yuppies on the west side who move into neighborhoods and jack the rent up for everyone else? Tell me if I'm missing something. Maybe I am.

And this song seems to be the soundtrack for everything I keep hearing and seeing. How much has really changed?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I hear about the snowstorm coming and i want to retreat to my apartment, listen to records as the wind roars, paint with summer colors and cover surfaces with glitter as the world turns white.

I am not going anywhere tonight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the concept of love

I know it's cliche to rant about bad art, and maybe part of it is jealousy because if I knew I could make crazy money just by being the first person to exhibit dead animals floating in formaldehyde, I'd do it too, maybe.

And this is why I have no patience for Thomas Kinkade. Part of this is because he just kind of paints little flecks on prints, but Andy Warhol was just as guilty of crass commercialism. I think what bothers me is that these are deemed inspiring and godly or something and that just seems kind of insulting to God, and embarrassing to me, I guess, though I'm sure that God's used to people doing all sorts of stupid stuff and worse in his name.

He seems to be doing the American enterprising thing and delving into all sorts of other business ventures other than endless replication of country cottage gardens and lighthouses ad nauseam on every conceivable surface imaginable. He's not just inspiring soulless subdivisions, he's moved into book publishing and film territory now as well.

This guy's got an ego bigger than Kanye's and Bono's combined, and here are his filming suggestions from the auteur himself. Thinks he's the next Kubrick or Hitchcock.

Thomas Kinkade's

The Christmas Cottage

The sixteen guidelines for creating the "The Thomas Kinkade Look".

1) Dodge corners or create darkening towards edge of image for "cozy" look. This may only apply to still imagery, but is useful where applicable.

2) Color key each scene to create mood, and color variation. When possible, utilize cooler tones to suggest somber moods, and warmer, more vibrant tones to suggest festive atmosphere. In general, create a color scheme for each scene that can be accentuated through filtering, DI treatments, or through lighting. Most of my paintings feature an overall cool color envelope, into which warm accents are applied.

3) Create classic compositions. Paintings generally utilize a theme and variation compositional motif. Heavy weighting of the image towards one side, with accented areas of interest balancing it on the other side. Allow the eye to wander into the scene through some entry point. Be aware of where the viewer is standing at all times. Utilize traditional eye levels for setting the shot -- that is, no high vantage points, off-kilter vantage points, or "worms eye view" vantage points. Generally focus on a standing adults viewpoint of the scene at hand.

4) Awareness of edges. Create an overall sense of soft edges, strive for a "Barry Lyndon" look. Star filters used sparingly, but an overall "gauzy" look preferable to hard edge realism.

5) Overall concept of light. Each scene should feature dramatic sources of soft light. Dappled light patches are always a positive, glowing windows, lightposts, and other romantic lighting touches will accentuate the overall effect of the theme of light.

6) Hidden details whenever possible, References to my children (from youngest to oldest as follows): Evie, Winsor, Chandler and Merritt. References to my anniversary date, the number 52, the number 82, and the number 5282 (for fun, notice how many times this appears in my major published works). Hidden N's throughout -- preferably thirty N's, commemorating one N for each year since the events happened.

7) Overall sense of stillness. Emphasize gentle camera moves, slow dissolves, and still camera shots. A sense of gradual pacing. Even quick cut-away shots can slightly dissolve.

8) Atmospheric effects. Whenever possible utilize sunset, sunrise, rainy days, mistiness -- any transitory effect of nature that bespeaks luminous coloration or a sense of softness.

9) A sense of space. My paintings feature both intimate spaces and dramatic deep space effects. We should strive for intimate scenes to be balanced by deeper establishing shots. (I know this particular one is self-evident, but I am reminded of it as I see the pacing of the depth of field in Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon".)

10) Short focal length. In general, I love a focal plane that favors the center of interest, and allows mid-distance and distant areas to remain blurry. Recommend "stopping down" to shorten focal lengths.

11) Hidden spaces. My paintings always feature trails that dissolve into mysterious areas, patches of light that lead the eye around corners, pathways, open gates, etc. The more we can feature these devices to lead the eye into mysterious spaces, the better.

12) Surprise details. Suggest a few "inside references" that are unique to this production. Small details that I can mention in interviews that stimulate second or third viewings -- for example, a "teddy bear mascot" for the movie that appears occasionally in shots. This is a fun process to pursue, and most movies I'm aware of normally have hidden "inside references". In the realm of fine art we refer to this as "second reading, third reading, etc." A still image attracts the viewer with an overall impact, then reveals smaller details upon further study.

13) Mood is supreme. Every decision made as to the visual look of each shot should include the concept of mood. Music can accentuate this, use of edges can accentuate this, atmospheric effects accentuate this, etc.

14) The concept of beauty. I get rid of the "ugly parts" in my paintings. It would be nice to utilize this concept as much as possible. Favor shots that feature older buildings, ramshackle, careworn structures and vehicles, and a general sense of homespun simplicity and reliance on beautiful settings.

15) Nostalgia. My paintings routinely blend timeframes. This is not only okay, but tends to create a more timeless look. Vintage cars (30's, 40's, 50's, 60's etc) can be featured along with 70's era cars. Older buildings are favorable. Avoid anything that looks contemporary -- shopping centers, contemporary storefronts, etc. Also, I prefer to avoid anything that is shiny. Our vintage vehicles, though often times are cherished by their owners and kept spic-n-span should be "dirtied up" a bit for the shoot. Placerville was and is a somewhat shabby place, and most vehicles, people, etc bear traces of dust, sawdust, and the remnants of country living. There are many dirt roads, muddy lanes, etc., and in general the place has a tumbled down, well-worn look.

16) Most important concept of all -- THE CONCEPT OF LOVE. Perhaps we could make large posters that simply say "Love this movie" and post them about. I pour a lot of love into each painting, and sense that our crew has a genuine affection for this project. This starts with Michael Campus as a Director who feels great love towards this project, and should filter down through the ranks. Remember: "Every scene is the best scene."

The list above is not all-inclusive, but is a good starting point for internal dialogue. These guidelines are not listed in order of importance, but are dictated off the top of my head. After painting for nearly 40 years, I still wake up every morning daydreaming about new ways to make paintings. Creating a movie is a natural extension of the picture making process, and hopefully my catalog of visual paintings, along with my visual guidelines in this memo will provoke dialogue, experimentation, and a sense of over-arching visual purpose.

Yeesh. Give me Dave McKean any day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

playlist 11/18/08

flunk - blue monday
stephen marley - you're gonna leave
the roots - the seed/melting pot (live)
amadou & mariam - m'bife / coulibaly
manu chao - primavera / me gustas tu
marcelino daha - plim plim
cal tjader - soul sauce (fila brazilia remix)
antibalas - go je je (request)
pavement - embassy row
ella fitzgerald & count basie - 'deed i do
tony allen - no discrimination
hiret benele - almorekum neber
antonio carlos jobim - corcovado / one note samba (request)
king sunny ade - sunny special (request)
the pixies - here comes your man
anna luisa - do zero
fugazi - break
idlewild - i found that essence rare (gang of four cover)
john frusciante - water
the ruts - give youth a chance
marvin gaye - right on / wholy holy

Monday, November 17, 2008

the best-laid plans

So much for the best laid plans. Me and the roommate were tired as anything and promptly went to sleep on Friday night, deferring our music-making for another time when we weren't feeling total exhaustion.

There's a new girl helping out with the kids and she's fantastic. We've split up the group between volunteers which makes things less chaotic and also gives us a chance to work with some of the kids on a more individual level. They all took assessments last week and they're all still at kindergarten level so there's a lot of catching up to do. I was doing some math with some of the older girls and I'm starting to learn everyone's names.

It was so icky and cold outside but we stopped over at Paul's and ended up hanging out with some mutual friends to get pizza, listen to Brazilian music, chill out and talk about the good things, and watch some documentary about bossa nova music that got me all inspired to get my Antonio Carlos Jobim book back from my sister.

Sunday, saw the cousins. Strange to see what happens to all of us as we grow up.

I thought about throwing myself a 25th birthday party but, as usual, realize that this will not happen. Instead of that, I'll just do what I usually do and do some hanging out over the next couple weeks on the small scale with the people in my life that I love.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Last weekend was jamming with the Ethiopians. This weekend it's me and the roomie hitching a ride with my dad and his fellow musicians down to the hinterlands of Medina for one of the biggest bluegrass jams in Ohio.

I tagged along a couple years ago to this thing with my dad and one of his best friends and it was like this huge party. It's held in this church and each of the classrooms off to the side has a group of musicians all sitting in a circle playing off each other. There's a shared knowledge as far as songs go because most of them are traditionals, and if you're not familiar with the song, everyone's very willing to show you what to do.

What's good about this one is that there's so many little clusters of people, you can gravitate toward the others who've got similar skill levels or musical interests. It's not the kind of music that lends itself to egomania because of its communal nature, so everyone gets included and the ones who are really gifted get their chance to shine in turn.

I'm not exactly sure what it'll be this time around, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be good.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


This is too funny.

I've always thought this video was goofy as anything, and I'm glad someone else sees the absurdity too. Not my favorite Chilis song, but that part at the end gets me every time.

Also, John Frusciante has another solo album coming out, which I'm looking forward to, considering that almost everything that guy has done since he's gotten off heroin is incredible.

if it's too loud you're too old

So I'm running some errands last night and happen to flip to the classic rock radio station and lo and behold, they are about to play the long awaited single for "Chinese Democracy."

It's probably not fair of me to say it's awful, having never been a fan of the band in the first place. But I get the feeling that the fans of Appetite for Destruction won't find much to love there either.

Since I love all three of you who read this and that Chris Cornell clip posted was torture enough, I'm going to leave it to you to find the youtube video which involves lots of tanks and Chinese people and people throwing bombs and Axl Rose being his usual self.

Otherwise, here's the playlist for the show this week:

erykah badu - didn'tcha know
manu chao - mi vida
al-pha-x - first transmission
funkadelic - i'll stay
martina topley-bird - need one
twilight singers - last temptation
brmc - love burns
cafe tacuba - tengo todo
digable planets - pacifics
diplo - big lost
lauryn hill - i used to love him
habib koite - cigarette a bana
amadou & mariam - coulibaly
red hot chili peppers - my lovely man
jane's addiction - summertime rolls
dengue fever - 1000 tears of a tarantula
the dirtbombs - if you can want
the clash - clampdown / guns of brixton
novalima - zamba lanco
tony allen - ariya
robert plant & alison krauss - rich woman
my bloody valentine - soon

Monday, November 10, 2008


No pictures from this weekend. My camera was left on my bookshelf and so there's no photos of African kids, Ethiopian revivals, the snow on my car this morning, or anything else.

Caught up with Dan Friday night to hear about the great road trip out west. I live vicariously through the travels of others until I can make these adventures myself. Attempted to create art this weekend that ended up looking dismal. I'll get the hang of it sometime.

People I used to know are evidently all messed up now. I guess we all have an endless capacity for self-destruction, but it still breaks me up inside. In between moments of the truly amazing and sublime, I found myself getting full of despair about the state of things. I'm thankful for very good friends who are solid as anything and have much more life experience than me, who chill me out and put everything in perspective.

Burundi kids were good this week. We have another volunteer who's a little better at this whole keeping order in the classroom thing, which is really good. After the chaos of the last time, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I walk in the door and I'm mobbed with hugs from ten little kids who are all ready to play soccer in the hallway and show me what they're learning.

Went straight from there over to church to meet up with my roommate and hang out with the Ethiopians and witness my very first old-school revival service, Ethiopian style. Watched a woman get healed from blindness. Stayed for my very first meal of Ethiopian food, learned how to eat with injera instead of a fork and knife. Heard stories about Detroit that made me want to go back.

Helped with music on Sunday and got completely lost in the first song, as the key was something like D-Sharp and there isn't really a verse-chorus verse formation to slip into. Thankfully my amp wasn't turned up too loud and I found my groove on the second and third. That current obsession with Fela, Ethiopian jazz and African pop in general really paid off.

Friday, November 7, 2008

and it rips my life away but it's a great escape...

Somehow I managed to limp through a day that started dismal and is finally starting to look up. I'm looking forward to returning back to my apartment, where I'll have a night free to listen to my newest stack of sounds from the library and pull out the paints.

There has been so much in the way of heightened emotions between our own personal turmoils and then the national level of probably the most interesting presidential race of my lifetime climaxing. Everything just feels so amplified, like our heartbeats were run through a stereo system with subwoofers and the reverberations just shook everything up.

I had a lot of crazies at my work this week. After two summers of working the ticket window at the Cleveland Zoo, I can handle most people because at least here, I'm not cussed out on a daily basis. But there, you were all wearing the same bright red polo shirt and you knew you'd probably never see that person again, and here that person will eventually get to know who you are and you are no longer anonymous.

I'm just so ready to get away, retreat and hide, with my stereo and my green tea and my paints. I think it's a Blind Melon and Mark Lanegan night.

she's lost control again...

Evidently, I'm really good at failing.

I think everyone knows this.

For some reason, I like this version better than the Joy Division original.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day playlist

Requests for Steppenwolf, the Who, and Jefferson Airplane that I couldn't fill.

Otherwise a much more funky show that attempted to be at least a little less political than most. Finally told the caller to go with WNCX if he wanted those tracks. They didn't fit my format this morning for sure.

the pharcyde - hey you
burial - ghost hardware
erykah badu - soldier
the roots w/ jazzyfatnastees - 3 ring government
jurassic 5 - freedom
soul coughing - idiot kings
maxwell - welcome
zap mama - kemake
funkadelic - i got a thing
mala rodriguez - volvere
joy denalane - hochte zeit
love - a house is not a motel
the abyssinians - satta massagana
joe strummer & the mescaleros - techno d-day
aricia mess - tentei
lauryn hill - forgive them father
trevor dandy - is there any love
black crowes - remedy
chambers brothers - all strung out
fugazi - break
habib koite - foro bana
souad massi - eche edeni
love battery - mr. soul
screaming trees - gospel plow
mighty walker brothers - God has been good
rodrigo y gabriela - tamacun
pharaoh's daughter - by way of haran
rufino almeida - bau
pharaoh sanders - oh Lord let me do no wrong

Monday, November 3, 2008

m to the a to the s to the k...

The Holy Ghost Party was a super success and we probably had a good 300+ kids come through the doors for pizza, candy, games. We ran out of candy by the end of the night but it was chaos in the best way seeing the parents chilling out and laughing and the kids running around popping balloons and getting sugared up. I was helping out with the foosball table and the darts but eventually ended up being the roving photographer as more people showed up to volunteer.

I also did face-painting for the first time. Attempting to portray the likenesses of Cinderella and Dora the Explorer was a challenge, but soon the girls were requesting flowers and stars and that was way easier.

We also had a zombie for Obama

Speaking of Obama, I got to hear, if not see, the man himself speak yesterday. Decided at the last minute to join my roommate and her brother and his fiancee and a friend of mine from the station, with whom I spent most of Bruce Springsteen's set making jokes about how every Springsteen song is about the same thing more or less.

I think I'm going to be voting third party this year because I really can't get behind either of the candidates running for policy reasons, but I thought his speech was really good and he had a lot of good things to say about personal responsibility and the state of the world and so on.

So we're all getting these warm fuzzy feelings and such and we get on the Rapid, which is all Obama supporters and then this older white lady asks my roommate to give up her seat. Not me, but my roommate. Being charitable types with respect for elders, we move and stand in the aisle, and suddenly the irony of what just happened sinks in as I look around at the people who are sitting down and they are all white except my roommate, her brother, and a lady sitting behind him.

Dear Cleveland, just so you know, it's not Alabama in the 1950s. Lady, you with the Obama pin, fresh from the rally, are really lucky that you ran across two girls who wouldn't cuss you out for being so oblivious. I don't even know if you were being unintentionally racist, just selfish. I don't think you even meant to evoke an iconic era, but the irony of it was just so absurd that we just started laughing at the situation because what else can you really do at that point?

We hear all these things about a new chapter in history and we get a juxtaposition of the old that exists in much more subtle ways all over this land.

My beloved city, we have so much further that we need to go.

Friday, October 31, 2008

ain't no party like the holy ghost party...

We throw a big Halloween party at my church every year which my friend Paul started almost by accident 4 years ago and it's just grown from there to the point that "The Holy Ghost Party" is something that's become an annual event for the neighborhood. A few hundred kids make their way through to hang out or as a stop on the trick-or-treat route known for having really good candy and lots of it, and this time, there's pizza and live music and all other good things.

This is my first time being a part of it and I've been down there almost every night this week making signs, bagging candy, stringing up Christmas lights and streamers, setting up games. I'll be serving food and taking pictures.

I've been so tired this week, living on sleep when I can catch it and sustained cups of coffee and cans of Arizona green tea, but it's something I'm looking forward to so much that it really doesn't matter.

We're having friends and family in from out of town this weekend, I'm trying to come up with the perfect mix cd for my sister's 21st birthday tomorrow, take care of last minute things that seem to come up, even with the chaos life is good.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

what the?

So evidently, I went into the wrong line of work, or just don't know how to sell the skill of making the perfect mix into something profitable. Or maybe even with the economic downturn, there are still people who have way too much time and cash on their hands to hire people to create the perfect mood music for their living space...

Though they consider clients’ musical preferences, stylists said they are paid to be the final arbiters of what songs work in a space. “When clients hire me, they are buying into the Coleman brand of taste,” Mr. Feltes said. Stylists typically charge between $50 and $250 per hour of music, which they usually download onto iPods but which can also be delivered on CDs.

So, pretty much personalized, much hipper muzak. Or something. This would be a fun job if it wasn't so crassly unnecessary. Guess it's good work for the otherwise unemployed types whose obscure tastes compensate for a lack of originality and social skills.

What sounds good in your living space?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

playlist 10/28/08

damian marley w/ nas - road to zion
femi kuti - sorry sorry
red hot chili peppers - come on girl
the roots - seed 2.0
mexican institute of sound - el microfono
astrud gilberto - gentle rain (rjd2 remix)
groundation - ruling dub
tony allen - ariya
king chango - what politicians say
novalima -
ceu - roda
erykah badu - cleva
oumou sangare
african head charge - heading to glory
mark lanegan - black river
blockhead - triptych
augustus pablo - rockers meet king tubby in fire house
soul messengers - our lord and savior / junky baby
digable planets - pacifics
afghan whigs - come see about me

Thursday, October 23, 2008

awesome meme

Go to flickr and type in "halloween" and the year you were born...

In this case, it's 1983.


I guess no one wants to look like a schlub when they're on tv all the time and such, but $150,000 for hair and makeup and new clothes? I made fun of John Edwards' $400 haircut but this is just so far beyond that, I just don't even know what to say. I can't conceive that amount of money.

And this just gets me.

This reminds me of the time a couple years ago when one of my elderly relatives offered my parents a pretty decent chunk of change to take me and my sisters out on a "shopping spree" because we've helped him out with a lot of things. We're talking a couple thousand for each of us, chump change evidently for those of us who are running for office.

We turned him down on it, however, because it just didn't feel RIGHT. It seemed like an overwhelming amount of cash to spend on yourself when there were so many people who need it more. Besides, I wondered what the heck I would spend it on anyway, considering that most of my clothes come from either the thrift store racks or the cheaper stores.

But back to the $150k. That's about 5 times what I make in a year. That's more than what my parents' house is worth. That could send how many kids to college? Feed how many hungry people? Provide micro-loans to how many entrepreneurs in a third world country?

I think of people who are really down and out, not just in dire straits around the world, but here in our own country, like the father of some of the kids I help teach English to on Saturdays who fled civil war in Burundi to come here only to get paralyzed from the waist down after being hit by a car. Not only is he unable to start a new life for himself the way he'd want to, unable to support his wife and kids on his own, but he's also got huge hospital bills that they can't pay. We've helped them out as much as we can, but there's just so much.

And that's just one situation. There are so many.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

playlist 10/21/08

Wasn't really prepared this morning, hence a few double-plays but that's ok.

diplo - into the sun
cheikh lo - lady (fela kuti cover)
jurassic 5 - thin line
dengue fever - sleepwalk through the mekong
blockhead - jet sun / cavelight
digable planets - blowin' down
lupe fiasco - he say she say
erykah badu - penitentiary philosophy
ani difranco - shy
novalima - alcajazz
tango crash - desde lejos
mission of burma - trem two
love battery - dayglo
t-bone burnett - blinded by the darkness
black crowes - remedy
ollabelle - john the revelator
bellrays - used to be
meat puppets - we don't exist
john frusciante - second walk / water
throwing muses - limbo
the clash - pressure drop / 1-2 crush on you
camper van beethoven - we're a bad trip

Monday, October 20, 2008

it came from detroit

My sister had a birthday party for her boyfriend this weekend so I stopped by to hang out and be her designated photographer since most of her friends are friends of mine also. Got the inside info on local people to vote for and caught up with people I haven't seen in awhile.

Had to leave early to go out and meet up with my good friend and fellow grunge enthusiast Frank to catch the Dirtbombs at the Beachland. The crowd was pretty cool and we ended up hanging around outside talking to random people.

They sounded fantastic and it was one of those shows where it goes faster than it should because the sound is so tight and it's just so good with its combination of punked out garage rock and covers by the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Phil Lynott and Sly Stone.

It can sound sloppy on the records sometimes in that good way, but live, it works so well with the two drummers and two bassists, and there's lots of those deep almost tribal drums and fuzzed out guitar tones that call to mind the Rolling Stones back before Keith Richards started falling out of palm trees.
I tried taking some photos but we weren't that close so instead here's some Youtube footage from previous shows to give the general vibe.

The buzz got killed a little in the encore by the drummer's overly long drunken rant about politics and dirty jokes which culminated in some heckling and the drummer suckerpunching a guy standing next to me. Or something. I didn't totally catch what happened but people were getting testy. I hate election season because if this was any other time, people would be way more chilled out.

I assume that most musicians are more political and such but if I wanted that, I'd go see Tom Morello instead of a garage band playing awesome party music from Detroit. But hey, I got free tickets, so I can't complain too much. And Mick Collins might currently be the coolest living guy in the music world.

Friday, October 17, 2008

every time I feel the shift...

Now that it's getting colder and the days are getting numbered when I can sit on my balcony and read or drive around with the windows down comfortably, playing bouncing summer music and feeling like I have a whole day ahead of me when I leave work.

I'm preparing for the inevitable chill, feeling ready for hoodies and layers, crunchy leaves and curling up with good books, working on art projects that got neglected during the year.

Time to dig out my fall and winter music... all my Seattle sounds and melancholy folkness and trip-hop, everything that makes me think of places where it rains all the time and it's not necessarily a bad thing.

Looking forward to seeing old friends tonight, catching the Dirtbombs at the Beachland, and then sign-painting for the Halloween night party that we're throwing for the neighborhood kids and the Burundi kids tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

playlist 10/14/08

playlist 10/14/08

massive attack - angel
the roots - water
bomb the bass, feat. mark lanegan - black river (borracho remix)
the pharcyde - passin' me by
erykah badu - didntcha know
m'shell ndegeocello + yerba buena - gentlemen
de la soul - plug tunin'
jurassic 5- break
primitive radio gods - ghost of a chance
porno for pyros - pets
les nubians - tabou (roots remix)
john frusciante - invisible movement

the dirtbombs -
they hate us in scandinavia
do you see my love for you growing
sharpest claws

gutter twins - seven stories underground
mountain goats - jaipur
morphine - in spite of me
alice coltrane - gospel trane
jawbox - i've got you under my skin
red hot chili peppers - emit remmus
lush - runaway
afghan whigs - citi soleil
the clash - armagideon time
king tubby - ethiopian dub
neil young - down by the river

rock and/or roll

So when someone asked me what I did this weekend, I had to think a second, because I'm sleepy as anything and that extra day makes everything blurry.

We ended up going to the Tremont art walk to see his friend's stuff, which was pretty cool, fashioning a living room on a footbridge over I-90 was something I never thought of but was completely amazing.

Watched some African kids dance and some capoeira guys do their thing, walked from Tremont downtown across the Lorain-Carnegie bridge, got there just in time for Joe Satriani.

While some of it was a smidge too 80's for me, I really enjoyed it, and realized I had never heard anything by him, ever, probably got him mixed up with Steve Vai. The guy is crazy gifted, and kept it interesting style-wise, with elements of blues, jazz, flamenco. He looked like he was having a great time too, didn't seem pretentious at all. And it was free.

It took me back when I was 15 and spent my lonely summers attempting to learn every Led Zeppelin riff in my parents' basement and digging through old copies of Guitar World, back before I discovered punk rock and decided I didn't care about Lydian modes anymore.

Otherwise this weekend... hung out with the little kids who were being all crazy, spent some time with the sisters, went on an early morning take-pictures-of-weird-stuff venture, which was very successful.

the weirdest backyard pet grave ever besides this one:

Creepy zombie plaster couple.

Ice Cream truck parking lot

King Kong shakes his fist at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo:

Giant Inflatable Fish!

Friday, October 10, 2008


So my friend Paul calls me up and evidently he's got free tickets to Joe Satriani. Confessing serious musical ignorance here, but I think I've only heard one Joe Satriani song in my life, but hey, what the heck. Guy's a good guitar player, right?

And those one-hit-wonders of 70's rock, Mountain, are opening.

This is going to be completely hilarious and amazing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

muy importante

So, people.

I'm not going to tell you who to vote for but whoever you are, I strongly recommend that you vote "yes" on Issue 5, which will cap the interest rate at 28% (which isn't great) instead of 391%.

It just kills me to see these kinds of places all over my neighborhood and my city knowing that they're ripping people off and continuing the cycle of poverty. It's just so wrong on so many levels and it's gone on far too long because the owners of these enterprises contribute a whole lot in campaign contributions to the powers that have been in Columbus who let these relaxed laws happen in the first place.

Here's some more info

On a related note, I came across this via Ta-Nehisi Coates. This is a must-read as well.

bob dylan wrote propaganda songs

I've posted this before, and I'm doing it again. Not so much for the music, but these were my favorite Dylan lyrics as an angsty teen. What's interesting, however, is how much more relevant it's become as I've gotten older and you start seeing who people really are.

You got a lotta nerve
To say you are my friend
When I was down
You just stood there grinning

You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on
The side that's winning

You say I let you down
You know it's not like that
If you're so hurt
Why then don't you show it

You say you lost your faith
But that's not where it's at
You had no faith to lose
And you know it

I know the reason
That you talk behind my back
I used to be among the crowd
You're in with

Do you take me for such a fool
To think I'd make contact
With the one who tries to hide
What he don't know to begin with

You see me on the street
You always act surprised
You say, "How are you?" "Good luck"
But you don't mean it

When you know as well as me
You'd rather see me paralyzed
Why don't you just come out once
And scream it

No, I do not feel that good
When I see the heartbreaks you embrace
If I was a master thief
Perhaps I'd rob them

And now I know you're dissatisfied
With your position and your place
Don't you understand
It's not my problem

I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment
I could be you

Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes
You'd know what a drag it is
To see you

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

playlist 10/7/08

So yeah, I tried doing a ticket giveaway this morning but evidently no one wants to see the Dirtbombs. Seriously, Cleveland. What is up?

tricky - aftermath
twilight singers - papillon
the roots with cody chesnutt - the seed 2.0
martina topley-bird - need one
bomb the bass, feat. mark lanegan - black river
lupe fiasco - kick, push
jurassic 5 - freedom
the verve - come on
ride - leave them all behind
sub swana - backwater dub
madlib - pyramids
burial - ghost hardware

the dirtbombs - if you can want (smokey robinson cover)
sun is shining
earthquake heart
brand new game

violent femmes - waiting for the bus
calexico - crumble
disposable heroes of hiphopcrisy - television
tango crash - milonga para alberto
gil scott-heron - the revolution will not be televised (request)
the dirtbombs - stop
ollabelle - see line woman (nina simone cover)
brightblack morning light - summer hoof
jeff beck - nadia
stephen marley - you're gonna leave
soulsavers - no expectations (rolling stones cover)

Monday, October 6, 2008

social adrenaline

Got to paint this weekend, realized my need for some acrylic paint because the guache isn't cutting it for what I'm doing now. Also took some random Cleveland shots in the hour or so before sunset when the light is just beautiful.

A friend of mine was in town this weekend before heading back to Jordan so a group of us ended up going bowling Saturday night at Twin Lanes which is probably my new favorite spot in Cleveland for such things because it's cheap fun and stellar people-watching. I'm notoriously bad at bowling (my lifetime average hovers around 50) but it was good just hanging out.

My friends who just got married had us over for dinner last night. It's been awhile since I laughed as hard as I did at their table, hearing wild stories that really should be in a book somewhere because they're just so good. They're amazing people and I'm glad that they're just around the corner from me.

From there, I ended up driving over to the east side to hang out with the guys because I haven't seen them in forever and it's always such a good thing. Every time we hang out, he always has some Youtube goodness for me. The last time it was Balls of Steel and the Ice-T/Soulja Boy feud, this time it was late 1950's R&B and SHAKER HEIGHTS!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This link is dedicated to the great visionary genius that is Randal Graves. Enjoy.

Aboriginal Headbanging

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Super-spaced-out this morning. Songs totally reflected my mood. I didn't think I knew what I was doing, but looking at it now, it kind of still makes sense even though if I was to do it over, I wouldn't've played a few of these.

playlist 9/30/08

mexican institute of sound - a girl like you
funkadelic - i wanna know if it's good to you
pavement - cream of gold
digable planets - art of easing
jane's addiction - summertime rolls
nick cave - mercy seat (request)
interpol - untitled
the roots - what they do
U2 - dirty day
brightblack morning light - oppressions each
t-bone burnett - every time i feel the shift
twilight singers - love/annie mae
soulsavers - kingdom of rain
dead meadow - green sky green lake
curve - already dead
love spit love - god's children
femi kuti - sorry sorry
brightblack morninglight - another reclamation
gotan project - chunga's revenge
calexico - dub latina/guero canelo
joe strummer and the mescaleros - midnight jam
mark lanegan - blues for d

Monday, September 29, 2008

wade in the water

My weekend was pretty low-key, sleeping and hanging out with the extended family. My cousins are all getting older and going off to college so there's fewer of us, but those of us who are there have a good time together. Working on an Ethiopian song with our friend Exodus for Sunday morning, learning lyrics in Amharic, trying not to butcher the pronounciation. Beautiful stuff, realizing how locked into Western music my playing is as I find myself discovering new chord voicings and rhythms.

But this weekend finished out beautifully with two of my favorite people at Edgewater Park. I never knew about the trail down to the beach from the top part until yesterday. Even though it's September, it still felt like summer, and we hung out there until almost sunset, leaving our shoes on the shore, rolling up our jeans, and walking along where the waves meet the sand, digging our feet in, letting the water wash over, writing words in the sand.

It was one of those moments that just felt like perfection, with the light golden over the skyline and the sun setting behind us.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Finally got around to getting some art-making done last night. Using recycled display boards, collaging with spray adhesive. When I'm done getting the first layer down, I'll doodle all over it with sharpie markers, shade it with colored pencils, and add a layer of acrylic gel to the results for further alteration with more layers of paint and paper, glitter, oil pastel. I wish I could paint as good as the old masters, but I don't have the training or ability so modern art is a cop-out and an outlet for me. I'm an amateur and okay with it.

I'm glad I never stayed an art major. I always knew I wasn't as good as the other people in my classes, that it was more of a recreational thing than a vocational thing. I was intimidated by arrogant professors and brutal critiques and equally frustrated when those who were encouraging mistook hardworking mediocrity for "raw talent" because I know that there's no Vincent Van Gogh waiting to burst out of me somewhere.

A friend of mine once told me that most art students rarely do anything creative once they get out of school, and I wonder if the reason I still have enthusiasm for it was because I changed majors and never burned myself out.

U2's "Achtung Baby" has always been a soundtrack for me since my lonely freshman year of college when I thought I'd be an artist, where I'd spend my weekends painting all night down in the art building until they kicked me out, but that second Digable Planets album is getting up there too as far as ultimate, don't have to hit skip art-making music.

I never feel like most of my projects are ever done. They could always be better than they are and when I give a piece away, I'll see it on someone's wall and almost want to take it back and add something, improve upon it.

I have never sold any of my artwork, and at this point I have no desire to. Part of this is that I know that I am not the greatest artist ever but also because I feel like it cheapens it and I just can't bring myself to part with the pieces to just anybody. Usually they end up being Christmas gifts, birthday presents, or stashed in a portfolio in my attic. A couple of my pieces are hanging up at my old church down in Kent, but otherwise most people haven't seen what I do.

I have nothing planned tonight except this: a stack of CDs, some crates of vinyl, and all of my creative junk at my disposal. I've been stressed about things lately that are beyond my control and are more or less unfounded and I know that this will be good for me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

need to chill

I really shouldn't try to ponder the future of anything after 11:00 at night.

That is all.

You wake up the next morning and wonder what on earth you were freaking out about.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ramble on

Kindareallywanna see the Smashing Pumpkins when they come through.

Going out to the far west of the county tonight with the roommate to pick up a cello (!) and while she's teaching music, I'll probably be browsing the bookshelves at the Cracker Park Barnes & Noble wondering how people can afford such expensive toys when the economy is crashing.

I am excited about the cello though. I love the deep sound of those things.

another open letter...

Dear Chris Cornell,

I still love my Soundgarden albums, but seriously, what happened to you?

You went from this:

to this?

I never thought I'd say that Audioslave sounded better than anything, but come on!

Where is Kim Thayil when you need him, anyway?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

playing catchup

Starting to play music with people on a regular basis again.

Got back in touch with a friend from way back that I haven't seen in about six years.

Hanging out with the Burundi kids is a regular thing now. I picked up some books at the library sale for them, and they were so excited. After the class, we went outside and played soccer and gave the kids piggyback rides until their parents were done.

Ended up getting to hear them sing together at the Swahili service at my friend's church. It was beautiful.

Meanwhile the world is completely crazy. Guess that's nothing new.

playlist 9/23/08

the pharcyde - hey you
madlib - movie theme
m.i.s. (mexican institute of sound) - microfono
novalima - zamba lanco
morphine - buena
joe lally - billiards
mad season - long gone day
afghan whigs - going to town
dirtbombs - brand new game
type o negative - everyone i know is dead (request)
gutter twins - bete noire
queens of the stone age - auto pilot
funkadelic - super stupid
tricky - joseph
dj food - fungle junk
pharaoh's daughter - ka ribon
love battery - foot
kasabian - processed beats
gnawa diffusion - sabrina
salif keita - imagige
love - a house is not a motel
tribe called quest - i left my wallet in el segundo
sinead o'connor - marcus garvey (burning spear cover)
funkadesi - makhana
tough and lovely - tough and lovely
blur - parklife
dirtbombs - sun is shining

Friday, September 19, 2008

the finer things in life

Books and music! And art, I guess, but I can't afford to buy that so I make it myself.

I went to the Lakewood Library book sale last night after work and despite certain individuals still thinking I listen to avant-garde jazz and am vegetarian, it was somewhat successful. I did not find any of these books, but these are 5
that I still have not gotten around to reading, or finishing.

The Satanic Verses (I actually own this but haven't finished it)
Lord of the Flies
At Swim Two-Birds (need to brush up on my Irish mythology before I tackle this one)
Anna Karenina (never finished this one)
Ulysses/Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (I've read "Dubliners" but nothing else by him).

Honestly, it was hard to come up with five, because between being an English major, and reading voraciously all my life, I've pretty much knocked out most of the Dead White Male canon and then some as I've been working my way through all the stuff I missed as far as African-American writers and world literature goes. Though I still haven't read any Faulkner. I'm kind of intimidated by it, I guess.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

playlist 9/16/08

Not too bad for 3 hours of sleep and still being sick.

I don't think I've done a show that hasn't had at least one Greg Dulli-related track on it.

afghan whigs - come see about me
soulsavers - arizona bay
curtis mayfield - we people who are darker than blue (dj premier remix)
unkle - eye for an eye
blonde redhead - spring and by summer fall
common - geto heaven part 2
ollabelle - john the revelator
paradise lost - one second (request)
ride - driving blind
morphine - buena
d'angelo - spanish joint
les nubians - bebela
twilight singers - last temptation
burial - archangel
liengo - tembe na tembe
funkadesi - makhana
ramsey lewis - do what you wanna (mr. scruff's soul party remix)
prototypes - track 1 (something in french)
yeah yeah yeahs - gold lions
santogold - lights out
modern lovers - i'm straight
reachout - simulation of chaos
sharon jones and the dap-kings - how long?
the mighty walker brothers - God has been good to me
tuatara- smuggler's cove
beastie boys - namaste
morcheeba - trigger hippie

Monday, September 15, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008


One of my old roommates used to call me a random force of chaos, due to my tendency to get into interesting situations where the unexpected always ends up taking place.

While I believe there is something divine at work in this, it's not far from the truth.

In a sense, I'm embarrassingly provincial. I've never traveled abroad (Niagara Falls doesn't count), visited very few large cities, and while I would love to see other parts of the world that I've only read about or seen pictures of in National Geographic, I content myself in the meantime to seeking adventure here.

This is home, after all. And I'm realizing more and more how deep and rich the life of this city is, and that you need to go deeper into it to find it. And sometimes it just kind of happens to you.

My roommate and I have somehow ended up in the world of the African diaspora that live in this city. I ended up at a church last Friday with primarily Nigerian immigrants, only to hang out with the Burundi kids on Saturday, sitting in at Ethiopian church on Sunday, a mutual friend of ours from Kenya cooking dinner for us this past week.

I love being able to see the world from another's perspective, learn about other places. Not just complain all the time but actively seek to see things happen.

And they always do.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

the days are numbered

I've never been one to do anything really crazy, but I have always been a sucker for abandoned and forgotten places. One of the best ones within driving distance is Chippewa Lake Park, which has been abandoned since the late 1970s.

When I was in college (grad school actually), my roommate and I drove over there with her camera to check the place out. We tried to get a couple guy friends to go with us but no one was free, and this whole venture took on a cliche horror movie feel (two college girls enter an abandoned amusement park and encounter a psychotic killer, etc, etc...).

The area itself feels like one of those photos you see of Appalachian regions in southern Ohio, with lots of trailers and rickety houses and stray animals everywhere. The park itself turned out to be more or less an open secret. Getting in was no trouble because there were people-sized holes conveniently cut into the fence all around. You could see the turnstiles through the bushes, and the frame of the old rollercoaster towering over the trees.

Further in, you could follow the pavement through the park, past the ballroom that had burned down, to the ferris wheel, the doodlebug ride, and the midway, full of collapsing stands.

What was so creepy about this place, though, was how abruptly it seemed to have been abandoned. Maintenance vehicles rusting away, all the rides still intact as nature took them over. I was completely jumpy the whole time, wondering if anyone was in these abandoned buildings, how fresh those other footprints were, but we had no such encounters.

I just found out today that someone has bought this property and plans to turn it into a resort with shopping, spas, resort hotels. I wonder who's going to drive this far and if they'll be able to handle the incredible amount of mosquitoes.

So if you're looking to explore this place, it's probably better to do it sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

there's a storm in my house...

I woke up before my alarm this morning to the sound of rain and wind and doors slamming and windows rattling.

I do like driving in the early morning hours before everyone's up. Just the lights and the road and the radio.

playlist 9/9/08

sneaker pimps - 6 underground (remix)
santogold & diplo - guns of brooklyn
afghan whigs - beware (al green cover)
the roots - break you off (live)
robert plant & alison krauss - fortuneteller
leadbelly - where did you sleep last night
erykah badu - that hump
morphine - i had my chance
martina topley-bird - valentine
sing-sing - tegan
heatmiser - low flying jets
cold war kids - hang me up to dry
john gorka - i'm from new jersey
tsunami - genius of crack
throwing muses - shimmer
the breeders - cannonball
kasabian - lsf
arrested development - united front
res - i've known the garden
trevor dandy - is there any love
the clash - ghetto defendant
tuatara - streets of new delhi
dengue fever - flowers
delta 72 - 7+7
john coltrane - my favorite things

Friday, September 5, 2008


my wonderful roommate Jocelyn just clued me in on this:

6th Annual JAZZ at the Rockefeller Greenhouse

Tour the Grounds! Dig the Sounds!

Saturday, September 6, 2008
1:00-4:30 p.m.
750 E. 88th Street

Looking for a fun way to spend Saturday afternoon? Come to the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse for its popular annual jazz concert, featuring two well-known, locally-based jazz groups-- Annette Keys & Road Trip, and the
Jazz Heritage Orchestra Quintet.

Enjoy free Lolly the Trolley rides through the Cultural Gardens, planting activities and face painting, and sign up to vote. Light refreshments will be available for purchase.

In the event of inclement weather, a rain date is scheduled for Sunday,
September 7.

For more information, call 216-664-3103 or visit

I've always loved driving through there, but never actually explored the area for myself. My dad was born off of Ansel Road and spent his early years there before everyone ran for the suburbs and he took me down there on one of the days we used to have when I'd cut class and he showed me the house that he grew up in where all the streets have Polish names.

My grandparents lived over there back in the day, my great uncles played tennis on the courts and ice-skated at the lagoons. I've always wanted to walk down there and now I actually have a chance to.


We never get hurricanes in Ohio, just grey skies and washes of rain. Maybe it will restore the tomato plant that's fainting on my back balcony. In the meantime it makes me drowsy and restless.

In the meantime, the Lakewood police blotter never fails me. And while most of the incidents involve public intoxication and bicycle theft, there are others that are somewhat entertaining... For having the feel of living in the city, there's something kind of charming about some of these.


COMPLAINT, OLIVE AVENUE:A resident reported that someone attempted to her garage overnight on Aug. 26 but were unable to get inside due to all of her junk.

COMPLAINT, FRANKLIN BOULEVARD:A man selling bootleg Alice Cooper T-shirts was sent on his way at 8:13 p.m. Aug. 26.

COMPLAINT, DETROIT AVENUE:A man stole an Indians hat from a business and left on a push scooter at 5:08 p.m

COMPLAINT, DETROIT AVENUE:A man in a gorilla costume was throwing trash can lids into the street at 11:11 p.m. Saturday.

COMPLAINT, LAKE AVENUE:A resident called police believing that the government was hacking into her computer at 5:38 p.m. Saturday. The resident did not have Internet access.

COMPLAINT, NEWMAN AVENUE:Police were called on a man shooting squirrels in his back yard at 12:23 p.m. Saturday. The man stated that he was shooting the animals because they were eating his pears.

SUSPICION, DETROIT AVENUE:A caller heard a woman's scream coming from a parking lot at 12:21 a.m. Aug. 12. The woman was screaming because her soda had exploded in her face.

two of those things you're not supposed to discuss in polite company.

Here we go again with the politics and religion.

I have not watched any news or television coverage of either convention. Past experience has made me this way after a round of cussing out the tv and throwing things at it. The level of condescension to the Obama family galls me just as much as the people who find it disgusting that Sarah Palin has five kids. Who really cares? Do we need to talk about baby mamas and white trash right now? What does that solve, or does it just make everyone feel good about themselves?

It's been a lot more interesting this election cycle, but just as frustrating too. I don't see much changing for the better in this country. I get wary of people who think that way, who think that they are or that someone else is the answer.

I get so tired of both sides invoking God as if he's that cosmic buddy who happens to agree with their side rather than have his own absolute perspective that transcends the bounds of conservative and liberal.

I don't think God told anyone to invade Iraq, or that he loves us people in the United States more than the rest of the world. I don't picture him as an old white guy sitting up in the clouds zapping evildoers with lightning bolts like Zeus. To be honest, I see more real faith and belief in God in the people that I've met who didn't grow up here, where what you believe in actually has consequences and can cost you your social standing, employment, or life.

I also don't think that in the words of Donald Miller, that Jesus "... gave his own life against the forces of injustice." Sure, He was executed in an unjust manner under the auspices of a corrupt government and religious establishment, but that's oversimplifying everything.

If I remember right, and this is what I heard every week going to Mass as a kid and preached Sunday morning currently, it was our collective sins right? Injustice is one of those, and it's a horrible thing, but it's surely not the only one that humanity is guilty of...