Monday, May 24, 2010

wild life rifle fire

My friend and colleague Paul Siegell has a new book out: wild life rifle fire.

If you’ve never heard of Paul or his work, both are truly out there. “Poet” doesn’t accurately categorize him. Paul’s work is a strange amalgam of poetry, word play and visual art.

I won’t waste your time trying to describe it. You have to experience it for yourself. For a quick taste, check this out:


Monday, May 17, 2010

SHS Reunion, Class of 1989

Went to my high-school reunion this past Saturday night (SHS Class of ’89). It’s been almost 21 years since graduation, and almost as long since I’ve been back home (my parents divorced and my mom sold the house during my first year of college, alas).

It was deep dusk by the time I pulled onto Stokes Road and approached old Medford. A good number of things have changed, but a lot of it seemed frozen in time — the cedar-shingled houses, the sour smell of the lake, lightning bugs flashing in trees. Driving along, looking at these old houses, it struck me that our parents were around the age we are now when they were raising us here. They worked, stressed over money, self-doubted, and worried about the countless things that come with having children. And also like us, they had no idea what they were doing.

But we never knew that. We woke up in those houses every morning, ate our breakfasts, got on our yellow buses…and whatever tensions and tangles we encountered out there in the jungles of childhood, we could always find solace in this notion of Home — in the sights and smells and sounds that were the fabric of this place (Medford / Tabernacle / Shamong). Nothing inherently special about it, except that it was ours…the one place in the great wide world that felt safe and right, the one place where we belonged.

Yeah, you could say it was nice to be back.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Stormy Weather

Jazz great and all-around superb lady Lena Horne has died at age 92.

I heard a story years back, possibly apocryphal, that when Lena first started checking out the Harlem jazz clubs back in the early ‘30s, she was given an odd bit of encouragement from Billie Holiday (who was already a superstar in that context):

The two had been introduced, and a new set about to begin. Billie suggested to young Lena that she get up there and do a song or two in the star’s place to kick it off. Lena protested, saying that she didn’t know how to sing the blues. Billie pushed back: “You got a man treats you bad? You got bills? You got kids? Get up there and sing the blues.” And so she did.

Hilarious since, again, Lena was only about 16 at the time. But she wound up joining the mike chorus at the Cotton Club right after that.

Monday, May 3, 2010


For your listening pleasure: “Pilgrim” by Steve Earle (w/the Del McCoury Band & Emmylou Harris on backing vocals). Just a great, great song.


I never actually saw Steve Earle until I came across a photo a couple of years ago. Prior to that, having only heard that road-weary, campfire voice of his, I’d always visualized some vague version of the Marlboro Man. But then there it was: all this wistful, roadhouse wisdom pouring from a balding homunculus.

The lesson, once again: Kickassitude comes in all forms.