Sunday, December 12, 2010

Drawing Of Women, Fish and Curves

I bought this drawing on Canal Street sometime around 1980 or 81. The artist was a tall white haired man maybe in his 60's or 70's. I remember he was sitting awkardly on the street. He had his ink drawings on the street. I liked all of them, the larger one was $40. I bought a smaller one for $20. Has anyone ever seen these works before?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Band

This is my band: Dennis, RB, 70 and Andrew. An amazing band. We just finished basic tracks for our new album.  I hope everyone and I mean everyone listens to this record when it arrives on your doorstep. I can't believe how good this band is. This new record is going to blow your mind. My mind was blown tonight.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Narrow Rooms by James Purdy

I just finished reading Narrow Rooms by James Purdy. My friend, the perfumer Ralf Schweiger gave me the book, after noticing and admiring his shelf full of Purdy books. Nice editions of Eustace Chisholm, which I read years ago, In A Shallow Grave and others. He had two copies.  I think he gave me the nicer one. Thanks Ralf.  It is dark. You often hear that.  Or I love dark stories, or his poems are really dark, or she has a dark vision.  One man's dark is another man's Disney. Though Uncle Walt & Co. turned 

out to be darkness incarnate.  You won't hear me say James Purdy is a dark writer. He wrote what he wanted to write. I'm sure it felt normal, not dark, not light, to him.  I love Narrow Rooms.  It is a love story about power and control, about ancient insults and high school Adonises.  The story, the characters, remind me of George Sand, Poe, Du Maupassant; super charged Gothic love with plenty of hate.  I love modern writers who remind me of the towering 19th century novelists.  It has been said that Purdy's fiction reads as fable. I don't agree.  I think he has his finger on the pulse of the American Male.  Violence, love, and the body, are the paramount interconnected obsessions of almost every boy and man I've ever met.  Reading the book, I remembered the great high school athletes who populated my high school and my psyche. The football gods and wrestling warriors. Steve Leslie was one of the greatest of these gods.  I loved Steve.  We were both on the wrestling team.  Steve was intense in every way. Very smart, handsome with black hair and blue eyes, not much taller than me, but really strong.  He had a sense of honor, a sense of humor and was very tough.  He took things seriously, for reasons known only to the cosmos at that time.   He seemed to like me, would talk to me, but I was afraid of him.  Plus he was two years older than me.  I looked up to him.  Built for football, he would then, as we all would, lose weight for wrestling.    He wrestled 134.  I wrestled 107.  We were always hungry.  Though I was afraid of him, I was still a wise guy.  One day in the locker room after a long hot wrestling practice, I kept saying "so" to every thing he said.  Over and over.  No matter what he said, I'd respond with a well placed "so."  Finally, he couldn't take it.  He grabbed me with both hands and threw me up against the lockers. And repeatedly threw me against them. Then got real close to my face, stared right into me and let go.  I was stunned.  He walked back over to his locker and didn't say a word.  Of course, I didn't speak either.  But boy did I shake and cry.  I don't remember what possessed me to push him over the limit.  As a kid, all of my energy went into being a wise kid.  The bigger, the badder the target the more I enjoyed it.  A few days later, Steve approached me the cafeteria and said hello.  I gave him a meek hi back. I realized he felt bad.  I didn't think he needed to feel bad.  I was a wise guy and a real annoying jerk.  And got what I wanted.  

During wrestling practices in the weeks that followed Steve would work out with me.  He encouraged me to give wrestling my all.  I loved wrestling, but didn't have the mental fortitude and psychic power one needs to be a great wrestler.  Everything and everybody was a joke. One day, he told me that he had been accepted to Colgate University. That he was going to wrestle for them and that he was going to red-shirt a year.  So I could follow him there . I was blown away.  I couldn't handle this kind of tough love attention.  I didn't know who I was or what I wanted to do. But this was all too serious and focused for me.  Steve did wrestle for Colgate.  I didn't.  I never saw Steve again.  Around 1987 or 88,  I read about his death in the newspaper.  He became a Marine Helicopter Pilot.  Ordered by President Reagan to take out the Ayatollah's oil tankers, Steve was shot down and died over the Persian Gulf.  I also wrote a song about all of this trying to use wrestling and flying imagery.  I performed it a few times, never recorded it.  I mentioned to Ralf that James Purdy lived a a studio apartment Brooklyn Heights until his death last year.  Ralf knew and said he had always wanted to visit him there.  Too late.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gigging about...

I played two gigs.  Last Saturday at Olive's in Nyack and then Monday night at The Delancey in New York. We played three sets at Olive's.  One set at the Delancey's Small Beast show.  Kerry Kennedy, the jazzmaster inflected chanteuse hosted the evening on short notice.  She is pictured here.
After these shows,  no more gigs. No one is listening. Why is no one listening?  Too much music out there.  My music is not that good.  No one has time to listen.  Everyone trying to claim their own sliver of pie as the poor/middle class mass of America fights for remaining oxygen in the dying pond.  Nate did buy us a bucket of PBRs at Olive's. Saying we were "on point." And that he liked my VAMPIRE SONG aka SOUR WHITE SOUL.  Which title is better?  So there was one person listening to one song.  He went to play pool all night after our conversation.  I don't begrudge him or anyone their choice of an evening out.  I am focusing on my choice;  stubbornly playing out this dream.  Friends say,  do you like playing gigs?  I wouldn't say like, no one likes catharsis.  Then just keep doing it.  If I keep doing it does that make my friends feel good? What about Ray? It doesn't feel good anymore.

At a certain age, many friends of mine ended their creative dream. Law school, better jobs, etc.  A few went on to success.  It is seemly, to continue as an amateur.  If you have not had any commercial success, then you must not be any good.  I have stayed with it and really wonder why? It seems like I've wasted a lot of time. I have always wasted time. As I kid, I would lay down in the field and sleep under hot summer sun.

70 between sets
... few days later.  I feel better already.  Deciding not to send any more emails or cds, or calls, though no one wants telephone calls today. All email.  All, not most of my energy is going toward my work. And there seems to be more freedom. Somehow, I felt trying to get gigs, etc meant I had to do my work a certain way. Now I am just to going work. Hope this is the final frontier.  I've inched toward doing exactly what I want for years. But I always held myself back. All the artists I admire, do their work. Hope someone wants it, but if no one does, they don't care.  They keep at it.  I've just let go of a few more cares.

Sunday, August 22, 2010



James Lord wrote his last book MY QUEER WAR, a memoir of his soldier years during WWII. James's entire life was shaped and transformed by his experience. He was haunted by the war. He wrote three novels about the war, none published.  When he talked about the war, the Nazis, the internment camps, he waved his hand in the air, his voice trailing off, anyway...
James died one year ago, August.  He wrote me several letters saying he was busy writing and then rewriting the book. Told me he finished the book, in the middle of the night after he got up to take a piss.

I've read some reviews and they are pretty poor.  The NY Times review was by a friend/acquaintance ruminating on the fascinating expatriate, James Lord.  He spends only a few good paragraphs on the book. The rest of the reviews, say the book suffers from its "purple prose." The book is not overwritten.  This is James's style.  I guess it is not in vogue.  My hope is that young people will find this work as it is; brutally honest and full of life.   Just as James was.

Friday, April 23, 2010

T. batalinii In My Backyard

"A little Tulip for rock gardeners to dream about and to secure at the earliest possible moment. It hails from Asia Minor...  It produces four or five stem leaves, and a stout little stem bearing a small generous cup with rather bluntly pointed segments.  They are lightly fragrant.  It crosses freely with its brilliant allies and from these crosses, it is said, have been raised many beautiful forms in pinkish red, lemon, apricot, and peach." (Excerpt "Adventures with Hardy Bulbs," Louise Beebe Wilder, 1936)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Show Tonight at The Delancey

Home from The Delancey. 3.29.10. The show went well. Thanks to all of those who came out. My friend Steve Demarcado, a master perfumer sent me a text message saying he could not make it shortly before the gig.  Then he showed up! He said, I had to come. The Renegades's energy was coming from Saturn; far off, visceral and up tempo.  I heard from many people after the show that we were tight and everything sounded the best so far. Very gratifying.  No one thought we were arriving from far and distant planets. We did Sister Sister as an encore - no rehearsal. We had no encore planned.  I thought Will You Kiss Me and Burning For You sounded good too.   I passed out the new single. Can't Blame It All On You b/w Faker.   My beautiful friend Kristin, black from hair to toe took this photograph.

PS My friend Curt Nielsen (superb actor) wrote me this morning. "... you were so lonely on that stage, undressing before us there, with your songs, each sung another layer dropped." That is how I felt. And it isn't comfortable. I don't feel good.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bern Nix Article in allaboutjazz

Bern Nix performs on my latest recordings. If you'd like to learn more about one of the great jazz artists of our time. Read this wonderful article in

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mixing New Songs at Orange Studio

I was at Orange Studio last night mixing two new songs; Can't Blame It All On You and Faker.  James Dellatacoma was at the board and I brought 70, my mysterious Euro bass player to lend his ears. Mixing a song is like editing a movie. The work can be saved or destroyed in the room. Usually things fall in between. Too bad.  After about 5 hours I had to fight the urge to give up and give in.  70 talked at length about dbs and eq parameters and then said "it is up to you man."  I think the songs came out well, meaning we well represented the initial thrust&concept. Though I can barely remember the initial feeling.  The songs seem distant now.  I gave these recordings a lot of thought, but I went in on instinct and impulse.  I'm so far through these songs I've come out the other side. I look at them and wonder what was I thinking?  At one point I felt despair creep in when I realized we could spend a week mixing these songs. Instead we were doing it in one night. Limitations are good, that what I keep saying to myself.  Hah!  70 took this photograph of me in the studio when it was over. I feel it captured my mood. Lost in sea of darkness, with just a little light.  

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Avatar vs Andy Pratt

I have not seen Avatar.  But I did download Andy Pratt's debut album the other day. This self titled debut was recorded and released in 1973.  I had the album for years, along the trail most of my records were lost. Like the time my girlfriend asked me to move out of her home at 5:30am. Ok I said. Now. she said.  Itunes is a great way to reclaim your favorite albums.

I bought his first two albums. Played them incessantly.  Then in 1976 or 77,  I went to hear Andy Pratt at the Bardavon Theater in Poughkeepsie NY. He was touring on his second album, Resolution.  The opening band was the Rich Furey Band, (of Poco and Buffalo Springfield fame).  The Bardavon was a beautiful old theater.  It was empty back then, just a few rock concerts.  His band was great, I think the same band that played on the album.  His music is romantic, complex and confessional, intelligent and it rocks!  I'm not describing the confessional sensitive piano/guitar music of the 70's. Wait I like Bread! After the show, I waited a while to met him.  No one else was waiting.  I asked him if he would play at my high school. I was on the student council so I had some pull.  I remember him as tall and thin,  gazing down at me pretty intensely.  Like, is this kid serious?  How many high school show offers did he get back then?  He was gracious.  My high school wasn't interested.   I continued to listen to his albums. His lyrics affected me.  Like much of the music "old & new" I listened to in 1976/77; Talking Heads, Television, Iggy Pop, Bob Dylan, Roxy Music,  it was all startling and invigorating music.

Avator vs Andy Pratt?  I'm confused. Everyone seems willing to see Avatar and pay to see it, but not willing to pay for "independent music" or artists. The "independent" ghetto.   I wonder why Andy Pratt or all the other "independent" artists I know (including myself) are expected to subsist on crumbs.  Oh no, sour grapes isn't my dish.  Bring me the bread, water and wine.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Renegades Part II

People are asking me when you are going to finish your new album?  Well I am excited to say we are getting close. Close? Let's go back for a minute... This past summer I had written several new songs and thought about recording them at Orange Studios with the engineer, James Dellatacoma.  Dennis Young  introduced me to James.  And I was eager to work with him.  I didn't have a drummer and not much money.  So the idea stayed an idea. Until Andrew Platt, the bass player for the superb gypsy punk avant power trio, skeletonbreath told me that he played drums and that he would record with me. A few months later,  I still hadn't pulled the trigger. Andrew said, what about that recording?  I booked the sessions that day.  Today... we are adding few guitars and vocals. Then mixing. Pictured here Bern Nix laying down guitar parts.

And the original Renegade, Dennis Young adding percussion.