Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence? -Sathya Sai Baba

Friday, October 21, 2005

"Hit that perfect beat, boy"

Oscar brings the 80's love in this great blog post about the Smiths. Gotta give some love back...

One of the things "they" say is that the music that you listen to between the ages of, say, 16 and 25 is the music you'll listen to for the rest of your life. That may be true. One thing I will say, though, is that no other music taps as directly into your limbic system, in the core of your emotions, as the music you listen to during those years. You may be embarassed by it, you may disown it, but if you grew up in the 80's, and somebody plays Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, I guarantee you are gonna feel something!

Part of it is just the sense of discovery that you feel. The first time you hear that band is like the discovery of pot, or masturbation, or kissing, or the first time you really understood a poem or a novel. It's like a great secret has been revealed to you and you alone. You stare at the stereo, incredulous, wondering that the world has contained, all along, this incredible sound and you have been waiting for it to find you all these years and lo, here it is. And you copy down all the lyrics and you write the band name (if possible, in script exactly copying the font on the newest album) over and over on your notebook and you go into your room with your headphones and you lie on the bed, rigid with the electricity of feeling that the music pushes though your body by way of your ears and you know that you have found a piece of yourself that was hidden in the world. This music, this band, they may have made it, but it is yours.

And there's always a first band, isn't there? The band where you see them on the screen or in the magazine or maybe just on the little blazing stage you made for them behind your closed eye lids and you say to your self, "That's me! That music, that attitude, that hair, that sex, that fury and rage and screaming and spitting and drugs. That's ME!" I remember distinctly the look of disgust on my saxophone teacher's face the day I told him that I didn't want to play jazz, that I had heard a band that sounded like how I felt, and that I wanted to make music like Oingo Boingo. He didn't understand. Nobody ever really understands. That's what makes it yours.

So, to Danny Elfman, and Andy Partridge, and Sting, and Simon LeBon, and Robert Smith, and David Bowie, and Siouxsie Sioux, and Morrissey, Adam Ant, Michael Stipe and all you eighties freaks, a salute. I don't listen to most of you at all, anymore, but I can sing every one of your songs by heart.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Grab bag fun stuff

PARSE party was fun, once I got past the whole "bleeding out the eyes with stress" thing. People do this all the time, so I guess it's all about what you can get used to. Chad and I learned a huge amount from the experience (give ourselves more lead time, don't freak out and almost throw down just before the show, alert the magazines) and that's a great thing. Everyone seemed to have a good time, including the poets, and we sold a bunch of books and didn't lose our shirts. So that's good. I wanted to especially shout out Raymond Daniel Medina musical madman and grounding force. Without him, all would have been silence.

Incidentally, it just occurred to me: Chad and Scot? Our names are Chad and Scot? How white can we actually get? I feel like we should be wearing pink Izod shirts with upturned collars and speaking through clenched jaws like Thurston Howell III on our yacht.

Speaking of being an over-privileged white guy (HA!), I saw Amiri Baraka last night at 13. Great speaker, and quite inspiring. I really enjoyed his work, and I barely flinched when, during one of his more strident pieces he described those who work evil as being "uglier than white people." NICE! After the final piece (the same piece, I believe, that got the post of NJ poet Laureate eliminated), which asked who was basically the fountain of all evil in the world, my friend Jai leaned over, rubbed my back sympathetically, and said, "It isn't you!" I laughed heartily.

It's like the fact that my dad (and Grandfather) are both 32nd degree Masons. I mean, I don't want to be a whiner, but if I am so all-powerful, I'd think that I would be getting paid more. I don't know, I'm just saying.

I managed to get a copy of PARSE into both Martin Espada's and Amiri Baraka's hands. Amiri's words were, "This is a good looking book." Very happy about that. Hope they like the insides as much.

Finally, here's an amazing poem I found this morning on called In The Bulrushes. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"We don't have to murder the intelligentsia"

"Here again, we find ourselves in luck. The society is so glutted with easy entertainment that no writer or company of writers is troublesome enough to warrant the compliment of an arrest, or even the courtesy of a sharp blow to the head. What passes for the American school of dissent talks exclusively to itself in the pages of obscure journals, across the coffee cups in Berkeley and Park Slope, in half‑deserted lecture halls in small Midwestern colleges."

A modest proposal by Lewis Lapham in Harper's Magazine for the realization of the American Fascist Dream - article here. Link courtesy of Discordian Research Technology (Don't Read This).

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Could the Spread of Latino Culture throughout the world... the the path to peace?

I'm a big fan of norteno and soca, myself, but hey, what ever works. Plus, who knew that Egyptians liked salsa?

Friday, October 7, 2005

Beck Hansen is the White Man's Prince (thanks Ray)

Saw Beck at Hammerstein Ballroom with Ray. Lovely night. The opening act, McRorie, wore a kilt and a suit that allowed him to play electronic drums, bass and guitar with his body. He was canadian, so I guess he couldn't help it. He did numerous rap covers (Rapper's Delight, Fight for Your Right to Party, I Like Big Butts by Sir-Mix-a-Lot (god have mercy on us all)). He also exhorted the fellows to "go downtown" for their ladies. Frankly, even though I appreciate, in no particular order, kilts, electronic drums, canadians, cunnilingus, old-school rap, and one-man-bands, somehow the convergence of all these elements in the singular person of McRorie was too much for my poor mind to take. I emerged into the set break a broken and sadder man. Which doesn't mean I didn't enjoy him.

Then Beck came along to make it all alright. I saw him when he toured with The Flaming Lips for his Sea Change album. He was a little more mellow, a little sad, a little broken himself. Though I loved his voice (apparently, when depressed, Beck's voice modulates from a reedy coffeehouse folky's whine to a rich baritone that would not sound out of place on an LP of old Marine battle hymns), the energy and pizazz was a little lacking. Plus, Steph got ill in the middle of his set and we had to split.

This time, he was every bit the showman, rocking out for a good portion, spicing the mix with the occasional ballad (including a flaming lips cover!) and generally rocking out with his caulking out. It was awesome.

I stayed out afterwards and handed out flyers for the PARSE party until I got picked up by a couple of poet girls who offered to take a bunch of flyers to their school to hand out. I gratefully said yes, accompanied them to Wendy's for a pleasant conversation and ran for my train a few minutes later.

Overall, a fantastic night. In case you're wondering about the post heading, Ray turned to me and spoke those exact words not a half-hour before Beck introduced himself as "The Artist Currently Known as Beck". So it wasn't just us.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Other show news

My good friend Abena is directing this wonderful piece, and she asked me to be a part of it. I'll be doing some of the music. Come out if you can!


West End Theatre
263 86th Street, NY, NY
When: Saturday, October 8, 7:00pm & Sunday, October 9, 3:00 pm

Eve Descending is a journey through the stories of women in the Bible. Each woman comes to life through poetry, dance, and song to speak where the scriptures have been silent. (60 Minutes)

TICKETS: $15 available at or at the door.

Featuring: Keisa Ababio, Elana Bell, Annmarie Benedict,* Oscar Bermeo, Jessica Elizabeth, Deborah Goffe, Sabrina Hayeem Ladani, Hanna Kivioja-Honeycutt, Dara Lazar, Daniel Montana, Lynne Procope, Dana Shavonne Rainey*, Melanie Stroh, Jane Titus*, Rich Villar, Scot Williams, Stephanie Williams

*member of Actors Equity

Monday, October 3, 2005

Sunday, October 2, 2005

PARTY! Friendlyfire Style...

So. You want to be at the Bowery Poetry Club on October 15 (that's a Saturday). See the details here, but it is going to be killer!!! Feel free to pass this along, and we can't wait to see you.

PARSE Book Release Party
Saturday, October 15, 2005
8:00 - 10:00 PM
Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery at Bleeker Street
$10 cover

Please join Friendlyfire Press (Chad Griffin and Scot Lee Williams) as they celebrate the release of PARSE - Alchemy, a new collaboration of visual artistry and poetry featuring poems by:

Elana Bell
Oscar Bermeo
Jai Chakrabarti
Robert Bevan Dalton
Sabrina Hayeem-Ladani
Mara Jebsen
Raymond Daniel Medina
John J, Trause
Rich Villar

With readings by the poets, musical collaboration from synonymUS and Raj spinning tunes.

PARSE Volume 1 - Alchemy is the first in a series of books based on the fruits of collaboration between artists of different disciplines. Friendlyfire Press is dedicated to promoting the arts through the creation of beautiful books and amazing poetry. Hope to see you there!

This could be why the cat is thinking of...