A friend from high-school posted a poem by her 9-yr-old daughter Vivian on Facebook last week. I printed it and brought it home to read to the family and nearly teared-up each time I read it, I thought it was so beautifully done. What a wonderful portrait of childhood. Very Whitmanian, if you ask me.
I Am From
By Vivian Stang
I am from the dog that barks at night
and the cats that roam around my street.
I am from Cape Cod and the warm blue sea.
I am from hamburgers and their wonderful, juicy taste.
I am from the Sarabinh and
Charlie branch and their love for me.
I am from my grandma’s brownies and sponge cake.
I am from my sister’s tight hug
and warm happy smile.
I am from my cat meowing when she wants food.
I am from soccer, kicking the ball through the field
and passing it to my teammates.
I am from running with my friends in the park
and sitting while our ice cream
drips onto the ground.
I am from my cozy bed
and playing with my sister on Saturday mornings.
I am from my mom reading stories to me in bed.
I am from sitting on the couch and quietly reading.
I am from chatting at the dinner table with
I am from joking around with my with my friends
and getting out of bed to give my parents
hugs every morning.
I am from gulping down my mom’s chocolate cake
and cleaning my room, while listening to music.
I am from riding on the back of a horse,
feeling the wind brush against my face.
I am from making sandcastles at the beach.
I am from laughing with my friends
and reading to my little sister.
I am from playing UNO with my grandparents and
listening to my grandma play piano.
I am from biking with my mom,
while watching the endless bike trail.
I am from the things that make me, me.
Here’s my first attempt at my I Am From poem:
I Am From
by Jason Molin
I am from my first little record player, singing along, “We sail the ocean blue and our saucy ship’s a beauty!”
I am from the alley behind the house, kickball, or a soccer ball against the wall, or setting up ramps and riding off them over and over again, jumping trashcans with Matt.
I am from walking to school, skateboarding, bussing or riding my bike back and forth along Connecticut Ave. or Reno Rd. I am from forgetting my books and having to go back to school. I am from getting a ride home with Mark or Saul or Mrs. Brady.
I am from crazy beautiful flawed teachers, Mr. Emerson, Stick Sturtevant, Mr. King, my ceramics teacher, what was his name? What would I be without their passion and patience? I am from Manfred and Gurland, my philosophical fathers.
I am from my mother’s beautiful house, the oriental rugs, the walls full of art and shelves full of books. I am from Al’s meals, dinners in the kitchen, with guests in the dining room around a turkey, well-spiced sautéed vegetables, an interesting soup, pecan pies, occasionally meringues. I am from long conversations afterward, talking around the fire until we’re tired.
I am from singing at church, from the trumpet what was my father’s, from high-school musicals, from the acoustic guitar I used to sing my soul over and over and never stopped. I am from jamming and singing whenever and wherever and those who join in.
I am from The Song of Myself and The War of Art, I am from If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out and Love Rescue Me. I am from Across the Universe and One Love.
I am from Maile’s animals, her loving name for everything. I am from Anais’s art, each dance, song, drawing, story, and scene.
I am from walking or biking the streets of DC, NY, Dublin, and Austin, lost in thought, noticing reflections, singing to myself, snapping pics or jotting down ideas, rethinking the strategy, making resolutions, noticing signs and designs, catching people’s eyes.
I am from the rhythm of words, birdsong, dancing and hugging and kissing in the sun. I am from staying up late, disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind. I am Sylvester as the stone, waking early and meditating on a world with and beyond me.
Gray and Lauren got married a few weeks ago, so I worked up this old favorite to perform at the wedding. How much more simple, beautiful and true can a song get?!
Love is real, real is love
Love is feeling, feeling love
Love is wanting to be loved
Love is touch, touch is love
Love is reaching, reaching love
Love is asking to be loved
Love is you, you and me
Love is knowing we can be
Love is free, free is love
Love is living, living love
Love is needing to be loved
I’m a bicycle nut. So when I picked up a sweet old vintage bike at a yard sale this weekend for $40 I had the double-delight of finding a precious ol’ pedal for a pittance. I love classic old 3-speeds like this. And it didn’t take much to get it going. Pumped up the tires and made a few adjustments, added a bell and a front basket for my commute.
Today I found a site that dates it at 1953! This thing is in great shape for 60 years old, hardly any rust, the parts in good working order. I rode it home from work today feeling smooth and stylish.
Cool touches: The fenders are like pinstriped fins on a 50’s car with a silver hood-ornament at front. Arrows down the forks. The white on black motif with solid black chainring and guard with white stars punctuating the italicized bike name.
So I’ve got another great commuter… and I am supposed to be getting rid of bikes!
I have become a compulsive WTF listener. WTF is Marc Maron’s podcast. He started it in his late forties, does it primarily from his L.A. garage twice a week, and just passed his 500th episode a few weeks ago at 50. The format is a 10-15 min intro of his obsessive schtick (with commercials that he does for his shows, partners and sponsors woven in), a 60-90 min interview, usually with a comedian, musician, or actor, and a few final closing minutes of wrap-up and plugs.
I talk about WTF with most of my close friends now – Doug, Maile, Earl, Sam, Gray – because we’re all big fans inspired by its insight. And I’ve started recommending it to people regularly now, so I thought I should document its influence with an explanation. Here are things I love about it:
- he started it himself and still does it largely himself, without needing anyone in the industry’s approval, no middlemen, he is in complete creative and strategic control
- he started it relatively late in life, as a way to make things happen when they weren’t, and now gets millions of downloads a month
- having struggled 25 years in stand-up, he can talk shop and the history of the scene with the best comedians, but also with musicians and actors because of their commonalities and love for those cultures
- he’s a refreshing antidote to uptight interviewers like Terri Gross and is so unpretentiously authentic that even my old favorites like Ira Glass and Jad Abumrad come off as snobby hipsters in comparison
- his Woody-Alleneque obsessive insecurities combined with his David-Lettermanish self-deprecation and humility make him a genuinely interested and compelling interviewer who consistently gets people to open up and engage on a deep level
- he uses his own resilience and slow rise to fame to get his guests to map out exactly how they made it, fucked up, and learned from it
- he uses his own drug and alcohol experiences as well as his 14 years of sobriety to relate with his guests, talk addictions, recovery and both laugh at and address demons and self-destruction
- he is a guitar player with a rich history of music love, favorites artists and opinions about music history which he frequently uses to connect with guests, especially the musicians with whom he is a true fan not just a critic
I did not like Marc Maron the first time I listened to WTF, and skipped over the intro segment several times till I grew to know him from the interviews. But I soon came to appreciate the seamlessness of his evolving personal stories and even how he weaves in into his plugs and ads.
After discovering recently that there are a bunch of pirated episodes on YouTube, I’ve been putting them on while I work. Here’s a perfect example of a great WTF interview, with his old friend Louie CK. (For access to his archive pay $9yr for premium access via his site or app.)
This interview has a lot of the stuff that you will not find anywhere else.
- A long shared history with the guest and the scene
- The reconciliation of a friendship scarred with Marc’s bitter jealousy and the patient sense of humor with which he can discuss the past, admit his faults, and come to some resolution (or live with the ambiguity of the friendship). Many of his episodes end with his asking of the guest, “We good?”
- His genuine expression of love and admiration and modeling of how two men can wade through a lot of pride and hurt by unpacking the past and seeing it from the other side
Ultimately WTF is a success story about how to make it as an artist, how Marc is making it, and how each of his guests made it. Instead of the usual emphasis on the breaks and the milestones, Marc maps out all the stuff artists like me need to hang in there, get out of our own way, and do our own thing.
No other interviewer brings or brings out so much of the mess that everyone else is trying to hide. And it’s exactly what we need to hear. Bless this what-the-fucker for hanging in there, getting clean, doing his own thing, putting it out there and connecting with so many other artists and fuck-ups, from his guests to fans like me. Boomer lives!
7/1/14: I’d like to add this incredible interview with Todd Hanson (Onion writer) as an example of the type of raw reality that Marc illicits and facilitates. This is therapy.
Thanks to Ron (of The Ron Museum) I’ve had an art-collector eye out for cheap art that makes me happy. Last night I found this on eBay and got it for $30, shipped from CA for $36.
After a little sleuthing this morning, Ron helped me figure out that it is probably a souvenir painting from the House of the Vettii in Pompeii, which explains the brown, yellow and red borders and the floating platform cupid is on. It doesn’t explain why he’s blowing a kiss to these three fading trees, and I like that mystery.
The back of the painting says:
Brooks, my beloved
husband, bought this
in Pompeii on 7 June 1956.
Our good friend Carlos “Los Monster” Lopez passed away recently, suddenly, unexpectedly at 43. Too soon, too young. Los backed me up many times over the last 15 years on kit and conga not to mention made me laugh hundreds of times hanging after the gig. And I’m just one of many musicians in our circle who Los backed up and entertained.
We gathered at my place recently for a memorial Ugi Breakfast and Los Monster Jam. Thomas brought over a great old interview with Los and we all sat around and listened. Los was with us.
UPDATE: After reading a bit more about the science behind what Pono proposes – see Why Neil Young’s New Pono Music Player Doesn’t Make Any Sense – I’ve cancelled my pledge to the Kickstarter project. This raises lots of questions about what all those stars in the video were hearing, why they testified, and their motivations for doing so. I’ll be eager to follow the Pono player reviews when it comes out, but I’m backing away from being a first-gen guinea pig.
Neil Young’s mission may still very well be a good one, even if it simply returns us to listening to CD quality songs on our digital devices instead of MP3s. We’ll see.
Neil Young is on a mission to save us from the mp3 and I’m betting he’ll get us kickstarted. His Kickstarter video for Pono (Hawaiian for righteous) Music is the most persuasive I’ve ever seen. Artist after legendary artist gets out of his boat of a car and testifies to their conversion on one listening. It’s like he got them all high on music! They’re all searching for the words to describe the vividness with which they experienced songs they knew but never really heard like this before.
I watched the video and had to hear what they were hearing. I pledged $300 for one of the 1st Pono players and can’t wait to get it in October (projected). I’m investing in this reversal of the lofi trade for convenience, back to hifi richness and sound quality. Like every one of the artists who hears the difference in the video, this makes me hopeful.
This whole project stuck me as a profound idea in many ways:
- I/we don’t realize what we’re missing or the sound quality we’ve given up
- I/we have spent the last 17 years listening to mp3s
- hardly anyone hears the quality of music that musicians intended, spent to make in the studio
- everyone born into this age has hardly heard hifi sound
- everyone who is old enough to remember isn’t just nostalgic, their music actually sounded richer
- there is a huge opportunity for artists to bypass all the institutions that normalize sound quality compromises for business reasons
- there is a huge business opportunity to satisfy a market that is being ignored: people who want great sound
- it recognizes that young people are uniquely qualified to learn from and enjoy this reversal particularly because they have undiminished faculties, undamaged hearing, senses
- we’re now at a point technologically that we can return to hifi sound and have the convenience of digital
- hopefully this will usher in a new era of sound quality and new level of appreciation for music
This a great idea. Like a strong wind behind great a new wave of connections to music and musicians. This leap in sound quality, combined with the great leap in artist autonomy that this crowd-funded model represents is… righteous.
When I pledge this afternoon at 6 PM, there were 5K+ backers for $1.2 million (the goal was $800K). It’s now 6 hours later and it’s up to 7K backers and $2.2 million. This is going to be big.
A friend from DDCE got married recently and I was honored that she asked me to play at the wedding, especially because there were only 5 other people at the wedding, including the bride and groom! Jamie and Glenn got married atop the hill beside the Long Center, overlooking Auditorium Shores and downtown Austin shortly after sunrise. It was gorgeous, intimate and Austin. Here are the wedding pics that included me, shot by Kelley Denby.