Asperger's hates me... aka... I think that's just Asperger's...

I was going to extoll the virtues of music and its impact in my life, but unfortunately, my day (well, two days) were upended by Asperger’s. You see, one of the worst things that can happen to an Aspergerian person (if that’s what you call it) is they have to change their plans. This can show up in larger ways, like, say, having to work on your day off (like I did on Sunday, which is now officially football-only day even though I hate the NFL and what football has become) or in small ways, like, say, not being able to eat cottage cheese and kiwi after playing a show because we’re out of kiwis; true story. But, the sad thing is that both things are often equal to the Aspergian mind, as illustrated by this Sunday, where I had to work on a podcast instead of relax, and Thursday, where I had to eat cottage cheese without kiwi since someone ate the two I was saving…

But, this is one of the downsides of having Asperger’s. I’ve noted the upsides a few different times on this blog, and I actually believe having Asperger’s is generally a good thing, like probably 70% of the time. It helps me focus on myself and my art by not caring what others think. It helps me eliminate mindless decisions, as too many decisions leads to fatigue. It helps me focus on tasks with its borderline obsessive nature. But, it also takes the smallest things and renders me in almost complete Aspergian panic mode. Here’s an example:

Tonight, I was at a songwriters meeting. I have never attended a meeting by this group so I had no idea what to expect. My wife said I should be prepared to play a song as they often have new members play so they can give notes, give praise and/or just support each other. I was reticent as I was just attending to see what the meeting and the group was all about. Needless to say, they asked me to play a song. I didn’t want to but obliged. As my turn came up, I couldn’t think of what song I wanted to play because I was so in my head about having to play in the first place. I didn’t want to. I stepped in front of the microphone and gave an intro/backstory for a song I thought I was going to play and… played something else. I’m not sure why or how I landed on the song. It was a surprise to me and I could barely find the words to the song as I didn’t know what was happening. This wasn’t the song I wanted to play (or the song I’d intro’d) so I couldn’t keep up with the song. Since the speaker was on my right (my bad/Meniere’s ear), I started to have issues with hearing and worried I’d have a vertigo attack. I played and sang it about as poorly as I had in years. Since I play so often, it wasn’t unlistenable by any means, but it was in no way representative of my abilities and, since I had no idea what was happening, I was only along for the ride rather than controlling the performance. It felt weird. I felt disappointed in myself. I didn’t play or sing as well as I’d like and I should have known to have a song ready. I was angry until I got home turned on the TV to see Deshaun Watson and the Texans score a touchdown in 13 seconds only to see the Saints (whom I fucking hate, I’ll never forgive them for Bountygate and for essentially ending Brett Favre’s career, even though it was on the Vikings…) come back and win. Now, I was more mad about this than at myself for failing to perform to my standards.

My wife asked me why I was aggravated to begin with. Everyone has an off night. I’d been awake since 4am (thanks to my cat), which means I only got 2-3 hours of sleep so I shouldn’t have expected a brilliant performance from myself. But, that’s not how it works. I get aggravated when I have an off night practicing in my apartment. I’ve never expected perfection, but I know what I’m capable of and hate when I fall short. I especially hate when I fall short due to my mindset/Asperger’s. I hate that it can derail a simple thing like singing a song I’ve sang hundreds of times. Or when It makes me have a fight with my wife because I forgot to do something and now I’m just angry at everything. It sucks. But, even though I’m aware of it most of the time, that doesn’t mean I can control it. It still is what it is. It still controls me even when I know it’s happening. Just because you know it’s going to rain, doesn’t mean you can do much besides try and prepare yourself. But even then, it’s much stronger than I often realize and I still have Asperger’s whether I see it or not. Often, I know I’m doing its bidding but can’t do anything to change my behavior. It’s a helpless feeling. At least it doesn’t lay me up in bed for hours on end like Meniere’s…

I wish I had a great moral or ending to this story but it’s just another in a long line of Asperger’s moments. At least I didn’t have a full on yelling at myself, squeezing my head with my fists while my body shuts down and I literally (yes, literally) cannot move for who knows how long; so I got that going for me, which is nice…

Sorry for the short blog, but it’s so late and I’m already so tired. One thing they don’t tell you is how exhausting having an Asperger’s attack is. Although, I doubt that would help anything anyways…

(dictated but not read)

First Show in Charlotte and Top Five Arnold Movies... aka... Just a normal Monday!

Thanks to everyone who joined me Friday Night (is for the drinkers) at Summit Coffee Co.! It was my first official show in the Charlotte area and I couldn’t be happier to kick off this new season of my life and this new chapter in my music career. When I actually sit down to think about it, I feel very blessed to have lived the life I have and to have experienced the hospitality of nearly 10 cities at this point. Chronologically, Horicon/Mayville, WI, Madison, WI, San Francisco, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Seattle, WA, New York City/Brooklyn, NY, Portland, OR, and now, finally, and probably lastly, Charlotte, NC. Each city has welcomed and embraced me and my music (especially New York and Charlotte, seems like I’m an East Coaster at heart). Also, looking at that list, I realize my propensity for moving long distances, including three trips from coast to coast. I hope to never experience that again. As a younger man, it simply involved shipping my musical equipment, books, records, etc. to a FedEx store and flying myself, but as an older man, it’s slightly more involved as I now have years of merch, musical/sound equipment, and even furniture I’d like to keep, to move across the country. I hope, and feel, that this move to North Carolina is my last. All of which is to say, thank you for supporting my musical journey and I hope to see you again soon. It hasn’t been a normal life, but it has been an incredible one, that I’ve lived up until this point. I’m proud to say this kid from a town of less than 3000 people in rural Wisconsin has played hundreds of shows across this great country, sold thousands of records, heard his songs played on the radio (in the U.S. and Europe) and lived more than his fair share of life in his limited time on this earth. So, thank you Charlotte, for welcoming me one more time and I know you’ll be proud of me when this thing is through…

OK, enough of the mushy stuff, why are we here today? (Editors note: I forgot yesterday was Monday due to the holiday, which is why this is a day late) The answer is a question you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for me to answer: what are your top 5 (I love lists) favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger movies?

OK, so maybe you haven’t felt like living your life has been a lie up until this point, when you can finally put your mind at ease about Bradley Wik’s top 5 Arnold movies, but I’m sure you’ve spent many a sleepless night trying to pare down his amazing career into a top 5 list? No? Just me? I’ve literally (cue Rob Lowe from “Parks and Rec” who now owns the word “literally” the same way Wallace Shawn owns the word “inconceivable” from his turn in “The Princess Bride”) lost many hours of sleep on this topic but then again, that may just be a weird, Aspergian obsession that comes and goes. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ll know I love lists, hence:

Well, you get the idea… So, here’s the fucking list:

5) Junior

Ivan Reitman directing, Emma Thompson, another Danny DeVito pairing, and wait, buried the lede, a fucking pregnant Arnold? Of course this made the list. Probably, didn’t think it would be in my top 5, but it definitely is. I have to turn this movie on whenever it’s on cable (which is almost never). One of my favorite podcasts (and based off its popularity, many people’s favorite podcast) “How Did This Get Made?” even on gave this movie its blessing by mocking it. It’s absurd, ridiculous and implausible but also hilarious, ridiculous and so damn entertaining. Kind of misogynistic, but dumb enough to get away with it. I wish I was in the room when someone said the words “Picture this: Arnold is pregnant, Danny DeVito is his co-star, Emma Thompson is acting like Arnold looks like Robert Redford and the plot makes no sense, but who cares…” OK, maybe that wasn’t the pitch but it could’ve been.

4) Jingle All The Way

This was hard to put this low on the list. I know, given Arnold’s amazing career, how could this even crack the top 5? Well, this is my fucking list, so deal with it. Every year, my wife and I have a list of Christmas movies we can’t wait to watch (which includes all of the new cheesy/shitty Hallmark movies) like “Elf,” “Christmas Vacation,” “A Christmas Story,” “Die Hard,” “The Santa Clause,” well, you get the idea. But, of all the holiday movies, “Jingle All the Way” might be my favorite. Phil Hartman, the Seth McFarlane lookalike in the caroling scene, Sinbad acting, well, insane, Arnold fighting a room full of Santas… It’s all so amazing. A true Christmas classic… Who am I kidding, I mostly just love how Conan did his bits where he would pretend to interview Arnold and the always-cracking-up voice would say “Jingle all the Way!” more times than I can count…

3) Kindergarten Cop

This might have been my toughest decision, “Jingle All The Way” vs. “Kindergarten Cop.” But, after intense debate with myself, it came down to the fact that the “Kindergarten Cop” sequel starred Dolph Lundgren, which is awesome, and the “Jingle All The Way” sequel featured Larry the Cable Guy, which also happened…

 

2) The Terminator

I know, I know, how is this not #1? In fact, how is “The Terminator” and “Terminator 2” not #1 and #2 respectively? Well, despite it’s amazingly wonderful and random soundtrack (as a kid, I had a shitty Casio keyboard that had a record feature. But, it was also monophonic, meaning it could only record one note at a time. So, I would hit record, press all the keys as fast as possible and was constantly fascinated by how weird and random the recording playback would sound. But, years later, I realized that those recordings sounded similar to the Terminator soundtrack. Apparently, I could’ve made a lot of money pressing random keys on a keyboard/synth…), the incredibly original screenplay/story and the actors just fucking killing it, there is a movie of Arnold’s that I love more…

1) Total Recall

This movie embodies everything I love about the late 80’s/early 90’s. It has the huge set pieces, the ridiculous but engrossing (and mystifying) story and world-building, the action, the gore, the the-governments-out-to-get-us theme, the weirdness, a.k.a. a mutant with a genius baby growing out of his stomach that eventually gets shot in the head, a thrice-boobed lady and many shots of peoples eyes being sucked out of their heads by the oxygen-deprived Martian atmosphere, the overt product placement (Pepsi, Jack in the Box, Sharper Image, Miller Lite, etc.) and just plain insanity that makes movies teeter on the precipice of amazing/campy. I still can’t believe they remade this movie as it was perfect in its original incarnation. It’s the type of original storytelling that our current movie scene could use. I wish they still funded weird/creative as fuck projects like this nowadays. We could all use a little Arnold, hot Sharon Stone, badass Michael Ironside (as if there’s another kind…), Paul Verhoeven-directed madness in our lives. “See you at the party, Richter…”

Honorable mention goes to: “Terminator 2,” “Twins,” “Predator” and “Conan the Barbarian”

(dictated but not read. Well, this one was kinda read, but not totally, so excuse the msitakes)

It’s hard to get a good picture of me performing as I make a lot of funny faces when I sing. This is about as good as can be reasonably expected…

It’s hard to get a good picture of me performing as I make a lot of funny faces when I sing. This is about as good as can be reasonably expected…

Why Asperger's can be good (sometimes)... aka... eliminating wasted energy through routines...

What week is it? I think I missed last week, unless I didn't... Turns out when you don’t have a normal “day job” days are less defined by dates/days and more defined by events. Monday? Nope, day I have an audition at such-and-such. Tuesday? Not really, more like the day I have a couple meetings about podcast producing and have to put together sets for Friday’s show. Thursday? Oh, you mean the day I edit podcasts until I crash and fall asleep at 10pm (a.k.a. very early for me). You get the point. So, I (don’t) apologize if I missed a week. Also, I’m working on about three hours sleep, so forgive any errors, poor sentence structures, words that are… I don’t know, bad. You get it, right?

But this week, I’d like to talk about Asperger’s and how it can actually be a positive, especially for self-employed people who have to make lots of decisions daily that may impact their livelihood. Look, we all know making decisions, especially ones that could affect our income, is hard. Decision fatigue is a real thing. Sometimes we just want someone to tell us what to do. That’s the charm of a “day job.”

In a former life, I used to work at a paint store. It was kinda shitty, but paid enough to cover my expenses and worked well for me at the time. I would get up, ride the bus to work, people would tell me what they want and I would make it for them. Sounds simple, right? It was, mostly. It was the perfect job for a young, often hungover musician who stayed out way too late, and since he was just starting out, was often playing during weekday nights. I doubt an accounting firm would deal with me strolling in, unkempt and unshowered, with long hair and my dirty, paint covered clothes. OK, that last one was because of the job, but you get the idea. It was nice to not have to put together business plans, look at the 50-60 hours I would be working that week and start from scratch on how to fill them, wake up at 6am to go to local networking meetings (I do enjoy meeting my fellow small business owners, just not the 6am part…), and so on and so forth. I liked having someone tell me to stop and go eat lunch (which I often skip nowadays, though not intentionally). Even the clothes/uniform I had to wear was dictated to me.

Which brings me to my point: Asperger’s now helps me with some of this. I, like many with Asperger’s/Autism, am very into routines. You could say I love routines. Or, more accurately, that I need routines. LIKE I MENTIONED A FEW WEEKS AGO, I am a creature of habit. But, because of that, there are many little decisions I don’t have to make during a given day/week which helps me focus more energy on the bigger decisions and getting real work done. I’ll give you a few.

For instance, I eat the same thing every day for lunch (when I actually stop to eat it): 2 fried eggs, shredded roasted chicken (I get a whole chicken every Wednesday and Sunday since it’s $2 cheaper at my local Harris Teeter those days) and spinach, divided up between three corn tortillas (always from Mission, my favorite tortillas and chips in the world) and topped with salsa verde. It’s delicious, nutritious and I never have to think or waste time/energy on lunch. I am usually thinking about the second third of my day (the first third, 9am-1pm, is generally office/computer work, the second, 1-5pm, is usually meetings or podcast-related work, depending on the day, and the third, 6pm-12am, is going to shows/playing shows/general musician stuff) while cooking. Or, I’m thinking about a new song idea. Or, who I should follow up for booking shows. Again, not thinking about what I’m doing (cooking), but thinking about other business things that are more beneficial to me.

Same goes for clothes. I hate wasting time thinking about what to wear. Instead, I have two pairs of jeans, one nicer pair for when I wear dress shirts/jackets, and one pair for when I wear t-shirts. My dress shirts and t-shirts rotate. Whenever I wear/wash one, it goes to the bottom of the pile. I simply determine if this is a nice-pair-of-jeans event (show, fancy dinner, date or business meeting) or normal-pair-of-jeans event (pretty much everything else) and grab from the top of the appropriate pile of shirts. Done. Simple. My boots go with everything.

Same goes for scheduling. Mondays is all music, all day. Music emails/computer work/blog in the morning (sometimes this blog is late night fodder to keep it interesting), meetings and venue scouting/pitching/in-person follow-up in the afternoon, open mic at the Evening Muse at night. Wednesday is similarly set up. Tuesday and Thursdays are for office work, business planning and podcast-related work. Saturdays I try to set aside time to meet with friends and for brainstorming with my wife. Shows are the wild-card. Those could be any night of the week, but that’s why I schedule days but not my nights. Sundays are for cleaning the apartment and relaxing. I usually cook big dinners Thursdays and Sundays to give us leftovers for Friday and Monday, as I’m usually busy those evenings so I need something done up so my wife has something substantial to eat for dinner.

Which is another case in point, she works way harder and way more than me. She also makes more money and is much more successful than me (probably because she’s also much smarter than me). But, because of that, she has no capacity for normal life decisions like shopping or cooking, as she can't decide what/when/how she wants to make something. Her brain is fried from the hundreds of decisions/tasks she does every day. I’ve seen her have decision fatigue on what to wear. She factors in what we’re doing, who we’re meeting, where that’s going to be, will there be air conditioning on (she’s always cold), will she be mostly sitting or standing, will she be taking photos for social media, etc., etc. And she’s right to do that. She is the face of her business and has to present as such, and she should be comfortable. I’ve also seen her skip lunch because she couldn’t figure out what to make. She was just so exhausted from working/making decisions that one more decision just wasn’t going to happen.

The other benefit of Aspergian routines, is that it takes the fear/anxiety/dread out of tough decisions or actions. Don’t want to spend the day in a new town introducing your music to new people/venues trying to get booked? Too bad, that’s what you do on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Don’t want to step in front of 100 people and pitch your music and podcast businesses? Too bad, that’s what you do on Wednesday mornings. (For the record, I love anytime a room full of people have to listen to me talk, or play. But, I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Waking up before 8am is the hardest part for me.) Hate sitting in front of a computer sending out follow up emails and tracking those in an excel spreadsheet? Me too, but that’s what I do most Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

Unfortunately, eating the same things every day doesn’t work for most people. Wearing the same things over and over doesn’t work for most people. Most people like to choose their clothes and dress up. Most businesses don’t allow for doing the same things on the same days. I get it. But, all of this is to say, sometimes having Asperger’s is pretty damn awesome. It’s not when my wife is mad at me for reacting emotionally inappropriately to something or someone, but it can be for helping keep my brain free from clutter and away from spending energy making insignificant decisions.

(dictated but not read)

Titles are hard... aka... no they're not, I'm just tired and kinda drunk... Top 7 random songs I'm listening to tonight

So, as I sit here sipping my Evan Williams Bonded (being a musician doesn’t often afford you the good stuff, so this is the best I can do for now. Which, all things considered, Evan Williams White Label is a pretty damn good $12 bourbon) after a long night of music at the Evening Muse (read: it’s late. Like 1am right now), I have the urge to drink and listen to some really random music that’s still on my iTunes from like fucking sixth grade until I fall asleep on the couch, then drag my dead-ass tired butt to bed. Some people call these guilty pleasures, but I’m not ashamed to say I love a single one, so I guess they’re just “random pleasures.” Which sounds like a sex toy shop. Anyways, since I had to write a blog anyways, let’s do this together.

Now, to be sure, I am not ashamed of liking any of these tunes. Some of them I play personally when I’m drunk (but not too drunk to forget the chords or the lyrics) or add to party playlists to see if the room is as cool as I am (they rarely are) with some really random shit. I’m not totally sure where this may go, but I’ll at least get you started on my first five or so tunes. Fuck it, let’s go!

1) “You Only Get What You Give” - New Radicals

This is often a jumping off point for me on nights like this. I fucking love this song. I may have posted about how much I love this song and the weird, mall-inspired music video but I cannot contain how much this song makes me feel good. That sentence doesn’t really make sense but you get the point. Bonus points to the guy for having a massive hit, realizing he hated the music industry (in ‘98 or ‘99 no less, when they were still at least investing in artists…), getting sick of being asked to write “You Only Get What You Give,” the sequel and quitting while he was ahead. Not everyone wants to be Smash Mouth…

2) “My Favourite Game” - The Cardigans

I know I’ve posted this before sometime, but who gives a shit. This is about what I’m listening to tonight and this is currently on. There’s a lot of pressure to say something profound in the four minutes before a new song song starts. I have nothing like that to say now. So, I’ll just remind everyone that I found this song via Gran Tourismo 2 for the original Playstation. My buddy and I would stay up all night playing it so we’d inevitably hear this song more than a few times. I might love it via Stockholm Syndrome but either way, it’s on and I’m singing along (quietly, as it’s 1:08am currently). Speaking of video games, if you want a truly scary experience, play the original Silent Hill video game with the sound off and Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” playing in the background. Maybe we were just beyond exhaustion but that was a truly terrifying experience. Without the game sounds, everything scared us twice as bad as it should have. Why am I talking about video games? Damn you, Cardigans!

3) “Give It Away” - The Red Hot Chili Peppers

“What I got you gotta give it to your mama…” “What I got you got to get it put it in you…” Yep, those are both in the first verse so you know what you’re getting yourself into with this one. Man, RHCP used to be so weird and badass. The video, just fucking weird… I was such a huge fan of these guys. I owned every record (thank you BMG music group! 12 for the price of 1, cancel membership, rinse and repeat!) and played the shit out of them. I wanted to be John Frusciante, minus the heroin addiction, of course. It’s weird, I always wanted to be a singer but since I had no natural talent for it, I wanted desperately to be a bluesy-funky-rock guitar player. And I was until I ran out of people to play with and found it was easier to be on my own. I had started writing songs when I was 17 but they were fucking terrible and stayed that way until I was, what, maybe 22 or 23. But what magical life insights is a 19 year old supposed to have. I had decent tunes, but the lyrics were shit and made no sense. Plus, at the time I was obsessed with Bob Dylan, so everything was so esoteric, or standard folk fare. Topics included John the Baptist, saints, poets with bells in their shoes, fortune teller’s maids, princes and paupers, trains, but most of all, ramblin’. Why are we talking about this? My train of thought has rambled on… Ha!

4) “Killing in the Name” - Rage Against the Machine

If this isn’t one of the greatest songs ever, I don’t know what is. Needless to say, 12 year old Bradley was very righteous and angry. This was right around the time of the George W. and Al Gore presidential race, then came the unjustified war with Iraq after 9/11 and the first time I was hearing about what the police were doing to black people across the country via Dave Chappelle’s HBO comedy special “Killing Them Softly.” I got a subscription to TIME magazine shortly thereafter to start to learn about these things. Shortly thereafter, I realized TIME magazine was kinda bullshit (Bob Dylan was right in “Don’t Look Back”). But, most of all, when you’re 12 and someone is shouting “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” you’re going to fall in love, hard… But, even after all that, I still had to be talked out of joining the military when I graduated High School. I was so impacted by 9/11 (like so many others) that I felt I had to enlist. But, by the time I could, the war was long over and everyone had already realized it was kind of a mistake (read: huge clusterfuck). So, I slowly changed my mind back to becoming a Rock Star, which I am, but the just a barely scraping by kind of Rock Star. I’d like to drink Woodford Reserve but I’m an Evan Williams level star…

5) “Father of Mine” - Everclear

This song still makes me bleary eyed. Not teary, but bleary for sure. There was a time when I thought Art Alexakis was writing songs just for me. “Father of Mine” and “I Will Buy You a New Life” sounded just like this poor, small-town boy who never really knew his dad/drug addict/abusive/compulsive liar/hopefully dead person and who grew up on bologna sandwiches and Hamburger Helper. I have to say though, I feel sort of blessed to grow up in the time and place and how I did. There was lots of love from my mother and sister (and eventually, my brother) and I learned to not need much beyond that. It’s a good lesson for those trying to make a career out of music or anyone who feels like they are missing out because of a lack of money. It also makes it easier to appreciate the things I do have and that I have the ability to make music for a living. 12 year old Bradley never would have dreamed of making records, hearing those records on the radio and playing hundreds of shows to people who like his music. 12 year old Bradley couldn’t know the sense of honor and pride he would feel when a soldier returning from a tour of duty would tell him his music helped him, a true American hero, make it through the tough times. 12 year old Bradley couldn’t imagine how cool it would be to jump into the crowd and dance with a group of deaf people who liked the way his music made them feel so much they came to his rock n’ roll show to let loose and have a good time. Sometimes poor, rural kids can do great things, even if it doesn’t mean making tons of money. Money can’t buy those things. But I feel I appreciate them more because of how I was raised…

Wow, I’m way off topic now. But, there’s a line in “I Will Buy You a New Life” that goes “they have never been poor, they have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas” that always kills me. One of my favorite Christmas memories was the year we didn’t have much after moving to Horicon, WI (Marshmen for life! Just kidding…) and my sister and I made a board game as a family Christmas present. It was called “Race to the Presents” I think. I got a Bible with my name on it, which is one of the few things I’ve kept with me through all the moves over the years. Playing our homemade board game and cracking open that Bible for the first time are memories I will never forget. Store bought gifts come and go, but there’s an undeniable beauty in appreciating the things that matter so much more.

6) “My Own Prison” - Creed

I know what you’re thinking, “How the fuck can anyone listen to fucking Creed? Seriously, Bradley, fucking Creed?! Really?!” Well, let me explain. I had a friend growing up whose father was a pastor. He wasn’t allowed to listen to most music as it was the work of the devil. I vividly remember him telling me, once I had started playing music, that any music that wasn’t in praise of God (or Jesus, if that’s your bag) was the devil’s work. I can never erase the memory of him playing Pearl Jam’s cover of “Last Kiss” and basing a whole sermon on how it was poison for people and a great example of what music shouldn’t be. What the fuck?! At least use the Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers version for christ’s sake. Don’t blame Pearl Jam for a cover song they recorded for a fucking benefit CD for refugees. But, he did allow anything that was so-called “christian” so Third Eye Blind and Creed were OK. So, we spent a lot of time listening to that first Creed record and I learned to like it since it was the best we could do. Although, it is funny to note that when his parents would leave, we would instantly put on Dio’s “Holy Diver” album and blast it as loud as we wanted to; there was nothing but cornfields surrounding his house and sing along to every word. Not exactly christian music, but tell a teenager he can’t do something and he’ll probably do it the most extreme version possible…

OK, we can’t end on a fucking Creed song, so one more.

7) “Don’t Cry” - Guns N’ Roses

Setting apart the fact that the video is quite sexist and sometimes hard to watch, and that Axl has sang/said some pretty racist shit, this song murders. Guns N’ Roses was so fucking good. I was watching a David Bowie documentary earlier tonight and it’s amazing how many songs he released before finally having a hit. Guns N’ Roses started with fucking “Appetite for Destruction” (“Paradise City,” “Welcome to the Jungle” and fucking “Sweet Child O’ Mine” all from one album) and then made “Use Your Illusion” parts I and II which were both fucking fantastic. I’m not sure how they came out of the gate so strong but I imagine cocaine was involved. Cocaine’s a hell of a drug…

It’s approaching Elliott Smith time (aka 2:45 in the morning) as I took a short break for a snack and came back to writing this. I hope you enjoyed the random walk through Bradley’s mind. See you next week!

(dictated but not read)

Meniere's disease and Asperger's team up... aka... just another Wednesday night...

Well, unfortunately, Meniere’s happened again…

So menacing, right? What happened? How bad was it? You weren’t playing music at the time, were you? Not in front of an audience though, right?

Yes. Vertigo attack. 7 out of 10. And yes, I was playing at the time. Yes, it was in a public setting.

I’m not sure what it is about shows that can trigger it from time to time, but it’s been probably six months since I last had any Meniere’s issues. For those unfamiliar with Meniere’s, it is an inner-ear disorder that results in tinnitus, hearing loss, “stuffy ear” feelings, which then cause balance problems and, if it’s bad enough, like it was this past week, full on, room-spinning, nausea-inducing vertigo; which, can sometimes trigger my Asperger’s brain to short-circuit and leads me to fully shut down (read: temporary paralysis), which is horrifying and even more panic-inducing than the whole vertigo thing, which can sometimes be a good thing as once my paralysis faded (about twenty or so minutes later) my brain was no longer focused on the vertigo so that got better (slowly, but still) as a result. See, sometimes awful things can have positive effects.

But, of course, I was playing music. I was done for the evening but things wrapped up early (when does that ever happen in musical situations?) and I got to go sing some more. I got up to go to the bathroom and something felt off. My head was not right. One and half glasses of wine over nearly 3 hours doesn’t do that. Hmm, I thought but brushed it off. Maybe it was the wine-americano-wine combo. I was tired and the caffeine sounded good. Maybe it was being outside in the warmer weather for a few hours. Maybe it was all of the above. It probably was all of the above, who am I kidding? Regardless, I was like “whatever, I’ve played through some dizziness/light-headedness before. No big deal.”

I got my guitar out and started to tune up (or check the tuning as my trusty Martin D-15 rarely goes out of tune). My vision was suddenly not what it should be. It wasn’t blurry but I could tell it wasn’t right. Was I nervous? That would be weird. Why would I be nervous? I’d already played earlier and did well. I was singing with Brianne and everything was sounding great. It was a cool spot and the sound was good, so why did I suddenly feel an impending doom?

As I walked towards the stage, the dizziness really set in. I was suddenly thinking “one foot in front of the other. Just keep going.” The guitar cord was underneath the mic stand foot, but I couldn’t get myself to bend over and get it loose. I wanted to make a joke about the song, but didn’t for some reason. I started playing and I could tell the tempo wasn’t right. I couldn’t keep it steady. I started to sing but I felt tone-deaf. I didn’t know where I needed to be and I couldn’t fix it anyways. My right ear felt like someone jammed in an ear plug and pushed it way too far in. Just get through it. I wished I was not singing with someone else at that moment because there are tricks you can do when your pitch isn’t quite right but I’d have to change up how I sang the song and there’s no way Brianne would be able to follow along if I started switching things up on the fly. Just get through it. I considered just stopping and walking off. But no, just get through it. I got to a break in the song where a guitar solo would normally be and tried to play it up to the crowd a bit but I felt like was gonna fall over. I could barely make eye contact with Brianne. Just get through it. Finally, the big ending to the song. I think I hit a couple of the big finishing notes sorta OK enough to make people forget how terrible the rest may have been. Maybe, maybe not, but at least it was over. I nearly fell down the stage steps while walking off. I could get my guitar into its case for some reason. It took about a minute or two to just set it in there and latch it closed. By now, I knew what was happening and what was coming.

I didn’t want to be a dick and just walk out as there was another singer up there for a couple tunes. I sat and tried to not look like I was gonna pass out at any moment (though I wish that was an option vs. the 3 or 4 hours of vertigo). As soon as they wrapped up, I thanked everyone and made a quick exit. I got home, got a glass of water and immediately felt nauseous. I had to turn off the ceiling fan as the whole ceiling was already spinning enough for me. Over the next hour it got worse and worse. I couldn’t move or it somehow got even worse. Then, after probably an hour or two (who knows?) the paralysis set in. I couldn’t move. I was thinking “this is easy, just move your fingers” but I couldn’t. My brain had shut everything down. It was overwhelmed and gave up. OK, this has happened before, I thought to myself. But, that quickly gave way to panic. What if it doesn’t come back this time? It didn’t last this long last time, did it? I can’t deal with this AND vertigo right now, can’t one of you fuck off for a bit?

As you can tell by my having typed this out, my muscles slowly came around. Funnily enough, and this has never been the case before, but it was actually my asshole that saved me this time. I felt nauseous and though I might shit myself and when a fart (or poop, I don’t know) was about to come out I was able to clench my asshole. I did it again to make sure it was under my control. It was. Since I could do that, could I wiggle my fingers? I could! Suddenly, it all came back to me. Thank fucking god! And since that had dominated my brain for the past half hour, my vertigo was on the decline. I still couldn’t sit up or move that much but I didn’t feel like I was gonna die at any moment anymore. Another hour later and I could sit up and drink some water. I was massively dehydrated by this time. And exhausted. So exhausted. But I still couldn’t close my eyes for more than a minute without getting super dizzy again.

Another 30-60 minutes (again, who knows at this point..) and I was able to stand up. I was able to go get some more water and walk back without running into things. It felt great. I slept until 1pm the next day. Still a little foggy and not feeling 100% until about 8 or 9pm that next night.

Sounds fun, right? Well, hopefully this means I’m good for the next six months or so (knocks on wood) but we’ll see. Isn’t it awesome when my Meniere’s and my Asperger’s work together to fuck with me royally?

So, anyways, if you see me playing a show and it sounds like I’ve forgotten how to sing and I look like I can barely stand up, I’m not just wasted beyond belief. I wouldn’t waste my or the audiences time with that nonsense. It turns out, I could be struggling horribly. So, be kind, accepting and buy lots of merch to cheer me up…

(dictated but not read)

The hardest part of moving? Learning a new grocery store, of course... aka the wonderful world of Asperger's meltdowns...

There’s something wonderful about being exhausted. Not emotionally, of course, like I was for years living out in Portland, OR, but physically. Like having spent the past couple weeks going out every single night and meeting and talking with people to try and figure out this new city (Charlotte, for those not keeping score at home). For an Aspergerian man such as myself, meeting, talking to and constantly being around people is tiring. It’s hard to do. It’s work. But, it’s also invigorating to have new people to meet, new places to see, new weird, half-extremely-gentrified neighborhoods (looking at you, NODA) to explore and new music to hear. It’s fun to feel like my life has a purpose again, like I have something to wake up for each day. Sure, I’ve been playing music the past couple years (and making AWESOME MUSIC VIDEOS), but not aggressively and constantly like I’m used to. It’s weird to go a month without performing, which I did many times over recently. It doesn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like me. It was weird to feel like I was playing someone else but I was. Bradley Wik doesn’t sit at home on a Friday night. Friday night is for the drinkers, after all. But, I let my Aspergian impulses get the better of me. I was so burned out and angry at the Portland, OR music scene (and for good reason, it’s terrible…) that I had relegated myself to writing and doing home recordings. I have 2 albums that I will be releasing next year plus the remnants for an awesome B-sides EP or the beginnings of another album. I’ve delved deep into learning about and exploring my Asperger’s. One of the albums is explicitly for those who suffer from it or those wanting to hear what it feels/sounds like to live with it. That album also dabbles with my Meniere’s disease (an inner ear disorder affecting hearing, balance and vision), sprinkling in some wonderfully depressing sounds to help articulate Meniere’s for those lucky enough to not know what it’s like. As you can probably infer, it’s an upbeat, poppy record… Oh wait…

But, if you did actually think that, you’re in luck! The other album is what has been lovingly referred to by the few who have heard demos as Folk-Synth-Space-Pop. Which seems to be pretty damn accurate if I say so myself. It’s not a genre yet, but I’m sure I’ll make it one. So I have that going for me, which is nice…

But, what I really wanted to discuss this evening is one of the hardest things for an Asperger’s to do: go to a new grocery store.

Going to the grocery store is a weekly or bi-weekly (as in twice a week, not once every two weeks. Why didn’t they come up with a different prefix for those two? English is fucking stupid sometimes…) event that becomes routine; very routine if you have Asperger’s (at least for me, not speaking for everyone here). Routines are good for me. They ground me and give me purpose. I love doing things spontaneously, so long as I planned on being spontaneous first. There are so many nights I’ve ruined because we didn’t do what we had planned to do (even if I didn’t really want to do it to begin with). I get grumpy, aggravated, short with those around me and just generally difficult to be around. I may actually think the new plan is better, but I hate when my expectations are changed without warning, and without my control. I’ll change plans regularly but if someone else does, god forbid. So, needless to say, going to the grocery store needs to be simple, on my schedule and without surprises.

Which, having moved to a new city with new grocery stores (still owned by Kroger, but still), I had to, and still am adjusting to. Let me explain how infuriating, confusing, frustrating and debilitating this can be. When I lived in Portland, I went to Trader Joes. Every week, almost always on Friday, I would go. I had the area of the lot I liked to park in. I had my route through the store mapped out. I had my staples and variables and their locations memorized for ease of purchasing. I bought almost the exact same things every single week: sourdough bread, blueberries, broccoli, avocados, almond milk (damn you, lactose-intolerance!), eggs, tortilla chips, chicken tenderloins (for making Bradley’s famous fried chicken), ground beef, ground turkey, boneless salmon, turkey cold cuts, Trader Joes habanero salsa, mayonnaise, polenta (until I got food poisoning from eating it), rice and Louis Jadot Beaujolais; in that order. Fucking literally. Go to the Trader Joe’s on SE 39th just off Holgate and you’ll see the route I took based on that food. In the doors, down the right into produce, to the back wall with the meat, skipping the middle aisles and hitting the last aisle before the wine section. Occasionally, I would venture out and buy some cashews or some shit, but that was it. Every week or every other week when stuff would back up and I’d have extra. But that’s what I bought and ate for years. I like it. I knew where everything was and how much it cost and what meals I could make with it. Things were good. But there’s no Trader Joes near my house anymore… So…

Now, it’s Harris Teeter. It’s right across the street, which is convenient, but it’s different. Different brands, different layout, different prices, different everything. At first, I was excited to find new foods and try new things. Two weeks ago I got so frustrated I left my cart and walked out. I just wanted my stuff. You know, the same stuff I had eaten for years. But, here it was hard to find and it more expensive and there wasn’t salmon and I couldn’t find the almond milk (damn you, back corner!). I don’t even remember what exactly triggered it but I had a mini-meltdown (not a full-blown, hard-to-breathe, pulling my hair and squeezing my head with my fists meltdown). I just remember wandering and looking and trying to read the stupid aisle signs to figure out what I was missing, going from one side all the way to the other, not finding what I wanted and becoming increasingly hostile. There wasn’t one thing that set me off but I started shaking and sweating, was cursing up a storm to myself and wanted to scream. I wanted to trash the frozen food aisle which I ended up in somehow and punch someone in the face. I was so mad I almost put my fist through a glass door by the ice cream. Instead, I just left. I had a frozen pizza at home so I could make that and try again tomorrow when I was in a better headspace. The whole episode feels like an oncoming storm. At first the clouds roll in, the wind picks up and a light rain starts to fall. Soon, the sky turns black, the wind becomes loud and violent, my eyes fire the lightning bolts and the thunder echoes so loudly in my brain that I need to do something to release it. Sounds become garbled. My vision narrows. I struggle to unclench my jaw. Words fail me. My face turns red and my breathe becomes labored. My brain feels like it has swelled up and won’t fit into my skull, instead pushing at my skull to release its constraints and let it out. Suddenly, my day is ruined.

But, I also I did the same thing at Target. And most Targets are the same anyways, but I was just trying to find breathe right strips (damn you, sleep apnea!) and a decent toilet plunger (damn you, low flow toilet!). I tried the bathroom area, the kitchen area and everywhere in between. Turns out plungers are in the pharmacy section towards the end, just past the men’s shaving stuff by laundry soap. I still don’t know where the fuck breathe right strips are. I haven’t gone back to that Target since. Fuck it. Don’t put shit in logical places then fuck you. There’s a million other places to buy household shit. So, fuck off Target. We’re through…

On the flipside, I’m so fucking pumped to be in Charlotte, NC. Everyday, I wake up and feel energized. I feel new. It feels good to feel new. Except when it impedes my grocery shopping…

(dictated but not read)

Top 5 Neil Young (and all-time) albums aka... well, I guess that's the whole title. There's not much more to say, really...

Last week we covered Spinal Tap and my favorite live shows from the shitty city of Portland, OR. This week, I would like to discuss my favorite Neil Young albums. Neil Young is an artist that I hated, and I mean HATED, when I was first really getting into music, whenever that was. 12 or 13 maybe? Prior to that, the only things I cared about were playing baseball, watching the Milwaukee Brewers (or listening to Mr. Baseball call the games on the radio) and the Green Bay Packers. Anyways, I couldn’t stand the guy. I thought he was a mediocre guitar player and an awful singer. An OK songwriter maybe (I had a friend who was obsessed with “Heart of Gold” so it was eventually beat into me as a pretty song), but not worth spending my hard-earned lawn mowing and chore money on.

As I got more into Rock N’ Roll music, I started to come around. I saw Pearl Jam and Neil play the fuck out of “Rockin’ in the Free World” on MTV; you know, back when “Music Television” had music on it or something. What a concept! But, hell, if Neil was good enough for Eddie Vedder and the gang, he was good enough for me. I got a bootleg (via Napster or Limewire, can’t remember, back when you would set up like five downloads and go to bed just hoping they would be done before you woke up or the internet crashed/was interrupted) of “Weld” and my life was changed. As soon as “Hey Hey, My My” kicked in, I was fucking hooked. As we rolled through “Fuckin’ Up,” “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Tonight’s the Night” I fell in love. OK, so Neil could rock the fuck out and play some pretty mean guitar. Hell, he could even sing a little better than I gave him credit for. OK, Fine. He’s fucking awesome and maybe I was too quick to judge.

But, I was so sick of hearing “Needle and the Damage Done” on classic rock radio that it soured me on the whole “Harvest” album, which my buddy played incessantly. Which was a shame since “A Man Needs a Maid,” “Are You Ready for the Country” and “Alabama” are fucking killer tunes. Unfortunately, I would come to know a few people whose lives were either taken or ruined by heroin. Suddenly, the song didn’t seem so stupid. Suddenly, I didn’t hate it. Suddenly, but sadly, it made sense…

But, take a look at my top Neil Young albums and you still won’t see “Harvest” on it. It may have been the one that catapulted him into a new level of stardom and became the thing the record label would ride him to recreate leading to him making some shit-ass fucking albums to fulfill his contract, but I would probably rank it maybe 6th best for Mr. Young. Anyways, take a look at the list below and get mad, agree or whatever it is that you do when you read a list of things.

5) Weld

I know, Live albums aren’t technically albums in a sense, but it was an official release and it was the first thing that made me love Neil and his music, so there has to be bonus points for that. “Fuckin’ Up” and “Rockin’ in the Free World” make this worth the price of admission alone and became staples in my High School band’s repertoire.

4) After the Gold Rush

“Only Love Can Break Your Heart” has to be in my top 25 favorite songs. Well, maybe, there’s a lot of Springsteen songs up there on that list. Top 40 I’d bet. But still, that would be good enough to place this album pretty high but then you throw in the title track, “Don’t Let it Bring You Down,” “Tell Me Why” and “I Believe In You” then just, come the fuck on. How could I leave this one off the list?

3) Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere

Obviously, “Cinnamon Girl,” “Down by the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” make this record a classic but I love the in between songs so much. Maybe not cover them during my live shows good (I only do maybe 3 or 4 Neil Young songs total these days) but this record has such a fun fucking vibe. It also sports my 2nd favorite Neil Young album cover. It just looks like a fucking fun record to put on. It’s one of my most played vinyl albums since I love the feeling this record gives me when it’s on and how much I love to stare at the fucking cover. But, it’s still only my third most listened to vinyl album behind…

2) On the Beach

I’ve heard (and I’ll listen) to arguments that this could be #1. Every song is a fucking killer on this album. The amount of sadness packed into a record rarely gets this extreme. I love every fucking moment. The way he converts sadness to beauty in the form of song on this album is absolutely incredible. There’s not a moment I would take off or wish was on here. It’s as close to a perfect statement as can be made. There’s upbeat, but still depressing rockers (my songwriting wheelhouse, if I may say so and I may since this is my fucking blog), beautifully sad downbeat tunes and not one, not two, but three tunes with the word “blues” in the title and there could be a fourth as the title track could easily be “On the Beach Blues” given the tune. This could easily be anyone else’s greatest achievement except Neil somehow outdid himself on…

1) Tonight’s the Night

It’s a perfect record. It’s magnificently gorgeous while it wallows in its angry depression. This is the album of immense sadness and anger. Whereas “On the Beach” is sad and reflective, “Tonight’s the Night” is sad and fucking pissed off at the world. There’s an energy that’s nearly impossible to capture on tape, especially in a studio, that Neil and co. just fucking live in on this album. It sounds halfway between a mental breakdown and a band rehearsal. The looseness and not give-a-fuck-ness (which inspired pieces of on my latest album “In My Youth, I’m Getting Old…”) are off the charts. Indeed, I’ve heard these songs were basically “jammed” in the studio live and put out (remember Neil’s one record per year contract…) and they couldn’t have existed in another form. Months in the studio couldn’t have replicated the vibe, the sadness, the energy, the raw beauty of these tunes. Some things are best to not overthink, and this record wasn’t even thought to begin with. It just is, in all it’s raging glory. I, no joke, probably listen to this album once a week. I used to wonder what my #5 all-time album was. It vacillated between Damien Rice’s “O,” Johnny Cash’s “Live at San Quentin" and Jimi Hendrix’s “Bold as Love.” Well, the top five are officially:

Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run

Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town

Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks

Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde

Neil Young - Tonight’s the Night

I know, a little boring but there’s been some movement over the years. “Blood on the Tracks” went from #2 to #3 and, well, I guess that’s it besides the aforementioned shifting of #5. With those officially locked in, I doubt I will ever make any changes for the rest of my life, unless somehow, “Tonight’s the Night” rises to #4 or, God forbid, #3. It’s unlikely but there are times I think it’s possible given how much I love that album these days. Tastes change over time but who knows. But, I’m guessing my Asperger’s brain has finally locked this into place and we’ll be done thinking about this for the rest of time. Though, I did used to hate bleu cheese which I now love, so…

(dictated but not read)

tonights the night cover.jpg

Spinal Tap and my favorite live shows from Portland... aka... another weird Monday list...

OK, so I have a couple topics to discuss this week: the best/my favorite Spinal Tap songs and my favorite shows from my time in Portland, OR (which is not as expansive as you might think. Turns out there’s lots of venues, but not a lot of great one, and not a lot of great music in the city of Portland. College towns are better for mid-level artists. You know, the ones who are famous enough that we’ve heard of them and they’ve played enough shows to be amazing but not too big to phone it in at some “enormodome” type venue). With more than one topic (since I forgot to post this last week, you know, because I was moving into a new apartment and exploring the music scene in Charlotte, NC; so, fuck you) to get to, and already 5 Elijah Craig bourbons in me, let’s “get on with it” Monty Python style.

So, here we go. Here are my favorite Spinal Tap songs:

1) GSM (aka “Gimme Some Money” for the uninitiated)

Why is this song #1? Well, you probably figured that I would fucking tell you, didn’t you? It’s #1 because it’s the #1 song I’ve played from this movie over the years. Just as Spinal Tap used it to soundcheck (in Milwaukee, WI, no less! Go Brewers! Despite the fact they have been eating a dick lately…) with it, so did my band. I’ve played or fucked around in rehearsal with this song so many times, it’s basically a Bradley Wik and the Charlatans song by now. In fact, the producer/engineer/mixer of my first album “Burn What You Can, Bury the Rest…,” Rob Stroup, used to also play this with his band. Kinda part of the reason I recorded with him. Kindred spirits/lovers of weird/funny shit.

2) Big Bottom

The fact that this song features not one, not two, but three basses plus the synth playing bass lines… Jesus fucking Christ. Maybe it’s only funny to musicians but I can’t imagine how terrible this sounded live. No frequency filling, just lots of bass harmonies, which shouldn’t be a fucking thing. So fucking funny and strange. Also, “My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo. I’d like to sink her with my pink torpedo” might be the greatest couplet of all-time. Shakespeare ain’t got shit on Tap.

3) Sex Farm

Because.. Just because. The opening line is “Working on a Sex Farm…” What a ridiculous concept that even all the fucking jokes, which are awesome, seem to pale in comparison to this absolutely absurd premise. Also, the words “Sex Farm Woman.” Just, such geniuses who came up with this. The jokes about pitchforks, raising hard love, plowing wheat fields is all secondary to the immaculately genius idea of a “sex farm.”

4) Tonight, I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight

Umm, using the same word twice in the same title (and chorus) is amazing. I stand amazed by the fact that they say “not a dry seat in the house” in the first fucking line. The genius of these men cannot be overstated. Spinal Tap may be the greatest Rock N’ Roll band ever. Except for their “Shit Sandwich” album. I hear it’s not great…

Like the great Brett Favre, lists are better at 4, so we’ll stop there. But, honorable mention is definitely “Heavy Duty” for its’ use of the word “duty” which always makes me laugh. Especially the line “Heavy Duty brings out the dootie in my soul…”

OK, here are the greatest shows I saw while I lived in Portland, OR, which was more than a handful of years. Yes, that city sucks and I hate it more than anything in the world but I did see some amazing shows there, so below are the top 4. In any other city, I would have had to do a top 20, but in Portand, 4 will suffice. Even the performances of people I love like Ryan Adams, Wilco, the Hold Steady, etc. were less than spectacular due to the shitty crowds in Portland who are “too cool” to have fun at shows. Fuck that. Music is about communing in something that can’t be found anywhere else and can’t be experience outside that moment. I’ve watched Bruce Springsteen’s live at the Garden DVD probably 100 times and it didn’t even live in the same country from when I ACTUALLY saw the Boss at the Garden. Same for every other live DVD I own (and that’s lots). Anywhere, enough preamble, here you go":

1) Damien Rice - Keller Auditorium

Damien is the proud owner of 3 of my favorite all-time shows. For those keeping score at home, that includes all 3 times I’ve seen him live. The first time with a hundred or so people in Madison, WI on the inaugural stateside “O” tour. My buddy Jake kept making illicit comments about the girl dancing on the stage during the opening bands set, which turned out to be Lisa Hannigan. Turns out she’s pretty fucking gorgeous. We didn’t know back then…

The second time was in Chicago during the “9” tour. He was equally stunning. It’s hard as artists graduate to larger and less intimate stages to see if they can maintain their awesomeness. Damien did. He did in spades.

The third time in Portland, I took my girlfriend (at the time) who was skeptical at best to see this show. She was more interested in the opener Markéta Irglová (from the movie “Once,” and a real life band I hear…) before we arrived. She proceeded to be mesmerized by Damien (as we all were) and occasionally I still hear her talk about how “sexy” he was, especially on “Me, My Yoke and I.” I have to say, she isn’t wrong..

2) Joanna Newsom - Schnitzer Hall

This was on the “Divers” tour. Needless to say, my girlfriend (at the time) was equally not excited to Joanna. I assured her it would be amazing, but had to almost force her to attend. You can always tell a great concert when two people who are really into each other (sexually) don’t speak or even look at one another for almost two hours. I actually forgot I bought a drink and it sat there half-drank for two hours until we left and I realized I paid $12 for a shitty whiskey and promptly poured it down my throat. But, it was the second time in a year that I totally blew her mind with a live show recommendation. Though, the flipside of that is that she didn’t want to come out to many more shows since nothing would compare to Joanna and the kind himself, Damien. Fair…

3) Bonnie “Prince” Billy - McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom

It was the first time I ever got to see Will live. I had spent years living in areas he rarely toured, moving during a tour and missing the shows in both my new and old living places, and generally playing geographical “phone tag” with the man responsible for some of my favorite albums (“I see a darkness,” “Viva Last Blues,” and “Days in the Wake”). Finally, I got a hold of him. Yes, it was at one of my least favorite Portland venues. You know, the kind that sections off the front of stage area for minors and makes people drink in the back (Fuck you Berbati’s and re-opened Satyricon as well; both of which closed down shortly after I played them… The Jon Fickes curse continues…). But, the show was wonderful and to finally see my man Mr. Oldham was a treat. He’s a much better singer than he lets on and his band was amazing. Sure, they didn’t play many Palace era tunes, but this was like 10 years later so I’ll forgive him since he did indulge us in more than a couple “I see a darkness” tunes.

4) Shonen Knife - Dante’s

#4 was tough as there were a lot of great bands I saw in Portland, but were better at the shows I witnessed elsewhere (read: Ryan Adams, Wilco, the Hold Steady, Modest Mouse, etc.). Land of Talk or Helle’s Belles (the all-girl AC/DC tribute band) are my runners-up but it’s hard to top the random awesomeness of Shonen Knife. First, that night had started strange. My girlfriend, my buddy and his wife all went to this hipster fucking 90’s club because we wanted to get fucked up and sweaty dancing to ridiculous tunes (and hoping against hope that somehow, some way, they would play the Prodigy) but they kicked out my buddy because he was “drunk and couldn’t talk straight,” aka because he had one beer and he was born and raised in Scotland. Also, he had lived for over 10 years in America and his accent wasn’t that crazy, until about 8 more drinks. But since we got thrown out of the shitty hipster club, we wandered over towards Dante’s. Well, actually we were headed to Kell’s or that underground place that had cheap drinks and welcomed drunks when we decided to stop at Dante’s for some pizza by the slice. We hears some strange punk coming from inside. The show had already started so the bouncer let us in for free (after we explained what had happened at the other club). On stage were these three Japanese girls fucking rocking out and singing about how much they liked green tea. Needless to say, we were hooked. We got a Ramones cover shortly thereafter and we fell in love. I’m not sure how much of the show we missed but we still got to see an hour of their set and it was fucking magnificent. Fucking magnificent. I’ve been obsessed ever since.

It’s funny thinking back on the shows and how I’ve seen better shows in Seattle, Salem, Eugene and Spokane during my time in Portland, but the above were my favorite 4 in the city of Portland. An amazing group of performers trying their best to make a Portland crowd not be a bunch of fucking dicks and actually enjoy themselves for once…

(dictated but not read)

Two Words: Shit Sandwich

Two Words: Shit Sandwich

apologies are in order, or they would be if I WASN'T MOVING ACROSS THE FUCKING COUNTRY... aka Greetings from North Carolina!

I know, I know. I've been gone for two (or is it three?) weeks and you've suddenly realized how indispensable I am to your life. I, for better or worse, realized how much I actually like doing this blog, or weekly ranting/venting, however you like to frame it. But, alas, life moves pretty fast sometimes and I needed to stop and smell the roses before they passed me by. Oh, and I was busy going through, throwing out, selling, donating, burning, packing up into boxes then packing into a 7'x7'x7' POD (sorry, Relocube. U-pack, baby!) and figuring out how the fuck to fit the rest of what I needed/couldn't fit into the POD, sorry, Relocube (which was significantly less than I anticipated as waaayyy more fits into a 7'x7'x7' space than one would think), into the back of my car, which, by the way, I had to very quickly find as my previous car was suddenly unavailable to me. So, that was one week. Well, two pretty much, I guess, if I'm being honest. Turns out I had a lot of shit and I needed to clean house. I was so used to moving every couple years, and therefore, purging every couple years that I never really accrued "things." I just had a couple guitars, an amp and my Horicon Marshmen embroidered (says "Brad Wik" on the side pocket) gym bag that I got for being on the fourth grade basketball team filled with all my clothes/notebooks/etc. That was usually it. I would media mail any books, CD's (remember those? I do, turns out even though I've lost about 200-300 over the years, I still have about 600 or so; and that's not counting the 500 or so I have left of my first two albums, which I will be working hard to sell now that I'm out of the fucking black hole of a music scene most people call "Portland, OR") and DVD's (remember those? I do, turns out I have approx 350 or so. God, did I like to waste my money, and living space, on physical media... Oh, and speaking of taking up living space, I still have 200-300 of my vinyl records to sell too, which are in nice, carpeted Odyssey DJ storage boxes and have become part of my furniture, like TV stand and side table, until I find 200-300 new fans who still enjoy vinyl) and that was that. Simple. After 8-9 years in Portland (blech), I accrued slightly more "stuff." PA equipment, more guitars, my aforementioned CD's/albums for sale, T-shirts, etc. It all adds up very quickly and my back has been more or less sore for about three weeks now. I did get a Bear Mattress with Celiant technology (look it up, it's science and Tom Brady likes it) which is helping but I could still use some recovery time. Luckily, there's a pile of boxes staring at me right now from my new Charlotte-based apartment which need putting away. Wait, that's not lucky. Fuck...

Anyways, buried the lede. I'M IN FUCKING CHARLOTTE, NC NOW! That's right folks, I've moved all the way across the country and I couldn't be happier. I've lost like five pounds, been sleeping better, drinking less, and generally just assuming a much more positive demeanor. In short, life is good. What a strange thing to say, but it's true. I haven't felt this way since I left New York City over nine years ago at this point. Yes, it's humid. Yes, it's not a huge metropolitan city like NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, or any of the cities I've lived in before but I love it already. The people here (so far) are wonderful and I've felt a renewed energy towards making music again. I've even taken on producing a couple podcasts for work. I saw lightning for the first time in years last night. My apartment has central heating and cooling! Everything I need is within 10 minutes in any direction. Everyone I meet isn't in a fucking band. Beer tastes better (they're not all fucking Xtreme IPA's out here!). Burgers can be had for $5. There's ample places to play music where the people actually kind of give a shit. Weird Al is playing here this week! With a symphony!

I haven't unpacked my record player, CD player or speakers yet (Project Debut Carbon for those keeping score at home), nor do I currently own a chair (I'm currently kneeling on the floor whilst writing this) so it's still a work in progress but things are happening! I wanted to give a quick update since I've been gone for so long (has it been two or three weeks? For real, I can't tell time anymore) and here it is. I'll be back later this week with another blog to get things back up to speed but I finally unpacked my computer and felt the need to jump on here.

Talk soon, 

(dictated but not read)

what's in a title... aka... best current male-female singing duo is... Stars?!

I was thinking this week how strange it is that so few male-female singing duos are fun to listen to. Sure, there is Fleetwood Mac (though Stevie clearly outshines Lindsey, they both have great tunes), Sonny and Cher and the Otis Redding-Carla Thomas pairing, but that one barely counts since it was only for one album. There were a number of bands that popped up during “folk revival” bullshit era like the Civil Wars, Shovels and Rope, etc. but none of those were really entertaining to listen to. Phantogram is a more recent example, though the male’s (I forget his name and am too lazy to look it up) songs are mostly ones that make you look for the “skip” button.

You’d think that with how well the male and female voices pair together there would be more successful examples of this working but there just isn’t a ton. Sure, there are probably some I’m forgetting right now, but it shouldn’t be a struggle to find more than a few successful examples. I think my favorite new(ish) male-female duo is Stars. Sure, their best album came out 15 years ago, but name me someone newer who would take their title of the most recent fantastic duo.

I mean, THIS SHIT IS AMAZING.

And , THIS IS EVEN BETTER.

I have to say, I might be in the top echelon of this shit with Brianne Kathleen. Not technically a duo since we haven’t made a full record together (yet, stay posted, amazing things are on the way), but hell, THIS SHIT IS PRETTY FUCKING FANTASTIC.

All I’m saying is I was shocked when a friend and I tried to name the top female-male singing duos and couldn’t get very far. I guess we could add Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell to the list, must’ve missed them in my initial listing, but that doesn’t even get the list to ten. C’mon people, there should be more than this. Seriously. Let me know in the comments who I am missing. There has to be at least a few.

Anyways, I’m busy as fuck packing as I’m officially moving to North Carolina as of today. I’ll write more about that when I have time. For now, this is all I have.

(dictated but not read)

dreams... aka... the worst things ever

OK, so I just found out tonight is not Monday. So, apologies (not really, though) for being a day late. Fuckin holidays throwing me off. I spent all of what I now know was Monday being hungover and watching baseball. It was as good a way to waste a day as I can think of, so…

But the thing I alluded to last week, only to never finish my thought, was how fucked up dreams can be. Until a few years ago, I didn’t know how fucked up mine were. I thought mine were the same as everyone else’s. Why would anyone assume their thoughts and dreams are strange compared to those around them? It’s not like guys typically talk about dreams that aren’t related to sex. But guys are mostly idiots, so…

To give you a quick backstory, I’ve been a huge fan of the movie “Inception” since the day it came out. First, Leo. Yep, anything Leo is my jam. “The Beach,” anyone? But second was the mainstream notion that dreams within dreams are a thing. I’d never seen or heard of other people experiencing this. Obviously, it was a story plot point to help create a crazy world but I never heard anyone else discuss dreams within dreams before. I remember bringing it up once to a friend when I was younger and he said he maybe had one like that but that I was probably fucked up for dreaming like that. The parts of “Inception” that particularly struck me were that the dreams played off each other (meaning something affecting one dream could affect another) and that death was the jump from one level to another. “Inception” made me feel more normal, if only a bit, and I loved it for that. I’ve been afraid of total darkness since I was twelve due to the inability to distinguish dreams from reality. You might see why below. Dreams are inherently evil to begin with but living in them for longer than necessary is torture. Read on…

But, the main part of the backstory is that I’ve been experiencing this for as long as I can remember. My earliest dream memories are of dreams I still have today. I’ve been having some of these dreams, on and off, for almost twenty years. And the hard part is they never get easier. They never get less fucked up. They never fuck with me less than they did when I was just a boy. I hope that by writing this out, maybe some of you will feel less alone and less weird and less fucked up about the dreams you have. It’s all I ever wanted from music and hopefully this blog can help as well. It can’t help you at 3am when this shit is kicking off full steam, but when it becomes too much and you can’t bear to fall back sleep and you are watching “Rick and Morty” reruns to pass the night away, hopefully you’ll feel less alone.

So, to give you an idea of what I’m talking about after all that gibberish, here you go. Here’s a dream I’ve been having since I was like ten years old and here’s how I experience that dream throughout the night.

Let’s say I go to bed at 1:30am, a pretty common bedtime for me. I’ll play on my phone for twenty minutes, catching up on the days news, then put my phone down and fall asleep. The next thing I know, I’m staring at a building that’s been hit by what appears to be an earthquake. I’m in the lobby, looking towards a stairwell. There is rubble all around me. The ground is still shaking. I can hear pipes exploding off in the distance and I can feel the heat of nearby fires. I hear the screams of people trapped in the building. I’m not sure who, but the (nondescript and non-specific) girl that I love is trapped somewhere in the building. I hear her voice off in the distance. I run up the stairs and towards the sound of her voice. I can hear the people around me screaming for help but I’m determined to save “her” before anyone else. BUT, if I beeline straight for her, I will die. A beam will collapse and fall on my head or a pipe will explode injuring me or the floor will give out and I’ll plummet to my death or a fire will engulf me and I’ll burn to death. I MUST save as many people as I can before I get to “her.” So, I grab a couple people on the first floor and walk them out of the building. I head back in and go straight to the second floor. I find a family there and persuade them to follow me out. We make it out just before their apartment collapses and is engulfed in the flames. I move towards the third floor, where I think my love might be but there’s too much fire. I try to soldier through but am slowly, and painfully, burned to death. I feel the heat. I feel my flesh give up and turn black. It is slow. It is painful. I can’t wait for death but it comes at its own pace. Finally, I pass out from the pain and exhaustion. Only to find myself… Back in the lobby. Take two.

I race up to the third floor to save “her” first. The stairwell collapses on me and I’m granted a quick death. After which I find myself… Back in the lobby.

OK, so rushing to save her won’t work but what is the best way to save all these people? I try starting on the third floor but not with “her.” I usher an injured woman and her husband down to safety. I then make my way back to the second floor and… BAM… a beam falls and knocks me out. I awake paralyzed and slowly burning to death. I can do nothing but inhale the smoke and pray for death but the fire isn’t quite upon me yet. I watch a family (mother, father, son and daughter) struggle to evacuate and eventually give in to fear and death. I wish that I could die so I could wake up. Finally, I drift off to death and… I’m back in the fucking lobby.

Let’s start with the second floor this time. The family makes it out safely. I get the “easy ones” on the first floor out with no problem. Now, it’s time for the third floor. The injured woman and her husband are there, cowering as the building is collapsing all around them. I lead them to safety outside the building. As I race back up to the third floor for “her,” I am struck by a piece of exploding pipe and some ceiling tiles. The stairs underneath me start to give way due to the extensive fire damage and suddenly I’m falling. I break both legs, likely some ribs and probably my hip and lay there bleeding. The fire and smoke is closing in all around me. Finally, I pass out from inhalation and die slowly. It’s almost a relief. BUT… I’m back in the fucking lobby again…

This time I race to the third floor. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and let it fall upon my head. I’m done with this shit. I want out of this dream. The fire drops the exposed 12”x12” wooden beams and I wait for it to crush my skull, twenty or so feet below. It obliges and I will myself out of the dream loop.

I awake in my room, in my bed. My cat is asleep against my leg and there is no light coming in through the window. I shake myself awake so I don’t fall back into the dream. I reach for my phone and check the time. It is… 6am. Wait, that doesn’t make sense. At 6am, the sun should be peeking it’s head through the shades but it’s pitch black outside and in the room. I get up to go piss. I pee and start to head back to bed. Suddenly, I realize this isn’t right. Something is wrong. I check my phone again and it’s 2:10am… I’m not actually awake at all. I’m immediately back in the fucking lobby. I’m still in the dream…

And this can go on all night. I know they say dreams only take seconds but I’ve often fell asleep, fell into a dream cycle and woke up (for real) the next morning. The weirdest thing about these dreams is their video game like quality. I never forget what happened in the previous take. I just die and start again. So I can use the knowledge and strategies I tried to further my gains. Each attempt gets farther and farther or saves more and more people. It’s weird that I’m aware of each failed attempt. It’s also terrible. Some nights I can’t fight and I try to give up and die. I opt for quicker, more painless deaths since my “normal deaths” are so fucked up. But these quick deaths rarely do anything other than restart the dream. And since half the dreams are of me running from people who are trying to slaughter me in horrendous ways, that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes the best thing you can do is prolong each dream/death as long as possible so you don’t feel as much pain. I often wake up with sore muscles (and once a broken foot, still don’t know how) from these type of dreams.

Luckily, I don’t have them every night. Sometimes I even have “normal” dreams. But more often than not, this is where my brains goes while I sleep. I try a lot of nights to drink until I won’t dream, aka until I pass out, to avoid a possible all night torture session.

Look, I could go on all night about this (and it would keep me from having to possibly face it tonight) but I’ll end it here. If you have dreams similar to this or similar in theme, either comment or CONTACT ME and I’ll be your soundboard or confidant (Golden Girls style) as I know what you’re going through.

Well, “Rick and Morty” is calling me, so I will bid you a fond adieu.

(dictated but not read)

allergies and hearing problems... aka... Meniere's is a bitch...

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. It’s been a rough go the last couple months, as evidenced by my previous post, and this week was no different. But, it did, at least, give me something new to focus on: my newfound allergies.

Around Tuesday or Wednesday last week, I was finishing up writing a song (about being depressed and drinking too much with girls; so, new topic… ha…) and trying to record a quick demo on my phone when my voice started to go out. I didn’t notice it at first but some of the quiet parts didn’t come out right and my voice was raspier than normal, which is pretty damn raspy. I thought maybe I had overdone it on the rehearsing/writing that night but, alas, that was not the case. I thought perhaps it was the “burger flight” I had earlier (real thing by the way. 3 sliders in your choice of flavors at a place called Chow in Eugene, OR), maybe too much salt and cheese (Lactaids are a godsend). That shit will get you phlegm-y right quick. But, alas, that was not the case. Maybe it was the lack of water and the lack of a lack of bourbon, Wild Turkey 101 at that. But, alas, that was not it either. Fuck…

No, it was my new friend allergies. I never had a single allergy (outside of a shellfish allergy which isn’t really an allergy, but more of an “eat it and shit your pants” kind of deal) until last year. I became lactose-intolerant, allergic to severe dust and pollen, and allergic to whiny, passive-aggressive, Portland hipster fucks. OK, that last one is made up…

And, of course, my allergies got so severe it made me sick. Not quite as bad as last year when I also fully developed my gestating Meniere’s disease, thank god. That was a two month nightmare followed by another six months of waiting for another nightmare, which would happen sporadically and without warning. Fun. Fuck, that band sucks, sorry. But it actually was grammatically correct there. Fuck Fun.(.) (Am I supposed to add another period since technically one period is just in their name? How does that work? Fuck them for making me think this shit.

For those of you who have never heard of, much less dealt with Meniere’s, you are lucky fucks. I’m sure everyone’s experience is slightly different but for me it usually started with a slightly clogged ear. It just annoyed the fuck out of you, but was more or less harmless. But over a few days, it gets worse. Suddenly, you can barely hear out of your (right, for me) ear. It’s very disorienting to not hear out of one side of your head. (It’s more disorienting to not hear out of both sides of your head, like if you had a severe double ear infection and both ear drums popped. True story, but not for today.) It fucks with your balance, vision and sense of well-being. Slowly, that clogged ear builds pressure. Sometimes for hours, sometimes for days, one time for almost two weeks. Then, suddenly, it’s gone. All the relief in the world as your hearing returns and your balance is starting to realign… when… never mind. Vertigo. Sometimes you just need to sit down for an hour or two, sometimes a day or two. Once they gave me sea-sick patches which temporarily took away my near-sightedness, which for someone who is near-sighted, is quite debilitating. I couldn’t see anything within one foot of my face. That was fun. That’s the other fun thing about this all. There is no medication to ease your pain. Nothing they can do to help you prevent these attacks. Low salt diet, less alcohol and caffeine. That’s what I got. They offered blood-pressure medication but since I have normal blood-pressure now, it made it drastically low which made me nauseous and dizzy, which I already was. But, sometimes, the vertigo got so bad all I could do was lay on the floor and try not to throw up as the room would spin wildly all around me. It’s like being really drunk but without all the fun before. The only thing that helped at all was some 1/2 CBD, 1/2 THC oil. It centered my body enough to relax a bit. It calmed my stomach so I could actually eat something and keep it down. It was a life-saver on more than one occasion. I shit on Oregon a lot, but this was one time it actually helped me.

Oh, and sidenote on medication: it doesn’t work the same for people with Asperger’s as it works for non-Asperger’s people. That’s right. So even any medication is a crapshoot. Half the time it doesn’t do anything for me other than make me sick, so that’s fun. Imagine being prescribed anti-nausea medication only to find out it actually makes you more nauseous. I’ve tried being open with doctors about having Asperger’s and how medications don’t react normally for me and they always say it doesn’t matter and for some reason I usually believe them. Usually because for me to actually go to a doctor, I have to be close to death or on my way. I stayed at home and slept it off when my intestines started to bleed out the last time. I don’t need morphine and two (very expensive) nights in a hospital. I can handle pain if it saves me money when there’s nothing they can do anyhow. But, I’ve officially sworn off doctors. Not once have they ever told me something I didn’t already know but they usually pick the wrong thing, then just prescribe pills that make me sick. So, then my ailment remains and I also feel sick from their stupid fucking pills. Thanks Doc!

But anyways, I guess what I’m saying is that even though I feel like shit, it could be much worse. I’m not out of the woods yet, so maybe it will get worse (who knows?), but I’m gonna take solace in the fact (and knock on wood) that it could be worse. Look, I’ve even forgotten, temporarily, as it were, how fucking depressed I was last week (see previous post). Not that that ever leaves me, but it was good to not have to think about anything other than trying to breathe without coughing, trying sleep without coughing and waking myself up and trying to not interact with a single human being since I lost my voice anyhow. Not interacting turned out to be the hardest one for some reason. Seems like people always know when you feel like shit and that’s when they need you for something…

But, looking back on the Meniere’s (which I still have but - knocks on wood - doesn’t affect me but maybe once in the past year), I think the scariest thing was not knowing whether I could play music again. For a while, it seemed like I would never have normal hearing again. But, I finally put together all those times over the years when suddenly I couldn’t find a note, hear myself and felt like I would fall over and pass out at any minute. I always assumed that was too much drink, too much drugs, too much exhaustion (which it may have been time to time) but it was likely the Meniere’s just poking it’s head out and testing the waters. But, when it was bad, it was bad. I honestly doubted I could ever play again. And I’ve played shows with the flu, bleeding intestines, a broken thumb, a broken foot, a fractured ankle and a broken nose. I’ve played shows high, drunk and everywhere in between. But with vertigo and severe hearing loss? I did it, but I always remembered those shows. They were fucking awful. Awful for me, not very good for the audience (although I’m told only one time was it noticeable to the crowd) and must have been weird as fuck for the band. They probably just assumed I had partied too hard before the show. Crazy thing is, those were usually the shows I was straight up til the show, probably because I didn’t feel good and sensed the impending doom. I remember throwing up in the green room bathroom (never a good place to even shit in, let alone bury your face in) after a show and blaming it on the Korean barbecue.

But, all that started up with some allergies last year (and a couple car accidents. Not my fault, rear-ended at a red light both times, swear to fucking god). Well, I guess it didn’t start there, but that’s when it went from once or twice a year issue to once or twice a week I feel OK issue. So, fuck allergies, but fuck Meniere’s twice…

(dictated but not read)

depression and... fuck it... aka... four ellipses in the title, good writing...

Finally home for a spell, I spent the week trying to re-spark my creativity which had waned over the last few months. Well, to be truthful, it has come in and out for the last few years. Making and releasing my last album “In My Youth, I’m Getting Old…” nearly killed me, with its myriad of issues, near-lawsuits, in-band fighting, just to name a few. It nearly broke my will to make another record. It didn’t, of course, and I’ve been working on two projects on and off for the past year or two. On and off because I can’t quite figure out what I want to do, how I want the songs to sound and feel like, how I will release them, EP’s vs. LP’s, and how I want to play shows and tour going forward. I’m making some big life changes very soon, which will help but ultimately I have felt like I’ve been floating in an abyss creatively the past year.

It’s not as if I haven’t been creating some amazing music or stopped writing altogether. Since my last album was released, I’ve probably penned about 20 songs. Not all of them are showstoppers, but I’m in love with at least half, probably like 12-15. I’ve recorded, re-recorded, re-mixed, and generally fucked with them until I hate them and then started over. Something was blocking me from wrapping them up. Something, indeed. It was me…

Depression is not something that is easy to quantify. I have it I’ve been told (not that I really needed telling). But the hard part is how it ebbs and flows, so suddenly and so drastically. Yesterday, I spent most of the day recording some amazing takes with some beautifully fucked up sounds that I lavishly spent hours playing around with. I couldn’t get enough of just hearing myself play and sing the new songs. It felt like it was FINALLY starting to come together into something coherent. The guitars were the perfect blend of overdriven, delayed and chorused, murky and flowing, distinctly wonderful and responsive to my every nuance and I felt as if I could bathe in them all day. And I did. It was magical. I was so inspired and so sure that my next (solo) album would be wonderful and be the first to reach a mass audience. There are so many people who could easily love not only the sounds but the stories. The album is a deep dive into my depression over the years and some of its consequences. The songs are insanely personal (somehow even more so than my last two albums which were all true stories as well) and I cannot wait to share them. I was so proud as I strummed and sang my heart out onto the (digital) tape.

It made me feel like I was back to the old me for a change. But the old me was in these songs, sad and struggling, unable to understand what and why this was happening. Why was everything seemingly conspiring against him and his happiness? Why can’t he accept the good things in his life and stop chasing the chaos? Why can’t he muster the strength, energy and courage to be the best version of himself and love himself in the process? Why does he continue to surround himself with people who don’t care and will leave at a moments notice? Why isn’t HE writing these songs instead of continuing to live them? Would writing these songs help him at all anyways? Didn’t seem to help me…

Those were the questions flowing through my brain as I listened to the playback. I started to fall back into him. I started to drink, a lot. I remembered I hadn’t eaten all day. I felt sick. I got light-headed. I lost the will to continue recording (my neighbors probably appreciated it, though). I hated music. I hated everything. I decided to get drunk, eat some pizza and watch “Get Him to the Greek,” my movie version of comfort food. So, that’s what I did for the next two hours. And after that, I decided, it was best to keep drinking until I passed out because if I couldn’t bear to sit alone in my thoughts for another minute. I turned back into HIM. I knew it was happening but couldn’t pull myself out. I sort of didn’t want to. I wrote three new songs just this week. Maybe HE knows what he’s doing. Maybe that’s just the process. Maybe I need HIM. I wish I didn’t think that was true…

I was grateful the Brewers game went long (18 innings) so I could continue to waste what was once a super productive day. I reorganized some of my record storage boxes as I watched the game drift into the night. I then convinced myself to stop feeling sorry for myself, go to bed, sleep it off and I would record again today. I left everything set up and it was all ready to rock n’ roll. I got up this morning, groggy and a little hungover, but mostly alright after a couple cups of coffee. I turned everything on and strummed a few chords. I was going to start with the last song I tried playing yesterday but couldn’t quite get right. I got about halfway through when I realized I wasn’t really giving it any energy. It felt slow and sad, but not in the right way. Another song maybe. I re-tuned my guitar and found myself halfway through another shit take. Suddenly, I started to sweat. I felt light-headed. I didn’t want to do this anymore. HE didn’t want me to do this anymore. HIS stories needed to stay untold for another day. HE won, again…

When I broke for lunch (some leftover pizza and a beer), I felt better. “Pack this shit up and watch TV for the rest of the day,” I said to myself. The Brewers were on, playoff basketball was on later. Perfect way to waste a Sunday afternoon. So that’s what I did. All I wanted to do was get back in the studio (read: second bedroom) and continue to make beautiful sounds that made me feel so magical, like a musical wizard, for hours yesterday. But I couldn’t. HE wouldn’t let me so I spent the next hour convincing myself I didn’t want to anyways. I wasted a perfectly good Saturday night and Sunday on being depressed. What a weekend…

When I said earlier that I had been tinkering on and off with music for the past couple years, this is what I meant. This is what happens. I don’t know if the songs put me in a terrible place because of the lyrical content or because Portland, OR has burned my will to be an artist to the ground, pissed on the ashes and then dropped a fucking bomb on those piss-ashes. These songs are about my time in Portland. Maybe Portland is trying to keep these songs away. Who knows…

Writing those words just now, maybe that’s it. Maybe the songs reminded me of how shitty it is to be in Portland and then I got sad that I’m still here. That happens a lot. I get angry and sad at the same time. It’s a weird, shitty cocktail of awfulness. Maybe that’s what they mean when they say “Keep Portland Weird,” as in “keep making people who live there feel a weird sense of dread every day.” Something I’m a big believer in is energy. Like all things have energies, even cities. But Portland actually has a vacuum of energy. Everything in nature needs balance so the energy of its’ inhabitants flows towards it and away from them. That’s why everyone whose been here for more than a few years hate life. Every person I meet who is still bursting with energy is new to town. It’s one of the easiest ways to spot a recent transplant. They still care about life and stand out like a sore thumb. Maybe I’m just jaded…

If any of you have days like this, I feel for you. It sucks. It’s hard. It’s a fight, daily. But know that you’re not alone and, at least one person, me, is right there with you. They may not mean much to you but I know just knowing that has helped me feel more human. And know I have some music coming that may help you feel less alone and that other people understand your pain as well and you’re going to be alright. I just don’t know when I’ll be able to finish it yet…

(dictated but not read)

some music for drunken fools such as i... aka come on a musical journey with me

Hello, friends. Fuck off, douches. And let's play some fucking music! I know I've been kind of a downer lately on here, so I'd like to rectify that by giving you the greatest gift of all, music. Maybe you know all these tunes, maybe you'll find something new, but either way let's go on this journey together. Literally, gonna just pull what I'm listening to in order as I write this. Here we go... (see Spotify playlist at bottom if you'd like to play along)

1. "TV Party" - Black Flag

I know, a drinking playlist and I opted for "TV Party" over "Six Pack," what the fuck? Well, honestly it's because I'm literally going to have a one-man TV Party later tonight. AS I MENTIONED RECENTLY, NewsRadio is online for the first time I've ever seen so I'm plowing through them all again in rapid succession. What a fucking joy to experience these for the, oh, I don't know, maybe 20th time but still. I'm loving every minute of it! But for now I have some pent up energy and need something to rock out to.

2. "Wish upon the Weather" - Altameda

This band is growing on me, hard. Just like my penis while watching Charlize Theron in "2 Days in the Valley." Someone recommended them like a year ago and I was tepid at best with my reaction. Like, look, we get it. Ryan Adams' "Gold" was a great album. But some of the lines in here "Maybe I lost the map, maybe I'm better off without it. Maybe everything I had, well, maybe I'm better off without that." Lord knows there's large parts of my life that I'd be better off without. Or would I? That's where music comes from, so I guess I'm better off with them. But they are why I drink too much and can't sleep some nights, so... But they allow me to continually write new music which brings me more joy than anything, so... Maybe... I don't know, but this is too deep for being only two bourbons in. Maybe I'm back to fuck you Altameda... Nah, this tune is too much fun. But these guys to remind me of another band that I can't quite think of...

3. "Woman in Rust" - Silver Torches

Just kidding, just remembered. These guys. It's a similar vibe I guess, I'm not sure why these two bands seem similar in my brain but they do. I think it's the way they make me feel. But this song is a perfect road trip song if you've got one coming up. Just smooth and pretty and gets you into another world for two and a half minutes.

4. "Tokyo Sunrise" - LP

Speaking of road trip songs. I once listened to this song for four hours straight on a trip coming back from Spokane, WA. It blew my mind and I couldn't get enough. The vocal is fucking insane. Just fucking insane. I had friends who claimed it had to be fake or "studio-ed" until they saw a live video and their minds blew. That voice coming from a tall, female, Bob Dylan-looking muthafucker? Unreal.

5. "The Professor & La Fille Danse - Live" - Damien Rice

While we're on the topic of great singers. All three times I've seen Damien are in my top 10 live shows of all-time. He's my favorite performer, outside of Bruce Springsteen, of course and whenever he is touring (rarely), I drop everything to go see him. I once rescheduled one of my own shows to go see him. He's that good.

6. "Brandy Alexander" - Feist

Since we're on the topic of great live performers, goddamn, what a talented woman. I can't help but play this song whenever I'm getting drunk. And being three or four bourbons in, it's time.

7. "I am a Scientist" - Guided by Voices

OK, it's officially time to get all existential and wonder how someone else wrote this song when it's so clearly about me. Robert Pollard and I may have more in common than I thought. When he says "I am a lost soul, I shoot myself with Rock N' Roll. The hole I dig is bottomless but nothing else can set me free..." Fuck.

8. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Live" - Bob Dylan, duh

It's officially time to get transported back in time. Every time I hear this live version, I'm immediately back to being 16 and listening to this on repeat trying to figure out what the fuck is going on and how that harmonica part works so fucking well with this version of this song. I love everything about this song and this performance. It's everything I love about Bob in a nutshell. The 25 going on 60 voice, the elaborate, extended harmonica solos, the vague, poetic lyrics that really don't mean much apart from creating such a vivid world we get to live in for nearly six minutes, the bravado of the performance, especially considering he knew he was about to be booed soon during his electric set, but also the tenderness of the performance, which outshines anything that could be recorded in a studio. Mmm. It's such a delicious recipe. Thank you, Bob.

(dictated but not read)

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eschuatsion... aka... what the fuck? thatt's supposed to say "exhaustion" aka words aren't workign

I fucking hate the Dodgers… Not quite Cardinals-level hate but it’s getting closer each year it seems…

My brain is dead. I’ve been traveling non-stop the past few weeks. Right now, I’m up in Anchorage, AK. My first trip to Alaska. Of course, I was welcomed in with an unexpected snowstorm.

It’s gotten to the point where I’m having a hard time interacting with people. Words aren’t working. Interacting with others for extended periods of time is always difficult for people with Asperger’s such as I, but this is excessive. It’s taking everything I have to write this now. The term “peopled-out” doesn’t even begin to describe it. The problem is I need to give myself more time alone to recharge but it isn’t the season for that. There will be a time to rest, soon…

I can’t wait for it. I’ve literally been killing myself for the past few years for it. Soon. Soon…

But for now, I’ll continue to push forward, towards a vague, uneasy future. But it’s all going to be for the best, I hope. I can see relief. I can see rest. I can see hope. I need that.

I hate to be cryptic but I cannot explain anything any further due to my lack of… words. Words aren’t working. I’ll get them back, but for now they elude me. I’m hungry and I’m tired. I’m going to head down to the Marriott hotel bar, have a sandwich, a bourbon and a beer and then sleep. Sleep…

Wait, I know. Why the fuck am I trying to explain this when it has already been written out in such poetic fashion? Shit…

Just listen to Aes Rock’s “Labor Days” and you’ll know. I couldn’t have said it better myself. “Labor Days” is exquisitely perfect for this scenario and also happens to be my fourth favorite hip-hop album of all time, behind “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” “Yeezus,” and “The Low End Theory.”

(dictated but not read)

Aesop Rock Labor Days Album Cover.jpg

Random thoughts from an Aspergian Mind... aka this is what it's like to think like me

As I sit here in my room at a hotel near the Denver airport, I've been hard at work mulling over a few things that I probably shouldn't waste so much time and brain energy on:

1) How come the Brewers can take 2 of 3 from the Dodgers but go 0-3 against the Angels, who were mostly sans-Mike Trout?

2) As someone who is outspoken about his struggles with Asperger's/Autism, who enjoys researching/reading articles to help me (and probably moreso those around me) understand myself and my actions, and who is hoping to soon volunteer to help Autistic kids, how the fuck have I never heard of April being Autism Awareness Month until a week ago?!

Not doing so well with the awareness piece, ladies and gentleman... I have a vague memory of watching a Jon Stewart benefit but don't recall the specifics or a mention of an "Autism Awareness Month." But if we could get people to start seeing this in their children/students/etc. we could help a lot of kids (and parents/teachers/etc.) have a much easier go of it. I'm not full of regret or anything but I can't help but think of how different my life would've been if I had known I had Asperger's before 3-4 years ago.

3) Why the fuck did anyone listen to fun.?

Sorry, they came on an airport bar recently and jesus fuck... I don't think I've never drank a $22 bourbon so fast... Of course, that was for a Knob Creek (double, but still a weak pour. Don't think it even filled up the measuring cup thingy all the way), so, yeah, airport pricing can go fuck itself...

4) How the fuck is there a band worse than fun.?

(Hint: they're called Grouplove, but take my word for it and don't look them up... Well, I guess that's not really a hint, it's just giving the answer but I didn't want you all to waste time, energy and your poor fucking ears trying to figure out/guess who it is...)

5) Buffalo Trace bourbon is delicious. OK, so this isn't a question, but still.

If this stuff cost $50 a bottle, I'd still splurge on some every now and again. At $25, it's a steal. I mean, I would never pay a penny more (wink. Just in case Buffalo Trace is listening... Then they would've seen the "wink." Damnit!). Though, full disclosure, my "house" bourbon is still Elijah Craig.

6) Is "Barbara Allen" my favorite traditional folk song?

My intro to this song is from the Bob Dylan Gaslight 1962 bootleg, which is hard as fuck to find something to link to online. But, there is a decent version on Youtube, which for some reason is cut off prematurely:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkOH7Rdfnkg

I can't believe a time existed (and a version of me) who played this tune at almost every show. Good times... I used to know hundreds of old folk songs. I wish I still did...

 7) I'm going to hate the upcoming Star Wars "The Rise of Skywalker" movie... Why will I still go see it?

I didn't like episodes 7 or 8 and the Solo movie was fucking dreadful (though "Solo" is immortalized by the marquee in my "LET'S GO OUT TONIGHT" MUSIC VIDEO) so I didn't have high hopes for it to begin with. But, after seeing the trailer, I'm out. Instead of moving forward with the new characters (Rey and Poe are both pretty fucking awesome, objectively), they are pulling dead people (literally and figuratively/in the Star Wars universe) back into the movie. Just let Rey and Poe be kickass and move on.

To be fair to episode 7, it was a fun watch despite the unimaginative script. And "Rogue One" is just a good movie. I wish we could've seen the rated-R cut as I have to imagine that was a fucking even more incredible movie.

8) Speaking of movies, when does "Hobbs and Shaw" come out?

This I could find easily on that ol' interwebs thing, but I'll just dream about how awesome it's gonna be instead. Fuck, Fast and Furious is awesome but these guys are seriously best in show when it comes to that world.

9) How do I make better drum sounds on my Moog Sub 37?

Again, something I could just look up but is more fun to spend hours fucking around with the knobs. So many knobs... I've lost entire days playing with sounds for literally no reason other than I like them and they sound cool. Now if only I could learn how to play a fucking keyboard. Not sure what the fuck the holdup is but for some reason keyboards make no sense to my brain. I think of things in terms of guitars since that's how I learned to play music so maybe that's it. Maybe my brain is like "fuck, this isn't anything like what we know. It's stupid and I hate it." Which sounds like pretty Aspergers-y and how I react to a lot of things, so probably.

10) When was the last time I sat and listened to Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5? And has anyone articulated more of the human experience in a musical piece ever? Maybe "Bold as Love" but that's probably it...

I once made the mistake of putting ol' No. 5 on before bed to try and help relax my brain (you can see why going through this inane/insane list of questions I pose to myself and have to answer before moving on to the next one). I ended up spending the next 50 or so minutes getting so emotionally involved that I couldn't fall asleep for another 3 hours. Good times...

11) In this day and age of internets and things, why is NewsRadio not available online and more popular than it is (i.e. not at all)?

Holy shit! It is available on a thing called Crackle, whatever the fuck that is. They also have "The Critic" and "Bewitched." Oh, happy day!

Well, I now have some TV watching to get to, so fuck off. We'll talk next week.

(dictated but not read) 

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Baseball and Van Hagar aka... this is the shit that keeps me up late at night

Well, I finally got to see the one and only Mike Trout and man did he blow away my expectations. Unfortunately, I was in LA a few days early so the Angels were hosting the Rangers instead of my beloved Milwaukee Brewers (who they play the next few nights) but it was everything I could've wanted and then some. Trout not only saved a run on defense with his ridiculous arm but hit two home runs in a 3-1 Angels win. Basically, he won the game all by his fucking self. And he makes it look so easy. I can assure you that playing in the greatest league in the world shouldn't be so easy but it is for Trout. And the very next night all he did was respond to getting plunked by hitting a grand fucking slam during his next at bat. Magical. Just fucking magical. But this isn't a baseball blog (I'm not a big enough fan of math for that) so I digress...

Tonight, I'd like to address a rather touchy topic in the Rock N' Roll world: Van Hagar. First, a few facts about me. I was born in the late 80's and grew up in the 90's. I grew up with anything previous to the 90's being referred to as "classic rock." The first, and only, Van Halen record I heard on the radio was "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge." They say you never forget your first, and I still have fond memories of those songs. I didn't know any better. I didn't know they existed before this, and with another singer. I could only process those songs at face value. And look, I get that this was not anywhere near the peak of their powers. It wasn't even the best Van Hagar album. "5150" holds that title. Seriously, listen to THIS SHIT. But, it was the first one I heard. And, judged on its own merits, "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" is a damn good album. Is it "1984?" No, but that's not what I was judging it against in the early 90's as I was developing my musical taste. I judged it based on whether it rocked and the tunes were memorable. And they were. If you can set aside judgements based off comparisons, Van Hagar is actually pretty fucking awesome. Am I crazy or DOES "RIGHT NOW" ROCK PRETTY FUCKING HARD.

And look, I see the flip side. I had a friend whose hill he chose to die on was that Damn Yankees was way better than anything Ted Nugent did on his own. And again, Damn Yankees did rock. They did occasionally roll as well but they were not the steamroller of Rock N' Roll and sexual energy that Ted Nugent was. They, in fact, kind of sucked comparatively. But that's the key word, "comparatively." Had Styx, Night Ranger and, of course, Ted Nugent not existed previously, we would have been like "damn, those yankees can fucking rock it." But all we did was piddle on the parade since it was kind of schlocky 80's ballad-y type shit. But IS THIS WHERE MAEBY FROM "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT" GOT HER NAMESAKE? We might never know...

But, back to Van Hagar, how is THIS SHIT NOT SUPPOSED TO MELT A RURAL WISCONSIN BOY'S 12 YEAR OLD HEART WHEN HE FINDS IT? Back in the day all these albums came via BMG music's 12 for 1 deal. I can't count how many times I signed up to get that promo and promptly quit the "club." I remember getting those letters/brochures and going through and checking off the albums I would get for my "free" CD's after I paid like $30 for the first one. I remember ordering some really random shit if there wasn't anything I wanted past the first 9 or 10. I got a Britney Spears album ("...Baby One More Time"), a Mandy Moore album ("So Real") and a Jennifer Lopez album ("On the 6," which coincidentally I would spend a fuckload of time on the 6 train when I lived on the upper, upper east side). I was also probably the only 10 year old who ever ordered a Bruce Hornsby record (though it was a mistake as I checked the box I thought was an Aerosmith live album but which turned out was not...). I think the most random album I ordered was still the Corrs "In Blue" as I had no clue what it was but had a vague idea of hearing a song of theirs once. But, of course, "BREATHLESS" KICKS FUCKING ASS. It was probably due to the hot girl on the cover. 10 or 11 year olds can be very easily won over. The album I wish I didn't lose when my mom lost her house was the New Radicals "Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too." "YOU ONLY GET WHAT YOU GIVE" IS UNDENIABLY BRILLIANT. What am I talking about anymore?

Wait, the Brewers are playing the Angels and MelonTheFelon is also streaming. Also, I need pizza. Bourbon is delicious but even better with pizza. Fuck being lactose-intolerant. Lactaid motherfuckers!

(dictated but not read)

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Food poisoning blues aka... weekends seem to hate me these days...

They say bad things come in threes... This was my third consecutive weekend that has been cut short/ruined. This time? Food poisoning... Turns out Trader Joe's Polenta does not last two weeks once opened, despite it looking/smelling like normal. Do not tempt fate and try to prove me wrong... Trust me...

That's how I spent Saturday night/Sunday morning, Sunday and Monday. Even today (which is Tuesday for me), I was finally able to eat soup and not feel like I had to poop my pants immediately. Good times...

Anyways, I'm gonna finish watching the Bucks-Rockets game, shower and hopefully fall asleep early. I can't keep wasting days being sick. This fucking sucks. I'm done with this shit; which is what my poor asshole has said multiple times...

But, the one benefit of being sick is I got to catch up on TV watching, so swings and roundabouts. The TV shows that got me through:

"At Home with Amy Sedaris"

What a fun, fucking weird show. So much silly fun. Great for when you need to turn your brain off.

"Derek"

Hadn't seen this show in years, but it is so fucking good. Maybe Gervais' best show, which is high praise since "The Office" is one of my favorite shows ever.

"Arrested Development"

Yeah, I had to watch the second half of season 5. I made it through season 4 so I can make it through anything. Maeby is funnier than ever but the rest of the show is so tired and I hate their seasons 4 and 5 thing of over-explaining the jokes, which aren't as sharp or as complicated to begin with. Seems like they went plot-heavy instead of zaniness, which is not to my liking. Disappointing but I'm glad it's over (it's over, right?!).

"Happy"

Just started this one, but it's much darker than I thought but very good so far. No spoilers!

"I'm Sorry"

Andrea Savage can do no wrong in my book. Wish Jason Mantzoukas could have been in the season but I'm sure it was a scheduling thing. That's the only thing that could have made season 2 better than it is. Well done, Andrea. Well done.

OK, not feeling great again. Bye for now.

(dictated but not read)

party like it's my birthday aka.. eat whatever I want and pay the price...

Jeez, just a week after feeling dead to the world because of exhaustion from Disney World, now I feel dead to the world because of a multi-day bout of food poisoning and subsequent digestive issues. Fun stuff. Luckily, I did get to enjoy some of my birthday weekend/St. Patty's day, but not much. No green beer or Jameson shots for this guy. Of course, no one ever believes that you could be sick apart from drinking too much (as I've found out today) so that's been fun. Hey, I'll cop to drinking/partying too much when it happens but getting blamed for thinking a grocery store deli salad would be OK and being 100% wrong isn't really too much fun. Oh well, so it goes...

To be sure, I do have a few different digestive disorders I was playing fast and loose with. I am lactose-intolerant (I have no patience for lactose and won't tolerate it...). I have issues with too much gluten (was awesomely not an issue in Paris where the bread is oh-so-fucking-amazing). And sometimes (and this may have been a contributing factor as well) I eat too much really spicy food and make myself sick. I love spicy food (and like everyone in the world these days, Nashville Hot Chicken is my greatest crutch. Being in Portland, I only get chain-chicken or the like, but Seattle has one of my favorite chicken places in the world, which includes Nashville, called Sisters and Brothers) much to my stomach's dismay. Pair any of those issues with a bourbon or three and my nearly everyday stress and anxiety, and voila, welcome to Upset-Stomach City, population me (and the millions of others who suffer from some form of digestive issues).

So, I probably shouldn't have eaten pizza, grocery store deli macaroni salad, 3 big slices of cheddar cheese and a piece of chocolate pecan pie, but it was my birthday weekend and I was told I could have whatever I wanted; as long as I take a shitload of Lactaids. Oh yeah, and some chips and habanero and ghost pepper salsa. And some bourbon and beer. Not too smart. I ate and drank like I was 18 and paid the price... Getting even slightly older sucks...

Anyways, I'm going to eat some plain tuna, an egg and a piece of toast and fall asleep early. Birthdays are fun...

(dictated but not read)

Back from Disney World... aka so tired... so, so tired...

I would say I missed you all last week but I would be lying. I was at Disney World. Probably not the happiest place on Earth (an honor bestowed upon Charlize Theron's bed, not that I'd know) but certainly the most inhabited.

I'm so tired. So fucking tired. Disney is not a place for an Asperger's man (or woman). It's fucking overload central. But, I did it. It was fun. Not as fun as it could have been had I known you have to book all your FastPasses like a fucking month in advance or be more famous (saw a few famous people and they did not have to wait, but did sit in the same possibly pee-covered seats we did..)

For the record, my favorite ride was the Lyft ride back to airport. Close second was Thunder Mountain. Even closer third was Test Track. Kudos to EPCOT for actually having French people in the France part (at least for the food stand). Bonus, found out butterflies love MY TEAL "SOME GIRLS" T-SHIRT.

My favorite world was Toy Story Land (see photos below). Probably because it’s the Disney movies I’ve seen more than any other. When my brother was very young, every night before bed we would watch like twenty or thirty minutes of either “Toy Story” or “The Mouse and the Motorcycle.” Like every night. Somehow, probably because my brother is so awesome, I never grew tired of either movie. Still love them both to this day.

Wish I had more for you but bourbon and bed are calling my name. Also, I haven't touched a guitar in over a week so I'm developing the shakes. Or, maybe that's just what happens when I'm around over-anxious kids for a week.. Who knows..

Last thing, shout out to the Hilton Buena Vista Palace as their hotel bar gives generous bourbon pours for an affordable price ($30 including tip for 2 Knob Creeks and a Woodford. Pretty fucking good for a hotel).

Good night...

(dictated but not read)

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