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)

2019 so far, Catsperger's and missed opportunities... aka... maybe 2020 will be better...

It’s June. Somehow, it’s already fucking June. 2019 is almost half over… Fuck me.

I was hoping to release an album this year. A solo record. I finally have all the songs written. I originally wrote about 15-20 or so songs for it, scrapped half and moved some into another project, then wrote about 6-8 more songs in the past month or so as the theme/mood/sound of the album changed quite drastically. At least I’ll have a fuckload of B-sides for some unknown future project..

I was hoping to make another music video or two for that album. But the album doesn’t exist yet.

I was hoping to do a summer tour. But the album doesn’t exist yet and I’ve been too depressed/distracted/busy writing to book shows to promote my current album.

I was hoping to record another project I am working on that is so fucking different from anything I’ve ever done up until this point. I wanted that album to come out next spring. I wanted to parlay the solo album and move right into a project that is thematically similar but in lyrical content only. The music couldn’t be more worlds apart. But I still haven’t finished the solo record, so this is getting pushed back.

I was hoping to make headway on the book I’m writing. I wrote the first 12-15 pages a while back and I loved where it was going. I have a number of stories that I feel very strongly and passionate about. But, life is getting in the way and I have two records to make.

I was hoping to get in better shape and drink less. I am in (slightly) better shape but my depression and dreams have ruined the second part, which in turn makes the first much harder.

I was hoping I would be out of Portland, OR by now. But, I’m writing to you currently from the PacNorWest (which nobody but me calls it).

I was hoping to finally getting around to building another shelf or two (I built one from scratch three years ago that I love as I got to pick the wood, stain color, size and everything since I built the fucking thing). But, it’s hard to build things in a small apartment and even harder when you have to keep your cat away from the area you’re working in for a whole week. Cats hate that. Especially since cats have Catsperger’s and only want to do the thing you won’t let them do. Like last week, when I was cleaning out my music room closet. Normally, my cat can’t wait to run and jump into the closet as soon as she gets a chance, slip, fall or get herself trapped by climbing into something she can’t get back out of (because she’s clumsy as fuck) and then panic and claw at my guitar amps/guitar cases/band merch/etc. She makes a run for it every time I open the closet door, then pouts when I won’t let her in. But last week, when I was cleaning and the door was open all day and the stuff was strewn about the room, she couldn’t have cared less about getting in there. Catsperger’s. Takes one to know one…

I was hoping to be less of a pain in the ass to the people around me. But, can’t say that I have been much better.

I was hoping to see my friends more often. But, depression and lack of money is getting in the way.

I was hoping to blog more often. But, once a week is all I can manage right now, for a variety of reasons.

I was hoping I would be less depressed this year. But, there’s nothing I’ve done to change that.

I was hoping I would look back fondly on 2019. So far, my best hope is giving up and rooting for 2020…

(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)

what?... aka so tired. so fucking tired...

depression is a bitch. i'm so tired. i can't even write tonight. well, it's more than depression. it's also lack of sleep. sleep is essential to life but some people, like me, can't sleep because they are terrified of having horrific dreams. i don't feel like dying a dozen times tonight. just like i didn't feel like dying a dozen times last night so i didn't really sleep. chappelle's show reruns helped me through but i now cannot feel emotions or life so i just want to sleep desperately but will likely barely partake. next week, or possibly later this week, i will give you a more in depth... thing, i guess, i don't know the word, on depression, on insomnia and the like. but for tonight, i'm gonna drink til i pass out. it's not sleep but it'll do for now. i can't take another night of dreaming/nightmaring deaths for eight hours. i can't wake up to experience the same dream for an entire night. a dream in which i am chased and murdered, or tasked with saving dozens of people from murder. i just can't. i just can't. i don't have it in me. luckily, there is a new season of "nailed it" on netflix and the new pup album "morbid stuff" is fucking amazing. i'll do that for tonight, again. it's better than sleep. well, better than horrific nightmares that still don't allow me to sleep anyways. fuck that shit. seriously. whole foods sourdough fresh baked loaf is delicious. so is woodford reserve bourbon. so are "corner gas" reruns on amazon. so are "martin" reruns on bet. i'm tired. so tired...

(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 hipster fucks. OK, that last one was a lifetime allergy too. Well, more like AIDS as they didn’t exist when I was kid. AIDS did, but not hipsters. You know what I mean…

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)

bob dylan live 66 cover.jpg

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 ever 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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umm... aka fuck Portland, love Modest Mouse and Mike Trout...

Well, at least this week I don't feel like shit. I am down in L.A. though so unfortunately this will be a brief one. I don't have much to say as I spent the past week eating soup and bread trying to not shit my pants. Fun. And not that shitty as fucking band who RUINED MY FUCKING 2012. Well, come to think of it, I guess they're the exact same amount of "fun." Food poisoning and Fun., what a pair. It's like looking a mirror. One's shit at music and everything they do and one is just shit. Or is it vice-versa? Separate but equal... too soon?

If I had anything interesting to say, now would be the time to say it. But I don’t. I’m just fucking tired. I’m probably going to be tired until I leave fucking shitty-ass Portland (even though I’m not there now). I do get to see Mike Trout play baseball in person on Friday for the first time in my life. I’m so excited. He’s like the fucking Bruce Springsteen of baseball but I’ve only watched from behind my television screen. I know it’ll likely be a normal Mike Trout game on Friday but that’s exactly what I want to see. Greatness in it’s average environment, being “average” great. Other than that, I’ve got some business to conduct and some friends to see. Have I mentioned that I’m so fucking tired??

Sorry all for the short post, but I’ve got to enjoy L.A. (mostly Anaheim) whilst I’m here and get my shit taken care of. Oh and get some fucking vitamin D, whatever that is (says the Pacific Northwesterner).

If you need a listening recommendation for the week, I’ll redo Bradley’s Vinyl Obsession of the week or whatever the fuck I called it last time. This week it’s Modest Mouse “The Moon and Antarctica.” The thing Modest Mouse does as well as anyone, if not better, is create atmospheres and moods with their music. Before Isaac even utters a word, you feel, see, smell, taste and hear the landscapes. It’s an incredible feat and he’s fucking incredible at bringing you into his world, into the world he wants you to see. “Lonesome Crowded West” will always be my favorite Modest Mouse album, hell, it got me to move to the Pacific Northwest all those years ago and once again (kind of, long story) more recently. I saw a quote from Isaac from some random interview where he stated he didn’t really like Portland but it was more or less where the car broke down and he ended up. I feel the exact fucking same way. It was a weird non-compromise/compromise between me and an ex-girlfriend that brought me to Portland and weird shit upon weird shit that kept me there. I swear someday I’ll write a book about my Portland experience and it’ll get a lot of “what the fuck”-s. It’s messed up. There’s lots of sex, drugs, Rock N’ Roll, some suicide, some attempted suicide, police involvement, blackmail, hospital bills, and on and on. You get the idea. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, nothing…

(dictated but not read)

Food poisoning blues aka... weekends seem to fucking 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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Death? aka what I should probably do before I die... Well, I've done most but still...

This week, I'm going to be much more direct and to the point (read: short). "Why?" you may ask. Well, it's because I'M GOING TO FUCKING DISNEY WORLD! Not right now, but I do have to do laundry so I can pack. I've never been and missed a couple chances growing up as we were not able to afford the trip back then. Plus, I wasn't really in the mood for all the kids and whatnot being a brooding, serious teenager. But, seeing as I'm now a grown-ass man who STILL has not been to any Disney property, I think the time has come to check this one off the old list; such that there were such a list in existence. What else would be on my all-time, do at least once in my lifetime list? Hmm...

The Fucking "Fuck Death" List (aka things I should probably do before I die)

#1. See Bruce Springsteen at Madison Square Garden - DONE

You might notice that this superseded "have sex" and I mean it, hard. I grew up on Bruce, worshipped at the Sacred Church of Springsteen, studied at the Springsteen Technical Institute (or STI, as we called it... wait... Shit!), did my Master's Thesis (aka MY ALBUM "IN MY YOUTH, I'M GETTING OLD...") on Springsteen in the modern "throwback" era, finally sold my "best live performer in the world" stock in the past few years (sorry, Kanye's "Pablo" tour sealed the overtaking of the #1 spot for Mr. West), and have purchased so many copies of "Born to Run" over the years (on cassette, then CD, then enhanced CD, then vinyl, then CD/DVD box set, then remastered vinyl) that I finally just decided to get "Born to Run" tattooed on my arm to remind me for the rest of my life how impactful that album (and Bruce) truly is. There's nothing in my life (apart from my brother, sister and mother) that isn't a direct result of my love for that album. It sounds like hyperbole, but (perhaps unfortunately) it is closer to an understatement, seeing as it not only gave me many things in life, but life itself; after saving it on more than occasion (long story, kind of. Well, more weird and sad, I guess). Anyways, I wanted to see the best in the best place to see, well, almost anything, MSG. Knocked this one off the list over ten years ago ("Magic" tour, my third Bruce show overall) but the memories never fade, baby...

#2. Have sex - DONE

Also, one I knocked off the list about ten years ago. I actually did not have sex until I was out of High School. I made a decision early that I did not want to be stuck in fucking Horicon, WI any longer than I had to be. Most of my friends were quite a bit older than me. Each one was out of High School and had stuck around almost entirely because they "fell in love" (such that that can happen in High School) with a girl. "The easiest way to fall in love with a girl is to sleep with her," is what I was told. OK, simple enough. No sex, no falling in love, nothing to stop me from leaving Horicon and then Wisconsin when I wanted to. Needless to say, within weeks of being out of High School and moving to Madison, WI I checked this one off the list. Almost made me not want to leave Wisconsin (didn't know what I was missing...), but "Born to Run" and Woody Guthrie's "Bound for Glory" book wouldn't let me stay for anything. Plus, while I was in San Francisco for a month getting settled so she could then join me, that girl started fucking someone else... So, that made the decision a little easier as well.

#3A. Move to New York City - DONE

#3B. Play folk music at the Gaslight - n/a

#3C. Play folk music at the Cafe Wha? - DONE

OK, so I had to compromise, albeit only a little, on this one. After a few more months in San Francisco and a quick 9 months in Seattle, it was time. I had to go New York. I couldn't wait any longer. After all, Bob Dylan was signed and making albums at age 22 and I was soon turning 20. Time waits for no man. So, I missed the Gaslight by almost 40 years BUT the Wha? was still going strong. BUT, shit! They have a house band (who are fucking unbelievably amazing, by the way) and rarely host any other music. This could be a problem...

Maybe I'll tell the full story one day, but needless to say I got my buddy Jon (the crazy talented man WHO CAN BE FOUND HERE) and I a spot on an up-and-coming industry talent show night. Let's just say it was not the type of music they were hoping for. No, we weren't supposed to be there anyways, but two guys in boots with acoustic guitars, songs about "rambling" and more harmonica solos than you can shake a stick at, didn't go over well. To Jon's credit, he was good enough to warrant a meeting with the gal (who was affiliated with Sony) who ran the show. I was given no such meeting. Neither Jon nor I had the $10K she wanted to "mentor" us into the business anyways. But needless to say, for one night, and one night only, the Cafe Wha? was filled with folk music in all its glory... And to everyone's dismay... 

 

Anyhow, HERE IS THE VIDEO EVIDENCE (not sure why I decided to play in open D tuning.. Sorry for the flubbed chord as I only learned this song in that key the week of).

#4. Make a Rock N' Roll Record and Release it on Vinyl - DONE

Did that shit, BUY IT HERE. Didn't realize how much of a hassle it is to record to tape and master to vinyl, but Ed Brooks is a genius and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. Figured if Ed could make R.E.M. sound good, I'd be OK. Just kidding, but Ed is the best Mastering technician in all the land. Still can't believe he's worked on my albums. I'm truly a blessed man to have done what I've done in my life.

#5. Get a "Thriller" Jacket and honor my second biggest hero, Michael Jackson - DONE

Done and done. WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. I will always have the scar on my hand from the injury sustained while rehearsing my shitty versions of "Thriller" moves for this video. I can show it to you if I ever meet you and you give a shit. Some of my earliest memories are of "reenacting" Michael's "Thriller," "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Smooth Criminal," etc. Michael was my hero until I learned of Bruce, then he was my second hero; until I learned of Kanye, who was my #3 favorite hero until I finally bumped him above Bob Dylan. Michael settles in at #4 on my all-time list, which, coincidentally, is my favorite number (Brett Favre anyone?). So, he's got that going for him, which is nice...

Well, this list could go on forever, so I'll skip to the part that relates to the intro:

#27. Go to Disney World - Almost Done

Later this week muthafuckers.

(dictated but not read)

Insomnia and what cures it, for me, at least... aka music. Top 5 albums I fall asleep to...

Figured I'd give you the music right off the fucking bat in case you're one of those people that can listen to music AND do anything else, like read, at the same time. For me, music is a solitary focus only but I hear I'm a little weird with shit like that...

Well, it's Monday night (or whenever the hell it is when you are reading this), so it's time for your weekly dose of ol' Bradley Wik. I found out recently that, apparently, I was the last person on the planet still using two spaces after a sentence while typing, so I'm trying to get used to using only one. Forgive me if I add extra ones here and there. Fucking old habits die hard. I've had to delete three in this short-ass first paragraph already...

But, last week was a fucking weird one for me. I had an enormous fucking blister on my thumb which made it damn near impossible to pick a guitar/record (bourbon helps with the pain), I tried to start going through and mixing some of the recordings I made last week only to find they were, for all intents and purposes, unusable, which pissed me off to no fucking end, so I just wanted to relax and watch some TV but football is gone, baseball hasn't yet started, so I binged seasons 5 and 6 of "VEEP" and fell in love with Jonah and Richard Splett all over again. Which was nice, for a while. Then, I had an Asperger's attack/breakdown over getting a new tattoo because I really wanted to get it this weekend but I am going to Disney World in less than a week and was paranoid about it getting infected on the water rides. But, I had already made up my mind to go get it which means I spoiled almost two entire days pouting/freaking out that I didn't get to do what I had already planned on doing even though it was entirely my fault as I had completely forgotten I was going to Disney World so soon after. It likely would've been fine anyways, but I already don't heal particularly quickly (bourbon doesn't help in this case) and generally have shit luck with vacations in the first place. It literally only delayed the new tattoo by a couple weeks but Asperger's is a bitch sometimes and loves to fuck up my days with nonsense...

But, what I really wanted to talk about today was insomnia and my top five albums to fall asleep to. So, no reason to keep blathering on about nonsensical things when I could be blathering on about semi-nonsensical things...

Insomnia and me

I think it started shortly after I turned 18. I had spent the past 9 years sharing a room with my little brother who was (and still is!) 8 1/2 years younger than me. You'd think it would be a bummer for a high schooler to share a room with an 8 year old but it was actually the opposite. My brother and I got along swimmingly (and still do). Of course, it's much easier for me to get along with someone who has excellent (and very similar) taste in music, movies, television and video games. We hung out a lot of the time and I had control of the stereo and TV, so he didn't really have many other options, but, he definitely could've hated listening to Outkast's "Stankonia" on repeat while playing NFL 2K1 (Dreamcast for life muthafuckers!) for hours on end. But, he didn't. He even choreographed one of his first karate test routines to the fucking White Stripes. I think he was 7 at the time. What can I say, kid's a badass and he knows good shit when he hears it.

Leaving home was semi-traumatic as I crave structure and routine. Leaving was the opposite (though, ironically, leaving/moving would become my new routine so staying in one place became the difficult thing) as it forced me to sleep in some place new, eat new food (food I had to cook), go to new stores, a new job, and move into a shitty, college rental house. It turned out to be amazing and I could've lived there forever with Jake and Quinn, but life had other plans for us all.  But, just uprooting everything was jarring for a kid with Asperger's. It didn't sit right and sleeping became difficult. I moved from Horicon, WI, population 3000 to a busy street in Madison, WI, population a billion as far as I was concerned. The street noise, which would eventually become my friend, was such a shock that I couldn't tune it out enough to sleep. For the first month or so in Madison, I think I slept maybe 3 or 4 hours a night. 9 years was a long normal that suddenly disappeared for me. After the initial Asperger's shock wore off, I needed to normalize it. Jake and Quinn listened to music (quite loudly, I might add) as they dozed off. It dawned on me that I could use music, my one true love, to help me adjust to new surroundings. My routine could be the wonderful music that made me feel human, comforted me and gave my life meaning. You see, with Asperger's and its lack of empathy, "human-ness" was hard to come by. I always felt an outsider, a stranger to even myself and someone who didn't understand how other humans interacted and felt so comfortable amongst each other. I didn't  get it. They clearly understood or had something I did not. But music bridged that gap. Suddenly, I could surround myself with people who had the same obsession I did. It made me feel connected to the rest of the world in a way I didn't before. It helped me understand how humans made contact amongst one another in a friendly way. I needed it to survive. Now, it could help me achieve one of the most basic human needs for survival: sleep. For years, I couldn't sleep without music playing. I may not use it every night anymore (as most nights I pass out on the couch watching TV after a handful of bourbons), but when I do, it puts me out like a baby. I can hit the sack and within 20 minutes be sleeping like a baby with the right record. Which brings me to...

My top 5 albums to fall asleep to

 

Honorable mentions: Jeff Buckley - Grace, Portishead - Eponymous, The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

Jeff Buckley's music has helped me in innumerable ways throughout my life, including saving it on more than one occasion, so it can occasionally be difficult to listen to passively enough to fall asleep. I've used it to soothe my soul on so many nights, but it's also kept me awake with its beauty on more than one occasion (whether by its pure musical magic or the memories it stirs in me) so I have to relegate it to honorable mention in this case.

Portishead is wonderful late night music. Unfortunately, it's also wonderful late night music for certain, R-rated things as well. So, it can't be counted on 100% to send me to slumberland as it sometimes sends me to excited land, which is not conducive to falling asleep.

The Gaslight Anthem's '59 Sound is like comfort food. It's not the most original, complex, inventive or brilliant album but it knows what it is and it does it fucking well. It's punk, Springsteen, storytelling and about as on the nose as a fucking handjob, but sometimes that's all you need.

Now, to the good stuff:

5. Palace Brothers - Days in the Wake

A record recommended to me by the kind (and musically-genius) folks at B-Sides records in Madison, WI. I came in for the Bonnie Prince Billy "I See a Darkness" record and they brought up his past projects and said I'd probably love this. They were right as fuck. I spent 6 months writing songs that could fit on the sequel to this album because it inspired me so much. The rawness, the honesty, the sometimes ridiculousness of it all were so beautiful. When I drink, I always play "I am a Cinematographer" and "I Send My Love to You" without fail. Just gorgeously raw music.

4. Neil Young - After the Gold Rush

 

This album isn't my favorite Neil Young album, it's not even in my top 3 (well, can be #3 depending on my mood and the day), but it has an effect on me that I cannot fully describe. It's calming and numbing (in a good way) and gets me out of my head in a way that is wonderful. I'll also never forget the night I drank, well, more than my fair share of wine and watched Arrested Development reruns until 3:30 am. I finally went to bed but needed to wind down from all the laughter. I popped this record on but being drunk, wasn't aware of the apparent volume. Turns out, my downstairs neighbor didn't appreciate the late night/early morning Neil Young; except maybe she did as she wrote me a letter saying to keep it down late at night unless I give her a call and invite her up for my late night "parties." If I wasn't with someone at the time, I probably would have. Other than that, I never had any interaction with my neighbors at that Portland apartment, though it was one of the last apartments that allowed smoking since it "had let people do it for so long, they couldn't ask them to stop now. Besides, they had extensive renovations to do (read: the apartments were shitty) so they'll deal with it then."

3. Joanna Newsom - Y's

This is such a strange album for me. My Asperger's brain struggles to figure this out. I don't have any clue how to make music like this and I keep trying to figure out how this came into existence. To me, it's like a crazy math riddle that I don't know the formula to. But, I love it. I love it so much. This vinyl is one of my most well-worn/loved. The CD didn't leave my Sony boombox for months and months on end when it first entered. I listened to this album incessantly on my iPod on the train to work when I live in NYC. Joanna has played some of my favorite live shows that I've ever seen. She truly is an artist in every sense of the word, and if you don't own the vinyl version of this, by God, sell your fucking children (or $20 or $30 worth of something else) to get it. You won't regret it. But, make sure you also get the CD so you can listen as you doze off to "Monkey and Bear." I rarely make it past "Monkey and Bear" when I play this late at night.

2. Bjork - Vespertine

"Homogenic" is far too upbeat and wonderous to fall asleep to. No, this is the album you need to whisk you away into a magical night of slumber and dreams. The majestic tone of this album set against those jagged but hypnotic soundscapes are just too much to fathom. Unlike "Y's" where my brain is trying to figure out the math, this just breaks my brain and it shuts off, in the best possible way when you're trying to turn off the day. If I make it to "Undo," I can't help but let a tear slip despite my eyes being tightly closed. If I could ever make a song like that (or anything on this album) I would immediately retire knowing I'd never achieve such heights again. Luckily for us, Bjork wasn't done reaching heights.

1. Stars - Set Yourself on Fire

This album puts me to sleep in the sadness, most nostalgic way possible. Back in Madison, WI when I was just figuring out the nocturnal magic of music, this was one of the first albums that lulled me to sleep. The reminiscing of high school times, which I was fresh out of, was too much, set against the pop-electronic rock concept while handing off singing duties/doing duets with an equally talented female was something I always wanted to dabble in. This album has all the teenage emotions a young person can handle: fleeting love, anger, lust, sadness, the feeling that somehow this is the best it will ever get, ambition, hope, youthful regret, the false permanence, underage drunkenness, etc. This album is likely not as good as I think it is (one of the 10-15 greatest albums ever made) but it means that much to me. I don't know why. It's just one of those time and place albums that is now so embedded and such a sense memory for all the emotions and experiences that time represents that it is indelibly a part of me. There's a sadness and a joy and a comfort in that. I like that this album keeps all that for me. I don't have to forget. I don't have to carry it with me. This album takes care of all that for me. I just have to place it, close the lid and let the lasers do the rest. That little piece of plastic keeps all that shit at a distance but within reach. God bless it. Thank you Stars for the countless nights that I've enjoyed sleep when I otherwise couldn't. It's a blessing and I cannot repay you enough for what you've given me. I once collapsed at work from lack of sleep, but then I found this album and it literally changed my life. Only a small number of records have done that and these sad, reminiscing kids from Canada did it. Congratulations. I'll probably die with this record on. Or "Born to Run" or "Bold as Love" or "Blood on the Tracks" or "Tonight's the Night" or "Grace" but it's crazy "Set Yourself on Fire" is even in that conversation...

(dictated but not read)

stars set yourself on fire.jpg

Tommy Wiseau, you sick genius... aka how did I get sucked into this? Also, haircuts are the worst. Am I right?

I did one of my least favorite things today: I got a haircut. I know that for some people they don’t mind getting a haircut; hell, they even enjoy it! But, alas, that is not I. My Asperger’s will not let me enjoy it. Why? Because I have a very hard time allowing people to touch my head, and I rarely like the haircuts I get because often I am too anxious about people about to touch my head that I give little direction and hope for the best. I’d like to think I’m not too picky, but it turns out I just hate the whole experience so much that however my hair comes out typically angers me since I had to go through this horrible process to get it there. Plus, I’m just fucking weird when it comes to my hair. I love to have it long, except I don’t. It’s always falling in my face and I have to use so much product to keep it away from my eye holes. But it does look good, so I often keep it long and complain about it constantly. Then, if I cut it short it feels better but I just wish it was long again. All of which is to say I’m very Asperger’s neurotic about my head/hair. The only time I accept people touching it is during sex or the run-up to sex. I’m generally a little too otherwise distracted and there isn’t enough blood left in my head to care, or something, I guess. Who knows? But outside of fucking, stay away from my head. Which is why it’s such a mind-fuck to get a haircut and let a stranger touch my head. I sometimes feel bad because not only am I normally terrible at small talk but bring in my head-touching anxiety and I normally sit in the chair silent trying not to make eye contact with anyone. I try to tip well to compensate for my strange behavior during the actual deed but I’ve started just warning the hair stylist ahead of time that I will probably seem very jovial and talkative until my head is being touched at which point I will clam up and try to get it over with by focusing on anything but what’s happening. This is the not so fun part of having Asperger’s… But, I did find a place in Portland (Brick and Mortar) and a stylist (Anna or Hannah, I think? Or something along those lines) who has given me my favorite two haircuts probably ever, so that’s good. But still, fuck Asperger’s sometimes…

But enough of that drudgery when shit like “The Neighbors” exists in the world:

Seriously, what the fuck? Tommy Wiseau is the now-infamous director of the worst movie ever (“The Room”) satirized in the recent film “The Disaster Artist.” That movie is crazy funny (if you love weird, cheesy movies) but this is next level shit. You can watch the WHOLE SERIES HERE ON YOUTUBE but I would warn you to take it slow with this as I’m not sure what would happen if you watched it all in one night. This shit will fuck with you and your perceptions of what television is and can be. Tommy Wiseau is at his most Tommy Wiseau, even actively showing/peddling his very own underwear line throughout the series. If somehow you made it through more than a few minutes of that, you will indeed concur, “what a day…”

In music this week, I rediscovered a song I used to perform live from time to time if I was bored or wanting to give the audience a very special treat: “THE MARINER’S REVENGE SONG” BY THE DECEMBERISTS. What a shanty tune! I love it. That whole “Picaresque” record was awesome and they put on some of my all-time favorite live shows, including a Thanksgiving show where they chased a man dressed up in a turkey suit through the audience while playing… fuck, some song. Can’t remember. But it was good times…

In Bradley’s random vinyl selection of the week (which I just invented yesterday when I was bored and wanted to do something besides watch TV now that I’ve finished “Russian Doll” and found out “Nailed It! Mexico” does not have Nicole Byer on it…), where I close my eyes and pull out an actual vinyl album (yes, hipsters, people actually play these things, not just collect them to look cool) to revisit. This week it was: Neil Young’s “On the Beach.” Not my favorite Neil Young record, that honor goes to “Tonight’s the Night,” but “REVOLUTION BLUES” rocks pretty fucking hard and “MOTION PICTURES” is pretty fucking fantastic. It’s so resigned and sentimental and hopeful and everything you’d want out of a Neil Young song, including a harmonica solo. I wonder what kind of harmonica Neil plays on this album. I used to be a Hohner blues man but have slowly moved into enemy (read: Lee Oskar) territory with their harps. If anyone knows the answer, comment or hit me up via the contact page. The one thing I will say is the Lee Oskar harmonica rack is a bit more stiff in the springs than it needs to be. But it works well when you get it in; that’s what she said…

Anyways, if you haven’t watched “Russian Doll,” quit your job immediately and watch the whole series in one sitting while eating almost an entire a Screamin’ Sicilian Mambo Italiano, drinking almost an entire bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed and falling asleep/passing out after four episodes only to wake up and rally at 2:45 AM Elliott Smith style to finish the series. I’ve heard that’s a good way to do it. I wouldn’t know, but that’s what an inside source told me in a dream, or in real life. Or, it was me. Fuck. I hate having “Inception” style dreams within dreams… Or am I in one now?

(dictated but not read)

Taxes, Music Videos and Albums... aka the highs and lows of music

Now that it’s everyone’s favorite time of the year, tax time, I’ve been reflecting on what I spent my money on to further my music career in 2018. 2018 was a strange year. So was 2017… But that’s another story. 2018 was the year I made not one but two MUSIC VIDEOS, which is by far my best memory of 2018. If I could make a music video for every song I write, I would. But alas, they’re also quite expensive (even with our director taking on the duties, ha!, I said “doody,” of production, casting, editing, and lighting supervisor/camera work on “Luckey.” Kevin Pietila is an amazing man) and require an immense amount of pre-production, scheduling and luck (who thought it would rain in July?). I’m not sure I’m the best actor (though, I did do a pretty good zombie, I must say…) but I know I had a blast throughout both shoots. It’s been the most fun I think I’ve had making something in years…

Albums are stressful. They’re not fun to make (at least in my experience) as they are so personal, require so much energy, thought, time (in rehearsals leading up to, actual recording time, mixing, stressing about the mixes until your ears fall off and you’ve picked apart everything only to realize you should trust your mixing engineer more since he’s good at this and I have Meniere’s Disease and don’t always hear things accurately, stressing about which songs to put on vs. leave off, stressing about the order of the tracklist, the album art, the weight of the vinyl for pressing and pretty much everything else…) and, again, money. No album has truly sounded 100% like I had hoped going in. Though I believe that to be an unachievable goal. Each one has “felt” the way I intended but nothing can ever be perfect, even when the goal is imperfection like on “In My Youth, I’m Getting Old…”

I’m doing something no musician should ever do. It’s bound to drive you insane, which has started I confess. It’s a bonafide way to make you hate yourself, question everything you do and take way too long… But, I’m writing, recording, producing, mixing and art directing my next couple albums. I want to control everything start to finish (except mastering because I’d be wasting my time and energy since Ed Brooks can make my music sound eons, I know, a measure of time, not quality, but still, eons better than I could ever even dream of) and finally make something exactly how I want to. I’ve started and stopped recording the songs three times now, each time restarting with some new songs and new sounds. I think I finally have the group of songs and the sounds where I want them and am ready to do it for a fourth and final time. It’ll be a record for those who suffer from depression, loneliness, have Asperger’s or some combination of those three. No, you don’t have to experience those things (and I hope you don’t, except Asperger’s as there are some pretty great upsides since I’m not too far out on the spectrum) to understand and love the record. There are beautiful songs, stories and soundscapes to take in as well. There are also ugly songs, stories and soundscapes to absorb. It’s the first of three self-recorded/produced/mixed albums I have planned, including a project I’ve wanted to do since I was 18, which by the demos has been described as fun-but-depressing-folk-space-pop…

Anyhow, I’m in Phoenix enjoying some time with amazing friends so why the fuck am I still blathering on??

(dictated but not read)