The first time is really spoke to Karl Denson was in Boulder Colorado in 1999. I was on the slow train west and had briefly met him when I left Boston a few weeks before. The day was strange from the jump. I was crashed out on a random couch and the neighbor, unknown to me, came bursting in. Apparently a wall had collapsed on him, I didn't ask any questions regarding validity of his wild claims because his entire body was bruised. He looked like a giant navy blue hatless smurf from a Christopher Nolan take on the franchise and though that was the summer of lsd, I knew I hadn't conjured him. He had a simple request, I change the number on his prescription from 33 Vicodin to 88 (his hands were also crushed) and I drive him to the pharmacy. Stranger or not, you can't refuse a dude who looks like a failed member of the blue man group. He tossed me a bunch of painkillers for my trouble and I in turn tossed them into my mouth like they were tic tacs, a couple beers later I found myself in that cosmic realm between space and time. When I met Karl I was a twirling blur of slurred hippie madness, I gave him a flute which I had on my person for some reason and some words of unnecessary encouragement like "keep doing that thing you've put your whole life into and are quite successful at." As if my my dumb numb ass had the potential to inspire the clearly inspired. I'm surprised there was a third meeting, but Karl would become instrumental in my reach as a musician. I performed spoken word with his band for thousands of people through the years, he was one of the first to trust me and give me a platform, he put me on one of his records and has given me some lyric writing opportunities as well. I couldn't have been happier for him when he joined the Rolling Stones last year as their touring saxophone player, not only cause I can say "I know someone from the Stones" (which I do three times a day), but because I can't think of a more deserving person. And while having a gig at the big dance, he still made time to record with the Cold Fact on a song we'll be releasing this week at the Music Box 10/9. The second time I met Karl Denson I approached cautiously, having seen him with his band Tiny Universe in Boston, Boulder and now San Diego, I didn't want him to think I was the deranged superfan who was going to steal a lock of his goatee before trying to murder him. I told him I just moved from Morristown New Jersey, he said "my wife's from there", and now I live in San Diego, he said "so do I". I said "small world" and as if we were in a terribly scripted buddy comedy from the writing team that brought you Turner and Hooch, he said "tiny universe"
Facebook is adding a dislike button!!!! I'm so fucking stoked. I hope instead of thumbs down its a fully engorged middle finger the size of dikembe mutombo's, so I can be like "fuck your ignorant ass homophobic fear mongering post!!!", "fuck your Muse video", "fuck your baby, he can't even walk yet". Facebook is going to turn into a war zone. The gluten free people are gonna dislike your sandwich, the vegans are gonna dislike your achievement at Carnitas Snack Shack and I'm gonna dislike your selfies. And right on time for the election. No coincidence there. It's probably invented so that Donald Trump can become the Rebecca Black of facebook, a household name by virtue of ubiquitous disdain.
Will people use it sparingly and responsibly, simply so when you post about your uncle's death, they don't have to ask queries of social etiquette like "do I "like" this post?" Fuck no! People are going to run amok. If you finish a marathon and post about it, I will take it as a direct affront to my poor physical stamina and dislike it. I'm wondering how bands will fare, especially in a local sphere. Will people have the balls to be honest with their opinions regarding the youtube video of someone you could potentially run into at Starbucks? Only time will tell. Will the digital hate spill into the streets? Of course, this is America!!!!! Man, I wish you could dislike this post. I have since read that it will be less of a dislike and more of an empathy button, which I'm praying elicits the losing trombone from the Price is Right. Because nothing says "I'm sorry you weren't accepted to college" like the sad trombone.
The moment a spunky old lady with foul mouth of Boston asks you if you'd like to see her cat in a lady gaga outfit or a wedding dress, that's the moment you review the decision making process that more often than not lands you in scenarios like this. It started in the whole foods line, I was using my rent money to buy some gluten free flowers and a new berry from the Amazon that will cure my malaise, an older woman approached and asked if she could touch my necklace. I don't usually say no to grandma types. This keeps me flush with rock candy, peppermints and good karma (at least one of you needs to keep your mind out of the gutter). We struck up a conversation in the parking lot, she was as kind as she was quirky, intuitive as she was zany, not a word I've ever put to use, but an apt one for her measure. She spoke no nonsense east coast with the pulse of caffeine, urgency and zero fucks given. She mentioned that she was a few days away from an estate sale and being the junk entrepreneur that I am, I wanted first crack. "Come over in an hour" she said. I brought the flowers to my lady and what started as a nice gesture turned into a seemingly deliberate -here's some flowers, but we have to do some possibly weird shit, but remember that time I got you flowers-. Shortly after walking into a house as cluttered as my mind on a Tuesday, I was in a losing twister position, legs arched over a valuable antique Barbie set, left arm imploring an inspector gadget reach to unplug a turntable, dust marching against me armed to the teeth. She asked "would you like to see my cat try on some outfits?" I've never had to answer a question like that before. We paused too long for comfort before delivering a stern "absolutely." Thinking to myself "each decision I make is for the sake of the facebook post and the validation to come." It wasn't until the "opening day at Del Mar" outfit that I thought "why am I not documenting this????" There was only one point when I thought we might be murdered. She kept trying to lure Dani into her bedroom to take a seat. It's weird to have a calm thought like "I wonder if she's gonna murder us, probably not, but maybe....." Later that night I found myself wearing a sars mask alone in an unlit mildewed garage with a spelunking set up, digging through old records for a couple of gems. So come Christmas time when I give you a record Littlefield and you walk away saying "that cheap bastard al could only muster a dollar for my gift!" Know some costs can't be simply measured in money and it was a challenge to mine that "coal" for your stocking! Lastly, and maybe the highlight was finding one of my own CDs in the garage and when I told the 61 year old woman she owned one of my albums and she shouted "FUCKIN AWESOME" with an unsheddable Boston accent, the evening was fulfilled.
A crazy guy just wandered into the shop. I knew he was crazy by two quick tells, his dense canopy of eyebrows offered enough shade for all the ants in ocean beach and second, he entered the store mid conversation with himself about raspberries. We were two feet away and he noticed me and my goddamn ears and decided to just fire fast lunacy at me. I was good for the first three minutes. I just looked at my phone, he can't engage me if I just stare into the void of instagram. Oh nice, heather had a salad, Trent went somewhere pretty, just keep staring, just keep staring, oh that persons a vegan, hey, a child I don't know. The combination of my ruined attention span, that I literally get distracted from distractions, coupled with my utter humanness and the difficulty of ignoring a person speaking directly to you, I folded. I made eye contact. The last line of defense in the battle against crazy customers. He belabored me with words I recognized but in an order utterly unfamiliar, intoned them as if they were questions. I had no answers for him. Just a fascination with the feral abandon of his eyebrows, the last stretch of untamed wilderness of the California coast.
Suddenly I was itchy as hell. It felt like east coast summer camp by the lake, when Mosquitos and poison ivy collaborated to make you wish you were Edward Scissor Hands and you could just (no pun intended) handle shit (he sure looks like a Cure fan). I looked to my right and the dog sitting next to me was also itchy, writhing uncomfortably against the sharp edges of cabinets in the record store. I don't know this dog. Its owner had popped in and mush mouthed out some language that I thought said "can dogs come in the store", I said "yes", but what she actually asked was "hey stranger, can you watch my dog while I drink beers next door". So there I was, sitting with a short haired itchy poodle who was crying tortured yelps in a store full of people. I was receiving the look of distain that white folks reserve for black dudes running dog fights, this is one of the worse looks you can catch, only Jared Vogel knows the more cutting gazes (not only did he suggest a sub par sub sandwich, but....). I glanced back with a limp shrug that I pray suggested "I don't even know this dog and I'm definitely not mistreating it". Well, now I'm itchy and I really hope the owner returns and this isn't somehow my dog now, I always imagined I'd end up with a golden retriever, not a poodle with a rose red bow in its itchy head. I don't know what it is about me that exudes trust, but I'd really like to shed it. Maybe I'll pretend to have Tourettes and just curse people out as my ice breaker, shake hands with my middle finger drawn, see if that saves me from scratching my skin off with an elderly poodle, sad eyes looking at me like I owe him some backlog of kibble. The 3rd installment of the redwoods podcast is here, I haven't listened to it yet because my voice sounds like Gilbert Godfrey and Fran Dresher's synched up orgasm during an air raid at a Nickelback concert, but you should. It's full of soft racism, hard dick jokes and music sweet music.
This look seems to say "are you my new daddy"
The store has no ventilation. Just fans that blow hot air, so it slaps you like a Frenchman on fire as oppose to engulfing you like triple lindy into an active volcano. This siracha afternoon is killing me and I'm only 5 hours into an 11 hour shift. I'm sweating like Bill Cosby at the 2015 Lilith Fair and I think I'm starting to imagine crazed shit like a 2015 Lilith Fair. For the first time in life I've understood the dylanesque poignancy of the nelly lyric in "it's getting hot", he was truly onto something universal, direct with no need for metaphors and abstractions. I tried to write but the sweat dropped onto my journal and the wet page is useless, plus I'm sun dumb and beyond an original thought. An Arizonan just complained about the heat, apparently a life's training doesn't prepare you for this. At least not every idiot came to the beach today to get wasted and ask me stupid questions like "there's a big concert coming to town, do you know who is playing and where?" This isn't hyperbole, this is the information they provided. They're probably sun dumb too. Alright, that killed 8 minutes, 6 hours and 52 minutes to go!
In my most anxious of reveries I daydream a comedy in which all of our private texts become public. Where the band you said “nice set” to knows that you think they’re a bunch of “no talent hacks that wear shorts to their gigs and would likely attend an Uncle Kracker show in an Uncle Kracker T-shirt.” I imagine 5 dudes kicking down my door, wielding tire irons and a trident and phrases like “Oh yeah, you think our career headway is a sum of our vests, do ya?”, as the drummer starts to rapidly slap my face, in a perfect rhythm never mustered for shows, while saying “who’s dragging ass now?” I remember my life before bands, back when I thought Spinal Tap was an acceptable comedy rather than a work of absolute genius. I viewed the stage through naïve and rose tinted hippie lenses, assuming that all musicians loved each other and cynicism was a symptom of the non creative. Then I met some dudes who played jazz. I learned how much space a loving heart reserved for hatred and how gripe could be a form of high art. I understood it though, folks possessing strenuous years of music education, playing small rooms in which Warwick Davis could yawn and touch both walls, as the nation sung along to “MOVE BITCH GET OUT THE WAY”. I think the inadvertent goal of every musician is to harvest the hatred of his or her peers. If you get to play that coveted opening slot, every other band that wanted it is gunning for you. When you get to provide the coveted opening slot, you’re the deer in the crosshairs of more, receiving accolades from the sycophants who curse your name. There’s only room for 1% to “make it” so it’s a catfight for that trace space that may or may not exist. Competition at its best is great for the art. At its worst leaves one mired beneath the weight of an ego generally as massive as it is fragile. I know envy is the famine that has made me hungry, sharpened my blade. I write, study, shed and create, my mistakes keeping me up at night, my triumphs letting me hesitantly out of bed, codependent rivals on the seesaw of existence, pushing this machine forward. I miss my pre band days, when music was a simple love. Back when a concert offered escape rather than contemplation, before it cut into the time I could spend working on my own dreams as opposed to watching another live theirs out. I have a reputation for starting new bands and every time I do, it is starting over. History and momentum only follow you if you possess the mass of stadiums. I am a litany of whispers. But I love the beginning, unsure what the future holds, feeling like you are the owner of the world’s best kept secret for a moment in the span of it all. I’m excited share a new record with you. This post is the nervous lament of an ego about to offer a bit of brevity to the world. If you’re a musician, my only hope is that one day you hate us and you turn that hate into something beautiful.
As far as I know I'm a heterosexual man. I don't like dance music, my room is a mess and I really appreciated Kathy Ireland's month in the swim suit calendar purchased in brainwashed adolescence. But over the past three days I've watched Lenny Kravitz's penis explode out of his pants like a scrawny Brown Kool Aid man through a brick wall of black leather, 458+ times, in fact I'm going to watch it again right now. A part of me worries I will watch it repeatedly while driving and wrap myself around a telephone poll, clinging to my phone in my cold dead hand, giving my mom the tough news "he died doing what he loved." I've legitimized it in my mind as ok, I mean it's ok regardless, but ok within my sexual definition of self in that I'm mesmerized, if not full on hypnotized, by the facial expression he makes at the moment of impact / breakout. 11 years ago I tried to fart on my best friend's head and I jumped up and accidentally fired a turd out of a hole in my pants. I like to think I made the same face, a unique combination of shock, shame and some kinda misplaced feral pride, basking in the feat of what should never pass. Lenny looked intense, like he had something to prove, the shadow years of a career, the hits long in the rearview, relevance alongside like tumbleweed leaving the reach of sight, he had cut his dreads and lost his power like Sampson, but he clung on, leather leaps and stunt struts, that stance of Los Angeles, forever young where "disingenuous" owns a question mark. The problem I had was with forwarding. After all, as funny as it is, it's a penis breaking on through to the other side, it's not a cat gif nor a child fail. Every text I forwarded had a moment of pause. I think they'll find this funny, but if they open it at work and they work with children and a young kid sees Lenny's manhood, did I cost a friend a job, a child his youth? I thought "this is going to crack my mom up", but that message went unsent, I think a wise decision, after all, dick pics have derailed political careers, did I really want to send a dick pic to my mom and read about her heart attack on buzzfeed. I sent it to Brad Lee who asked if there was a Grammy or Emmy for gifs, perhaps that's what a Cleo is, I don't know. But it's a heroic 1 second of film (ha, I accidentally typed firm instead of film, Lenny's dick is homosexual propaganda, the republicans were right, we're all going to be brain(bow)washed and Are You Gonna Go My Way was about sexual orientation) and accomplishes what it takes Judd Apatow 2 hours to pull off. It deserves something! Didn't need to google image search Kathy Ireland for this piece though, what happens to a wet dream deferred.....