Friday, April 30, 2010

The Book Is Out Today!

So yeah, I don't post here so often anymore, because I am always at my other home on the Internets, but I just wanted to let you all know that the book came out today!

Punk Rock Saved My Ass features a chapter by yours truly, and the cover and interior photos from TFN! Plus, it's for charity. $1 from every copy sold goes to Gilman Street.

I also discovered that Amazon has some copies of the last book I was in for sale, even though it was only released in the UK.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Words to sweat by...

"In my 30s I used to go to the gym even though I hated it. The purpose of ­going to the gym was to postpone the day when I would stop going. That's what writing is to me: a way of ­postponing the day when I won't do it any more, the day when I will sink into a depression so profound it will be indistinguishable from perfect bliss." - Geoff Dyer

So I joined a gym, and have been going quite often. A half hour on a treadmill followed by 15 minutes on an elliptical, or spinning class once a week.

I like the way the gym makes me feel, and not just physically. Mentally, too. I sleep better, and I wake up more energized between the ears. I am regaining a creative energy that is normally absent once it's too cold to be on a bike. I like it.

But it has made me realize that I'm not writing enough right now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Free Heidelberg Project Tours

Heidelberg Project
Originally uploaded by alpharat

It will be while we're at SXSW, so we can't make it, but I just saw that if any of you locals will be around and interested, they're going to be doing free tours of the Heidelberg Project Tours on March 20.

RSVP here, as apparently there are limited number of spots available.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Here come the Repo Men... again...

I just stumbled across this site.

It's a really well-designed site that's a viral piece for an upcoming film called Repo Men, which stars Jude Law and Forest Whitaker.

The real site for the film is here.

The concept is a good one. In the (near) future, organ transplant science will have reached a point where the science is good, and while people will need them in order to avert terminal disease or fatal injuries, they won't be able to afford them.

This is where the big corporations come in.

With a financing plan, you'll be able to set up a payment plan in order to finance your new organs and new life.

But what happens if you fall behind on your payments?

They send the Repo Men out to collect the company's property.

It sounds like a novel concept, no?


They totally lifted the plot from an excellent independent film from 2008 called Repo: The Genetic Opera, which is a dark, surreal rock opera that features (among others) Paris Hilton (who is actually good), Ogre (from Skinny Puppy), Sarah Brightman and a surprise cameo by one of the most badass women in rock and roll.

I know it's nothing new, but it rankles my limpets badly enough when Hollywood simply remakes a classic film out of greed and a lack of willingness to take a chance with a fresh idea, and it's even worse when they simply choose to rip off the indies who did it first and (probably) better.

See it if you must, but see the opera first.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Angry Monkey Update

Like last year, it appears that Team Angry Monkey will not be signing up for Iceman this year. Actually ever again.

It was fun for the several years we did it, but everyone seems to be of the "been there, done that" mentality.

Instead, though, it seems that one of our team members, one of the more hardcore (hint: not me), has gone and signed up for this. It happens to be Michigan's most hardcore race.

Last summer, I rode the trail the course is on. It kicked my ass. And I rode it once. For this race, he'll be riding it three times. For a total of 100 miles.

We're going up to cheer him on. The afterparty will be sweet, but I don't know if he'll come to it.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Introducing Jezebel

The Schwinn!

On a frigid winter day, Jezebel, as she has come to be known, made her maiden voyage around the block. It was success, but then she had to go back inside to wait for spring.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Almost ready to roll...

Remember this?

The new baby

Restoration is coming along fine. I'm only a few hours out from having it ready to roll out. Here's a bit of what I've been doing.

This is what the fender looked like when we got it:

Fender - Before

This is what it looks like now:

Fender - After

After that is all set up for TFN, it will be time to start on my new baby:

The Hawthorne Hercules

This is a late '50s/early '60s Hawthorne Hercules, manufactured in England. I'm still trying to learn more about it, but the documentation isn't as easy to find as it was for the Schwinn. It's going to be my new ride, though.

As soon as it gets warm.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

15 Feet Of Pure White Snow

I think I’m going to start a bit of a series on some of the people I consider to be musical geniuses.

First up, Nick Cave.

I wasn’t sure which song to post, I was first going to use “Into My Arms,” but I have posted it before. And I was going to post something more in your face, like a song from “Murder Ballads,” but I think that may have put some people off on hearing how great this guy. And I was going to post a video of him with someone else I’ve professed admiration for – the guy I named my dog after - that was a duet of Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan doing “What a Wonderful World.”

Instead, I decided I was trying too hard and assuming you saw that old video - which is a beautiful love song and also an amazing piece of film - I'd posted before, and I realized that the original host had yanked it (we all know how I feel about that), so it's back again.

Nick Cave started with the Birthday party about 500 years ago, then went on to front Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (and later Grinderman). He is smooth, talented and a snappy dresser.

He’s also a great writer. The first book I read by him was And The Ass Saw The Angel. It’s an amazing piece of Southern Gothic prose that could only have been written by someone who is a biblical scholar (Cave is, albeit self-taught) and someone who is very dark and just a bit twisted.

Right now, I’m reading his latest, The Death of Bunny Munro. Bunny Munro is a dark, yet strangely touching and intimate story of a man and his relationship with his son. And the more I read it, the more I think that, with the title character, Nick is writing about himself – at least some aspect of himself.

But herein lies my problem – Bunny is not a likable character. At all. It was like when I first read The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is a miserable bastard of a human being. Bunny is like this. He has a lot of issues and is undergoing a bunch of self-deception, so I hope that I’m off base in wondering if it’s a bit of a self-depiction. Really, my main idea for this is that Bunny and Nick Cave dress and seem to look the same, but I may be projecting.


I like Nick Cave.

The end.

Except for, oh yeah, he's an actor, too. And has played opposite Brad Pitt.

Anyway, that's all I got for now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A conspiracy of intergalactic proportions...

When I was in elementary school, my teacher regaled me with ideas of the year 2000. These included the existence of everyday items like flying cars and jetpacks. Also, we were going to be living on the moon.

Now, 10 years into the millennium, not only am I still waiting for my jetpack, but we’re also not on the moon. We’ve yet to put a man on Mars, and really, the advances made in the space program haven’t really been that impressive since we took “One small step” by faking the moon landing in a Hollywood studio.

What happened? Why did our space program stumble so? I suppose one could claim that the Challenger disaster had something to do with it, or simply revised priorities. But doesn’t it strike you as odd that nobody, out of any of the nations with any sort of a space program, accomplished anything?

Doesn’t it sound like a bit of conspiracy?

Who, though, would be behind something like that? Who has that much power, and that much disdain for the entire world, that they could prevent the worldwide space program from expanding much at all?

What about one of the most evil – and powerful – families in the world?

What about the De Beers family?

We’re talking about a family that has managed to destroy the lives of entire peoples, and had tribes beaten, tortured and relocated, just so they could control the world’s diamond supply. By creating an artificial shortage of a sparkly rock that’s rather common, they stay rich.

But why, you ask, would they set sights on the space program? What benefit would they get from maintaining a stranglehold on that particular industry? Well, aside from the fact that they are just dicks, you’d be right in thinking they’d need a financial motivation as well, as greed has been the motivator for this family’s rise to running one of the most evil empires the world has seen, has set them up in a situation where they allow genocide to happen and has permitted the existence of a economic empire more powerful than any government that may try to hold them accountable.

What if that motivation was to prevent the discovery of diamonds in space? What if their motivation was based on knowledge that there existed, relatively close in astronomical terms, planets with entire oceans of liquid diamonds, with icebergs made of solid diamond floating on them? What if they realized that one voyage to one of these planets could effectively decimate their worth.

It might sound far fetched. But is it really? These guys don't think so.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

"When i fall down, i'll fall apart. Trade in my bike for a shopping cart."

Sorry I'm late
I was out spoiling my liver
I couldn't wait
The sun was up for far too long today
And I can't see straight
But the two of you look awfully pretty
And I couldn't wait
I've been awake for far too long today

-Alkaline Trio "Cooking Wine"

At one time, Alkaline Trio was one of my absolute favorite bands. They had great songwriting - deep, but not really overly dramatic - and this incredible buzzsaw sound to their guitars. Plus they appealed to person I was at the end of the millennium.

Seriously, this is a great love song line: "Fine time to fake a seizure to feel your mouth on mine, you're saving me."

And this is just a drop in the bucket for all of the great music this band put out on their first couple albums. We saw them religiously when they came through Detroit, bought the guys drinks after the shows, and for a while, for a large handful of us, these guys were "our" band.

Now, not so much.

What happened? Well, they got really popular. But it's not the type of thing where I stopped liking them for that, it's how they got so big. They stopped writing the dirty, drunken slacker love poetry that we all loved them for and started making a style of music that caters better to 12-year-old girls, who turned out in droves to buy their records and get them booked to stadiums.

I never faulted them for this. Hell, I even went to see them not too long ago. They played two old songs that I knew, and I left before they were done, but I tried. The only reason I even bring this up is that next month they have a new album on a new label and they're promising a return to the old sound. I hope it's true.

TFN purchased a crock pot last week. It's the first time we've had one. Each of us can grasp several advanced cooking techniques, yet the mystique of the crock pot evaded, confused, and yes, frightened us. I think it was just the idea of leaving a heat-generating appliance running all day while at work.

But now we have one, and we're embracing it.

Last night, we made pulled pork for BBQ, and took it over to Astroman's for dinner. We looked at many recipes for this situation, and went with the easiest. It turned out awesome.

Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork

A pork shoulder or pork butt (2 1/2 - 3 1/2 pounds)
Medium Onion
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 18-oz. bottle BBQ sauce (we used Sweet Baby Ray's)

Throw the pork in the crock pot, and run it on Low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-6 (ours was done in 6)

Remove the pork from the pot, dump the juice. Shred the pork with two forks.

Throw the shredded pork back in the pot with the onion, brown sugar, lemon juice and BBQ sauce, and cook on high for another hour. Then serve it on buns with your choice of fixins - we had cole slaw, baked beans, Better Made potato chips and some cold beer.

Good stuff.

Right now, as I write this, the crock pot has a vegetarian split pea soup in it that will be done in about six hours. I may have resisted this appliance for a long time, but I am quicely embracing it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Reclamation of the Rotating Mass: Preamble

From the Gospel:

For many days, the monkey who stood before all monkeys sat in meditation and silence, allowing only wine to pass his lips, for the wine was sustenance, and the wine was life.

After many days of meditation, the master awoke, as if from a deep sleep. And he was alone.

This made him angry, for anger was his way.

Where are my children? He called out.

But his children did not answer.

The master gathered his wits and his wheels and decided that it was time to go out and regather his children. For too long had he sat in silence, and it had been long since he was truly angry. With his children at his sides, the time was right again for wheels, wine and much rocking of the world.

And yet, when he approached to door of his house he was pushed back by whiteness, by coldness and by stillness. And this made him afraid.

And his fear led to much anger.

The master gnashed his teeth and beat furiously upon his chest, and willed the cold away.

But the cold was relentless.

And so the master retired to his home once again, to meditate upon the stillness.

“Soon,” he declared angrily, “soon this cold will lift from our land, and I will gather my children once more, and there will be wheels, wine and much rocking of the world.

This is my promise, for I am angry and I am monkey.”

And, across the world, his children heard, and they were not afraid. They became filled with anger, and they were ready.

And the world felt their anger. And the world was not afraid. It, too, was ready. Ready to be rocked.

A reading from the Book of the Rotating Mass
Previous readings are listed here and here.

Man, it’s only January and we’ve only had one snowfall, but I am already sick of winter and I miss my bike(s) desperately.

Potato Salad Anyone?

When we were at Pompeii on Thanksgiving, we traveled through the ruins of the brothel. There, on the walls, was a visual "menu" of the various things you could request from the, ummm... employees of the establishment. They were quite explicit.

This prompted K, who was blushing as we left the building, to declare, "Wow, we haven't invented anything..."

It's true, anything innovative, crazy, new or sexy probably isn't that new. Our culture has been around a long time, and we've had a lot of times to come up with stuff over and over.

Case in point. These are the Ross sisters. This was shot in 1944. Lady Ga Ga? Beyonce? All you performers? Take note, 'cause your asses all just got served by your grandparents.

This is "Potato Salad."

Thursday, January 07, 2010

How can I bring you up to speed when I'm not sure what the speed limit is?

The masses have spoken. Dogs are better than cats. Personally, I like both my pets, but in general I have to agree. So, sometimes the masses are right.

Looking back for a moment, this is a video from my favorite album of 2009, We're Counting On The Youth by New Tomorrow. Seriously.

They're a band with a great sound and a great message which is great, because we need some good messages right now.

Also, they have never - NEVER - played in Detroit. Fix this, guys.

So far this year is a little scatterwonky and confusing on the workfront and the lifefront, but I think I mean that in a good way, in the sort of way that chaos is setting things up for what will be a good thing. TFN has a new job, and I have started out the new year accomplishing things.

For one, the producers of the TV show Hoarders were getting in touch with me. While I am not one to shy away from publicity in any form, this is one that I really think I didn’t want to get involved in.

So we cleaned our bedroom.

I’m not talking about a dust and vacuum, either. We took the contents of all the drawers, the chest, the closet, everything in the room, and piled it on the bed. That way, before we could sleep, we had to handle each and every article of clothing we owned, fold it or hang it, and make the decision if it needed to be kept, tossed or donated.

This is the first time we’ve done such a grand purge in a long time, and we generated three garbage bags of clothes to donate.

Then, on cue, Purple Heart called and asked if we had anything to donate. Funny how that plays out.

I also, as I have hinted, got my hands on another bike. It’s pretty, and I will have photos soon, but right now it’s still in the back of my car. It’s a late’50s/early ‘60s Hawthorne Hercules, and I love it. It will look good alongside TFN’s Schwinn, which is currently in pieces, getting refurbed.

TFN got the Julia Child cookbook for Christmas, and two recipes in, I have to testify to Julia's genius.

We, of course, like everyone else, got interested in Julia after seeing Julie and Julia. I was positively infatuated with that film. One, it's an excellent film. Two, Julie reminds me of someone I cook with on a regular basis, someone well known for saying how much she hates our tiny little kitchen, how it's impossible to cook in it, but yet turns out some amazing dishes.

What else? I am already sick of winter. I am looking forward to March’s annual trip to Austin. I have several hundred photos from the past year that I still need to upload.

So yeah, really I just want to bring you guys all up to speed in as fast and furious a way as possible, without saying too much, I guess.

I have a lot of hope for this year. Like the whole world, things are in limbo, but I got a good feeling this is the year it happens.

This is the year it all happens.

Whatever "it" is.