Friday, March 27, 2009

The Poetry of Nazz Nomad

San Fran has some of the nicest looking weeds. You can find the most beautiful flowers growing out of cracks in parking lots. I found these growing in a spot where there are also a lot of used condoms and discarded syringes. It's great to see people keeping safe. They really do need to put out public biohazard disposal cans in that neighborhood.

I keep forgetting to link to comrade Nazz Nomad's 'Bleedin' Out' blogspot. Mostly about music, but Nazz has been adding his poetry lately. I really liked this poem.

Of A Feather

pigeons are vermin.
rats with wings.
just like me.

Two Monstrous Nuclear Stockpiles - Discharge

Friday, March 20, 2009

I got home tonight and went for a little walk. The sun was shining in a stable door and lit up these hay bales.

This afternoon I was sitting eating my lunch when this whole group of slightly odd people sat down around me. It really was strange. They just walked up and sat down across from me and on either side of me without ever acknowledging my presence. They were all sporting piercings of one sort or another, mostly those big plugs that stretch your earlobes out. They were also all wearing name tags and most of them were wearing t shirts advertising piercings and "suspensions". Other than that, they seemed like a group of nerdy, serious church youth ministers in town for a seminar entitled "building tomorrows Christian leaders".

They started talking among themselves about branding. Could you tattoo on top of a branding? What was the most painful branding you could get? What sort of branding took the longest to heal? I got the impression that they wanted to be painfully branded in a spot that would be very slow to heal.

Now, I am all tattooed up and yes, I have had some strange experiences while undergoing painful tattoos, but that wasn't exactly the point of the thing. A couple of these people had visible tattoos of the tribal variety. I've never been very interested in tribal tattoos either. All of my tattoos are meant to be symbolic representations of something important to me. Getting a bunch of swirly marks, just so that I can be stuck with a needle always seemed kind of dumb.

Ain't I judgmental though? My weird shit is OK, but yours is bullshit. So, I'll admit I was curious. I wanted to ask them who they were and what was the deal with the name tags. Every time I tried to make eye contact with one of my table mates, they looked away- quickly. About then, a pleasant looking old man, dressed in black with multiple piercings, sat down next to me. All eyes turned to him. It was apparent that he was giving the seminar, what ever the seminar was.

He advised the youth ministers to start slow with brandings. Get something small and see how it works for you. Take good care of your brand and watch for infections. All very sensible advice, especially if you can see anything sensible about pressing white hot metal onto your bare skin.

Then I recognized the guy. I was sitting next to Fakir Musafar. The guy is like the pope of punching holes in yourself. He's the Jesus of body modification. The archbishop of nipple rings. He doesn't just jab sharp objects into himself, he does it "shamanically". In his very small world, Fakir is quite a celebrity, so I'll admit, I was curious. I turned and looked at him. He looked away- quickly. The guy was sitting four inches away from me and practically talking in my ear, but he refused to acknowledge me.

Overall those characters creeped me out. I don't mind the fact that they like to hurt themselves. That's just odd. But the overall tone of seriousness combined with the inability to interact (or refusal to interact) that was creepy. I have my own traumas to deal with, and I am not without some measure of sympathy. If you like whatever it is you like and you want to be out about it. I guess that's OK. However, if you're going to be in my face about it, do it with some humor and a little cordiality or else keep your bullshit to yourself.

I never did figure out how I became the center of their little circle, but I took my time and finished my lunch. When I was finished, I paused and thought about saying something. It might have been fun to snap my fingers in front of Fakir Musafar's face and say, "Hello, Hello, anybody home?" but I restrained myself.

Fakir Musafar at play

Wait - Two Cow Garage

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My friend, Barrie, took this picture today. This is about a quarter mile from here. Life is grand. I'm trying not to fuck it up for anybody.

The laid off banker flunked out of bus driver training. He didn't know it was going to be so hard. It seems the hours were getting to him.

I haven't worked a 40 hour week since 1984.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Great Ukulele tune

Nice little tune by a father/daughter duo, The Barnkickers.

I spent Saturday afternoon with my friend, Gary Timmons. Gary is a luthier. He builds mandolins, but I've got him interested in ukuleles. We hung out in Gary's shop and talked about music and musical instruments while Gary did small woodworking tasks. Here's a picture of Gary with a gigantic Irish Bouzouki. The back and sides are made from a spectacular "quilted" maple.

Not the best picture, and not the best picture of Gary either. Forgive me, I'm learning how to use this camera. I'll try and post some more pics of Gary and his work later. Unfortunately, he had no finished instruments to show off.

If you're interested in one of Gary's mandolins, you can contact him at,
gtimmons (AT) sonic (DOT) net

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Young Joel

I went to a pretty good meeting in SF yesterday. I was supposed to meet up with Frankie from Ex Con Alcoholic's Etc. Frankie couldn't make it, but I ran into Joel instead. Last time I saw Joel, the road ahead was starting to narrow. He was quite drunk, had been kicked out of some rehab or other, lost his girlfriend, job and apartment and didn't seem to know what came next. It made me feel bad, because he is a great guy, smart, funny, good looking with a cool cat exterior and the soul of a nerdish record collector. Joel and I have shared a lot of cool records between us.

So, I'm sitting in the meeting, keeping an eye on the door, when who should walk in but young Joel. I jumped up, ran over and hugged him. Afterwards he introduced me to a bunch of people. He kept saying, "Jon was the first person I met who was sober and cool." Aww shucks Joel. Oh and happy 18 month birthday, congrats on job, apartment etc.

Joel turned me on to The's.

My Boyfriend From Outer Space - The
You OK Frank?

Workers are taking matters into their own hands

That's what the video says. Really, I think it's about time to throw things at our bosses and set a few tires on fire. I mean, at the very fucking least.

Incredibly, the Large Iron Bridge is hiring a few bus drivers. This is a good thing. One of the new drivers is a laid off banker. He's a member of the Conra Costa county Chicano Republican club. He seems like a personally nice enough fellow, but he needs some serious smartening up. He told me that I don't know what lay offs are like, what with my lucking into a secure job.

For one thing, I didn't luck into the motherfucker, I worked my ass off getting this job and I've worked my ass off keeping it. I knew exactly what I was trying to do and luck had relatively little to do with it. I'm glad to hear that even bankers can get lucky from time to time.

For another thing, when they close up the entire financial district, tear down the buildings, let the field sit vacant for a few years and then turn it into a park, he'll know what I know about layoffs. If that should happen, and I hope it does, I hope he lives long enough to see politicians standing in their brand new park shaking hands and congratulating themselves on what a good job they've done getting rid of that eyesore financial district.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The smell of buses on the spring breeze

For a $10,000 deposit and $4,500 a month, you can rent an "architectural masterpiece" in the form of a one bedroom, 1,000 square foot apartment. Not only that, but it's next to a combined Burger King, car wash and gas station. But wait, there's more, it's only half a block from the bus yard. If you look closely, you can spot the building in the distance. It's worth it for the view!  San Francisco is trying so very hard to be New York lately.

The ugly plastic chairs come free with the rent. In fact, you're not allowed to bring your own furniture. It's an architectural masterpiece!

The I.W.W. Song - Holy Modal Rounders
I've got to get around to losing imeem.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More about roots music

Harry Smith in his dotage.

As far as I'm concerned, The Anthology of American Folk Music, as compiled by Harry Smith, is one of the most important records ever unleashed on an unsuspecting public.

Now someone has taken it upon himself to create a blog that examines each song and artist from The Anthology. It really is worthy of this kind of detailed study and it is truly cool that he has made hundreds of obscure songs available as downloads.
Check out The Old, Weird America Blog.

Honest, soon I'll post something about ukuleles, or why I dig Japanese Groupsound, or why KODE 9's sonic explorations are groovy or maybe even something having nothing to do with music, but right now it's all about rootsicality.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pure Country

Wish I had more time to write about this, but this is a work night. Let me just say that "Pure Country, The Leon Kagarise Archives, 1961-1971", is the best book I've read this century.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rockin' with Jerry Lee

I saw Jerry Lee Lewis once. It was at the Little Nashville Opry in Nashville, Indiana. It was the craziest show I've ever seen and I carried the ticket stub in my wallet for many years.

Jerry Lee had been in the hospital a few months before. He had pretty much torn up some internal organs with booze and meth. He was expected to die but instead he came back. When I saw him he was so wired that you could hear his teeth grinding over the PA and watch the muscles in his jaw working. His band consisted of his bass player, who was his band leader for many years, and two pick up musicians who didn't seem to know much about his music.

It was one of the cooler crowds I've ever seen. There were hillbillies in ballcaps that read, "I'm po' but I'm proud", suburban daddies who showed up in their RV's expecting an oldies review, and fair sized contingent of local punks. It was immediately apparent that Jerry Lee was completely out of his mind. A bunch of indignant looking family men with dependents in tow walked out when The Killer started raving about the size of Muddy Water's dick. I think the rest of us were slack jawed with astonishment at the depraved spectacle as it unfolded.

The bass player was so drunk that he kept falling flat on his face with accompanying noises when his bass hit the floor. The "band" would then stop playing to rush over and prop him up. Finally they raised the curtain behind the stage so he could lean on the cinder block wall. Classy. Once he managed to stay upright it became apparent that he was not paying attention to anything that Jerry Lee was doing. He bashed away at his bass as it happened to suit him at the moment. With no one to lead them the pick up guitarist and drummer watched Jerry Lee and tried to figure out what in the hell he was doing. They never managed to figure it out.

Jerry Lee chose to ignore all of this and present a musical stream of consciousness. He wandered in and out of songs, starting in the middle and ending suddenly, only to drift into another song. One second it was, "I Know That My God Is Real", followed by "Milk Shakin' Mademoiselle", then into "In a Little Shanty In Old Shanty Town."

Finally, he deigned to notice the pick up musicians, who were twitching feebly and aimlessly at their posts. "Shut up!" He yelled, "Shut the goddam hell up!" At which point he began a quiet variation on the classic Lewis Boogie. He leaned into the microphone and whispered/growled,

"Well, I rocked over Italy and I rocked over Spain
I rocked over France and it was all the same
I rocked into Africa and rolled off the ship
I seen them ladies doin' an odd looking step
I parted the weeds and looked over the swamp
I seen them cats doin' the Ubangi Stomp"

It was as pure and terrible an experience of Rock and Roll as I will ever know. I have known people who saw the Sex Pistols in 1976. I knew someone who saw Iggy Pop, covered in blood and peanut butter when he invented the stage dive in Cincinatti. I knew someone who claimed to have seen Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride, but I was there and I saw the thing with my own eyes, heard it with my own ears. The only thing that saved me was my own foolishness. Had I been anything less than a fool I would have shrieked to drown out the sound and torn out my eyes. Lucky for me, I was dumb as a bag of hair.

Look, I apologize for the bad Nick Tosches imitation, but it was an utterly cool moment. It may well be that Jerry Lee is EVIL. He has certainly proclaimed himself lost to the dark side. That night he did not seem so much evil as amoral; beyond my feeble understanding of right and wrong. He was like no one I will ever see again.

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