An Open Letter To Nico Rose

Dear Nico,

Your mom usually chastises me for editing too much, so for her sake I’m just gonna write.

It is spring again in the place your mom used to live.

The oak bark, still soaked black, contrasts with the green-gold of the first leaves all the way up the hill on 170.  Even this early a lushness is building.  Even this early, stepping out of my car, the understated buzz of bees going about the business of birth, the pop and rip of bulbs becoming blooms, and the hushed rush of creeks comes from the timberline.

I used to have to edit and grade your mom’s papers in a English class we had, and that is probably the reason her handwriting is still so vivid in my mind; the script of her words rings as true as the sound of her voice.  I felt ridiculous trying to evaluate her writing; it was always well presented, always poignant.  Thinking back on it, I can not remember if I held it in too high of a regard to be analytical. I don’t think so, but my memory won’t reveal it.

I had gone up the hill to see my mother, who I love in a way that I can not fairly articulate.  She and I sat in her living room and talked about how our town has grown and not grown, changed and not changed.  Iris Dement sang softly in the background, as did the trees, two geese fattening on young nymphs, the sound of nature stretching and yawning.

“I don’t want you to worry,” my mother says, “but I’m pretty sure I’m losing my mind.”

I have a little committee of voices in my head, ones that I have assigned to aspects of my right-brained ADD, and they finished the conversation with her while the voice of my heart stayed silent.  We talked about symptoms, diagnoses, appointments.  We stayed a little silent, had hugs, said goodbyes.

My mom has a dog, Lola.  Lola Granola, I call her.  She is all white save for a mask of black over her eyes.  A Great Pyrenees.  Lola won’t frolic with me, or even let me pet her.  But she guards my mother, which is fine.  It is no different as I leave up the steps; she gives a low warning bark as I make it to the top step then pads over to my mom, waiting at the bottom of the steps.  Mom says to Lola, points to me as she says it, “Lola, that’s my baby.  Don’t bark at my baby!”  I always tell my mom that I don’t mind.  She can not like me as long as she loves her.

I am writing this in a place where I write about music, Nico, and I won’t stray from that here.  Your mother and I, back in the springtime of our lives, used to write a secret phrase, “Whoopie Cat”, on pieces of paper as a good luck superstition.  It was a corruption of a lyric from a song called “Misty Mountain Hop” from a band called Led Zeppelin.  I can’t remember why or who thought the words “would we care” ever sounded like “Whoopie Cat”, but it was our little secret word, just shared with a few intimate people, a blessing of good luck, a whisper of the love we all shared.

I couldn’t go straight home after seeing my mother.  I got as far as the old Zimmerman Church parking lot, standing empty and wood hewn, a fort for ghosts guarding the entry to the past.  I parked the car and cried all I needed to cry, until I thought of your mother’s handwriting, gracing a blank page with our secret word, surrounded with the rebirth of the woods we once lived in, thinking of how blessed you two already are to have each other, and how wonderful the two of you will be.


[Please note: this conceit is totally ripped off from the finest minds of the Internet, Every Day Should Be Saturday.  Please read them often.]

In our essay, “The Pirate George Advent Calendar: Day Six”, we described the guitar sounds of David Bowie’s “Heroes” as “Adrian Belew squonk.”  The guitarist on that song was actually Robert Fripp.  We regret the error.

The names of Arthur Brown’s cats were listed as Hesherpuff and Prissyfist in our lifestyles feature, “LSD:ASPCA”.  Those are actually the names  of the unicorns that live in Brown’s left and right ear, respectively.  His cats are named Frank and Beans.  We regret the error. Continue reading “Corrections”

Saluting The 2010 Grammy Nominees

Nobody cares about the Grammy Awards, right?  Or Tonys, or Ocsars, or Peabodys even?  I’m sure these sort of media awards mean something to someone.  My true love is music, though, and the Grammys are usually the worst of them all in terms of artistic merit being a factor; yes, Eminiem has an Oscar, but that’s more an exception and not a rule.  Not so much for the near farcical Grammys.  I’ve given my own awards to some of this year’s nominees. Continue reading “Saluting The 2010 Grammy Nominees”

CC: Zappa, Frank; Runkles, Henry

I’m adding a post that I did on a more depressing website a few years ago, and I’m doing it because I saw some Facebook comments from Henry Runkles recently and thoughts of the man warm my heart.  I hope he is doing wonderfully and injecting his great personality into the lives of other young adults like he did mine. Continue reading “CC: Zappa, Frank; Runkles, Henry”

Unblissfully Aware


Full disclosure:  It is possible for me to be objective in this review, because Brent Miller knows that my dude-love for him transcends what I might have to say about his band, Trashed On Fiction.  So, clear your mind of the fact that, through musical and academic endeavors, Brent Miller and I have shared beds across this great nation.  In our underwear.  And my piss smelled like shrimp.  Don’t ask.

I can say, with all integrity intact, that I like Simple Sun.  Some of the tunes sound a bit incomplete, and maybe the songs are too few and too different to make a totally cohesive album, but the better songs on the album are truly pleasing.  “The Fifteen” adds some good ol’ fashioned squonk to an alt-rock tune.  “By The Buried”, a country tune with an occasional chord flourish, is my other favorite.  Those songs match the timbre and the temperament of the “Alt-Country” catalog of my collection, so my ears were pretty much prepared for this ep.

Read that last sentence again, because here comes the bad news. Continue reading “Unblissfully Aware”

Remembering Jim Randall

Eventually the question, “what kind of music do you like?”, comes out of my mouth and into the ears of all of my employees.  I can’t help it.  When Jim Randall said, “I really like smooth jazz”, I wasn’t sure if he was bullshitting me or not.  Nobody really likes smooth jazz.  Not even the musicians that play it for the various Muzak outlets.  He might have seriously liked it; he told me he liked its relaxing qualities, the same with classical music.

Then he told me that he loved The Beatles.  And hated The Beach Boys.  Our music conversations really got interesting after that. Continue reading “Remembering Jim Randall”