Thursday, October 30, 2008

Look to your right. They did it. After I sat on my uncle's carpeted floor in Wantaugh, Long Island, New York and saw Joe Carter launch a home run in Game 6 in 1993, 15 years later the Phillies did it. I'll write all about it this weekend. A full launch into Philadelphia sports (maybe a full launch, or maybe just handle the Phillies and my experience of them). I'm going to enjoy this, this and the fact that basketball season just started and this is going to be one of the best basketball seasons in the history of the NBA. We are going to talk about this season like the 1980 season with LARRY and MAGIC. Or how any mid-20's kid talks about 1990's basketball as if they know anything about it. However if you dig deep enough they know nothing about Kendall Gill on the Hornets passing the ball through his legs to L.J. They just remember "Bulls Knicks Bulls Knicks." Burn your throwbacks.

Below a poem I wrote earlier this year. April 2008.

From An Ivory Tower

Somone told me I’m getting soft,
You don’t go to court anymore,
You’re not the solitary white boy sitting on wood
Next to all the blacks and hispanics,
With dust on your fingertips.

And that person might be right,
Because I don’t have my head between my knees,
I won’t get dizzy anymore.
And I don’t believe in the impossibility of friendship,
Because I only make deals I can keep.

I’m soft because I want something more,
I want what is not mine, I want the world,
The world that has all the important stories,
The world that can tell you what I can’t.
And I’m just a vessel in that world’s image.

If I could be separate like my youth,
Then I’d never grow old and understand separation,
Why lovers lifting each other in sunglasses –
The two embracing in black and white photos –
Come to divorce and suicide and Sunday morning papers.

Your fathers all snore in the basement
While your mothers wear robes and care
About all the details you don’t have time for,
The things you hate because they tie you down
From the precious independence you can’t even define.

But who’s to say I’m free from those shackles,
Because I’m the soft one, the one destroyed by love,
The one who makes plans and images,
The one who values myth only to destroy it,
Because I saw it in your eyes first.

I’ve got the same haircuts and the same clothes you do,
You who sit in your ivory towers made of influence,
And who don’t care about what dictates your position,
You who wait for salvation from the next song on an iPod,
While I sit on rocks turning my back on dejection.

There is no honor in a sneer or a rush of adrenaline,
Those were the drugs I read about and saw on TV,
While I tried to find the best pill to avoid fate,
But I’m not straight, I’m not an album of sobriety,
I’m just soft because I laugh at everything in the sun.

I’m not any closer to what I want than you are,
Objects still illude me at every turn,
I’m working at the concrete, I’m working at description,
So that I can relay it back to you and send it up
From the dirt to the window in your ivory tower.

If I’m soft then I’m not sure what you are,
I could call you Idiot Wind or Blackbird,
And get angry at streetlights and the hum of a truck,
But those things are only a part of my world,
Which is the world that will inevitably bring my salvation,
Not simply out of vanity or confidence, but out of goodness,
The goodness that any object has the power to put into the world
That is not mine or yours or your friend’s or your lover’s.
And even now – in this softness I’ve grown into –
I’m not close to being on the outside,
To being able to bid you welcome into the home I’ve built,
A simple roadside barbeque where we serve fountain soda
On a wooden table where separation is understood,
And only through that can the world truly be mine or yours,
The world that is ours, the world that is made of time,
Timeless and absolutely present at every turn.

So call me soft from your ivory tower
And I’ll keep trying to throw you a bone
Through the front window, which hopefully you’ll keep open.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

World Series Resumes? Merriweather Post Something

Dear God,

There I was sitting watching the Game 5 of the World Series wearing my Motel Motel t-shirt (don't tell, don't tell) and I noticed a few rain drops falling on the beautiful skylight of my sick apartment. I looked on the TV and it was raining too on the Game 5 of the World Series. The Phillies and I had been waiting 28 years for a title (I recently turned 28). However on the eve of us winning and draping the World Championship over our shoulder, you intervened with the first rainout in the history of the World Series. I thought all those years of feeling guilty and eating little thin pieces of bread would've done me some good in your eyes, assuming that you have a face and aren't just a cloud - I mean you could just be some guy on a throne with a big white puffy beard. Either way, it is two days later and I'm a little bit older and a little bird wiser. So I'll keep my feathers a little further from the screen and keep from squawking a little too loud about those balls and strikes. I'll keep my beak in my Busch beer and hope for the best.

I never met you, but I love you.



On a sidenote. I attended the Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion album listening party last night.

I would like to offer up my first impressions...but I left my notebook there. No just kidding, I can do it half-assed from memory.

1. "In the Flowers"

Now I knew this song as "Dancer" or "Dancer with Flowers in her Hair," but when I saw this track name I was floored, literally, whatever that means. What a shocker, its not really about a dancer at all. As for the music itself, there hasn't been a first track this good since "The White Album" on "The White Album" by The Beatles. It starts mysteriously enough with a quietly picked guitar that suggests the annoyance of a mid-seventies Pink Floyd track, but that's is what Animal Collective is good at, showing you a little bit of something they surely enjoyed, as we all did, listening to at some point and then turning it on its head in an innovative way that usually only someone young and filled with history can do - in this case and in this album, three people. When Avery Tare's echoey vocals (they all are on this album Phil Spector, Phil Schmector, Dion, George Harrison, Beach Boys "Petty Sounds") get in the middle of a chorus whose words I couldn't quite make out, take it from me that it is inspiring, once we find out the lyrics I think it will be even moreso. Plus there is the very good and very Avey Tare vocal hook of "flowwweerrrss in heerrrr haaaairrr!"

2. "My Girls"

What?! "House" is called "My Girls". What?! The guy from "House" isn't American? Seriously, though, listening to this song and looking out at the Hudson River, listening to the booming handclaps they added to the already simple and, to be quite frank, nearly perfect lyrics, this song should cause World Peace no matter who the President is.

3. "Also Frightened"

Fitting for a listening party on the edge of Halloween. This song is one where you can hear Avey's voice moving to the front, only to be balanced out by Panda Bear. Which you slowly realize is the idea behind this whole album. I'll give the Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear all the credit in the world for bringing group singing back to the forefront, but when you hear these two singing together, its really something else. A song about not being called "the dreamer." Trick or treat.

4. "Summertime Clothes"

An Avey Tare song with the simple lyrics and chorus of Panda. This may be the best song on the album. A chorus of "I want to walk around with you" and a verse lyric sounding like "I call you up and hope you're there." Mix that with the already hyped up low end beat (successful on all songs) meets high end vocal (double check, check too to Pitchfork's comparison to S & G) and we may have one of the best love songs on hand when we find out the lyrics, but if not, who cares to me that chorus says it all.

5. "Daily Routine"

A great song live which did make me slightly fear for an overly spaced out album when hearing it, at that time I felt it contained some of the more irritating aspects of Person Pitch aka lack of self-editing. But this time around, it starts off with a great sense of humor tinkling the sample or, who knows, the real keyboards that make this song go. The vocal hook is undeniable and may be Panda's best besides that crowd favorite "Comfy in Nautica." The slow down in the middle actually feels right on the album. We'll see how it holds up.

6. "Bluish"

This emerges from "Daily Routine" with a hook in it that seems very familiar. My description for this song may seem somewhat vague. It definitely has a very 60's vibe to it. It was this song that originally made me think of how great Panda and Avey's singing together was. When asked by my friend what it sounds like, I think this album is Sung Tongs filtered through Person Pitch. This track, in my mind now, exemplifies that.

7. "Guys Eyes"

Songs 5-7 have a definite smooth and underwater feel to them. This one however stands out with the melodic switch in the end and the chanting of "Do what I want to do" that always struck me as completely catchy on the live versions.

8. "Taste"

Ok, like George Harrison thinking about the Beatles playing Shea Stadium for the second time, I just can't remember this one.

9. "Lion in a Coma"

This is the song that I thought would be the rocker of the album. However, they turned it into a completely smooth song with an undeniable chorus on the album, where it was abrasive live. The African vibe with the digerdoo ups the ante on Graceland and even rivals that album's playful spirit. "The best pop song on the album." - Pitchfork, October 29, 2008.

10. "No More Runnin'"

I was concerned about this song at first. I knew the album was coming to an end and off of the momentum from Lion in a Coma, this song seemed like a strange fit. However the drawn out feel of the song, especially the refrain of "No More Runnin'" fits. And if this album does have a theme upon further inspection and official release, let's hope its somewhat profound title speaks to it, as it is sandwiched between the two songs on the album that seem to be bedfellows.

11. "Brothersport"

Everyone's favorite live track. The African vibe gets upped to a completely different and giddy level. This is one to leave them dancing in the aisles and if you don't dance to this song, then you are just crazy or have a different and completely viable taste from mine. There are two music listeners: those who like to end dancing in the aisles and those who like to end disturbed and completely affected.

After listening to this album, I could already see the criticism: too samey, no highs and lows of Strawberry Jam, "this album is missing its Reverend Green or Cuckoo Cuckoo". I think this album has all the ass in the world, but it does lack the "balls," the existential and visceral appeal that "Reverend Green" and "Cuckoo, Cuckoo" do have, in my opinion. But after one listen who knows if that matters. And after many more, it may not at all.

And after all that, the Phillies are your 2008 World Series Champions.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Section 3 and the Phillies on the cusp...

Welp, it's October 27th, 2008 and the Philadelphia Phillies might win the world series. I've grown up a Philadelphia sports fan for my whole life and seeing this would be magical, but not as magical as a magic trick most likely - although I saw someone reading a magic trick book on the subway today and I asked him to look at it and some of the tricks didn't seem so hard (it was a Dover Classic edition). If the Phillies do win, I will probably wax poetical about it tomorrow. For now though I am going to contemplate one of the great conundrums of any Philadelphia sports fan: do we take enjoyment in the fact that we have won, or do we prefer the great rage, tragic guilt, and comforting disillusionment that comes with having so many disappointments over the years and excuses to drink and wince as though we were being filmed in a movie. I'm going to think about it and drink a tall Busch beer.

On a side note, tomorrow night I am going to the listening party for the new Animal Collective album Merriweather Post Pavilion. I'll write up a review of that too so anyone that stumbles upon this space that happens to like that kind of thing can read it and enjoy it.

Section 3 of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt is below.


I hear James and Eve downstairs talking to Dad. I heard them ring and I heard all of their knocks. I like the sound of Eve’s voice. I always have. It’s so womanly, not girlish like mine. Hers is a voice that wraps around you; I can picture her calling kids in for dinner, or on the phone giving permission for a sleep over. Even going out to a store, a young wife calmly putting down some loser that tries to hit on her. A loyal woman with a warm voice. Sort of like mom. But Eve is so much more sleek and stylish. She’s young, alive, and beautiful whereas Mom is…

Never seen Dad like this before, though. No one has except Maggie but she was so young – barely three – and she probably has no memory of it anyway. He’s been drinking since I got here. He still has his normal look. The playfulness he always had that frightened Mom so much. That’s what Maggie told me at least. Why Mom got him off alcohol. There is something different about him, though. His hair looks whiter. You couldn’t tell if you just passed him in the street or if he was doing a checkup on you in his office. But I’m one of his daughters so I know. The circles under his eyes are bolder too. His skin is tan but his face looks purple. He looks like a haunted movie star – a failed celebrity. Pouring that scotch down his throat. Do all guys have that inclination in them, especially as they grow older? Even the ones that don’t drink have the inclination in them I bet; they just use it for something else. That’s why all men need a woman in one way or another. They need someone to control them, to trim the edges. Pull the bottle away from their mouths like Mom did from Dad. I look out the window. The beginning of September is always so beautiful here. The trees are overhanging the streets, canopies of the still full summer leaves, the colors only slightly showing. I see Tom walking up the street. Just got back from his Saturday train ride. He’s a little like an old man that way with his routines. Look at his walk. His strides are full of purpose; he leans forward but holds his shoulders slightly back letting his chest stick out. The collar of his shirt is a little crooked as he walks through the black gate. I can see everything from this room and always could. James and I got the rooms with the best views out into the slope of the front lawn. I turn away from the window and look at the emptiness of the pink walls of my room. I’ll have less stuff to move out since I already had to pack it all up to bring to school. Already I’m back. Some part of me knew that this would happen. That the empty nest would bring Mom to her death even though she was already sick. She could’ve held on longer had I stayed. I walk over to the small light colored-wood shelf along the wall next to my closet. There is a dark wooden dolphin resting on two small dark wood planks of wood. The planks are curved upward so that when you push the dolphin a little it begins to roll and arch as if it were plunging and rising out in the distance of the sea mimicking the waves. But this dolphin is dark wood and swims through the air and all I want to do is cry looking at it, because on the base of this contraption my name is inscribed with the year 1991 alongside it. Below the year is a heart and below that Mom is written. My eyes are becoming moist now and I have to walk over to my bed and lay down on my old purple comforter. But it doesn’t comfort me. I hear Dad laughing downstairs.

There are steps coming slowly upwards. I know their speed. Tom is walking up to his old room too.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Section 2

Below, find the second section of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt. Review, comment, eat a sandwich, enjoy (?) hopefully.


James hasn’t been home since Easter. The pavement looks like my skin as I move away from the thick yellow line and the heat of the train and the sun make my skin feel uncomfortable. It feels red even though it isn’t. I throw my beer in its paper bag out. The bottom is sopping and the brown paper has come apart down there revealing the silver aluminum and red and white coloring of the can. Another Saturday in the city but when I get home James will be there with Eve and most likely Maggie will have arrived. It’s funny that I call it home. It’s not really my home anymore, it certainly isn’t James’, not Maggie’s, and Liza is just learning what home means. But we’ll all be leaving it soon. Everything has to go – even Dad. The house will be hollowed out like some harvest-time fruit until there is only a shell or rind of what once was a life and a family left. There’s no changing Dad’s mind. He doesn’t want a wake and he doesn’t want to stay in the house alone. The cars pass along the road, glinting in the sun. The stained white, orange and green of the 7-11 sign even has a shine to it.

I walk across the track crossing and run my sneaker on the iron of the rails. A shock of electricity could jump up and take you out. In an instant you’re gone just like the universe was created in an instant out of a bang and a ball of light. It’s the same thing. The universe and an individual life. That is a profound thought; mom would’ve liked that. She was stubborn in her religion but she gave philosophy its own fair share. The religious philosophers of course like Aquinas. I remember when she tried to institute a policy of reading it aloud after dinner. Dad wouldn’t have it. He’d push his plate aside, usually clean or maybe with a scrap or two of meat, some remaining juice or blood pooled on the grey ceramic.

“Taking the children to church is one thing, but bringing the church and this religion home is another. I won’t let God and Jesus Christ upset my digestion.”

Mom would nod quietly and press the book closed. Then they’d look at each other from across the table. There was some kind of recognition between them. They always had their secrets. The magic in their relationship. Mom’s Catholic piety and Dad’s unrelenting wit. You’d think they would’ve clashed more often but instead they wove together in a way. A tightly woven band of years. Four children full of tightly woven strands of DNA.

I left my car at the house. Liza got in last night. I picked her up from the train. I’m walking underneath the shade of the maple trees but it’s impossible to avoid the trickling sunlight. Light and dark swaying with the wind. Cicadas are buzzing and a woman is riding her bike up the main drive of the Clark School. The woman’s daughter rides beside her on a pink bike with training wheels. I can see them across one of the fields. The cicadas buzz and buzz while the woman and child ride, their wheels slowly pushing up on the black concrete moving away from me. The white house on my right has a pile of dirt on its front lawn and I can hear someone hammering in the backyard.

Why are cicadas so ugly? Why do they bide the time of the longest days, the season my mother died in? Electricity didn’t overtake her body. It simply left her body to move elsewhere. To move away from me and leave an empty shell of my mother.

I hope Dad isn’t too drunk.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Section 1

The first section of From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt.


I’m stepping to the black gate at the head of the path to the house. It’s heavier than I remember. I let Eve pass through ahead of me. Her dress feels like silk as I touch the small of her back. I don’t think its silk but the bottom by her legs blows like curtains, the white curtains that were in our first apartment. The ones that mom gave to me. But now she’s dead and I’m walking along the path holding Eve’s hand. I can see the black door. It still looks as bold as ever. Like it did when I used to slam it on Tom and pretend to lock him out. To the left all of the trees are lush and I can make out some honeysuckles. Eve doesn’t know how I gave Jane honeysuckles in eighth grade. My first girlfriend. There beyond the side of the house I know the blackberries will be sitting there or beginning to form. Some still a premature greenish maroon, while the rest will be the deep black-purple of a terrible bruise. Each small round circle of the berry sheen and ready to burst out the juice. We approach the front stoop. The well done stone work. I slept off a hangover while they did it. A sunny summer Saturday, but I kept the shades drawn in my room. I looked out the window and saw smoke and heard the sound of the buzzing saw. Tom was watching the Mexican workers and throwing the football to himself. He saw me in the window and I drew the shade, jumped into my bed and covered myself with the big white quilt I had. I didn’t want him or Liza to know. Mom would’ve frowned on it too, but by then, she knew I was different than Dad. Above the door there is still that dried wood decoration with the red berries at the center. I ring the bell and Eve smiles at me. She squeezes my hand. I love her and the warm clamminess of our palms together. I knock on the black. We wait and now Eve looks worried. There are slight lines on her forehead and her brown hair is blowing across her face. She always cared for Dad. He treats her like a third daughter the way he will kiss her forehead sometimes and always listen to her problems. I even know that she’s talked to him about me before, especially right before we got married and she was nervous. She talked to Dad about it before she spoke to her own father. I know she loves me and we’ve never had any real problems or any real fights, which some would say makes us a weak couple because we haven’t been battle tested, we bear no emotional scars from each other. I think it’s the opposite. Our lack of scars shows our strength. Which is why I feel terrible about what I know and about what she doesn’t know.

I knock again. Dad doesn’t answer as we wait. So I grab the gold handle and push down on the lever that Liza always called the doorpetal. I open the door and smell Mom’s perfume. Then I see Dad sitting on the steps. He holds a bottle of Cutty Sark. He passes a hand through his still thick grey and white hair.

“What do I owe?”

Eve laughs and I look at her. I know what she doesn’t know. She and Dad know that Mom is dead. I know that Mom is dead. But they both don’t know that Eve is pregnant. Only I do and I smile at Dad who’s scotch drunk again it looks like for the first time since before I was born.

First Post

This blog has been a long time in the making - as in I kept forgetting to make it. I tried to start up a serialized writing website, but that has sort of stalled (anyone interested please e-mail me at to find out more). So I am going to use this space to post some of my own writing in the attempt to gain an audience. I will put up pieces of the novel I am currently working on From Here to the Last Mound of Dirt as well as poems, writing on the NBA or an album I am very much into. In the top right corner (or left if you are a computer) you will find the link to my first novel which I am trying to get published. Feel free to check it out but do not try to steal it like John Stockton in '91.