Monday, June 25, 2007


Sebadoh has this cover of “Everybody’s Been Burned,” by David Crosby. It’s on Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock. It’s one of those songs for me.

Those songs that help me.

I’m like lots of people. Sometimes, girls kill me. Just kill me. Used to happen a lot, in my 20s. A girl would be with me for a while, and it would end, and I’d fall into a tailspin.

And, then I’d find a song that would help pull me out. That cover of “Everybody’s Been Burned,” was one of them.

But, the one I want to talk about is “The First Part,” by Superchunk. And I want to thank my buddy Zane.

Zane knows an insane amount of information about Rush. He loves them. We played this game, where I would say, “Fourth album, third song,” and Zane would say:

“That’s ‘The Twilight Zone’ on 2112. It’s 3 minutes and 19 seconds long.”

And then, he might tell me a bit of trivia, if he knew any. Or, he would just quote a lyric.

Maybe you think that it’s kind of weird, being able to do that. Maybe you think it’s a little over the top, being able to do that. Maybe you’re laughing at my friend’s passion for a Canadian prog rock band.

Shut up. Admit it. You totally wish you could do that. You totally wish you loved something so much, you could do that with it. We wish you were that devoted to something. To anything.

Point is, my friend Zane loved Rush, and I had just had my heart removed by a girl, and I had just heard this song called “The First Part,” by Superchunk, and I bought the CD. And we went for a drive.

“The First Part,” gets right into it. A chord gets struck and the guitar line hits. Four notes, and then this part where it goes up. That happens a couple of times. And then the singing. And there’s this break. When Mac sings something about the clocks winding down, there’s a bit where the strings on the guitar are muted as he hits them. It’s all tension, begging for release. The strings want so much to vibrate freely, but his palm covers them. And then, he lets go.

Foolish is a breakup album. Mac and Laura, guitar player and bass player, had broken up. The whole album is drenched in the break-up.

And, man, “The First Part.” That one really got to me.

When you’re in a girl-related depression, and your stomach has sort of lifted in your chest, and you’re 20, and your head buzzes all day, and every time you forget you remember again, and you have to carry it all with you wherever you go (because you think maybe going out for a walk will get distance from it, but it doesn’t), you grasp at anything that offers a moment of pure, ecstatic glee. That tension, tension, tension, release of muted guitar strings did it for me. It’s a three-minute song. I needed an hour of it. I needed two hours.

So, I played the song, over and over. I played it over and over in Zane’s car, on his stereo. He drove. I played the song. He drove. I pressed rewind. I played the song. He drove.

And he really didn’t complain.

The man just wanted to listen to something else! Anything else! Rush, maybe. But, he listened to “The First Part” with me. Over and over.

Zane’s the best.

Thanks, Zane. If I could blog, I’d blog about you.


The illustration for this post was provided by my very talented friend Michael R. Sanchez.

To hear his band The Way It Is, go here.

To see him perform stand-up comedy, go here.

To see short films and a trailer for an upcoming feature film he is making, go here.

I'd recommend: At the Party, My Molly, The Donut, Up to the Minute with Brandon Ivey (Bicycle).

Also recommended: everything else.

A warning: once you start looking, you will spend all day with him.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


As the rest of us waited in back, pulling at our laces, and thinking about our next meal, she walked confidently out onto the stage. Applause flooded the areas behind the curtains, hurting our ears. “What must it be like out there?” we wondered. "Loud," we figured.

She began with simple tricks, pulling Arbor Day treats from the air, spinning silken webs to capture the worries of the folks in the front rows, floating off to the ceiling to retrieve a helium-bulged stuffed cat for a youngster in the middle. “A plant. Obviously a plant,” we thought, but we were jealous and wrong.

The Dawn of the Aerospace Age moved into the meat of her act. A projection screen dropped behind her, and a film began: the wonders of the modern world, explained.

“A flashlight works like this,” she said. “The battery is crowded with wild light horses. When the button is pressed, they spring out, and run full boar, straight ahead, as the crow flies, direct to what you want to see. The clomp along the water molecules in the air.”

“A toaster works like this,” she said. “The bread is inserted, the button is pressed, and the filaments crowd around and tease the bread for its softness. It is embarrassed. It tries harder. It hardens itself to the cruelty of filaments. It heats from the inside with self-righteous anger, and that's why the butter melts.”

“A baby works like this,” she said. “You buy one at the hospital. It has been spit out, like a watermelon seed, by the baby machine seen here. It grows in a glass of water on a windowsill. That's why hospitals have so many windows. Babies do not need food. Babies do not need water. They are self-contained. Anyone who says otherwise is quite likely mad.”

“A treefrog works like this,” she said. She did not speak. She let the film speak for itself. The audience marveled at the steam engine, and the bellows.

“The aerospace age,” she said, “is a marvelous time to be alive. Look at all we have.” And she showed all we have on screen. It was over in less than an hour. “Thank you,” she said, and left the stage.

We waited for the applause to die down, and took our positions. As she walked by me, I stared at her. Marvelous her. Wonderful her. How I loved her.

She smiled at me, and I thought maybe it would be nice to live in the here and now, in the present, the two of us together, a baby machine baby drooling in the corner.

And then, I returned to my position, ass-end of a juggling horse costume. Spot, the dog in our dog and pony act, waggled his butt as she tickled his back.

She was good to animals.

The Dawn of the aerospace age wore a man's shoes and slacks onstage. She wore a white shirt, suspenders and a bow tie. Burgundy. The tie and suspenders were a deep burgundy.

I wore the back of the horse.

“How indoor plumbing works is this,” she said. “The pipes dig down, down, deep down to the freshwater ocean at the center of the world. Plumbers are required to be both expert spelunkers and expert deep-sea divers. They have the most dangerous job there is. That's why they go to school for nine years, are paid so well, and are thought of as heroes.”

The front end of the horse, Lopez, did all the juggling. We lumbered onstage, and I lifted him onto my shoulders. I tried to move a bit, but Lopez discouraged most forms of tap and soft shoe dancing. He needed to concentrate, he said, because it wasn't easy to see through the horse head.

Our act was not popular. It was not easy to follow the Dawn of the Aerospace Age.

But, she suggested I learn to ride a unicycle with Lopez juggling away on my shoulders. She said she knew how, and could teach me sometime.

I wanted her to hold me in her arms, and tell me about air conditioners and mass transit, but this would do.

“How the cure for cancer works is this,” she said. “You swallow a live Australian tumorphage centipede, and let it work. To keep it happy, you must stay drunk while it searches your body for food. The alcohol loosens your muscles, and it doesn't have to struggle so on its hunt. Scientists were amazed to find how easy it was to cure cancer after all the work they'd done, and issued a formal apology by handwriting letters to everyone on the planet. You probably got one.”

She had her own unicycle.

“How friendship works is this,” she said. “Two people meet, and they purchase a ‘friendship’ crucible. They each remove a lock of hair, and burn them together, and must keep the fires going for as long as they intend to remain in the contractual agreement called friendship.”

And when it finally did happen, when we finally spent long, tangled moments together, I asked her questions, and she answered. And it wasn’t perfect. And it was better for not being perfect.

The act was never perfect, but Lopez and I put on the horse costume, jumped on the unicycle, and did our best. And she would wait for me.

I wondered how motorcycles worked. I wondered how the moon worked.


This post is dedicated to those who donated:

Miz Minton
Brad & Allen
Mom & Dad
My dearest A

and, of course, it is also dedicated to


It was written on her birthday and first appeared on Reinventing the World, a much-missed online/email literary journal.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I wore me one of them eye masks.




I wore one of those eye masks. One of those black eye masks that you wear at night or in the morning. It was morning for me.

Morning in America.

(Remember that?)

But, still.

So I wore one of those eye masks, like the Lone Ranger without the eyeholes kind. I thought probably it would be weird. Because I'd never worn one. I thought probably it would be uncomfortable, and being uncomfortable, it would defeat the whole "I can't sleep for light, so on goes mask to block out light, and down goes me to the bottom of sleep." I thought the straps and pressure on my face would defeat the purpose.

Didn't, though. Went right to sleep, me. Right down to the bottom of sleep. For hours, in the morning, down to the very comfortable bottom of sleep.

Like I'd been wearing one my whole damn life.

Whole damn life.

This proves to me the concept of collective memory. You know? Memory that is shared? By all humanity? Proven. It's proven by the fact that the eye mask was in no way uncomfortable and allowed me to sink way down to the bottom of sleep.

How else? I mean, really?

Collective memory lives at the shallow end of sleep, I think. The shared threads of memory live at the shallow end.

Or, better, the shared currents of collective memory run shallow. I put on the mask, felt the weird pressure on my eyes, and the pull of the straps behind my ears, and yet managed to sink to the shallows of sleep. And at the shallows, collective memory reminded me that "I" had many times worn the mask, many times felt the pressure and the pull of the mask, was familiar with them, didn't mind them, and so let's go, all of us—humanity—we'll go deeper and deeper to the bottom of sleep, eh? Let's all go together, eye mask in place, right? Sure.


Pardon me while I re-wear the eye mask and see what else of yours I remember. I'll blog when I know everything else.


This post is dedicated to Mini. She's mere days old. And lives in the shallow end of sleep. Think of all she must remember! Think about it!

Sorry for the day's delay.


Saturday is the Seattle Race for the Cure. Donations appreciated. Also, words of encouragement. Comments section opened temporarily.

Monday, June 04, 2007


I woke up this morning to see my cat pulling a plug from the wall. A plug.

The plug had a cord, and the cord led all the way up to a foot. My foot.

My plug. My cat was unplugging me from a wall socket.

I looked at my cat, and he said: Oh.

He said: This.

He said: I bet you're wondering about this. And he held up the plug—my plug?—and looked at me.

Yes, he said. I'm betting you are wondering about this.

No, I said. It all makes sense, really. A robot. I'm a robot. I run on electricity. I'm plugged in at night. You plug me in and unplug me because you need me to do things for you.

I go to work five or six days a week. I make money to buy food for you. I clean your litter.

You made me to do all this. You, and cats, made me and people like me to do all the things we do. We care for you. We have jobs. Our jobs are a part of larger economic context that you invented. You invented the economy, and the culture, and the world we live in for the improvement of your standard of living. We are advanced machines who work and live and fight and mate. We make more little versions of us to take care of you and your kind. We are a system. Humanity is a system created for the care of cats. We are cogs in a machine that was made to care for you.

And at night, you plug us in.

Sure, I said. It all makes sense now. You created us to make your lives easier.

He said: Ego. And he laughed at me. Ego, ego, ego. He curled up the cord, and opened a little door in my foot. He put the cord inside my foot. Ego, he said.

You're a heating pad, he said.