Thursday, August 29, 2019

I Have Powers --King, Ellison, Fagen, and Voice of the Unknown



I’ve been listening to books on Audible lately. I just finished listening to How to Be Like Walt Disney, which focuses on all the good traits to follow (but omits less beneficial ones like “smoke three packs of cigarettes a day”). Prior to that interesting and occasionally inspiring book, it had been a succession of music biographies read by the musician who wrote them: Kim’ Gordon’s Girl in a Band, Bob Mould’s See a Little Light, Paul Stanley’s Face the Music: A Life Exposed.. I’d forgotten to download next up in my queue, Donald Fagen’s Eminent Hipsters, and had such a long ride ahead of me I did something I’d never done before—pull up at a Dunkin Donuts for free Wi-Fi rather than a coffee.

Twenty seconds later, I had my book. I’d read a couple years ago and liked it enough that I thought the experience of hearing Fagen read it might bring it alive in other ways, and thus far my preconceived notion has proven true. The book mixes memoir and insightful cultural commentary and achieves the affect of being at once intensely personal and wide ranging. Unlike the bands the three artists I’ve mentioned above spent much of their careers in (Sonic Youth, Husker Du, and Kiss), of whom I’ve absorbed a great deal of information about and have been listening to for over thirty years (and have the entire catalogs of), I know next to nothing about Fagen or Steely Dan and have only been listening to for about five years (and yet I still somehow have the entire catalog, band and solo. Sigh). I’d heard some songs prior, of course—and hated them. Steely Dan would be a mainstay of the AM radio my mother listened to in the car, and often their hit songs would creep into the playlists of the Hartford and New Haven-based rock stations I’d listen to in my formative years. “Reeling in the Years” couldn’t hope to have the same visceral impact as “Something I Learned Today” on the fifteen-year-old Reagan-era me. Somewhere in adulthood, though, the sound, sensibility, and vibe of Steely Dan’s music “clicked” with me, as did later-in-life enthusiasms like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and jazz. Steely Dan’s records often hit the turntable in my house now, and two years ago I bought Fagen’s Cheap Xmas career retrospective boxset, one of my favorite things to listen to in a hotel room when I’m far from home.

Several of the essays in Eminent Hipsters touch on radio personalities Fagen listened to as a kid growing up in New Jersey; the title song of his first solo album The Nightfly is a portrait of a late night DJ in that mold, and Fagen—who I have since learned is reclusive and has suffered stage fright!—appears on the cover as the titular character, one of the few times he appears on any front-cover artwork. After listening to the first half of the Audible, I go home and put Cheap Xmas on, and as usual when absorbing the work of an artist I’m not familiar with, I seek a more immersive experience through secondary sources. Google, in this case, and I’m soon clicking through Wikipedia pages on him, his band, and his albums—my first page is the one for The Nightfly. I went there first because I wanted to know what the first track of the album, “I.G.Y.”, stood for—for whatever reason, my mind plugged “I Get You” into the acronym for the first two or three times I listened to it, so I’m pleasantly surprised to discover it stands for “International Geophysical Year”, which Wikipedia later tells me is the period between July 1957 to Christmas 1958, and was an international scientific project in which 67 countries participated in. Despite being a student and aficionado, or so I thought, of fifties culture and fifties astro-culture especially, I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never heard of the IGY before—both Sputnik 1 and Explorer 1 were IGY projects. My appreciation of Fagen increased, my overall knowledge and worldliness increased, and I was flush with the joys of new discovery. Reading a little further on The Nightfly, I saw that the song “Green Flower Street” is a nod to the jazz standard “On Green Dolphin Street”. I tripped on that fact, slightly, if only because I didn’t recognize “On Green Dolphin Street” as being a jazz standard. I figured I’d probably heard it at some point, but the melody didn’t spring to mind.

Speaking of mind-springs, here’s where I’m going to veer way off the narrative road I’ve established and drop some thought you might find so off-putting that you avert your eyes, close this blog, and never return. I wouldn’t blame you; I’d probably feel the exact same way if a voice I’d hear previously as being relatively sane suddenly flies off into crazyville and wants to take me with it. But here goes!

I believe I have psychic powers.

Specifically, I believe I have not only a mild precognitive ability, but that I also can subtly influence the outcome of the future events.

Still with me? Here’s the problem—this ability—at least how I perceive it—isn’t something I can turn on or off; it isn’t a “wild talent” like in a classic Stephen King novel or comic book. I don’t think it had anything to do with the onset of puberty, an excess of hormones, stress, or altered states of consciousness. It isn't psychometry, but it isn't fully random either. It must be triggered. I think I’ve identified the trigger, partially, at least. Basically, if I see or hear a word or a phrase that was previously unknown to me in completely different contexts twice within a span of a few days, I can anticipate a “precognitive event” before long. It has to be the same word or phrase, and it has to be in completely different contexts. So reading “I.G.Y.” and then “International Geophysical Event” in the same essay would not trigger anything, nor would reading “International Geophysical Event” three times in the same article. There are probably some other stipulations about the context and the word or phase itself that I haven't figured out; I don’t believe the first couple times I heard a word like “chipotle” did anything for me.

Additionally, I'm not predicting major world events. I've yet to be able to steer people away from calamity; I'm not like Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone seeing apocalyptic scenarios caused by a  future President (at least not with my psychic abilities). The future events I "see"--if that is what I'm doing--are only very personal glimpses into my own future. 

Make sense? No, I don’t think so either. And I've read those wonderful books on cognitive biases You Are Not So Smart and You Are Now Less Dumb by David McRaney, and what I'm describing exhibits several of the biases and fallacies he describes so beautifully. But... reality is just a construct anyway, man, and we all employ different architects. On the average, I have zero to one of these events ("delusions", if it makes you feel better) a year—I have had maybe fifteen my whole life. On at least three of those occasions, I believe my having seen the future event allowed me to influence its outcome. 

So why mention this now, when we were having such a nice conversation about Donald Fagen’s work? I happened to be listening to The Nightfly through headphones while reading the Wikipedia article, and when I was done I set my tablet aside a picked up a book I had bought last month at NECon, Stalking the Nightmare by Harlan Ellison. I was thrilled to discover that the introduction was written by Stephen King; the book was published in 1982 (same year as The Nightfly was released!!!), and while I love just about all things King, I especially love his 80’s writing—that’s when he began warping my mind in earnest—and so finding a fragment new to me was a thrilling surprise.

But then on page nine I read this:

Weirdness #1

So, I figure after reading that I’m quite likely going to have a precognitive event. And yes, all the while I’m thinking—maybe I’m just ignorant, and everyone in my age bracket knows what the International Geophysical Year was, or I’m a dullard who has been exposed to the concept dozens of times before but never let it sink in through that thick skull to penetrate my brain-mud. Whatever. I keep reading, because Ellison’s own forward is up next, and I enjoy his biographical material as much if not more than his fiction.

And another nine pages later I read this:

Weirdness #2

It is interesting, for the moment, just to imagine the probabilities and synchronicities needing to happen to create these supposed conditions for precognition. Skeptic at heart, and in my head, I consider the vast amounts of culture I consume and how that influences the odds of me running into previously unknown words or phrases on a regular basis. But when I add the timeline elements into the mix in this specific incidence—what weird confluence caused me to pick that particular book (and it was off the NECon 5 bucks a bag table, which was like a rugby scrum with competitive consumers), but then even weirder to not read or even open it until the very same day I listen to The Nightfly, and then read those passages within moments of first discovering them on Wikipedia? And by the way, Stalking the Nightmare will be the 100th book I’ve read this year (unless I finish listening to Eminent Hipsters first; I count Audibles). I’m not positive, but I don’t think any of those ninety-nine books prior mention the International Geophysical Event, nor do I think I’ve heard it in any of the songs I’ve listened to or the movies or television I’ve watched (although full disclosure—the Eric Dolphy recording of “On Green Dolphin Street” exists in my music database after all, nestled among another 79, 751 tracks). 

Maybe it isn’t so strange after all; 1982 would have been the 25th anniversary of the IGY; maybe there were celebrations, news magazine profiles, articles galore, and maybe at 13 I was too ignorant to have noticed any of them. But maybe that anniversary somehow inflamed and inspired both Fagen and King, or both King and Ellison had heard the Fagen album, had discussed it even, and so the ghost of influence was transferred to their individual work on Stalking the Nightmare.

Who knows? And, more importantly, who other than me cares?
That’s it, end of story. For today. I figure I’m moments away from launching into some Nostradamus-level future-gazing. I’m feeling the urge to write up a few quatrains, actually. If you see me post about fleeing the country, avoiding certain brands of snack foods, or investing heavily in coastal real estate, you might want to act accordingly.
* * * * *

Postscript #1 Interesting that another essay in Eminent Hipsters contains commentary on Philip K. Dick, L. Ron Hubbard, John W. Campbell, and A.E. Van Vogt, writers who may have harbored para-psychological ideas at least as crackpot as my own. They were all featured extensively in the seventh book I read this year, Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee, a history of the Golden Age of science fiction. Once that synapse fired, I figured I might have read about the International Geophysical Year within the pages of that book—that crew was all writing then and certainly would have been interested. A quick flip through the index yields International Astronomical Union, but no IGY. Curiouser and curiouser.


One of the characters in these books also claims to possess telepathetic powers. If my own story didn't scare you away--or even if it did--you might enjoy them. They can be found HERE




Tuesday, July 23, 2019

QE Results for June: Backslidin'

My best selfie ever? Snapped on accident after checking a weather app

In January I wrote a blog post entitled Queer Eye, My Daughter, and I where I related some of the experience and pleasure I had binge-watching the two season of the show with my daughter over the holiday break, and in doing so basically laid out a self-improvement (or self assessment, at least) plan for the year.  The plan involves taking an honest inventory of where am in life with regards to five categories, as I see them, as exemplified by the men on the Netflix show Queer Eye.  And so, an honest assessment on my performance for May in the five QE categories:

KARAMO: "Culture, Confidence, Put yourself out there". I'm knocking myself down a whole point to a 3.5 because I've detected a certain amount of fraudulence/self deception in my game plan. I'm not going to go into it in depth here, but suffice to say I'm working hard to make some changes here in July.
Thank you, Columbia

I didn't crack the two hundred page count for the first time this year (although that is not why I'm shaving a point), finishing with 173.5 pages. Respectable. Not enough of it was fiction, though.

I Still See You, the film based on my novel Break My Heart 1,000 Times that I never shut up about, is now available on Hulu and Amazon Prime. Watch it!

I had a business trip to Chicago and extended it so that Kim could join me to explore the city and attend a wedding. We went on a ghost tour which culminated in a trip to the Congress Hotel. Spooky.
Various ghosts and Slendermen visible in windows


In June I also began to fill my mostly neglected Twitter feed with articles on the for-profit concentration camps we are running in America. Articles like This and This and This  and This. I realize the overall issue is a complex one, but one piece of it seems very simple to me: we are systemically abusing children, and we need to stop.

TAN: "Make an effort with your personal appearance". I'll stay at a three. Kim has been helping and bought me some summer clothes that actually fit.
Add caption
BOBBY: "Create and maintain a physical environment that promotes productivity, creativity and inner harmony". I'll stay at 3.5, as I kept busy doing yard work and wrestling with vast jungles of bittersweet the horrific week that Kim was away. The top photo is at the start of one such campaign.

Toddlin' Town




ANTONI: "Make nutrition healthy and enjoyable, cook for others". A half point raise to a three. I made myself some great meals when Kim was away; I didn't really have the chance to cook for anyone else which is too bad because I was on my game. Maybe because the only person who could have died eating my cooking was me, so the pressure was off?

JONATHAN: "Take care of yourself physically" Staying at a 4.  I ran 109 miles, making June my fifth consecutive +100 month. I'm about fifty miles away from my yearly Personal Best (or PB) of 800.8 miles, achieved the first year I started keeping statistics, way back in 2011. If you squint you can actually see some abdominal definition...50 likes/reposts/comments and I'll post a photo of my Herculean, hyper-jacked #DadBod (any other number, and I won't).

So June is my first month of the year where I'm downgrading my QE score.

Speaking of hyper-jacked, you can find all of my thrilling novels HERE, Check out the beautiful covers below.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

What I Watched: May

I was reading The Avengers while you were still in cast-iron short pants, Mister


1. The Romanoffss, Season 1, Episodes 3-8

Kim and I watched the rest of Matthew Weiner's The Romanoffs, which we enjoyed very much despite my having spelled it incorrectly last month. Like any anthology series, casual views might find the episodes uneven--and they are lengthy, with most being "movie length", and the range of dramatic subject matter might leave viewers loving certain episodes and hating others. I've read some critical reviews of the series and many found fault with the pacing, but this was a common knock against Mad Men, the pacing of which, I thought, was one of the shows' chief appeals.

The show made me want to get into Weiner's creative headspace more deeply, and after listening to the 100th episode of Illeana Douglas's I Blame Dennis Hopper podcast with him I found a number of podcast seminars/interviews he gave during the various stages of Mad Men's run--he's is a fascinating speaker on what moves and motivates him in his creations and I'd wished I'd been able to locate more. I did discover he'd written a novel, Heather, the Totality, and have added it to my tbr pile.

Mad Men, full disclosure, gets my vote for greatest television drama, all-time. I like Breaking Bad, but I don't think it is a close race at all.

2. Avengers: Endgame

In early May, my father and I decided we would try and go to the movies together once a week, and we've kept to it except for a week I was away for business travel. Endgame was our inaugural adventure; we'd actually seen the previous Avengers movie together at the insistent and persistent urging of my son, an avowed Marvel Movie Universe scholar.

Endgame was the perfect launch point for weekly movie excursions for a number of reasons; in addition to having brought me to countless movies when I was a kid (1977-1982 being an especially halcyon time),my Dad was also the person who most fueled my desire to own and read every comic book ever published--he would often come home from a yard sale with boxes and boxes of comic books. One of my favorite title was The Avengers, and I managed to collect the entire first series except for #1 and #4.

My vast knowledge and lore of comic books of the 60's, 70's and 80's gets me in trouble sometimes with regards to the Marvel Movie Universe, as I can be hypercritical of things I feel are not within the spirit of the print MCU (an absurdity, I know), and there's all sorts of places where I could find fault with an Endgame story with Thanos--although I suppose it wouldn't be anywhere near as universally popular, I'd likely not be fully satisfied with anything less than a faithful adaptation of the original Jim Starlin material. 

Fortunately, though, I was able to just shut up and watch, and of course Endgame is a fun, exciting movie. I only really, really hate one thing (I am an enemy of the "Iron Spider" suit; I think Spidey is a much more interesting and engaging character without it. Yeah, I know he needed to be able to survive in space, I still hate it). And my favorite part really annoys my son--I think Fat Thor was the best thing ever and would queue up tomorrow for a Fat Thor movie. I'm considering writing a lengthy essay on why I find Fat Thor so relatable but I don't want to annoy him further.

My father's comment after the show made me realize I'd be including a quote from him on every movie we watch together:

Dad on Endgame: "I had no idea what the hell was going on, but I enjoyed it."

3. Tolkien
This was the second film Dad and I saw together; I'm afraid I liked it much more than he did. There were flaws, and if you don't have patience for Dead Poets Society type material you would likely hate it, but being familiar with Tolkien's work but not his life I found it interesting and well done. The later WWI scenes I especially liked.

Dad on Tolkien: "Next time we see an action movie."

4. John Wick Chapter Three: Parabellum
Wanting to make good on Dad's request, there's fewer actiony action movies than this. Probably my fault for not having seen the first two, suffice to say Dad liked this one more than I did. It would be impossible not to.

That isn't to say he loved everything about it: Dad on John Wick: (during a scene toward the end where John and friend are knifing/shooting/killing an interminable squadron of assassins) "Booorrrrr-ing!"

5. Fleabag Season 1, Episode 1 and 2

Watched these with Kim. One scene in the first episode had me laughing so hard I had to pause the streaming service. The actor playing the boyfriend (Hugh Skinner) had a much different role in the last episode of The Romanoffs and it was both jarring and interesting to see him play such disparate roles back to back. . 

My books can be found HERE for pennies a page.
None of these is a television show. Yet.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

What I Heard: May 2019

Mixtape Masterpieces

My first month in seven years without eMusic...seems weird. And now I hear the iTunes is shifting their platform, which always makes me more than a little nervous as I'm already using alternate universe technology. I have two iPods Classics, a full 120 with a large chunk of my Metal collection, and the beauty below, which is a customized gold "U2" edition Classic with a terabyte chip. Referred to in my household as "The Precious", it is rarely out of my sight and plays for several hours a day at a minimum. I was warned it would become unstable at a certain capacity, so I haven't put my entire digital collection on it but 57015 songs is a pretty good base. 
The Precious

I've mentioned I've done my fair share of business travel over the years, and never without the Precious, one of my dearest companions. I believe the Precious listens to me as much as I listen to it.

Such meticulous curation


Yeah, that isn't at all weird, disturbing, or obsessive. But then again, neither is painstakingly converting all of one's vinyl (a whole wall of it) to mp3--and it seems like yesterday I'd converted all the vinyl to ATRAC so I could enjoy it all on long playing minidiscs! 
Thousands of hours of music! (Thousands of hours of life wasted not pictured.)


For years I could enjoy Lindsey Buckingham's "Holiday Road" on Minidisc long before it was available digitally (it came back when the movie was rebooted)! Also Cheap Trick's "Up The Creek" (came out last year as part of Epic "rarities" compilation!

I still haven't seen Wall of Voodoo's "Exercise" on a legit digital release...

8-Tracks? I had a few. Cassettes? Never my favorite format, but I loved making mix tapes. I loved making collage art for the various tapes even more. I will always take physical formats over digital, and a digital file over streaming.As convenient as they might be, I don't like streaming services for a number of reasons--control, gaps in content, signal, different mixes, advertising, possible glomming of preferences and metadata, etc.  Quite possibly some if not all of those objections can be overcome but I don't care to try.  Get off my lawn.

I'd still take these over streaming

CD
1. Arthemis, Back From the Heat
My favorite Italian Metal band, and this an earlier album, acquired off eBay to complete the catalogue. If you want to have the greatest Metal cover of a pop song ever--yes, even better than Anthrax's cover of Joe Jackson's "Got the Time", then go to their website for the free download of their 6-song unfortunately named EP. You heard it here: Arthemis's cover of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" is the greatest Metal cover of a pop song, ever. Here, I'll make it easy for you: ARTHEMIS . Just listen to Fabio Dessi nail it! 

Fabio isn't on Back From the Heat, but it is still a solid record

2. Sonic Youth, Rather Ripped
3. Sonic Youth, Murray Street
4. Sonic Youth, A Thousand Leaves
5. Sonic Youth, Sonic Youth Live
6. Sonic Youth, Made in USA

I wrote about Sonic Youth a little in this month's "what I read" blog, and decided to fill the last remaining holes in the "official" catalogue. These are all great--and distinctively so. I'd forgotten about their movie soundtrack Made in USA, which I used to have on cassette before my cassette eating car stereo munched on it like twenty-five years ago. It appears to be OOP digitally (another great reason to trust only in the physical). Probably my third or fourth favorite of all SY-related discs.

7. Pink Floyd, The Endless River
8. David Gilmour, Rattle That Lock

I was able to pick up the super-deluxe CD/DVD versions of both of these for a reasonable price. Haven't watched the DVD's yet but love both discs. The Endless River was my morning coffee choice two Sundays running.

9. Hawkwind, Bring Me The Head of Yuri Gagarin

Live set "Classic" line-up, with Lemmy, Turner, Brock, Dik Mik, even Del Dettmar, but a very fuzzy recording and even the big songs lack the punch they have do on other live recordings from this era.

Digital
10. Megadeth, Cryptic Writings

$5.99 on iTunes for the deluxe version; not my favorite Megadeth (this one isn't as thrashy as many) but still a very enjoyable record

11. Bill Callahan, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest

Half the album; as a promo they released a side at a time weekly for the digital release, so I didn't get the second half until June. I'll buy this on vinyl, but Callahan is one of several artists I don't want to wait to hear (or mind if I contribute extra profits by purchasing multiple formats). With my usual sense of good timing, I became completely enthralled with Callahan's Apocalypse and Dream River (not to mention Have Fun With God) just before he got married, had a kid, and took a five year hiatus from recording new songs. Luckily he's got an extensive back-catalogue to explore while I was waiting, and it was love at first listen for  It was love at first listen for Shepherd. And what does that title mean, anyway? Is it a warning? Is he saying, "don't join my flock, because I will leave you shorn and skinless in the end"?

Kim tells me I've said this hundreds of times about hundreds of records, but I consider Apocalypse and Dream River life-changing albums for me. Fittingly, I bought them when I was on the road--the first cut on Dream River, "The Sing", is one of those strange cuts that is intensely personal and yet universal enough to make seem my biography, not Bill's--at a great little record store in Phoenix called Stinkweeds

No vinyl this week, but I appear to have infected my son with both the vinyl rockin' pneumonia and the boogie-woogie flu, as he has been scouring the shops and flea markets for records and has come home with dozens of LP's in the past few weeks. Good stuff, too! We're listening to one of his Magic Sam acquisitions as I write this!


I wrote a novel called Aural History about a musician who sees ghosts of other musicians. You can buy it HERE

Cover Intentionally DIY

Sunday, June 9, 2019

What I Read: May 2019

I like books about music


A friend posted a recent photo of him attending a bookstore event where the guest was James Ellroy. I was a little jealous, as I've spent much of my reading time this year absorbing his collected works. Then again, Ellroy, by his own admission, hasn't been the nicest or most approachable guy in the world so I don't know if I'd just up at the chance to attend such an event--what the hell, I've already got three signed copies of his books!

Who am I kidding--of course I'd go. I'm a junkie for book events, and Ellroy has got some interesting things to say about writing. I don't always enjoy readings, but I'd love to hear him read from some of the later works I've just consumed

I read these in May:

1. Hollywood Nocturnes
2. American Tabloid
3. The Cold Six Thousand 
4. Crime Wave
5. My Dark Places

Yes, I'm a little out of order. Why? I read some of these on business trips, and the trades paperbacks fit better (and weight less) in my carry-on bag. 

I'll write about the fiction when I've finished all of it, but a few words on his harrowing memoir My Dark Places. Ellroy's mother was murdered when he was ten years old, and the case was never solved. Sometimes there isn't always a direct correlation between one's chosen themes, style, and genre and one's upbringing, but Ellroy's life in Los Angeles clearly informed every word. Sometimes directly--he writes about which of his books draw directly from life experience.

We don't always get this much biographical information regarding someone who writes the contemporary fiction we find entertaining, and as I moved on to the final volume in the U.S.A. Underworld Trilogy, Blood's A Rover, I was trying to determine how my newfound knowledge of Ellroy's life was altering my emotional and aesthetic reactions to his fiction. Ultimately, I believe I would recommend someone picking up Ellroy for the first time to start with My Dark Places. It is an unforgettable book, somehow managing to be both an indictment and an elegy for his parents (and for himself?) It is at times excoriating, painful, and shocking, especially in the pages where Ellroy mercilessly paints an ugly and unromantic self portrait of the person he was before he began writing seriously. 

I'd recommend you start with My Dark Places, but I would also warn you--you might not want to read any of his fiction after finishing. And that would be a shame, because he's a singular artist who, in my opinion, has contributed to and expanded the boundaries of noir fiction.


Just two comic books this month:

6. Tomb of Dracula,  vol. 1 Gaah this series was so awesome, and the trade paperback edition I have really lets the art pop. My comic obsession started in the seventies, and I somehow missed most of this brilliant run the first time around. I only had so many quarters (these were all 20 cents originally!), and back then my first choices were always the team superhero books--The Avengers, The Defenders, Fantastic Four, Justice League, Legion of Superheroes. I'm kind of glad, though, because I appreciate these more today than I would have when I was a kid. Scary and beautiful.
7. Batman: Master Race I love a great deal of Frank Miller's work, and have ever since rushing to the local pharmacy to buy the latest Daredevil off the white wire spinner rack (that's how we did it back in the days, kids. It was glorious). I still think Ronin is one of the greatest graphic novels of all-time, but I  have found his post Dark Knight work hit or miss. The art is always great, there's usually some clever social commentary and comments on the artform itself, but the stories themselves haven't always landed the right way with me. I used to love the trick of bringing in a favorite or overlooked character--especially a rebooted one-- for a cameo or for a few pages or even for an entire arc (one-armed Green Arrow in Dark Knight, for example). I think Miller may have helped invent that trope, but I see it so often now it doesn't thrill me as much. I finished this one wishing I'd liked it more than I did.

Some nonfiction:
8. Mind to Matter: The Astonishing Science of How Your Brain Creates Material Reality Dawson Church and Dr. Joe Dispenza
Mmm I'm not entirely sure this one qualifies as non-fiction, although there were a number of interesting ideas and theories in the book--but maybe that is just my brain trying to create reality, material or otherwise. Although a skeptic, I'm a sucker for books like this--anything that purports to give the reader a mental edge, a more efficient brain or body, or access to natural or supernatural powers.
9. Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth David Brown
Many years ago, part of my job duties included calling customers who had services performed at their homes or businesses by one of the businesses that I managed to make sure they received excellent customer service. One day I was making these calls and noticed the next customer was listed as "Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon".

No way, I thought, eagerly dialing the number for the first time ever while making those stupid intrusive calls.

I got an answering machine--and it wasn't even one of their voices on the recording--but it still felt a minor thrill as I'd been a gigantic Sonic Youth fan since high school--Daydream Nation still feels like an essential part of the soundtrack of my freshman year of college, and others--The Destroyed Room and The Eternal (and much of Moore's solo work) loomed large later in life.. I was a little disappointed this book was written before Moore and Gordon split (and initially I wrote "Thurston and Kim", because that's how personal they as artists and there art felt to me. I've read Gordon's book but would not mind some third-party insight as to what happened and how Sonic Youth is still able to conduct business--a "new" live album of an old concert came out this week, and there was a release of demos I think last year, so like Hendrix, Sonic Youth may be dead but they are still mad prolific.

Despite being written while the band was still very much alive (and before a couple of my favorite records of theirs) I still enjoyed the book greatly, especially as I read it while listening to some Sonic Youth related music I'd also picked up (What I Heard: May 2019 coming to DanielWaters.com soon!!!). 

I bought the book at one of my favorite records stores, which happens to be in the very town I called many years ago, the one where M--ah heck with it--Thurston and Kim lived. I'm sorry I never got to speak to them, but really, what would I have done if either had answered, "You know, I really did not receive excellent customer service, so I'm really glad you called."

After I bought the book and a few CDs we went out to dinner and I snapped this photo of a giant strawberry with crows' wings:

I should not exist


Daydream Nation has a song inspired by the works of William Gibson, the lucky guy. I don't think any of the books below have directly inspired any music--although there were like three or four songs released after Generation Dead with that same title--and there's a brilliant Bear McCreary soundtrack to the film I Still See You which is based on Break My Heart 1,000 Times but for the record to any musicians out there feel free to peruse anything below for song material.   HERE

"For the record"--see what I did there?