“Southern California Covid-19 Twenty Twenty Coded Handshake” OR “Baby New Year, Get Here Now!”

What kind of gifts have your brought forth, Covid-19? I used to dig the dress up beaks of plague crows with their potpourri stuffed nostrils walking the streets of the fourteenth century. Those, of course, were archaic portraiture. It is hard to look at you now, though. “It’s not that funny, is it?” to quote Lindsey Buckingham, when it happens to you in real time. Nope. Multiple family members and friends of mine got sick, friends lost family members, so many of us sacrificed birthdays and halloweens and thanksgivings, high holidays all lower cased because it was us alone in our homes. Maybe a dog or cat keeping us company. Maybe our kids or our lover if we were lucky. Everyone is home. No one can come out. No one can find time to answer the phone. But I am calling you nonetheless from the back porch of Southern California with stacks of records from the vineyards out here piled up next to the stereo.

The harvest from the golden state was healthy in 2020, maybe the lack of smog this year, time on our hands. As if it weren’t enough that artists whose records I received for Christmas in the lean early years of the 80’s made records this year that were brilliant & on endless repeat in my home (cheers to you Sparks & X), there were also Southern California releases by my peers that grew up here or moved here that made me wonder if I would always stay in the minor leagues (Franklin Bruno & The Human Hearts, Falcon Eddy, The Mountain Goats) and those that are my SoCal juniors like Kevin Morby, David Herman Dune and So Many Wizards that inspired me.

Old dinosaurs don’t die, they become fuel. Tom Petty’s west coast transplant success “Wildflowers” box set took root. Los Angeles recordings by Prince that surfaced on his “Sign O’ the Times” boxset allow his inclusion here. That song about “Wally” on that 6 or 7 disc set, I imagine what it was then before Suzanne was forced to erase it. What about new artist? AzSwaye’s minimal Hip Hop killed it. “Real Movie” by him reverberated with it’s manufactured snow flocked tree of disease. BH “Trap Pac”, we don’t care if you don’t like traps you bearded fifty somethings – go lissen’ to Eric Clapton or Frank Zappa. Stroke that pepper and salt rug hanging off of yer’ chin until it cums all over Van Morrison’s anti-mask. This one slays it. And Vi Redd, on her alto sax, I heard her calling me through the citrus groves, beckoning me to get back home in a dream.

I could rattle on about more music from this 60 square mile radius that made my year, but you get the point. Grown in sharper, the wealth of sound from around the globe over the last twelve months was far too much for me to digest. What a banner of a mother it was musically. Thank you non musicians, embarrassed to be called artist artists and all points in between for the salvation.

Covid-19, it wasn’t you that meant to take so much from us. It is just that your make up and ours can’t coexist so well together. You are a terrible room mate. I see your maskless proponets on my dazed winds by foot, welcoming sickness. Someone has to do it, so why not them? The end of the worlders, sandwich boarders, conspiracy fornicators pushing out new tubes of sour cream Crest from them vacant anuses and armpits, I am calling, wishing even them the happiest of new years. I say this aloud as I type, then pardon myself as I shit my pants and plastic bag my clothing. It is rude to leave your shit everywhere. My mom taught me that. Merry Christmas, Baby. Happy Hanukkah Darling. Here’s to bringing back all of them upper cases in 2021.

John Brantingham’s “Life, Orange to Pear” is out now on Bamboo Dart Press

The term local legend has a negative connotation to it, a “could have been a contender” flavor that does not fit writer John Brantingham. His work in poetry, fiction and art is not dissimilar to his public work in the classroom, heading up workshops or at the gallery that he runs with his wife, noted artist, Ann Brantingham. There are doors on hinges at that gallery, and may you be so lucky in your life to meet two artists in your community that are always opening doors for others and welcoming them in like the Brantinghams. John Brantingham’s new book on Bamboo Dart, “Life, Orange to Pear” is a character study of time. What it does to families, the dynamics that time uses to bend and change the arc of one generation coming into its own after the stewardship of flawed adults. The idiosyncratic ways our families have shaped each of us, all here on display in “Life, Orange to Pear”. Bamboo Dart Press is thrilled to be issuing this as the second book on our imprint. The following conversation with John took place at the beginning of November. The book is available direct from us at Bamboo Dart http://www.bamboodartpress.com via the myriad of finer book stores and distributors now. Check out the trailer below featuring John reading from the book coupled with illustrations by his wife Ann.

There is an interesting divide in your work as both a poet and writer between the natural world and that of steel and glass.  The tenderness in even some of the most hardened characters in your stories strikes me as the closest to that duality. 

Certainly in “Life, Orange to Pear” the father walks both of these lines with his daughter. These are some of the ideas that interest me the most. There are a series of interesting false dilemmas that most people set up for themselves. I go to the term false dilemma first because I teach critical thinking and the false dilemma is one of the fallacies that I talk about a lot, but we do this naturally. One of them is that we think the world of people and nature are two different things. I find that kind of fascinating, and it makes people think that nature is foreign to them, and when they venture into a national park or purely wild space they think it is a place of danger, and it is to some degree, but no more so than an urban environment. All those wild elements of the forest exist in the city and all the wild elements of the city exist outside of it and all the truth and beauty does too. All of that lives inside of us as well. As we are both wild and urban, we are good and evil too. It’s important to understand this. I am a confirmed pacifist because I know that just below the surface is a good deal of violence that I am certainly capable of. I want to keep that down. It is part of who I am, and I don’t want it to be. That’s why it’s important to write my characters, especially those like this one who is so similar to me, with a clear vision of those parts of him that are failings. It’s important for us to see ourselves as we are.  

Your other new work, “Inland Empire Afternoon” is a character study of the region of Southern California that we both live in whose flavor and mapping is spread out over forty characters,  a cut-up among well defined characters instead of ideas.  Did that concept come into play prior to writing this piece or in the midst of it? 

I’m a huge fan of Richard Linklater, and what I did there was try to do what he did for the city of Austin in Slackers, where he bounced for five minutes from character to character building up a vision of the city and a particular group of people who lived there. It was a critical look at that urban space, but it was also a kind of love letter to it. I have lived most of my life in or around the Inland Empire and I’ve really begun to see why it is a beautiful place. It’s one of those spaces that’s ill-defined in the American conscious. Angelinos often see it as a kind ugly step-brother, but that’s just provincialism. There is beauty in all places occupied by people because there is beauty in people. I wanted to draw that out.   

In your teaching (both in the classroom and in workshops) you use prompts and I have seen your ability to be lightning fast in crystalizing an idea for a writer.  Did childhood role play (Dungeons & Dragons) serve as an early introduction to this technique for you?  

Yes, and what I love about Dungeons and Dragons when it is played well is that it is all about bizarre improvisation. In that moment it becomes surreal and fun. Some people like to play it in a constrained way that follows strict rules and it becomes almost like a slow motion video game. If you take out the improvisation and the surreality, if you stick to slow moving rules, then it replicates reality, and there is a kind of safety and tedium to that. Like improv, it is often funny, but like improv, it doesn’t need to be. But if you take that improv element out of it, it just becomes as restrictive as reality. In my classes, which are almost never funny, I want to have that kind of movement. They need to because the people before me are different than any group of students have ever been. They have their own desires and needs, and I need to pivot to meet those needs. Creative spaces, in classrooms, writing rooms, or gaming rooms are sacred, and they need to be approached in that way. 

What was the seed of the original concept that drove you and your wife Ann to start your California Imagism Gallery?  Besides the obvious, what are your hopes in the years ahead for this space?  

Ann and I have been talking about this a lot lately. What has marked so much of this time in the world is a kind of festering cynicism. Our goal is to move away from that. People are angry now. People often act in evil ways, but if you look through the veneer of that anger, you can perhaps find kindness and potential in all people. The motto of our gallery is “Be Kind Humans.” I told someone that, and she immediately equated kindness with weakness. My goal is to move beyond that simplistic conception of kindness, which again is a false dilemma. Those two things are not synonymous. Those two things do not even exist on the same spectrum, but we have been told again and again that they are. I disagree.  That is the goal of the gallery, and I hope that it makes money, but I won’t be bothered if it doesn’t. I will be bothered if it is not a voice in a growing revolution for compassion and complexity of thought. We will host readings and artists. We will be a part of conversation and salons. We will move toward that place of humanity.  

You more recent forays into flash fiction are a nice bridge between your short stories and poems.  Do you find some poems morphing into fiction or the more economical flash fiction? 

I think it does that to some degree, but I generally am in a flash fiction mood or a poetry mood. They are different things in my mind although they help to develop each other. In flash, I am trying to understand a character and his/her/their moment of epiphany. In my poetry, I am having the epiphany. It is autobiographical while the flash is fictional.

John Davis & Dennis Callaci “Arches & Pathways” Deluxe limited edition LP available for preorder

Recorded over a three day weekend in July of 2019, “Arches & Pathways” finds The Folk Implosion’s John Davis and Refrigerator’s Dennis Callaci reuniting following their “Room For Space” LP from twenty five years back. That first record was improvised and recorded in one afternoon live to a one track. The new record has the luxury of being recorded over three days by engineer Steve Folta in the Callaci living room. The improvised collection features brand new songs written and recorded over those three days by the two of them building upon a live take of piano and drums, or dueling guitars and layering the new baby with overdubs immediately afterward to capture all that was in the room at the time. Expertly mixed by Scott Solter, it is a modern day minimal psych score whose guts are pushed into the skin of songs. Songs of minimal expanse, and you can quote us on that I tell the under assistant west coast promotion man.

The record is available as a 160 gram standard black vinyl edition w/ a download card & lyric sheet or download via Revolver and at your finer independent record stores on November 20th. A strictly limited edition of 100 on swirled orange vinyl includes all of the above as well as a unique signed and numbered poem by John Davis as well as one by Dennis Callaci, and a download card for the 200 poems that Davis and Callaci wrote that are married to this project (a hundred apiece by each of them). Preorder it at Grapefruit https://grapefruitrecordclub.com/products/archespathways. Check out the first track they recorded that Friday and the first song on side 1 “An Alley Opened It’s Mouth and Roared”.

Picture of colored vinyl, poems and cover art of Arches & Pathways
Limited edition of 100 copies available only via The Grapefruit website
John Davis & Dennis Callaci “An Alley Opened It’s Mouth and Roared”

…and here are two of the two hundred poems:

Splattered (J.Davis)

The Home Shopping Network

Caught me again

I, like a thief, bright red handed

Wanting to want

Like a stimulus check

That never arrives,

Except as a promise

You told me in a taxicab – 

But I only heard the bolts

Of the bridge that the axles were rattling

I saw the sun, right through the windows,

But only a dozen of the things 

That it moistened, like a wave,

One that crawls across a beach,

Slowly dying

You told me you saw five of your words

Crawl right out of my left ear

After you blew them in

To my right one

There they are, on the window,


Madison Square Garden Bowl Lounge (D. Callaci)

I know all of the places you been to before

I been there myself

Their shitty sound guy with the bowler hat on

And the rayon vest

It didn’t work

It wasn’t sci-fi

It was no-fi

I couldn’t get in

In past the $15 bouncer

And the two-toned hair polizi

And the dog haired collars

James Brolin vacuous Merv Griffinned couch yawn

It all seemed OK until the dawn

Until I awoke

Cum in my coke

Blood on my pillow

And I awoke

And there were all these lesions on me

Begging to be released from my malnourished body

Can we please?

Can we leave?

Can we please?

Can we leave?

Them velvet ropes spun with human hair

That soy sauce made of blood

The dude in the cowboy hat that stands behind you with arms folded as you play

What did he say?

What did he say after the show?

That he couldn’t understand a word

That he couldn’t make out a thing

Madison Square Garden Bowl Lounge

I never found a place to hide in you

You were too skinny

Too thin

There was no fat for me to tuck myself into

So instead we did drugs all night

Mama drugs that we were told not to do

We tried to fuck, but only soft on soft blues 

Emanating from our room

Over the PA

To the crowd assembled to hiss and boo

Fuck, and I tried to love you

Fuck, after I had tried so hard to love you

yeah, but you did it all wrong

at the wrong time

in the wrong venues

yeah but

you got it all wrong

every time

everywhere you went to

Don Everly opines in some op ed

I’ll never attempt to love anyone again

Jeff Fuccillo & Allen Callaci Go Beyond Thunderdome

Peyote buttons. Bread infused with chia seeds and wheat germ. Home jail tattoos of your annoying parrot. That is what has occupied so much of our Covid-19 lockdown time. In the curious case of Jeff Fuccillo and Allen Callaci, they spent those early halcyon days of the lockdown finding odd places in their homes to record and pass files to one another as they pieced together a set of covers from the 1980’s. The Shrimper/Union Pole co-release sees the fellas turn songs by Pavement, Quarterflash, Crowded House, Prince and others inside out. You may know Fuccillo as the head honcho of Union Pole, a member of The Irving Klaw Trio or for that collaborative record he did with John Fahey. Allen’s work outside of his band Refrigerator has included collaborations with Adam Lipman, Falcon Eddy and a forthcoming team up for a song with Shrimper stalwarts Goosewind.

The cover art features a spectacular drawing of our two lads being led out of the wasteland by Tina Turner as drawn by Allen Callaci. A more fitting cover for these times, I can’t properly imagine. Check out the video for their version of “We Don’t Need Another Hero” below. The cassette is available November 7th from Revolver, Grapefruit and Midheaven. Links are at the top of the page to order upon release date.

Meg Pokrass on “The Loss Detector”

If you have not read any work by Meg Pokrass, take two minutes and read one of her flash fiction 2 page stories, or maybe the two poems that I have stapled to the end of the interview below.  Her nimbleness as an editor in choosing what to leave out and what to delve into is an art.  I often find myself rereading her pieces after the first pass and looking at them like magic tricks.  How did she get the house to levitate?  Make the rings pass through Mt. Rushmore?  Land a helicopter on the head of a needle?

“The Loss Detector” is written in her economical style, but is an expansive piece in her canon at fifty pages.  The arc of time passing in the story is dreamlike as characters come and go, some just falling away one day as do relations in our own lives.. Will they be back?  Where exactly did they go? 

I am thrilled to be working with Mark Givens in our pursuit of issuing top drawer works of this nature on our new imprint Bamboo Dart Press.  Prouder still to come out of the gate with a bang of a story that haunts me months after reading it. Meg’s “The Loss Detector” is out now via Bamboo Dart Press direct bamboodartpress.com and everywhere on October 22nd. This work strikes me as an epic song that feels like it is 9 minutes long, when in fact it times in at 3:30. 

The unquiet mind of mine was thrilled as expectations and cliches were substituted with a realism, unmoved by the possibility of easily dialing up the grandeur or drama in this moving piece.  I shit you not, dear reader as I have invested money that I didn’t have in order to put out records for over thirty years that hit at a truth that needed to be taken from the ghostly to the physical, this book does the same for that want.  The high of discovery, nothing beats that. 

Meg is founding editor of the beloved flash fiction magazine New Flash Fiction Review, founded in 2014. Below is an interview I conducted with Meg a few weeks back.

I see your talent in the arena of editing as your great unsung weapon in relation to your writing.  Do you spend much time editing your work, is it second nature to you?  It seems to me like such an incredibly unique part of your style, the unsaid.

Thank you so much Dennis. Yes, I’m an obsessive editor but that’s because my stories need it. They’re never right after just one or two drafts. My first drafts can take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours to write, but the editing part can (unfortunately) take months and sometimes years to perfect. I’m one of those writers that really has to put a story away and come back to it with new eyes and new eyes and…  new eyes.

When editing, is sequencing the flow of pieces important to you or does the stand alone nature of them not require that kind of attention?

The sequencing for a flash novella is quite a fascinating and completely different skillset to writing stories, closer to making a playlist or what I imagine to be true when putting together a record album. It’s like how songs are changed by what comes before and after each one. In this way, the feeling about chapters and their emotional impact are changed by where they are situated and for me, experimentation is the name of the game. I wrote an essay on the craft of sequencing in the anthology My Very End of the Universe, Five Novellas in Flash and a Study of the Form (Rose Metal Press, 2014). It was reprinted and you can read it here in full at Talking Writing.
If you look at the order of the songs on a great album, it’s clear how the impact of a particular song is changed by the song that has come before it or that follows. This is, for me, why records are so addictive. It’s the order of songs and the emotional narrative created by juxtaposition. What that takes us through and how each one changes because of the other. I love how you never quite know exactly how you’re going to feel, no matter how many times you hear a great album, because of that contrast, and how we, as listeners, come to it new at different times in our lives.

As a reader, there is to me a musicality in many of your poems and fiction, does that hold true for you as the writer of these?

I’m a music addict. I can’t write without it. I can’t ride a bike or take walks without music either. I’m afraid I live inside music, perhaps that’s an okay thing. As far as playing an instrument, I never learned one. That is so unfortunate. I can sing (a bit).

Moments of “The Loss Detector” read as memoir, to clarify, memoir for the possible reader.  Some of your descriptions of older Southern California hit me right through the sternum.

The similarities between this novella and my own life are clear. I grew up in Santa Barbara, a very long time ago, when it was a very different place (and time). I grew up with a single, working mother and one of my sisters was a film actress. The novella is based on my life, however loosely. The character “Josh”, however, is completely fictional, drawn from my imagination. The funny part is that “Josh” somehow feels more real to me than anyone else in the novella. This was one of the really interesting aspects of writing this piece, how I came to care about this imaginary person so much. The California connection is what drew me to want to work with Bamboo Dart press. I feel that the novella belongs with a California publisher.

I will let Meg Pokrass close with two poems of hers. I sincerely look forward to you reading her work, if you haven’t already, and moving through the next five decades with her.

Extra Terrestrial (originally published in Gone Lawn)

There are no signs of extra-terrestrial life: Only two itchy dogs in the garden. One dog carries a blanket, lies down on it. Ma is sure she saw a spaceship float down into the neglected orchard after martinis last night. I’m on security patrol. My branch of the oak will be comfortable to sit with a pomegranate and an orange. Carrying them in my pockets up to the lookout, scouting for aliens in the leaves. We’ll move as the rent increases, but for now; sour wood sorrel invades our grass, fleas terrorize the dogs, Ma stays in, and I imagine this house belonging to creatures who know what to do about life on Earth.

AMERICA (originally published in RATTLE)

I drive a hummer in America

because it is mighty.

A mighty woman in

a mountainous car.

Nobody can faze me or tousle

my spirit in that impossible thing.

Dreams are primitive pests,

laughable and like stick figure

insects. I swat them away

while reciting the names of African countries.

I imagine speeding over land lumps

with my very best friend,

the two of us laughing about

childish things. I am a child

in America. Later, the phone rings,

it is a telemarketer, the kitchen

is a mess, she has a solution to something.

There are marks up and down my body,

welts like little dead kisses.

Friends think I am sad,

but they don’t know about my plans.

They have never lived in my house,

with that husband, or that friend,

or felt that breeze,

the one that keeps me awake.

Bamboo Dart Press is born! Meg Pokrass’ “The Loss Detector” out this Friday.

I have seventh heavened myself to death knowing that flash fiction trailblazer Meg Pokrass jumped on board to be the first train out of the station for Bamboo Dart Press, a new publishing arm that Mark Givens and I have partnered on. Pokrass’ book “The Loss Detector” is out this Friday. You can pick up the book this Friday direct from Bamboo Dart or at brick and mortar shops as well as large distributors/online portals Revolver USA, Grapefruit, Ingram, Amazon, Mid Heaven et al starting October 22nd. The trailer below features script from the book and images of the author over a bed of music by Callaci.

Meg Pokrass “The Loss Detector”

Nima Kazerouni’s new song and forthcoming Shrimper tape

Nima Kazerouni is a busy guy. Besides being in So Many Wizards (first Shrimper appearance on the double CD “Smooth Sounds” six years back), he is also in the bands Nectarines and Crown Plaza. What is striking to me about Kazerouni and the projects he is involved in is his unique style of singing, his twist of a phrase and his lack in this day and age of adding digital whip cream all over everything. I ordered the pancakes, sure, but I am an adult. Please don’t blueberry smiley face, coat them in powdered sugar nor chemical lick the back of their faces as you prepare my plate. I ordered three, face down. I am going to pour this gin on them, so save your syrup for Sufjan Stevens or what’s her name. Hey, nothing against them, nothing against them at all, I am only just saying I ain’t into confectioner sugar.

Nima’s latest song is one of them home recordings with him alone at the board. Those are the kind of final exams I love. You get to see every aspect of the artist in plain sight, wholly, in that light. They are writing the script, casting the actors, directing the movie, scoring the piece. The kid just supple wristed my high score on Defender with this song, it is a bruiser. Nima is at work on a full length release due in the new year on Shrimper. The Pancakes you ask? well I hop, I Denny’s, I drilled a hole in my coffee cup with my car keys as a trick on this here waiter for an endless refill. I had time. That waiter, he hated me. He checked on my coffee after forty minutes, asked if I was interested in buying the restaurant, then disappeared again. I was unsurprised when it became another boarded up building in a bored old world. This tape by Nima, it will fit in your one hot little hand in the sweaty little city that we reside in come 2021.


Horde of Two

Have I ever read a piece on the ten best guitarists that grew like redwoods out of the underground post 1988? No? No, I don’t think so. Sure, you’ll see bleeds from the seventies here, but I am talking penultimate sounds, releases, carbon dating. 1988 forward. Now, having blown the preamble to bits, allow me to write the abbreviated version. Michael Morley, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Ira Kaplan,Jandek, John Davis and David Lester – those are them. They play the guitar like John Bonham plays the drums. Sometimes brash back beat meaty, and at other times sliding around the dials of a voice or bass or drums or a piano, barely there, but fully present. I listen to everything that the six of them do, or I thought I did until May of this year. I found something that was lost to me this past Spring in the thick of the thick. Like a fifty hidden in a Zadie Smith book, I couldn’t believe my luck to have stumbled upon it. Horde of Two.

David Lester, known for his work in Mecca Normal and his work as an illustrator is my kind of guitar hero. If you know his style in either field, you recognize it immediately. Horde of Two is a duo with Lester on the guitar and Wendy Atkinson on the bass. Is that a bass? Is that a cello? Is that an airplane? Their debut has that Mike Watt & Kira Roessler magic of improvisational swing even during quiet passages. There, at the root of their more tempered and ethereal surveying of the landscape prior to the build, it swings there too. The instrumental record “Guitar and Bass Actions” weather maps me in, gets me lost in the terrain. I am simply a passenger on this train. My book is back flapped on my lap, as I can’t stop looking out my wing of the railroad car noting that we are moving from an arid alluvial band to some kind of tundra sun beam glare of blinding light. Prince, he had a few good lyrics, and what he said to me about this record near thirty five years ago is still full on correct today. Prince said “This is not music, this is a trip.”

Lester & Atkinson, as Horde of Two, are at work on a follow up record which will only be available in the air. But wait! They have agreed to allow me to put out a cassette version of the new record when it is out this spring, a better spring than this past one I am forecasting. See, I begged, and then on my knees I pleaded. I said to David and Wendy “I am headed to Taos with a sandwich bag suitcase and a wallet. I have no phone, just my trusty old Walkman. Would you allow me to make a cassette of your second release available to other fellow travelers like me that are still on the path of divorcing themselves from this material world but still in need of a physical fix?” When they nodded in agreement I bought my ticket right there and then. I am salivating in wait. You really need to hear their first release in the meantime. Live with it for awhile. It is an independently minded little beast. Don’t be surprised, if like me, it redecorates the entirety of your surroundings. You, in a spell, mesmerized at how well garland, pine needles. broken bell jars and ice cubes can redefine space.


The Mountain Goats “Getting Into Knives”

I can’t hand out nor hang candy from the trees for trick or treat this year. Instead, I have made a mix tape with an answer song to every track on the new Mountain Goats record. I have dubbed 200 copies of it over the last week. It is odd, because nearly the entirety of the call back tape is that record by the silver fox, Charlie Rich, “Behind Closed Doors”. The tape begins with the 1973 cover by Tom Jones of the title track, but the rest is all Charlie, Charlie and his wife and the song his teenage kid wrote for the record. Tom Jones, all that bravado couldn’t mask the insecurities of the narrator in the title cut, the hurt under the brag. It serves as a touchstone to many of the songs on the new record, including my favorite, “Get Famous” which could have been written by the same cat, except this time he is pissed and shellacking that bouquet of rose reds with poison. I left hand mention this to John Darnielle as I prep a box of his Nurse With Wound and early Human League records that have resided in my garage for a decade to take a trip home to him. “That Song, “Get Famous” is really is one of the meanest songs I’ve ever written. The narrator is a guy who is not used to actually saying “fuck you.” He says this in reference to me mentioning that the voice in the song sounds like the voice of one that has seldom cussed. Fuck. I was right. Right again to an answer that doesn’t matter much.

The walls of Sun & Muscle Shoals studios where the record was recorded seem to have lent a laconic slow bake to the tunes on the new record. Pudding skin on top of skin growing over the soft, vulnerable innards which are still fully in tact and waiting for you to dig into. I have taken to digesting the record slowly, falling in love with it over the end of the summer as I pace the floorboards with the headphones on, trying not to wake up my wife or kid. Time was a cassette with 4 songs would be slapped in my hands every other week with new tunes that were freshly recorded on that boombox heard on the cassette of John’s released this past spring, but this one rings truer to the arena of those discoveries than that cassette did.

Trick or treat. I am ordering a bunch of them large candy bars, and am going to hand deliver 100’s of them on each doorstep in my neighborhood on Halloween along with the white shell dubbed tape. Something small and sweet that is a way for me to tell my neighbors that I love them, anonymously even if they have a ring camera on me. I will be dressed up in my same old clothes, but they won’t recognize me for I will be in an ecstatic state of peace, having digested and ridding myself of a near year of our misery. I miss you my dear friends, my arms length compatriots, you sweet old stranger that I talk to twice a year but think of more than you would know. We have all been residing behind closed doors for so long without a ring at the door, that we have forgotten what that chime sounds like when it sings. May I leave this sweetness at the foot of your threshold, far enough away so it isn’t trampled on, but close enough that the racoons and rats don’t wander it away? I am slowly getting into knives, slow enough that no one is going to get hurt. I will use them only for opening up other worlds, Okay? Other worlds that have been here, before me, in wait.