After a day spent outside enjoying the warm summer weather here, Miss Ten and I headed back over to the very fine Value Village in Woodinville, WA. yesterday evening to score us some sweet new-old clothes AND revel in the wonder of THINGS and STUFF! My daughter grabbed the iPhone and took some photos for me of some of the more wondrous items we came across. Please to enjoy!

Your face would probably look like this, too, if you were put in one of the dollar grab bags. Harsh.


So this is how I rtpe when I can't see anthyhing. I bet it;s very bad You'd think I'd be able to type better than this without loooking at my dingers rignt? O am betting this is not too readable. Sorry, ,anm

O ssll this same thing every summer with the sumscreen Every summer! I forget to use a different sunscareen on my face and them I don't and then I sweat or rub my eyes and it gets into my  eyes and then it stings like hell and I can't see a danf thing because my eyes are watering so bacy,

Anyway, I jope you've enjoued my blinnd typi g here and I will see you {{ ha ha{  tomorrow with muycch better looking type.

The Jamies, "Summertime, Summertime"


That's my girl.


Amidst the drama of the last couple days of extreme political highs and lows in the USA USA USA, I thought we all could use a few minutes of comic relief right about now. My friend Ben had mentioned to me yesterday that he was a big fan of the late-'60s ABC-TV soap opera, "Dark Shadows," and we got to talking about it, which led me to the video I'm posting here. For those of you who might not be aware, "Dark Shadows" was one of the strangest television programs ever, which of course makes it also one of the most awesome. It was like a cross between "Days of Our Lives" and Dracula, done with the cheapest special effects and most over-the-top acting you could imagine. At the time, I didn't see the humor in that because I was just a little kid, although I do remember thinking that the vampire bat effect DID NOT LOOK LIKE A REAL BAT. I was totally hooked into it, and vividly recall scrambling to get off the school bus each afternoon in time to turn on the TV, waiting for the set to warm up (YES, I AM OLD), and being enthralled with the spooky gothic horror weirdness of the whole thing.

"Dark Shadows" was produced on a shoestring budget and was shot "live to tape," which in other words means, "we are shooting this episode only once because we don't have the time, money, or editing equipment to do it again." Flubbed lines? Too bad, they stay in. Big fake gothic door stuck and won't open? Oh, well! Green screen special effect looking really goofy? Hey, no one will notice! Lucky for us, every single episode of "Dark Shadows" was, fairly inexplicably for the times and budget, preserved for posterity so we are now able to revisit all those bloopers and high-camp acting skills once again!

I previewed this compilation clip of some of the best of the worst of "Dark Shadows" to Mr21 today, who was completely unfamiliar with the series beforehand. He laughed his head off. There are so many great things in this I can't even pick a favorite scene. It's just too hard. Anyway, please to enjoy, bats and batties!

"Dark Shadows" Favorite Lines, Flubs, and Moments II


That is all.


It is, I note with genuine awe and awkward humility, something I have heard from quite a few people over the years: "You should write a book!" I know that this is a very high compliment indeed, and I am always very touched that people like my writing so much that they encourage me to bring it to a wider audience (and a fuller bank account, assumably). But no one likes my response; they always look so disappointed when I answer, thank you so very much, that is so cool and kind, but I am not that special. This isn't so much a lack of confidence or low self-esteem as solid pragmatism on my part.

For any writer to be published anywhere is a wonderful thing. But the brass ring was always the "book deal." If you secured an agent, who secured you a contract to write a book that you would be paid for and that other people could actually buy and read, you were one of a tiny minority of scribes that "made it." Who wouldn't want to be able to hold a real book in your hands with your own work inside it, and your own name on the cover, right? That's pretty nifty, and was something I used to think about.

I guess you could say I had an epiphany a few years ago while strolling around in a huge Borders bookstore. It went on and on and on and on, thousands of books about every possible subject you could think of. As a reader, it's exciting to wade through all that delicious brain candy. But when you view the same place as a writer, you aren't are drowning. What a nightmare! EVERYONE HAS WRITTEN A DAMN BOOK, or at least it sure seems like it. So many, many does YOURS ever have a chance to stand out and be noticed at all? I looked at all those books differently then, all of them competing for attention and consumer dollars, and almost all of them never even getting a single look.

So many books...and then the independent bookstores started closing. And then the big box book retailers. Bye bye, Borders, hello Amazon, and hello Internet, and hello fractured attention spans and fractured wallets of the public. The book market, like the music market, is grossly over-saturated with product. Publishers, in order to stay in business, must choose very wisely. If vampire romances sell, vampire romances are what will be published. If you don't write vampire romances, and you aren't already famous or have a TV show or some other kind of built-in PR for your writing, you probably won't be offered a contract, unless you come up with the NEW trend, like teen retro "Mad Men" romance novels or "Celebrity Beach Butts." Do excellent writers with excellent books get published? Of course they do. But most of them make very, very little from their work.

I wondered, in that Borders, if going to all that effort to write and sell a book wasn't just one giant vanity project after all. In sizing up the market and my own style and skills, if I were to secure a publisher, it would be very unlikely that the project would be profitable. What does it mean to have a book that no one but a few friends and family and some of you nice readers here would buy? It's kinda cool, but it's not life-changing. In the end, all you get to say is, "I wrote a book once." Self-publishing is a rapidly growing trend, but again, what you are selling has to be something that a lot of people are willing to buy. I don't think it's worth doing just to wank out over your own name in print, to be blunt.

I think if you want to write a book, my advice would be the same thing I would give to musicians: only do it if you MUST do it, if it's your passion and your burning goal in life, and if you would suffer more from not doing it than by living with all the huge sacrifices you will have to make to pursue your dreams. It's never the wrong thing to go with what makes you happy and whole, and in that case the work itself is the real payoff, not the contracts. Go for it, and I wish you the best of luck.

But for me...well...I have written a book. Several, actually. They are all right here living in this website in the 2232 posts I have made. There's a short fiction and poetry book. A family life collection of essays. Essays on politics and law and social theory. Let's not forget music and photography and goats! Parodies and humor and photoshops of terrible greeting cards and old children's books re-writes! Everything I have to say is here already, albeit all jumbled up, stored in the ether. Is any of it any good? Maaaaaybe. Book-worthy? Maaaaybe not, or maybe not now; I don't know.

What I realized was that having my own book (or record, or whatever other creative stuff), wasn't anywhere near as important to me as having a life where I could enjoy making things I liked without worrying that they were "good enough" or "commercial enough" to be sold. I could never even express how grateful I am for all the amazing opportunities and beautiful friends that have come my way just because I write on this very modest site. That has been life-changing, and I don't think I could feel more successful even with a New York Times best-seller. No, really. It's been really awesome being not that special, and I hope to remain in a few folks' hearts while I'm still bangin' out the posts.

Thank you.


Miss Ten, on her own, has discovered Nirvana.

"Mom, Nirvana is really good!"


"Didn't one of them die?"

"Yes. It was very sad. He committed suicide."

"Which one?"

"Kurt Cobain."

"The singer?"


A pause, then,

"How can it be that someone is so good at one thing and so messed up in another?"

As my friend Christine put it, that's the "million-dollar question." I didn't answer my daughter, and I don't know that she expected that I would. Nothing I nor anyone else could opine, of course, would change the outcome of something that happened long before she was born, when her oldest brother was a toddler around the same age as Francis Bean Cobain.

How can it be? I suppose it is because we are all made up of disparate components that we try to assemble into a whole somehow over our lifetimes. All these different pieces of how we see ourselves, how we believe others see us, our talents and our weaknesses, everything. To integrate all these things within us into something we can accept as "mostly good" brings us stability and peace of mind. But to never be able to succeed in using some of our best aspects to try to heal some of our worst leaves us in a state of dissonance, which can range from angst-y discomfort to, in Cobain's case, a hopelessness that overwhelms any ability to continue believing that things might get better someday.

It hurts us particularly to see someone with great gifts struggle and fail to love themselves as we love them, and is always so hard to understand.



1. June is my favorite month.

2. Nineteen is my favorite number.

3. 2013 has been particularly lucky for me so far.

So numerologically-speaking, 6/19/13 was going to be MY DAMN DAY, and guess what? IT WAS, because three super-mega-rad-rad-rad bands (including The Intelligence, rated "Most Rad of The Rad" by Popthomology, aka ME) came together to form a triple bill of perfection at Neumos last Wednesday night, sponsored by The Stranger. Normally, a mid-week gig has a bit different tone (and attendance level) than a weekend gig, but you've never seen a happier, way-into-it, yet chill crowd. Seattle is also really lucky to have these locals producing such cool tunes, and you will be lucky as well to see any or all of them when they visit your village, town, or city on tour.

The show opened up with Pony Time, a duo everyone (including music writer pal Chris Burlingame) had been telling me for awhile "OMG, you need to see them, you will LOVVVE them," and everyone was right!! Fun, dance-y, garage thumpin' rock? Well, I AM IN! I wish I had been able to see all of their brief set but I was being cheap waiting outside for the guest list to arrive at the box office. Lo siento, Pony Time, and I now will purchase your awesome album, "Go Find Your Own," on Per Se Records on vinyl as soon as I finish typing this sentence. (update:  yes, I did!)

Watch Pony Time's funny brand-new vid for "Go Find Your Own" and then look at the photos I took! (As always, click to enlarge photos and go to the Flickr links for more!)

(Pony Time Neumos 6/19/13 Flickr set)

Up next, the all-female surf-sweetness of La Luz, another band highly recommended to me by, well, everyone! Only a year old, La Luz has become a band with buzz (La Buz?) with lightning speed here, and are already national tour vets. They have a super-appealing musical blend: classic early-'60s SoCal surf instrumentals with a kind of San Franciscan-fog lyrical mood. Their performance style is similarly endearing, because it looks like they are just having the best time, which even includes a lil' dance choreography from Shana Cleveland on guitar and Abbey Blackwell on bass. La Luz has an EP called "Damp Face," which you can purchase RIGHT HERE on cassette from Burger Records for only $3.33 (!!!) or digitally on the La Luz's Bandcamp site linked above!

La Luz, "Sure As Spring," Art Zone, 5/7/13

(La Luz Neumos 6/19/13 Flickr set)

Without question, the first half of 2013 has been both lucky and transformative for The Intelligence, which has been for me as a mega-fan and friend particularly exciting to see evolve. In both taking full advantage of opportunities presented and in mindful intent, the band has learned the real secret of "luck," which is that it is not something that happens to you as much as something you create for yourself. Ten or so years down the line since Lars Finberg created The Intelligence, this is a pretty sweet place to land, especially after navigating what was often rocky and disheartening musical and personal terrain.

Fresh off a ridiculously-awesome 40-day European tour (like really fresh -- they flew back to 'Merica on June 16th), the guys appeared happy, relaxed and re-energized. This is not something one usually sees after the end of a long, van-cramped road trip and an international flight from any band, to say the least, especially after cruel thieves in Rome broke into said van and stole all their stuff near the end of the tour. No matter, it's just stuff, they mused, and zen was achieved (and new clothes purchased at H&M).

I had a pretty good idea that the show at Neumos was going to be some hot stuff, after getting a glimpse of the new heft from the band at Chop Suey in April and then checking out some of their Euro-tour live videos that were popping up on YouTube, like this fantastic full set from Le Galion in Lorient, France. Everyone (mon petit ami Larsito on vocals and guitar, Dave Hernandez on guitar, Drew Church on bass, and Pete Capponi on drums) was ON THEIR GAME. So what happened at Neumos? Well, HELLO, even Finberg said later that it was "our best show evz." I had some difficulty settling my ass down to stop dancing to stay still to take the photographs, which is my only complaint with the night: it was TOO MUCH FUN! In addition to hearing so many of my fave tunes like "Telephone Wires" and "Like Like Like Like Like Like Like" and "Dating Cops" and "Males" (OK, so all the songs are my favorites, sue me), we got to hear three NEW songs: "Romans," "We Refuse To Pay The Dues," and another with a great working title that I'm not going to tell you because it's too clever and you might explode. The crowd and I dug 'em just as much as the more familiar songs, which is making me think the next recording by The Intelligence might just be my favorite yet.

Also, there were Tai Chi-like balance and kick moves. It's like frosting on top of frosting on the cake.

(The Intelligence Neumos 6/19/13 Flickr set)

Thank you x ∞ to The Stranger, Neumos, Pony Time, La Luz, and of course, The Intelligence! You are all my good luck!


(Click to enlarge game. Please to enjoy, man!)


Our Supermarket Sushi, which art in Safeway,
Aiight be thy Name.
Thy Sushi Chefs come.
Thy California Rolls be done in the deli
As it is in a OK restaurant.
Give us this day our daily soy sauce packets
And forgive us our culinary compromises,
As we forgive them that undercook rice against us.
And lead us not into the Kung Pao Chicken,
But deliver us from microbial infections.
For thine is the convenience,
The limited-selection, and the gyozas,
For Tuesdays and sometimes Fridays,


I was almost finished with elementary school by the time I met a friend who had divorced parents. I know this must seem very weird in today's world where more marriages cease than continue, but it's true -- in my small-town Midwestern universe, every kid I knew had a mom and a dad that were married. Divorce was rarely talked about, considered an "adult" topic only, shameful and scandalous, with the divorced man seemingly a new middle-aged playboy-on-the-loose, and the divorced woman damaged goods, a failure. These were the post-Pill, but pre-Roe v. Wade days when all advocates of equal rights for women were still seen as strident, over-educated threats to the American way of life, and there were almost no good job opportunities or protections for women. Many women endured terrible domestic situations because they could see no way out for themselves and their children. Many men endured the same, because the social shame and career implications of divorce were too costly. And no one talked about it.

So it was quite the novelty for me at 11 years old to find myself with a best friend whose parents were divorced, her young mother with full custody of all three of the kids, my friend the oldest. Of course, I was curious about the dad and asked a lot of questions at first. Where is your dad? He lives in Florida with his girlfriend and her kids. Do you ever see him? Yes, we are going down there to visit soon It's going to be so cool because he said we are going to the beach and on a boat and their house has a pool, too! We get our own rooms with bunk beds and get to pick out new decorations! Why did your parents get divorced? They fought all the time. Ohhhhh, I said, fascinated by this exotic arrangement of family. It was obvious by the way my friend and her siblings spoke about their dad that they loved him, were proud of the work he did, and desperately wanted to spend time with him.

Over the next six years, their two-bedroom apartment was my second home. I was always welcomed, and treated like family. I was there a lot, so I was able to see with heartbreaking, slow-motion detail what it looked like as three great kids were abandoned by their father. It started with money. My friend's mom worked 50-60 hours a week at a clerical job, which at the time probably didn't pay more than two bucks an hour. It wasn't enough, but almost immediately the child support checks stopped coming. There were furious phone calls at night, or a phone never answered, bills stacked on the kitchen table, unopened. Using the car was luxury, doctor visits merited for only the most severe illnesses, and sometimes the food they shared with me wasn't enough to feed two people, much less five. The father called maybe a couple times a year and talked to the kids, and then that stopped, too. No birthday presents. No cards. No knowing that my friend was a hard-worker who made great grades and whom everyone loved for her sunny optimism, or that her brother was hilarious and handsome, or that her little sister was sharp and sweet and so lovable.

My friend and her brother and sister never spoke ill of their father. They just, over time, stopped talking about him at all.

I remember when my friend developed a terrible cough that went on for weeks, around the time she was 15 or so. She looked awful, gray and puffy, and wasn't acting like her usual vibrant self. Her mouth was always stained cherry-red from Halls Cough Drops. When she started dropping a lot of weight, I got scared. You have to go to the doctor! Oh no, no, I'm sure I will be fine, it's just a cold, it's getting better. I knew what she was doing, because I had seen her do it so many times: she didn't want to worry her already-stressed-to-the-max mother by throwing one more huge bill on the kitchen table pile. Eventually, her mother insisted and took her to the pediatrician. It was strep. If you've ever had strep, you know the pain of it can be almost unbearable. She got the antibiotics she needed, and started to look like her old self again in a month or so.

It is today, on Father's Day, that I wonder if my friend's father knew that if he had sent those child support checks, and if he had been at all involved in his children's lives, my friend wouldn't have waited too long to see a doctor, in fear that her family might get evicted or the car repossessed or have nothing to eat for days. But she did wait too long, and the strep badly damaged her heart. She died of multiple organ failure in her 40s.

In her honor, I make a request. No matter how you feel about your ex, no matter if you are struggling financially, no matter if you have a new spouse that doesn't want old baggage, no matter if you feel awkward or shut out or frustrated, please please please there for your children. Do everything you can to do the right thing, and don't give up even if you falter or it's been a long time since you've contacted them, or you fear maybe they are better off without you. Just hang in there with them. Because even if my friend's dad had not a dime to his name, at least maybe he could have held her hand in the hospital, told her he was proud of her and that she was precious and perfect as she was, before she slipped away.

Goddamn that man for making my beautiful friend feel unloved.

Harry Nilsson, "Daddy's Song"

Years ago, I knew a man
He was my mother's biggest fan
We used to walk beside the sea
And he told me how life would be
When I grew up to be a man

Years ago, we used to play
He used to laugh when I ran away
And when I fell and hurt my knee
He would run to comfort me
And the pain would go away
Years ago, I knew a boy
He was his daddy's pride and joy, pride and joy
But when the daddy went away
It was such a rainy day
That he brought out all his toys

And how the mother did explain
Trying to take away the pain
But, he just couldn't understand
That his father was not a man
And it all was just a game

The years have passed and so have I
Making it hard for me to cry
But if we wanna have a son
Let it all be said and done
Let the sadness pass him by


1. Roofer


(Nanofiction is a story exactly 55 words in length.)


The musician angrily thrust off his guitar, motioning impatiently for it to be grabbed and fixed by one of those shadowy, scurrying figures in black at the side of the stage.

“I broke a string!” he spat.

“Aaaaannnnd…a stroke I bring,” the Grim Reaper pleasantly replied, as his bony fingers gripped the guitar’s neck.


Has anything ever bothered you in life? 
-- Never.

Do you have any problem you need to solve?
-- 99 of them, in fact.

A pending court case you want to resolve in your favor?
-- I've retained a wild-haired wizard riding a glitter unicorn, thanks.

Health, relationship and finance.
-- This is not a question or even a sentence.

Welcome to the world of miracles and wonders, there are supernatural treasure and power to liberate mankind from all afflictions.
-- How do Miracle Whip and Wonderbras fit into this utopia?

Why cant you live a life of your dream?
-- Because people cannot spontaneously hover.

Why must you work so hard and yet earn so little?
--  Because I am not a capitalist overlord.

Why cant you be happy with the one you love and desire or why cant the one you love reciprocate and appreciate that love?
-- Because then no one would write songs anymore.

Why would the doctor tell you there is no solution or cure to your problems?
-- Lack of Big Pharma kickback?

Why would your lawyer say you stand no chance, that your case is hopeless?
-- Because it won't result in a multi-million dollar class action suit that would assure a comfortable early retirement for the litigators.

Have you been cheated by anyone or those owing you money refuse to pay back?
-- Like I have money to lend, lol, buddy.

Do you need a rapid job promotion in your place of work?
-- Doesn't that lead to rapid heart attacks?

You want to venture into politics?
-- Doesn't that lead to rapid heart attacks?

Now I understand certain things are hard to believe and comprehend, but  all I  ask from you is only 7 days and if you will follow my instructions and use the items you will receive, I promise your life will never be the same again.
-- Only in that I would be out quite a bit of money and have the word "SUCKER" tattooed on my forehead, yes?

If you find no relevance in the help I offer I solemnly appeals do not be vindictive and go in peace.
-- Wow, you don't know me very well!

And if your intentions are to take advantage of the powerful nature of our items for the purpose of evil, I will not have any business with you please be advised.
-- Oh, you're no fun anymore.

May angels guide you.
-- May they guide you too, spammer...right into a flaming river of diarrhea. Good day, sir!



If I believed in hell, I'd sure be thinking I'd be going there because I've been laughing over this poor Indian kid's terrible autotuned and rather anemic pity party video for like 30 minutes now. AHAHAHA! Aw. HAHA! AWW. Please to EEeeNNnnJJjOOoyyY!

D4NNY, "Goodbye"



It's not so great sometimes to be mired in the Consumer Age in the midst of a widening wealth distribution skew crisis. The poor are getting poorer, the middle class are getting poor, the upper middle class is slipping into middle class (which is getting poor), and then there's the 400 dudes in America who have all the real money. But the pressure to BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE never stops. The thing that drove the economy skyward and made it possible for more people than ever to live comfortable, safe, and healthy lives with unprecedented opportunities is the very thing that will take it all away. Let us recall: the end goal in capitalism -- the entire point of the system --  is to grow business, to at all times strive to be bigger and better than the competition while always lowering your costs and raising your prices. To succeed at this means driving your competitors out of business, getting your own employees to work for as little money and benefits as possible, using the least-expensive materials you can get away with, all in order to raise profits for yourself and your shareholders. That's just plain reality, and that's why we are where we are now. Any kind of plans to bring relief to the millions in our country who work so hard but were Big Fish-ed out of the pond are met by outraged, bug-eyed cries of "Socialism! Communism! NEVER!" and almost always from people who don't realize they are flopping and gasping on the shore like everyone else.

Our kids really don't much care about the merits or failures of economic and political systems. All they know is that Sophie has a $400 animatronic pony, Jake has an Xbox 360 and 50 games for it, and WHY CAN'T THEY HAVE WHAT EVERY OTHER KID HAS, WAAAA! Should you buy a $400 plastic creepy pony because your cute big-eyed spawn wants one SO MUCH, even when you have no idea how you are going to pay the phone bill next month? Logical Parent says no, but so often Sentimental Parent overrides, the pony is purchased, and the bills get larger and the anxiety worse and worse. Sophie and Jake and all their friends all have the same glut of stuff, even though some of their parents absolutely cannot afford the indulgence. Why?

Because the Consumer Age, your culture, has conditioned you to equate LOVE with MONEY and STUFF, and you CANNOT SAY NO.

We're all guilty of falling for that crap, and especially when it pleases us to see our kids so happy to be playing with their new toys. But take a look at your credit card. Think about your job "security." Look at the masses of THINGS your kids already have. What are you teaching them when you buy them things that you cannot afford? Answer: To grow up and buy things they cannot afford! All of a sudden that pony doesn't seem like such a great idea, huh? So what on earth is a parent torn between wanting to please their beloved children and trying to avoid bankruptcy supposed to do?

Grow up. If you are providing your children with good food, a safe and warm place to live, the best educational and cultural opportunities you have available to you, regular health care, and lots of smiles, hugs, attention, patience, and listening skills, you are WINNING AT PARENTING ALREADY.  A grown-up knows how to prioritize resources in order to build and maintain a stable family foundation. A grown-up knows that modeling responsible behavior produces responsible behavior (eventually). A grown-up knows that all the money in the world doesn't buy good character or assure personal happiness in anyone. Sometimes you are going to have to say no, and deal with the disappointment, anger, and frustration that might arise from your denied child. That's part of your job.

But it's not all gloomy, I totally promise. Jake might not be able to be first in line to purchase "Blowing Guys Up, Vol. XII" for his Xbox, but maybe you can work with him on a plan to save up for a copy (or just rent it for a week until he's tired of it, hint hint). You might be surprised to find that Sophie would be equally-thrilled with a ten-dollar retro stick pony that she can plaster with stickers and glitter and attach jingle bells to the reins. Here's another fact: the thing that your kids want the most is your TIME and ATTENTION. Yes, even older kids; don't let their teen 'tudes dissuade you. Start doing things rather than buying things. Play a silly board game. Go to a busy park with some sketch pads and pens and draw the people and dogs, and compare your (probably very funny) results. Look up how to make homemade ice cream. Watch old movies and have a popcorn-mouth-catch contest. Wash the dog together. Be workout buddies. Plan a bake sake and give the proceeds to your kid's favorite charity. Save loose change until you can afford to all take a "mental health day" off from school and work and go to the beach or the mountains. Take what you have in abundance -- love -- and turn it into experiences that will be remembered with the warmest hearts, decades after toys will be no longer wanted and mostly forgotten.

This change in the way you do business isn't easy, but it can happen. Your kids are more resilient than you think, and for all the complaining they will do that they don't have all the STUFF, they are going to one day be very proud of you for helping them to learn how to be more patient, more responsible, more creative, and less tied to things that are, well, only things, because you will show them how to do it in REAL TIME, as you develop yourself into a better person, too. And that's priceless.



One (1) perfectly-pleasant Seattle Sunday afternoon in early June (NO RAIN ALLOWED)
One (1) modest but fully-funded Kickstarter campaign
One (1) great idea

Combine ingredients in tiny Capitol Hill-area park after application of city permit. Shake modest-but-fully-funded Kickstarter campaign funds over ingredients; mix liberally with art, artists, food, fun, music, musicians, freaks, sweets, local dogwalkers and stroller-pushers and ambling elders and cartwheeling kiddies, plus a piñata finale until fully MELLOW YELLOW. Serve from 1PM - 7PM.

And there we have some of what went into the very first Mellow Yellow: A Summertime Art Party, organized by my lovely friend Amelia Bonow and other cool catz. Here is the cute video Amelia made for the Kickstarter:


When I saw this I thought, well YES, this is gonna be awesome because all the folks doing it are awesome and fun, and YES OF COURSE, imma gonna go, and HEY!!! I should see if Miss Ten could join in and do some art! Amelia thought that was a good thing indeed, so we got some new paints and canvases and headed over today! It was mellow, the sunshine was yellow, and we had a lovely time! M10 did her painting-on-demand thing, and some people left with their own portraits, a unicorn, a sleeping kitty, a bright red flower, zebra stripes, and more. I brought a collection of the weirdo knick-knacks I've been finding at thrift stores. I stuck by M10 most of the time to assist her as she needed, but did one quick walk-around and took a few photos. Please to enjoy!


Do you know how excited I was to see Mikal Cronin play here in Seattle last night? VERY MUCH, I WAS. I had waited with great patience since seeing him perform his own material on 2012's Bruise Cruise, when I was so super-thrilled that I went up to the pleasant, shaggy-haired lad afterwards and babbled my enthusiasm in what I suspect was a particularly froth-mouthed, googly-eyed way. Do you know WHY I was so excited? Because I was thinking, man, this guy is a marvelous songwriter and things are going to go very well for him...if only enough people know about him. "Come to Seattle!" I implored him, "I will bring everyone I know! I will...I dunno, bake a cake! Anything!" Bless his little Cronin heart that he didn't have the red-haired photographer woman tossed off the ship into the Atlantic for over-fan-ing.

Actually, I've seen Mikal quite a lot since February 2012 and now -- playing bass for the perpetually-touring Ty Segall, another one of my very-favorites. He and Ty, friends of long-standing, have tremendous chemistry and rapport onstage, mirroring and complementing each other perfectly, which makes for exciting and rock-solid shows. I waited and waited to hear when there would be a follow-up album to Cronin's wonderful self-titled 2011 solo debut, and as the months passed by without much word, I admit, I was gettin' a little worried. But that was silly thinkin', Lincoln, because if I can hear what a talent this dude is, you betcha other people can too. Cronin was signed to indie giant Merge Records, which just released MCII, a sparkling collection of classic pop songs, with enough of that garage rock edge to add spice to the sweet. Cronin has done his songwriting homework (quite literally, as he recently graduated from the California Institute of the Arts with a music degree), yet what he produces sounds amazingly fresh, and not at all studied. Hooks? Tons. Harmonies? Delicious. Melodies? Memorable. Lyrics? Smart and personal. He just knows what goes into making a great song, ones that people want to sing along with and listen to over and over again.

I arrived at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard just as locals Dude York were playing the last notes of their set, late after lingering over dinner at Bastille with my friend Kitty, pardonnez-moi. Before going to the front to shoot, I stopped at the merch table where Mikal was merching, because any touring musician knows: A.B.M. (Always Be Merchin'™, Finberg/Welbourne). I picked up a single, re-introduced myself, and had a nice chat which included me asking him to draw a dog in a party hat on the single. What a cute doggie!


There is something very, very, very, very...different about Japanese culture, shall we agree? I see this difference most often in relation to music. I tell you what: there is no pop music fan more HARDCORE than a Japanese pop music fan, not in the whole wide world. I love them.

An example of this devotion that I bring to you today is of a Japanese Beatles cover band called The Beens that decided to completely recreate The Beatles' famous January, 1969 London rooftop gig featured in their swan song film, "Let It Be." The intent is noble, the execution...well, let's say that there are some very interesting wigs and facial hair, Japanese Billy Preston, a Yoko stand-in, and maybe not the best English elocution ever. But HOW GREAT! We need MORE of this!

The Beens, "Get Back"


It doesn't matter where I am, in what state or what town...if there are bizarre old albums around, I WILL FIND THEM! Here's today's lot from VV! Please to enjoy!

Let's just start right off with a bang here. Wow, sir...just so WOW.


My very favorite book from my childhood was a volume from the LIFE Science Library called "The Mind," published in 1964. I cannot even estimate the hours I spent reading and re-reading this. It's really, really INTERESTING! There really isn't anything cooler than the human mind.

As I look through the book now (YES, I still have it!), I realize what a huge influence it had upon me, and was surely the foundation in my decision to eventually get a REEL COLEGE SKOOL degree in psychology. Scoff at my liberal arts-iness, my professional friends, go ahead! When you have a better understanding of why people do what they do, you aren't as flummoxed by the capriciousness of human behavior -- including your own. Understanding also, with practice and patience, builds compassion and empathy, qualities sorely needed in this weird old world.

Anyway, one of the entries in the book featured a full-page photo of an infant sitting on a large piece of glass suspended several feet off the ground. He is freaking out and looks extremely miserable. It's a famous bit of psychology, answering the question "at what point in development does a baby perceive something to be threatening, causing a fear response?" Pretty darn early, actually -- well before the first birthday. Prior to this development, you can sit a baby on the glass and they will be happy as a lil' clam, playing and crawling back and forth. After, they scream, cry, freeze in terror, or refuse to get on the glass at all. They now understand that by all known logic, they should now be falling a long way, and that is bad, bad, bad. It takes a bit longer for them to understand what the deal is about glass.

The development of fear is vital to our survival. Imagine if Cavey McKnuckledragger never developed a fear response -- he would have been eaten by proto-wolves or bat-tigers or something and you and I wouldn't be having this friendly Internet moment right now. But Cavey worked it all out, and learned to avoid life-threatening situations, at least long enough to procreate. The fear response, at the very beginning, is intuitive. The baby on the glass? How does he figure out that he should be freakin'? He probably hasn't even taken a fall of any kind yet in his short life (we hope). But his mind is a giant, grand thing, and it's forming connections faster than you can flip the channel off of FOX NEWS (we hope). Babies falling from high things is no good at all, says the tiny brain to Glass Baby, and you should really start crying to get someone to help you right about now, bud. Brain has protected Baby even before baby knows he has a brain. We need to feel fear to be able to navigate life's perils.

Ah, but you know what's coming next. Fear is also our worst enemy. It often grows within us unchecked, forming deep roots inside our minds, strangling rational thought or obscuring our hopes and dreams for ourselves or our loved ones. It can manifest as blatantly as a full-on wild phobia or as subtle as a completely-competent person turning down a great opportunity because of a lack of confidence. In so many ways, we are fearful over things that we shouldn't be, and our lives are lessened because of it.

We fear rejection. We fear failure. We fear success. We fear being laughed at or shamed. We fear not being liked. We fear being alone. We fear commitment. We fear what people might say about us behind our backs. We fear knowing. We fear ignorance. We fear giving everything and losing it all. We fear the illness we don't even have. We fear not fitting in. We fear never standing out in a crowd. We fear having to choose. We fear having no options. We worry and worry and fret and fret and guess WHAT?

Almost all of that is for NOTHING. It is a total WASTE. How much have you NOT DONE or NOT EVEN TRIED because of some kind of social fear? You have one life, and it's done very quickly. I congratulate you on avoiding bat-tigers and living long enough to read this, but just surviving isn't enough. It isn't, and even that freakin' baby knows that. When he gets off that awful glass, you know what he's gonna do? He's going to go back to being a scientist, exploring the world with bountiful curiosity and delight. If he wants something, he'll crawl over to get it or cry to get you to bring it to him.  Life is nothing but this amazing series of discoveries, both pleasant and perturbing, but all of it interesting and awesome. Oh, how quickly it all goes away, curiosity and resiliency replaced by worry, fear, and doubt.

How to respect the fear we must have to survive and how to smash the fear that is detrimental to our happiness and fulfillment is one of the biggest tasks we have as human beings. We must judge whether danger is real or just an illusion, which takes great determination, motivation, and honesty. Sometimes crossing the glass is the only way to get to where you need to be.


The complexities surrounding the concept of fame -- motivations, attainment or lack of it, consequences of either outcome -- is a topic that forever fascinates me. As someone who is peripherally attached to the music business via photography, I've been able to observe the careers of many musical artists over time, followed their triumphs and frustrations, and have often been able to see something of their off-stage lives -- how things are when the stage lights are dimmed, and when there are no adoring fans around and regular life kicks back in. What makes one artist a "success" while another equally-talented one struggles? What is "success," anyway? Money? Adoration? Sales? A door opened to opportunities? Love? Security? Attention? The chance for the world to know what you do best? All of this? I have tumbled these questions around in my mind for most of my life, but am only now beginning to develop answers that feel comprehensive and resonant.

"Twenty Feet From Stardom," an extraordinary, exhilarating documentary from director Morgan Neville, profiles a select group of musicians who have unique insight into every possible permutation of fame. They are the great unknowns of the pop music: the backup singers. If you think that the job of the backup singer is a simple one, merely showing up to do a few la-la-la's and doo-doo-doo's, and that they are likely behind the star because of some kind of a lack...oh my, will you find this movie enlightening! The story told in "Twenty Feet From Stardom" is so much more than an education in what goes into making a timeless recording or a remarkable stage show via the collaboration of star, producer, and supporting musicians -- it is very often parallels mid-century American history itself, and the struggles of race, class, and gender in the midst of rapid cultural change. We are introduced to the best of the best of the backup singers, a lovely variety of vocalists, and most often black American females coming from a lifetime spent singing in a gospel church. The church provided an invaluable training ground that proved perfect for the backup singer, with its call-and-response hymn traditions, the need to blend in harmonically with others, and the opportunity to shine in an unrestrained, joyous solo as well.

The film spends the most time with singers Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, Claudia Lennear, Tata Vega, Judith Hill, and Merry Clayton. If you don't recognize their names, within the first few minutes of the film you will definitely recognize all of the hits they sang on: "He's A Rebel," "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Feelin' Alright," ""How Can I Ease The Pain," "Miss Celie's Blues (Sister)" are just a few. I will go so far as to suggest that Merry Clayton's stunning vocal solo on The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" is maybe, just maybe, the finest moment on a rock n' roll recording, ever. Clayton and Mick Jagger reliving the moment as the track replays decades later in the studio where it was created is a wonderful highlight in the film.

Listening to Lisa Fischer sing might cause one to believe in the existence of angels. Seeing Claudia Lennear segway from shaking her stuff with the Ike and Tina Turner Review, singing at The Concert for Bangladesh, and inspiring songs written by The Rolling Stones and David Bowie, to teaching high school Spanish for a living is poignant. Feeling the strength and enduring spirit of each vocalist, even through some demoralizing turns of fate, is inspiring, with each one coming to a very different conclusion about what fame and success meant to them.

"Twenty Feet From Stardom" Official Trailer

The capacity audience at Seattle's Egyptian Theater responded warmly to the film, clapping, laughing, cheering the successes and redemptions on the screen. What happened after the film finished was breathtaking.

As part of the Seattle International Film Festival's Centerpiece Gala showcasing of "Twenty Feet From Stardom," director Morgan Neville, and vocalists Tata Vega and Merry Clayton took the stage to answer a few questions from the audience. As they walked up, the audience rose to give a standing ovation of several minutes long, visibly touching the hearts of the three. Neville was gracious and generous in his thanks and praise, filled with good humor. A question directed to Vega turned serious and shocking as she shakily recounted a litany of horrors that had befallen her and how grateful she was to be able to tell her story in the film. Clayton, a true diva with a sly grin and larger-than-life presence, reminded the audience that the film was, yes, about the hard times, but its most important value was in remembering that it is a great privilege to have a gift, and to be able to share that with the world...fame or no fame.

At that point, a man in the shadows of the theater yelled out, "Sing!" The crowd laughed and clapped, wondering what would happen. Clayton didn't hesitate more than a fraction of a second before stepping up and belting out a gospel hymn, powerful and perfect, reaching to the very back of the large theater, and then Vega joined in, passionate and just as perfect, bringing us all back to where it began, revival-style. To be able to experience this -- those gifts -- was overwhelming for me, and tears rolled down my face as I stood and cheered them on, not wanting the moment to end. I will never forget it.

Wherever each vocalist landed on the ladder of fame, whatever choices they made to keep climbing it or to step off, "Twenty Feet From Stardom" quietly reminds us that the definition of success is a deeply individual one, and that meaning may not be fully clear to each person until some of the glitter fades. Perhaps success is found most through learning what is truly important in life and what is not, knowing that giving freely the best of what we have and what we are to others, with an open heart, with the best that anyone can ever do.

"Twenty Feet From Stardom" opens in theaters nation-wide on June 14th. You will love it. GO!