Thursday, January 31, 2008

Teeth, A Primate Body Language Tool

For a bass player who drives a Taxi,
this man has pretty good teeth.
For sure he's not British.
And unlike the teeth in the photo I put in the well reasoned and pleasant commentary about the MAMA awards, I took this photo.
And I've made a lot of food that these teeth have chewed up and mixed with saliva since I met this fine fellow.
I need a shot and a beer now.
Or a two month nap. Winter sucks this year.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

153 word sentence : Why I Hate Bluegrass Music

It's full of literal minded purist jesus freak morons who value speed over emotion, who sing in horrible ballsack crimped nasal voices about seeing the light or keeping on the sunnyside, a bunch of hyperactive dolts who mostly play chunk-a-chunk rythyms until it's their turn to speed wank on a generic solo in a funk impaired major key, all of whom would not be there if they couldn't step up and hog the spotlight, playing the loudest acoustic instruments they can so they can drown out that goddamn banjo that fills up every corner of whatever room it's being played in like a radioactive moldy sauerkraut fart made of greasy atoms that fill your ears with piercing notes, all done on some overpriced chunk of Gibson instrument that they only play because it looks like something some drunken preacher played in 1934 while inventing a new form of music for assholes.
That being said, I love Old Timey music about death, blood, mining diasters played with emotion and a slow hand.
But Blurgrass? The music of egotists, bible slammers, snooty fuckwads and mamma's boys. In my mind they all like like the guy in this vintage photo.
'nuff said.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hat Nude, 1991 and A Good Zappa Quote

Hat, 1991
And a quote from Librit, a blog favorite of mine:
It would be easier to pay off the national debt overnight than to neutralize the long-range effects of our national stupidity.-- Frank Zappa

We're Playing a house concert

We're playing another house concert, this time at our pal Ellyn's house, on Feb 10th.
We'll be playing with Matthew Sanborn, who also roasts all the good coffee I drink, then a blues duo called Down Deep is playing a set, then our acoustic trio, Toadkiller Dog is playing the last set.
I don't think the CD will be ready by then, but I'm hoping to finish up mixing it pretty soon. I'm getting sort of sick of recording and want to get back to playing and writing new stuff.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The MAMA Awards Stupidity Returns

It's time for that yearly circle jerk, ego clusterfuck that is the MAMA awards. Rick from Rick's Cafe is pushing the entry process over at the mostly dead in the water Daily Page local music section.
I hate the whole idea. It's a lame ass attempt by local people to imitate the Grammys, and a night of hyper extended ego bloat, where all those local music people in love with themselves pay a good chunk of money in the name of charity to put on airs, bad dress clothing and hope that they've flogged their fans enough to suck down the horrid process of voting on line for them at the MAMAs/Broadjam site, a kloodged up site that is counter intuitive to use, demands a lot of information they claim they don't need.
I went to the MAMA awards two years ago. The band I was in won a MAMA, and I went only because somebody else paid for my ticket in.
It sucked. There was a red carpet and some dolled up bimbo and tech monkey with a video camera at the entrance, pumping up the fantasy by stroking up the egos people walking in, followed by overpriced drinks and self involved bozo conversations in the lobby, then followed by a long, boring bunch of presenters and a fair number of bad performances.

I still shudder at SubVocal's singer acting like a cross between an early Madonna and a bad pole dancer. The only good thing about their set was Tracy Jane Comer's cello playing, and I felt sort of sorry for somebody with her talent having to share a stage with that writhing mass of overactive and oversexed weirdness.
We got dragged backstage after we did our stupid monkey dance picking up the MAMA, where they wanted to know if we wanted makeup done before we got our photo taken.
Stage makeup for photos we never even saw? In Madison?How frakkin' stupid is that?
Real local people playing dress up? I prefer Halloween, it's a fuck of a lot more honest.
I know there's a need out there for dog and pony shows, a lot of both huge and frail egos that need to be propped up. And I know that there is money involved in the whole deal, profits for Broadjam, and some money might just trickle down to the school system.
But it seems a lousy and inefficient way to raise money for what our tax dollars should be already paying for, a way to wank one's ego off while having only a part of the money go to the schools.
I'd prefer a big party where people dance their ass off and give all of the money to the cause selected, not a giant promo for Broadjam and Rick with some trickle down money going to the schools.
My loud band did a party/benefit the last two years for the Goodman/Atwood Community center. We pulled in a thousand bucks both times, and all of it went right to the cause.
Simple, direct and fun as hell.
And winning a MAMA had a seriously messed up effect on my old band. Or at least my former bandmate with delusions of grandeur. He spent the next year fixated on it, and it was a big part of our friendship dissolving into an empty shell.
It became more important to make a perfect CD and get another award than it did to be a band. So we stopped playing enough gigs, the big reason to be in a band. And that weird focus on outside approval instead of playing music for the joy of it had the effect of making people forget about us.
By the time I got booted from that band and they played at the MAMAs, they didn't even win one. I just wanted to play music, rip shit up and be a working band, not in a studio creation that was an extension of somebody's delusions of greatness, not to mention the fascist shit that came with it.
In the end, it's that time you spend playing your ass and your heart out, making music and touching something real that matters. The people we play for and connect with doing music, not the mutual admiration society that the MAMAs represent.

Fuck awards, let's dance.

In Bed, 1990

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Mother and My Brother

Peter Lee and Mary Lou
Sometimes my brother scares me a little.
But he's mostly harmless, and a likeable fellow.
We will return to our usual fare of scary babies, stark naked women in black and white and rude political observations
in posts to come, I'm currently thinking about finding a new nude model. One who is not afllicted with a tiny human parasite inside their body cavity, and one who does not look like she needs a sandwich or three, and comes in a full spectrum of colors.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sophia's Hands, 1988

Not that it has anything to do with this photo of Sophia, but I'd like to take a moment to thank the universe, god or whoever the hell threw the first spitwad of creation across the classroom of the void of nothing
for setting in motion the forces that brought us The Harmony Bar, Lake Louis Beer, the potato, the deep fryer, and whatever primate/human who was desperate enough to not only suck on a cow tit, but then figure out how to make it into cheese, then be daring enough to eat that cheese when it turned blue and moldy, and his ancestor who decided that it would make a good cheeseburger topping and a good dip when mixed into a dressing.
And I'd like to be able to thank my producer and Jesus Christ for giving me a Grammy, an Emmy and a Nobel prize too, although that's less likely to happen than me eating fries and a burger and having a beer at the harmony.
Ok, maybe a pitcher with the LOUD band after practice...

Monday, January 21, 2008

More images from Sunday's recording session

Piano Hands

Bess recording her song Starling Blackbird
We're almost done with our new collection of songs, Tim and Bess came over yesterday and laid down tracks.
A few more vocal things need to be done, then we need to sit down and mix the damn thing, although half of that's done already.
It's much easier when you only have two tracks to record with at a time, and you do a lot of things live in the dining room.
I first recorded with my old band at a real studio in 1987, a little place in Ripon, WI that did a fine job using a used reel to reel tape on a 16 track machine.
Our little band knocked off eight songs in four hours.
We were ready for it, having played the songs out a lot.
But here at home, our three good mics, recording input device and laptop computer can do almost as much as that whole studio, and cost us under 2000 bucks, including the laptop computer.
Amazing how far things have come, how much more freedom to create with programs like Sony Vegas, Sound Forge and Adobe Photoshop.
Add in the ability to upload music to websites, burn your own cd's and print your own covers and discs, and you've taken the whole front end of the music industry out of it, and still have a kick ass quality to your recording.
No wonder record companies are shitting bricks. And three little music geeks like us would never, ever in a million years get a record contract.
Some things are better than ever, and the old methods were expensive, snooty and awkward. And now the smelly and scary sound person running things is me. I like that a lot.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


One year from today, if he doesn't decide to be the decider for life, That Evil Bastard Grinning Swine of commander in chief will be leaving 1600 Penn.

Only three hundred and sixty five days left.

And I shudder to think of what he can do with the time he has left, and the spineless fucking democrats who cannot seem to understand that they could smite his political shit down instead of rolling over.
The list of things he could still fuck up is huge, from War with Iran, to decimating the last of the public services we have, from the FDA to The Forest Service to CSPA to Mine Safety, putting stooges in every government department and the Judiciary and Justice Departments.
Dick and W have already commited an order of magnitude more chaos and crime than all of Nixon and Reagan's hacks put together.
And whom ever takes his place will be bankrupt, facing a shattered economy, millions of defaults from every kind of loan and mortgage company out there, and a country gutted by free trade agreements and sweetheart deals to the Media, Defense, and Energy and Insurance industries.
We're facing multiple shitstorms. Peak Oil, Climate Change, and two messed up wars in Iraq and Afganistan.
And a serious need to change everything about the way we use the dwindling resources we have left. A need to start rethinking our whole approach to life, one that has more meaning and less crap TV, media, and a a lifestyle that doesn't revolve around even more useless crap from big box stores.
We now have a good sized part of our population that has never known anything but a Bush or a Clinton in the oval office, one that has never weathered a serious trial like my grandparents and parents faced, or even something as recent as the 1970's oil embargo or the Vietnam war.

It's gonna be interesting. I'm glad I know how to live cheaply, share a house and life with other people besides my blood family, and know enough to get through hard times without falling apart.
And I know how to survive when the rug gets pulled out from under my feet. It's happened to me before.
I may sound like a fatalistic preacher of doom, but anybody who's not a bit freaked out is just not paying much attention.

But at least it won't be boring.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hungry baby

Every three hours, one of my pals has to feed one of these human baby devices.
No matter what time of day or night, the little gland suckers need somebody to shove a nipple of some sort in their mouths, and gurgle away.
I'm glad it's not up to me to keep the human race going.
Now there's six billion of us on this planet, and an amazing number of those six billion are either programmed against preventing more and more by godbags pushing patriarchal sky god bullshit or they can't get access to methods to prevent having more, or are busy pushing out kids because, well, everybody loves kids, and you can't tell people they can't have kids.
You know, it's a god given right.
I'm glad that I have smart pals, and that those smart pals are choosing to have a few smart babies. But at some point, we need to find an off switch
for the human fertility issue, because we're already four or five billion over the number we can support with our little blue planet.
I forget which one of my pals pushed this little sucker out, I think it was Susan and Greg. But after I get done with photoshopping the little parasites, it's sort of moot.
Given how the economy is going, I hope my pals have houses and food to give these little joyful bundles of love when they're done being milk gland junkies.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rainbow, 1997

We had been driving for days through the summer heat, the little truck rattling along the broken interstate across the heart of the country.
It felt more like the asshole when we stopped in the small towns, all filled with Pentecostals and other life forms afflicted with a virulent strain of fundamentalist thinkers.
Sometimes I was glad people thought we were sisters. I suspect some of them would have had a whole different way of talking to us had they known we were lovers.
We were long haired women in their 40's, scruffy looking hippie dykes who had Seattle Grunge written all over us, driving back to the urban hipster neighborhood we lived in on Capitol Hill, along with all the rest of the junkies, punks, handsome gay boys and general queer crowd.
The storm was huge on the horizon, a towering pile of clouds and sideways lighting that roared along nearly parallel with us as we approached the long flat stretches of land between Bismark and Boise. It felt like we were pushing it along with us for an hour or so, then we drove through the edge of it.
The blacktop was steaming from the rain, the ground around us gulping down the newly fallen rain. We pulled over to the side of the road as the sun was setting and stared at the double rainbow, staring at the wide open plains and the big dark sky making those rainbows.
It's been a long time since I drove across the country. Now, with gas about to shoot up to four or five bucks a gallon, it's going to be too expensive to run off and have long distance adventures.
Maybe things will change and we'll finally be able to convince our stupid government that the money pissed away on airports and wars of choice and the big town killing clot of highways should go to high speed rail.
I hope they do, but I get the feeling that what I ask them for doesn't mean shit to them.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mother and Child, 1986

MJ and the Baby
4x5 view camera, Tri X film, printed on Portriga Rapid paper.
Scanned down to something too fuzzy to fit the needs of the low res and high tech age we live in with a cheap ass scanner.
Peter M. commented to Sweetie on the phone the other day he'd like
to see more nude women, I post this, per his request.

Sarah and Sarafina, 1997

It was Valentine's day, and most of my Seattle tribe was down at the Coffee Messiah celebrating a Hallmark holiday with freakish fun. A whole bunch of us got married that day by Sister Helfire N. Dalmatians, a mustachioed
member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Sara and Sarafina were wild young freaks, barristas, fire eaters and dancers who traveled Central America on no money, rode freight trains, lived out there on the edge where things were broke but alive as hell.
I think they're both in California now, Sarah had a baby with her boyfriend Jim a few years ago, and Sarafina moved down to California to do all sorts of fire eating and flame spinning.
Kori and I got married by Sister Hellfire that day, too. It's as close as two folks like us can come to a legal marriage, and we've gone on to prove what a threat we are to marriage by being happy, childless and solid in each other's lives for almost 13 years now.
I keep hoping someday that a brain virus comes along and rewires all the fundamentalist thinkers out there to be something besides scared of people like us. You know, accepting and open and non judgmental like all the left wing Jesus people claim their dead guy on a stick was.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Still Snowing

There is still snow falling this morning.
Yesterday we were going to walk to the farmer's market downtown and have a fine breakfast and maybe buy some of that fine frost sweetened spinach and some root vegetables.
I fell down on the ice twice before we got half way, so we bailed and went to EVP just like we usually do.
And it seemed like everybody was there.
Owen, the man with the nice skull made us coffee, a fine pair of espresso shots for me topped off with very dark Guatemalan French Roast.
Tim was there, or at least most of him since he had that farm accident a decade ago there are a few digits missing.
He's my bass and guitar player and does more with three fingers on his
fretting hand than most people do with ten.
Coffee, a working furnace and handsome women and pretty men,
what more does one need on a Saturday afternoon in Wisconsin in January?
Aside from a ticket to a warm place like Bermuda and a few hundred million bucks and a new pair of 18 year old bodies for our cranky, middle aged brains to be in, anyway?

Friday, January 11, 2008


I love photoshop and the filters you can use to push images into paintings.
This is a very low res shot of me playing my dobro, and messing with it using the fresco, sponge paint and saturation tools, it becomes almost a painting.
I finished up a guitar today out in the shop, a junker Les Paul style electric with a blood spattered look. It was a basement salvage thing from my pal Mark's pile o' shit, and it's pretty far removed from the original look and feel.
The further things get from normal, everyday mass produced crap, the more likely I am to use/enjoy/wear out.
Fuck normal. It's a setting on a washing machine, and a mythical state that humans never reach, but that most conservative people crave.
I prefer to swerve from one side of the ditch to the other, with a few terrifying moments in the middle of the road to wake me up every few years.
And hey, it's still fucking winter, I still have no furnace, and my relationship with burnt and unburnt things is starting to make me wonder if the semi-regular burning/exhaust smell I am getting is also in my brain, as I struggle with my long winter of grumpy discontent.
Time for a shot of some fine whiskey my cohort/drummer/madman savant gave us for ho ho ho season.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's Gonna Get Cold In Here

Joel and Maggie, 2004 or 05

Our furnace was making strange odors. The kind that make you think somebody's set up a foundry in your basement, that odd, half burned smell.

The night before last I dreamed I was sleeping in a metal foundry, inhaling fumes and metal dust. A disturbing dream, filled with refugees and orphans and old sweethearts. I kept thinking, where are these strange dreams about toxic emissions and odors coming from?

Yesterday I decided things really smelled wrong when I turned up the heat. I called a nice guy from a HVAC joint to come check our furnace.
It's dead. He took off the front panel, spent five minites poking it, and said he wouldn't even turn it back on. I belive him, too. It's an old oil burner converted to a gas burner, and almost as old as I am.
So Monday we're having a new furnace put in. And it's going to cost us four grand. Ouch.

But it's better than dying of carbon monoxide poisioning. But damn, it's going to get cold in here. And I think I understand why I had dreams of unburnt carbon and of old sweethearts. It was toxic gasses!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Onion Flower in My Garden, July 2007

I miss my garden. I miss summer, everything all green and lush and fragrant. I miss long hours of sunlight making my garden leap into a lush jungle that scares the children and horses.
I miss a lot of things these days.
I guess I and many of my pals are deep in the winter of our discontent, as Shakespeare said.
Things are weird. The weather's been all over the place, we're being governed by thugs, the war merchants and neocons are trying to get us into a third or fourth war, depending on what crap they're ranting, our rights have been steadily eroded by the rethuglicans, and we live in bozo times where people who try and talk about issues seriously are called angry
or liberal scum, where the incompetent fall upward and get medals of honor or giant bonuses for wrecking companies or laying off thousands, and in a time where people measure the quality of their life by their car, ugly McMansion or the amount of money they can make.
All of that weighs pretty heavy on a lot of us these days.
Maybe that can change when we get rid of the evil power drunk clowns in the next year or two.
It makes me feel a little bit of hope to see the record turnouts in the primaries on the Democratic side.
I still think the democrats are almost as blind the shit in the wind we're going to have to face, but if they can sweep in a bunch of new people, there might be at least a hint of sanity creeping back in.
I think it's time to go watch some post apocalyptic movie so I can feel better about how bad things aren't. And one never knows what practical information you can get about killing viral infected zombies.
I think we have got a bunch of them in our local Walmart .

Heidi's Head Is Not This Big In Real Life

Heidi, July 2007
She's got a new kid. Named it Odin. Or maybe Caleb, her sweetie named it Odin. That's a big name live up to, since Odin was a one eyed father of the Norse Gods. But I liked this photo, so there it is.
Oh, and besides actually having a normal sized head, she's also not three feet tall like she looks here.
But I am addicted to wide angle lenses and getting in people's faces. They don't seem to mind. Or maybe they're scared of me.
Or perhaps my subtle and hypnotic personality seduces them.
I sorta doubt that, though.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Melrose, 1987

It was one of those incredibly hot summer days, the heavy wet air
clinging to everything like a blanket of steam.
There wasn't a wisp of breeze to be had, and it felt like that strange kind of weather that could swing from sauna to green skies and tornadoes at any moment.
The farmhouse was a crumbling old place on the edge of town, filled with old yellowed wallpaper and cracked plaster walls, the echos of all the people who lived there bouncing, filling you with a sense of place that once held something vital.
My pals were living there for the summer, doing restoration on some strange and crumbling cement scuplture folk art park, one of many renters to move in and out over the years.
The place was mostly empty, had that feeling that nobody lived there, that they were just camping out for a few days and moving on, leaving the place to the ghosts once again.
Or for the next bunch of rootless people to use it and move on.
Small towns in central Wisconsin are filled with old houses slowly crumbling away with no family there to care for it and no people moving in and gentrifying the neighborhood.
Eventually they just burn or fall in on themselves and somebody
puts up an ugly two story ranch, or the basement fills up with rotten wood, scrub trees and weeds.
I wonder if that house is even there anymore.
I know almost all my tribe from those days have moved on from my life, leaving a love for doing art to become computer geeks, jesus freak school teachers or seamstresses or stockbrokers and project managers.
Very few of my artmob kept doing art. It's a shame too, because for a time, we had some seriously good scultptors, painters, potters and printers doing something magical.
My tribe tends to be musical these days, and I still have people around me doing fine things, but that group in Oshkosh in the mid 1980's was sure an amazing bunch.
Shot with a large format camera on my favorite old film, Tri X using the available light.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Touching Passion and Playing it Safe

We're here on this mudball planet for a short time, a good 50 or so years of relative health if we're lucky. Viewed in a long term perspective, it's less than nothing.
So I think it's important to live out on the edge, to truly live like there might not be a tomorrow. I think seeing a good friend bash her head in and die in a horse accident when I was 18 had a lot to do with making me be aware of how quickly everything I am can vanish.
Add into that my intense Norwegian/Swedish decent, a family genetic disposition to being a smart ass bundle of energy fueled by coffee and sugar and restless discontent, and one gets a reputation for being a wild woman, a pain in the ass, a live wire, a free spirit, all those terms people who play it safe like to use to describe someone alive enough to make things complex.
It's gotten me in trouble, ejected from friendships and bands and jobs over the years. It's also allowed me to light things up, step loose from the safe road and figure out how to make peace with what I am.
I think passion and conflict and intensity are pretty much required for a vital life filled with music, art or whatever you pursue.
So it makes me a little crazy when I get surrounded by people who play it safe, who need rules and arrangements and who avoid conflict because they're weasels, chickenshits or frail vessels.
I even understand that fear of the unpredictable, that need to lock things down, although it taxes my patience to accept it in my pals.
But when it bugs me most is when something happens and people I thought I was communicating with and spent a lot of time working with just clam up, avoid dealing with anything uncomfortable.
Who don't tell me what they're thinking, or speak up and clear up things before they become big issues.
There's a cliche that friends help you move, but real friends help you move bodies.
I can understand that. But I think real friends tell you what you need to hear, don't shy away from listening to input and giving it back, and agree to disagree.
They sure as hell don't just vote you out of the tribe and then pretend nothing happened, or act like they're your friend while working against you.
I prefer a clean fight to sneaking around, would rather clear things up before they become real problems.
I guess that today's rainy foggy freakish weather and the conversations I had yesterday with some old bandmates has made me think about these things.
One of them standing right in front of me yesterday still didn't have the courage to actually say out loud she'd voted to remove me.
I wonder if she and the others got what they want, a nice safe band with no tension, no conflicts. And more than likely no chemistry, moments of great stupidity or bliss or connection.
I've got new music now, making last year's ugly seem less damaging, and I'm pretty happy with where I am musically. But I still miss the fire of playing with my longtime pal Bob up there on stage at the High Noon, ripping things up and feeling the big alive.
I guess what a lot of what I'm feeling boils down to thinking you should shoot your own dog when the time comes to end things, metaphorically speaking. Not be a sneak, a weasel or play the victim just because you're timid or uncomfortable around intense and passionate people.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

One week's Difference

Joyce and Emma, 1989
Taken one week apart.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

They Walk Among us ,September 2008

You never know who you're going to run into at
the Willy St. Fair.
I love this town. They say Madison lives in it's own bubble.
I think that's pretty cool, bubbles rise to the top instead of staying sunken in the mud like the inbred little tourist town folks I grew up with in Northern Wisconsin.
The ones who stayed mostly became drunks, jesus freaks or both, if they didn't drive into trees and die.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Metal Man Scupture in da UP

It was early October. We were in between my peak experience with a chili dog and our visit to the Porkies, just about dusk.

The sign said free family park tour, so we dived off the highway into a freakshow of fun metal sculpture. These guys were part of a half mile or so tour of great weirdness.
And on another unrelated note, if Obama becomes president, I hope he's a ruthless bastard when it comes to dealing with the swiftboating, bible slamming, kneecapping and devious slime known as hardcore rethuglicans.
They need to be treated with the same charity and kindness the give others.
Or killed, but I'm not quite ready to advocate for that. Give me another year or so of Bush and I might consider it.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Go read The Lost Albatross

Emily Mills is doing some very good writing, a lot of it on local issues here in Madison. I found her site as a link on, another good local colaborative blog.

Sleeping on the couch, 1989

I loved watching her sleep. It was one of the few times
she ever looked really at peace.
I somtimes wonder who's watching her sleep these days.
I hope she's happy with who ever that is.

Emma, 1990, Emma, 2007

The first time I met Emma, she was pretty boring. And she took a shit on my lap and then threw up on me.
She's changed a little bit since then. She also spent four or five summers sleeping on my front porch, learning to argue in a creative way, and becoming addicted to Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
She's the daughter of Joyce, whom I posted a photo of the other day,
and Bill, my long time pal/roommate/art mob member.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Nude Photo and a Quote I like

A floating Sophia, 1986
Sophia was one of my models when I lived in Oshkosh. She was an artist, made jewelry and the last I heard, she was living in Florida somewhere. This was shot on my birthday in the crumbling back room of our band's practice space above a music store. I miss her, I hope she stumbles across this and gets in touch with me.

And now, a completely unrelated quote I like:
“The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” — Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Tim framed in Pink

Tim on Robin's back porch, Summer 2007

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." Ralph Waldo Emerson