Friday, July 31, 2009


After days of sweating through my clothes, my friends clothes, my friends sheets, and all the non-vinyl upholstery upon which I've sat, the weather is finally gorgeous in Vancouver, sending cooling winds wafting through the coffeeshop. Unfortunately, I have to leave. This USA-bound Americano is downing his second (6-shot) Americano, marveling at the barrista's dual shamrock neck tattoos as she marvels at his body's capacity for caffeine. Goodbye, Canada! Thanks for letting me in this time. Thanks Regent College, Kurt and Jennifer, Peter and Kristen, and Brian Moss for having me.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gym Misanthropy

I get most of my songwriting ideas after I've drunk my daily carafe of grainy black coffee, gone to the gym, and hopped on the elliptical machine. The frantic activity on top of the caffeine makes me feel really good and then Oh Wham!! I get assaulted with ideas. Wonderful dreamscapes with shapes and colors that will change the way people think and make humanity want to do a collective cartwheel -- or better yet, billions of individual cartwheels -- of ecstatic gratitude. And I think, "oh Jason this is good stuff," and then later "Jason, should you write this down?" and still later, "Jason, what was that idea again?" But it's too late, the idea is gone, along with the elation, which has been replaced by a generalized antipathy. Sometimes not so generalized. Sometimes the antipathy is very specific.

For instance, if someone is talking really loudly on his cell phone, I want to go up next to him and start screaming unintelligible offensive noises into the multiverse(s). One day I actually had a fantasy of walking up to a guy and telling him he had stupid hair. Only because he was checking out his own biceps for so long and so unapologetically. I mean if you don't bide by the self-adulation time limit I have the right to tell you you have stupid hair, right? Isn't that in the gym by-laws? Of course, inevitably, this same man who is the center of my hate-filled fantasy will later hold the door open for me with a big smile, or tap me on the shoulder in order to hand me the forty dollars that's fallen out of my wallet, or will wave me in front of him in bumper-to-bumper traffic, thus proving himself to be a stellar human being and proving me to be an incurable misanthrope, chastened, sweaty, and out of ideas.

Ok, in deference to my ADD and to lighten the mood let's have a new topic: What are your favorite celebrity memoir titles? Mine are:

"I am not Spock" by Leonard Nimoy
"I am Spock" by Leonard Nimoy
"Goober in a Nutshell" by George "Goober" Lindsey
"Mr T." by Mr. T.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Song writing. Songwriting? Writing songs.

I recently put myself on a songwriting regimen which requires me to write a certain number of songs each month for the next few months. I've got a few friends here in NYC keeping me accountable to make sure I deliver. Physical beatings have been threatened if I don't write.

Additionally, I have to write a song on the theme "snowed in" for a songwriter's series I'm playing in CT next month. My favorite "snow" song is "Valley Winter Song" by Fountains of Wayne. Occasionally those guys are a little too self-consciously poppy for me, but that is one beautiful song, and sometimes I walk around in the New York cold listening to it over and over.

I harbor a secret dread that my best songs are behind me, products of the overwrought emotions of my fleeting youth. A friend of mine recently used the phrase "self-forgetfulness" to describe the perfect state for creation and for life in general, and I believe that is true of my state when I wrote my first songs. I didn't think twice (as I do now) about whether I had the ability or the talent to write good songs . I simply wrote, awkward phrase after awkward phrase, until one day the phrases weren't awkward and the songs worked (although admittedly, some of them worked awkwardly).

The first song I ever wrote, as a kid, while mowing the lawn on a hot southern Saturday, was a pre-adolescent sadist fantasy called "Hop Away Little Frog," in which I warned various forest creatures against the perils of venturing too close to the mower blade, then described in ever-increasing detail the results of what *could* happen:

"Hop away, little frog, thank you, thank you.
Hop away, little frog, so I don't run over you
with the lawnmower that I'm pushing little frog
Hop away, hop away.

If you don't hop away, you might be dead.
This lawnmower blade could chop off your head
Or it might chop off a leg or two
Or it might chop up every part of you.

Hop Away, little frog, thank you, thank you.
Hop away little frog, so I don't run over you
with the lawnmower that I'm pushing little frog
Hop away, hop away."