Monday, December 31, 2007

US tour day 3&4

i made it through the boston show with half a voice.

i always feel so shitful (to use a meow adjective i've picked up)
when i can't sing, which is most of the time.
why does this happen?

being sick didn't help. not having a trained voice doesn't help.
i really am going out there and making shit up every night. believe
me, i do NOT have a plan nor know what i'm doing. period. i've gotten
really well-practiced at i-got-no-clue-how-to-really-do-this-well-here-
i can sort of play piano, and i can sort of sing. i've been figuring
this out as i go along. blindly hoping i'll get it right most of the
time and assuming i'll mess up approximately 27% of the time.
i completely spaced the lyrics to "girl anachronism", which we played
second, because my brain simply went haywire. its always interesting
to see what comes out of my mouth at those times.
it's not quite english, it's not quite gibberish. brian commented
that last night it sounded sort of swedish. WHATEVER IT TAKES.
the fact that the shows was still stupendous makes me realize, once
again, it ain't the tools, it's the delivery. but i almost don't want
it to be true. i don't want to be able to get away with it. i was
talking with melissa (aka meow) about this. she can do shows in
character (ie as Meow Meow) with a broken voice, no problem. whatevs.
it's cabaret, it's punk, it;s rock, there's no rules. but if she's
doing an opera gig: all bets are off. the voice has to be there or
the gig doesn't go off. what do those fucking people do?

i want an understudy.

strangely, four or five different people (all girls, actually), have
told me over the last few days of shows that i inspired them to learn
how to play piano.
that inspires ME to learn how to actually play the piano, because now
i feel guilty. it's all relative.

after the orpheum show (sold out, to our amazement....over 2300
people in our hometown....we were very excited by that) i entouraged
home because meow, lance, katie kay and all the members of the
luminescent orchestrii were staying at my house, some in beds, some
on floors. beer and wine and assorted folks found their way over and
though i should have gone straight to bed, i stayed up, drank
(resPONSIBLY, wine only and two glasses at that, i hear it kills
germs) and chatted for an hour with my brothers and sisters. was it
worth it? fuck yeah. still. i woke up with no voice. i spent the day
stuck crusted to bed in my apartment, still feeling flu-like and
unable to cope with the realities of life (like packing for the
upcoming two weeks of tour...i'll have to do that tomorrow morning).
many cups of tea later, i am still wondering if i'll have a voice for
the new york show.

if you're coming, cross your fingers. i am already plotting an
elaborate hand-drawn dresden-dolls karaoke machine and i'll have to
find someone to run it.

i took this picture outside the philadelphia show since the marquis
on south street was so pretty right at dusk

.....and as i was standing on a newspaper box making a fool of myself
trying to get the perfect shot sxip and sarah from lumii showed up in
the frame.
i ran down and said hello right after that, it was our first reunion
in a while...and sxip said that at that very moment i caught the
photo he'd been saying to sarah
"someone should get a picture of this marquis"...then they turned
around and saw mah ass.

love it

did you know you can take an online colorblind test?:

i tested normal. thank god, now i can be a pilot if i want to.

last but not least, here is a very kinky looking Evelyn Evelyn-
inspired "bondage Elephant Elephant" that showed up at the boston show:


have a safe new years....they're CRAZY out there, those fucking people.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

USA tour day 2

In philadelphia, still ill with the Sickness. I'm waitin it out, man. I
have a remarkable cold sore under my left nostril and a magazine cover
shoot today. Time to bust out the fake hitler moustache and create
some controversy. Like rammstein.

Yesterday was a bruiser of a day, we had two shows back-to-back in DC
and baltimore, the first in an honest-to-god (no pun) synagogue and the
second in a club. The gigs were great, brian and I rejoiced in being
back on stage with each other and just played our asses off and enjoyed
being back in full dresden formation. Meow Meow blew the crowds away as
I knew she would and sat in with us on delilah. Her hot pianist lance
guested on mandy goes to med school. Our crew is back in full-force.

I'm not superstitious. But things have been happening. music,
especially certain songs, has been speaking from the beyond and indicating my
path like those emergency lights embedded in airplane aisles.

The point was.
I have a favorite Again cafe in philadelphia. I'm in it right now, its
called the chapterhouse; I stumbled across it the last time we played
here. I went out of my way to walk here for some thinking and writing
before soundcheck and as I entered I heard the sound of something I knew
coming from the speakers but I couldn't place it..... Sounded like low
air-raid sirens. Then the guitar started and it was "two-headed boy part
II" and I melted a bit.

When I was in scotland in august I went to my edinburgh Again cafe
(the forest) one afternoon and there was a girl (autumn ayers )from
philadelphia singing "oh comely" on a little stage with an acoustic

I'm starting to think that my life is just strung together moments
against the backdrop of this record album. If you don't know the record,
this is harder to explain. The record: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by
Neutral Milk Hotel and its music and songwriting: without equal. I had
been discussing with my favorite director-friend the possibility of
creating a stage production inspired by the record (it seems like getting
the rights might be impossible) but we agreed on one thing: the album
and songs have an internally magical power.

Wherever you go, you will meet people who know and love this record
with a passion that may seem unreasonable. The literally extra-ordinary
thing is that the album was never hyped in the mainstream, there was no
giant promotion. It was hyped for a while in the indie community (I
remember discovering the record, through brian, about a year after it came
out and mentioning it excitedly to one of my hip indie musician friends
who was like: yes amanda, that record is amazing but sooo last year),
but that means nothing to 99% of the american music-listening
population. So its ENTIRELY word of mouth outside of the indie-cult. And not
unlike the way the dolls grew in certain communities, the word-of-mouth on
this record has carried it year after year further and further. It
didn't hurt the magical momentum that jeff mangum, the creator of the
record, supposedly cracked immediately under the impending success and
disappeared, barely ever to be heard from again (rumors abound, I have no
idea what the actual deal is). But ask your average person and they'll
have no clue about this album. I'm still shocked when I talk with some
huge music fan or record industry heavyweight and they have never even
HEARD the bands name.

What makes this record so perfect? I heard someone say, or maybe I said
once, can't remember (I'm getting old): the record is like mainlining.
Its a direct transmission of soul through sound. That said, you might
listen to it and hate it. But watch the comments on this blog. That
will tell you everything.

Have to go to soundcheck.


Show was fantastic, we're in for a 6-hour van drive to boston. And
we're tirrrrred. These two angelic people, michael and shonda, brought us,
luminescnet and meow and the whole crew a gigantic vegan feast after
the show, complete with absinthe (which we're saving for new years). Food
Love. Bring it on. This tour is a perfect bill. Meow the anarchist
cabaret singer, luminscent the insane klezmer dance band and us. I wish
bills like this would last forever. Sxip played with us (I played drums!!
I love the drums.) And brian and I sat in with lumii. Meow and lance
both sang and played during our set. Its a full-on lovefest.

Festing more, Jenny owen youngs showed up and we snuck her on the bill
right before us to play "fuck was I" on brians acoustic. She's amazing.
I piggybacked her onto stage.

The photoshoot was fine. We ripped the long red curtains down from the
windows, got naked (poor brian has finally caught the Sickness too,
neither of us were feeling sexy so we figured we go for a weird naked art
photoshoot....) and wrapped ourselves up in them. I found a hat. The
shoot worked. Pictures are weird.

Autumn, the girl who I referred to in the above ramble - the one I stumbled upon singing neutral milk in edinburgh - she magically appeared at the end
of the show with her two sisters. When I told about my happy cafe
experience and the welcome song I got there this afternoon, her sister said:
that's so weird. I haven't listened to that album in years and I put
it on today.

You are starting to see what I mean.

Here's a link to some great photos of last night.

Here's a link to the neutral milk hotel CD.

Tomorrow: hometown throwdown in bosstown.

Goodnight, elephant.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

US tour: day one

well, it doesnt really count because we havent officially started
yet. tomorrow. two shows.

do you ever wonder:
if someone were to place a real cap on your mortal,
really just give you a concrete date: "your number is going to be up
when you hit 45"
that you would live your life that much differently. fight club
examined this for as split second. i'm in baltimore, i just took a
bath, and i found myself wondering.
if someone were to tell me i had ten years (exactly) - what would i do?
would i tour? stay put? travel unknown?
help the needy? stuff my face?
really hard to say. i think i'd spend a while figuring out, for sure.
the problem with this sci-fi fantasy is that knowing your number does
more than igve you a limit, it also gives you immortality for an
unlimited time period. this is irritating.
maybe what we need is a maximum. you have, maximum, 23 more years to


23 is no fun.

what if

ok, you have 13 months to live.
really. you're not impervious to obvious pitfalls (if you walk in
front of a bus, you LOSE) but as soon as those 13 months are up,
you're out.


what do you do?

i took this photo tonight.
i captured everything i feel about being on tour again. i am feeling
better but not amazing. i have still have snot flowing out of my nose

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

on this x-mas eve

i've noticed i'm getting into a really nasty habit.
i'm not posting when i feel like it because i keep stock-piling photos and long, complicated blogs involving all this media - and much like tons of other shit in my life, i lose the forest for the trees, get sidetracked and leave the shit hanging.

so fuck it. i'm just writing with no plan. i'm just writing because it's xmas eve and i'm feeling reflective. and just took a two-hour bath, which gave me time to think. it's 3 am and i'm still a little jetlagged from australia.
i'm at my parents house, the house i grew up in. i love coming here. i know the sound of every door latch and every floor creak, i am overly familiar with the rattle of the bannister (which i incidentally fell over, 13 feet, when i was 7) and the ticking of the clocks and - my favorite sound - the gurgling banging of the radiators. i've tried to explain this many times to many people: the only way i can describe the relationship i have with this house is to say that i had very few friends when i was little, and that the closest thing i had to a consistent "best friend", who protected me and played with me and guided and amused me, was this house. some kids had a dog. whatever it takes.

the bath, unbeknownst to me, hadn't been used as a bathtub in some time covered in Cat Hair, presumably because the Cat (and affectionate jet-black boy named shadow, he's on my lap right now) likes to hang out in there and sleep. and shed. by the time i was fully immersed and noticed it, it was too absurd. there were thick clumps of it floating everywhere. instead of being grossed out it was sort of fun, i played a game to see how much floating Cat Hair i could wrest out of the tub and ball into a giant collection on the side of the tub. then i got the idea to go outside and feel the snow on the ground, sort of like when you run from a hot tub to a cold plunge. so i ran the shower as hot as possible, scalded myself, then wrapped myself in a blanket and ran (quietly, as to not wake my sleeping family) out to the back porch steps. they overlook a totally isolated wooded area, and i went for as long a walk in the 1-foot snow as my burning little pink feet could bear. i only got about 6 feet from the porch, the snow was very cold, and icy-sharp at the top, and my little feet froze. i waled back up the the porch and felt the relatively warm planks of wood under my feet. the blanket was keeping me warm and there was a very, very slight wind. the sky was crystal clear. the moon was casting really stark, bold shadows off of the bare craggly trees onto the blank-with-snow yard. it was a really astonishing sight. dead quiet.

i've canceled my life.

i'm leaving in two days for a short, killer dolls tour in cities where we know we can just rock out and have fun, and then i'm coming home with absolutely nothing on my schedule. i had a spring tour planned, i just canceled it. i was going to put the record out this spring; i canceled that too. everything around me has suggested that it's time to stop, assess, re-start and then blast off.
i'm not going to go live in an ashram somewhere, don't worry. i'm going to take an Actual Break. a real one, this time. not that fake shit where i say i'm going to do it and it turns into a five-day affair at home. this is It. i'm stopping., i swear. for at least two months. my apartment, my apartment is crying for it. it's crying Amanddaaaaaaaaa pleeeeease clean meeeee. i've been dumping all this tour shit in it for 5 years and never sorting through it. i've done a dozen photoshoots int he past 6 months and havent gone through the shots. i have emails waiting to be answered that were sent to me in august. so it will be a cleaning, sorting, re-vamping, re-structuring the framework of my life and business kind of break.

the minute i decided all this, things changed. that saying about Jump and the Net Will Appear?
the moment i realized that i had my own decisions in my hands, that i could plan my life the way i needed....that i could stop depending on my old blueprint for life: Bam. not only did my head clear and the realization that a break was truly in order really hit me, but the possibilities of how i can re-structure my life also appeared. the right things and people appear when you start trusting yourself. that's exactly what's happening. it's the exact same way with love-relationships. you can say that you want to start dating again in theory, but if you're hung up, you can wander through life for YEARS and it's not until you truly get over someone. then that the new lover walks into the party and your eyes meet. life is astounding that way, but it certainly makes sense. the phone starts ringing when you get off your ass and start doing dishes.


i just finished reading anthony kiedis' (the lead singer from the red hot chili peppers) autobiography. what a fucking frightening life. i had no idea that up until really recently he was such a junkie. terrifying and the stories of how poorly treated everyone in that lifestyle gets when there's drugs just ruling. to me the idea of not showing up to rehearsal because i'm out getting loaded is just simply unimaginable. my brain doesn't even go there, neither does brian's. we simply rely on each other in a way that excludes shit like that. i said to him today: we may argue, but at least we're sober when we do. arguing with someone who's been in and out of rehab 6 times over 15 years and just happens to be trying to kick that day after a week-long smack-and-coke binge. not quite fun. it's enlightening reading how other people Do This Life. it's the same lifestyle, give or take a mansion, motorcycle and tattoo or two. tour, band, rehearse, write, interview, assess, fight, make-up,'s a grind. but everybody find a different way of turning it into a Life of some sort. there's so many different ways of doing it. but the similarities between bands are becoming more and more apparent to me. for the record, in most cases: i am anthony (minus the smack habit) and brian is flea (minus the mohawk).

they were so like us in their early days, though, just total freaks excited about being freaks and doing crazy action for no reason other than....they could. i had always assumed that their early fanbase must've been a real skate-punk crowd but from the way anthony describes it it was really similar to the early dolls crowds...a punk here, a goth here, a total rag-tag motley crew of whoever was into these crazy cats getting up on stage and being total clowns. the first tape i had was in 7th grade, i remember distinctly buying it at newbury comics, it was the self-titled album and i bought it because my best friend holly young and i had had a cafeteria discussion about how you could Just Tell if a band was Cool and Alternative from their name. we tried to think of good examples and we came up with Nine Inch Nails and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. but i actually had no idea what either of those bands sounded like. so in order to inform myself i went out and bought the tape and was hooked. blood sugar sex magik came out the year of 9th grade, and it was our summer theme CD. we would go to the meadows, smoke pot and blast that shit. that same bunch of friends and i went to see them play on new years eve. they blew me away with their live energy. we were crammed right up against the stage at some sports arena, about 20 people in from the front, really close.

the most memorable events of that new years eve, however, weren't during the chili peppers set. the two opening bands were at that time totally unknown: Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins. Eddie Vedder crowd-surfed from the stage to the sound-desk and i remember grabbing his leg and making a mental note to remember about that in case he became famous and i could claim leg-touching bragging rights. the circle is now complete. the other very memorable moment was when we were waiting for the chili peppers to take the stage and this song came on over the PA. this guy in a baseball hat turned to me and said, "i love this song. this songs fucking rocks." what is it? i asked. he said, "it's this band called nirvana. they're the shit." the song was smells like teen spirit. i was witnessing the birth of grunge.


i am going to try to post my complicated blog about australia (i still have my fall blog, getting more obsolete by the second, sitting in my drafts folder with 25 pictures attached) within the next week or so. i can summarize the trip: FUCKING AMAZING. what a beautiful place filled with beautiful people. the fans in australia are unbelievable. the theater group o worked with, the danger ensemble, was a total fantasy come true. i'm hoping we can do more shows in more places together. and seeing everybody and talking with all our fellow made me hungry to get back on the road and re-connect with everyone on this upcoming tour, i had forgotten how much i miss it until i did it. this upcoming tour is going to be such a perfect love-fest with all our friends on stage with us...sxip and luminescent, my new soul-mate meow meow, our trusty crew....we're so excited.

it's time to go to bed. i have a flu to kick and exactly two days to do it.
please send garlic vibes my way.

i can't wait

merry xmas, happy everything, be safe, drink lots of water...i love you guys.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

australia, day one

Today I saw two kangaroos fucking. For real.

Monday, December 03, 2007

fuck packing

it's officially winter and it's cold and it is 4 am and i have not
started packing for australia. obviously i must blog.

i still don't know where i'm going to stay. that is, we've picked a
joint in melbourne with some freak types who sound right up our
alley, but we've got no address.
so i think i may land in melbourne many hours from now, suitcase in
each hand, and look forlornly at upside-down street signs while
dingos eat my baby.

actually i plan to take a cab straight to the spiegeltent and hug it.
i've missed it so since edinburgh.

i didn't pack because a string of people happened tonight....andrew
called and said there was a jazz band at a place in cambridge, so i
went there, thinking i'd have time to pack after, then geeta was next
door and i haven't seen her much lately and i shared a bottle of
lambic with her, thinking i'd have time to pack after, then my old
friend from elementary school, fred, came to visit nick at around 1
am downstairs and started telling us about converting to judaism and
the three branches of judaism, and i needed to absorb myself in that
for a while, thinking i'd have time to pack after, then i needed to
talk to katie kay about post-war trade and she's on LA time, so we
talked for a while (we're making POST-WAR TRADE UKULELES....i'm so
happy), thinking i'd have time to pack after, then i started cutting
my fingernails. and took some self-portraits with my furry cat hat.

i am so excited to go back to ozland. everyone there is magic,
there's a friendly syrup in the air. i am so excited to see steven
and the other performers in the danger ensemble. i am excited to
drive the aussie coast with them as we groove tunes and talk butoh
and plans for our bizarro stage antics. i am even excited to have a
10-day slumber art party with them on somebody's floor.

i am also very very more than psyched for the upcoming dolls tour.
brian and i have been practicing and it's soul food to play with each
other again. we had the traditional every-song-we-could-think-of-on-
the-violent-femmes-first-record jam, this time with brian on guitar
and me on drums. meg white watch out. and i have better sex tapes
too. oh wait.

film recommendation:
the lives of others. we watched it the other night after rehearsal.
german. recent. long. starts a little slow. but GOOD GOD it's fine.
can't do much more justice than to say holy shit, perfect movie.

best reply from the last blog:
a web of safety benefits only a spider. all rewards come from risk.

i sat next to a man in the cafe pamplona tonight (yes, thinking i
would pack later) and he was translating papers.
he made a phone call and to the other person on the line he said:
"oh, just sitting her, working on papers and having some coffee. and
happy to be alive."
he told me he'd been coming to the cafe pamplona since 1959.

it started snowing today in big fat gorgeous chunks. it's still
coming down.
i think this calls for a picture, let's outside.

post-script: 6:52 am: completed packing mission, compacted vitamin collection, created many fingerless gloves. snow switched to rain, sun has risen.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

flailing flag from the front

this isn't the blog that i wanted to write.

the blog that i wanted to write was epic and profound and detailed
and full of photographic images and reflections on the last two
months. in fact, i have several drafts on my desktop complete with
photos. i've been all over the fucking place a lot has happened. i
was in montana, doing a solid week of training for yoga-teaching, i
was in seattle working with my new back-up band, i was working on the
record in LA and san fran and somewhere in there i was in new york
with brian and other friends putting on the finishing touches.

i still might write that blog. it's long, but every passing day makes
it feel less relevant, because i'm stuck in an entirely different
swamp now.
i need to at least relate my current state of mind. are you guys
still out there?

during all this mess of the last two months i got gradually lost in
every way.
my mind started to deteriorate and my body tried hard to keep from
i went vegan for a while for survival.

my whole infrastructure started to feel like it was falling apart.
my home, my team, my brain, my career, my general web of safety all
going the same way: nothing literally falling apart but nothing
working at capacity anymore, either.
the basics keep me from despairing: my record is incredible, i'm in
relatively good health, nothing is awful.
the difficulty lately lies in wondering what the point of all the
struggle has been. i've been working my ass off for years, non-stop,
deluding myself into thinking that it would get easier and more fun
and it's only over the course of the past year or so that i realize
i've dug my own grave more than i have dug the tunnel to freedom.
it's just the same cycles over and over. don't mean to sound morbid
or anything here, but the theme is applying to life in general. i'm
watching all these people around me rushing and struggling, caught up
in the game, everybody working their fingers to the bone. myself

it reminds me of that wonderful part of "eat, pray, love" where
elizabeth gilbert goes into a lingerie store in italy and buys a
shitload of fancy underwear, even though she has no lover and no
chance for intimacy even remotely around the corner. she finds
herself thinking about the italian soccer fan she was sitting behind
a few days before who was screaming at the top of his lungs at
Albertini, the star player, who had just passed the ball to midfield
where there was absolutely nobody waiting. the fan was screaming:
"Per CHE, Albertini?!?!?? PER CHEEEEEEEEEEE?!?!??" in her own mind,
she was asking the same question: "For WHO, liz??? FOR

this is how i'm feeling lately. maybe it has something to do with not
touring for too long. the disconnection is pretty complete. for who?
for me? for you?

the biggest delusion i've revealed is that i keep learning the same
lesson of self-reliance, or is it just my puritan upbringing?
i've had these mini-realizations before, but this one was more seismic.
i was working for years on the assumption that if i just played hard
enough, wrote well enough, felt passionate enough, proved myself
enough, toured enough, won enough fans, who know...that help would
come swooping in like a magic carpet and take all the responsibility
away. but this is totally childish thinking. there is always a
support staff, but that's what they are: a support staff. i am, will,
and should always be the end of the line, the only one in control of
my own show. i don't know why i started thinking, at a pretty early
age in my career, that if i just worked hard enough i 'd be able to
hand that responsibility off to a team of experts. i am the expert.
it's terrifying to realize that and have to re-format your mind to
the new scenario. it's not only applicable to my career, it's just as
applicable to life. you wander through your days thinking that you'll
find that perfect scenario, job, lover, partner (fill in the blank)
who will somehow unburden you of your struggling existence, your
decisions, your responsibilities. it's bullshit; only you can truly
unburden you. but the fantasy is very, very tempting. does it ever
work? if you exchange stories with anyone (try someone who's recently
been divorced for starters) you'll find that the delusion is an
extraordinarily common one. we want to believe in the fantasy more
than we want to take responsibility for the fact that we are, indeed,
the only ones who can run our own show.

one of the yoga teachers who was in montana left me with a choice
phrase that keeps reverberating around in my head.
we were in an incredibly long and hard pose, sweat pouring and people
he said:

"Don't be fooled. HELP IS NOT ON THE WAY."

everybody cracked up laughing. we all knew what he meant. there is
that fantasy, in every moment of tension and struggle, that help will
magically arrive and make all the pain and suffering go away.
so many people in my agents and managers and engineers and
producers and lawyers and accountants and bandmates, the list goes
on....the airport luggage carriers, the hotel clerks, the
taxidrivers, the people who make my sandwich....they're all helping,
and god knows i need them and they need me to function to doubt. but they're not going to save my life, they're
not going to give me any answers, they're down here in the mire with
me, trying to figure this shit out for themselves. wondering, too, if
someone is going to open the door to their bedroom one night and say:
"i know you've been waiting for me for years and i'm finally here.
things have gotten way too out of control, my friend. before we get
to the meaning of life stuff (and believe me, we'll get there) let's
start with something simple, like your closet."

now we know why cult-like religions and personal organizers paid $500/
hr are doing fantastic business.

this is turning into the blog i wanted to write.
i should be warming up my voice for tonight.

look i rhymed.

i'm trying to focus on each small task at hand until my shit gets
together in some recognizable way.
i'm supposed to be leaving for australia in a week and i still don't
have a plane ticket or a plan of where to go and stay, even though
there are shows booked, which makes me wonder if i'm going.
my head works in strange ways in this regard, and always has: until
i'm at the airport, i still think there's a chance it might not happen.
this fear is founded, actually, on a life and schedule in which
things - often beyond anyone's control - have fallen apart at the
last minute often enough for me to not trust anything unless it's
right in front of my face.
i've gotten used to this the way i've gotten used the things in my
apartment always being different when i come back due to the number
of people coming in and out. i just don't blink an eye.

i'm at home right now, jason webley is staying here, we played in
portland last night.
i hadn't played the piano on stage in a long time. i felt rusty but
creaked back into action well enough. there was some snafu with my
keyboards not being fixed so i started the set off with two broken
something was cosmically against me (or else i was playing harder
than usual) but by the end of the show there were 8 broken keys. i
could barely get through a song. there's nothing romantic about it,
you don't get the satisfaction of a guitar player with the springy-
sprangy look of strings splaying everywhere. every song ends up being
an intellectual obstacle course instead of an emotional outpouring
and that plainly sucks. in trying to describe the feeling to the
audience, i tried to come up with an apt metaphor and finally hit on
this: starting a song and then realizing that the main notes you need
are broken is much like when you're driving a car in an ice storm in
the way left-hand lane of a highway and the entire windshield fogs
up, leaving you only a few 3x3-inch patches through which to figure
out where the fuck you're going.
but playing together with jason, and watching him play, was joyous in
itself. i could forget the fuckshow of my life and take comfort in
singing some new material, which we had a great deal of fun putting
together on the drive.
he's one of the best songwriters i know.

tonight we play providence and then i spend the next two days trying
to dig out of the pile.

so that things do not end on an entirely sour note, i will include a
recent self-portrait that made me happy:

all my love,


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An Open Letter to Nick Vargelis

dear nick,

when i got home earlier tonight i felt like shit. i have been
traveling for almost a month straight. i know you don't even know
exactly what i was doing. nobody knows exaclty what i've been doing,
and that includes me and i'm not kidding.

you've been crashing in my room, because that's how things roll at
the cloud club. you're leaving in a few weeks for paris, and you're
couch-surfing, as i have been for the past month. seattle, portland,
san francisco, LA, santa fe and new york (with connecting flights in
salt lake city, atlanta, phoenix and maybe i'm missing something),
doing everything from recording to mixing to photoshoots to singing
and rehearsing to shows and video shoots to holding new babies to
mastering and having nail-ripping and life-determining meetings about
my life and career and suffice it to say, i'm fucking tired. so
tired, nick. empty tired. don't give a fuck tired, unhappy tired. i
have been feeling so weird lately. coming home has been upsetting.

i got in from NYC at around 4pm today, dropped off my suitcase and
put on a dress and got a ride from lee straight downtown to go to the
opera with my family, which was the whole reason i came back today.
we ate. i tried to stay awake. then i came home. i felt Empty And
Lonely. i sort of know what i'm doing with my life, but not really. i
don't feel at home here anymore. i've gotten too used to the road.

i felt something bordering full-on depression as i decided that it
was time to go to bed. i didn't want to go there. i've been sleeping
alone, but something about going to bed alone tonight seemed
especially sad. i brushed my teeth and picked two books to take to
bed with me to keep me company. i couldn't do it, couldn't for some
reason, didn't want to go to bed, even though i was so fucking wasted
tired. i just kept listlessly looking at piles of unopened mail to
see if maybe something personal showed up in the course of the last
month along with all the bills and books from amazon......maybe....
some letter from some ex-lover that might change my life that i could
take to bed with me and clutch to my chest.

i kept checking emails, until my computer got knocked offline and i
decided that it was a sign and i should, finally, go to bed.

so, reluctantly, i finally did.

and when i climbed up the stairs to my sleeping loft and found not
one, not two, not three or four or five, but SIXTY impeccably-frosted
vegan cupcakes laid out in the shape of a crucifix on my bed, i
wanted to crumble with gratitude that indeed, everything is All
Right. the fact that you included a painfully large xerox
reproduction of my embarrassing high school yearbook picture was also
The Shit. i'm not even tired anymore. i am now in a Fantastic Fucking
Mood. i need more friends like you.

i really, really love you, nick vargelis.


Monday, November 05, 2007

the songwriter gets it.

"one fucking false move and the songwriter gets it"

self-portrait, hyde street studios, san fransicso 3:33 am, november
4th 2007.

good godamn morning and happy daylight fucking savings, hopefully
even more cheerful news tomorrow


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

me & the zombies

hola comrades,

here is a video that chip and i shot last week in seattle.
don't ask.
happy halloween.

this week: seattle, los angeles, san francisco, santa fe, new york. boston, sleep.

how am i feeling?i feel about how i look in this video: completely lost, clueless and isolated and yet somehow ok despite my total lack of direction (which, if you look carefully, is backwards).
the last few months have been.....enlightening is the positive way of looking at it. i'm not even close to out the woods yet. when i blog, prepare for four to five installments.

love and death,

Friday, September 28, 2007

Moon Over Marin

Playing Moon over marin by the dead kennedys at paul's warehouse in san francisco.

shot by paul nathan himself. he also has watermelon and made me a bath.

i can't believe how fucking tired yet happy I am

i will write for real sometime soon
meanwhile I am recording all day every day and getting not enough sleep

i love my record


Monday, September 03, 2007

The Fucking Fringe Fucking Rocks

writing in planes seems to have become a habit, but it makes sense to me.

i barely thought about blogging when i was in edinburgh and when i stop to think about it, i realize why: i have no desire to keep a running of my life and actions.
did this. went here. met so and so. greetings from....
it's not the events themselves that i'm interested in writing about, it's the reverb.

so maybe:
memoirs, not chronicles.
maybe this:
it's been so sublime that to write ABOUT it DURING it would have seemed like a violation, as tasteless as stopping incredible sex to discourse thoughtfully with your partner about how incredible the sex is.

at the beginning of august i flew to london for the bush hall show

amanda and rohan (photo by nickie mcgowan)

and then to edinburgh and just left yesterday (by way of one short show at the pride festival in manchester, which was a disaster, though fun, and not part of the story).
i'm flying back to boston. in total i spent about 3 weeks at the fringe festival in edinburgh. i booked 8 shows at the spiegeltent and played a few extras as the opportunities came up.
it was the third year i've been in edinburgh during the fringe. the first year it was just for a day or two. i vowed i'd return. last summer i managed to stay 3-4 extra days.
from now on, i'm there all month every year. it is no less than perfection. it is disneyland for artists. it is heaven.

this is the fringe:

wandering lost in an city transformed into an altar to theater, music and art. old stone and brick buildings in the center of a twisted and cobbled fairy-story city that lie in slumber until fringe time and are then transformed into damp and dark spaces where art-makers compete for your attention, every one of them attempting harder than the next to plunge their hungry fingers into your heart and make you bleed so profusely that you have no alternative but to promote their show by word of mouth to all your friends.

everywhere the walls are damp and everywhere there's laughing and it smells wonderful and everywhere things happen now now now until 6 in the morning and profanity and profundity walk smack into you in the street.

on the third day steven (from zen zen zo in brisbane) came. we'd been hatching some vague plans to put action to music with him at the helm and a collection of performers he would wrangle from australia.
he introduced me to the performers from a show running at the fringe called "six women standing in front of a white wall". they were friends, some of them old students, of his and they generously lent us their performance space so we could rehearse the ridiculous lip-synch performance to "umbrella (ella ella eh eh eh)" that i had dreamed up on the plane ride over. it involved reggie beatboxing. reggie came over. game on. art started.

here's what we came up with:

the next day i saw the performance of "six women...". it was exactly this: six women, wild-haired painted white butoh-style and wearing pink prom gowns, standing in front of a white wall in a dark brick basement venue that is usually a hallway. they stand behind velvet VIP ropes with signs that read "please do touch". they stand there, writhing in wait, every muscle of their body tense, waiting to be touched. music alternately manic and heartbreaking plays through the speakers. maybe somebody crosses that rope and walks up to one of them touches them. and when touched, how they respond, all gleeful and wild and wordless and explosive, happy but terrifying like a baby in a state of shock in that moment for bursting into tears. the performance was attended by 10 or so people. steven and i touched them. i smiled, it was sweet, it was art, i knew these were my people. we invited them to come perform during my spiegel show, they'd be perfect during "material girl". let them writhe in front of the audience in their terrifying dresses and why not let's put blood capsules in their mouths and have them start oozing during the "living in a material world" section of the song. so every night these women, along with steven and the danger ensemble, all australians, would be packed behind the tent putting on white and laughing, what heaven will look like for me. steven and his crew put together a piece for my song "strength through music" that broke my heart so hard one night i wept while i watched them, hands on heads, all attending columbine and virginia tech, freezing and falling to the aisle of the tent while it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop every night. during "coin-operated boy" they paraded in the audience with "pash for a pound" signs. pash, i learned, is british for Making Out. they had many takers and often made out (no pun intended) very well. someone made a twenty one night. during "the assistant" they created a striking tableaux of twisted circus magicians and assistants. steven is like pope: he sees straight into my head and straight into the music and knows what goes where without me barely having to utter a word. chalk one more point up to Rock Love. we have it. we call it Art Love. i played off of them and their energy the way i play off brian, they fed me, more and more every night.

there's a great video reggie took of our daytime rehearsal of "creep" with the six women, you can really get a sense of what the tent looks like:

Amanda Creeps from Reggie Watts and Vimeo.

vimeo rocks, it's youtube for artists.


this is the spiegeltent:

stained-glass & velvet & gold vaudeville tent that seats 300 people and travels the world, a magical ship of cabaret and drinking that delivers atmosphere in such large doses that it's almost intoxicating. it's like stepping inside a gingerbread house or a movie that you love, you can barely believe that it's real. there were two tents set up at the fringe in a garden of tables and umbrella-ella-ellas and bulbs strung on tress. one with wrap-around booth-seating and a dance floor (my tent) and one with old circus bleacher-style seating (the bosco tent). there were dozens of acts, all rotating from afternoon til late late at night and the turnover was tight. we all shared dressing room trailers and the bathrooms were portapotties smelling strongly of cigarettes. it was one of these portapotties into which i accidentally jettisoned (and from which i vainly retrieved) my blackberry last summer.

we were all all all over each other, everyone fast friends, everyone in awe of the next person, everybody checking out each others acts and the whole place feeling like family.
i've never had so much constant exposure to such an abundance of my kind of talent and people in my life. it was what i'm always trying to make. already made, and there, for me.
the staff, including all the door people and backstage crew, wear old-school 1920s and 30s attire: hats, suits, vests, garters, skirts, boots, everybody truly loving it. fucking class.
wine in the morning, coffee at night, cider all the time.

i shared the stage with Bob Downe, a hilarious seventies throwback and with Camille, a french-irish beauty i've seen for years at the tent who does a nightly show of kurt weill, nick cave and jacques brel. not up my alley at FUCKING all. she was an inspiration and we would bump into each other every morning and share hangover woes and she would give me pieces of french apple pie. late at night there was the shuffle club, where the tent would jam pack and we would swing dance to a smoking band playing jazz standards. sweat everything off and slip down drunk on all the beer on the floor. (

...with bob downe backstage at the spiegel

most of the spiegeltent 07 family in front of the bosco (can you find amaaaaaaaanda? photo by ryan mcgoverne)

at the bosco tent was meow meow, one of the premiere cabaret performers from the new york scene and she was an instant hero, just add water. i've never seen a performer like her.... in love and in awe. she crowd surfed to the lighting booth every night.

meow sound checking in the tent

there was suitcase royale, which was a junkyard paradise combination of monty python, terry gilliam and, as the reviews said, "wallace and gromit meets david lynch". sxip showed up and we went together and clutched each other in hysterics the whole time and kept saying all day that we wanted to live in the set with the butcher the doctor and the newsman. they're coming to pittsburgh in the fall. go or die, i'll try to remind:

at the end of every night starting at one o'clock a password was spread and bosco tent would turn into a speakeasy where only the performers and the staff would knock at the backstage door. some band or another would kick out the jams and the drinks were served in teacups. the first night i went was almost the best, meow's piano accompanist and i took over the grand piano and played a 15-minute version "ice ice baby"/"under pressure" while the doctor from suitcase royale tried to channel vanilla ice. my last night i showed up with a song i had penned that afternoon to play for the assembled patrons: an ode to the spiegeltent. it was a tango, the lyrics began:

"i want to live inside this tent
i dont care how much rent they want
i want to curl up in a ball
forget the worlds out there at all
and fall asleep each morning plastered underneath a wooden bench

i'll drink my breakfast at the bar
i'll never change my clothes or shower
i'll hire a desperate local child
to fetch paninis from outside
and keep me stocked on cigarette papers and
underwear and i'll be best of friends with all the staff
we'll share our sorrows and a laugh
they'll be oblivious at night
when they are turning out the lights
that i am sleeping in a pile of their 1930's hats...."

....and so on and so forth. it ends with us all dying and meeting up to get pissed in a spiegeltent in heaven.

it went over very well.

then me and tom dickins sang "hallelujah" together and tried to make each other cry.

this is the fringe. it's the best place in the world.

me, meow and camille in front of the bos (photo by ryan mcgoverne)

there was my apartment.

which i found through the dentist(who-fixed-my-tooth-that-i broke-beatboxing-at-the-fringe-with-reggie-watts)'s son
sam. sam ends up being an amazing musician in his own right and i got to see him play and sing a few times over the course of the fringe.
sam had a friend named jo who had an empty room in her house for the month.

i rented a shitty keyboard and put it in the corner so i could practice. rohan practiced on it. i think max played it before he found tonsillitis.

i'd wake up in the morning with new thoughts in my head, ideas that maybe i always have but because of the change in climate and shift in lifestyle i finally did things i don't do.
i wrote two poems. i don't write poems. i'll share them later. one is called "broken-heart stew" and sounds like a dr. seuss book and one is called "how to hold a man with no arms". they are both good.

i wrote a children's story. it took 30 minutes but it's not really finished. it's about a boy who keeps changing his name.

i ignored everything coming in. i dealt with the essential but i have, at last count, approximately 567 emails (after spam-deleting) in my inbox.
i don't care.

everybody texted. i had a UK cell phone left over from last year and it became my new lifeline.
everybody always had somewhere to go, and if there wasn't somewhere to go, you could always find someone at the forest.

self-portrait on arrival day:

this is the forest cafe:

one day i walked in for a sandwich and there was a girl from pittsburgh playing "oh comely" on guitar and instead of ordering my sandwich i sat down in a chair and watched her and within about 2 minutes i was in tears. ok, so i was having a sensitive day anyway but what the fuck. her voice was like an angels, i talked to her afterwards and she came along that night to hanover street and played the guitar part for "two-headed boy" while i sang. we practiced in the basement. ( that's her).

the forest is the world's best Again cafe, co-operatively run and volunteer operated by everyone around, with plates of vegan salad, mad painting on the walls and indie music at all hours of the day and night. they only play music that is sent to them by unsigned bands. where everybody is, thinks, talks, sits in rotting armchairs with disintegrating springs that sink you to the floor. where the abandoned presbyterian church upstairs finally opened up as a forest cafe annex for a few weeks and miraculously the giant pipe organ up in the balcony was still working. the collective that was anarchically taking over the church space was a mass of 20 kids from london, and they put up gorgeous photos everywhere and made music for the end of the world. the sounds were like the old Birthday Party live recordings. the group was called "What They Could Do, They Did". the place was packed and dark with light creaking in from the street lamps breaking through the tin foil that had been plastered over the two-story stain-glass windows and i played "will" on the organ for the crowd down below as max worked the foot pedals with his hands.

upstairs at the forest & the pipe organ.

max. and rohan. the two of them sleeping like homeless angels on the wooden floor of my room and we would all scrape ourselves up sometime after noon and walk down to the cafe on the corner where we had, all three, fallen in love with the waitress who was so frazzled and terrified every time she took your order that you had to, just had to, deliberately slow your speech to watch her slowly self-destruct in agony. we were sadists, trying to inflict jedi zen on her and it never worked. the orders always came wrong, i always tipped, which you don't DO in scotland. from then when i was alone there, i would write. i would curse the draft from the door which was always kept open even though, for the first two weeks, it was always freezing and raining. from bush hall to edinburgh, max and rohan and i ate many meals together and always ended up in the same seats on the same topic of technical skill losing out to passion no matter what the application. about how there are no rules for life and you realize this gradually. rohan finally made me an associate member of the guild of funerary violin players and i attached the golden plaque proudly to my ukulele.

some pictures of the forest:



the forest bathroom, which gets repainted all the time, as do all the forest walls:

i took jogs through the meadows near the apartment and listened to the songs that becca left on the iPod i had lent her that she named Maggie.

one day my heart broke.

i had my heart broken, mostly, i think, because i needed it to be so i could fix it and feel my own blood pumping. i'll never know. i keep forgetting what it's like to feel even the remotest shallow heart pains.

that day i was hung over and i gathered up all the energy i could muster and left the house for a run. maggie was on shuffle and "everybody's gotta live" by the band Love came on. i had never heard it.
i played it again. and again. and again. i kept running. i felt like that character described in Paris, Texas. i kept running and running and hitting repeat until i was so full of Yes that it was impossible. then i went home and showed and went out that night to see what would happen but i brought maggie and when things got hard i finally took her out and i put on the song and i walked by the throngs of people in the cloudy dark wet light and i felt my heart explode with every face i saw pass me. i wanted to grab my cracked heart out of myself and throw it in the river and i wanted to hold onto it forever.

i went to 99 hanover street to pick some money up from gavin. i'd had a variety show there the night before and invited all my friends to come play....sxip, reggie, rohan, steven and the other guys from danger ensemble, jessica delfino singing songs about vaginas, more more more, it was a juicy night everybody sat on the floor and we all rock loved and drank wine and ate indian food in the make-shift basement dressing room. i was tired from my jog and from my heartbreak and from the late night. gavin waved, he was just finishing up a band on stage and as they played their last chord he told me to hang on so he could throw a song on the turntable and he ran over while i got a cider at the bar and i heard
and i properly melted to a puddle of fucking mush on the floor.

i dragged my semi-broken heart around for a few days like a suitcase filled with top-shelf drugs, happy to have it but afraid that it might burst open and get me in a shitload of trouble.

on one of those days i went back to see the six women show. they'd gotten rave reviews, the show was now packed. instead of 10 people, the room was teeming but the crowd was just as timid and confused.
i was raw, tired, sad, happy, broken, leaving in a few days. they just stood there, writhing. i held onto a set of hands and i felt tears gush out, thinking this is it: this is your lover. and i knew i was right. and they knew i was right. and they held me and i held them, and in all the parts of my brain that were working i tried not to take any of it for granted. saying: there's no rule that says that people are going to make mind-blowing art, no rule that you're going to be there to see it. touch it NOW. NOW. and i left the theater without saying goodbye to any of them in words, my hands and pants and mouth and nose covered in white, and got in a cab to go to the dentist's house for dinner.

the six women of little dove art theater:


more connections and more:

i knew andy, a bad-ass trumpet player, from last year and the next thing i knew he wrangled three of his friends and i had a horn section fro "leeds united". they all played pants-less and i loved them.

photo by stuart barrett

i loved them so much i booked a day in a local recording studio and they brought along a bass player and drummer and we laid the track down. it is the sloppiest thing i have ever recorded. i did the vocal in one take and didn't even warm up. i think it's going to go on the record just because IT CAN! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ha.

we had a good time in the studio:

with the band recording "leeds united" at chamber street studio
(drew forrest)

doing vocals
(drew forrest)

the record has been on my my mind but i tried to ignore it all month. i went jogging and i realized that if you didn't know me, you'd hear all these songs and just think i was just an incredibly morose and fucked up chick. that didnt' sit well with me. i need to think about that.

this is the dentist's house:

there is a house in edinburgh where a family lives that is the most wonderful family in the wolrd. i've never seen so much drinking and laughing and joking and shared love of music and life around a family dinner table in my life. instruments are played, spilled dessert from the table turns into an art installation and photo opportunity and the dying and lovable cat, pumpkin, shares time in everybody's lap. i am now torn between living in the suitcase royale set or the dentist's family's house. emily came over for dinner the first time. we ended up all lying on the floor stuffed with food and wine watching alice cooper and tom waits and captain beefheart clips from the old grey whistle test DVD.
we spent the next day looking at each other shaking our heads saying "dentist's house. Best. Family. Ever." the encore dinner was just as wonderful and sam and i practiced "two-headed boy" together and then we all walked over to reggie's late-night show and at 2 am we took stage and played it. then i played "what about blowjobs" with reggie and did NOT break any teeth this time. no pun intended ok next:

this is the fringe:

-heading to the spiegeltent in the morning and checking my email under an umbrella drinking cappuccino and eating banana bread while camille comes by and talks irish in her gorgeous wool coat and sxip comes by with someone from luminescent orchestrii and talks about how their show went and mark comes by and calls me darlin' and sonya comes by and says how you goin' and tom comes by in his suit with his big australian smile and tom's mom gives me a massage in her trailer maked "zen central" and puts flower essence under my tongue and talks to me about love and life and makes my chest break open.

-a piece of physical theater called "the angel and the woodcutter" that it makes me cry not one, not two, not three, but four seperate times. by the last scene everyone in the house is fucking sniveling.

-sitting in the kitchen with my housemates, from all over, greece, italy, food being cooked, wine poured, conversation turning in circles and the record player always on. the back window lets you out into a garden with tiger lillies and fox gloves.

-three weeks of Noga

-a one-man play about technology and isolation in which everything morphs into a sick video game and i cry from happiness and not-loneliness and then the actor who is a friend of reggie and jason webley's from seattle takes me back to his house under a cliff and makes me eggs and toast and we end up talking (surprise) about how technical skill loses out to passion no matter what the application.

-a walk to the spiegeltent one evening, decide to take the long way through the meadows and a group of four or five people are lying on a blanket drinking beer and i'm in a good mood and one of the guys is playing a hand-drum even though he doesn't really look like a hippie and the beat makes me happy and so i smile and when i walk by i catch his eye and he doesn't look away and i don't look away and the whole episode only lasts 3 seconds but he ends it by saying "i love you"

-showing up at club noir with reggie and the danger ensemble to do a quick appearance and being backstage with a gazillion half-naked burlesque dancers and drinking GOD knows WHAT was in those pitchers.

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with reggie at cloub noir
(tina warren)

mark during coin-operated boy at club noir. i'm not sure if he made any money that night.
(tina warren)

-seeing fuerztabruta, the same folks who made "de la guarda" at a tent on the other side of town. me and steven and drew all cab it over. i grab steven's hand within the first ten minutes because we both know that this is It.
in an hour, urban life sticks the arrow of decay through our hearts, world trade center towers crash over everybody's heads, and tsunamis consume us as all three hundred of us agree to dance and scream and FUCK IT.
we leave drunk on the performance and take public transport back to town, steven produces a bottle of vodka from his backpack and we all feel 16 as we burst into spontaneous fits of laughter taking swing and making faces in the back of the top of the double decker bus.

-conversations about the end of the world in a bar with the staff from the bongo club after seeing the group 1927 create the most incredible fusion of film and performance i've yet seen.
true genius; i am determined to get them to come open up for the dolls this winter:

-cider, whiskey, lager, wine, repeat

from comments:

"You aren't the sum of your experiences. You're the whole fucking equation."
whoever wrote this, you're awesome.

"did you ever see a film called "paris, texas"? i expect you have, but i think youd like it anyway."
this is not only one of my favorites (and i love wim wenders in general, if you haven't seen his new one, don't come knocking, it's pretty good and bleak) but the soundtrack is oneof my favorite soundtracks of all time.
ry cooder, slide guitar, just ridiculously great.

amanda and alex, my last night at the fringe in the underbelly bar. notice indeed my bloated cider-belly
& how my jacket barely closes:

all right.

i'm out to the mountains montana for a week with no phone or email again, finishing yoga teacher training so i can finally quit this ridiculous day job.

if anyone tries to message or email me i'm way backed up so be patient.
i finally put life first for a while and it means i have about 462 unanswered emails in my inbox.

i get back & then i'm spending all of september finishing up the record and then mixing the first week of october in nashville. i'm scared. it'll be done and then i won't be able to change anything. but then it will also come out and people will finally be able to hear what i've been doing with my life for a year.




oh p.s. miscellaneous plug:
me & him performing this song together at the fringe seems to have become a tradition, and this video is the funniest shit i have EVER seen:
go go go:
& hopefully we'll do this song together at the ART shows in boston in a few weeks and everyone can sing along.
if you haven't got tickets, get them, these shows are going to be epic and beautiful and never again.

Friday, August 03, 2007

further deconstruction of umbrella & other news

i was in the chiropractor's office while i was home, he wears a white turban and has a really long beard.
in the waiting room there was a copy of "Real Simple" which, as i understand it, is a magazine about living more simply.
the tagline of the magazine:

Real Simple: Life Made Easier.

what would have henry david said about this one?

but that is not the funny part of the story,
the funny part of the story was the fact that when i opened up the magazine randomly to see what was in there, i opened to an advertisement for something or other. i think it was actually a ad for another magazine, which also makes me laugh in retrospect.


the advertisement was a modern black-and-white affair with text and a photograph of a very weird-blender-looking-high-tech-device-with-a-handle

the text said:

"I don't know what it is, but I want it."


being not in the habit of writing music anymore and anyway being disgusted with myself at the thought of using my own personal not-even-very-large heartbreak to write lyrics, i went to the local hipster bar instead.
i drank two oatmeal stouts and talked to a girl named rachel who has worked with the blind who approached me because she recognized me.
we talked about the coasts.

then i wrote in my journal and then i got sick of that and bummed a cigarette off a bike courier and drew a picture of myself feeling sorry for myself. i'm still 16. i can't handle the fact that my romantic self is dying, that i'm getting old, that doing the unexpected is too much of a bother.

that i know too well how things will go - because i do know, because i have the experience - and so i let go, i don't do.

i don't want to let go.
i want to torture myself, i want to feel hurt, i want to feel my own heart breaking, i want to remember what it's like to fall in love. it's been too many years, i've loved nothing but my self and my own creations and the scenery that goes along with it. fuck that.

meanwhile, my balanced self nods wisely saying: this is the pain that you have to experience to grow up. finding balance means feeling the pain of not doing certain things.

but i WANT to drive to other people's driveways at three in the morning and declare my love. i want to make things happen. irrational things.

exactly, my self says....but you don't.

but i don't WANT to be rational. i don't WANT to be responsible. that means i am OLD, and DEAD.
i realistically have nothing to lose.
why can't i be like i used to?
i want to be stupid.
run out naked into traffic and all that.



i just got an email from michael franti. we have the same management company - madison house (great bunch of people and dogs there).
we met a while ago in australia and went to each others shows. our music couldn't be more different but MAN the guys got soul. he is very very very tall and rarely wears shoes and writes overtly political reggae-rock-inspired songs about peace/politics/fucked-up-ness. he's a marley/mellow clash. i had no idea he was actually famous until i got home from that trip and they were playing his CD in my yoga studio, and everybody knew it. it's nice when you meet famous people and you don't know it. he's recording a new record in LA and doing yoga in the parking lot. he sounds like my long lost brother, except i'm not black. ok.


from comments:
"Sorry about your cat. I always looked at temporal bodies as slingshots being pushed to their breaking point, and when we die the trigger is released. I'd like to think your cat is getting the ride of it's life right now."

thank you for all your Cat Still Exists confirmations.

i had a dream last night and Govinda was in it.

here it was:

i was in my old house, the house in lexington that i grew up in. almost all my dreams take place there. my best friend, who's a shrink (go figure) says that the old house represents my Self. it's stable, never-left, never-changing, a good repository for whatever images my poor and over-worked little brain-imagination can stuff inside it. (i also have very frequently recurring dreams in which all my possessions, and my self, get immersed in some body of water but we'll leave that to another blog SHALL WE).

i was running around, distracted and breakneck speed, wearing sweatpants and a dirty t-shirt, as i usually did back then. i kept feeling something trapped in the cuff off my pants, something like a little furry animal still alive, and i kept thinking i would tend to it, but i kept forgetting. finally, after too many bouts of running around and doing, i remembered to reach my hand up through my pants to see what the object was.

it was a tiny yellow chick, just barely hatched and hours old, beaten and bruised from all of my hustling about. i felt a guilt so heavy i couldn't bear it: if only i had paid attention sooner. i even knew, i felt it moving; yet i did nothing.
it's eyes fluttered open but couldnt stay open. it was barely moving, barely breathing. i thought to myself that maybe i should kill it and put it out of its misery.

i did do that once.
i was at some friend's house and all alone because they hadn't arrived. and there on the ground by the side of the house was a dying bird, a chickadee, a little one. it was obvious the end was near, it was barely moving, heaving little bird breaths.
my heart was breaking and before i could think about it twice i lifted my right black mary-jane (i remember not wearing my boots, because the sole of the show was paper-thin) and stepped on that bird as hard as i could. and then again. and again. it was harder than i thought. which reminds me of how easy it is to be killed but how hard it is to kill yourself.

anyway, my right foot reverberated for a long time. even now, under my right arch i can feel that little warm body and the bones crackling, not giving as easily as i thought they would, defying death.

this bird in the dream was like that bird. i put the bird down on the floor of my old bedroom, which was emptied of all the original furniture though the walls were still covered in mess-collage.
under the window on the wooden floor where my futon used to be.

i was grief-stricken, guilt-ridden, panicked and convinced i was working against time to save this little life, if that was even possible, which i doubted.
i ran down to the kitchen. there was my mother. i started rustling through drawers and cabinets:

"i need something, quick. a bird upstairs is dying. something warm. some safe place to put it."

she didn't seem phased and she suggested that i use some of the leftover warm tea-bags that were being used in the dish she was making.

"no! those won't work....i need something NOW something and quickly."

and i grabbed a dishcloth and a big bowl and ran back up to my room. in the place where the bird had been was little kitten. not a newborn kitten but a grown-enough one. fully functional.
my logical mind ignored itself and i thought:

how amazing
the chick has evolved into a kitten, and lived.
and then i thought to myself: that's completely stupid.
chickens don't turn into cats.
but i was under some sort of fantasy-dream power so i let that one go.

the kitten hopped up onto the top of my old bedroom closet, where govinda was lying on her side, white belly bared, being her very happy and alive and very soft-and-furry self.
the kitten cuddled up against her and they seemed to get along famously. i felt a surge.

i jumped down from the closet ledge and saw a large plastic cat-carrier sort of structure on the bare wooden floor. an incubator. it was emanating warmth and peeking in it, i saw a large pink blanket folded and in the corner, the newly-hatched yellow chick sleeping soundly. my mother had put it there.

when i told this dream to my friend, i burst into tears telling that last part.

i am broken-hearted and feeling old and losing my sense of freedom and self. my step-sister gave birth two days ago. i'm an aunt.

i know what most of it means.


from comments:

Well you know what they say. If you've gone over the cliff, as we all do once we struggle out of the womb, you can do one of two things:

1. Enjoy the view
2. Scream the whole way down




i saw st. vincent play in boston at the middle east.
i think she's the most incredible thing i've seen/heard in a long time & i highly recommmend checking her shit out

regina+pj+joanjett+doris day

go see her live if the tracks don't do it for you.
tell her hi.


the other day, while driving back from the hospital and being faced with several faces of death, i was reminded of a poetic theme of my life: massachusetts avenue. i grew up off this street, many of my major epic break-ups and hook-ups and massive other goings-on have taken place on this street. i started composing a song in my head. i forced myself, when i got home, to finish the song.

it was not terrible, but it was Terrible. upon completing 47% of the song, it dawned on me that it was a complete, shameless rip-off of the jeep song, truce, ampersand and one other song which i forget now. that;s how bad it was.
i tried to finish it but instead lost myself back into the harsh reality that song-writing (any art, pretty much) is a craft that must be practiced, not mustered

(fuck, i really wanted to be artistic and lazy)


you can run into my arms
it's okay don't be alarmed (?)
come into me (delay: come into me)
there's no distance in between our love

ok stop right there.

there's no distance in between our love.


it makes no sense.


two years ago i joked that i would only ever endorse one product if i had the choice: Dr. Bronner's Magic Castile Soap.

we wrote them some fan mail and they responded by sending an entire box of soap. i was thrilled. i gave the soap away.

i wish i could give this soap to everyone.

now they have made a movie about Dr. Bronner's life and family and soap (Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox) and brian and i went to see it the other night at the coolidge.

it is an incredible film: the moral ABC, heartbreak, family, mental instability, human connection, the holocaust and it's long-reaching aftershocks. all there.

go see it if it's at an arthouse near you:

the site for the film:

A human being works hard to teach love to his enemy, to help unite all mankind free, or that being is not yet Human; so, go the second mile, hold the other cheek brave, not meek! For we're All-One or none! All-One! Exceptions eternally none! ABSOLUTE NONE!



from comments:

"I'll fess up: I kinda dig on that "Umbrella" song. Deep down, I'm just a dirty pop whore. I can't help myself. Don't get me started on "Fergalicious," and if you aren't familiar with that song, stay with that. It's the purest form of audio crack. Hear it just once and you're hooked."

audio crack is a very good way of putting it, but is it necessarily - de facto - bad for you?

i have been re-reading books that i've always meant to get back to. i have been trying to do more of that lately.idiotic
i have found that re-reading certain books from my teenage past that i found amazing then are even more amazing now, profoundly.
so i am going back Again and again.
in the past week i've been reading "the unbearable lightness of being" by milan kundera. i remember being stricken by it at 18, so stricken that i continued on as a fan and read 4 or 5 more of his books (immortality i also remember being striking, i'm going to re-read that in edinburgh).

let's talk about rihanna's "umbrella" in the context of kundera.

here are excerpts from the past few passages that i just happened to read on the plane (sabina = czech at-this=point-currently emigré painter):

Sabina's inner revolt against Communism was aesthetic rather than ethical in manner. What repelled her was not nearly so much the ugliness of the Communist world (ruined castles transformed into cow sheds) as the mask of beauty it tried to wear - in other words, Communist kitsch [for you Regina Spektor fans out there: Soviet Kitsch]. The model of Communist kitsch is the ceremony called May Day.
She had seen May Day parades during the time when people were still enthusiastic or still did their best to feign enthusiasm. The women all wore red, white and blue blouses, and the public, looking on from balconies and windows, could make out various five-pointed stars, hearts and letters when the marchers went into formation. Small brass bands accompanied the individual groups, keeping everyone in step. As a group approached the reviewing stand, even the most blasé faces wold beam with dazzling smiles, as if trying to prove they were properly joyful or, to be more precise, in proper agreement. Nor were they merely expressing political agreement with Communism; no, theirs was an agreement with being as such. The May Day ceremony drew it's inspiration from the deep well of the categorical agreement with being. The unwritten, unsung motto of the parade was not "Long live Communism!" but "Long live life!" The Power and cunning of Communist politics lay in the fact that it appropriated this slogan. For it was this idiotic tautology ("Long live life!") which attracted people indifferent to the theses of Communism to the Communist parade.


long live the punk cabaret!


you can stand under under under my umbrella.


i just listened to it again.
it's the synthesizers.
it is aimed to hit all the brainwashed children of today
PLUS everyone who loved Disintegration.


And in fact, Soviet films, which flooded of all Soviet countries in that cruelest of times [post WWII], were saturated with incredible innocence and chastity. The greatest conflict that could occur between two Russian was a lovers' misunderstanding: he thought she no longer loved him she thought he no longer loved her. But in the final scene they would fall into each other's arms, tears of happiness trickling down their cheeks.
The current conventional interpretation of these films is this: they showed the Communist ideal, whereas Communist reality was worse.
Sabina always rebelled against this interpretation. Whenever she imagined the world of Soviet kitsch becoming a reality, she felt a shiver run down her back. She would unhesitatingly prefer life in a real Communist regime with all its persecution and meat queues. Life in the real Communist world was still livable. In the world of the Communist ideal made real, in that world of grinning idiots, she would have nothing to say, she would die of horror within a week.


when the sun shines
we'll shine together:


does it mean that ONLY when the sun shines, we'll shine together?

meaning that when it rains we will NOT shine together, meaning that now that it's raining more than ever, you CAN'T stand under my umber-ella
ella ella e eh eh eh?

eh eh?



i played with a full band, Aberdeen City, this weekend. the four days that i spent before the run of shows were sublime. i went to their boiling hot allston rehearsal space and we worked non-stop for hours on end to arrange the songs. we ended up playing: five of mine ("don't take the flowers" - a new one, "night reconnaissance", "you owe me a coke' - which i have to re-title but actually i kind of like it, "awful detail", "the mouse and the model") and two tasteful covers ("together" by avril lavigne and "take ecstasy with me" by the magnetic fields). the peak experience came on rehearsal night three when we went for a beer run and i felt something akin to losing my band virginity. none of them knew it.

miller time in summertime. is happiness simple? answer = sometimes yes.

the shows got better and better each night and though i got the distinct feeling that the hardcore fans didnt want to hear guitars mixed in with my piano playing, i didn't care. i was having too good a time. aberdeen city gave me a blue mandolin and a chord book as a going-away present. i want to drink the champagne of beers forever. I want to get back to writing songs, eh eh eh.

as for aberdeen, go see the band in their own glory:
i highly recommend the songs "god is going to get sick of me" and "pretty pet":

i usually describe them as mid-latter-day radiohead, but they would probably hate that.
i think what i love best is that i don't know what they are. they are an excellent band full of excellent, that's all.
also highly recommended live.


the germans have an expression for when you can't get a song out of your head: they say that you have an "ear worm".


She stood in front of her easel with a half-finished canvas on it, the old man in the armchair behind her observing every stroke of her brush.
"It's time we went home," he said at last with a glance to his watch.
She laid down her palette and went into the bathroom to wash. The old man raised himself out of his armchair and reached for his cane, which was leaning against a table. The door of the studio led directly out to the lawn. It was growing dark. Fifty feet away was a white clapboard house. The ground-floor windows were lit. Sabina was moved by the two windows shining out into the day.
All her life she had proclaimed kitsch her enemy. But hadn't she in fact been carrying it with her? Her kitsch was her image of home, all peace, quiet, and harmony, and ruled by a loving mother and wise father. It was an image that took shape within her after the death of her parents. The less her life resembled that sweetest of dreams, the more sensitive she was to its magic, and more than once she shed tears when the ungrateful daughter in a sentimental film embraced the neglected father as the windows of the happy family's house shone out into the dying day.
She had met the old man in New York. He was rich and liked paintings. He lived alone with his wife, also aging, in a house in the country. Facing the house, but still on his land, stood an old stable. He had had it remodeled into a studio for Sabina and would follow the movements of her brush for days on end.
Now all three of them were having supper together. The old woman called Sabina "my daughter", but all indications would lead one to believe the opposite, namely, that Sabina was the mother and that her two children doted on her, worshipped her, would do anything she asked.
Had she then, herself on the threshold of old age, found the parents who had been snatched from her as a girl? Had she at last found the children she had never had herself?
She was well aware it was an illusion. Her days with the aging couple were merely a brief interval. the old man was seriously ill, and when his wife was left on her own, she would go and live with their son in Canada. Sabina's path of betrayals would then continue elsewhere, and from the depths of her being, a silly mawkish song about two shining windows and the happy family living behind them would occasionally make its way into the unbearable lightness of being.
Though touched by the song, Sabina did not take her feeling seriously. She knew only too well that the song was a beautiful lie. As soon as kitsch is recognized for the lie it is, it moves into the context of non-kitsch, thus losing its authoritarian power and becoming as touching as any other human weakness. For none among us is superman enough to escape kitsch completely.

No matter how we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition.

take that rihanna


self-portrait in london, august 3 2007.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

ella ella eh eh eh

i got home this morning. early; i took the red-eye from san francisco.

i'm back in my apartment. drinking some weird vanilla-infused vodka that pope must have left here, because i certainly don't drink this shit.
but right now it's perfect all watered down with tap water and no ice to be found ion the house it's boiling hot. cathode is on the stereo, i am finally landing. i haven't been home for seven weeks.

the true colors tour went off without a hitch and we had a relatively awesome fucking time. we got to sing happy birthday to cyndi lauper backstage (rainbow connection) and a week later, to debbie harry (space oddity). we made new friends, we got to see first-hand what our lives could possibly be like if we're still touring 25 years from now. the tour seems like a long time ago because of all thats happened since. i took one day off in LA and went to Santa Cruz to visit with jason webley and Evelyn and Evelyn. sandy fishnets stopped by ( which was pretty awesome. she Always wears sunglasses.

while we were there, my mother emailed me that my beloved cat from childhood, govinda, passed away. i loved her a lot and was sad.
she was my mostly companion and a very smart cat. there was a cat named poo-roo at the house and poo-roo would cuddle with me every night and so i felt there was some sort of cosmic cat-happening.
jason comforted me by pointing out: Cat Still Exists. that somehow made me feel better. wouldn't it be wonderful if it worked that way with people. for instance, if your loved one suddenly died but you could just walk outside and see another person on the sidewalk and say: "wow. look! another Person. how handy."

i went to LA for a live interview/conversation with henry rollins, which went splendidly, he's an amazing man. very neurotic and very black and very white and very passionate about everything he talks about. he talked alot and i listened and tried to get him to probe deeper into his intimacy issues. he said he simply didn't hug. i gave him grief for that repeatedly over the course of the night ( we were in a beautiful outdoor courtyard at the hammer museum and as we talked the sun set). we wrapped up the talk and both greeted fans and i noticed that every time henry would go to do a photograph with a fan he would do this trés military stance with his person, whereas i would sort of melt into my person like a polyamorous barnacle. a photographer came by at the end of night to get shot of us together and henry grabbed he in a great big bear hug and everybody applauded. there is hope yet for breaking down his intimacy barrier. maybe i will crochet him a little Black Flag throw pillow to hug in the meantime.

then i flew back up to santa cruz to work on my some music. we did a day of pre-production in the house behind the strip mall then we drove up to a chicken ranch studio north of san francisco where tom waits recorded most of his stuff up until 1999. it was quiet and covered in hay and just stunningly beautiful. the piano was a massive baldwin grand from the 60's that had just been re-strung and restored and it sang. i wrote a brand new song in a studio that was empty and painted with corn stalks.

we recorded it the next day. i've read about people doing this i never believed it was possible. but music doesn't need to be so precious when you're not thinking about it. so i just didnt think about it. we cooked omelets in the morning and worked into the nights. there was nothing else to do but make music. we just played. i pulled out some of the old stuff, provanity, another year, point of it all and we did new basics because the piano sound was just perfect perfect. i don't even know yet what happened. i'm going to have to decide when i listen back. but i think it was amazing. i was just on this weird Make Music autopilot. i only answered what email was essential (my inbox right now is at 519) and jogged. i tried one morning to get into laura nyro and failed.

there were huge blackberry bushes across the street from the studio and i picked them and my hand turned all purple and i came back to the ranch all smiling and holding my hands up and the studio interns thought i had murdered someone or been in some awful accident.

i was in LA for a few visits. on one visit i saw the world's only live mash-up band Smash-Up Derby play at safari sams and danced til i was devastated (go go go: i recommend "smells like billie jean", but "closer to rock and roll" was pretty excellent as well, especially for you NIN fans). i drank on an empty stomach one might with zoe and ariel and only vaguely remember spending the end of the evening in ariels bathroom getting really fascinated with the micro-zoom feature on my digital camera and taking a lot of pictures of my teeth. on another visit i met with this incredible string arranger, paul buckmaster, that ben introduced me to who i think is going to work on the record. he told me all about the mag-lev train in shanghai and katie kay came over to pick me up and he made us strawberries with creme fraiche and sake sauce. i found a film agent. i'd like to do soap operas where i can play somebody named Alexis or Chandra or be in the color remake of eraserhead (and play the deformed infant).

i went back to san fran to play at paul's absynthe party. a few hundred people and a truly fantastic space. i saw a colorful collage of girls in powdered white wigs, silver paintings on the wall and huge day-glo mannequins and the rest is kind of a blur. i remember dancing topless at a pole in the dancing room and eating an extraordinarily delicious pad thai. then i got on a plane and came home.

somewhere along the way i finished reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. i mentioned it in the last blog and now that i'm done all i can do is say please read this book. it ties it all together.
we were lying there one night and jason's friend had just died and we talked about the way that Here We Are. how it all happened is totally random and very soon, we're going to be gone. Cat Still Exists, on a grand plane. all you can do is not take it too seriously, try to enjoy yourself and this confluence of coincidences and laugh at the fact that you happen to exist RIGHT NOW. now now now.

i read the part about the buildings coming down when i was on the plane to come back to santa cruz to see jason. i knew he had read it. i cried the whole way, i had just finished tour and i was raw as shit anyway. nine eleven, dresden, love death and finishing and everything old and dying and everything new and not understanding. people falling in reverse from the floor to the sky and back up into the smoke and making the last call where we who are still standing standing can only imagine, the way you have toif you stop for a half second to think about it. who hasn't imagined that.

i have a few days to gather myself, see my family and rehearse with aberdeen city for our three shows and then head to scotland to be with my people at the fringe.


all i know is that "umbrella" is haunting me like a crackwhore i owe money & i have to deconstruct it and destroy it to find peace.

ella ella eh eh eh eh. ella ella eh eh eh eh.
ella ella eh eh eh eh. ella ella eh eh eh eh.
ella ella eh eh eh eh. ella ella eh eh eh eh.
ella ella eh eh eh eh. ella ella eh eh eh eh.
ella ella eh eh eh eh. ella ella eh eh eh eh.
ella ella eh eh eh eh. ella ella eh eh eh eh.
ella ella eh eh eh eh. ella ella eh eh eh eh.
ella ella eh eh eh eh. ella ella eh eh eh eh.

sometime in my lifetime i will find the answer to the peaceful between pop schlock and freedom.