New poem

One:

Another typical Saturday 

during the afternoon,

I was feeling hungry 

and wanted dinner soon. 

Close to Eighth and Webster, 

a place serve beef chow fun. 

Good location overall 

if I talked with no one.

Too many times I’ll walk by.

A friend sees me and says, “Hi.”

Two:

I wish I could determine 

exactly how and when 

I could attract more women 

and avoid annoying men

but now, as I walk out,

streets are bare and quiet.

A good time for adventure 

but I don’t want to try it. 

When I play a different song,

trouble then tags along.

Three:

Several blocks away,

the scene changes style.

Young people walk, happy.

One runs with a smile.

The women look similar 

in sweatshirts with pushed up sleeves 

ready for college classes 

as each parent believes.

Learning with passion 

becomes trendy like fashion.

Four:

The Asian-Pacific Mall

is just one block away.

A pleasant place to visit 

as a breeze blows my way. 

There’s benches by the fountain 

where I can sit and rest,

thinking of the restaurants 

and who looks well dressed.

There are many around 

in this part of town.

Five:

Suddenly, like magic, as I walk down the hall,

I see a site so rare.

Could it have happened at all?

A woman approaches me,

quick like water flow, 

looking into my eyes 

and then saying, “Hello.” 

Her sweatshirt’s tucked in jeans 

like the best beauty queens.

Six:

She introduces herself, 

holding out her hand.

I tell her my name 

and try to understand.

Am I supposed to shake

or do I just hold on 

with my right hand or left?

I don’t want to be wrong 

but I extend the latter 

to resolve the matter.

Seven:

She holds on quite tight, 

suggesting that we walk 

without letting go 

and avoiding talk.

The moment is surreal 

but I accept the plan 

until I’m overwhelmed 

and I no longer can.

Her grip’s like sticky tape

of which there’s no escape.

Eight:

I forget about my food 

as we stroll every block.

How long, I can’t determine. 

I cannot find a clock. 

Finally, I stop and pull 

with all my might,

causing an awkward struggle 

that does not feel right 

but I manage to break free 

while she’s screaming at me.

Nine:

I run off, relieved 

but have a change of heart 

realizing I ruined 

a most promising start.

I retrace my steps,

return and wave. She grins. 

I suggest we try 

the whole thing again. I hold out my hand, ask, “Yes?”

What happens next? You guess.

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Awkward (work in progress)

“Thanks.” She extends her hand. 

“Sure.” We shake. 

Her expression changes to alarm. She is looking past me. I turn my head. Richard is there. His arms are folded.

Stephanie asks, “What?” 

Richard nods. “Hello, Joseph.” 

I return the greeting. 

He shrugs. “What are you doing?”

She frowns and then notices our handshake. “I’m just thanking him.” 

“For what?”

“That stuff Zack brought over, Joseph was good enough to help me put it away.”

“That’s nice of you, Joseph. You can go now.”

I start to walk but Stephanie is still holding on. 

She says, “You don’t have to leave.”

He says, “We have things to discuss.”

“Just a split second after I thank Joseph for helping me, you walk in.” 

“You say that but you’re holding his hand.”

“I’m shaking his hand.” 

“Okay. Now, let go.”

I try to let go but she tightens her grip. 

She says, “You’re not the boss of me. I can thank someone without you getting all strange.” 

He says, “It’s strange what you’re doing. Let go of him.”

“If I want to shake his hand, that’s what I’ll do. Thank you Joseph.” She employs fast up and down movements. 

I say, “I don’t want to be in the middle of anything. I should go.”

“Richard won’t do anything as long as you’re here.”

He says, “That’s enough.”

She sighs. “I’ve had it. I’m not putting up with it, anymore. Today’s the last day. No more mind games. No more threats or jealous bullshit.” 

He shrugs. “Who’s doing the mind games now? I come home and see you touching our neighbor and you’re still touching him.”

“If I want to shake his hand all day, that’s when I’m going to do.”

I say, “I didn’t know any of this was going to happen.”

She says, “You don’t have to explain yourself. We should leave. Let him stay angry in an empty room.”

She walks towards the door. Richard moves out of the way, almost apologetically. As he looks at me, his eyes seem less aggressive and more nervous, is if my presence prevents him from reacting another way. She and I walk outside, her pulling me with a firm grip.

Meeting Alyssa (work in progress)

Arnold Thompkins was sitting comfortably in his living room, waiting eagerly. The show, Brentwood’s Big Stars, were named ironically. The artists were well-known in town but obscure in most everywhere else. Arnold saw a video for one of Alyssa Donegan’s songs called, “As I Go.” She was dressed in a tucked in T-shirt and belted jeans. He thought she looked great. Whenever he saw female singers wearing their shirts tucked in, he liked their style because most singers nowadays, whether male or female, preferred looking sloppier in loose shirts. He figured the situation was a matter of preference. Just like food: some people enjoyed linguini and clams with Alfredo sauce. Other people avoided pasta, fish and dairy. As far as he was concerned, he could not understand why more entertainers did not dress well. He was equally puzzled why more people did not agree with him.

After Alicia’s video was shown, there was a small interview segment called, “In The Studio.” She was the featured artist that week. She was shown playing piano, singing. She was wearing a plaid shirt tucked in. Arnold was pleasantly nervous. Did she usually dress like that? After the interview segment was over, he went into the bedroom and logged onto his computer. He looked up her name and what appeared with her name was under the category of singer songwriter. There were a few pictures, all showing her wearing the tucked in T-shirt look from her video. He clicked on the images category and saw some pictures just of her face or the top part of her body but not enough to see the whole outfit but he noticed, in the pictures of her whole outfit, her shirts were always tucked in. Some pictures were T-shirts and others were plaid shirts, always with rolled up sleeves and belted jeans. There were also pictures of other people, one of whom looked a little bit like her but not much, wearing a blue sweatshirt and jogging pants. He clicked on it and the caption showed, “Allyssa Little from Donegan County.” The computer showed results for anything with the words Alyssa  and Donegan, including a church with the caption, “Alyssa’s and Donegan’s wedding.”

He looked at websites that posted interviews with her. In one interview, she said, “I don’t care what other people do. I do my own thing. That goes for my music and how I look.”

She was apparently from Brentwood. Arnold could not recollect if he saw her anywhere in town. He had just heard of her yesterday, when Brentwood’s Big Stars showed “As I Go” during the closing credits, indicating she would be featured tomorrow. There were a few other female singers who wore their shirts tucked in who Arnold liked but they fluctuated in their styles and sometimes wore dresses or cut off T-shirts. So far, Alyssa was the only one staying constant in her appearance. Arnold wondered if she only dressed that way for when she was promoting her career. Perhaps in private the situation was different. Howard wondered about the possibility of meeting her.

I thought the best stuff off the KISS My Ass tribute CD, when I bought it back in the day, was Lenny Kravitz’ “Deuce”, Garth Brooks’ “Hard Luck Woman”, and Toad The Wet Sprocket’s “Rock N Roll All Nite.” I hated Dinosaur, Jr.’s “Goin’ Blind” (but I can’t stand anything that group does anyway), and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones doing “Detroit Rock City” seemed just a silly waste. As far as if there’s another tribute CD like it, in the future, I really can’t figure who might be good for what song. Maybe Joan Jett could do “Shock Me” and I’d be interested in a hard rocking version of “I Stole Your Love” with Lady Gaga.

Oh… Julian, I bought a copy of the solo albums book and The Elder book. Great books! I live close to the Bay Area. I wouldn’t mind sometime buying you a beer and talking about KISS.

I have a question for Marcus: which particular place do you go to get your vinyl albums done? I’m asking for a friend of mine who wants to know in case he puts something on vinyl himself. 🙂 If you want to email me, my email is gerstmannlee@yahoo.com

20 Random Songs From Mostly Singer Songwriters

This time I picked a certain female singer songwriter, did not include one of her songs but went to the similar artists and then chose one song each from the twenty listed. Some of the songs I rate high, others good, and the rest mediocre or competent. I did not look to see who did what song. So these are my impressions of the songs only. I will now put the artists and songs next to my notes. As always, I knew that some would not be great and there would be a few surprises.

1) Emilie Nicolas “Pstereo”: It’s an interesting idea combining electronica with singer-songwriter material but this song doesn’t wow me. C

2) Nerina Pallot “Not Over You”: There’s nothing wrong with this song but nothing particularly memorable. It’s okay for background music when you’re doing housework. C

3) Tristan Prettyman “Song For The Rich”: Another inoffensive but not really memorable song. C

4) Merit Larsen “The Sinking Game”: This is interesting. Sort of gay 90’s (1890’s, that is) with traces of electronic flourishes. I’d be interested in hearing more of her work. A-

5) Susanne Sundfør “Meditation In An Emergency”: This is nice. Sort of Henry Mancini-esque. I dig it. B+

6) Highasakite “Hiroshima”: The song is just okay but the arrangement is really well done. B-

7) Sivert Høyem “Blown Away”: Very nice. Sort of like Chris Isaak, Bryan Ferry and Tom Waits with a crooner’s voice. A

8) Amy Macdonald “Let’s Start A Band”: I like the Ennio Morricone-style arrangement. This is cool. B+

9) The Wind And The Wave “Loyal Friend And Thoughtful Lover”: Sounds like a lot of other autobiographical-style country/emo songs I’ve heard, but I can bear it. C

10) Gin Wigmore “Don’t Stop”: This is cute and clever. The old-fashioned honky-tonk bar-room arrangement is nice. B+

11) Kaizers Orchestra “Evig Pint”: Wow. This is really trippy and cool. A

12) Rachel Yamagata “Elephants”: This is dreamy and nice. A

13) Maria Mena “Shadow”: The song is competent but the arrangement pushes it up quite a bit. B-

14) KT Tunstall “Someday Soon”: It’s a good arrangement but the song is merely okay. C+

15) First Aid Kit “Dance To Another Tune”: This is great. A+

16) Minor Majority “Take It In”: This is groovy and intimate. Very fine song. A

17) The Pierces “Take You Home”: Not great but okay. C

18) Brandi Carlile “Josephine” (live version): I like the sparse old-fashioned arrangement but the song could be better. C+

19) A Fine Frenzy “Liar, Liar”: Another mediocre but not great song.

20) Eva & The Heartmaker “Useless”: I like the electronic element added. It’s raised one notch above competent. C+

Listening To 20 Random Songs

One of the pleasures of having Spotify is that I can make a playlist of random songs from artists that I either have heard of or are totally new to me. I went to James Iha’s channel and then picked one of his songs and then selections from similar artists. The following are my opinions on those particular songs I picked. Some of the artists I’ve heard of and some I have not but my judgments are only going to be on the specific songs.

1) James Iha “Waves”: Another slow sleepy-time ballad that picks up later. Sort of catchy as long as I don’t need to hear a whole album of this type of stuff. C+

2) The Lemonheads “Uhhh”: Emo Ramones? Not really my thing but the raspy annoying vocals at least give the song humor. D+

3) Tinted Windows “Take Me Back”: I like the instrumentation but the music is too Gossip Girl style for me. C-

4) The Smashing Pumpkins “Daydream”: This has a sufficient amount of strangeness to intrigue me. B

5) Teenage Fanclub “Metal Baby”: Nothing particularly good or bad about this. Pretty faceless. C-

6) Matthew Sweet “The Alcohol Talking”: At least he knows how to play well, but he needs to hire another singer and another songwriter. C

7) Sunny Day Service “Ben Watt Wo Kiiteta”: This is kind of interesting as a change of pace of what I usually hear. It’s actually pretty good. B+

8) Cornelius “Nowhere”: A very good idea but not done perfectly for my taste. I’m glad I heard it but I’m not going to rush desperately to hear it again. C+

9) Dinosaur Jr. “Does It Float”: Just messy and not very well performed and then it gets worse. D-

10) The Posies “Under Easy”: Compent but faceless. C-

11) D.A.N. “Pool”: I don’t like the vocals at all but I love the music. I have to judge it by everything together. Because of the vocals it goes from being A- to C-.

12) Superdrag “Really Thru”: This is at least strange. But, ultimately, it has more minuses them pluses. D+

13) Thurston Moore “Hang Out”: After a totally pointless introduction, it became a really cool and great grungy song. The best thing on here so far. A

14) Velvet Crush “Speedway”: I never thought I’d call noisy garage grunge music faceless but it applies here. Nothing great. D

15) Juliana Hatfield “No Outlet”: This is an equal mix of pretty good and very annoying. C-

16) The Rentals “Naive”: More faceless noise. D

17) My Bloody Valentine “All I Need”: This is so different but it’s a sort of gorgeous noise. I actually like it. B

18) J Mascis “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side”: I’d like him better if he sobered up. C-

19) Darcy “I Gave Up”: Wow! This is cool, like Billy Swan. A

20) The Frogs “Richard Dick Richards”: This is a humorous song and a cool parody of sixties psychedelic pop. It’s okay. I can dig it. B

So, my overall consensus is that one never knows whether or not an artist or a song will be very good or merely okay or just plain downright awful. However, I have discovered a few really good songs and that makes the discovery all the more worthwhile.

The Big Surprise chapter six

As Charles, Connie and I entered my mother’s place, mother stood up for a second, as her way of greeting us, then sat down again. She said, “Thank you for bringing him, Charles… I think.” He sai, “You’re still top on my list of people who waste their lives.” 

She frowned. “I want to at least say thank you! Can I do that, you wise ass?” 

“Yes.”

Mother said, “Connie, thank you.” 

Connie said, “No need to thank me. I need to thank you for understanding.” 

I felt like I was told something I should have known previously but it was held back from me. “What are you all talking about?”

Connie pointed to the sofa in the living room. We sat down. She said, “Your mother, Gertrude, is smart.”

I said, “We don’t refer to her by name.” 

Charles said, “To us, she is known as dumb clod.”

Mother said, “Stop that!” 

Connie asked, “Why don’t you tell them what you know?”

Mother said, “I know that Peter, my late husband, was ill and I would have to take care of Philip. I needed him to get my cigarettes but I felt betrayed by his loyalty to Charles. We gave Charles to another family. You know the story. When he came back, Philip wanted to be like him. We could not raise Philip even closely like how Charles was raised. We were jealous. I needed my younger son to stay loyal. When Peter died, I knew I still had Philip. Charles moved out. That was fine. When money came after Peter’s death, I needed Philip even more as an assistant but the government… it’s a long story. I could control the money as Phillip’s payee. He needed a sense of independence but I knew it could not last. I looked you up, Connie. You had talked to me back in the fourth grade. You mentioned how you wanted to be around Philip all minutes of the day. I thought it was sweet.”

I asked, “Did Connie tell you she wanted to shake my hand forever?” 

“It could have been that she wanted to hold your hand. She might not have said she wanted to shake it. But it was beautiful.”

Connie said, “This is my gift to you. The big surprise.” 

I was nervous. “What exactly is happening? The reason I came here was to have you think of a way to free me from Connie.”

“My darling son, there is no real way one can be totally free. You owe me. I’m getting paid through Connie’s actions.” 

Connie said, “I’m not doing it for you. This is for me.”

“I know but I’m grateful, anyway.” 

Charles said, “You should have listened to me, Philip. I hinted that mother would not make you feel better. I’m not taking sides, by the way.” 

Mother got up at went to the refrigerator. She poured some soda in a glass, came back in the living room and handed it to me. You must be thirsty.” 

I took it and drink some. “Thanks. it tastes a little odd.” 

“It’s been in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. That’s why.” 

I finished the whole glass full because I wanted to figure out why the soda tasted unusual. Mother smiled.

Charles walked outside, saying, “You’re on your own. I did my part.”

Connie said, “We’re going to have our hands sewn together.”  

Mother said, “Take good care of him. Bring him over for Thanksgiving. 

I understood the strangeness of what they said but I became suddenly sleepy. The words just flowed above me like subtitles for a movie. I did not care what was happening. I was too tired to listen.