Sunday, November 27, 2011


When I go west I feel smaller. Out there they got big skies, big mountains and breezes all in different colors and tones. It’s humbling to be wrapped in arms that big. It seriously takes you into its heart, shakes your hand and lets you rest. Big breathes. A autumn’s cold makes my nose struggle to take it all in. I pull through the middle of my face and feel the pine roll down my lungs. Tastes like mint. But even in this land of big there aren’t big buildings. It’s a different size of people, more figuratively than literally. You see these personalities take up entire valleys. Their laughs can be heard for miles before they are forgotten in the emptiness of open roads and big bright stars. It’s a rich dark blue at night and the clouds look like silver ribbons playing with the big snow topped ridges. They dance; and they dance in boots. Their songs smell of whiskey. They’re happy to meet you and they mean it. It’s just quiet out there. You can literally hear what a deaf man hears. Borrowed ears make for borrowed feelings that somehow feel real. I could drift to sleep to that sound in the middle of a crowded subway. I’d put it on iTunes and charge a dollar and a half. Call it big lullabies. I know all the words to that song. I’ll sing it to you when we meet again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Optimism is a dying art
They kill hope with a cloak of cool
Afraid of vulnerability
they drown in a glass half full of cynicism.
Romance lives!
Possibility walks all over this fucking city.
Its on every corner, waiting for every light,
impatiently ignored,
it dims like the stars in the morning.
Burning invisibly but indisputably.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Smart Shoes

Growing old means growing out of old shoes.
They live humble lives from their tissue-lined wombs to the darkness of memory
Their duties die young.
And in their wake, fresh generations bring new styles. New comforts.
I spied the future on a wooden shelf.
A lace less brother close at hand bid me no mind.
Simple brown body on simple rubber wings.
It knew my soul before it felt the curves of my foot.
We danced in different sizes, styles and colors.
We two stepped to reflections, swing danced to sales pitches, and settled on jazz.
I wore them out.
The ride home was paid in skin and scabs.
New shoes are not easily trained.
Buying them doesn’t make them yours.
Trust is earned.
Every good pair knows that.

Union Station

After work I get into the subway station hoping to catch a quick N train back.
It rarely comes first on 23rd street.
The R comes in waves of two or three, beating my boat by mile.
But I take it when I can because I know a man who plays an instrument one station down.
Union station.
He stays true to his love and plays almost every night.
He and his musical keys sit in perfect rhythm undisturbed by the commotion of commuters. Sometimes it’s under the stairs. Sometimes it’s out in the open. No matter what, he’s dead centered. His smile shines white behind his happy dark face. His sticks dance cool across the platform, singing his song, hummin’ if he has to.
He plays what looks like a xylophone but sounds like a beach.
It’s a breeze that your skin can’t feel. It doesn’t slide up your leg. It doesn’t swim under your shirt. It’s in your ears and its in your head.
My feet can’t help that they tap. It’s instinct.
I sit in NYC’s underground cocktail of people and passenger trains with sand between my ears and a tune on my toes.
My N still stays away.
I stare relentlessly uptown watching for lights listening for rumbles. I can tell when it’s the Q by the way the shadows run from the tiles at the far end of the tunnel. They scurry in flashes and hide in anticipation. It’s loud as hell.
My Caribbean getaway drowns in the rivers pouring from the cars. They fill walk ways, dance the yellow lines, dodge the hidden grandmas all while making sure not to fall off the pace of their plans. The tide subsides. The cars refill. The platform looks bare.
Washed of commuters, sending old ones on their way.
I’m reminded of music as my ears taste rum.
Vibrations, feelings, movements. Vibrations.
The next train skates down in the dark. Shifting the shingles of light that sleep on the dirty brick walls. The sparkles of red and glimmers of gold that tumble down the tube plant a seed of hope. Its an N and I know it before it makes the turn.

It explodes into view with a humid wind and a chorus of chaos. The proud red N glows overhead as it whizzes by. Iron wheels clap against the iron rails and soon the beast stops with a sigh. Its cool air conditioned car invites me into its pale walls and grey blue seats. I sit platform side because I know the Manhattan bridge offers views that never dim or fade. The doosr ding closed and for a moment I can still hear the muffled sound of music echoing from my friend.
We start our Brooklyn roll and I bid farewell to union station.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jazz spreads

I couldn’t tell you the first time I heard jazz music, but I could tell you the first time it climbed into my heart and found a home. It was one of those deep and clear nights that begs you to roll down your windows and soak in the moon. My father and I had just finished a meal at some restaurant in some town in northern California and we were on our way back to some place we were calling home. It was bright out, and the vines of passing vineyards were outlined in ribbons of silver and covered with the layers of night. Coltrane. A Love Supreme. A night I will never forget.

Nothing happened on that ride. I didn’t get a life lesson from my often verbose father. I didn’t have a destiny altering epiphany, and I didn’t figure out my fate. I just got a feeling, a twinge in my toes and a snap in my fingers. We hardly said anything to each other. Trane’s deep tenor sax did all the talking and we did all the listening. My eyes stayed locked to the sky and I marveled at how even though we were driving highway speeds, the stars didn’t move an inch. They stayed focused and so did I.

After that night I grilled my father. I asked him questions, sought advice and begged to borrow records. He told me as much as he could, but my father is more of a classical man. He finds his peace in the notes of Bach, Beethoven and Bartok. I didn’t care for the classics, I was curious about jazz. The most loosely interpreted art of the 19th and 20th century. I wanted to know about Louie, Miles and Monk. I wanted to retrace the steps of blues and find the outlines of bebop. I wanted to know about the harsh brass, the mellow moods and confusing melodies. I wanted to know how it was so confusing, where it became so strange and why it all felt so right. I wanted know it, because I wouldn’t be able to live.

To me jazz really started with Parker. Sure Louis Armstrong was the single most influential man, and what he did for the genre is indisputably groundbreaking. But Parker launched bop. Goosed up on drugs, bass-lines and a sax he gave birth the coolest man in music. Miles Davis. And Miles gave birth to my personal favorite, John Coltrane. Bop is encompassed in these three men for three very different reasons and for the better part of the 1950’s and 60’s their sound waves were rivaling those of Elvis, Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles. They were titans, and they still are today.

I have a deep respect for legends the never make sense. Who the hell can tell you what Birth of Cool is all about? Who understands Parkers Mood? And So What? The absence of a definition is what is so intriguing. What’s more is that the music offers a unique opportunity to each of its players. There is not set way to perform and there is no standard of execution. Jazz is a feeling and feelings are what make individuals. The poet Patrick Rosal once said “the beauty of jazz is that each player is a part of the whole while being a part from the whole.”

But beyond the greats and the eras, the music has deep personal ties. It is the only thing on earth that can sincerely relax me to my core. It is the only thing worth listening to on a rainy New York afternoon. It has pulled me to the smoky underground of the Village Vanguard and enticed me to stand motionless in the subway stations while street hustlers play their saxes. It has reminded me of whiskey, women and a world without worries and allowed me to drift into the currents of daydream. It is loud, it is calm, it is harsh it is smooth. It is crazy, it is sensible, it is sophisticated and rebellious. It is drug infused, high class, and low brow. It is serene, rambunctious, and beautiful. Jazz means many things to many people, but it will be forever linked to the moonlit nights of Napa California and my wise old father behind the wheel.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A rant on Ladies

Women are like songs.

You find them.
You love them.
You hate them.
But you never forget the good ones.
Because you remember all their words by heart.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

$2 tuesdays

Hand and hand is a good place. $2 burgers, a glass of water and some good company. Weather sports and news tucked in high ceilings and simple walls give way to simple floors. Dimly lit, the bar arcs its back amongst the mellow clientele. The waitresses are nice and the music plays soft to accommodate the light rain outside. I never miss a Tuesday.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Crowded dreams.

You ever meet people in your dreams. Not familiar faces, not people you know. Strangers. Complete and utter strangers. Beautiful, comfortable and mysterious they play their roles without an ounce of awkward. They just fit. Who the hell are those people? Souls I might meet in the future? Friends I might laugh with in the years to come. A girl I might love. If so where are they now? Are they dreaming of me? We dance in our destinies waiting for an introduction. I shook your hand when I slept. I felt your life in my head. I knew you were there.

I met a girl in my dreams once. She had dark hair that rolled like hills from a car window. Wavy and deep, brown eyes, red lips to match her dress. She was on fire. The foreground was a dance floor made of oak the distance was a heavy shade of green. We danced for a song, maybe more. Time is tough to read when you’re asleep. I didn’t know her long, but my sheets were twisted and I woke up on the other side of my bed. A ghost. A spirit that flat out flowed. I honestly believe that girl is out there. I believe she has this same memory.

Its almost like you flip your switch and plug into a dream roulette. A network of relentless minds in restful bodies. We slumber hard as luck throws us together in a mash of confusion and fickle memories. We enjoy the company, smile in our ignorance and float. Dark nights glow with age and bloom into dawn and we bid our farewells. Will we meet again? Maybe. Do I have any idea who you are? No. Do it want to do it again? Always.

I sleep almost everyday, and I never wake up dead. I must be doin some livin’ somewhere in between consciousness. I wonder what I’m like with my eyes closed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I’m sick of writing about the snow. Crisp whites, frozen tires and bloodless hands. A deserts life right now.

The wide open empty. The lizards the sand the cracks in the mud and the rainless corpse of earth. The slim yet indignant cacti and the humble sun just burning hard pumping rays into everything but shadow. The quiet, the creaky wind and maybe some sweat. The smell of nothing but the sweet stench of dust. A campsite. A fire, a relentless night. Naked stars, cloudless and bright. A suns slumber.

Hills, no, mountains of clay red, beige and smooth. Eager roots, harsh realities, and a humble sense of survival. The heat. Strong, earnest and consistent, it echoes the deserts name. Eyes closed, legs tired, water lost. The dry smack of your lips, a week old beard and an empty cup. I’d have a backpack soaked in salt. My boots would be brown and my pants would be dirty. My shirt would stink and I would drip. Room for a smile nonetheless.
With my fair skin, I’d get tatted red. Aloe like ice. I’d walk home.

Southern trails

I want to see the south so bad. Here I am in the deep depths of an Atlantan winter and my mind wanders across a map. Never been south of Virginia and I hear the gravy’s sweet. Cornbread, grits and some blues I want to taste the flavors. New Orleans gumbo with a jazz purée, Nashville biscuits with served with a country twang and a Charleston two step, alamode. Why the fuck not? I’m here, I’ve never seen it, and from my apartment the breeze smells pretty nice. Crack out the RandMcNally, I’m goin’ livin!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How my head works before I fall asleep

My fingers are too tired to write this.

I feel good about the future.

It looks pretty big.

I wish I could play the piano.

Blues piano.

Green eggs and ham.

The wild wild open.

Cactus needles with a desert sunset.

Soft shoes.

Deep sleep.

Beautiful dreams.

Shaken bones.


What if a man had a magical camera? I’m talking about a genetic tweak in its workings that is by all means possible, but altogether unexpected. It literally sees the world a different way. A man might lose his mind over a find like that.

I hitchhiked from the ski hill today. Met a nice man and we talked about stunt devils.

Tomorrow night I’ll be sleeping in Atlanta.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lift tickets die.

My boots hurt my feet, my hands are cold in my gloves and my cheeks burn a winters red. My ass, damp in its pants, freezes slow on the jerky yet scenic chairlift. The clock reads 3:30 and my legs agree, the day is done.

The last run should always been the longest. Your socks should feel the snow and your smile should flap in the wind. The sun slows to a smolder as you give a nod to the operator at the top of paradise. The crowds have dwindled and he wonders when he too can get a cup of something hot. On a clear afternoon you can see the whole valley hibernating. Trees naked, slopes hidden, and gusts of powder sprinkling the unsuspecting walls. Its beautiful in Montana, especially at 3:33.

I strap up and tighten my grip on a game plan. Las time down I found some fresh stuff stuck in between a log and a forest with long arms. Tracks trail my board and gravity goes to work. Lean on my calves, press on my thighs I slap the mounds of soft with the backside of my line. I’m going to see if its still there. There is a tight left turn that got the better of me earlier. Its dangling pine needles slapped my arm and gave warning of worse if I dare return. Its just a fucking tree.

I dodge and indulge and find my basket of clean snow. Pure, lazy, and mine. I turn hard and often until it turns to chop. I cruise the groomers, build up speed and ignore the slow signs. My face refrigerates as the lodge comes into view. Lackluster skis and poles outline the deck and the smoke billows smooth from its spout. I thank my knees and loosen my boots. Beers are sweetest at the bottom of ski days.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Brooklyn snow

When it snows in New York, street lights drop brown shadows and flicker like short wicked candles. A pocket of chaos in a sea of black, they illuminate a storm all their own. Atmospheres divided by the blank spaces of night, dark street corners, and empty delis. Brownstone steps, dressed in white, see no stars and feel no feet. We watch from windows caked in fog and breathe in sighs. My morning flight is cancelled.