Monthly Archives: September 2014

Words From The Midwest XI

Good evening, all warm-blooded; all brash or bewildered; all young at heart. Welcome to another edition of Words From The Midwest.

Well, the 2014 season is done for the Cleveland Indians and I, for one, don’t have much to say about it other than if they had had better infield defense they’d be in the playoffs. Oh, and if nearly half the team could hit the ball on a consistent basis. But oh well. I live for much more than baseball, it’s true. But it goes without saying that as each season ends without October baseball in Cleveland, I get a little sad and nostalgic. I’ll still watch as much of the playoffs as I can. Because I love baseball in general. But I love the Indians more. I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. Even if a part of me wishes they were called something else. And since my adult life has been lived without seeing them win much, the past two years have been exciting to see them become not just a better team, but one who will go into next season with a very real chance at being one of the best teams in baseball. Their pitching is extraordinary. They need a bat or two. And again, they need to play infinitely better defense.

But whatever. It isn’t really what I want to talk about. The season is done. Over. And even if I am counting down the days until spring training starts, there’s so much this Winter could be good for.

And not just the Cavs.

Because, oh yeah, Lebron is back. I almost forgot.

And that’s good for Cleveland, my one true Home. And anything that’s good for Cleveland is inherently good for me. Because I don’t see myself moving out of here anytime soon.

What I really want to start doing is to start making Cleveland work for me. I need…read Need…to start playing more shows. I did play one this past Wednesday but only to about a dozen people and I didn’t even get paid which pisses me off because I was expecting to be.

Oh well.

The experience is always nice. And if one person liked my music as much as I do that’s all I really need.

Maybe that’s bullshit.

Regardless, I’ve been listening to a lot of music recently. Not that that’s a new thing for me, but I’ve been painting my back porch and, thus, have had plenty of opportunity to do so. The first days was the entire New Pornographers discography. Then Okkervil River, because of course. Then AC Newman. Then Ezra Furman. Today I listened to the Indians game. Tomorrow I think it’ll be the White Stripes because right now I’m listening to Jack White’s most recent album and it’s pretty fucking awesome.

On a side note, I’ve decided I’m going to read every Kurt Vonnegut novel in order of release. But that’s after I read John Darnielle’s first novel, Wolf In White Van because it’ll probably be some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever seen considering his lyrics (as the singer/songwriter/guitarist for The Mountain Goats) are some of the best poetry I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying.

I think that’s all for now. I’d like my TV shows to come back on the air (Girls, Broad City, Silicon Valley) but I’ve been watching New Girl and it’s good enough to tide me over.

Good night dreamers. Stay up late.



Words From The Midwest X

Good evening, all completely deranged; all wonderful and placated; all presumptuous or portained. Welcome to Words From The Midwest.

I’d like to start out by saying how annoyed I am that the first two paragraphs of these things are never separated by a space even when I put in the necessary html code. It just doesn’t fit with my undying attribution of consistency.

But it’s a small matter.

What’s really important is that I’m writing because for the past two weeks I’ve had a very difficult time writing, indeed. And even now it’s a fucking chore and this bullshit probably won’t be as long as I want it to be or say all of the things I want to say or even express rightly the thoughts and feelings I’ve had since my last post. Because, in general, I’m nearly out of things to say, it seems.

Fuck that.

I’ve got loads to say.

I’ve just completed my latest addition to Mick’s Tapes and it’s a ceremoniously appropriate milestone I’ve reached in that I’ve now done thirty of the things which even out to be between three hundred and three hundred and fifty songs compiled neatly in a list which sit nicely in a link on the right side of this page ( for posterity’s sake). I’m proud I think, but really I’m just happy I haven’t given up on it because I took a good year off of doing them at all simply because I wasn’t acquiring new music and thus wasn’t in the frame of mind – or ultimately the right place, geographically speaking – to do them. But I’m listening to the mix now and I like it simply because it’s made up of songs I like right now, which is basically why I do it anyway. I mean, I could listen to some of what I’ve compiled and not know the song or who sings the song but know very well that I like the song. Right now it’s Superchunk and next it’ll be The Heartless Bastards.

Just go listen to some music. Stop reading this and turn something on. Or, better yet, turn something on and keep reading. If it were me, it would almost automatically be Okkervil River because they’re the best band that exists.


And maybe I’ll take a moment and reiterate my love for them and say – for probably the second or third time here – how they changed my life.

No, I won’t.

Just go get Black Sheep Boy and The Stage Names and The Stand Ins and The Silver Gymnasium and…holy shit I was just about to write out their entire discography.

It’s all brilliant.

And it’s true that they changed my life. They changed the way I write music, for one, and especially the way I write lyrics. Or maybe I’ve gotten away from how they influenced me. But they still do.

I watched Factory Girl earlier, the story of Edie Sedgwick’s quick rise and fall as the It Girl in the mid 60s and her ultimate demise via heroin, speed, etcetera and Andy Warhol’s complete and utter indifference to what she became after it was all too clear she wasn’t any use to him anymore. It made me hate Andy Warhol just a little bit more than I already did and it made me wish Hayden Christensen didn’t play an atonal version of Bob Dylan. But it also made me reflect on the concept of fame and how one’s personal charms are what make them, but the way they handle their brand of insanity is what keeps them. Edie Sedgwick wasn’t an artist, really, though I suppose she was in that anyone who is as troubled as she was is inherently an artist even if they don’t create, kind of the way anyone who thinks about life’s great mysteries and the human condition on an at least semi-regular basis is inherently somewhat of an intellectual…she was an artist in her inflection and the way she spoke, but she was, first and foremost, a unique figure in that she essentially changed the way people appreciate beauty. She was a model, yes, but it was her appearances in Warhol’s films that made her into a sensation and even though I tried to watch them and couldn’t really, I was struck by the nonchalance in which she did very little but respond to the questions asked to her. There was no pretense and yet her entire world was pretense.

Andy Warhol might as well have personified Pretense with a capital P.

And even as I write this I think, wow, that guy made a whole hell of a lot of money giving people what they already had laying around. And I’m here writing words that I’m not even thinking of first trying to convey just how fascinated I am with a person who existed simply as image and little else. Edie Sedgwick lived and suffered and ultimately died too young like so many other people of the age. And what lives on are candid caricatures of a Poor Little Rich Girl. And my god, am I enthralled. I am downright captivated.

But Factory Girl would be a terrible movie if it weren’t for Sienna Miller.

In other news, I’ve quit smoking but really want a cigarette, especially after having watched a movie with a woman who rarely doesn’t have one lit.

So I’m going to go outside and smoke a cigarillo because, hey, that’s better isn’t it?

Good night, dreamers. Stay up late.


Words From The Midwest IX

Good afternoon all wild and wonderful, all maybe-I’ve-said-that-before, all finely tuned instruments. Welcome to another edition of Words From The Midwest.

Currently, I am sitting on my back porch enjoying the music of Rilo Kiley and trying to tune out the chain saw that’s rumbling some yards away. I can’t see who’s operating it and I don’t care. I just wish they would stop already. It’s been going on all morning. Those Bastards!

I don’t have much to say today and even less of what You’d want to read, but I feel like writing and I don’t especially feel like writing in either one of the books I’m working on. Have I told you about those? I’m not sure that I have but maybe I have.

I think I have.

“With Arms Outstretched” has just come on and I’m reminded of the days at Camp Christopher when it was still CYO and we could still play reflection songs after the Eucharist. This one time I’m remembering, this particular song was used as all of camp stood in the water of Lake Marion. I, as one of the guitar players, stood silently on the dock just to the left of the second section, enjoying one of my favorite songs of all time and witnessing just how much it affected those children who were listening to the words. “This day by the lake went too fast.” That’s just about how I feel about my time working as a Camp Counselor. I miss it these days, sometimes, though these days it is September and Camp would be over anyway.

I digress. Although that’s kind of the point of these posts, isn’t it; to digress completely over and over again until I’m finally done writing. I’ll read it over, change a word here and there and be done with it. That’s the way I write: strange utterances and run on sentences fold into each other and leave the reader with a feeling. Just a feeling. And it doesn’t really matter what that feeling is as long as it’s organic.

Is it for you?

It is for me.

Indifferent to the plagues of this world, I state sadly that it can be so fucking beautiful to live in ignorance. I do not. I spend too much time on the internet reading about this and that and I am appalled at much of what I see. Like anyone who says a goddamn thing about Rape who doesn’t know first hand how completely fucked up it is. No one needs to say how fucked up it is. And, certainly, no one needs to say it’s only rape if the person is conscious. Thanks Cee Lo. You’re a douchebag. And I’m like, “fuck you.”

The Middle East is still imploding, ISIS is a thing, and marijuana isn’t legal yet. What a strange thing to have mentioned all of those things in the same sentence? Well I care about it equally. Tell me to shut the fuck up.

I’ve turned on The Small Faces’ First Step, even though it’s the Faces, not the Small Faces, they just hadn’t changed their name yet with the joining of Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood.

See what I did there?

I think that’s it. Keep treating each other with respect. Keep yelling, via the internet, at celebrities who can’t not be morons. Don’t go searching for nude photographs of people just because they exist? Yeah, respect the privacy of those without any who just happened to take and store naked pictures of themselves on an easily hackable “harddrive” or whatever it is. I dunno. Who gives a shit.



A Pair Of Honest Men, Review by David Yarn

Upon first listen, A Pair Of Honest Men, the debut LP from The Simplifiers sounds more or less like the brainchild of Ned Algrum. Songs with lyrics like “be the will to won’t’s became” and “pulled from flowers all the time” devote themselves to themselves and do little to conjure visions of anything but trite hipsterisms and guy-with-a-guitar wit. But this doesn’t really matter, as you listen and delve deeper into the words and melodies, you begin to find its hidden frailty. “So Broken-Hearted” reads like a 13 year old’s plea to a much older woman, “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone” not only borrows its title from Ted Leo but also its riff, as the hook (if you can call it that) sounds eerily similar to Alkaline Trio’s “Back To Hell.” The combination does, however, hit hard below the belt and, as Guire yelps behind a wall of acoustic guitar, lines flow into each other like a cold dictation from a dying man. The first side closes with three rather MerseyBeat (or maybe more like rockabilly) songs whose simpleness belies their sadness.

The second half of the album isn’t nearly as rewarding as the first, with a couple throwaways filling out the middle, as “A Hallowed States” and “Upon Your Rounded Shoulders” sound like they were written off the top of the head of the singer – and they were – while “With Your Lips So Close To Mine” borrows so heavily from “This Magic Moment” that a copyright infringement case seems almost necessary.

All in all, A Pair Of Honest Men – which is paired with a novella by, one would think, one of the songwriters – isn’t fantastic, but it’s good enough and raw enough and lo-fi enough to garner a niche audience. Well worth a listen but perhaps not a relisten. Maybe it’s better when taken along with the book.

The Simplifiers Biography

Formed from the ashes of american flags and the broken dreams of drifters, The Simplifiers were an alternative folk band from Cleveland, Ohio.

Influenced by British Invasion bands like The Zombies as well as the first wave of punk and hardcore, The Simplifiers combined a well-oiled lyrical facility with acoustic instrumentation and a complete and utter devotion to lo-fi recording, laying down their first record live straight to cassette tape. Although ceremoniously a two-piece, The Simplifiers first and only album was recorded solely by Mick Guire.

Born Peter Lou Griman in the fall of 1985, Mick Guire began playing guitar at age three, strumming along to records his Mother would play in their basement recreation room. At first taken with the Singer/Songwriter era of Cat Stevens, Elton John, Joni Mitchell and Jim Croce, Guire soon discovered the lyrical wordplay of Bob Dylan and the melodic and harmonic tendencies of British Invasion bands such as The Followers and The Tape Decks. As his tastes matured, Guire found himself engulfed with the ides of early punk and hardcore gems like The Vaselines and The Minutemen, soon devoting himself completely to the electric guitar and to learning bass. A studious player and a gifted musician, Guire quickly took to mastering both instruments, although he would soon fall back on his first love of the acoustic guitar.

As performers, The Simplifiers were never a band, simply two people with guitars and vocal chords. Although their album, A Pair Of Honest Men, was performed only by Mick Guire, songwriting credits bounce back and forth between Guire and one Lars Goldrich, born Stephen Catholic Guilt in Akron, 1983. No one knows why Goldrich doesn’t appear on the record although sources close to Guire say he simply got tired of playing with anyone but himself, thus dissolving any hope of a follow up record.

Upon release in the Fall of 2014, A Pair Of Honest Men garnered generally favorable reviews but hardly sold any copies. Not good enough for Guire, who’s said to have completely quit music some months before the record was even out.

Now a piano teacher and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Goldrich lives in Fedor, Illinois with his wife, Pamela. Guire hasn’t been seen or heard from since the Spring of 2014 (months before the record was released) although some people say he merely grew a beard and shaved his head and is living comfortably in Yellow Springs National Park under a shelter of his own design and construction.

A Pair Of Honest Men is currently out of print.