Category Archives: philosophic mutterings
I am currently working on the sequel to the essay collection pictured below (https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/thesupposedso), the new one being even more a memoir-like work of nonfiction, a honing of a story of which I have only lived 35 years, yet one that remains ripe for continuing to write about.
Also, new music is coming at you soon. I’m writing my new album (four songs complete) and will release a single sometime soon.
Also, the TV series I’m writing, Tell Me Why, Willard Bronson is just about halfway finished. I don’t know when you’ll be able to experience that.
ALSO, I’m still shopping around my first feature-length script. I don’t know when you’ll be able to experience that either, but it was recently named an official selection by the film fest/screenwriting contest, FESTIVAL ANGAELICA.
2-sentence horror story
It rained. And the lamplight shivered.
a note, and five albums I can’t live without
I don’t post very often anymore. I find myself producing less work but what is coming out is doing so more meaningfully. I’ve been actually submitting to actual things in the world instead of just publishing to my website, into the ether and over the heads of nearly everyone on earth. The planet is a funny thing, anyway. I’ve wanted to conquer it in certain ways for a really long time. Like any artist, I have a hard time existing in a vacuum. But that is where a lot of my things end up.
In any case, life is happening. Work is being made. And to fill up the meantime, these here are what I have decided are the five albums (of this century) that I can’t live without. They either acted as catalysts for the beginning of The Supposed So, defined a period of time in my life, or are simply some of the most beautiful, most important songs I’ve ever heard.
The Stage Names – Okkervil River
The Wild Hunt – The Tallest Man on Earth
I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning – Bright Eyes
Transangelic Exodus – Ezra Furman
Alas, I Cannot Swim – Laura Marling
Thank you for reading this and knowing me. I love you.
#okkervilriver #thetallestmanonearth #brighteyes #ezrafurman #lauramarling
Time and Essence
This book features my Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Night series, an experimental prose work written over a couple years. Also some early essays and random thoughts.
You can view and purchase here: https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/thesupposedso
This is a picture of me letting you know that this Friday, March 3rd, is Bandcamp Friday, meaning that by purchasing a download of any of my releases, or a CD copy of the albums Need Something and/or Paper Glasses On, all profit will skip past Bandcamp’s share and go straight to me. I’m currently composing a new LP, compiling a hardcover copy of my collected lyrics, and writing a series of scripts–and am also shopping my new album and a completed feature. All proceeds will help offset costs of proofs, submissions, etc. So if you’ve ever thought about buying something, this Friday is a good day to do it.
If you want a taste of anything before you buy it, most of my music is wherever you listen to music online (search The Supposed So), and you can always stream the whole shebang on Bandcamp before you buy it (thesupposedso.bandcamp.com). You can also read a whole host of work on my website (which you’re on), including a couple dozen essays and the aforementioned screenplays (links above).
Anyway, that’s enough self-promotion for one day. I hope you’re making your way through winter with your head up as high as you can muster.
Five years on…
and things aren’t so different, yet very very different, yet not different at all, yet completely different.
Supposed Covers (Volume V)
I have begun the next installment of my very long-running covers series. This one starts with Sweet Baby James by James Taylor. Where in the world do I go from here? Stay tuned.
The World Is a Living Organism out now!
It’ll hit all other streaming services the 23rd.
new album Jan 6 (that’s in three days)
This here is a friendly reminder that I’ve got an album out this Friday, January 6. The World is a Living Organism is its name. It consists of eight originals I wrote in the spring of 2022 plus two covers of traditional tunes I learned at Camp Christopher.
It is as much a concept album as anything I’ve done, even as most of my past LPs have had common themes running through them, such is the nature of recording and quickly releasing one’s every whim in roughly the order they’re written. Some 11 years have gone by since my first proper release, but this album feels fresh and strange, at times funny, often obscure with lyrics that don’t try to make all that much sense, yet beg of their own profundity…it is a continuation of the work I’ve made since Allie and I moved to Worcester, MA, yet also stands alone as a statement of sorts–not a heavy handed prophecy, but a rumination on the collocation of joy and sorrow, pain and healing, present and future. It is a world unto itself, a jack-in-the-box waiting for you to twist its crank until the jingle jangle abruptly halts and the jester flies from its encasement, startling you every single time. On the whole, it is the whoosh of a punch thrown through the air intentionally missing a target, the bang of a drum sewn into an inside jacket pocket, the switch of a mind from psychosis to sanity and back again. It is the will and the won’t of a fever dream one wakes up from only to forget it in tiny increments until the whole memory is gone forever. It is a thought process regarding what the world has come to, and what we might do with ourselves in spite of our ultimate demise. True that I wonder what these songs really mean, honestly. Honestly, I might figure them out sometime years from now.
1. The Path We’re On
2. Lonesome Angel Howl
3. The World Is a Living Organism
4. River Gourd Canyon Stop
5. Come Go With Me (traditional)
6. Listening to Okkervil River Alone in Autumn
7. Rhetorical Wind
8. The Living Organism Speaks
9. When They Ring Them Bells
10. Easy Come Easy Go (traditional)
new book collecting my essays, 2016-2022
with reverence to is the name of my new publication, gathering together 24 essays on everything from Cleveland sports, to music and literature, to more personal pieces on life, death, and the American society.
This 112 page first edition is available for $8.99 at the link above.
I will always and forever host free content here on my website, with its decade-plus of writing already in the archive, but I have decided to open up the possibility of growing the work that will presumptively, decades from now appear on rarities bootlegs–shit that at one time I would have handed you on notebook paper or a burned CD. To me, the idea of writing something, performing something, or otherwise putting something together that is special to a situation–not contrived, simply stated and presented in earnest–appeals to me.
Patreon feels like a way for me to offer a look into a process, capturing moments in sound and letters, pounding away like a thunderstorm, never stopping until the clouds roll out. My art, I think, is a lot like a thunderstorm. For me, the rain is pretty constant. And I’d like to better share it all with you in a more personal way.
I will be recording demos of new tunes, rearranging cover songs and new versions of old tracks, while also writing stream of consciousness essays and poems however my fingers happen to drift upon the keys; delivering downloads, sending out merch, and altogether trying to be a professional musician without standing in front of people and feeling so very uncomfortable. For whatever it may seem to some, gigging for me is rarely fun, even if at times rewarding. This is my attempt at a way around it.
If you want to and are able, check out the link in my bio and see what it all adds up to. And while you’re at it, have a beautiful weekend.
Two Part Harmony
I started to write this piece before Game 4, just to give myself some perspective when I knew that Cleveland will be trying to close out a series against New York either in a game 4 or 5.
The fabled Yankees. The 250 million dollar payroll against the measly 54 million. A big market team against Cleveland. This was David and Goliath. It wasn’t biblical, but christ if I couldn’t stop myself from thinking it was at least a mirror to the world we live in. Goliath winning would be a reflection of a cold Capitalism, spending money to make money to such a degree that you can count the dollars stolen, and likewise double an opponent’s home run total, have a guy break the AL single-season Home Run Record, split 2 games at home, and still come on over to Cleveland to try and reassert a perceived dominance, all while polluting our minds with their grandiosity, their gross bat flipping mid-game, their bastardized version of what baseball never was and not at least what it could be. A Goliath like New York losing, with their utterly useless fanbase (who would dare boo a man in a 3-day slump after he just hit 62 regular season Home Runs; or throw bottles at opposing outfielders when their own team has just walked it off mid-season) and an ownership who are perpetually hellbent on spending and spending and demanding wins, clean shaven faces, and a presumed Yankee Pride…them winning would be like a day out of step with my entire personal outlook on life right now. I thoroughly believe in David. So much it makes me cry when he wins. Because it isn’t every day that he does.
I don’t cry when the winners win. I sit back with a general distaste in my mouth, knowing full well that those who rule the world — in sports, in theatre, in government — are not the truth we cling to in times of trouble. Every day I wake up and I am nearly certain we as a People have little chance to win a life as we’ve never known it: a time for peace and reflection, loving an extended family, and trying to live right in a world all wrong. Most days do not allow it. Yet I still wake up every day. I open my eyes. I read the news to make sure the world hasn’t ended, get up, make coffee, smoke a cigarette, and basically reset for another in a long line of days. I have trouble doing it sometimes. I think we all do. But when David wins, it’s worth it.
David and Goliath is an interesting story. In no small part because David does not beat Goliath with Goliath’s own weapons of strength. While Goliath tries to pulverize David, David simply sits back, fires a stone, and stands up in victory for himself, the everyman, the blessed Sisyphus, the down and out, the ridiculed, the Never-Won-Before. David does what he has to to survive, to triumph, to stand victorious before every perceived foe and claim, “By God, I really did it didn’t I? Well did you have any doubt?” Even in all my fatalism, in my pessimism, in my complete succumbing to the notion that We will never Win, I still hold out hope for that stone to find its mark.
And here I am, a man alone in a house, watching baseball, the Guardians, that David of a Baseball Team, lose to those fabled Yankees.
Well, It’s the bottom of the 8th. But it’s 5-1 so let’s be realistic for once.
Yet of course, I don’t want to be realistic. I want the underdog to win, goddamnit. I am so tired of the Mighty. They can mostly — in sports, in society, in government — fuck right off, with their big man boasting, their bat flips mid-game, their machismo. The Guardians wanted to win. The Yankees expected to win. And there is a difference.
For all my idealism, my romanticism, I am, as the whole of the Cleveland Guardian fanbase is, tired of this.
“Who’s Your Daddy,” they chant as the Guardians begin to walk the short step to the bottom of the staircase. Josh Naylor made a fool of himself. But either way, it was just a bunch of weak contact not placed well enough to just run their asses off. Easy outs, loud outs. They’re all outs. And as the audience at home is told the Yankees only hit .182 against Cleveland pitching this series, I fear my point is well made. David once turned those supposed outs into runs. Goliath with their one-two punch and the power behind it showed very well how baseball games are played anymore. Just shit loads of strikeouts, popups, and home runs. What a drag.
Even so, we cannot linger too long on why this sucks, because that is to diminish what the Guardians showed us this year. In a land of teams in dire straights, always losing without the long ball, this team hit and ran and stole and downright tricked everyone into losing to them 96 times out of 169. Remarkable. I mean, we got our home runs, and some big ones too, but in all that was working against them, a small market team proved they could win with those thousand little paper cuts. And even as you might need a shiv in the playoffs when Goliath is playing with knives, the overall look to the game is shifted. I do not at all like and even am 100% against the game the Yankees play. Bronx Bombers? Gross. I want seven singles in a row. Earn it.
Oh well. I am a bitter loser tonight. I watched almost every game this year and while they weren’t always well played games, this team had a heart and a chemistry that I’ve never seen on any team in any professional sport in my lifetime. They were nothing short of miraculous. I am damn proud to be a fan of them. And holy shit. Next year is going to be incredible. Just one pebble thrown. That’s all.
Hell If I Know
This is just the second step. It isn’t even for me to really be writing this. We have a long way to go, and not the least of our worries is that we’re about to play the Yankees and we struck out like 20 times today.
Work for baseball players is like drawing a storyboard: a series of situations you’ve prepared for yourself, have written down to look back on, to make sure the story is straight, to learn from a scene that maybe won’t land, an arc that lacks pizzazz, or a system of images out of step with themselves. If nothing else, these Cleveland Guardians have a hold on that storyboard; a flair for the dramatic, and a swagger that speaks both to their age and in defiance of it.
The narrative is fairly clear. For 15 innings today we watched a team battle itself as much as the opposing pitcher. These Guardians who struck out the fewest times in baseball this year put up a lot of strikeouts today. But both pitching staffs looked like those on a playoff team and the outs were fast for both sides. Hell the only time either team really should have scored was when the Guards had the bases loaded, nobody out in the 6th. But no runs. No hits. Three left.
Besides the obvious thing — that we just got to watch one of the best games in playoff history — these two games showed us that Cleveland is a team to beat. One that a lot of teams tried and almost succeeded at this year, and one that won a solid 92 games, 28 games in their last at-bat, and are 2-0 in these 2022 playoffs. For everything that this team could have been at the start of the season, 2-0 through the first round of the playoffs looks pretty spectacular.
Being young is like firewater: it either enlivens you or puts you to sleep. So as Oscar Gonzalez, who could have easily made the team out of Spring Training and either way became one of 17 players to make their major league debut this year, proceeds to hit the game winning home run to advance past the Wildcard Series, it is at least impressive and at most, storybook. Forgo all written strategy. Just find a way to win.
15 innings. We should lend a small gesture to Cory Kluber, whose presence as the opposing pitcher in this Holy Grail of Walk Off Homers is the most beautiful and the most sad thing that could happen. Sad because it brings back memories of the ‘16 team and their letting go of a 3-1 World Series lead…beautiful that Corey Kluber almost won that World Series for us Clevelanders, and just about put to rest the 70+ year curse against the Cleveland Baseball Team. He was here to be the unwitting catalyst for a playoff run that is at least interesting and at most transcendent. We see you, old man. You’re one of the best to ever wear a Cleveland uniform. Sorry it had to be you.
As we tip our caps to the past and look clearly at a present that is very very fun, we at least can take stock in something obvious: The Cleveland Guardians will be here for a while.
New York is next. Hell if I know.
When It’s Will Sheff
It was 2009 and I had just dropped out of college, moved in with my sister to a large house in Asheville, North Carolina. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing and I was a high school honors student suddenly ditching school, working at my local Jersey Mike’s sub shop and beginning to form a body of work. I ate roast beef for 8 months and wrote dozens of songs.
That first year or so of being in Asheville, I don’t think about often. I was in a deep depression, cranking out material, wasting days and nights, and giving into the burgeoning mental illness inside of me that was encroaching, making itself known. But I was creating. There was talent there. I could do this, kinda. I could make music. I might be good at it.
Still, I destroyed some moments in time. I lost friends and I lost love. It would happen again and again but I don’t want to talk about that. At age 19 and living on my own in what amounted to my college experience, it was the work that mattered. It survives, anyway.
I’m telling you straight that I was then and am still quite schooled in the history and currents of pop music, rock and roll. As a child, when I was seven, I saw the Beatles Anthology on TV and became addicted. I swear I didn’t listen to anything but the Beatles until I was 11 or 12, and then it was just the rest of the 60s, those singers and bands I learned about through the Beatles and because of them, especially, at the time, Eric Clapton’s Unplugged. And I know it comes off as cliche for anyone to claim the Beatles as their main interest, focus, and influence, but I don’t need to tell you that those 6 years from ‘63 to ‘69 by John Paul George and Ringo cannot be matched and from my own age 7-10, it was all that mattered. The sheer output; the quality outstanding; the contradicting musical forms within a singular work of art…it’s astounding. But this is worn territory. I wouldn’t so much grow out of it all as grow past it.
When I was into my teens, the whole world of contemporary indie music – mostly indie folk as it were – came into my senses. I lived at the library from the moment I could read, but those high school years were crucial. I would get 20 CDs at a time, go home, listen to all of them and discern which ones I liked, which ones I despised, and which ones stuck, and rip them and burn them onto blanks I kept in a binder. Those albums that stuck with me have outstayed their reproduced form in my mind. The idea that a love for music can live on post-physical media is how I sometimes judge an album’s worth…are the only things that matter to me displayed somehow? I like songs, sure, but it’s the arc of With the Beatles that pleased me in my first CD purchase post-cassette collection. What would I continue to remember? Who would I feel like I could emulate and hold stock? It wasn’t the Beatles. But it was a lot of other artists, whose voices weren’t the strongest, their words a bit more lyrical.
But Asheville…I was 19, already a 2-time college drop out, making and eating really delicious sandwiches every day, and coming home to play and write music. I was the right age to dive in head first. I wrote constantly. Songs, poems, longform prose. I showed nobody. Five years later would see me not only grow comfortable with other people listening to me sing my songs, bare my soul as it happens, release my every whim and just guess someone might hear it sometime. But back then I was almost secretive about it. I wasn’t as good as the Beatles yet. Who. could ever be? Still, I fully believed I could at least be a throwback to a past’s modernity, with nostalgia and hubris intertwined to feed the basin of a presumed society’s stomach, its pulse racing, its senses dulled, my pulse racing, but my senses enriched, enthralled. I would at some point realize I could own that concept; when I was 19 in Asheville, I was simply building a body of work. Yet the understanding would gain as much ground as it could against the sleek intoxication of a passion hung right.
It was in this house in Asheville living with my sister and 4-6 others depending on the month, that I would begin to experiment. With words, with music, with substances. Smoking weed was a given in the late-’00 mindset of a college-age dropout: If you have no job and no family to consider, smoking as much pot as possible is just about the next best thing to happiness. Even as I did that to excess, it was psilocybin that caught my attention.
And this is where my point comes to land. I remember that night I first participated in that sacrament . I remember feeling the universe all around me, inside of me. I was everywhere and nowhere. But I was a lightning rod, I was sure of it. I would one day make music and literature and art like nothing to ever come before it. I was hearing life as a piece of music for the first time. For the first time, all my dreams came around and centered in front of me. I could do this. I am this. I strummed the major E chord until the stars came out.
Now, I don’t know if that night was the very first time I put on The Stage Names by Okkervil River, and I don’t think it was, but it was the first time I really heard “Unless It’s Kicks”. That was the song, man. It was like nothing I’d ever heard and everything I’d ever liked. It rocked harder with an acoustic guitar than so many others who have failed to rock at all. It was suddenly and grippingly my anthem, and as I sat there on my chair in my very blue bedroom, listening intently to that whole LP, staring at a poster of a young Eric Clapton playing a Gibson Les Paul coming out of the picture and playing next to me, my entire future spread out before my eyes, and I could see myself with a cult following, at least a couple people dedicated to hearing my truth, and a few hundred songs I could be proud of. Hell, Will Sheff could do it. I could sing like him. Swagger begets a good performance. I understood.
In response to a purely and ethically gauged output of real words set to rock and roll diction, I became positive Will Sheff was the genius of our time. I could work toward his work. I could do a version of what he was doing. It wouldn’t matter if my voice wasn’t perfect. It just mattered that I was writing words and melodies that coincided. Just like everyone always who does it the right way. I don’t know why but even after 10+ years of heavy research, it took Will Sheff to show me what can pass as perfect in an imperfect world.
That night in those conditions, surrounded in blue, haunted by the imprint of Eric Clapton and an 11 year old me only wanting to play “Layla,” feeling far too tall for the ceiling, Okkervil River became my one and only. Every day for the next 13 years, I have loved this band; Will Sheff, the pied piper of Indie Rock sleaze, the nerdy kid with glasses too big for his face who is secretly an expert in everything cool. Will Sheff the man and his music in turn laughably tossed off and intricately designed. Lyrics that tell one thousand stories per four minutes, an aesthetic both perfectly asymmetrical and highly intelligent. When a song screams that everything is a lie and won’t someone somewhere just fucking believe it with him here singing this song to you, about you, for you, please for christ’s sake just listen, it is almost too much to take in, but you must. Will Sheff and Okkervil River were playing rock and roll like it was meant to be. Quietly brilliant rock and roll. There was a confidence there that seemed almost unearned. A simple understanding. We can just do whatever we want. It’s easy. “Look,” he said. “I did it.”
Will Sheff became my hero. I don’t ever look forward to something more than when it’s something he’s doing. It’s just always so goddamn what I want to hear. He has grown out of rock and roll into a harmony somewhere between Antarctica’s desolation and California’s native sun. Incredible lyrics always. Melodies that rise and recede like the tides.
All this fandom is nothing without mentioning the new record, and I’m listening to it as I type this and it is still exactly what I want to hear, what I want to make. This time when it isn’t so much rock as roll. Words that could mean anything you want. Melodies that hook you still. It’s what gives this mess some grace.
As my first spin of Nothing Special, the new one, wraps up, it is only clear that Will Sheff has proven my point. Music exists beyond the lie. And this music? like everything he has ever made, it stands alone atop a binder built by passing generations, influencing a nerd with big glasses to reap the benefits of a local public library, memorizing the liner notes, taking in perfection, and remembering it post-CD collection. Still, I want to own every Will Sheff record. And do you know what? He deserves it.