(bit of older stuff I couldn't get around to sending, plus new stuff...)

3-25-05, 2:50 AM -

Something's gotta be done about me & these speedballs.

This time it's Coke & Wild Turkey, but the effect is much the same. However, this time I'm not getting the nausea.

I suppose I should explain. I'm on the N train back from Astoria, Queens, having just completed a bass-playing studio gig (for money, if you please) supporting Koals, a man who is one half of the Associated (formerly Klunk United), with whom I've bassed before.

The studio is a nice one, of the sort I've been in before, just on the decent side of solvency. It reminds me if the last time I performed in a studio that wasn't my own. It was at Fat City on Bluebonnet Circle in Fort Worth back in 1998 with the Civilians. I remember it more vividly because I was down there on the circle Friday night, swigging Shiner Bock at the Oui Lounge with Gustavson, Hippie, E, & a new friend, Tall Bob. We sat, drank, loaded up the jukebox with whatever would annoy the rednecks, and by the end of the evening, had determined that no kid of ours was going to be caught dead watching Boobah. And people say Generation X has no focus...



The discussion tonight in the studio anteroom (or Bourbon Room, as it became) was similar, though a bit more combative. Most of the participants were from Florida, which is an altogether different kind of redneck refugee (as Koals' producer, Richard, says, "Oh, you Texans are SOPHISTICATED rednecks..."). This evening had the added feature of a martial arts demonstration, something I haven't been involved in for over 15 years. I used to take karate down at Bob Nuttall's Health Forum in Weatherford, until I figured out that half the students there were just looking for ways to take out their aggression, generally on classmates. But I learned a valuable lesson: I should talk my way out of fights. Because I suck at defending myself.

Richard, a Kung Fu instructor, gave me confirmation of that, actually.

"You know what you strike me as?"

No, Richard, tell me.

"You seem like the kind of guy who should take up BaGwa: The art of the circle. It keeps the other guy from hitting you."

Oh, thanks. So what I'm really in need of are not lessons in punching or kicking, but in avoiding the punches and kicks of others. Richard's a good guy, though, and showed me some basic moves. Going through them, I think he's right. I have no business striking anybody. But dodging, that's right up my punk-ass alley. Dodge Ball (or Slaughterball, as we called it) was the only sport I was ever any damn good at, not because I could hit anybody, but because they couldn't hit me. It's a skill I put to great use in other sports, dodging any ball thrown in my direction. I have no idea why no one appreciated that.



One thing I forget about studio work is that there's a lot of standing around waiting for things to happen. I think this is the real reason for the banks of redundant rack gear lining the cabinets & walls. If you get bored, you can just flip a bunch of switches while you wait for the guitarist to tune that pesky B string again.

Once the tracks are taken and the artiste in charge sits down to mix with the engineer, sometimes the bit players will slip into the soundproofed recording room & crank up a little acoustic jam. If a Dylan song doesn't come up at least once, you're probably not drunk enough.

Drunken acoustic jams seem to be the only time I attempt to play drums, which I do well enough for Dylan songs, but not much else. I have this theory that if I owned a drum set and a place to play them every day, I could get quite good. Not good enough for other drummers not to spot a damned guitarist behind the kit, but good enough to fool your average guitarist, provided they're not jazzniks. Jazz guys pretty much always have more skill than rock/pop types. I'm certainly not going to launch into 'Round Midnight in A flat, I'll tell you what.

5-1-05, 10:23 PM -

Dido on the speakers, Stella Artois in the gut, quiet Spring darkness outside. That kinda night, I guess. I've been suffering from a bit of writer's block lately. Not that noteworthy things haven't been happening, but they're the sort of things that make better private reflection than shared anecdote.

Your first thought is likely that my impending fatherhood is the chief pea in the mattress, but truthfully it's only a piece of it. All the logistical life changes that attend it take up some more room, as does our quest for debtlessness (to be concluded soon, thank Pete). The completion of my pole bending book has been a rather large obstacle to written rumination, as has the end of my run as light operator for a small theatre production, not to mention my bass playing hired-gun gigs.

Time-consuming as they are, all of these things are taking me in a positive direction, namely enabling me to buy the new studio and get started on my second album. Upon receipt of my first book check this month, that's exactly what I'm going to do, and you'll likely hear from me even less once that starts.

I guess what I'm saying is that in the coming months, the Letter From NYC may become rather more rare than it has been. When I started sending them in May of 2002, they came out about once a week, and have decreased in frequency since then. Part of that is the wearing off of culture shock over 3 years, and another part is the fact that the arrival of the first album has given me the beginnings of a music career that requires consistent promotion and maintenance.

All of these things coupled with the arrival of a new person in the house lead my mind to territory that's really not that entertaining for you, the reader, so I've been opting to keep it to myself. I have the suspicion that once the little critter finally shows up, I'll have plenty to say. I've observed and can safely say that an actual kid is far more interesting than the abstract concept of one. They also create more poop, so don't think for a minute that we aren't stocking up on the scented candles like a mofo.

For those who are interested, I do have a short piece in my Thoughts section about the impending arrival. Read if you wish.

5-26-05, 8:07 PM -


My book editor tells me that my check is on the way, so all I do now is wait. Hard to concentrate on much else, though I've tried to. I promote when possible, both the disc and the live shows I've been playing, but my mind keeps drifting back to the new album. Soon, very soon.

Speaking of live shows, I must thank all who came out to my recent batch of performances at the 169 Bar and Club SEHO. It's been great to do the trio thing and rediscover the joys of playing with a live band. We'll be back at Club SEHO on Friday, June 24th at 8PM, so come enjoy the nerd pop madness.

I'm also working on a little secret project at present that may help to give some of you a fix in the intervals between letters. More on that later.

Speaking of long intervals, yes, I know I'm late in presenting a new Acoustic Surprise, but I assure you that once my new toys come in, I'll be experimenting like crazy, and many of the more interesting results will end up being Acoustic Surprises, whatcha wanna bet.

At work today, I passed a shelf containing an old copy of The Economist, on the cover of which John Kerry claimed victory in the Iowa primaries. Dang, that was a long time ago. We are indeed nearly finished with the first half of 2005, and here I am just now figuring it out. As Jehosafat sits on my lap and digs her claws into my soft flesh just enough to make me wince, I realize that it was at this time 10 years ago that I moved into the apartment that would be her first home later that year. Poor cat had no idea what she was in for.

Also living in that apartment was my good friend Gustavson, who just happens to be staying on my couch this week during his big visit to NYC. This particular night, he and deanpence are camping along the Delaware River somewhere in Pennsylvania. I notice that they borrowed my hammer, which I suppose is either for whapping tent stakes or defending themselves against bears. I'm going to hope the bears aren't hungry.

I opted out of the camping expedition, partially because of the bears, but also because of the damned expense of it all. Looking through deanpence's outdoor gear catalogs, the dollar signs danced like Lionel Ritchie on the ceiling. Who would have thought that living in the woods Grizzly Adams style could be so expensive?

Accompanying them on one of their forays to the outdoor sporting store, I did, however, pick up a canister of something called Cat Crap. It's a lens cleaner, which might be handy someday, but truthfully, I just couldn't not buy something called Cat Crap. And there's a Thundercats logo on it, so really, what choice did I have?

Time now for some shut-eye. But if you're still up, I invite you to read the second installment of my good friend Paul's Letter From CA. Response to Part I was quite good, and Pete knows he ain't got nothing else to do out there. Here ye go.

Say hello to the rest of the world for me. I'll rejoin it soon enough, but for now, I'm leaving it be. Reckon it'll be there when I get back.





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