Friday, August 31, 2012

"Raspberry Beret", Warren Zevon

Yes, technically, Hindu Love Gods perform this version.  But the Love Gods were, in essence, R.E.M - but with Warren on vocals in place of Michael Stipe.  Anyway, it's no secret around these parts how much the IBL staff adore and still, to this day, desperately miss Mr. Zevon.  And so I thought we'd say goodbye to August 2012 with his (okay - their) cover of what is also our favorite Prince song.  And I'm going to assume you are familiar with the original...

Raspberry Beret...


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Sunrise", Ryan Bingham

Just couldn't help myself after posting the last one; I wanted to get one of his originals out there, too.  Although Mr. Bingham has several brilliant songs, I believe this is my favorite (though perhaps not the most brilliant) - I'd go see him live on the off chance he'd play this one...

You could lead a blind man out of Vietnam...

Sunrise by Ryan Bingham...


"To Live Is To Fly", Ryan Bingham

Ryan Bingham is all of 30 years old and has four albums under his belt, as well as an Academy Award (along with T-Bone Burnett, I believe) for The Weary Kind from the film Crazy Heart (Ryan also appears in the movie early on as the guitarist playing with Bad Blake in, as I recall, a bowling alley).  At any rate, he is currently touring America, and then headed to Europe, and he does a very nice live show I have to say, but I would add this caveat - I have only seen him once, and the show I saw was a little more on the rock and blues side as opposed to, let's say, the "roots" side, or the gentle quiet found here.  I would see him again, but would hope for a little more balance.  (Also: in an album review a couple of years ago, Rolling Stone referred to him as "sounding like Steve Earle's grandfather".  Not sure if I agree with that, but I do think it's a funny line.)

Lately Ryan has been recording acoustic covers and posting them via Twitter; last week he recorded To Live Is To Fly, and since I'd done Townes' original yesterday, I thought I'd add this one today...


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"To Live Is To Fly", Townes Van Zandt

Honestly, at first I wasn't quite sure I liked Townes Van Zandt.  To be fair to him, I hadn't heard a ton of songs, and the one that was most famous to me, Pancho and Lefty, I'd heard done by a variety of artists before I ever heard his version - artists, I might add, who, at a sonic glance, would appear to have better voices than TVZ (Emmylou and Delbert McClinton spring to mind).  But then, one day in Tacoma, summer of 2011, I heard To Live Is To Fly for the first time and, when it was over, I backed it up and played it again.  And that was it.  For me, it was the key that unlocked everything else - it occurred to me that here was a song that wasn't so much about the singing per se, but about the way his voice inhabited the song.  Or, to put that another way, for me there is no distinction between the song itself, the actual words and music on paper, and Townes giving voice to those words - they are one and the same, simultaneously beautiful and haunting.  And that allowed me to look at his other work in a new light.  And, so -

To Live Is To Fly by Townes Van Zandt...

Also, in these very pages (8/14/12), you can find a link to Townes performing Pancho and Lefty if you are so inclined...


Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Reminder From Iotaprime With Regard to All Images Appearing in This, the IBL Universe

"For all posts, click on image to see a larger view."

This was left as a comment - I wanted to get it front and center should it be useful information to YOU...


Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Ecce Homo" by Bryan Daniel

Original artwork by Bryan Daniel (known as iotaprime around these parts), based on an original photograph from the IBL studios (snapped by Danielle McArthur) which appeared in its initial form in this space on 8/19/12.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Billy Bragg - Anecdote, Autograph, "A New England"

Danielle and I were fortunate enough to see Billy Bragg at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco in either 2008 or 2009.  After the show, though it was mid-week and we had to be at work in the morning, we decided to stick around and meet Mr. Bragg - the line didn't seem too long, and we lived only a block and a half away.  In total, we probably spent three minutes with him, but I can't begin to tell you how genuinely warm and nice he was, and how sincerely grateful he was that people came out to see him.  As we were taking our leave, we asked if he would sign this towel, and he grabbed me by the shoulders and turned me around, then signed the towel on my back.  After that he gave a big goodnight hug to Danielle.

During the show, he told a story about his son, maybe 14 or 15, who was learning the guitar, and at some point asked Mr. Bragg to show him how to play a certain solo (on a Hendrix song, I think).  "And I had to explain to him," Mr. Bragg said, "your dad isn't that kind of a guitar player."

But he can write, by God, that he can do...

A New England...


"Found Cross Surrounded By Pencil, Chalk, Crayon and Lipstick"

Original IBL art - pencil, chalk, crayon, lipstick and ink on coaster, 3.5 x 3.5 inches, July/August 2012.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Ecce Homo"

An original IBL photograph taken August 19th, 2012, in Seattle.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"Make Your Own Dice"

Original IBL art - felt pen, crayon, pencil and lipstick on cocktail napkin, 5 x 4.75 inches, 8/11/12.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Taste of the Funny

(This one's for all the endodontists out there...)

The young man was having some tooth sensitivity and made an appointment with a specialist to see if he might need a root canal.  The pretty young endodontic technician sat him down and prepared to take x-rays of the suspect tooth.

"Oh," the young man interrupted her, "my dentist sent over my x-rays yesterday."

"I didn't realize that," the technician said.  "Are they recent?"

"Yes," he replied, "from April."

Barely suppressing a smile, the pretty young thing put a gentle hand on his shoulder.  "Oh, Mr. Johnson," she said, "this is August!"


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Birthday Shout Out to Billy Joe Shaver, Plus "Black Rose"

A fine singer, a fine songwriter.  By my count, 73 today...

Black Rose...


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Pancho and Lefty", Townes Van Zandt

From Heartworn Highways, which I have yet to see, but is available on NetFlix...

Pancho and Lefty, by the Man Himself...


Monday, August 13, 2012

"Gunslinger Jesus"

("Suggested" by my friend, James Ciulik (via a comic by Becky Thyre).  And when my friend James Ciulik "suggests" that I write a poem about Jesus, I write a poem about Jesus, I most certainly do.

And, yes - feel free to read the first letter of each line in a vertical fashion.)

Gunslinger Jesus

Gethsemane really put a few things in perspective:
under no circumstances do I get on that cross.
Not going to happen, never going to do it.
Say what you will about biblical precedent, but
leave me the fuck out of it.  Think of me as
independently-minded if you like, forging my own destiny,
niggardly w/r/t my bodily fluids (sweat, piss, blood)
gallantly splashing the streets of Jerusalem, then Calvary.
Embarrassing, nails through my wrists and feet, side pierced.
Redeeming the shit out of everybody? No,

Jesus got himself a different set of notions, Jesus do:
Enlightened Rogue across my chest, on my hip a
six-shooter, name of Dove.  I got a new dynamic, feel me?
Ultimately, yes, a man of peace - but cross me and die:
silver bullets Papa Bear, Holy Spook.  Silver bullets.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Child of God"

Original IBL art - cardboard, photograph, page and partially torn cover from Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, page from child's prayer book, 10 x 12 inches, 8/8/12.

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Blind Cross"

An original IBL photograph taken August 8th, 2012, in Seattle.

"The Mercy Seat", Johnny Cash (Covering Nick Cave)

And, so, to complete the thought...

The Mercy Seat...


At Work on "The Mercy Seat"

Yesterday in these very pages I featured the photograph of a detail from a recent art project I'd completed, "The Mercy Seat" (named after a Nick Cave song).  Today, thought I would include this photograph which shows my "work station" at the Little Red Hen (in the window to the left of the front door).  The "finished" piece is on the right of the table; to its left on white paper is my practice round from earlier in the year.  And then of course some pens and markers and a plastic bag that is likely hiding the chalk; tape measure; cup of water; the requisite Detroit hat, natch; the Rainier; and, possibly my favorite - though I was alone on this afternoon/evening, there are TWO glasses of Wild Turkey 101 on the table.  One can never be too prepared in the name of art.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"The Mercy Seat" (Detail)

Original IBL art - chalk, crayon, pen, felt pen and pencil on tissue paper, 18 x 13.5 inches, 7/22/12 (detail approximately 12 x 9.25 inches).

"Heart With Wings"

Original IBL art - newspaper and glue, 10.25 x 7 1/8 inches, June/August 2012.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Just Us Kids", James McMurtry

The seriously good songwriter James McMurtry.  Yes, he is Larry's son.  Yes, he is on tour now and may well be coming to a town near you.  Yes, I have purchased tickets already for September 18th at the Neptune here in Seattle.  (Thanks for asking.)

Just Us Kids...


Monday, August 6, 2012


An original IBL photograph taken July, 2012, Green Lake Park, Seattle.

"A Poetry Reading at West Point", William Matthews

(To my mind, one of the finest poems I've read.  We are all of us in this together...)

A Poetry Reading at West Point
I read to the entire plebe class,
in two batches. Twice the hall filled
with bodies dressed alike, each toting
a copy of my book. What would my
shrink say, if I had one, about
such a dream, if it were a dream?

Question and answer time.
"Sir," a cadet yelled from the balcony,
and gave his name and rank, and then,
closing his parentheses, yelled
"Sir" again. "Why do your poems give
me a headache when I try

to understand them?" he asked. "Do
you want that?" I have a gift for
gentle jokes to defuse tension,
but this was not the time to use it.
"I try to write as well as I can
what it feels like to be human,"

I started, picking my way care-
fully, for he and I were, after
all, pained by the same dumb longings.
"I try to say what I don't know
how to say, but of course I can't
get much of it down at all."

By now I was sweating bullets.
"I don't want my poems to be hard,
unless the truth is, if there is
a truth." Silence hung in the hall
like a heavy fabric. My own
head ached. "Sir," he yelled. "Thank you. Sir."

William Matthews
1942 - 1997

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Tater Cross I" and "Tater Cross II"

Original IBL photographs taken July 26th, 2012, on the bar at the Little Red Hen in Seattle.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Little Red Hen Restroom Doors

I don't know, it seemed like a good idea last night...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fictional Lesbian Pairings (IX)

Molly Bloom loves Anna Livia Plurabelle across eternity: from swerve of shore to the rhododendrons on Howth head; in the riverwaters under O'Connell Street Bridge and in the rain beside St. James's gate; from Phoenix Park to Grafton Street to Saint Steven's Green - from Dublin to Trieste, and Paris, and Zurich, and back again.

"Hannibal", Dan Bern

A truly fine songwriter who has never really gotten his due.  There will be more Dan Bern coming in the not too far distant future, but for now this one somehow felt particularly relevant to me.  Perhaps because I am a (deluded/delusional/Dilaudid-addled) liberal...

(Props for alliteration? It's actually palindromic alliteration, ta boot.)

Hannibal, by Dan Bern (+ lyrics)...
Let the niggers burn down nigger town
Step aside for burning and looting
But if they set foot in Beverly Hills
Time brother, brother time to start shooting

Everything everybody has in their homes
Will be taken away next week Wednesday
And everything everybody ever believed
Will be disproved next week Friday

I'm going down to Hannibal
Going down to Hannibal
Gonna buy a new suit of clothes

Hitler never hurt a soul
I read it in a book
That I finished up just this morning
I was happy and I just couldn't wait to tell the good news
To all of my dead uncles
When they tore down the Berlin wall
Everybody danced
But between what I feel and what I say
There's a thirty foot barbed wire fence

I'm going down to Hannibal
Going down to Hannibal
Gonna buy a new suit of clothes

The world is one big cosmic joke
Played on me, I hear
As soon as I leave this room
All of you are going to disappear
Time begins to bend and shift
Maybe you haven't noticed
But just the other day a man in Washington state
Admitted killing Jesus

I'm going down to Hannibal
Going down to Hannibal
Gonna buy a new suit of clothes

I'm six foot tall and 180 lbs
I can punch through a wall with my fist
But I don't understand how with just one kiss
You can wrap me around your finger
You can wrap me around your wrist

Everybody who has ever ever been alive
Is alive today in Georgia
As for the rest of us, I don't even know who we are
It's a mystery I guess

I'm going down to Hannibal
Going down to Hannibal
Gonna buy a new suit of clothes

You see, everything I know, I learned from my dad
He learned it all from his
And his dad just happened to be
Wrong about everything

I'm going down to Hannibal
I'm gonna buy a new suit of clothes
I'm going to wear three neckties
You're going to help with the bows
You're going to help with the bows
You're going to help with the bows

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"At the Left Hand of the Father"

Original IBL art - felt pen and pencil on torn dinner napkin (done entirely with left hand; see previous post), 5 x 4.5 inches, 7/22/12.

I Was Supposed To Be Left-Handed

This was something that, apparently, my parents didn't notice.  Nor did two public school kindergartens.  (We moved from Whittier, CA to La Habra, CA mid-year, but how much writing is done in kindergarten in the first place? A serious question - I don't recall.)  Nor did Our Lady of Guadalupe Elementary School (Catholic), La Habra, CA notice at any point during the five years I spent there.  By then, when I went back to public school for 6th grade, perhaps it was too late, I don't know.  So, to this day, though I would kick a ball with my left foot and always have, I hold a pen in my right hand, but I write as though I were left-handed - my arm hooked in front of me and, subsequently, the back of my hand smearing ink across the page (the reverse imprint of a variety of letters in blue or black ink on my skin).  In first grade I clearly remember being mortified at the sloppiness of my work; instead of somebody sorting that out for me, on my own initiative I took a separate piece of clean, white paper and placed it over the first one, giving me a surface on which to rest my hand without destroying my assignment; moving the second, clean sheet carefully from left to right as my sentences moved in that direction, then lifting it up and covering the "working document" again as I moved to the next line, and so on down the page.  And nobody noticed.  (I have a recollection of being criticized for my sloppy work, but to be honest I can't swear that part is absolutely true; that part could have attached itself to my true memories over the years.)

Whether learning to write incorrectly during my formative years was a simple failure of the educational system in general, or if it had more to do with the notion that the left hand is (religiously) considered the devil's hand and so, you know, why encourage any change, I don't know.  There may have been other left-handers in my Catholic grade school but I don't remember them; the first lefty I remember was a blond kid whose last name was Denny in 6th grade at Olita Elementary School, also in La Habra, and noticing that he held his pen in a similar manner to me.  And to be clear - I have no recollection of picking up a pen with my left hand and specifically being told, "No, that's wrong."  But, to this day, I have people say to me - and some people who have known me for years and years - if they are sitting across from me when I'm writing, so the picture is reversed to them, they'll say to me, "I didn't know you were left-handed."  So I deliberately hold up my right hand with the pen and they say something like, "Wait a minute"; and I say something like, "Catholic School".  Which is, to be fair, glib -  but, for whatever reason (incompetence, the salvation of my soul), it's also a significant portion of the equation.

In any event, I wound up having a random conversation in the Little Red Hen the other night with a woman who was watching me draw from several tables away (because I am, apparently, that fascinating), and at a certain point she couldn't contain herself any longer and approached to see what I was doing, and literally picked up my drawing (the tissue paper was extremely fragile) as she was saying hello to me.  She noted how I held my pen and, after spinning her a ten second version of what you've just read, she said, "Well maybe you can get that back if you want, being left-handed."  So, of course (inspiration coming from unlikely sources all the time), I immediately stopped work on the bigger project in order to take a brief, left-handed detour toward some familiar ground to see what that was like.  Visual documentation of the results is in the post following this one, and I would like to believe that this post would provide at least some context for the title of said piece.

Everybody in, nobody out.