This will be short, because Monday was a holiday, in a manner of speaking. Not a happy merry whee-ha holiday; that comes later. But all normal things were held in abeyance. It was supposed to rain, but dammit, it did not, so this meant more digging. I woke with my back encircled by bands of rust and pain, a consequence of the tiller operation yesterday, but at least my arms weren’t al dente. My wife bade me to dig on the boulevard, two rows, spaces for the day lilies. There were going to be day lilies aong a flight of steps no one ever uses, but it sets off quite nicely the other steps no one ever uses.

Would you like to see? Okay then:

Digging in the dirt isn’t any big deal, unless the area is so intertwined with roots you can’t get the spade in without jackhammering the turf before. Every spade was another back spasm. It’s astonishing how much stuff there is under the grass; at one point I paused, looked up and down the street, and saw how much dirt there is, how much grass, how dense with stuff this world is. I picked up a rock, and underneath: a million ants, running around in antly panic. I put the rockiphoto back. Oh, they’ll talk of that one for years. No, seriously! The entire top of the colony lifted up, and it was bright, and the soldiers all headed for the queen to protect her, and the rest of us were like ohmygod ohmygod, and then the roof came back down. These are small ants, and they are the most important kind of ants, namely, Ants That Are Not In the House, and so I like them. the ones we’ve had in the house this year are large enough so you can see the different portions of their bodies; any larger and I could claim them as dependents.

They fascinate me, though. All that industriousness, all those creatures, all wedded to a single unit, interchangeable, disposable, devoid of consciousness. A self-replicating machine acting out ancient programs.


Okay, I’m good ‘n’ useless. Full of meat and dessert and worn to a frazzle. Wor-ren to a frayah-zel, to quote an old Edderds saying. See? I’m quoting a 1942 radio show as if it means anything. (By the way, that’s how I start my day: people think I hop right on the Internet and hoover up every new link on all my favorite pages, but I don’t hit the internet until 11 or so. I listen to old radio shows, and one of them, Lum & Abner, is a serial comedy, so I hear it every day as it was meant to be heard.) If you could get a soundtrack of my brain right now it would be that moment when the needle reaches the end of the record, but doesn’t pick up. Just plays a scratchy sound best described as “non-silence.”

One thing I’ve noticed lately: the sound of a needle being dragged across a record is no longer used in ads as a means of creating an abrupt transition. This sound persisted in locally-produced ads into the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, long after the venerable medium had passed from the scene; perhaps it was meant to appeal to the Boomer generation, the ones who still remembered the faint crackling sound when a record came out of the sleeve, remembered how every album was introduced with the sound of the needle finding the groove, winced at every skip, frowned when the album poked through the bottom of the inner sleeve - indeed, we put the album in the inner sleeve even after it had fallen apart, because putting the album in the cardboard sleeve would be like going commando, leaving the house without underwear.

I miss albums. Not the medium, but the art form. The thrill you’d get when you saw that the album opened up, the crushing, annoying disappointment you felt when you opened it up and it was just a stupid picture. The pleasure of finding that the inner sleeve had been designed, as well. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but for some reason Supertramp had the inside of the sleeve colored to match the primary hue of the previous album. Why? Don’t know. But the inner sleeve was reserved for Lyrics, because these things were important. In retrospect the album that Opened Up was often a bad sign; it meant the band was BIG now, and the label wanted to go all out for this important release, because the label knew the album was actually lackluster, due to touring and arguments within the band, and drugs.

Then there the album covers that said “hey, there’s something going out there represented by typefaces and design choices on fliers; let’s go with that.”



I’ve always had a soft spot for this one. Major label throws something out there undwer a sublabel, hope it gets New Wave Cred!



The third song on the first side, which meant something: First song gets your attention, second song pitches something different, third song seals the deal.

The first song on the album couldn’t be a hit, but it got your attention. It’s about someone who wants to be Norman Bates. Can’t quite endorse the lyrics, bjut the production is just pure 1980. It’s the guitar, and the chorus at :41 check in check out check in check out. That top-string-to-bottom-string Strat reverb chord at 1:02. Nice little touches. It goes mad at 2:02. For 32 years I’ve been cranking it up at 2:22. Never gets old.


Everyone has a song no one else knows. Or so it seems. The Hitmen wrote some other songs that don’t sound like anything anyone else did. If I’d wanted to write a true memoir about 1980, “Graveyard Special” would have had much many more musical cues, but title-dropping is a cheap way to establish an era.

Oh, speaking of which!

The novel is proofed and packaged and formatted and ready to roll. It’ll be out in six weeks. Between now and then I will be doing things that will be interesting, and super-enhance the roll-out. Mark your calendars:

Graveyard Special: July 16.

Autumn Solitaire: December 16.

Morocco Alley: May 16, 2013.

Ten bucks will buy the lot. Am I mad? We’ll see. As I’ve said, my objective is to write lots of books and sell them cheap and entertain. They’re not perfect. I know that. But the last few books I’ve read from some big-fargin’-named guys were all disappointing. I’m aiming low and small and fast and fun.

All three novels connect. And there are two more to come.

And now, dog! 4:02 PM on a lovely May day.



He had bacon for breakfast. He spent most of the day on his rug, but come the shank of the afternoon when the wind pushed aside the heat, he wanted to go outside and sit in his spot. Tilt the snout up to the great unheard conversation, parse the scents, ejudicate the stinks, read the news. When my wife went to go plant something on the hill, he’d barked: I need to see where you are. He can’t see very well anymore, but he sees enough to see her down the hill, and that’s enough. When she goes on the other side of the fence and the fence closes it’s an insult, a bother, a worry. He has to follow. He has to know where we are.

We’re right here, dog. Right here.









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