Chad’s Favorite Song

do you remember passion? it’s burried beneath a concrete world. have you forgotten
compassion? are you in the middle of an ugly war between yourself and a giant
machine? are you so tired you can’t even dream anymore?

fuck this city, and fuck this filthy air. let’s build a-frames in the woods
and just live there. we’ll all eat berries and build fires every night and forget
this mistake we call modern life.

i believe in something, but i don’t know what it is. it’s either the future
or the end. it’s every reason that i do or don’t get out of bed.

we live in the unhappy shadows of skyscrapers freight trains and malls to a
soundtrack of nuclear warheads and bombs. addicted to power, addicted to authority,
money, and success … so far gone, without our addictions, do we even know
how to live?

the sun is shining thru distance, bitter clouds that make me choke and cough
and scream. sitting here along watching acid raindrops fall, this is not the
life i want to lead.

Drinking Song

the first thing we do if we want to get through this dependency that we’ve
been courting. is to finally come clean with the lines read between and make
flat feet of tiptoes we’re walking. say, “we’re finished.” say, “we’re
sorry.” say, “we’re scared there’s this weight we can’t carry.”
say, “i’m lonely, and frustrated, and i’m ready to be here to hear that.”

and try as we might we’ll try and we might …

crumbles these walls with a flood of our words and we’ll have a foundation
to hold us …

all these things i want to say. like “honesty is so underated”. we’re
in this together, and that’s ok. so why are we so afraid to say it?

Hey Kathleen, Are You Hungry?

are you angry? are you searching for a better way to live? are you waiting?
have you been waiting too long? what holds us back and how to burn the bridges
of a culture that taught us to hate and fear and live like cogs in a machine
and not like lovers friends and kin.

how can i help but feel depressed, get up in the morning and get dressed, look
out the window through rush hour smog … smoke and drink the world away ’cause
what the politicians say won’t answer any of my questions like …

why am i angry? what am i searching for? is there a better way to live? why
am i hopeless? have i been waiting too long to strike back against this state
of affairs?

I’m Just Going to Leave Now

it’s been a bad day. just listened to jawbreaker, wondered what’s wrong with
me and stared in the mirror, waited so patiently for the end of the summer.
just got my hopes up and dashed. i’m just sucker, i guess. it’s so warm outside
but i’m still sad.

even on the best days in september. it’s hard to find my piece of mind. i’d
like to blame it on the weather …

so disappointed to come home to this i think i’ll sleep on the roof tonight.
counting sheep and a couple regrets as cars drive by. it’s kind of hard to figure
anything out, when people don’t talk at all. i hate these bad days. i think
i’ll just skip town.

The Idea of North

the idea of north was frozen like some glacial ice, so large and imposing -
but quickly thawed by words of secrecy and thoughts of northern lights and polar
ice and things i can’t quite understand. not some cardinal point on a map, but
a feeling that takes me where i meekly stand – an idea so exciting that suddenly
i’m not content with running wild and playing games with friends in streets
of this old college town.

i wish i had a magic compass. to tell me that adulthoods corrupt and there’s
more to this world than that which meets the eye. it could tell you the truth
but to read it, you’d have to leard for yourself the meaning. to meter means
to measure, and measures are what i’m so afraid to take.

they say the powers of this world are very strong. that men and women are moved
by tides much fiercer than you can imagine. that they sweep us up in their currents,
icy waves – the most terrible of lies. could we be much bigger than this with
no forces to force us to decide?

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman is a very good book. You would probably enjoy it if you read it. This song is a little bit about that book, a little bit about how reading something really amazing can give you this feeling of excitement, and a little bit about how there is room for excitement and intention in our lives even if we’re not engaged in an epic adventure.

Old Dead Tree

it’s in the east and in on the kill taker. this is so much more than just one’s
needs. this lies with you in a california highway somewhere. a manmade strip
between the trees. i found a new value in slayer last night. nighttime fits
for changing hands.

it will chop you down, like an old dead tree. this dirty old town, i try not
to believe. that it would chop me down, like an old dead tree. this dirty old
town, i try so hard not to leave.

i wrote again. it sounded a lot like last time. nothing stems from nothing
left. we leave in the morning. it’s tough to know not much has changed, and
that we won’t be coming back.

Promises

i’ve got these promises … that are creeping through my head, words i’d never
dare say out loud. my tongue bleeds crimson red … sliced open by the thorns
of untruths that i’ve uttered before. and i’d like to be my friend, but own
worst enemy again, resolutions that i break. and i’m headed for a fall, my own
worst enemy of all, with every step back that i take.

and these promises i keep, in the hours before i sleep. don’t mean ‘nothing
when i break them in the morning. and these promises i break, that are keeping
me awake. nightmares never half as bad as this.

This
is simply about being hard on yourself when you don’t live up to your own
expectations. It’s hard to find a balance between holding yourself to ideals or goals
and being flexible.

Road Signs Always Look Better Looking Over Your Shoulder

s/he says s/he’s tired of working overtime and troubles weighing on his/her
mind in class. s/he said s/he’d like to pack his/her bags and run away, and
never look back. s/he says this life of mine’s like doing time for crimes that
i didn’t commit. s/he says if life is just a game, i’m on the losing team -
and i just want to quit.

s/he says we can take this weekend, drive out past city limits, keep on driving
just as far as we can go. and maybe when we get back, things will seem a little
better, things will work out in a way we couldn’t know…

s/he says we can take this weekend, drive out past city limits, keep on driving
just as far as we can go. and we can take this weekend, and make it last forever,
deal the shackles of our lives a breaking blow. because to run away is victory,
a tank of gas is freedom, and a starry night and open road is hope. we can take
my fast car, or maybe just close our eyes, and when we open them the world we
want … can be the world we know.

This Time, This Year

lately morning feels like i’m not winning. it’s like i know a lot … lots
of missing. there is a skyscraper takeover on 8th and broad, and i can’t go
explore out of fear. the same old fear and the same old doubts like why dancing
scares the hell out of me. and astrology says it will be fun to forget last
year in the new year. and you are so sweet for reminding me of all that i can
do alone.

this time, this year, is bigger than us, it goes on long after we’re gone!
this town has taken it all out of us, made us look at our lives through new
eyes. … i love you in so many ways. you taught me to give, to lose, to love,
to be lost, and now how to want.

i held your shoulders. we cried in the dark. that was last year, and we were
so scared. so when it comes march, will we march together? ride bikes to the
river and wreck them along the way.

I Don’t Want Solidarity If It Means Holding Hands With You

let’s stop this talk of privilage because the songs that we sing are as much
a product of our privilage as the clothes on my back and the phone call i made
to my mom last night. let’s stop this talk of action because action comes easy
it’s the moments just before that are hard, when i’ve got to get my voice and
my fist on the same page as my heart. let’s stop this talk of them because the
things we find deplorable in politicians, ceos and cops are the same things
that will tear ourselves apart. and let’s stop this talk of words because words
like dishonesty selfishness and greed aren’t as distance to us as we’d like
to believe.

so please, the next time you’re smashing the state, don’t go breaking my heart.
because i know that when we pick up the pieces, the only thing left will be
the same empty rubble that’s made up every revolution that i’ve ever known to
make me believe and lose faith in humanity in the same empty breath of hot air.

they say that the beauty’s in the streets. but when i look around, it seems
more like defeat. i’m afraid that this fight that we’re all caught up in will
make us the same as that which we oppose.

so please, the next time you’re smashing the state, don’t go breaking my heart.
but i know that we can pick up the pieces and build something new, something
different. that’s not like every revolution that i’ve ever known that can make
me believe and have faith in humanity and we’ll all breath a breath of fresh
air.

Response To Griot

to the drifters! in hopes that our paths cross again. to the homesick! home
is when we do meet again.

our histories, our futures, our foundations, are hope. it’s a way to never
forget.

i’ll say goodbye. and hope never to mean it. our love and our hope. no nation
or state can contain it.

if you call me up drunk, at four in the morning, no matter the timezones or
state lines away. i’ll be on buslines or burning up phone cards. just like i
lived eight blocks away.

Bikes and Bridges

even columbus looks better on the back seat of a bike and all my fears get
washed away in a stream of blinking lights and the concrete strip below seems
less like a noose and more like a tie that binds or at least a tourniquet. it’s
been such a hard season and the bridges we burned might be all we had to keep
us from drowning. but at least we had this time; and i’d like to think we’re
better off for it. i’ll remember this. sometimes broken things make the best
building supplies. and we’ll keep on building. hearts aren’t made of glass,
they’re made of muscle and blood and something else. and they don’t so much
as break as bend and tear. we have what it takes to keep it together; and move
on.

any relationship that matters – a friendship, a family, a romance, a band -
anything – is a perilous and fragile thing because along with all the amazing
experiences and creations that can come from something so intimate and exhausting
comes the possibility for things to crumble and shatter or whither and die.
when that happens, it’s easy to forget what was precious amidst all the disaster.
we should always carry our history with us but never let it bury us.

Sweet Dues and Sweet Ladies

tomorrow might be the day I die
so I want, or rather must, confide
all these things I did, or did not,
try to hide.
well, if boys are boys and
girls are girls.
then boys and girls
are sometimes confused
and I am confused most all the time.

well let’s get one thing right
our friends are good
and their support is great
but the outcome is everything
and that’s left to me and you

so if today is that day I dread
then at least it can be said
that we, we did things right.
we wrestled with our sense of pride
and even if it didn’t sound like a battle cry.
still we, we did things right.

we hung up our relationships
for everyone to see
then blind interpretations
couldn’t say what’s right for you or me
and we could find out what we want
and make no apologies
because we couldn’t coexist
any other way.

this is a song i felt like it was really important for me to write. it’s about
several things. but mostly it’s about being honest with the people close to
you about your romantic feelings and/or the lack of feelings. sometimes that
is so much more difficult than we can even imagine. sometimes I struggle with
my sexuality, at times i have no idea what it is i want, sometimes i fear rejection,
sometimes I just have trouble having the courage to express myself about something
that makes me feel so naked. i have lost a lot in my life because of these fears,
and although facing them head on may not make the outcome any better.. it’s
definitely better to be done with it and move on. and if things are good, if
people have the same feelings, then see that they are celebrated, that we move
on and make the most of the short time two people may have together. that we
are not afraid of what people around us think. that also means respecting the
intense feelings involved in the personal relationships of friends close to
me.. and to trying not be judgmental, trying not put my own rationalizations
into their lives… because it is up to them, and more than anything I want
them to be as happy as they can be.

Lullabies

lay your head next to mine and we’ll sleep one good sleep tonight.
fall asleep, love, to forget or to dream … fall asleep to leave this world
behind.

and i wish for you, friend, to lie down in peace and i wish for you always to
know that as long as we’ll dream under these stars in the sky that we’ve seen
since the day we were born …

… to move but don’t move too fast for your dreams or your grandest of plans.

dream of nights of fireflies and skies so clear, so untouched. dream of a time,
of a place for us to live, so free, so free.

just as quick as you can fall asleep.

i imagine this song being sung to a child sleeping out and looking up at the
stars and realizing how large and incredible the world is. i used to get scared
looking up at the stars at night because it was like looking at billions of
other worlds … it’s easy to get so caught up in the gears of life (work, school,
obligations, responsibilities) that we lost any sort of creative ambition or
desire for ridiculous adventures, and so the only time we have to imagine is
when we sleep. i originally had a line in the song that said “its so sad
to only dream when you sleep,” and i really think it’s true. maybe if we
allowed ourselves the time to take a step back and realize how wonderful our
world can be (if we stop destroying it, that is) we could dream up all kinds
of things for ourselves.

never forget, ever

We held our legs parallel to the ground – urethane cartographers of this small mid-atlantic town. You were stuck in the mid-west making signs for opposing teams. Do our lives now live up to all our dreams? Do we write it in our skin, indelible? “SK8 or Die,” “Fuk’n Go,” “Don’t Give Up Hope,” I guess I don’t know. Or maybe we’ll assert in binary. Dear diary, I wonder if words can make things real. I hope they might.

Despite the potency of our personal histories, I try to think that what matters, damn it, is what we’re doing now. And what we’re doing now is defined less by our identities and ideas and more by the reality of the actions in our lives. Still, I’d like to hope that all the conversations that we have and the proclaimations that we make at least give us something to hold ourselves to.

tanks! tanks! tanks!

Tanks, tanks, tanks. Bombs, bombs, bombs. Nuclear heat-seeking battleships. Shake yer hips, raise your fists, tell ‘em they can kiss yer’ ass if they come knockin’ for us kids.

You needed a dependable work force so you created a drug ware n’ got one in orange. Now on the backs of the poor, you’re taking over the world by force. Whatever for?

Mr. Rumsfeld, a question from me to you. If Saddam is such a jerk then why in 1982 did you give him a pair of gold spurs? If you ask me how I feel my friend, I’d say “actions speak louder than words.” If you ask me how I feel Mr. Military Man, I’d say “actions have spoken louder than words.” Woo-hoo!

The U.S. spends over 300 billion dollars ($300,000,000,000.00) on it’s military. The Navy’s got 9 super carrier battle groups, stealth aircrafts, and all kinds of stupid toys that no-one else in the world has the money to have. It’s over the top, it’s stupid.

what better way to find cheap labor to sew all the military’s apparel than locking people up for petty drug charges, giving them an orange jumpsuit, and have prisoners do your dirty work for you!

to lanterns, denver, and one last lament

Saying “I hate” and “I didn’t think the time was right,” are sometimes the same or at least alike ina ction. I think you should say “this is what I want.” Maybe Columbus went to far and Bloomington, well that’s where we are, but I’d like to think we would be relevent to each other again one of these days. (I want) you to be what all the printed cloth and papers proclaim! what all your favorite bands seem to explain.

Who would have thought that I’d end up here, that you’d end up here, but that this is where you and I should end? Though I think it should and know it’s for the best, I want you to know that you’re still just as beautiful as the day we met.

And when we speak again, I can tell you how I still can’t roll cigarettes, or how I showed up in Denver, once almost by accident, or how I learned of Diogynes’ haunts of Rome in search of honest men. And you’d tell me things I could never predict, of bikes or of the Baltic Sear or the woes of your last laments. Things I’d never expect …

We write the songs of revolution, and we write the songs of the love. It’s not always easy to sing along, and it’s near impossible to sing twice as loud, when your best friend quits singing along!!!

This song is about friends going their seperate ways. It’s about missing the friends that I left behind in Columbus. Sometimes I have drifted away from people and now want nothing to do with them, but they still possess all the amazing traits that made me want to spend all the time I did with them. I want to remember this, and I want them to know this as we move on.

sometimes motion

It’s a battle of attrition that we’re losing week by week, filled with hollow
halls and unanswered calls and empty city streets. We’re losing all our friends
to distant postal codes. And this stack of letters on my desk is a poor
substitute for flesh and bone.

I feel like a sabretooth tiger, slipping slowly into the tar and we hear the
awful strains of boredom when we’re playing the guitar. The weight of responsibility
seems so heavy it could kill and if these fleas they don’t suck me dry, I fear this city will.

Sometimes motion is the only things that keep us alive.

Sometimes home is less where you live and more where you lay your head.
Sometimes hardwood floors and sleeping bags feel better than a bed. We’ve been on
the road for almost two weeks now and we’re not sure we want to quit. Because,
even broken strings when everybody sings, they only sting a bit.

This is the last song I ever wrote as a
resident of Columbus, Ohio. I wish it could have been a more eloquent elegy for
a town that, despite its faults, has proven to be such a large part of the person
I’ve become. I also feel like I should be somehow penalized for writing a song
about being on tour and that uses the phrase “on the road”, as I’m sure
I’ve made fun of that phrase many times myself. I wrote these words after having a
conversation with BZ where we both decided that we would rather be on tour than
watch our friends flee the city or mope sadly alone in their houses. It was hard
to accept that something like going on tour, which has always seemed pretty unnatural
to me, was a bigger part of my life, or maybe just made more sense at the tume, than trying
to struggle with my friends to be happy in Columbus, or the education that I had
just finished, or the relationships that I was trying to figure out. So, this song,
for me at least, isn’t really about being on tour, or traveling, in any more than
a superficial sense. It’s about realizing that the life that you live is the one
that you choose – that you can be happy with that life, or you can choose a
different one, but you can’t do either of those things without first accepting
what it is that your life has become.

Petty Problems

In Columbus they were shopping on the first day, the first official day of war. It’s so easy being oblivious, and it’s easy being self-absorbed inside of 80 different stores and coffee shops. the whole world’s not like yours. There are many kinds of problems, not all of them are like your or mine. But I forget that all the time.

Oh drama, are you all in my head? My problems aren’t really all that bad. So distrcated by the things that I don’t have. How sad.

Our petty problems we add them up and we dwell on them half of the day. Our petty problem we add them up and they always get in the way. Our petty problems so American so caught up in our own little worlds …

Enough

Whether records we sold to fill some demand or the rapid deployment of 10,000 men, did we do it to make this year better than the last or are we fooling ourselves with some outdated rheoric? He said: “Well these are our friends and we, we’re not like them.” But I thought the difference was we might stop if we can.

When I think to stop when enough is enough, or when we think to stop when enough is enough, when I want to stop when enough is enough, then I might just sleep at night.

So with one hand in a fist, please keep one hand in the air questioning “what does all this have to do with me?”

Stop making something! Start making sense! (Can we stop making something until we start making sense?)

We got this unbelieveable sense that even though we make some sense, there’s still such a chance I’ll drop the ball somewhere. That fractured trips or brokehearts or shaky hands may give the in to all that I have pushed away. So with one hand in a fist, keep one hand in the air saying, “what the hell?” and “where do we go from here?”

And I know these hands haven’t made their last mistake.

Oh, Susquehanna!

We walk at the paths at the banks of the mighty Susquehanna, with our feet made muddy by your tributaries that trickle their way to the Chesapeake. It’s like we follow I-83 down to haror cities with strip malls and tar-mac, people swirling and teeming. It seemed so exciting, but now it seems like such a blight.

I grew up near Kentucky’s Mt. Zion Road and all that was there was some old cemetary. All I wanted [was] to be able to walk to the store. Now I don’t live there but there’s too many stores, some apartments, and a Sunoco. And I wonder, what did they do with the bodies?

Oh, Susquehanna!

And I miss that place behind my house where I hiked and climbed and played, where I ditched this noisy century or just hid out from the decade. M-I homes thought it could stand to be updated, forced it all into a grid until it looked like the funny pages.

With every trace of life, it seems, confined within a frame, the faces move from day to day but the strips all look the same. And the punchlines are resoundingly unfunny for those trapped in this architecture of easy money.

And it feels like this could all come to no good. The kids who populate these culdesacs will enver know what stood beneath those cookie cutter houses: fields and streams and woods. They’ll sit in cars and wait for mom to drive them out of this boring neighborhood.

The New World Order

They sau the new world order is just god’s master plan but if the blueprint calls some to starve, don’t blame god’s right-hand man, ’cause the president is holy, and the president is pious, and hallelujah! he’s a good ol’ boy! hosannah in the highest!

The plan is written in god’s hand so only bush can read it, and it calls for battle in god’s name and it calls for bush to lead it, and the blueprint calls to drill for oil, and exterminate the land, and if you can’t hear god’s calling, then you’re probably from france! cause the USA is holy, and the USA is pious, and hallelujah! god is on our side! hosannah in the highest!

And god is great, and god is good, and let us thank god for our food, we may well have more than we need and god well yet have mouths to feed, but god is great, and god is good, and someday soon, he’ll feed you, too, ’cause once we’ve got our yachts and crowns, god planned some food to trickle down, so just keep those thoughts holy, be patient and be pious, and hallelujah! god’ll grant your prayers, hosannah in the highest!

And I thank god for a god so mild, who spared the rod and spoiled the child, and signed a blank check so his boys and girls could buy up the entire world, so don’t think us rude if we intrude, but god in heaven ordained us to, so you best improve that attitude and step aside we’ve work to do and thanks for keeping things in shape ’til we could come and take our place. Oh hallelujah! ain’t life great? Hosanna in the highest!

Calling Old Friends

Calling old friends to make sure they’re real, talking, talking just to feel that sense of home you lost when you left last year. Distance is just numbers on a dashboard, hours thinking about nothing but the transmission stutter you fear.

I remember what you whispered in my ear, and all the things we tried so hard to never have to hear, like kids tighten up, start saving for the golden year. Well, hey, that picture it fades day by day and the outcome’s not so clear.

Don’t think I’ll see you around this winter, and my tongue’s stuck full of splinters; I’m embarrassed to admit what I’ve been thinking. Hope keeps some afloat, but for me it’s no life boat. The tighter I hold on the deeper down I’m sinking.

Tried to put my finger on it but gave it my whole arm. Reached out with good intention, but it only did more harm. Find ourselves alone since the day we’re born, so we seek someone to sew sutures in the places where we’re torn.

Trip and Stumble

And I haven’t had an honest conversation in weeks and irony rolls off my tongue much more easily and I don’t think it’s mean, it just represents a chilling disconnect from reality. And nation building nation states are captured in the acetate or filtered through our heads through the flicker of the windows on our street as we’re walking home. Is there any place that’s sane? Is there any place that makes sense?

And I said, “Things are bad,” didn’t I? Didn’t I? And we tripped and stumbled for half the walk home.

What the fuck? Is this what passes for life? I’m pretty sure this is the worst that I’ve ever felt? So fucked up, that even I’m talking crazy sometimes.

This Feels Better

After weeks of winter that just wouldn’t quit and the headlines remind me the world’s gone to shit, I ride my skate to the park because sometimes that’s all that someone can do. And I try not to think that it’s only fashion, or the teenaged boys are patriarchy in action, because it’s Saturday morning with my friends and we’re fuckin’ thrashin’!

And this feels better. Better than it has in weeks.

This song was written in five minutes in the back set of an overcrowded van somewhere on a national road in France. It was written after we were told by Skit Youth Army, who we played with in Lyon, that we needed to write more songs about skateboarding. There are the things that you do because you think they matter, the things that you do because you can’t help it, and the things that you do because they are all you can manage. Sometimes you get lucky enough to fell that there isn’t any difference.

Grandma Song

Humans can be the cutest of animals sometimes and I walk out the hospital cursing cars because all this turnover makes me so tired. And how are you feeling? All the white in these hospital walls can’t quite wash out your tired weak eyes.

And Grandma tucks you in at night, says “Never be afraid of anything outside.” Grandma tucks you in at night. Says “Goodnight, little sweet.”

Do you come from a dead people? These pictures of the past litter the floor like newsprint – like cities fell in stacks, and men jumped from buildings. The dust was overwhelming. Do we expect anything to last?

Goodnight, little sweet. I’ll sing you to sleep. Goodnight, little sweet. Watch everything recede.

The Year

Like how some words seem sinister, like crow or Malakai, some days seem dark though it is bright. If there’s a second chance for happenstance well I guess it is good we took a chance but sometimes I still don’t feel right. And yeah we are all fallible, but these drunken nights only remind that she was so right to sing … “Just look at this mess we have made.” Will you look at this mess we have made. But they were so right to say …

“If we can do it here, you can do it anywhere!” To talk is to brag and inaction comes from fear. If they can do that there, I could do it anywhere and I have no right to complan!

Because we never played these chords quite like this and we never walked home this way! No we never walked home quite like this and we never played these chords this way.

So, here’s to tonight! and spending it with you, here’s to this year I never thought I’d make it through. But, we lost a powerful symbol this year for standing for what you were born. She left a hard place to fill and it just may fall upon you.

This song is dedicated to the undeniable spirit of the kids in Iceland and also to Serene: thanks for the music that you make!”

Letter Home

Dear Friend, it is the new year, I’m eight hours away from home. Kids shoot fireworks from streetcorners and run before they explode. Lovers get drunk on the roof of an underground grocery store you know my new years wish is for the place that I call home to stop this stupid war.

If they don’t well burn each others’ draft cards. we can write an epic poem, except in this one Grendel is the hero, Gilgamesh finds his new home far away from swords and fake chivalry, we’ve seen the faces of our true enemies, and they don’t pay us enough to live on, every year they raise the rent. They hold cards to our faces that rate us on how much we have or have not spent and all for their own evil intent …

Today I sw a great piece of graffiti, it had birds and spoke of reverie, oh Emily Dickinson, you never seemed so exciting I must say, but without grass or buzzing bees, we all can still have our own prairies and fireworks will serve as stars at the end of this day.

Oh and the world it does keep turning, I used to wish I could sit still so that one day we could meet again with or without our own will, but the miracles in motion, finding new places we belong, and finding inspiration to sing our brand new songs!

The Temperature is Dropping

Would it help to write a letter, as puddles turn to icy lakes? The temperature is dropping, the temperature is dropping with every breath or life it takes. And baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, I guess it wouldn’t be bad – if street lights and the cold nights in between – were all we ever had.

[Make] simultaneous maps of cities, states of heart, or the heart of states. And I keep on hoping, and I keep on asking to stay awake or hibernate. And maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, our marks can make it through the snow. But even words can wither in the frost, if all we ever know is this beating pulse that slows to less than one beat per minute before the spring thaw. Do we measure days or years? Or are we tired of waiting? And is it a luxury, or survival, or all that we have?

Animals thant can hibernate can survive for several days or weeks, their body temperature lowering and metabolic rates slowing. Hibernation is similar to states of hypothermia which an be fatal. However, hypothermia is sometimes induced to increase the chances of survival during certain medical procedures.

In a radio story about the Cambodian garment industry trying to maintain ethical and even progressive labor practices while competing with factories in places without such concerns, a Cambodian factory owner notes that an American worker, even without work, might survive for a few weeks or months, while a Cambodian worker, without wages, cannot survive for more than seven to ten days.

There are so many ways of measuring the differenes in our abilities to survive. When the disparity is so apparent, how do we value the things in our lives that seem exciting, or moving, or tragic, when relatively, they can feel so petty?

Lambs at the Slaughter

When your a sheep in wolf’s clothing, you have big, important friends, who with a twinkle in their eyes say they’ll be with you ’til the end. They invite you out to ice cream, they insist you eat your fill, then they smile at each other and they stick you with the bill. They giggle extra hard when you max out your credit card …

When your a sheep in wolf’s clothing, you’re watched over by your friends, they hook you up with an apartment in a big, barbed-wire pen, and they come and pinch your cheeks with such fatherly affection, and they tap into your e-mail solely for your own protection. If they counted votes from black sheep, would they still win their elections?

And you live a life of privelege in the shadow of your friends, who’ve secured the greenest pastures with their business acumen, so you graze on the grasses and you’re spard from ever thinking or from knowing why your friends are always snickering and winking. You’re fed shock and awe! and you swallow without thinking …

Then one day, with dismay, your friends say you’ve been attacked, but you can buy a shred of safety with the shirt right off your back and your sacrifice revels, you patriotic sons and daughters were once sheep in wolf’s clothing now you’re lambs at the slaughter.

Condition 11:11

I had no idea what I ws after, I’m just preparing for Disaster with everything feeling so far away. Familiar faces, familiar lips, is there any point to this hanging around?

I was upset when that glass broke doing the dishes. At 11:11 every night I make wishes. Habit and superstition feed my foolish fires, they’ve been burning for a couple of months.

I stay out all day to keep these thoughts away. Why don’t you give my feet a break and come back?

I remember in the kitchen when you told me your grandma died. That’s when I realize it gets worse. I want to wish things last forever, thicken my soft skin, you comfort me so and I remember, remember …

When I walk through that door I won’t hear the happy sounds anymore. This year took so much away and won’t give it back.

Floodwaters

I was wading through the floodwaters. You were waiting out a drought. Do I have that kind of love? Is that what it would take to see this out? Hold your empty disemboweled gas tanks up high. Turn them into a bong or a still… Lotting through the gas stations, tilling up our backyards… That’s my rosy picture of the end times, my friend.

Bodies crumble about as fast as a house in the sub, and what you leave behind is an un-corporeal monument of time – whether by needle, your own hands, war, an empty belly, bus, or bug…

… We all go seperate and together. As such, while I’m alive, show me love!

The White Shore

We grew up into lives scrawled on back of mediated maps in their lines invisibly entrapped.
And this birthright more like a birth mark whose area and edges grow ragged with age. A malignancy untested, it consumes us anyway.
It consumes us anyway.  It consumes us anyway.

I grew up near the white shore, without ever knowing that name – just how lines starkly drawn will check you in one box or another.
And in the space between past and passing, we hold classroom discussions of Amy Tan novels forgetting this is personal.  Family is always personal.  History is always personal.

I will not condemn what anyone did to survive.
But I will not defend a culture that makes us decide.
To assimilate or die.
Or that defines survival as
running as fast as you can from the places you came from,
forgetting the things that have made you,
until all that is left is the burning in your lungs or
the pounding in your hear that only has space for contempt for the ones who couldn’t quite make it.

That we are all the same: what a happy myth,
where race records become erased records
with time and meter to help us forget
or to take away the sting
as we define survival as
running as fast as you can from the places you came from,
forgetting the things that have made you,
until all that is left is the burning in your lungs or
the pounding in your hear that only has space for contempt for the ones who couldn’t quite make it.

I struggle to sort out how race impacts my life and mediates who I am and how I move through the world.  In many ways, this confusion mirrors our culture’s crisis in learning a language and understanding of race that feels true to the complex, often conflicting experiences that so many people have.  It seems easier to run from race because it defines us in such crude, stark terms: either white or of color, oppressor or oppressed.  In this flight, I fear that, along the way, we lose a sense of who we are and the possibility for a future that is deep and rich.

A Lot to Do

Well it’s like we said, “We got this big open space but only so many starts and only so many days to make do with it.”

They said, “It’s already done,” “The people afraid,” “We lost all our fight,” and “Not to complain, that’s just the way it is.”

If circles come to beginnings again, do you know how close I have been to giving in? I was giving in. Well it’s like he said about that big open space, with only so many starts and so many days, make do with it! What will you do with it?

Hey you’ve got a lot on you.
But hey, we’ve got a lot to do.

Well in the morning we rose more aware of ourselves, but almost too weak to move, been sleeping in again … When will it ever end? And will it ever end? It’s like he said about that big open space, with so many starts and so many days, make do with it! What will you do with it? See, we’re going to make even greater mistakes, times will change and time is ok for getting it again. So let’s get in again.

I wrote this song for my friend, David. We all find oursleves at points where it doesn’t seem like we will ever be able to get up and move on. I hope realizing that I have felt similar will give him hope to do what he needs to do and move on. My friends Toby and Jared helped write the music.

Cigarettes

Long distance phonecalls and miles on transmissions and such, ashtray overflowing with a weeks worth of cigarette butts all somehow seem to say “hey you shouldn’t worry so much!” all seem to say “everything is okay! Try your best now to live in the moment it’s fleeting I know, but it’s the only thing that’s real, it’s the only thing that anyone’s got!

Hairpool (In-between Coasts)

I’ll tell you in street intersections because they give you a place to go. Give meanings to lines on maps, and tell you how you’re gonna get home. Now I’m back here in the Midwest, where everything’s familiar and sincere – but everything’s external. Would nothin just happen to you here, in-between coasts?

Looking for what it was you lost on 2nd St. Forgot what it was on Washington. And you let it go and jumped in that pool on Dunn. We’re still in town, isn’t that fun.

Now I know there’s been some hard times, and I don’t mean you and me. You’re over believing and back to forgetting, and you’re turning on T.V. And what you see just makes you numb, and the headlines all become a blur. And the years and the lives scroll by the bottom of the screen like desert sand. We’re entrenched in a mess, embedded in our beds, sleeping in. What I wouldn’t give, to want to live like I once did.

Looking for what it was you lost on 2nd St. I’m staring through the windows of my friends, and I can see all their lofted beds. Imagining all these lofty dreams in skinny clouds above their heads, waitin’ for the hesitation to end.

This town is way too small to ever need the bus. So meet me at the pool that they keep unlocked all night for us.

 

Dissimilarity Index

And it’s dark when I get off.
It’s been that way since four o’clock.
I love the hustle of the Jackson stop,
but it scares me how I can turn it off (or down to a murmur).

There’s so many different worlds I could stumble upon.
But they flicker by as frames from the tracks I’m on.
That stretch out across the land like rays,
but do they take us where we really want to go?

I’m shaken.  I’m tired.

I’ve heard so many of my friends say the same thing:
that they’re searching for a change.
But this life’s like cold water, you can’t slip into it,
you can’t slip into it again.

All I wanted was to dive so deep in something
I could feel the weight like water at the deep end of the pool.
But I’ve got all these questions like
am I selfish? Or,
is this myopic? Or,
am I overthinking it?
But overthinking is the thing that I’ve done best.

I’m shaken.  I’m tired.

The dissimilarity index is a measure of  how evenly distributed different groups of people are spread across different neighborhoods in a city.  I wrote this song after moving to Chicago, a city that has a long history of racial and economic segregation where its easy for people and places to feel impossibly disconnected.  This sociogeographic disconnection made me think about the separation of pieces of my life.

The Reason

We all expect to be up for the next time you make it to town. We all think you’ll be there the next time we’re around. But some of us aren’t going to make it back and forth and back and forth. Some of us aren’t going to make it.

Well I hadn’t thought about him since I saw you for coffee in Brooklyn. And that wasn’t even the reason I was there. And this isn’t even the reason I don’t doubt that I was thinking about them driving back to Norfolk. Or any of my friends on all their careless routes.

It’s nonstop it’s constant, building everything that I want. Ever since back in Columbus, even with us spread out.

It’s nonesense, how constant we’re building everything that we want. Ever since back in Columbus, even with us spread out.

We all expect to be up for the next time you make it to town. We all think you’ll be there the next time you’re around.

In the years that we’ve been a band, a lot of people have come to shows, put on shows, ate with us, helped us out, and become our friends! Some didn’t get the chance to make it the next time.

This song is for the folks who made us lucky enouh to be a part of their lives before they passed away.

Her Majesty’s Midwestern Islands

Take this because you’re going to need it just to fall asleep n this most boring cruise. The bearches are frozen and the islands are empty. The only ones left are the captain and crew … of Her Majesty’s Midwestern Islands.

So pull up a chair and get you some action. There’s a man over there who will gamble you down to the clothes off your back. At the end of the week he comes collecting and the only way off this boat is to hit the road. Take the stray dog highway to the county poorhouse. Oh, take me home. I want to go home!

(Uh-oh) River is rising! THere’s no time to argue! All hands on deck! Someone left the phonograph on. Surely, it will get wet – and all of my records will be destroyed. I’ll write them a letter, care of …

Diamonds Theme Song

The theme of a soap opera set in a jewelry store.

YOU ARE LOVED

And as the story unfolds over time, things we once knew they do  dissolve into the sky. She swears she sees a brand new constellation every time somebody we know dies, it is no consolation prize but we’ll remember you. So to get good sleep at night, silence the oracles, they’re singing from inside. Nobody really wants to know the future, we just want to hear “you’ll be alright” and we’ll be alright. These days they will find us learning that we had it all wrong; but these days they will find us unashamed because we were learning all along, and the radio plays a familiar song.

And to this magic we hold on, I just don’t want to feel its loss until it’s gone. It was in an eerie glow I finally left you lonely, left the TV on. If I have one regret it’s letting this whole nihilistic shit charade live on! You know it scares the hell out of me when my friends think they have nobody to lean on! …And the radio plays a familiar song.

And in the darkness of my room I keep conversing with the man in the moon. I know he’s going to tell me something that I want to hear I bet it’ll happen soon because all the books I have read just don’t read right, say to save your soul you’ve got to hide yourself inside, or forget about the world that you perceive, no, we are here for such a little while. These days they will find us learning that we had it all wrong, but these days they will find us unashamed because we’ve been learning all along, and the radio plays a familiar song and you are loved you are loved you are really loved.

Everyone Else on the Other Side

[This] is one of the songs we released in ’09 as a benefit for The Icarus Project which is a network of people seeking to redefine what it means to be “mentally ill,” through publishing literature, engaging in thoughtful discussions, and realizing that … “by joining together as individuals and as a community, the intertwined threads of madness, creativity, and collaboration can inspire hope and transformation in an oppressive and damanged world.” Please visit their website and participate! www.theicarusproject.net

Everyone Else … is a culmination of my thoughts on the strange, unfortunate medical history of those of us with extreme states of consciousness.

Bad Ideas

I want to be a dinosaur, a fossil of times come before.
Extinction seems bleak, but I shudder to think of not knowing when my time has come.
And I hope when it comes that I know.

Well they busted the block in ’65 and we scattered like ash far and wide

To these places we made as if molded from clay, too thick for the roots to survive
And the rules of the game from when we were young get more faded and faded with time
But the kid seems alright, but because or in spite, I don’t know, what the struggle was for

And worse than the devils you think that you knew,
Are the ones you believe into life.

But hope’s not the same as belief.
Which in turn’s not the same, as knowing by name, that the worst of your fears are misplaced.

Let it go.

And I hope when it comes that I know.

Horizon Lines, Volume and Infinity

To capture for a lifetime what in moments catches on
To put to paper what it was about that song
Homemade magnetic tapes for all the people that you love
For purity, or bravery, or grace, or just because that’s what a heart does
The echoes encompassing us!

I feel a strange prehension that is much bigger than me
A shadow falls ahead so far I fail to see
And so at times I’d like a map to what I cannot comprehend
But infinite cartographer, your trusted magic pen
Can only ink against the edge of understanding!
Yeah, you always draw me on along, questions compounding

But family and friends their thoughts therein will interject
And, oh, to feel the strength in all the places they connect
There’s time’s we’ve spoken cryptically and times we’ve been direct
Sometimes we speak so cyclically, sometimes just hold our breath and see
that presence sets the stage for conversation!
Or simply says what it must say with its intention!

And so we start to feel we shoudn’t be so scared
We see this understanding as the only thing that’s there
There’s feelings you must overcome, and feelings you must use,
And strengthened by a timeless love that you must never lose

It’s born of ancestry and poetry and chemistry!
Horizon lines and volume and infinity!

For now we focus on whatever comes to mind
A slow progression, though a tender one, we find
The sun against a face some hot Ohio afternoon
A timeless sense of place among the relics in my room
A low hanging amber melon of a moon.
We can stop and sleep and plan the next day soon.

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