Sunday October 2, 2005

Admiral "Pinchy" Von Pinchenstein poses for me back in January.


Pinchy was our demanding, record producing, crabitat trashing, rock star crab. He spent four years with us. He's gone now and I cannot possibly tell you how much emptier our lives are without him.

Yes, our rock star crab is gone. It's heart wrenching for both Amanda and me. If the truth is told, we had been expecting it. He had been buried and down in the isolation tank for weeks too long. Plus, we had signs. He was acting weird the last day he spent up. He seemed lethargic. I walked over and peered in and saw him with his face pressed into the wall of the cave. I called his name and (unlike usual), he actually snapped to attention and came to the edge of the cave while I talked to him and asked him if he was okay. He just stared. It looked like a sad, weary stare. I told Amanda that I was worried about him and thought that he needed to be allowed to molt even though we had another crab in the iso tank. She actually went out and bought a special tank for the guy just because he seemed so out of it. Before we put him in, we took him out and played for awhile. His spirits seemed much livelier. He air drummed like a mad crab and was playful as ever. Amanda gave him his favorite coconut cookie treat which he tore into. Then we put him into the iso tank. He immediately went under. He never came back up.

Pinchy's the crustacean that actually got co-production credit on The Towel Cape Album. People think I was just talking off my head but that crab loved music. He'd climb on top of the wood and rock out, air drumming like crazy to something he liked. If he didn't like it, he'd bury himself so he didn't have to hear it. While recording the song "Impermanence" (which came all too real, too fast), he kept reacting strongly and there were a few times that I couldn't decide what was best. Eventually, I turned to Pinchy who was wonderfully helpful. I put distortion on it (something he usually liked). He buried himself. I was shocked. I thought maybe he just didn't like the song. Then I came up with a watery, doubled sounding clean tone electric. He climbed his perch and joined in. I did the same thing with other elements of the song and wound up with a mix I never would've had without the input from a big, little Ecuadorian hermit crab.

I guess that will stand as our only musical collaboration.

I hate the fall. There's just too much despair for me. If I was depressed about THE anniversary before, this just made it exponentially worse.

Still, I had to work today. The band needs to be ready for our show next Saturday. So, I bit down on my emotions and had Frank come over to run through some stuff. We mostly went over things that might come up in our end of show jam with The Bearfoot Hookers, former members of Q-Sign and Star Zero and whoever else will join us.

Then I sent a list of what he'd worked on with Tom. For some reason, he got agitated about it. He talked to Frank but not me. I emailed him and tried to reach him but he was incommunicado. That didn't help. A simple phone call would've. Today was not the day for something like that. But then when else do things like this come up?

The last thing I need right now is melodrama. I've got too much good going on in my life and enough real, legitimate pain and sadness to balance it. All this other stuff just seems petty to me.

I wanted to sleep tonight. I really did. But my mind wouldn't allow it. Whenever I start feeling this depression and frustration, my health will falter quickly if I'm not careful. I've got to keep a hold of myself and not let that happen. Our next two shows are the most important shows of our lives.

All I can do is hope that this all works itself out quickly. Maybe Tom was just having a bad day. I know I am.

I must see good things and positivity so that the rest is put in perspective. It's not easy sometimes.

As it does quite often at times like this, the song "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" pops into my head. 40 years ago, Brian Wilson encapsulated some of my exact feelings from today.

Here are the lyrics. Excuse me while I go wallow.

I Just Wasn't Made For These Times (1965 From Pet Sounds)

I keep looking for a place to fit
Where I can speak my mind
I've been trying hard to find the people
That I won't leave behind

They say I got brains
But they ain't doing me no good
I wish they could

Each time things start to happen again
I think I got something good goin' for myself
But what goes wrong

Sometimes I feel very sad
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into)
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into)

I guess I just wasn't made for these times

Every time I get the inspiration
To go change things around
No one wants to help me look for places
Where new things might be found

Where can I turn when my fair weather friends cop out
What's it all about

Each time things start to happen again
I think I got something good goin' for myself
But what goes wrong

Sometimes I feel very sad
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into)
Sometimes I feel very sad
(Can't find nothin' I can put my heart and soul into)

I guess I just wasn't made for these times
I guess I just wasn't made for these times
I guess I just wasn't made for these times
I guess I just wasn't made for these times
I guess I just wasn't made for these times
I guess I just wasn't made for these times




Saturday October 1, 2005

Saturday night's alright in Atlanta!





By the time I got up and became functional today, I had an email from Allison Weiss, the winner from last night's Open Mic that Frank and I helped judge. She just wanted to let me know that she liked the CD. Cool. That's another positive voice. Since I liked her, I went ahead and asked if she'd be interested in doing a short (maybe 20 minute) set next Saturday at our party. The only catch is that she'd have to be done by about 9 so Beyond Tomorrow can get going. She jumped on board immediately. I hope things aren't so crazy that I can't be there when she's on. I'd like to see her again, especially since this is an all ages show and all of her friends can get in.

In the afternoon, I laid around and watched that Zep at Knebworth DVD that I bought last night. Man, what a show. 3 hours of one classic after another. I always thought they staggered their epics from tour to tour. This one was just a monster. In addition, there were premieres of "Hot Dog" and "In The Evening" from the album that hadn't even come out at the time. This was a great purchase and was truly inspiring to me. I'm looking forward to rehearsal on Monday so that I can start working toward making the 10/8 show as much of a monster as we can pull off.

In the evening, Amanda and I went out to Atlanta to see Elton John. I tried to photo him one time a few years ago but my camera was screwing up so I got nothing. Also, my friend Holli managed to swing us two tickets and who can complain about spending their Saturday night being entertained by one of the greatest singer-songwriters performers of the last half-century? I was looking forward to it and I wasn't disappointed. The parking situation has become a total and complete drag. The venue used to look out for us but they don't anymore. It'll actually only serve to make me cover less shows. We actually spent $10 to park. But the tickets Holli arranged more than made up for it. We wound up with 7th row on the floor, on the aisle and almost in the center. Those tickets were going for $125 a piece. Elton started out low key with recent songs. He did 8 in a row from Peachtree Road before tearing through the epic classic "Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding." All eleven plus minutes of it were staggering. Wow! He also graced us with 7/10 of the Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy which is an extremely rare performance. Remember, Elton's been an Atlantan for 15 years now so he really pulled out the stops for this one. He just got more and more energetic as the night went on. The highlights for me were "Bennie & The Jets", "Daniel", "Levon" and absolutely butt-kicking versions of "The Bitch Is Back" and "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting". It was also good to hear "Crocodile Rock." Believe it or not, the only other time I've seen a full Elton show, he missed that one. If only he'd done "Empty Garden" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" tonight the show would've been perfect but I guess there's no way Elton can get everything in one show. I mean, geez, he's got the biggest selling single in history and he didn't even do that. That was cool, though, cause I heard the REAL "Candle In The Wind" the last time I saw him. This show was 3 and a half hours that just built and built. It was great. This'll have to make my list of the best of '05. It all wound up with "Your Song". After doing that song every night for 35 years it's amazing to me that it still feels totally sincere and special every time. I was glad to have Amanda by my side for it. It just wouldn't have been as special without her.

If you're interested, here's the full set list.


  1. Weight Of The World
  2. Porch Swing In Tupelo
  3. Answer In The Sky
  4. Turn The Lights Out When You Leave
  5. My Elusive Drug
  6. They Call Her The Cat
  7. Freaks In Love
  8. All That I'm Allowed
  9. Funeral For A Friend
  10. Love Lies Bleeding
  11. Bennie And The Jets
  12. Daniel
  13. Rocket Man
  14. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
  15. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
  16. Tiny Dancer
  17. Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy
  18. Bitter Fingers
  19. Someone Saved My Life Tonight
  20. Meal Ticket
  21. Better Off Dead
  22. We All Fall In Love Sometimes
  23. Curtains
  24. Philadelphia Freedom
  25. Sad Songs (Say So Much)
  26. Levon
  27. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me


28. The Bitch Is Back
29. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting

---Encore 2---

30. Crocodile Rock

---Encore 3---

31. Your Song




Friday September 30, 2005



Well, I finished up the poster. I was waiting on some info from some other people that never came. That simple delay means they won't be available today and instead I have to wait 'til Monday to pick them up. Oh well, even if we don't get them out, they're my favorite flyers I've ever had done. In fact, I may even frame one for my wall. I've never even wanted to do that. It's good to be unconditionally proud of something. I'm proud of this. I'm proud of the Critical Darlings' material and our ever-improving show. I'm proud of C'mon, Accept Your Joy and I'm proud to be a part of the whole thing. The frosting on this yellow cake is that others seem to be responding, too!

In fact, we were asked to be the judges for a battle of the bands that we were playing a little less than a year ago. Alec at Athens Open Mic asked the band to do it as a trio. Unfortunately, Tom couldn't make it but Frank and I represented. Alec and his brother Trevor have been doing everything in their power to get the word out about Joy and our CD release party next Saturday. I'm just knocked out that so many people are on board. It gives me hope that I don't have to manufacture myself.

Frank and I got there way early so we wandered down to Low Yo-Yo. Of course, I couldn't resist it 3 times consecutively so I dropped $20 on that Led Zeppelin at Knebworth DVD. I've always wanted to see that gig. This is only the second night but it's cool, 'cause a lot of the first night is already available on the official release.

I asked Tony if he'd put up one our CD release posters. He said, "yeah, but you're already up there." Shocked, Frank and I looked around to see a 40 Watt upcoming calender that said October 14, Cowboy Mouth with Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings. Cool. I hope I can find one of those to go in my personal collection!

Then it was back to Washington Street Tavern and whew! You see, we have a no smoking law in Athens and that's made my life out covering shows infinitely more pleasant but apparently, there's no law against excessive incense usage. Man! It was crazy.

Frank and I settled in with Alec's brother Trevor sitting in for Tom as our 3rd. First up was a warm up act named Marc Chilla. We weren't to judge him as he was just doing covers. Still, I wrote some comments down for him just for making the effort. Funnily, he opened with "Rocket Man." All I could think was, hmmmm...I wonder if it'll be better tonight or tomorrow. Well, what do you think? Marc was functional and great patio music but it didn't have much personality. Neither did the other acts by and large. There was one John Mayer / Dave Matthews clone who had immense talent on guitar but he had very little in the way of songs, they were just jams. This guy named Keith had some okay songs but not much personality or originality. And then there was Allison Weiss. She went up and did vulnerable, honest, confessional songwriting. What she lacked in life experience she made up for with being original. Yeah, she reminded me a little of Liz Phair melodically but I don't think Liz is an influence. Allison was the standout to me. The final act of the night was a band that claims to be "The Loudest Band In Athens". They call themselves Golden Emperor. I love the name for a sludge metal band but still, they came out not looking like something called Golden Emperor. They were committed to their auditory assault and I admired that (even if lil' ol' wussy Critical Darlings have been louder semi-regularly) but they just stared at their shoes and played. Flip-flops, board shorts and preppy t-shirts just do nothing for the metal either.

While Frank, Trevor and I didn't really discuss the acts during the night, I was glad to see that Allison wound up the winner. I'm proud of her and she seemed genuinely happy and surprised that she won while the other performers all seemed genuinely surprised that they lost. Beware of presumption, peeps!

Overall, this was a fun experience. I might even volunteer for the gig again sometime. It was odd to occasionally be interrupted in my note taking by people asking for Frank and me to autograph CD's. It was kind of cool, too, but it is still an odd sensation. I'm so thankful that people think enough of it to want us to sign them. I don't really understand how some celebrities get so angry with people who feel a connection to them just wanting a simple signature. It only takes about 2 seconds. Just do it.

One girl came up after to get a couple of CD's because apparently she has a good friend who's a fan and has repeatedly come to see us. I told her about the show on 10/8 and I hope to see 'em all there.

I got home around 2 reeking of incense and very tired.



Thursday September 29, 2005



Is it really this day again? It's been over 700 days since I had a Dad. Still, I miss him every day. Still it hurts every day. Still I hate that feeling of isolation and separation.

I spoke to both my sister and Mom today. While neither of them brought it up, I know it's not a coincidence that they called on this date.

Personally, I did my best to forget the date. "It's just another day" is what my Dad would always say on the anniversary of his father's death. So that's what I just keep telling myself and tried to make the day as normal as possible. I edited my photos of Rilo Kiley and Coldplay from last night, uploaded Rilo and began work on a poster for our CD release show since the people we had working on it fell through. So me having to take up that slack is going to cause the updating to get behind a few more days. I have to make the poster and to get it done in a reasonable time (and budget), I'll lose another half-day to go pick 'em up in Atlanta. I'll just make the poster even better than it would've been to make the extra effort worth it.

While I was working on it, I listened to Neil Young's new album Prairie Wind. It may be his best album in 15 years or so. Either this one or Harvest Moon. They're both really good. It seems fitting to hear it today for the first time since a lot of the songs deal with his father's death. The closing song "It's A Dream" really hit me and I think it's one of the best songs he's ever done. I feel that song resonating in me long after it ended.

No one wanted to make dinner so Amanda and I went out to Johnny Carino's. It's been a while but it was a decent enough distraction. And that's what it's all about, innit?




Wednesday September 28, 2005

Chris Martin plays it cold in Atlanta.




Well, Oasis didn't come through last night but I got my fill of Brit-pop anyway. Truth be told, I doubt seriously that Oasis could've topped this Coldplay show anyway. I saw Coldplay a couple of years ago and while I enjoyed it, it felt more like it should be in a small venue. Those days are done. Coldplay filled the sold-out Philips Arena with a glorious wash of sound. Chris Martin is now, without a doubt, this generation's Bono and his performance chops are right up there. No longer does he just sit behind a piano and mope. Now, he's funny, incredibly active and a real rock and roll frontman. He runs the stage as fast as Mick Jagger, leaps through the air dramatically and they pull out all the stops to deserve their title at the top of today's acts. As if an amazing show wasn't enough, the final encore found Chris Martin playing piano while R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe sang "Nightswimming." The last time I saw Coldplay, they had Elton John come out to play piano on "Trouble." How will they top themselves next time through Atlanta? They can't keep one-upping themselves can they.

And for those of you wondering - yes, Gwyneth and Apple were backstage. As were Faith Hill and Tim McGraw (???).

I wish I could've stayed for the whole show but as there was only one ticket and the anniversary of 9/29 was fast approaching, I was too depressed to be alone - so I came home earlier.

Still - I saw enough to know what a great show it was.





Tuesday September 27, 2005





Well, I was supposed to be photo'ing Oasis, Kasabian and Jet tonight but the tour publicist is dragging her feet. And you know what? As much as I'd love to photo Oasis (I've seen 'em but never shot), I'm not going to drive to the west side of Atlanta on the off-chance that I'm cleared. I'll stay home, relax and catch up some more instead.

Bright and early, I went out to pick up the first Big Star record in 30 years. 52 weeks ago today, Brian Wilson's SMiLE came out. While the new Big Star definitely has its moments, it's not even in the same solar system as last year's triumph. Still, I'm glad I have it. At least it sounds like Big Star.

I also spent a lot of my day listening to M.I.A. while I worked. Man, her stuff is addictive. It can become monotonous and almost irritating but the second I turn it off, I want to hear it again. Weird but cool.




Monday September 26, 2005




Today was yet another usual Monday for the most part. In the afternoon, I got a break from the routine when Edgel Groves, Jr. from Sun Domingo came by my house for a little while. I gave him a disc of some pics I took of them when we shared the Freedom Fest stage on 9/17. He also had a lot of great insights into our album which he says he's been spinning a good bit lately. I'm glad he's liking it. His positive opinion is gratifying 'cause I know he's a great musician with wonderful taste.

Click here for last week with M.I.A., Macca, Sufjan, Hookers, Posies, interviews and breakdowns...