January 2018 reading

W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk

Tom Mandel, To the Cognoscenti

Ann Douglas, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s

Vi Khi Nao, The Old Philosopher

Douglas Piccinnini, Blood Oboe

Khadijah Queen, I'm So Fine

Mary McCarthy, The Writing on the Wall

Leonard Diepeveen & Timothy Van Laar, Art With a Difference: Looking at Different and Unfamiliar Art

Catherine Taylor, You and Me and the Violence

Gary Watson, ed., Free Will

Marc E. Black, "Meanings and Typologies of Duboisian Double Consciousness within 20th Century United States Racial Dynamics"

James Weldon Johnson, Black Manhattan

Deborah Meadows, The Demotion of Pluto

Zadie Smith, Swing Time

Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

Clark Coolidge, It's Giordano Bluto! (chapbook)

December 2017 reading

Tony Hiss, The Experience of Place

Farrukh Dhondy, C.L.R. James

Evie Nagy, Freedom of Choice

Ann Lauterbach, Under the Sign

Percival Everett, I Am Not Sidney Poitier

Michael Robins, Ladies and Gentlemen

Craig Unger, Blue Bloods: The True Story of Rebekah Harkness.

Lynn Crawford, Fortification Resort

Henri Poincare, Science and Method

Stuard Jeffies, Grand Hotel Abyss

Lawrence Levine, Black Culture and Black Consciousness

Jack London, Martin Eden

Wrote 9-12, getting through the current (four-stage model) section ok. Came home for lunch w/ parents, Bree, and my cousin Tony/husband Bill. She brought chicorria (Italian dialect for chicory, a bitter green/weed my grandparents used to cook a lot), focaccia, stuffed shells, baby octopus, and traditional cookies; we supplied meatballs and caprese salad. Nice to see her, caught up on her kids (cousins of my generation). They left around 3. I started W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, in a critical edition (w/ which I’ll deal w/ the apparatus after the main text), interrupted it to watch Cat People (Lewton 1942), but eventually read 50 p. My cousin Jeanette called while Dad was sleeping. Didn’t sit down for dinner – did my daybook pages and tidied up/moved old books out of my temporary bedroom/office. Left w/ Bree at 8:30 for Nathan Wilson’s New Year’s Eve party in Pasadena; put on a Duke/Peacock best-of for the drive. Took a pan of stuffed shells (from Claro’s, not Toni) and the remaining cookies. The expected crowd, who I have seen since I’ve been in town. Did a short DJ set on Nathan’s decks w/ some records I brought from NY. Glad to be w/ Bree at midnight; hoping 2018 is less of a strain on both of us. Headed back at 1. Lights out 2.

Unfortunately, it looks like I’m going into another period where daily entries are unlikely, though I will keep up w/ the monthly reading lists and radio playlists where applicable. I don’t know if anyone reads this, but the major plans for the year are to finish the bridge MS in the next 3-6 months, give a PopCon talk in April, release the Human Hearts comp. LP, mix the new album for 2019 release, and play out more; will probably be teaching at Purchase in fall. And then there’s “daily practice” (inc. the minimum of 3 hrs/day I need to spend on the book to feel like it’s progressing).

1 p. in poetry daybook
30 min. piano (actually working, rather than noodling: two-handed boogie-woogie, two-part inventions, and more accurate voicings for Monk tunes are the main things I want to tackle.)
read 15-20 p. poetry
read 50 p. prose
listen to 1 LP or CD I haven’t heard + 1 hr. of A-Z iTunes playlist
at least 1 practical or creative task toward musical projects, even if small (e.g. an email).

And, I need to lose 20 pounds. It adds up. Who knows where new songwriting fits in. We’ll see.


Up 7:30, read a bit of Martin Eden, got out to Coffee Klatch, 9-11:30 – instead of the book, had to write abstract for my PopCon talk. Went ok, could be shorter, I think the last line makes my point clear. Came home, updated finances etc., read quota of ME, napped. Two hours at work on bridges at Starbucks, picked up a prescription for Mom at CVS, did a little shopping. After dinner, went ahead and finished ME – I was sort of shocked that the stanza of Swinburne he reads/quotes to get himself psyched up for suicide, which ends “even the weariest river/Winds somewhere to safe to sea” must be the source for “Weary River,” a 1929 movie song that Poor Baby Bree did in the first version of her act. Lights out around 11.


49th birthday. Up at 7. Read a few ch. of Martin Eden – I don’t find the pace of the character’s development especially believable, but I’m starting to get the point. Liked a bunch of b-day wishes on fb and wrote a retrospective post of my own. Returned to take Mom, Dad, and Lori (the same caregiver we had at the hospital) to Mom’s doctor, to consult about the fall and other matters (not the business of this venue to discuss details). Home by 1. Rested, rec’d or returned a couple of birthday calls from extended family. Opened Bree’s presents – a number of music books, mostly on jazz, from Pasadena, inc. a biography of Jay Gorney (blacklisted composer of “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”) by his daughter, and Listen to the Mockingbird, Douglas Messerli’s little collection of 19th c. public-domain song lyrics. (Bree would have no idea I know Douglas.) Read quota of Mandel, wrote in daybook. Also glancing at a book my dad has around – Michael Howe, Genius Explained, a psychologist’s demystifying account of the early lives of Darwin, Faraday, &c. I like it’s matter of factness, but there’s no special reason to finish it.


Headed out to Pasadena at 4. Listened to Caetano Veloso, Zii e Zie (2009; “Aunts and Uncles”), in his ‘00s/’10 stripped-down alt-samba mode, w/ a young band. Stopped at Canterbury Records, bought a Golden Gate Quartet best-of and a disc of Vaughn DeLeith radio performances, 1928-9 as gifts-to-self. Dinner at Samalang Garden. Met Dan Clucas and Daniel and Kristi at Battery Books to hear a jazz quartet led by locals Steve Bowie (bass clarinet) and Dave Williams (trumpet), w/ Nord “piano” (wish he’d chosen a different sound) and a notably strong double-bass player – a lefty, it turns out, who strings his bass in reverse, something I’ve never heard of. Talked to Dan and Rich West, the owner, a bit about our gig on the 18th, traded CDs. Bought $3-4 LPs of Elton Britt, the Rooftop Singers, and Roswell Rudd, a disc of earlier Thomas Ades compositions, and a 3CD set Hi Records retrospective (Al Green, etc.). Tempted by a large format book about the life and career of Harold Battiste Jr., and (for $20), an 78 copy of James Brown’s “Please Please Please” on the original Federal label. If that’s there when I go back….Had one drink w/ aforementioned folks at the Pasadena Hilton a block away. Drove home to The Four Bags, Waltz and some Jackie McLean, Jackie’s Bag. Back just after midnight, finished quota of Martin Eden, asleep by 1.

I’m getting through the days, but the persistence of the cold is draining – no real energy.