Sunday, November 29, 2015


If you can’t pay in dollars, then you might as well pay in pathos.

They’ll take just about any currency down at the Five & Paradigm.

So, a guy walks into a bar along with a huge growling grizzly, and the maĆ®tre d hollers, “Oh my god! Table for two?”, and the guy replies: “Thanks. I know this grizzly situation may be difficult—bear with me!”

Meanwhile, the insect had been dead for such a long time, rigor mantis had set-in, but more than that, it’d gotten fashionable to be a dead insect, it was de rigueur mantis.

I like to sit in the portion of the aircraft where ordinary passengers receive self-help lectures, you know, motivational coach.

A fellow once sat next to me in motivational coach, a famous baseball slugger traveling to attend a Jewish girl’s coming of age ceremony.

He would be, in fact, Casey at the Bat Mitzvah.

How to explain, but the animated character suffered a ritual humiliation at the hands of an angry mob, in the new moving picture, Avatar and Feather.

The village crier scrambled into the town square in a state of alarm: “The Scot is dead”, he shouted, “the Scot is dead.”

“Oh no!” someone called back, “how’d he die?

“He was kilt!”

In an unrelated development, an Irish pop-rock band had to fill out so much American employment paperwork, they changed their name to W2.

“No more leads”, lamented the police detectives, as they chowed-down some lunch at a Mexican restaurant.

“Yep”, they lamented, “it’s a real cold case-a-dilla.”

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Lost Civilizations, from left to right: Leah Gage, 
Mike Sebastian, Patrick Whitehead, and Ted Zook

I hope that listeners will pardon my loud “Oi! Oi!” at the beginning of the first set, but I borrowed that riff from the Sleaford Mods song, “Middlemen”, in order to quieten our garrulous audience at the Black Squirrel, November 15, 2015. A fabulous renewal of the Lost Civilizations + Duo Exchange collaboration ensued. For each gathering, Rod Smith and I provide the words (the “Duo Exchange”) amidst the music, and we always label the most recent outing “the best”, this one without hesitation. Connoisseurs of our collaboration may recall that we script nothing in advance. The music as well as the poems find their own order as the event flows forward.

For a free listen of the first set (39 minutes) click [HERE]
For a free listen of the second set (33 minutes) click [HERE]

Ted Zook (basscello) and Mike Sebastian (saxophones) form the core of the Lost Civilizations Experimental Music Project, to which they invite guest musicians. On this night, Leah Gage sat-in on drums, and Patrick Whitehead joined on trumpet and flugelhorn, making us a six-member outfit. Rod and I attempt to build a city—many voices and humors—every time Duo Exchange sets out, and yet, no matter how much we may anticipate the evening’s trajectory, the music inspires us not only for its abiding quality, but also for the many surprising ways in which the musicians might push, embolden, and shape our performance. 

At times, we might’ve noted the manipulation of silence and the occupation of part-spaces. At other times, we might’ve caught the discordant caucusing in advance of one instrument prevailing. The Big Sound might’ve staggered us, the declarations of agreement that fronted and trailed synthesis. Did Lost Civilizations swing? Oh yeah, I think so. The musicians answered questions—with brassy, reedy, thumping, sawing language—in need of responses, only we had no knowledge of these questions before the performance began. We broke the surface of the evening, vastly replenished.

Rod Smith (left) and the blogger as Duo Exchange

Lost Civilizations reminds us, aptly, that counter-culture hasn’t yet suffered permanent misplacement, and that art, if untethered, represents our best avenue for salvation. Two writers had to fit together, and four musicians had to fit together, and six people had to fit together, in music and verse, and we did, fit. If you attended the show, if you listened to one or both sets, if you read this little review, thanks, and on behalf of Lost Civilizations and Duo Exchange, in the spirit of Duke Ellington, we love you M-a-a-a-dly!