Home Improvement

I had every intention of painting those fucking bathroom cabinets, really.
Hideous chocolate brown.  Their very presence has haunted me for years.

Somehow you live with these type of things for years, ignoring them as you would a hidden skin tag.  Or simply not even seeing them any longer, the daily familiar becoming invisible as a broken banister or a middle child.
But if nothing else, this weird little timeout has brought every nagging little project back into focus.
The palm beds have been weeded and mulched, the carburetors on both bikes cleaned of the syrupy kiss of ethanol corrupted fuel.

Only the cabinets remain.

I have my Home Depot list in hand: TSP to clean, 150 grit paper to scuff.
Kilz primer, semi gloss the shade of dandelion fluff.
Pulls and hinges in brushed nickel, and hey—god willing?  some paper towels?

The car keys are in hand. a rare weight these days.  I have to put on the readers to check, as I can’t remember which button unlocks the doors with a chirping hiccup.

The dog looks at me, intrigued. You going out there?

But on the way out the door, I make the mistake of glancing at the flat screen, where the Firestick is now suggesting a few more music docs after last night’s Cadillac Tramps movie. 


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I went right from the sad tale of Johnny Thunders  to our hometown heroes’ heartbreaking rise and fall, Gabby passing just as it should’ve all come back together.
I surrender to bed then, no more movies tonight.
Fueled enough for the twisting night of dreams ahead, the missed opportunities and missed veins.


I actually am grateful for these movie recommendations, for I had no idea Amazon Prime possessed such quirky treasures.

That’s how it’s been these last few weeks, all these digital parasites becoming the most immediate virus of all. The invisible roommates, always there.

Alexa sits and listens, and after bitching about my aching joints the Facebook feed is nothing but knee braces and CBD gummies.
Kindle whispers to the Echo in the dark, gossiping about my fondness for The Band,
Suddenly It Makes No Difference is coming from somewhere in the house, bluetoothed from a hidden speaker.
Rick Danko’s plaintive cry like a wounded animal that must now be tracked and put out of misery.

Ah what the hell, I  surrender to the gravitational pull of the couch and click on the Fat Wreck flick  .
The dog jumps up next to me, satisfied that we are in place yet again.


It’s a worthy way to burn 90 minutes, and my respect for Propaghandi is renewed.
But more importantly, when I get up again another day is that much closer to being done.  And isn’t that what we’re doing here after all?
Hasn’t it become a waiting game, another sunset in this void bringing us that much closer to something?

I wander the paint aisle, socially distanced from the other shoppers disguised as bandits or interns on an archaeological dig.

A woman gives me hilariously wide berth as I pass by, hugging tight up against the cans of WD40 lest I invade her sanctuary of six feet.

At checkout, I stand on my appointed X, latex gloves snapped tight over my scalded hands.
My sunglasses, still on so I won’t commit the mortal sin of touching my eyeball, start to  fog from the breath diverted upward by my dust mask.
And these goddamn things, they tickle my nose.   I try to resist, I do.
But I finally have to surrender a satisfying sneeze.

People turn and look, shocked.  A Vietnamese couple simply drop their closet organizer kit and run for the door.
Shoppers give me double the distance now, backing away four meters, five, the orange buckets tumble in the chaos.
I expect the chant of  shame, shame!, feces hurled my way.

On the way home I take the mask off in the car.
At the stoplight an elderly lady pulls next to me, her face buried beneath N95  respirator and a plexiglass shield.
I turn and smile at her, my mouth naked and visible.
She flips me off.

No wonder the house is truly home now.
If haunted.
Connected by all these little electronic spirits, like fireflies dancing in the twilight, visible only by a single LED twinkle.  I am entranced, pulled close and comfortable, these guys know what I need after an exhausting adventure out there.

Amazon Prime suggests a study on Grant Hart’s final say.


And so it’s back to couch now, and I try to ignore the blue rolls of masking tape, just visible in the translucent shopping bags.
I absorb life in a van with Husker Du and the aftermath.
A life lived too short in Bob Mould’s shadow.

I get up now, stretch.  It’s past midnight again.
Maybe just take the doors off and unscrew the hinges, so shamefully painted over decades ago.  That will be a start.

But, what?
Hey, you didn’t tell me they also had that weird Replacements Movie,  that one with no Replacements music and no Replacements?

I sit back down, pat the spot next to me.
DeeDee rolls her eyes and curls up next to me on the couch, where we spend the next 2 hours watching our old pal Jack Rabid talk about a band bent on beautiful self destruction.
Trippy movie, the ultimate behind the music as the band doesn’t even bother to show up.


It’s late, feels almost a victory, another day passed.
The house is quiet excepting the occasional message chime from cell phone or a laptop blooping: new email.  We’ve become fluent in this new language, able to tell Instagram buzz from the tweet of a Tweet.

There is a synchronized vibration happening now, Ring tattles that there is motion at the front door.

Maybe that’s the most encouraging and terrifying alert of them all.
From out there?

I take a piss and brush my teeth, and a soft electronic chime pings from each device in the house, I imagine it’s just a soft goodnight.

I pause, toothbrush in mouth still.
A glance down at those cabinets at my knees, still brown.

Our Last Gig: Viper Room Hollywood

When was it, that this all started?
Maybe mid March?  I mean, I seem to remember all the St. Pats parties cancelled, but wasn’t that a lifetime ago?

Shelter in place, work from home, quarantine.
Whatever you call it, we each held onto own little notion of what these weeks would mean.

Oh, I thought. Piece o cake. A welcome break from routine, even.
After all, how often are we offered a chance to work from home-work on ourselves– and  shut out the distractions and temptations of everyday life?

When these stay in place orders came down, I was energized, not knowing which life goal to tackle first. I’m talking about those luxurious resolutions, long bookmarked for some mythical future place and time of leisure, just shimmering on the horizon like a reward.

Let’s see.  I have always wanted to be able to play guitar along to side two of Abbey Road. 
Or how about finally tackling Ulysses, and I’m talking about meeting Joyce on his own terms here, not just slogging through the streets of Dublin as plot driven narrative…..

Meditation perhaps? A whimsical return to the acrylic paints? Juggling?

So here’s what I have accomplished so far:


Yes, like many of you, these past weeks have descended into a harrowing dance of boredom and dread, gluttonous feedings at the twin troughs of guilty pleasure and anxious zeitgeist.

Days have melted together into a fevered nightmare.  Our new national discourse: Tiger King and Tik Tok
Clips of raccoons dancing to Lizzo. Raging debate on social media regarding white trash zoo keepers.   
Who wastes precious time on such stuff?  (But seriously. Fuck Carol Baskin.)  

I pull up a Youtube video on how to play Here Comes the Sun, all good intention that I will come out of this with something, goddamnit.

Then Netflix starts yet another 3 season series before you have a chance to cancel.
You sit back down on the couch, resigned.  Let’s binge just one more show, hmm?
This one follows  a subtitled detective around Oslo.
Are you still there? Netflix asks.   
Incredulous emphasis on the word:  Still?

I take a moment to think of my parents, faced with their defining moments.
Pop is on a ship moored just off the smoking finale of WWII, Mom huddles in a freezing boxcar on the way to an internment camp.  
Then a  heartbreaking loss on Golf Clash  has me hurtling the tablet to the floor. 
The Android chimes in that Door Dash has delivered.  Another pitiful day ends in melted cheese.
Mom. Dad.  Don’t look at me.

God, don’t you miss it?
Don’t you miss every mundane thing we took for granted, the traffic jams and standing in lines.  Crowded subway cars and video poker on germy machines, mere inches away from the strangers you detest. 

What about a dark and sweaty Hollywood nightclub, humid as a August night in Baton Rouge, fragrant as a marketplace in Mumbai.  


We stand on Sunset, it’s a Friday night. 
This was March 6 of this year mind you.  Seems a year ago for all that has changed.  

They stage us outside the club while Killroy wraps it up.  They load out quick, we load in quick, just time to tune up and plug into the club backline.   

Tiny stage tonight.
I can reach out and touch Kimm to my right, Anthony to my left, without straightening an elbow. 
I turn around and clank Nick’s ride cymbal with the Fender headstock. 
We are not social distanced, not by a longshot. 
Hell, haven’t even heard of it yet.

It’s a packed on the floor too, people here to see TSOL in a small club on their anniversary tour.

And people are also out tonight just because.  A giddy sense that things may soon change is in the air, the bar is packed 3 deep.
Uncontrollable laughter in the cellar while the tornado approaches, it feels like that.  
There’s rumors of cancelled gigs on the horizon, disturbing images from Italy and China. 

But for tonight we’re alright, we’re in here together. 
And we’re together by inches, brother. 
We play a quick set, the room bounces along.



We get off stage and load out straight back onto Sunset, visible steam rising off our sweat drenched shirts. The street is already quieter than it should be for a weekend night, but it feels great to be out here. 
We take in gulps of fresh night air, like surfaced submariners allowed their turn up the hatch for 90 delicious seconds.  

We lock the gear in cars and go back up the steps to catch the TSOL set, all the while being hugged by friends and shaking hands with strangers.
All thought of caution gone now.  We are resigned to share the germs alive or dormant with the others in this room, none of us knowing the sober reality that lies just beyond the weekend.   
Jack and the guys hit the stage, they roar into Abolish Government, the pit goes off. 
A girl licks a monitor on a dare.  Someone spits a  mouthful of beer from the middle of the floor.
Sweaty bodies collide and deflect into new slam pits, a pattern mutating like an  insidious virus that lurks just there. 


Tomas Tanaka photos

I think about that night now, so long ago, just a mere six weeks ago.

 I thrill at the memory of guitars turned up loud and just out of tune, then shudder at the thought of all of us packed together in that room, not a mask or latex glove to be seen.   When will it ever get back to normal, and what will that normal be?

So we’re asked to stay in place, knock this thing out as a country.
The math of the whole thing makes sense.

And really, what are we being asked to do in our moment of crisis, beyond staying in, being cool….. I dunno, not being assholes?   

The Netflix screen changes in my periphery, asks if I am still there.
Yeh man, still here.