Father & Son

Aside from my outrageous political leanings and hyperbolic love for music, I don't think I've really written anything personal here. Having just hung up the phone with my father, I'm feeling the urge.

My father is 61 years old. During my childhood not only was he rarely around, but when he was he implanted memories that weren't the least bit positive. No, it wasn't the worst of situations, but given that his hand was usually wrapped around a Bud can and his time was spent either in the office, on the road, or with _______, it wasn't the greatest time.

It's taken me a long time to accept my father for who he is. He's not perfect; he's actually far from it. I know that a lot of the scars that reside inside me stem from my relationship (or lack thereof) with him. I still maintain some angst towards him, but as I've aged, and especially since he's aged (slowing down the drinking...ladies...), I've come to some semblance of acceptance.

Since I've stopped judging and started understanding (maybe not the perfect word), my relationship with my father has taken on a completely new life. Despite all of our differences and despite my sometimes harsh feelings for him, there's a bond that can't be explained. When I speak to my dad now it's almost impossible for us to hang up. We'll talk for a full hour about politics, sports, the girls i'm bombing with, the world, and just about anything that comes to mind. 90% of these conversations are flooded with hysterical laughter. And I mean hysterical laughter. We have a common sense of humor that is almost odd.

Recently my father said to me, "Chris, there's not a person on Earth who inspires me to think like you do." Whoa. That was a weird one to digest. Nevertheless, it reveals that the sometimes unimaginable is possible. A relationship that once did nothing but harbor resentment, anger and feelings of abandonmnent, has turned into one of the most rewarding relationships of my life. Sure, I realize that he's no longer a powerful CEO, he no longer has the energy to fuel his vices and this may play a part in his spending more time getting to know me. But truth told, I don't really care. Despite it all, he's still my father. It's been a fun few years getting to know him.


It's been about a year since I've fired up the turntable. While at Amoeba Records today, I decided to abandon the cd search and pick up some vinyl. I grabbed a Silver Jews record, Split Enz and a long-searched-for SF Seals record. It's been a gloomy, rainy day here in San Francisco and flipping through my vinyl collection has been absolutely perfect. Right now I'm listening to the Rolling Stones' "Flowers" and man if this ain't a sweet sound.

With all this talk of digital, downloading and the end to the physical product, vinyl reminds me of the purity that one can hear through his or her stereo. The crakle. The need to flip it over. The inability to skip. Records. What beauty.

"Flowers" just ended. Time to lay down a new one....

The Long Cut


The band Uncle Tupelo is responsible for inspiring my now unquenchable love for music. Sure, Springsteen, Dylan and the Stones started this voyage during my childhood, but it all really took off one Sunday afternoon while sitting in a college buddy's apartment. The previous night, one of my good friends from college had a friend down from Maine - he was in town to see Uncle Tupelo. At the time I'd never heard a note of Uncle Tupelo - actually, I'd never even heard of Uncle Tupelo. The following morning as we all sat around rehashing stories from the night before, I turned to Andrew (the dude from Maine) and said, "So how was that band?" The painfully laconic Andrew said, "Great." Since I knew this guy to be a man of very few words, "great" meant something. I asked Andrew if I could hear a song or two. Without reply, he heads out to his car, returns with Uncle Tupelo's "Anodyne" and pops it in the cd player. Literally five seconds into "New Madrid" (nice touch skipping to track six), I pick my head up from the newspaper, peer over to my close buddy Negri and it's instantaneous. "WHO THE HELL IS THIS?!?!?!" is the look on Negri's face.

We proceeded to listen to the record about three times, at which point Negri fired up his piece-of-shit truck and we headed down to Newbury and both picked up "No Depression", "March 16-20, 1992" and of course, "Anodyne". That was it for me. For the next few weeks and until today, Uncle Tupelo changed it all. This was real music. This was heart. This was balls out rock, country and folk. This was spirit.

Two months after this night Uncle Tupelo broke up and fractured into Wilco and Son Volt. I've now seen Wilco about 30-40 times and Son Volt about half that. Uncle Tupelo started it all.

As Jeff Tweedy bellows on the third track, "Come on let's take the long cut, I think that's what we need." Damn straight, Jeff.

California Delays Execution

It looks like the barbarism that is capital punishment was put to a test today. I guess the folks playing God were unable to find a doctor who was willing to inject the fatal dose. Perhaps this can finally lead to an open and bipartisan discussion and debate on capital punishment.

Once thing should be made clear: Although I am a staunch opponent to the death penalty, I in no way sympathize with those who are clearly and fairly convicted of heinous crimes. My opposition to capital punishment lies 1) in the fact that the state should not determine life and death and 2) every piece of research on capital punishment weighs against it. For example, it is NOT a deterrant to crime, it does not cost less than imprisoning someone for life, it DOES discriminate against race and economic standing, and INNOCENT people have been put to death by the state. I repeat that, INNOCENT PEOPLE have been put to death. These are only a few examples, but overall capital punishment is simply wrong. This is not the state's job.

Again, I do not side with criminals over the families of the victims. I just contend that capital punishment is not the answer. It never has been and it never will be.


Lately I simply can't follow current events. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about what's going on in the world, but of late, I just can't follow anymore. Watching CNN, MSNBC or even a good news source like PBS or BBC just infuriates me. I'm sickened by the world we live in, I'm slowly losing pride in my country.

Here are some things that keep me going:

Bruce Springsteen in 1975. ASPCA. Vinyl. Being There. Josh Rouse. Wilco. Murakami. Jimmy Carter. MLK's Legacy. San Francisco. Raymond Carver. Edson. The Sweet Hereafter. The Fillmore. Brooklyn Lager. The Brooklyn Inn. Good Night, and Good Luck. My Mother. My Family. Dogs. Liberals Who Aren't Afraid To Be Liberals. Paul Wellstone's Legacy. The Replacements. Mami. DB. Negri. Clark. Doc. 1232. The Rest. The Gourds. George Clooney. SxSW. Big Sur. Will Johnson. Ted Kennedy. Bill Clinton. Spitting in the Face of Fear. Alejandro Escovedo. Bob. 2008. Chuck D. Music. Johnny Cash. Camel Lights. My Backyard. Progressive Causes. The Future. Will Oldham. Kenny Roby. Chicken. NY Times. Coffee. Hope.

Good Night, and Good Luck and America

Just saw this movie and I just kept asking this: Where are the Edward Murrow's of today? Where are the tough reporters? Who's asking questions? Who is DEVELOPING and sticking with a story in order to find truth?

We have Bill O'Rielly making shit up at every turn, Anderson Cooper wearing his windbreaker and monopolizing CNN, Joe Scarborough putting me to sleep on MSNBC, and that's about all I can think of. Where are the real reporters? Does anyone care anymore?

Here's the Bush report card: 1) Fabricated intelligence that's led to tens of thousands of deaths 2) CIA leaks 3) Katrina disaster 4) Wiretapping 5) Scooter Libby 6) Tax Cuts for his pals 7) Education cuts in favor of pharmeceutical companies and big business 8) bin Laden running free almost FIVE YEARS post 9/11 9) Shall I go on? He is the worst president of my time, and I can only presume perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States. Where's the media? Where's the truth? Where's the fight? WHERE ARE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?

Jeff Tweedy @ The Fillmore

In December of 1994 I caught the earliest incarnation of Wilco at Johnny D’s in Somerville, MA. Back then Wilco were recovering from the split of Uncle Tupelo and very much in the embryonic stages of what would become one of the most important bands of our time. That night, Jeff Tweedy and co. played a mixed bag of UT songs, new ballads from Wilco’s first release “A.M.” and an array of other rootsy tunes. That blistering cold night on the outskirts of Boston began a decade-long (now creeping into my second decade) love for Jeff Tweedy's music. From the roots-rock of "A.M." to the sprawl of "Being There" moving along to the purity of "Mermaid Avenue" and the quirky experimentation of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", Jeff Tweedy has fronted Wilco for over a decade, and has amassed what I firmly believe to be the strongest catalog of the past ten-plus years.

Fast forward to February of 2006. Since that winter night in ‘94, Jeff Tweedy has won a few Grammys (not that he finds pride in this), been hailed as the best songwriter of our time (ok, that may have come from me), been the feature of a critically-acclaimed rock/industry documentary and established himself as one of the most important people in music. Times have changed for Wilco and Jeff. Fortunately, this hasn't changed them or him.

Over the course of two nights at The Fillmore in San Francisco, about 1,200 fans were treated to the best of early Wilco ("Passenger Side", "Sunken Treasure"), a good portion of their Beach Boys-sound of the late 90s ("She's a Jar", "Pieholden Suite”), a smattering of Guthrie tunes ("California Stars", "Remember the Mountain"), the "new" Wilco ("Muzzle of Bees", "Theologians") and finally, a surprise for even the biggest Tweedy enthusiasts, a number of jaw-dropping back-catalog (yes, that means Uncle Tupelo) songs ("Gun", "Acuff Rose"). Yes, this was the best of Jeff Tweedy. Whether old or new, all songs were played with an earnestness and soul that few performers elicit these days. The crowds were rowdy at times and respectful and quiet at others (both nights were closed with Tweedy strumming and singing sans PA).

Jeff will finish this solo jaunt in a few days and return to the rest of the band and commence to touring the Southeast. Although I’m thrilled about the idea of Wilco heading out West at some point in 2006, I doubt that a full-band show can come close to what I experienced over two nights at The Fillmore. This was an artist I’ve now followed for well over a decade. This was an artist who not only played a huge part in cultivating and bringing life to my love for music, but who has in some ways shaped my career and life. This was an artist at the top of his game.

In 1980


I was seven years old. It was also 1980 that I decided that the Pittsburgh Steelers were my team. No, I wasn't in Pittsburgh, but rather NJ. For some reason, the NFL was the one sport where I picked a team outside of NJ/NY. I think I saw them on TV and liked their uniforms. That Christmas the only gifts I received were Steelers items: a clock, jacket, sweats, helmet....

The Steelers were great in the 70s. Since 1980 they haven't won a Super Bowl. A decade ago they came close but ended up losing to Dallas.

It's been 25 years since I fell in love with the Gold & Black. Tonight the team that I fell in love with so long ago won the Super Bowl. It wasn't the most exciting Super Bowl, but it was 25 years of waiting for me. Bill Cowher, Hines Ward, Big Ben, Bus, Porter. They won the Super Bowl.

It feels like Christmas 1980.