Justin Stone's creekbed

songs, prayers, poetry, stories, art, photographs, moving pictures, fondnesses, tall-tales and meditations

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Location: missouri, el paso

The Anterior Insula and Hwy W

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

When I toweled the top of my reheated pizza slice—miracle of miracles!—the grease stain gathered in the likeness of our great leader! Very presidential!

The first of you evangelicals, white supremacists, war criminals, oligarchs, CEOs, terrorists, or evangelical white-supremacist war-criminal oligarch CEO terrorists to message me a sweet cash-money offer could hang this portrait in your living room, game room, slave quarters, or coffin by next week.

#pizzagate #realDonaldTrump #cash-money #extinction

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

U.S. headlines on April 25, 2017 

Many condominiums for sale, rent at Chicago's Trump Tower (Fox News)

State Department website removes article touting history of Trump's Mar-A-Lago estate (Washington Post)

'Flabbergasted' DWTS Contestants React to Heather & Maks 'Shocking' Elimination: 'The Whole Thing Stinks' (People)

USS Michigan nuclear sub heads to South Korea (CNN)

The thing about the nightmare is how quiet it is (anonymous)

Monday, April 24, 2017

1. The internet is a horrible creature
2. I am disgusted by Laura Derm
3. No, I didn't make the list

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I am heartened my short story "Gateway to the Rest" was a finalist in Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers. You may see the list of winners and finalists hereGlimmer Train is a great literary journal, Susan and Linda are strong editors/readers, and it's nice know the work means something to someone. I feel a bit old to be in the running for anything called new, but such is the complex nature of literary fiction, late blooming, and life. The work continues. "Gateway to the Rest" remains in revision and I hope one day it finds a place to be, where you might read. A whole body of new stories and poems are in revision, searching for places to be.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"And while Mr. Jeremy sat disconsolately on the edge of his boat—sucking his sore fingers and peering down into the water—a much worse thing happened . . ."

Potter, Beatrix. "The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher." A Treasury of Peter Rabbit and Other Stories. Avenel Books.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Son of All Bombs (SOAB)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Beyond titillation:
The Biggest One

death, sex, white
supremacy and branding

Thursday, April 06, 2017

When the contingent employee
falls in the gone forest
nobody makes or hears
a sound but she.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Mike Pence eats women

Sunday, March 26, 2017


"We're having the meeting tonight at what we affectionately call the Southern White House. Seems to be the most convenient location. Everybody always wants to go to the Southern White House." (source)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"I don't have time to read the bullshit intellectuals write. All those poems and novels [...] I don't have time for that, or for seeing movies, or listening to music, or going to the ballet or to the cockfights. And I've never trusted artists. They're spineless and have no sense of honor, they tend to be traitors or are very servile [...] But there's one exception. A speech you gave seven years ago. At the Fine Arts, when you were inducted into the Academy of the Language. Do you remember it?"

The little man had turned even brighter red. He radiated an exalted light of indescribable joy:

" 'God and Trujillo: A Realistic Interpretation,' " he murmured, lowering his lids.

"I've read it many times," said the high-pitched, mellifluous voice of the Benefactor. "I know whole paragraphs by heart, like poems [...] 'A bold, energetic will that supports, in the march of the Republic toward the fulfillment of its destiny, the protective benevolence of supernatural forces,' " Trujillo recounted with half-closed eyes. " 'God and Trujillo: here, in synthesis, is the explanation, first of the survival of the nation, and second, of the present-day flourishing of Dominican life.' "

He opened his eyes and gave a melancholy sigh. Balaguer, made even smaller by the gratitude, listened in rapture.

"Do you still believe that God passed the baton to me? That He delegated to me the responsibility of saving this country?" he asked with an indefinable mixture of irony and interest.

"More than I did then, Excellency," replied the delicate, clear voice. "Trujillo could not have carried out this superhuman mission without transcendental help. You have been, for this nation, an instrument of the Supreme Being."

"Too bad those asshole bishops haven't heard the news," Trujillo said with a smile. "If your theory is true, I hope God makes them pay for their blindness."

--Excerpted from The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman

Thursday, March 16, 2017

If you were designing a world of humans, and you were God, I would wish the design more intelligent.

Monday, March 13, 2017

History's Worst Road Buddy Movie:

"Igor Sechin (head of Russian state oil company Rosneft, de facto second most powerful figure inside the Kremlin, ex-KGB) . . . has said that one of his ambitions is to 'ride the roads in the United States on motorcycles with [Secretary of State] Tillerson.'" (source)

The Road Prequel
Butcher Cassidy and the Silenced Kids
Two-Lane Blacksite
Some Like Them Shot
Planes, Trains and Autoerotic Asphyxiation
Thelma & Wheezing
Bandit and the Bandit
Mad Max: Make America Great Again
Perish, Taxless
Pain Man
Motel, Oligarchy
Nationalist Goon's Annihilation
Midnight Trump 

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Zen DP Steve Yedlin with a timely question:

If intuition gives you a blind hunch, next step is?
a. Confidently decide that it's true.
b. Investigate whether evidence supports it.

reactive leaps and logical
fallacies that follow

Monday, February 27, 2017

"They get us, all right, we're all lonely, needy, disrespected, desperate to believe in any sorry imitation of belonging they want to sell us . . . We're being played, Maxi, and the game is fixed, and it won't end till the Internetthe real one, the dream, the promiseis destroyed."

I'd slept on Bleeding Edge, Pynchon's latest, but it's a terrific, necessary novel.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I wish every one all at once could read and know this novel
matterlightblooming phenomena

Monday, February 13, 2017

Instead of a "ruthless war" on "crime" (and other murderous distractions), how about schools, healthcare and 21st century jobs? Economic justice. Spiritual justice. The things a self aware, forward thinking country would do. It would be so easy to lift each other up.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Ah, Old Hickory. Old Indian Killer. His horse shit in the White House. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Someone told me he still wasn't sure about this new one from President Human Garbage and the Murder Whistles of the Right Wing. I guess there's no accounting for taste or racism.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hugs, bro. Take a chillax. Everything's going to be fine [for monied white people], right?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

One final crunch of these numbers:

47% - Did not vote
27% - Voted for somebody named Clinton
25% - Voted for somebody named Trump

The mandate is clear: Crumble into the ocean. Soon. Seriously. The waves cannot soon enough swallow the sound of us.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Pretty worried about my NEA grant application for the "Your God is an Asshole" project

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Too late. We will not
recover from the long ruination
of public education. They have
prosecuted this quiet,
merciless war since the civil
rights movement

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sun salutations and the first
day of class, renewing
a sense of purpose in the universe

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Happy Raketen-Stadt! Winning!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

One of the throbbing universe of perfect paragraphs in Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow:

"It is the purest form of European adventuring. What's it all been for, the murdering seas, the gangrene winters and starving springs, our bone pursuit of the unfaithful, midnights wrestling with the Beast, our sweat become ice and our tears pale flakes of snow, if not for such moments as this: the little converts flowing out of eye's field, so meek, so trusting--how shall any craw clench in fear, any recreant cry be offered in the presence of our blade, our necessary blade? Sanctified now they will feed us, sanctified their remains and droppings fertilize our crops. Did we tell them 'Salvation'? Did we mean a dwelling forever in the City? Everlasting life? An earthly paradise restored, their island as it used to be given them back? Probably. Thinking all the time of the little brothers numbered among our own blessings. Indeed, if they save us from hunger in this world, then beyond, in Christ's kingdom, our salvations must be, in like measure, inextricable. Otherwise the dodoes would be only what they appear in the world's illusory light--only our prey. God could not be that cruel."

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Many people voted for Robin to die

Thursday, December 01, 2016

How come nobody told me the Chekhov stories were so good?

Somebody did

Friday, November 18, 2016


Friday, November 11, 2016

to sit
and think
all the way
through something

the sun cut
me on the sidewalk
and I
made a river

Friday, September 30, 2016

Dear USA,

Is your truck big enough?

The body in the parking lot

Friday, September 23, 2016

I'd counted on the young Hond Solo gig but don't worry about me I probably won't lay down forever. I'm putting up a new live-action script-novel flash-poetry-fiction performance/confession/fantasy piece. Changing gears, changing management, changing everything.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

our well-armed nightmare



Wednesday, June 08, 2016

I am terribly under-read.
I read.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Only in books. Only in a few books.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Falling faster than the joke.

Friday, April 29, 2016

I lost every authenticity
Contest I ever entered.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Colorado Springs or wherever, whatever.

Just another Saturday of televised sports and unbelievable savings. The other-blaming, scapegoat-making, take-action-yesterday, all-lives-blah-blah-blah, terrururists-are-everywhere crowd really clams up when the terrorist is us.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

God, the caustic cologne and the war call of the coffee cup commando.

Friday, July 10, 2015


i am not knowing how to how to do in this
how to do in this

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Boy! FOX News' recently renewed Blame-A-Mexican programming fits seamlessly with the regularly scheduled Blame-A-Black and Blame-A-Muslim programming. Great job, fellas! You're doing terrific work for the oligarchy. I'm watching the hive and let me tell you: Poor and Almost-Poor Whites "be buzzing" and "be blaming" all kinds of wrong folks! Everybody loses!

Sunday, July 05, 2015

"Sorry -- river closed temporarily for the righteous."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

the measure of
reality is very difficult
to fix

Text adapted from Henry James, "The Art of Fiction"

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Campus is quiet today. Thoughtful. A new semester. Potential is active, actualizing; preparations underway, venues readied for learning. I love it here. Education matters. Ideas matter. Dialogue. Discourse. For a very long time I did not realize. I squandered privilege on trivia, hats, self.

Though numerous forces conspire daily to do so, we will not let them close these opportunities.

I love it here.

Even words have been turned into hats. (Especially words.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I would propose we need to return the word sciolist to discourse, but who am I kidding? It would only be appropriated and thus neutralized by those it might best describe. That is the fucking trick.

But at least we are still the center of the universe. 

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Literacy. Literacies. Read. Read widely and deeply. Read closely, critically. Read. Re-read. Reflect. Imagine others in their times and places. How little I know, always, in my own times and places. Eschew certainty, single-mindedness. That I might come to read more effectively, to read more effectively my temporary selves situated within an always-emergent consciousness, to read more effectively the shifting landscapes of transitory human realities.

Read. Listen. Read. Listen.

That I might learn, and continue to learn.

That I might love you. That we might be loved.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

I will never get over Septimus Warren Smith.

There is a face under the furniture. Under the couch.

In the night restless I thought the mind like a tree or a plant.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Ah, don't worry, swollen little Elvis: every station on the radio is playing your song.

Out of print, out of discourse.
Out of history, out of mind.

Manuel Scorza's Drums For Rancas (Redoble por Rancas, 1970). Find a used copy of this magnificent, soul-searing Peruvian novel and read, listen, read, listen. 20th century colonizing capitalist history would have the novel voided, just as it did the mortal human subjects at the center of events depicted. Special thanks to William Randolph Hearst and other exceptional monsters behind the Cerro de Pasco Corporation: "much of the land utilized for sheep grazing had been acquired cheaply by Cerro after its mining operations had polluted the soil so badly as to make agriculture impossible, and the company later consolidated its grazing land by expropriating the property of local communities. Cerro was therefore accused of having created a pool of unskilled labor for itself by forcing local people off their land."

Such exceptional tricks get pulled over and over and over and over and over again. Where can we read about them? Where can we talk about them? Where can we dialogue? Almost nowhere. Preeminent among reasons why is that such events continue to happen, and a handful of corporations profit greatly by them. On the other hand, as if by magic, we have industries of self-flattering monologue that we are so weirdly, defensively loathe to interrupt or corrupt, and a handful of corporations profit greatly by them.

From the 1977 Kirkus review of the English translation of Drums For Rancas: "Lit by flashes of Swiftian humor, this dark thundercloud of a novel hovers over a surrealist landscape, bloodstained and terrible. It is the Peruvian Andes, where the indigenous people, descendants of the Incas, are powerless before an international (read 'United States') company which is enclosing their grazing lands. A barbed wire fence moves among them like a serpent. 'Nine hills, fifty pastures, five ponds, fourteen waterholes, eleven caves, three rivers so deep they don't freeze even in winter, five villages, five graveyards--the Fence devoured them all in two weeks,' says the author, who explains earlier that he is 'not a novelist so much as a witness' (to real events occurring between 1950 and 1962). The Indians also have Peruvian oppressors to deal with, chief among them a sinister judge first met only as a black suit with six buttons. An unequal battle is joined when a folk hero in the Wild West tradition, Hawkeye, vows to kill the judge. Among the judge's friends is a big landowner who poisons fifteen of his laborers when they ask his permission to form a union, and then announces they died by a 'mass thrombosis.' On Hawkeye's side is a man who can read the future and another who talks with horses. But such folk magic is of no avail, and the novel ends with a moving description of the dispossessed Indians from the village of Rancas talking in their graves, a community even in death. This literately savage tale is only rarely confusing as it shifts between fantasy and reality, pity and scornful laughter. The words are like welts left by a whip on a naked back." 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

One of the primary factors perpetuating our social duress is poverty, and rather than have the necessary conversations about poverty what we get is an intentional, violent war on the poor. The war on the poor originates with titans of extreme, predatory capitalism, a system that both creates and depends on an exploitable poverty class. Via relentless media mouthpieces, the war is insinuated between those burdened by poverty, as well as between they and an impressionable middle class, along race lines. By design, the middle class—itself living a tenuous existence under extreme, predatory capitalism—then comes to angrily, irrationally blame the poor (again, often along race lines) for our social ills. Extreme, predatory capitalists delight at the deflection and obfuscation of blame because they, as a result, remain unexamined, effectively outside the popular conversation, if one can even call it a conversation. The problematic workings of the entire unchecked economic system remain outside the so-called conversation. Systemic poverty is, of course, complexly related to institutional racism. As with poverty, our racism is a conversation that too many people do not want—and most often do not even know how—to have. When one’s existence is terrorized by generational, historical racism and poverty—and such is one of the few appropriate uses of the word terror—anger, frustration, and hopelessness is a natural byproduct. Finally: extreme, predatory capitalism’s intentional undercutting of critical, reflective, and humane public educational and health opportunities perpetuates all of the above.

In short: extreme, predatory capitalists know how to get us, how to pull our strings, how to use and exploit us. More, via now-ubiquitous broadcast and popular media outlets they have the most effective propaganda system in human history at their disposal. The system sells itself over and over and over again. As with religions of old we are constructed to see it as the only possibility, the rightful, natural order of things. Noncritical-Consumer-Us is this system’s triumphant product, a product that self-replicates over and over and over again.

Others have described the above phenomena—a terrible global situation—in texts much more effective and detailed than this one, but the basics of the situation cannot be stressed enough, because the message must pass through almost endless channels of interference.

Poverty is violence. Racism is violence. Extreme, predatory capitalism is violence. People and planet die.

We can create new possibilities.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Customer service-
Its a very god gag reel but I can't stop it even when I keep pressing the button? Is there a way to fix my screen? Can I get the money back? I have trouble breathing also the sound is very low.
Is there way to talk to a person? Should I just buy the second part instead of?

Friday, December 19, 2014

In defense of whom?

Hollywood elite--implicitly and explicitly representing transnational corporate interests whose operations depend on the repression and redirection of speech--again pat themselves on back for superiority over North Korea and hope for big returns. Meanwhile, life in the so-called West is a mess but Sony and the rest of Hollywood won't narratively touch it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Insert Fox News
broadcasters for prosecutors
and you have the same moral

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But the bigger—that’s the bigger question, in my mind. It’s not what she did, but what prosecutors did, because either—
WILLIAM BASTONE: It’s mystifying.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —they were totally inept in one of—as you say, one of the biggest cases in recent times, of national attention, or they knew or suspected that she was lying and didn’t care, which was even worse.

WILLIAM BASTONE: “. . . they basically allowed her story now to get baked into the narrative of the grand jury.” and America

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Dear Sirs,

I assure you all is well. While the late, unfortunately public events with which we are all familiar have caused what we might call a spike in noise, I am pleased to report our newly reinforced Pop Agents have succeeded in both containing and redirecting discourse. Internal polling finds the overwhelming majority of social media feeds active and oblivious. If I may, the shout (squeal?) here and there is, frankly, laughable, and I encourage you on this wintry afternoon to share in my chuckle. Profits have never been better, and the scapegoats are, so to speak, welcome to their street.

I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas.

J. McCarthy

Monday, December 01, 2014

Department of Nude Jokes

Facts are facts are

Friday, November 21, 2014

Today when you encounter terministic constructions such as "Emperor Obama", "trampling the Constitution", and "the rule of law" employed with any semblance of sincerity, you can be sure institutional racism and xenophobia is trying to do its mechanistic, replicating work.

We live inside porcine gestation crates. We lose our minds when we can only face forward, immobile.

I find it increasingly difficult to be equipped with a consciousness.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The mandate of, like, five really creepy people.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Department of Nude Jokes

Two white guys walk into a bar.
One guys says, "I'm not into politics."
The other guy laughs and says, "I know, man, right?"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Seger owned up finally to having been workin' and practicin' on his morning moves but you will not read about his confession in the front-page drive-in news. "Improbable as it may have seemed thirty-eight years ago turns out there very much was something to lose," Seger says between sips of green tea. "Even autumn then wasn't autumn."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Once when I got lost

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Pretty quiet around here. Pretty, quiet. A reader will have noticed the fewness of word on Creekbed. Likely grateful. Me too. I have right now the pleasure and privilege of a tremendous writing program, great mentors and peers. I wish to make with it, contribute, not reinforce or destroy. The writing is close, concentrated. I try to take much greater care with words. Grow them, grow me. Cultivate. Practice and craft. More listening, less noise and reaction.

Old Creekbed stands as testament to the present adolescent spew, the wall of noise. Our birth pains.

Here is to growth.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Flow Bear changed hip-hop in the 19th century.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

What is it?
Who reads it?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Again: unsettled.
Too much in and of the face.
Out, face, out.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

We should think about the next flood. Not Noah.
The furniture is overstuffed.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I think your language
may be on its way out.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I forgot
it was Truck Month.
had no clock.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Note to selves:

Get off the Internet, Assholes,
We have learning to do.
We cannot trust us to break or even read stories.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


The call came in the morning.
"I love you."

Monday, December 09, 2013

Outline of piece

- Authorship
- Joke
- Joke
- Ironic Distance
- Joke
- Walk-back/Non-committance
- Joke
- Ownership

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Little I know

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

will always defy description

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dog made Justin Stone's Rookie Night Radio Theater Episode Two (Season One) available here. (In this episode, you will remember, Doug balances another piece of straw on the camel's back.)

Last night I almost had it figured out but guess what?

Friday, October 18, 2013

I was older when I received the best possible school photo and signature:

"J, I like you. Don't forget to change, when necessary. -S"

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dear Alice Munro,

Thank you.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

(Photograph by Kevin Ford) 

The Wedding of Hannah and Zach,
A Song for Hannah and Zach

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Laughing Mountain

Round Tones of Wisdom and Grace

The Divine at Great Distance and So Very Close

You Hear It and Know
You See It and Beam

Thursday, August 01, 2013

One day the sea brought them a canoe.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

He's got his shoulders hunched, his lips pursed.
His eyes swim behind the thick blur of his eyeglasses.
He prays to God to make him cool.

The middle school band plays a dolorous version of This Old Man.
A many armed thing, slow, out of tune, a living thing.
Ms. Jenkins moves to the classrom door, shuts it tight.
"A person can't hardly hear themselves think," she says.
But he kind of liked it.
He really liked it.
And he can still just barely hear the song down the hallway.
If anyone were to ask him he'd say, "It makes me forget things."

With a knick-knack paddywhack, give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home.

(originally published to creekbed May 2007)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Glory be to one who carries fire?

What is that part of the American psyche that has long venerated the solitary figure with a gun? Romanticized as some kind of last-line defender of an ill-defined nationalist imperative, this character, viewed without the layers of myth, is in reality barely more than a grinning, half-wit man-child, a mad coward with a weapon of irredeemable violence in his hand, and with neither a sense of history nor capability of empathy in a reptile-like consciousness driven by the fear, mistrust and willful disregard of others, he is unable to assert or define his human self but through acts of sudden, awful violence. The stuff of nightmares. When we see this character take shape in one of us and play itself out in a modern tragedy like a school shooting or the like we collectively recoil in shock, but how is such an act any less rational or logical than, say, the swift and unholy extermination of a village of human beings on a frontier of our national memory simply because they too represented as something less than human in the mind of the murderer? We venerate the one, vilify the other; we say one is a hero defending himself and the other one is a monster, but each in fact is reacting to a terrific onslaught of uncivilized and rapacious voices in his head at the expense of the rest of the humanity, each is a sociopath, the dark side of the vaunted Individual, and today only the truly ignorant among us are able to absolve his or her self of this ancient mess.

And what of an armed, fear-driven vigilante in Florida? Another lone gunman who lives by fear over reason, one who eagerly initiates and engages confrontation he cannot ultimately manage but by his firearm? To the many ruled by fear, he too comes via myth-making to be a venerated icon, though the mantle they declaim is not fear but its exact opposite, heroic bravery. An angry, short-sighted, irrational populace weaned on end of the world fears, more myths of last-line defense, old orders of imagined stability giving way to a warned-of instability, myths projected and enflamed by coordinated industries of militarization, weapon manufacturing, and ratings/advertising driven proselytizers of terror. We are a culture whose central myths revolve around heroism, but when the evil obstacle that this supposed heroism must overcome is wholly fictionalized—is in fact a teenage boy from a long-subjugated populace who for centuries have been made to feel less than human—what is the real word for that “heroism”? What of the teenager's right to self defense, stalked as he was by an armed aggressor in the night? In fact the victim’s actions of self-defense could rightly be described as heroic, a standing up for himself, a standing up that can be perfectly well empathized with, understood within the context of a legacy whose central tenet is that one of his position—one of “these assholes”—is not to stand up, is in fact to lie down and take it. In his case the heroism is, according to the manufacturers of myth, an affront, an unnatural aberration, and this truthful self-defense becomes to said myth-manufacturing class one more of so many great, supposedly self evident threats, and the cause of a new chapter of the sleek propaganda of nationalist self-defense, easy to create by those with the means of manufacture and further emboldened—in fact institutionalized—by vague yet venerated legalese, the irrational made code of law. When the code of law is on one’s side all bets are off, and we have seen the fearful and privileged hide behind (and profit greatly from) such codes of law for centuries.

 Might there be another way? Is there a world in which fear-based societies and their weaponized instruments of control are relegated to a barbaric past? Though the moment tells us no, I believe the human soul tells us yes. The present game is rigged against soul but I have learned to bet on the underdog. And truth. Across even the thoroughly controlled record of recent centuries evidence points again and again to the manhandling and willful distortion of truth—reason-based new ways of seeing—by the so-called modern societies such so their ruling institutions of power, highly profitable to a few, be allowed to continue in a desired, unabated progression. But progression is not always progress. My thought is that when the whole of us open all our many faculties of seeing/knowing, truth and reason naturally prevail.

There is more than one sense of the word fire. On one hand there is the fire that serves to forever blot out life and light, the mythic, conquering fist made agent-less all-deadly projectile, but another, older sense of the word fire is that which warms us, unites community by creating a space which allows us to gather together, allows us to see in a dark. My prayer is that we carry the latter.

(Grateful poetic thanks due Cormac McCarthy.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

And though he pointedly laments this fact, the rest of us miss so many episodes of America's Next Sloppy Artist every day all day long. The naps, streaks, dissolution, indecision, watercolor forfeiture and that one thin sodden manifesto. "When the wind blows," he says, "you shan't hear me turn."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Reign of Bigots

Prayer for a peaceful ouster of Rick Perry and the Republican Brotherhood of Texas.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

LEGS (2013) - Official Trailer [HD]: starring EDDIE STEEPLES

Here is a new trailer for Kevin Ford's forthcoming movie LEGS, produced by and featuring my friends Eddie Steeples (My Name Is Earl) and Angela Bettis (May; Carrie; Girl, Interrupted), in which I play a character named "X." This is a good movie and I hope you may see it soon.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Glasbox - A good place in El Paso

Good Glasbox memory: late september 2011, I played out: a glimpse for me: a body of then-new songs: a beginning. Good Glasbox memory: Susan Klahr changed my life. Good Glasbox memory: strange and exhilarating The Border Theatre just going for it, like corporate storytelling never happened. Good Glasbox memory: drum and dance every Sunday, circles always new. Good Glasbox memories: crossed paths with countless solid smiling folks, children.

Then there is ForWord - A BorderSenses Literacy Project. The Philosophic Systems Institute. Apt Movement. Glasbox is home to many and much. Wi-Fi access. Community spaces. Studios. Areas one can work.

This good place needs support right now. Please consider a contribution to Glasbox. Here is the Glasbox website. Here is the It's A Wonderful Life fundraiser. Your good will grows. Thank you.

Friday, June 28, 2013

'Houston Zoo' and 'Earthlodge' -- Justin Stone, 30 September 2011, Glasbox, El Paso

Glasbox is a special place in El Paso, a home to community, education, empowerment, art and industry. A place of events, openings, workshops, classes, seminars, shows and fun. A place for networking and sharing. It is a growing, experimental space that is in sharp need of support right now. Please visit the Glasbox website, read the details, ideas and plans, and please, if you are able, consider donating or joining as a member in the It's a Wonderful Life fundraiser. The good ideas grow, bring all of us closer together. Thank you for listening.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A good place in El Paso

Looking for allies

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sentimental Monsters, the new album by Austin-based band Through the Trees (which I love and wrote about here), is now available for purchase from both iTunes and CDBaby. It is some delicious new rock 'n' roll for the summer.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Yadier Molina is baseball's unequaled genius. No one in the game shares his unique combination of imagination, instinct and execution. He sees, does. He wills. He is both perpetual learner and spherical thinker. Most importantly, Yadier Molina is a smile.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hello, Shiny
December 2006

String a few hits,
Go Deep.

Happy Team

I think my shit really stinks.

Saturday, June 01, 2013


Through the Trees
Sentimental Monsters

By Justin Stone

Sentimental Monsters, the new record by Austin-based band Through the Trees, is a hook-heavy rock-pop epic. “Lost” opens the album on a catchy, surf-like instrumental passage, guitar, bass and drums rolling together, clean at first, but then the first break hits, distortion lifts the wave, and the riffage continues. Rock ‘n’ roll. Then another break and a quieter melodic passage gives way to a haunted, repeating lyric: “Hey, I lost my way.” Then the voice gives way and the surf passage is urgently revisited, before another big break in which the song slows again, epic power chords and keys dropping a rain on the sea. Voice quietly returns: “You tried your best / They’re not impressed / Optimism has always been / Your Achilles heel / It’s hard to feel what others talk about.” Then, a devastating truth: “We are all sentimental monsters.” The song carries out quietly, in lament: “I overheard you / What you said was not true.” It is a familiar hurt, and the narrator too is complicit. He ends the song quietly singing, “I forgive you.” Heavy. Pretty. The whole of the album plays like this. Exploring its twists and turns, absorbing its shifting tones, contours, shape and definition, feels to me like wandering a large, many-roomed house in dream, a place familiar but continually new. A haunted house. And there are others here: foggy shapes, faces from the past and future. Many others. But maybe only two. Maybe only one. Friends and lovers, ghosts, me. People I can recognize but whom I can never know, always lost but always returning again and again. Seeking connection but more often bumping into and past one another. Reaching out, pulling away. Both calling to one another and calling one another out. Accusation, disbelief. Hope. Ego run amok. Sentimental Monsters.
Ben McCormack writes songs I love. Heady, hearted, dynamic rock ‘n’ roll songs. They get into me, into my ears and my guts. Song after song, he creates spaces I am compelled into. I like to “be” with Ben’s records. They are records I attend to, that I play in entirety.  Each record a many-parted whole unique and deep in song. They are always dexterous medicine.  I was first introduced to Ben’s songcraft via The Stags some 10 years ago in El Paso, Texas. That band, both live and on record, remains for me a personal highlight of the form. Art rock. Story rock. Weird and classic. Angular and disarming. There have been other bands, Sweetdust and Mockery Birds to name a couple. I tell you I have liked all of it, every single song. I think McCormack’s output a standalone body of work. He is a student of songcraft. It is not surprising to me that he is also a longtime, grateful servant to public education, a caring teacher and heady administrator, humble and committed. I have always felt Ben’s professional craft speaks to his musical/story craft and vice versa. He believes in the journey that is being alive, being a learner always. Empathy and hearing highlight his songcraft, as do keen, discerning observations. He sees forest and trees. I think he speaks to aspects of the modern American condition. A haunted house where little is at it seems. Image-driven bullshit. Liars and fakers. Thieves and opportunists. Starry-eyed boys and girls. Loss of meaning. What to believe in? How and why to have a human voice in a cacophony of manufactured messages that seek to render the all of us one monstrous, consuming ego? In “Forgiveness” the narrator intones, “At night I dream in curses shaped like you / And I always disappear in your foggy truths.” In “Statue” the narrator admits, “I don’t say no / I just say never / I find it much safer to be grandiose.” We are all sentimental monsters.
These songs are gut gifts. Butt kicks. Soothe sayings. A densely-packed masterpiece, the song “Everyone” is another multi-part sonic journey, weaving vivid imagery into a lyrical, haunted narrative: “Well it’s been a long since / Since I found out / What you were talking and talking about / You were talking too loud / Right over my shoulder / During our embrace / In a truthful mirror / From a dark place / I met your two face / I met your true face.” He repeats, “You were talking too loud.” And you were. You know it. You were talking too loud. The marriage of music and story here is captivating. The sound is rock ‘n’ roll, a mix of punk and pop and old school, classic, r & b, but it is not a derivative exercise. It is fresh and personal. There are so many great payoff lines and musical moments. Tension built to be relieved.  “Everyone” continues, “You’re talking too loud on the lips of another / You’re stealing my words / And singing to my lover / And now you can take / Your true place behind my back / Just like everyone else.” And then the song breaks into pretty finale, an epic outro, keys brightening the rock melody as we hear a powerful, repeating cry: “And you / You’re like everyone else / You’re just like everyone.” Gawd. It feels true. Mysterious. Maybe inscrutable. I find myself wanting to listen to it over and over again. But then the next song starts, just as good, just as catchy, just as layered, and I’m propelled forward to a new chapter. For me, the whole of Sentimental Monsters moves like this.
McCormack’s is an intelligent, complex rock songcraft. I am going to throw a few names out for reference: Greg Cartwright, Elvis Costello, Frank Black, The Kinks, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Mark Knopfler. Literate, insistent story rock. In the dramatic song structures and complex compositions, often dark explorations that journey toward and in the hope of release and light, I hear echoes of the songcraft of Roy Orbison. This is theatrical rock writing but not showy or flashy.  It is ambitious but workmanlike. Reaching. Also, Sentimental Monsters has an epic pop feel to it. It is decidedly catchy. I hear The Cars in this album, Ric Ocasek’s timeless ear for hooks and craft. “Hopeless” opens on propulsive hard rock waves and then breaks into precise lyrical declaration, “See the couple in their modern home / They don’t look happy / They don’t look sad / So glad not to be alone / But they are lonely / In their modern home.” A pretty break follows, keys brighten the urgent riffs, and then the lyrics return: “Right off the balcony of hope / Leap the hopeless / Into each other’s arms / Now they make craters everywhere that they go / They treat their friends like tourists / In their modern home.” I think it powerful stuff. Moody closer “Wolves” is simultaneously beautiful and perilous: “Trapped / Under a tree / With my sworn enemy / Waiting for the wolves / To come down the mountain.” I am obsessively precious about songcraft, which to my thinking is something like an impossible to define coming together of so many elements, among them voice, story, melody, mood, mystery, dynamism, uplift, shift, intrigue, seeking, questioning, loss, discovery, heartache and humor. It can arrive in many different modes or genres. It is something I only know when I hear it, and I hear it in the music of Through the Trees, the album that is Sentimental Monsters. 
Through the Trees is the best vehicle yet for Ben’s songs. This band is a power trio, sharp, heavy and precise but also expansive in reach and breadth. It is rock textured and nuanced. The rhythm section of Benjamin Howard on bass and Joe Meier on drums is a primal, intuitive, and dynamically flexible force. The sound of Sentimental Monsters strikes me as expertly crafted and studied. It feels like the work of people committed to their individual crafts and how each serves the whole. Recorded, engineered, mixed, and mastered by Lars Göransson at Sounds Outrageous, produced by Göransson and McCormack, the record is always just enough. Never slight but also never overdone with tricks and bells and whistles typical in so much indie and mainstream rock today. The songs here are first and foremost. The structure is built that the listener can go there and wander. Move and be moved. See yourself, others. Run, hide, take cover. And when you can escape the haunted hallways dark with apparitions and enemies and past selves and you and dreams, you lay in the sun. You feel new, a part of everything else. It is a literary thing, giving back, revealing, shading like good literature does. In it one feels less alone, more aware. Sentimental Monsters is a complex, compelling summer album. It burns through the fog and lives.

(You may now purchase this record at iTunes or CDBaby.)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oh good book!

If Nothing Else the Sky by Dave Roche is a humble, hilarious, intelligent, deeply soulful punk travelogue. Something real.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Dave something like 18 years. Always I have thought him as respectable and decent a fellow as one could find. And in the 10 years or so I have been reading him, few authors have touched me as much. I think his voice profoundly unique. Necessary. Dave's on the right side of so many things. He's a teacher, activist, straightedge punk, musician, vegan, dumpster diver. He's a survivor and traveler.

One may order If Nothing Else the Sky by Dave Roche here. There will be no finer literary return on your five dollars this year or a maybe any year. I promise you that.

While you're at it, you should also order Dave's earlier masterpiece On Subbing: The First Four Years here. On Subbing collects Dave's legendary zine of the same title. Dave's voice touches on important things with delight and charm and considered insight. He is an inspiration. Just read the voices of appreciation from some of his readers on the above link! Again, five dollars. You'll spend that on junk this afternoon won't you? This literature is not junk. It is necessary. Contribute to Dave's continued writing and movement. It is good for us.

Keep up with Dave, his upcoming readings, and check out some other great writing of his he offers for free at his website.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A heady flashback. A falling down. Justin Stone's Rookie Night Radio Show Episode 3 -- The Very Special Rock And Roll Show. A four am Dead Shirt, Florida.

Justin Stone's Rookie Night Radio Theater, Episode #3

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I am happy to announce that I have been accepted by and will be joining the Bilingual MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso. Additionally, I will be a Teacher Assistant with the English Department in the First-Year Composition Program, a 3-year Teacher Assistantship. I am grateful and honored to be allowed this undertaking in El Paso, Texas, a place I dearly love and am proud to call home. The journey continues.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Benjamin Alire Sáenz's book of stories "Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club" is a profound, beautiful read, and I am so grateful to be in it.

I do not know how I would survive without books.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


You know - always: the audience in El Paso for the good stuff, whatever it is, is always so awesome: great people, dedicated, quiet, attentive, and lively as all get out: lovers of the work. and folks that come here to play see it, she and he feels it. fills me with gladness all of it.