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

Saturday, July 09, 2016

our well-armed nightmare















you
don'tmiss













.

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

#blameamythicalcreature
#eattoastfordinneragain
#reallivesdestroyed

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
dilemma


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.

Cordially,
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.
Learning

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.
Grandmother
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

observe
remember
observeremember

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

Fact:
Little I know

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

It
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.


Love,
Justin

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

Glasbox
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

Sentimental for SENTIMENTAL MONSTERS


Through the Trees
Sentimental Monsters
2013

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

Mangum.


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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Do you need to stretch?

Sunday, March 17, 2013



Rumor has it this show is getting another makeover!

Born drifting a hundred years too soon an increasingly long way from hands growing becoming larger and larger.

New episodes soon? The radio show? A book? A stage show? A band? Teevee? My oh myley. Talk of a feature film? A very long commercial? Short piece of exploitation? What? A disappearance? Nh? Coming to?

Shoot, we are glad for it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dawn/prehensile tale/tail

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

I feel the most important change I have made as an adult in this life is to cease with the awful alcohol. It is, I think, quite telling that the culturally sanctioned and celebrated 'drug' of choice in the West is a terrifyingly destructive toxic substance. Totally, supremely destructive to the brain, body and soul, as well as to communities and progress (and thus long a form of effective social control). It took me forever to realize this, walking in the shoes of all those terrible decisions before me, waving all the wrong myths around like some kind of ridiculous, proud-for-all-the-wrong-reasons universal clown. 'Hey look at me, hear me now, I am an asshole.' Ego run dangerously amok with potentially horrible consequences for the world and those around you. And then when you make the decision to opt out of the alcohol lifestyle, when you realize that you just can no longer spend time in bars and similar all-drinking-all-the-time environments, some old friends can come to think you a malcontent or flake, a weirdo going against the social grain, somebody who does not want to have 'fun.' Like you are no longer a part of the 'conversation.' But the fact is that that 'conversation' never reaches a conclusion or discovery anyway. Instead it cycles endlessly, always forgetting where it has previously been. Often it forgets (or is unable to hear) what is said as the said thing is even being said. It is a kind of madness, necessarily and monstrously repeating itself, trying vainly to fill a void that only gets bigger and more impossible to fill. A perilous, shaking, almost indiscernible escalation, spread out over years, in increments of invisible days.

Breaking from the habit has awkward and unfortunate social consequences, indicative I think of the whole awkward and unfortunate society. To go all the way, to see and know one's head, heart, hands and feet -- I mean literally to be able to look at and know (and trust) the different parts of one's body and self, how they can (and sometimes cannot) all function as one, and then have control of that vehicle, as one is often trying to do in dream -- one kind of has to decide to opt out of certain circles and certain arenas of choice altogether. One often has to separate (both physically and mentally) from an entire lifestyle, its attendant peers and rituals. All the little hills are so dang slippery, you know? They never end, they keep coming, more and more slippery. And we are prone to accident as is. Most of us. All of us? We are prone to accident. That is the nature of wild existence. For me it really comes down to no longer wanting to engage (in as much as this kind of thing can even be controlled) in avoidable arenas of accident. Or to put it another way: not wanting to f*ck the f*ck up. The opposite of f*cking the f*ck up? Spherical thinking, lucidity, deliberation, predetermination, humility, humor, empathy. These things are community. These things are fun.

(As usual these are quick, unedited thoughts on a much larger subject. I am writing about all this in greater detail elsewhere, but I wanted to say something.)


“I didn't want to spent a lot of close time with someone who believed that fun is a bourgeois indulgence." - Howard Zinn, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

Monday, March 04, 2013

Circus may substitute even for bread if one can be induced to both choke down his or her pride and allow the core to weaken and consume his or her own guts.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In the dream all my clothes are on, the tasks complete, and there is no need to speak; I am right where I need to be in a moment I needed to be there.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I will be honest:
I wish I were Arawak
And God never was.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Beyond the mistakes and the fog and the indulgence and the selfishness, I have spent most of my life looking for stories. I found early on that something in me is filled when I join with them. It is a thing hard to describe, but it has something to do with feeling less alone, less incomplete, less scared, less un-knowing. It is like something you only know by its opposite. This morning in a warm flood of tears I finished “Tenth of December,” the final short story in the recently published short story collection of the same title by George Saunders. The tears were unexpected, but huge, quaking; so welcome, so necessary. A state of seeing.

I always felt disconnect with much of American popular culture, and as I age this feeling has only become more pronounced. The movies, the televised products, the endless unnecessary entertainments and diversions—most all of it leaves me empty, forgetful, unaware and untouched. Filler between dawn and dawn. It is such a common feeling that it almost comes to feel that this is the way that not only everything is, but the way everything is supposed to be. Like a deep resignation, a sentence about which you can do nothing, so whatever, you know, f*ck it. Until you experience this phenomenon’s opposite. “Tenth of December” is that. It is what most everything else today, product-wise, is not. It is an immersion in compassion, connectivity, craft, and the truly funny. It is an immersion in lift, awareness, curiosity, subversive weirdness and necessary questioning.

The good work is out there, as it has always been, helping us help one another, helping us know one another, helping make each of us feel a little less incomplete. This is what humans do. When we wish to be, when we think and focus, we are remarkably adept at it. But the good work so often gets lost, buried, ignored. One really has to compel oneself toward it, to the finding, the digging. I always have to remind myself to keep looking, to keep trying to know. For those tears this morning felt so good. So, so, so good. To release, to reach. To want to be better. I am crying again now even just thinking about it all, thinking about the story. So pure and real and wondrous.

Thank you, George.

Did you know Public Enemy is still best? Prolific, pertinent, powerful. Revelatory. Doing it themselves, doing it for others. Each classic album is still classic, and each of the so many recent albums is even more classic. This is a plant that grows. A seed, not a diamond. Seek these albums out. It astounds me how little attention seems to be paid. Somebody said Public Enemy is always 100%. That somebody is correct.

Case in point: this beautiful song "Everything" and the beautiful video by HWIC Filmworks. Just doing it. Independent distribution, independent means, independent thoughts. Support these activist artists. Check out the official Public Enemy website. See more great videos at Public Enemy's youtube page. (I am really digging "Harder Than You Think", (or as used to promote the UK Paralympics.))

Thank you, friends. Thank you, Chuck.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


We walked along the arroyo. Ahead of us was the mountain. Behind and below us, stretched across a wide valley, the city. The sun was overhead and there were no shadows.
My friend stopped and picked up a large, flat rock. Turning to me he said, “Here. I got you an iPhone.”
“I don’t know how to use those things.”
“It’s okay. You can’t afford it.”
I laughed and then so did he. Gravel crunched rhythmically beneath each of our footsteps as we continued on our slow walk. Every single thing as far as I could see—every rock, every small tree and bush, every discarded thing—was lit, crisp. The air itself seemed bright, illuminated somewhere deep within. It felt good to be in it.
He shook his head. “You can’t call somebody who cares with these things anyway.” He discarded the rock and it landed with a sharp clink among the other rocks. Then quieter, “The tech support is terrible.”
Again we laughed. “Let’s sit here in the sun a while. You mind?”
We sat down in the old dry creekbed. The rocks shifted just so below me, absorbing me in their settled dense pack, and I felt like I too was a rock, a rock that was supposed to be sitting right there among all of the other rocks.
“It is beautiful out here,” I said.
My friend nodded his head. He sucked in a breath then, looked up at the sky. I could see that his eyes had moistened. He shook his head. He was quiet. I waited. Finally he said, “You know that feeling where you wish you could breathe deeper. Like, breathe in the whole world all at once. Breathe in through your mouth and ears and eyes and every part of your skin. You need it so much.”
“But you don’t have enough room for it inside.”
“Or the mechanism, even though it’s like right around the corner from where you are in your mind, you don’t engage it, and it is very much like you cannot engage it, even though you could. You just cannot. You don’t. It feels almost perilous. And then this confrontation with the need for release just kind of becomes something else.”
“And the moment passes for another long time.”
A breeze down from the mountain lifted the desert plants and the ends of our hair. I smiled.
“What are you doing all that time?” he said.
“I don’t know.”

Thursday, February 07, 2013

This life owes to none more than my sister. Dear Lindsay, I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you. I love your family. I could never truly say. Thank you. Thank you for catching me always one thousand times. This life is beautiful and so are you.

With great joy I say the thing is figuring itself out.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Once you complete your answer statement turn to the short anxious part of the test Once your statement is complete Once you complete your statement you will turn to the short anxious part of the test

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I did not know.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I did not come on here tonight to announce that I will be opening for Soundgarden on their new tour, reading some of the new poetry, doing some performance art st*ff; that I have been letting the hair grow, bagging up under the eyes, shading over, wrinkling; that this will be kind of a "tent" tour.

I came on here tonight that I might give you my love.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Department of Nude Jokes

Who is up for a War on Literacy???

We missed it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Our erosion into a melodramatic, alarming sameness. Fantasy League Adulthood. Stricken jaw. The vain, the tawdry, the joke without insight. Smile-less laughter. Cringe induction. Department of Bitter Targets. A found note that read: "inexorable march unto oblivion." Doomsday scenarios. Meta worship of worship itself - superficial, temporal things. Desperate grabbings, fear. Successful engines of illiteracy. Memory loss. Unquiet mind. Forced hurry, getalong. Anxiety induction. Overly complex arrangements. Thrash-around spheres. Action without consequence. Control mechanisms. Give us this bread, our daily rebuke. Flat, unforgiving surfaces. Purposeful dimming of the light. Injurious Behavior Sales. Brief, enervating winning streaks. Boredom, apathy. Nihilism and a Half Men. Syndication. Self-Congratulating Individual. Widower-Sized Big Sucks. Soda for water. Ceaseless headache. Awful whim. Burly worm gets the squirm. Flash in the pang. Shortbread tears. Never stretching, never coming to, never activating. Breathless 4:00 AM anniversary. Squandered opportunity. Lily gilding. Fallback modes of anger, madness, disbelief. Inviting the Glowers over for dinner, Brian Junior and Judy. Savagery. So there one might never know. The rage button. Myth of the fist. Those objects running around in your world, making all the weird sounds? Human beings.



Our time together on planet earth. Listen well the world, that you might begin to know.



Dawn. . . the silhouettes way out there on the horizon, moving together - they were laughing, enjoying one another, figuring things out. They were not fighting. We got this wrong and everything thereafter.



The mind too needs a warm home. All the parts come perfectly together. There is no separation between you and it. One can sense this just prior to hurtling past it, forgotten as everything.



Turn from the machine.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Nobody wins the game of Doughy Adolescent God.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Jesus was a wildcat.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Look, I know it is your goddamn 'right' and everything, but maybe you could do better than the loaded gun beneath your pillow, the alcohol toxic on your stomach and mind, and the 16 ounce soda and almost-finished pack of cigarettes atop the nightstand that you are saving for morning.

Monday, December 24, 2012

To unclinch.
Less like a fist.

Less like Old Fistface.

Requires daily maintenance.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Care for others, care for you

Prayer

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

He has about him a look of true Individualism.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dear English Pen Pal,
How are U? I am good. I am in english class to. My teacher is gay. Oh well! What are U doing? What is english like? American is awesome! I hope U can come here some day! You can stay with me! My dad is nice. Is UR dad nice? Do U have a mom? We have 300 million now. My teacher just said. That is a lot! How many do U have? I saw a picture of english and its small. Sorry! He says its british to. What kind of allowance do U get? My dad gives me money. Before I did chores but he forgot. One day I will be a race car driver and a fireman. What are U gone to be? After english I have math. And then science. They are hard. I hate them. And then I go home. I will play Street Hunted 3. Do U play Street Hunted 3? What is UR favorite game to play? In Street Hunted 3 I am level 5 militia and I carry a fully automatic assalt rifle and a bunch of knifes. I also have a lot gold. Gold is like money but its better. Its awesome. I also have Vandal City. Its fun to. U go to a city and steal every thing. What food do U eat? My dad takes us to restarants. I like Burger Pen and Pizza Jons they are good. My teacher said U arent as poor as indians. Thats good. I hope U have food. Some dont. And some clothes. I have a dog named Rollie to. Do U have N-E pets?
Your America Pen Pal,
Steven Filch



Originally published to Creekbed on October 20, 2006

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Your smiling face


Thank You

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I don't know that you'll hear a better band this year than Cleoflatula and the Soft Sons of the Sons of Rome. Their forthcoming album Dept of Swollen Interiors was recorded almost entirely underwater. Today we have a peek at the track list. "We were definitely chasing something shiny on this one," Cleoflatula said. Venerable record label Bait & Tackle is calling it "a new kind of dense."

Dept of Swollen Interiors
Cleoflatula and the Soft Sons of the Sons of Rome
Bait & Tackle, 2013
1. Human Certification Practice Test
2. And I Was a Pants-Less Lad
3. Chutes & Chutes
4. Has Anybody Seen My Mood?
5. Ignoble Butthurt
6. Keep Me In The Breasts Of What Is Happening
7. Nobody Knows Ludlow / Split The Mountain Down The Middle / Used To Be No One Could Get There In Time (The Good Ol' Days)
8. The House Where The Worst Serial Killer In The Nation Lives Is Right Down The Street Here If You Want To Go Take A Look Around
9. Texas Men Of Emissions
10. If I Speak Loud Enough You Can Get Drunk Too
11. I Was A Lad In Pants
12. The Day They Shut The Doors On My Dad's Robert Plant
13. F*ck Me (Where Did I Put That Mood?)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Marine shell beads and flakes of obsidian found in my bed this morning suggest I have been living in the area for 33,000 years.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Movies:
the patrician class,
genre hacks.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Yesterday would have been the birthday of Gene Clark, under-appreciated singer/songwriter, fellow Missourian (born and now at rest in Tipton, Missouri, about 30 miles from where I was born and raised), and an all-time favorite voice of mine. I cannot express to you the riches of the Clark song catalog, extending from The Byrds to Dillard & Clark to a bunch of great, genre-bending solo records which through a combination of weirdness, timing, personal misfortune and tough luck never found all the ears they should have.

This singular voice and these many songs have served to quiet my soul for a long time. Happy birthday, Gene. Thank you. And my momma thanks you. My sharing of your music with her has been a great pleasure of my life, through times of hurt, times of stillness and repose, and times of great joyous reach.

For anyone interested, John Einarson's book Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of The Byrds' Gene Clark is a great read, not only for its sensitive exploration of Clark's life but also its valuable look at some of the American musical and pop cultural landscapes of the 1960s and 1970s in which Clark operated and was a verified trendsetter.

Most importantly, seek out the records. They are as alive now as they ever were. Honestly, I love every one of them, and each is unique in conceptualization and execution. Gene's family will appreciate your legal purchase of these necessary, vital artifacts. Also appreciative will be the more sensitive, subtle receptors of your brain and chest. I promise.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Today someone with a new way to see our world is born.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Where is a good place to post a photograph of yourself on the Internet?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

". . . an American idea, and not a universal one but one I think kids get exposed to very early: that you are the the most important. And that what you want is the most important. And that your job in life is to gratify your own desires. That's a little crude to say it that way, but in fact it's something of the ideology here. And it's certainly the ideology that's perpetrated by television and advertising and entertainment, and the economy thrives on it."

". . ."

". . . this is one enormous engine and temple of self-gratification and self-advancement and in some ways it works very, very well. In other ways it doesn't work all that well because -- at least for me -- it seems as if there are whole other parts of me that need to worry about things larger than me that don't get nourished in that system."

". . ."

-- Dave "David Foster" Wallace

My own transcription from an unedited, awkward (and, to me, beautiful) interview for German TV. Part one of the interview may be seen here. I would recommend watching all nine parts.

Think back to where you left the _____________.  Find it.

When I woke I had a pulled muscle in my back.