leave my drink alone; me, my dad, and Johnny B. Goode

Posted on: Sun, 02/10/2008 - 00:24 By: Tom Swiss

Promotions at the dojo today...didn't have any students going up, but spend the day helping out. Think I wrenched a muscle in my back, so I've come down to Leadbetter's for some muscle relaxant and some tunes.

Now that the smoking ban is in effect, they have these little card you put on your drink if you go out to suck on the penis of corporate America. It says "Out smoking - Leave my drink alone". Which seems a good phrase for a writing exercise:

Amemura folk jamboree ga daisuki desu!

Posted on: Thu, 12/06/2007 - 01:35 By: Tom Swiss

...interrupted by nice Nihonjin lady who wanted to practice her English. (Might have wanted more, if I read her right, but not my type.) Stayed out late, slept in, today just rested, browsed Den Den town (photos and notes toward novel potential), shipped home a box of souvenir stuff (cramming into my luggage would have been too much chance of damage - it'll take two months to get home, but I can wait). Dinner at Santana, later to Cellar for Ame-mura folk jam. Tomorrow, I think Kamakura; Saturday, should be good events to see in Kyoto.

1) I am in love again, watching the cute singer of one of the bands here at the Amemura folk jam. Can't understand a word she''s singing, but it it doesn't matter.

2) New favorite Japanese beer - Asahi Black. Porter sort of brew. Nice.

So I'm hanging out at the Cellar now, the Amemura Folk Jamboree, the only white guy in a roomful of Nihonjin. A warm welcome from the bartender and from the M of C, who remember me from my previous time here - very nice. Tonight I've set down the first few hundred words toward the potential novel that's been banging around in my head of late, a story of friendship between men and the entanglements of love and the difference between legal and right, and maybe a few other ideas too by the time it's done (if it ever is). Somehow it seems to me that the protagonists live in Den Den town (gives a nice background for cultural weirdness), so I wandered over there today, taking photos and a few notes.

filling in at Load of Fun

Posted on: Fri, 11/16/2007 - 22:40 By: Tom Swiss

Blogging from the new toy again, my Palm Centro. Kind of wild to be able to access the full internet on a pocketsize portable - Wikipedia and Google in my pocket. I can even ssh into work. (Not that I'd want to do a lot of work typing on this tiny keyboard, but for emergency access, rock on.)

Julie called this evening. the band and poets she had scheduled to play at Load of Fun had to cancel. So a couple of us Zeldaeans filled in with some poetry and music - Julie, Mike, Robin, and I had a nice little circle o' poetry.

playing music and breaking up fights; putting down roots (Zelda's Inferno exercise Nov 4)

Posted on: Sun, 11/04/2007 - 20:10 By: Tom Swiss

An eventful week...Wednesday, Halloween, I played a happy hour gig at Leadbetter's. Good crowd for the holiday (Fells Point buzzes for Halloween) and I actually made decent money, almost $80 between tip and my share of the take from the bar. Not enough that I'm going to quit the day job, but $80 for four hours - $20 an hour - is respectable. I'd play more often if I could get gigs that paid like that, sure.

Hung out afterward for the night shift, crowded but generally having a good time enjoying the musical stylings of Johnny Smooth...until, during a break in his set, I made my way up front for some fresh air and looked outside, to see a pushing match, a fight brewing, in front of the Admiral's Cup a few doors down.

I told the guy on the door to call 911, and ran over to break things up. Yelling "Break it up! Break it up! Cops are on the way!", I did my best to cool things down, stepping between any pair who looked in conflict. It was impossible to figure out who was pissed with whom about what; but for that minute of two, my job was just to act as a sort of "anti-catalyst", preventing violent reactions.

benefit shows at 2640; parties, circles, and gigs; Zelda's Inferno writing exercise

Posted on: Sun, 10/28/2007 - 21:20 By: Tom Swiss

At the BARC benefit at 2640 now, Mongoloidian Glow on the stage. Zelda's will be in a while, but I came down early, got some food at The Yabba Pot and then came over to give BARC a few bucks and support the AR cause a little.

Wednesday we had a planning meeting here for the Water For the Well benefit next weekend. I'm excited that Jeff, my uncle, is going to be on the bill - first time we've performed together. Afterward I caught (most of) a Halloween music and spoken-word show at the Metro Gallery.

Thursday, I played the Fell's Point Musician's Showcase at Leadbetters, got a good response to my hour. It was the first time I'd played there since I got back to the U.S.; I'll be back for the happy hour gig on Halloween.

Friday, our Samhain circle got rained out - we decided to move the date so we could still do it outside, rather than moving it indoors. So I got to go to the show at Kiss Cafe that Kelly put together. Saw Chris and Wes there, in one of those Smalltimore moments.

Yesterday, promotions at the dojo, a long day. Then went out to see Telesma play at the Metro Gallery, good show as always.

Zelda's Inferno writing exercise: write a poem from a wordlist, generated from the theme "renaissance festival":

unicycle, plague, corset, beer, joust, serf, glimmer, awkward, wench, pine, pirate, armor, rouge, constricting

sometimes I feel the constrictions
of my created self
that fiction that defines my character
that places awkwardly-drawn boundaries around
what I say and do

a plague of personalities
an armoring identity

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Soldiers

Posted on: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 12:21 By: Tom Swiss

I'll definitely be playing this at the Poems Against War / Poetry In Baltimore event October 19 at Load of Fun Gallerie. Meanwhile, if you play guitar, spread the meme.

I heard a little bit of the buzz going around about Sally Field getting censored by Fox for saying during the Emmys that "If mothers ruled the world, there wouldn't be any goddamn wars in the first place." It bounced around my brain a bit, stuck on to some other stuff, and this is what came out.

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Soldiers

words by Tom Swiss
      to the tune of "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys", by
      Ed Bruce and Patsy Bruce

guitar chords: D - G - A7 - D

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers
Don't let 'em be fooled by the masters of war
Teach 'em that peace is what to work for
Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers
They can die all alone
A long way from from home
Giving their life for a lie

Young boys play war with toy guns and they always pretend
Someday that they'll grow up and be brave and fight like real men
Marching to death at the orders of generals,
      all for the U. S. of A.
But war ain't a game, there's no glory in killing,
      old soldiers fade away

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be soldiers

psychedelic music at the sports bar...

Posted on: Wed, 09/19/2007 - 21:30 By: Tom Swiss

Just went to see Telesma over at the ESPN Zone. Sort of a funny combination, psychedelic world music band at a sports bar; joking with one of the guys in the band, I said it was a sort of outreach program. Yes, he said; save the meatheads from themselves...

Interesting week last week. Our server developed disk problems, and we had to switch over to our backup. Fortunately, I'd been working on a "hot spare" setup; unfortunately, the work is not complete. I worked 16 hours last Thursday on the changeover (plus a session at the Well and teaching karate). So much for taking the day off to clean the house and get ready for Saturday's Emperor Norton party.

report from Brushwood

Posted on: Mon, 07/23/2007 - 22:11 By: Tom Swiss

At Brushwood now, in the lull between Sirius Rising and Starwood...arrived
last night, saw a interesting thing when I got off the highway, a bunch of Amish (or Mennonite?) people playing volleyball, women in bonnets, men in suspenders.

On the ride up, passed under a bridge for "Middle Road", could only think of Buddhism, I was passing under the dharma somehow.

Sitting under my pavilion this evening, playing guitar, a cute girl came up carrying a flute, asked if she could play along. And it occurred to me, hurray for women who aren't shy, if I had to always rely on my bad conversation-starting ability I'd never get to talk to a pretty girl...

Ok, that's a little self-pitying now, ain't it? But still, I find my energy in this endeavor scattered since Cathy broke it off. (I am glad, though, that I went to Red Emma's to buy a copy of the Harry Potter book (which I finished today), reminded me of how many pretty girls seem to hang out there. Oh, and another great revelation - you see lots of pretty Asian girls at the Asian supermarket.)

Good music today, I have neighbors, a couple, the guy plays guitar, the woman stand-up bass (the flautist I met is camped with them), they were playing at their campsite this afternoon, now over at Phil's Grille as I sit across the way in the Starwood bar, great stuff. Then walking in I passed Randolphe (Harris) playing by the side of the road, amazing as always.

Just saw Nicole, she was headed off to meet with Dorian and Jason who just arrived. Brian and Joe are also here, Trisha on the way, so we'll have the Baltimore crew well-represented.

a song fragment

Posted on: Sat, 05/12/2007 - 10:56 By: Tom Swiss

song fragment...

Give me a Saturday night in Shinsaibashi
Out all night 'till the first train runs
Yes a Saturday night in Shinsaibashi
Out all night 'till the light of the sun

stuck somewhere in a dead-end town
when fun is outlawed and can't be found
please take me away to a better place
a floating world and a pretty face

Give me a Saturday night in Shinsaibashi
Narrow streets and vibrant lights
Yes a Saturday night in Shinsaibashi
Take it from me it's quite a sight

Fudo Myo-o; the 'bird" of paradise

Posted on: Sat, 05/05/2007 - 11:29 By: Tom Swiss

So despite my cracking, growling, allergy-damaged voice, my mini-gig Thursday went over pretty well. I had done some singing at Liz's party, borrowing a guitar for a few songs, and thought I might be ok; but when I got in to my first song "She Belongs To Me" my voice started to crack like I was 13 again. I went into a more gravelly mode and finished, then explained in my pidgin Nihongo, "Sumimasen, my voice....chotto byouki deshita. Allergy, araji. Demo...ganbatte!"

Ganbatte. That's the big one. Give it your all and they will love you here. I made my way through two more songs (my own "Floating World", and "I Know You Rider"), and they actually demanded one more from me (I did "In the Pines").

The fellow who runs the folk night asked me (with the bar owner acting as translator) when I was leaving, when I'd be back in Japan. When I told him I might be back for a karate tournament in November, and mentioned Seido Juku, he went wild. Turns out he used to train in Seido. Had nothing but praise for Kaicho Nakamura, such a "good and upright" man.

So that went well.

Yesterday, went out to Takatsuki to catch the second half of a two-day jazz festival. Eric was playing with a salsa group early in the afternoon, then we hung around watching other bands all evening. Saw wild fusion with a guy playing shamisen, as well as more standard jazz trio and small bands, at halls and at cafes. Another bit of the whole international thing, jazz in the suburbs of Kansai (Takatsuki is between Kyoto and Osaka, Columbia to their Baltimore and Washington perhaps.)

Today I did some day-job work, and did some reading around Gary Snyder's "Smokey the Bear Sutra". When I went for lunch in Nara with Kaz, the topic of sacred mountains came up, and I tried to explain the line from that poem, about how "all true paths lead through mountains." It occurred to me that it might be a nifty thing to include in the book a "commentary" on the Sutra - if he had the balls to write a "Sutra" on Smokey, I'll take the idea and run with it. Maybe do one on Camden Benares's "Enlightenment of a Seeker" story, too.

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