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Joseph Mulhollen’s Album “Problematical Animals” on Kickstarter

November 4th, 2011 by D.Billy

I’ll try to make this short and to the point:
Singer / songwriter Joseph Mulhollen makes music that I really really like. A lot. To provide a frame of reference: If you’re at all into stuff like Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Elliot Smith, and Beirut, then there is a VERY good chance that you’ll be into Joseph Mulhollen. I’ve dropped a few tracks and videos at the end of this post as a little Joe-sampler.

Mr. Mulhollen is just about finished recording his third album, Problematical Animals. And from what I’ve heard, it is excellent. BUT he still needs to get it mastered, pressed, and released, and pay the other talented musicians who contributed to the record, and the album cover artist. And this is where WE come in. Joe has set up a Kickstarter page to gather funds to get Problematical Animals out there, and to allow YOU to preorder the album. And the more support you pledge, the more B-sides and other goodies you get along with your copy of the record. He’s in the home stretch, with only a few days left to go. I’ll turn it over to Joe:

Now, aside from being a spectacularly talented musician, Joe is also one of my favorite human beings on the planet. In 1998, before we actually knew any-damn-thing about one another, Joe dragged me up onstage with him at the Old Main Inn in Fredonia NY, and asked — nay, told — me to play drums on a song of his that I had heard maybe once before. It somehow worked out not-too-terribly, and I’ve the honor of playing with him off and on for the past thirteen years. Nine times out of ten, one of us has just gotten into the town where the other one lives, and we have ZERO rehearsal time. And just like at the Old Main, it kinda works anyway. If nothing else, I have more fun playing with Joe than doing just about anything else. I would be super stoked to see Problematical Animals on many of your playlists in a couple of months, and trust me, you’ll be glad it’s there too.

As promised at the top of this post, here are some tracks and performance videos of Joe in action, to give you a kind of cross-section of his ouevre. Enjoy, and please help support this guy!

Matter Of Division (demo) by Joseph Mulhollen

Searching For Corners In Circular Rooms by Joseph Mulhollen


Filed under D.Billy, Family & Friends, Music having Comments Off

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Reverend Al Sharpton is on The Moth’s Podcast This Week – And Probably Still Thinks My Band Was Dumb

January 13th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

The Moth’s podcast this week features a story told by the Reverend Al Sharpton. It’s funny, sad and moving, and one of the better stories that I’ve heard on the Moth podcast in some time. He’s an amazing speaker — I mean, he wouldn’t be who he is if he wasn’t — and the whole thing is a real joy to listen to. You can hear it yourself here:

Al Sharpton on the Moth Podcast: Conviction

I actually have a story about my own experience with Reverend Sharpton, which I’ve blogged about here before. But I thought it might be worth a repeat mention.

Essentially, I used to play the typewriter in a ridiculous performance art band featuring two keyboard-playing chickens. For real. That really happened. You can hear two of our songs here:

Royal Quiet Deluxe, April 1998
Exotic Newcastle Disease, by Royal Quiet Deluxe

I was at a dinner with Al Sharpton and a number of heavy hitters in Virginia’s African-American community, and someone made the terrible mistake of asking me what I did. I got way too into it and ran off at the mouth forever. And I could see Al Sharpton rolling his eyes and thinking what all black people think from time to time:

“White folks are crazy.”

Anyway, here’s the story. Hope you enjoy it:

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The Longing for Lost Toys

July 22nd, 2010 by D.Billy

This little tableau was one of the first photographs that I ever took — maybe around age 12 — with my very first camera, a cheap plastic Vivitar 110:

Skeletor Crew

It shows three Masters of the Universe figures that belonged to my brother and I — Jitsu, Tung Lashor (in the Land Shark) and Battle-Damage Skeletor — lined up against the wood panel & linoleum backdrop of the trailer-with-added-rooms that we grew up in, and I f*cking LOVE IT.

I remember the spot where this photo was taken, and I remember that just down the hall under our bunk beds, and under the desk in my father’s “office” there were plastic tubs and wooden boxes of other action figures and vehicles… Transformers, G.I. Joe, Hot Wheels, Marvel Secret Wars, DC Super Powers, M.A.S.K., M.U.S.C.L.E., Battle Beasts, Centurions, and probably others that I’m forgetting. We also had a giant-sized bin of LEGO blocks, all jumbled in together like an 8-bit plastic gumbo. I can remember the feel of the blocks’ corners and the shooshing, tinkling sound as I rummaged through them looking for just one more clear red dot to cap off the wing of my spaceship.

We still have a few of these things in a closet at my mother’s house. (Or we will until I steal them this summer. Heads up, Mom.) But the bulk of them were given away to our nephews or other kids-of-friends-of-the-family, and from what I hear, many were promptly broken. (*single tear*)

So in pining for my lost clumps of cast plastic and rubber, I decided to fire up the group nostalgia engines. I asked my fellow contributors Jeff, Brad and Cyndi if they had any thoughts along these lines to share, and indeed they did…

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The Toxic Leviathan Rides a Yamaha

March 26th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

(This post has a soundtrack. Open this in another tab and turn up your speakers.)

There’s a pretty powerful, fast-moving scavenger ecosystem in my neighborhood. People (I think) snatch up clothing, books, whatever like crabs picking over a fish carcass on the sea floor. There are a lot of forgotten bike frames chained to sign posts around there, stripped of their seats, wheels, chains, pedals — anything that is remotely mobile or useful. Sometimes you just see a chain looped around a sign post. Whenever I see that, I always think “Damn. Another one of those bike-eating sharks must’ve got that one.”

I’ve been walking past this bike that’s been locked up on Broadway under the Williamsburg Bridge for YEARS. It looks like it was dragged up from the ocean floor, doesn’t it? There’s the requisite grease and grime there, but it’s covered with a thick patina of dust, dried river mud and pigeon shit. The mirrors are useless, covered with old dirt.

It’s always sitting upright, though, and always in a slightly different position. Sometimes it feels a little warm, like it was ridden just a few hours ago.

I like to think that some slippery creeping beast shambles up out of the East River every night and stumbles to the bike with thick, dripping footsteps. Its shoulders steam with a green toxic runoff, and its face is half-eaten away, revealing a horrific skeletal grin. It turns up its moldering jacket collar and slides a Bob Seger tape into its Walkman, then sets out to cruise the neighborhood, working out some “Night Moves” …

The leviathan rides a motorcycle

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“Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” on Ukulele: Subway Magic

March 24th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

I was crossing through the Essex/Delancey subway last night at about 1, coming home from the incredible Cherry Pop Burlesque. One of the performers had done a stunning routine to Lou Reed’s version of “This Magic Moment” from the “Lost Highway” Soundtrack — which I’d never heard before. The routine and the song meshed perfectly in this grinding, menacing, but also sweet experience that had me all fired up and confused, just the way you should be when you see something amazing that you’ve never seen before.

And then I came across this guy playing cover songs on a ukulele:


He was on the natural stage there on the Uptown side of the F train, playing sweet, melancholy songs greatly aided by all the natural reverb down there.The singer/ukulelist goes by the name “Laustcawz.”He’s got a website here, and this is his theme song.

I got him to do a song just for me so I could share it with all of you:

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J Train is the Soul Train: Thirsty Man Sings “Winner”

January 20th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Have you ever noticed how some people put a pair of headphones in, and it’s like it’s the performance version of Thor’s hammer? Like by putting those buds into their ears, they are suddenly blessed with an incredible singing voice, perfect pitch and total invisibility? Put on some sunglasses and an iPod and all of a sudden nobody is on the train except Simon Cowell and Dr. Dre, and both of them are hiring. It’s kind of like having a low-budget version of Rock Band that only plays R&B.

You never hear anyone singing Coldplay or Dave Matthews, is all I’m saying. I prefer it that way.

And don’t get me wrong here — sure, sometimes the phenomenon is a little annoying. But other times it is completely the most awesome thing that can happen to your whole week, a beautiful, off-kilter accident.

Like this guy that sat across from me on the J Train last weekend singing Chris Brown’s “Winner.” Check this thing out, it’s beautiful. I love how he doesn’t let his performance stop him from pouring himself a little sip of something from his thermos, then gets his soul stole by the music before the cup hits his lips … and caps it all off with a shameless crotch scratch. Also of note is how quickly the guy next to him stops giggling and starts ignoring the whole thing.

Don’t let me spoil it for you, though – check this out for yourself. It’s stuff like this that reminds me that the world is alive and beautiful and full of strange surprises …

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Untagged! (Nothing to See Here.)

September 29th, 2009 by D.Billy

I spotted this on my lunch break today:
Nothing to See Here
A contemporary, street-level sequel to Robert Rauschenberg’s “Erased De Kooning Drawing“… or is tape just that much cheaper than paint?
Either way, I love it.

(And yes, I have already submitted this to There, I Fixed It.)

Filed under D.Billy, New York City, Street Art & Graffiti having Comments Off

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Rock ‘N Roll Will Never Die

August 7th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I snapped this on my iPhone last night on Christopher Street while I was waiting for a friend. It’s sweet, sad, and totally bad-ass all at once.

Rock 'N Roll Will Never Die

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Funky Bald Lady Brings It On the L Train In Front of Bouncy Rides

July 20th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

The five minutes I spent seeing the band below play on the L train platform at Union Square were way better than the hour and a half I spent in the theater watching “Bruno” immediately afterwards.

But this isn’t a film review here – this is exactly why I live in New York. I just spent a little time in Missoula, and while there were plenty of dirty dreadlocks and bongos out in the street out there, there wasn’t NOTHIN’ like this. This was like The Flaming Lips meets Soul Jazz with just a touch of the bear-and-a-BJ clip from the Shining.

I accidentally covered the mike on my phone with my thumb there for about 30 seconds or so. The sound’ll come back, don’t worry:

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Tom Petty Said It and Now I’m Living It

May 25th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

Before I get to the cancer news, let me get something right up front: it has been a spectacular weekend. This weekend was like a commercial for weekends written by writers from the Wonder Years and shot by Robert Altman.

A bunch of my best friends came up to visit this weekend — two guys I’ve known since kindergarten, one guy since the seventh grade, and then my friend Mark Koch who’s been on the scene since ninth grade. He’s the new guy.

It was Mark’s bachelor party weekend. Nobody’s going to make a smash comedy hit out of it, as the whole enterprise was more bourbon and burlesque than blow and strippers. We had dinner at Peter Luger, hiked over the Williamsburg Bridge to have a look at the streetcorner that was the cover of “Paul’s Boutique,” walked the boardwalk from Coney Island to Brighton Beach and saw a hot and hilarious burlesque show at Bar on A.

My roommate and upstairs neighbor kindly gave up their rooms for the cause and let us spread out in the building a little, too.

Not too shabby at all.

I haven’t laughed that hard in a long, long time. And at points I had my hands over my incision, afraid I was literally going to bust a stitch.

Instead I just stretched. Stretched and healed. I haven’t felt this good in a really, really long time.

So here’s the doctor’s news from the other day:

I’m healing up fine, textbook perfection, basically. The CT/PET scans showed one questionable lymph node up in my throat, but he jabbed around in there with his fingers pretty hard and said “whatever, I’m not feeling anything in there, so let’s forget about that one for now.”

There’s these markers in the blood that cancerous tumors give off — they differ by the type of tumor. But for simplicity’s sake here, let’s collectively call them Carl.

Normal levels of Carl in a healthy adult male might be between 0-5. My Carl quotient was burying the needle at 1,250 before surgery. So they drew blood from me a week after surgery, and whatever my Carl levels were, that’s the baseline right there.

Say I’ve got a Carl of 100 a week after surgery. Then a week later, my doctor expects me to have half as much Carl — a level of 50. A week later, Carl’s supposed to be down to 25. Eventually, those levels will bottom out and kinda flatline. And if Carl flatlines at a level that’s higher than normal, we start chemotherapy.

Awesome. Really, that makes sense to me — it’s careful and cautious, and following the results scientifically. What I wanted was for my doctor to clap and dust his hands off, then say, “that’s it, you’re done!”

But that’s not gonna happen for a good while yet. As a wise man named Tom Petty once said, “the waiting is the hardest part.”

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