Natural Pain Reliever: A Killer Remedy for Advanced Pain Management


You know that OTC and prescription pain meds are toxic. And sometimes they don’t even really work anyway.

So you’ve tried all kinds of natural pain relievers.

You’ve tried Epsom salt baths. Magnesium oil. Essential oils like lavender, wintergreen, peppermint, and ginger. You’ve taken omega-3 fatty acids and proteolytic enzymes to digest proteins like kinin and fibrin. You’ve tried collagen, chondroitin, glucosamine, MSM. You’ve made bone broth. You’ve taken turmeric pills, St. John’s Wort, white willow bark, cramp bark, arnica, you name it. You’ve had massage, you’ve been to PT, you’ve tried chiropractic, you’ve had Reiki, and you’ve sprung for acupuncture.

These things help, but the pain always comes back.

So it seems like you’ve tried all the natural pain relievers out there.

And nothing really works.

Yet your head is throbbing. The pain in your back wakes you up. Or your child’s suffering with a broken arm is causing your entire family pain.

And it’s so bad that the person who’s in pain can’t even do the therapeutic stuff that everyone says is good for preventing pain, like yoga and PT exercises and swimming.

Your pain acts up when you run too, or when you lift weights, or when you do Pilates, or whatever forms of exercise you’ve always LOVED to do.

So where do you go from here?

I’ve tried all that stuff too, and struggled for three years with back pain that wouldn’t go away. And it only got worse when I tried to stretch or rebuild all the muscle I’d lost from not doing my favorite exercises anymore.

And I’d already addressed my diet. I’d been gluten free for 15 years. Dairy-free, caffeine-free, sugar-free. Mostly paleo for all that time.

So the next step I took is I eliminated nightshades. Particularly potatoes. Also tobacco.

And around that time I also started Muscle Activation Therapy (MAT).

That all helped a lot.


And then I read about turmeric essential oil. According to, it’s awesome for reducing arthritis and joint issues.

And I found that it’s spectacular for muscle pain too.

As a topical treatment, it’s a natural pain reliever that works.

Mix two drops of turmeric essential oil with a carrier oil or lotion, slather it on the site of your pain, and feel that pain dissolve.

I’m not kidding. It also improves your mood. Probably because it relieves pain.

Because when you’re not in pain anymore, you can enjoy life again.

I love Advanced Bio-Curcumin by Life Extension. It helps a ton when you take the pills.

But there is something about applying turmeric oil topically that really does the trick.

Young Living and Doterra don’t sell turmeric oil. And my favorite essential oil provider, Veriditas, doesn’t sell it either.

So I use this 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oil by Healing Solutions.

A couple weeks ago my back got hurt again. For two days I had to work (remotely) in child’s pose. On the third day, the pain was starting to ease on its own, and it finally occurred to me to rub turmeric oil on the injured spot. The turmeric oil knocked the remaining pain out, and on the fourth day I was much better. I kept at it for several days afterwards, until I felt complete relief.

Now every body is different, so I’m not guaranteeing your results. I’m not a doctor either, so take my recommendation with a grain of salt. I know my stuff about firsthand natural healing, but I’m in no position to be regarded as an expert for you.

But if you go the natural route and you’ve tried just about everything, give turmeric oil a shot!

What have you tried for natural pain relief? What works for you? Let me know–I’m always looking for solutions.

Top image by Flickr user Steven Jackson

Posted in Natural healing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What’s at the End of Your Nose? [Book Review]


Sidney Snail is sick of his boring surroundings. He can’t wait to leave Slipperyville behind.

In this delightful children’s book by Becky Benishek, a young snail is about to set off to see the world, until a sage friend advises him to take a look at what’s right before his eyes.

Reluctantly, Sidney considers Old Samuel Snail’s advice. “He found a thick leaf next to the shore and halfheartedly pushed himself out onto the river.”

It’s on this jaunt down the river that Sidney discovers more fun, adventure, and new friends than he ever imagined.


His journey awakens his sense of delight. I won’t tell you all the fun things he does, but I will say that when he swings through the air on a cherry stem, I wished I was in his shell.

Kids will too. If you’re looking for a book that shows kids why life is never really boring, and how beautiful fruits, leaves, and droplets of dew are, this is it. Becky’s writing will fill kids not only with a passion for nature, but a love for language too. And as illustrations by Kelly Cline enchant the eye, kids can even enter the story more deeply by coloring the pictures in.

A satisfying story, What’s at the End of Your Nose? leaves readers clamoring for more. Fortunately for us, Becky and Kelly have collaborated on a second title: Dr. Guinea Pig George.

Posted in Art, Books, Reviews, Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Today’s a Good Day for Art


By some kind synchronicity, I started my work day today by running across three (so far) astounding works of art.

All this Twitter account does is tweet art, and today they shared this:


Ron Hicks is a contemporary master.

Next, I went to Facebook, where my friend MJ shared this Rilke quote with this painting by Spanish artist Luis Ricardo Falero.

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are only princesses who are waiting to see us act just once with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything terrible is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that needs our love.” — Rainer Maria Rilke


And then, knowing me possibly too well, YouTube suggested I listen to “In the Mood for Love” by Shigeru Umebayashi.

This is an hour-long loop that will fuel the next 60 minutes of my creative efforts. Unless I right-click the player and choose “Loop,” in which case this will enchant my ears until perhaps 5:00.

Top image: Lounging at the Louvre, 2010 EH

Posted in Art, Music, Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

12 Original Cover Songs


Original cover songs?


There are two kinds of cover songs.

In the summertime in the office plaza where I work, there’s a company that throws an annual bash for its staff.

It always looks pretty sweet. There’s beer and soda nestled in tubs of crushed ice under the hot beautiful sun, and there are two long rows of glorious food. You can smell the burgers, and almost taste the luscious salt of the potato chips, and everyone’s kind of lit. So it looks fun.

But it sounds like hell. There’s always some anemic cover band doing trite renditions of Beatles songs and hits from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Now I totally get nostalgia for classic hits.

But when you have some soulless interpretation done by dudes taking their staleness seriously seriously, I cringe. It embarrasses me. I hightail it past the bandstand, wishing it wasn’t horrifically shitty to cover my ears or throw tomatoes.

Those are bad cover songs.

Original cover songs are a different beast. They’re the ones that are played by talented musicians who take the songs in a new direction that’s super original.

Here are a few.

Cigarettes After Sex: Keep on Loving You (REO Speedwagon)

I never liked the original much. REO Speedwagon was always cheesy to me. (Though I have a fond memory of drinking an Oreo Speedwagon at TGI Friday’s once as a child. I think I liked it so much because a) it was a shake with cookies in it and b) I was proud that I recognized the name as a pun.)

What makes this an original cover is that it’s really nothing like the original-original. It’s moody and atmospheric. It sounds more like Low and Mazzy Star than REO Speedwagon. At the same time, the sound is completely unique to Cigarettes After Sex. For one, the vocalist sings like a chick. But he’s actually a dude, with a throaty voice like a sultry chanteuse. I find it fascinating to enjoy familiar lyrics and rhythms in this entirely new way. It’s like they took seeds from a spindly tree and grew an oak.

Here’s REO Speedwagon’s original.

The Black Angels: I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges)

This is where The Black Angels take a song that fucking rocks and fucking rock it. Like they do. What I find original here is the understatement. The restraint. It’s not constrained, but it’s kind of chilled out. While fucking rocking, as I mentioned.

One of the commenters on this video calls this restraint “hipster disinterest,” which is a phenomenon that I agree certainly exists. But not here. I think this is “we’re stoned, it’s the end of the night, but we’re fucking bringing it.” Christian Bland is milking the hell out of those screaming pedal sounds. And there are, I believe, at least four percussionists at work, including the kickass chick drummer. (See 5:15.) What a spirit of union and harmony. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Here’s The Stooges’ stupendous original.

The Concretes: Miss You (The Rolling Stones)

This one combines moodiness with understatement. It says “I drink alone,” but not in a George Thorogood way. In an aching lovesick way.

Here’s The Rolling Stones’ original. And my favorite special disco version. Plus this seductive edit.

Spacemen 3: Rollercoaster (13th Floor Elevators)

There are a million versions of this cover from S3’s studio albums and their live recordings. They are all spectacular. This one is especially thick with delicious distortion.

Here’s the 13th Floor Elevators’ original. The footage of exotic dancers Janik and Arnaut is also astounding.

Cat Power: Werewolf (Michael Hurley)

Back to moody. The first time I heard this sultry tune was in Almodovar’s Broken Embraces. It was like a siren song.

Here’s Michael Hurley’s splendid original.

Espers: Black Is the Color (Nina Simone)

I got super into Michael Hurley after hearing that Cat Power cover. From there, I ran into Espers, who covered Michael Hurley’s Blue Mountain [Espers | Hurley] on The Weed Tree, their album of mostly covers.

On that album is a glorious version of Blue Oyster Cult’s Flaming Telepaths, as well as this stunning rendition of Nina Simone’s Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair. Meg Baird’s voice is glorious, and they seriously play this violin as if it were my heart. I used to sing this song to my cat The Captain, who had black hair.

Here’s Nina Simone’s original (which the Espers cover sounds nothing like).

Darkside: Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath)

I’m a big fan of the Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington duo. They do these understated tunes of sweet, teasing funk with awesome beats like Heart, A1, and Paper Trails, and then they tuck in this Black Sabbath cover. Instrumentally it’s vastly different from the source material, but it evokes a similar mood.

Here’s the Black Sabbath …. I think I’m gonna call it a masterpiece.

His Name Is Alive: Man on the Silver Mountain (Rainbow)

Speaking of Black Sabbath, I remember playing this song early one morning in the prep kitchen at the Big Boy I worked at, and this awesome metalhead named Tom was like “What’s this church music? This is a Dio song!”

It’s one of those covers that essentially just borrows the lyrics of an existing song, and almost completely rearranges the music.

The HNIA album this is from, Home Is in Your Head, isn’t to everyone’s taste. It’s ethereal, sure, and it is weird as fuck. I later had a friend who saw it in a record shop filed under Christian music. But to me there are few albums more gothy. This album was strange, wonderful, and one of the most formative in my adolescence.

Note: If you’re interested in the album as I knew it in 1992, you need the Home Is in Your Head LP as well as The Dirt Eaters EP. They were released together in the US, and flow as a pair like a river.

Here’s the Rainbow original.

Radiohead and Sparklehorse: Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)

I’m not a huge Radiohead fan. I like some of the songs of theirs that I’ve heard. Most of the others I think are wanky. But this cover of Wish You Were Here I think is lovely. It’s different, especially with the piano, but it captures the melancholy of one of my favorite songs.

Catherine Wheel’s cover is good too–I like the harmonica.

Here’s the Pink Floyd original. I’ve always loved how it builds.

Galaxie 500: Ceremony (Joy Division/New Order)

A lot of YouTube comments are either trollish or stupid, but I think there’s something to this one:

“I like this version. It sounds exactly like being some kids from some lame American town that listen to Joy Division. It is an emotional snapshot of those kids just fucking around, living, and not being very depressed right now because the sun is shining and it’s summer.”

I don’t think Galaxie 500 were from a lame town, but I know what the guy means, and I agree with the emotional snapshot.

Plus the musicianship in this is solid.

Here’s the Joy Division original and the glorious New Order version.

Debussy: Gymnopedie No. 3 (Satie)

Eight years after Erik Satie published his trio of bittersweet Gymnopedies for the piano, Debussy covered Nos. 1 and 3 with full orchestrations of astounding beauty. According to Wikipedia, “By the end of 1896, Satie’s popularity and financial situation were ebbing. Claude Debussy, whose popularity was rising at the time, helped draw public attention to the work of his friend.”

That’s so nice!

I love both versions, but the wind instrument in this one draws you in like warm water. And the strings are a heart-rich melancholy.

Here’s Daniel Varsano playing Satie’s soothing, strange, pensive piano original.

Also I just came across this clarinet and harp rendition of Satie’s Gnossienne No. 1. I also like this extra peaceful version of No. 1 from the Kompakt label.

Slowdive: Some Velvet Morning (Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra)

Such a sumptuous bassline to this version. The approach is the same as the Lee and Nancy psychedelic duet: call and response. But Slowdive bring their shoegaze wall of sound.

Here’s the Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra original.

In searching for the Slowdive cover, I came across this, which is an interesting site: SecondHandSongs.

Follow me on YouTube and check out my playlists.

What are your favorite covers?

Image: Abbey Road, found here. I superimposed the dudes from this fine video onto it.

Posted in Music, Writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

3 Weird Things You Rocked in the 80s If Your Parents Were Hippies

Having a hippie parent in the 80s meant one or more things: 

  • You grew up with a massive love of music.
  • Adults drank and smoked around you a lot.
  • You had loads of fun with other kids while your parents were partying.
  • You were fed on whole wheat bread and natural peanut butter.
  • You had no shortage of peasant blouses and patched Levis at your disposal.
  • When you needed a pipe as a teen, there one was for the taking in your parent(s)’ bedside table drawer.

In a nutshell, your parents were open to you doing and wearing weird shit.

Here are 3 weird things you might have rocked if your parents were hippies and open to weird shit.

1. An Inner Circle album. In first grade, you took an Inner Circle album to school for show and tell. You loved one song in particular, without knowing what it was about. You just thought it was catchy and fun to dance to.

Your teacher’s ears might have started to raise a flag at the words “Colombian red.”

But once the chorus came…

“Smokin, smokin, smokin is good for the brain . . . I don’t want no more of that there cocaine”

… she probably turned the record off and sent you home with a note of concern.

2. A Wham! Choose Life shirt. Someone gave you a Choose Life shirt cuz it was a big thing cuz it featured prominently in the Wake Me Up Before You Go Go video.


You didn’t know that your grandma would interpret this as an 8-year-old making an anti-abortion statement.

So your grandma said to your mom, “How can you let that child run around in a big weird pro-life T-shirt?”

And your mom said to your grandma, “Oh, it’s just a big baggy T-shirt. It’s the 80s. Everyone’s wearing big baggy T-shirts.”

See, your grandma was a wise woman, and your mom was wise too. She knew this was just a thing in the 80s, and she was relaxed. Someone gave you this shirt, and she let you go with the flow.

Plus, its meaning was probably more akin to Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

Only it was less goofy.

And the next weekend, your mom took you to a pro-choice rally.

3. A smiley face T-shirt with a bullet hole on the forehead. The same hippie who gave you the Choose Life shirt gave you this wearable mockery of the smiley face. This was a big thing cuz Slash rocked one.

You wore it to gym class in 7th grade, not realizing it was offensive, and they sent you home for the day.

You were 12 now, but it was a lot like when you were six and singing “smokin smokin smokin is good for the brain…”

There were pros and cons to growing up with this kind of parental leniency, but mostly you’re grateful because you like who you are as a result of being raised by weirdos.

Posted in Music, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Top 5 Sexiest Sax Songs

saxThe saxophone has the power to be sexy as hell or cheesy AF.

I think the sax players of the 50s had the best balance.

This Donnie Elbert classic embodies that. Listen to the way the sax luxuriates at 1:35:

The innocence of these teens is quite a contrast from the dirtiness of the sax:

Sil Austin and His Orchestra do a sultry Summertime:

I’ve wanted to go to Prague since I was 12 years old because of this song. INXS was the first band I went to see live. I had, in fact, a red-and-white Kick tour shirt that I wore with red shorts and a red headband. My hair was long and I had a light perm that made me think I was Michael Hutchence’s soul twin. The way Kirk Pengilly wails on the sax at 2:40 after a slight taunting delay is delicious. There’s a YouTube user who puts it like this: “That sax solo makes the paint on my walls melt.” You mean the skin on your loins?

George’s feet had got good rhythm. ❤

That’s 5, but I could go on forever.

Here are a couple more:

This one isn’t slinky sexy per se. But if wailing on a good sax in general is sexy, then this is sexy. 2:45 is where it all comes to a head as if Ravel and Jay Spaceman had cowritten this song.

What am I forgetting? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Art, Music, Writing | Tagged | 6 Comments

Today I Did Something Crazy Because I’m Sane

Today I dove into a lake whose depth I don’t know.

I do know that it’s not the shallow (100 meter) depth of Lake Titicaca, whose name tickled me as a child when my mom told me stories about her travels in Bolivia.

I do not know if it’s as deep as Russia’s Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake. (Being an estimated 5,387 feet in depth, I believe Baikal is a mile deep.)

The depth of the lake I’m treading is as yet unplumbed.

What I did is I quit my job.

Over my [huge benefit of having had an office job] extended paid holiday weekends, I decided to finally do it.

You will think that my job must have sucked. You will think that it must be like the job I had during the summer when I was 14, where I worked at a boiling-hot dry cleaning place that reeked of chemicals and had weird people in their 30s working there who invited me to go see Richard Marx with them.

Richard Marx.

You will think that when I quit my job today that it was like when I quit the dry cleaner’s.

I still remember being in the backseat of Farmer Dan’s Chevy Blazer, barreling down Oakland Avenue at 65 mph and stoned AF, Dan yelling over the wind, “Should I stop here?” and Kelly and Matt echoing my feeling that “The place is fucking lame”….but me being undecided about whether Dan should pull over and let me out for my 2:00 shift……until I yelled “Fuck it–go–drive!” and we barreled past the dry cleaning place, further down Oakland Avenue at 75 mph, and peeled over to Farmer Dan’s to smoke a bong.

Today I was sort of in a weird state of mind, but I haven’t smoked weed in years.

So it’s not like that.

And this will shock you:

My job didn’t suck at all.

Not one bit.

In fact, throughout my 7 years at what is a fantastic company doing serious good for more than 10 million people and counting, I have had some of the most fun, enjoyed hands-down the most professional growth, and reaped unlimited opportunities to work on and drive some of the coolest shit I’ve ever done in my life.

I am deeply proud of what we do (I’m still there for a couple weeks, and I’ll still be consulting for them), how we do it, and the people I work with.

Today also happens to fall during the week that we published one of my favorite long-form content pieces and two of the eBooks I’m most proud of.

I love working on big, spectacular, awesome, helpful projects, so you can imagine …

It was not an easy decision to leave.

It was a long, confusing, stressful, certain-and-then-not-at-all, painful decision to leave.

Because I love my job.

So why did I leave?

For the last 3+ years, the quality of my life has been shit.

For one, I’ve had a grievous physical ailment.

For another, my mother, who I told you used to regale me when I was growing up with stories of her journeys in South America, has had dementia for nine years.

NINE years. I say that like the principal in Ferris Bueller.


Except it’s nine YEARS.

Over the last three, I have had to move her three times–through I can’t tell you how many catch-22s, how many heartbreaking tragedies, and how many downs and downs and downs.

Coordinating every detail–packing every box–groping for every resource–dealing with every crisis–making every confusing decision in a sea of shitty choices–handling blame, guilt, grief, confusion, helplessness, you name it–all while giving my all to a job that fortunately I loved.

But day after day I had to drag my carcass around to get to work, where I could only work.

Many people don’t know this, but I couldn’t fully engage or animate because I was only barely alive.

This all resulted in me ending a 20-year romantic partnership something like two years ago. (There has been one strain after another after another for so long these last years that I’m not even clear on the timing of the dissolution.)

The dissolution was ultimately good for both of us and I knew it at the time, but the parting was painful. The complete antithesis of our two decades together.

One of the things that spawned that was that I had lost joy–and the ability to imagine, to bounce back, to do anything beyond basic survival, to have any vision that things could ever get better, to even remember that things were ever OK.

It was a living hell for a long time.

But last summer, I finally started to heal.

Enough suffering had elapsed, I suppose, that the universe deemed it fitting to let up.

And since we worked remotely on Fridays, I had a little more time to heal.

That’s when I had the space to discover what I need.

On long, late walks on hot summer nights three times a week, I rediscovered the healing space of time.

And I rediscovered the wonder of discovery, as I took in every detail: the majesty of oak trees twice the height of houses, the marvel of a mini garden with tiny lamps like fairies’ lanterns, the luscious feel of balmy night air on my skin, my new requirement that every doorway on earth should be arched.

These walks gave me a taste of what I need.


So for months I wrestled with what to do.

How do I make money?

How do I give up a job I love?

It was impossible to imagine that there was actually any other job out there for me.

But I needed to work remotely–all year, and more than one day.

So I searched.

And over the holidays I enjoyed more of what I’d learned during the summer.

The importance to me right now of space and time.

And my God, did I feel well.

It was glorious.

To not get home at 7 p.m. and think, “I’m so tired, and I only have 12 hours before I have to be up again. But first I have to make dinner. Then I have to clean up. Then I have to make lunch. Then I have to shovel the snow, take the garbage out, finish my laundry, get gas tonight because we have an early meeting tomorrow, deal with the mail, call the care place back, all while the cat is screaming at an ear-peeling, nerve-shattering pitch, everyone in my life is ignored because I have no energy to live or speak or do anything but work and cry, and before I know it it will be past time for bed–with no opportunity to unwind or write or meditate or thoroughly decompress or do anything that I really, really enjoy.”

So over my long holiday weekends I had time to rest and not have to give a fuck about what time it was. To not have to be anywhere, to not have to skip breakfast or fly out the door, 94% dead, late as always–but to read and learn and write travelogues and meditate and walk and exercise and heal.

Even my cat was quiet. All he did was sleep, and occasionally step out to explore.

So when we all came back for the new year (all of us “office professionals,” a group I considered fortunate when I worked in the service industry, in which one works on holidays)…I knew I was ready for the change that I’ve been ready for for a long time but was only recently ready ready for for real.

So today I jumped into the lake of returning to freelancing.

I have an idea of its depth because I’ve treaded it before.

But I got out of its murky uncertainty as soon as I could–as soon as I landed the dream job that, Holy Fucking Shit, I just gave up.

So it’s frightening.

But after much thought, I’m gambling that it’s worth it.

Because day after day of sure, doing what I love, but on the wrong schedule for my soul, is not living.

And it’s like this:

I am a writer because words flow from my brain, into my fingertips, and out into any medium possible. I am a writer because words are my life. My career is a chosen one, but I chose it because there was no other choice. Ever since I could fashion the shapes of letters with a pencil, I have been compelled to express myself through composition.

I’m also a writer for another very important reason:

I have a meditative mind.

My lulling, creative mind needs fluidity to be, and to feel at ease.




Add to that my body’s need to heal from the hell of being a premature caregiver–trying to be a good one and never feeling good at or about it–for nine years.

Add to that my soul’s need to travel and be in and experience the world and all its many majestic glories.

Remember–my mom raised me on stories of what she described as the fairyland of the Andes.

So there’s nurture.

I also have a Sagittarius moon, if you want to know about my nature from an astrological perspective. Plus it’s in Neptune.

And with all that, I’m a writer because you can be a writer anywhere.

You always could, from the dawn of hieroglyphs and papyrus, back through the time of runes and stones, and into the age of charcoal and cave walls. (If pictographs are writing, which they are.)

I have a deep soul need to get out and see the world again. The writing in the pyramids, the stories in the Chauvet Cave.

And I have a deep soul need to write about what I’m compelled to write about. To get back to The House on the Lake. To fix its first chapter, and then finish the rest.

I just turned 40 for fuck’s sake.

Time keeps on tickin’ tickin’ tickin’.

Now I know the lake could be the ocean, 36,000 feet deep (6.8 miles).

Treading it will not be easy, whatever its depth.

It will be nothing like my long holiday weekends.

And I will still lack time, because as long as we bind ourselves to its illusion, time will always be a problem.

But I should have a bit more of it.

Certainly more space, working from wherever there’s wifi and a great cathedral or temple nearby.

It’s like when I went hang gliding and took a look at what I was suspended by:

Literal threads.


That struck me as no more dangerous than anything in life.

Because life–it ultimately kills you no matter what.

Which brings me back to Bueller.

I think I might have read this question at some point in a Medium post about working remotely. If not, then I take credit for this ponder:

Did you ever notice that this is one motivational quote they do not plaster in offices?


Wish me luck.

I wish you the best too.

Especially if you’re a beloved and esteemed work chum from my greatest job ever.

So far.

Posted in Content writing, Editing, Travel, Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

What Do the Mona Lisa and Mount Rushmore Have in Common? 


A friend sent me this image, which I love. I’ve never seen the show, but I like how this illustrates modern vs. classical, and the intrigue of secrets.

It reminded me of my first trip to the Louvre, the grand palace of art that could take you years to explore.

Before I even got to the collections, I spent hours strolling around the foundation of the building itself. I enjoyed walking over the medieval moat, beside the grand tower that protected Paris starting around 1190.

There is something about stone from the middle ages that nourishes my soul.

From there, I eventually made my way up to the paintings and really took my time with the works that I liked the most, largely from the Renaissance, when proportion started to enter the picture.

Going as slowly as this, I didn’t get very far before the museum closed.

The next day I went back and retraced my steps. I was compelled to visit the foundation again.

Then I ended up further on in the Renaissance than I’d been the day before.

An enormous crowd was gathered before a tiny work. People were pushing past each other and squeezing in between each other, pressing toward the painting.

It was as if it were the only piece of art in the entire place.

I was repelled.

I despise crowds–not on the Metro, where it’s natural for people to cram together at busy times on busy lines–but I deplore crowds when they converge for the sake of checking off a box on the itinerary.

A few years later, I was back in Paris with a case of extreme jet lag. We went to the Louvre to sit before the statues and sort of melt off our strungoutness.

This was a more off-season time of year, and it was a weekday, and it was lunchtime.

So Mona Lisa was on her own.

She is glorious–don’t get me wrong. She’s very much alive. Her background is cool too, and I love the symbolism, and her history.


One thing that’s interesting is that she’s actually quite small.

While she herself is luminous, her renown reminded us in a way of Mount Rushmore.

Years before, we’d taken a series of road trips. Along the way on our second journey we camped in the Badlands in South Dakota and caved in to Wall Drug and explored Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, and since we were hitting just about every stop that exists in the Western US, we figured we’d visit Mount Rushmore too.

On the way there, we’d cruised hundreds of miles of open road and sometimes endless eons of seeing no more than two other cars.

Now hundreds of cars, trucks, SUVs, campers, motorcycles, and RVs had converged to honk and inch up the road toward the monument.

We could see the carving from the road, which was surprisingly small and frankly underwhelming.

It was even a bit pompous, bombastic, and almost kind of sad.

So we blazed past, doing what we called a drive-by, and have never regretted it.

After a week or two in the majestic Big Horns of Wyoming, one friend and I parted from our significant others and continued on to Flagstaff, AZ.

Along the way and during our stay we kept up the momentum and the joy of hitting practically every place of interest there is west of the Mississippi: parts of the Rocky Mountain National Park, White Sands, the Four Corners, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, Hoover Dam, Lowell Observatory, a place called Tuba City that looks like the moon if its sands were blue, Monument Valley, Meteor Crater, Oak Creek Canyon, Mesa Verde, Verde Valley, Route 66, Jerome, the Museum of Northern Arizona, Coconino National Forest, Little Colorado River Gorge, etc.

We covered nearly every tourist trap and every authentically interesting place possible, but we’d missed one little thing.

So on our way back to Wisconsin we made the stop. We figured it wouldn’t be so grand, and that we’d just do a drive-by.

Sure enough, we drove into the park and it sort of looked just like general Northern Arizona: arid and rocky and dotted with pinyon pines.

We said, “This is the Grand Canyon? Meh.”

And then we stepped to the edge and looked down and said, “Holy fucking shit.”


Posted in Travel, Writing | 1 Comment

My 4 Favorite Songs From Truffaut Films


I was just thinking about framboise the drink and how some people say fram-BWA, but it’s fram-bwa-za.

From there, I thought of Boby Lapointe’s cameo in Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player.

Boby Lapointe – Framboise – Shoot the Piano Player

The format of this clip sucks, but this is actually better than the letterbox clip on YT because the sound is fuller and it gives a bit more story context.

In fact, this clip begins and ends in the same places where I began and ended the song on a tape I made years ago of my favorite songs from Truffaut films. So that got me thinking about my other favorite Truffaut film songs. I know the next two exist on YouTube, but I’m really hoping that my super favorite exists on YouTube too. It didn’t used to. So we’ll see.

Jeanne Moreau – Le Tourbillon – Jules et Jim

This is the first Truffaut film I knowingly watched. I remember requesting it from the library because I started getting super into Truffaut after viewing what turned out to be his Farenheit 451.

It was love ever after for me with Truffaut, especially once I saw this warm scene of musical accord.

Alain Souchon- L’Amour en Fuite – L’Amour en Fuite

The last in the Antoine Doinel series, L’Amour en Fuite is a bittersweet finale that seals my fondness for the character that Jean-Pierre Léaud played on and off from childhood in 1959 to adulthood in 1979. This catchy pop tune theme always makes me happy with its “dooo DO do do do do do.”

(All these songs, by the way, are good for singing along with if your French is shit and you need to practice.)

Maurice Jaubert – ? – L’Histoire d’Adele H

This song is so hard to find. And I don’t know what it’s called. But I’m thrilled that I managed to dig it up. It should autoplay below at 3:20. It runs to about 6:16.

The soul-piercing composition is coupled with what has to be one of the best edited sequences in all of cinema.

Listen to the gentle creep of the intro as the camera inches toward poor Adele, daughter of Victor Hugo, crazed with obsession, praying before an altar she has devoted to a man who doesn’t love her. Watch as the emotion of the song builds and the camera penetrates her enormous eyes. Savor the masterful editing as the camera and the clarinet (?) zoom in on the proud captain in tandem. It’s all interrupted for a minute by Adele’s desperate ramblings, and then the crescendo rises with the rage of the sea.

And! Starting around 5:23, do you hear that bass that’s like a slowed Under Pressure?

[Totally Unrelated] The Night of the Hunter

To conclude, this clip has nothing to do with Truffaut.

But like Truffaut’s films, The Night of the Hunter convinces me that a mark of a great film is the inclusion of a great song. Listen to Pearl’s tune about the pretty fly.

And talk about one of the best sequences in all of cinema. With The Night of the Hunter, Charles Laughton created the greatest Huck Finn film that was never made.

In fact, although Hunter has nothing to do with Truffaut, Truffaut did review it in his film criticism days. He wrote: “It makes us fall in love again with an experimental cinema that truly experiments, and a cinema of discovery that, in fact, discovers.”

Which is what Truffaut himself went on to do as a director, and a chooser of music.

Posted in Art, Movies, Music, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

7 Hammond Organ Songs That Are Spectacular If You Like the Hammond Organ and Songs


I think of the Hammond organ as the Whiter Shade of Pale organ. When its sound grabs me in other songs, I say that I like their use of the Whiter Shade of Pale organ.

Of course, the Hammond organ goes back to something like 1934, a little while before A Whiter Shade of Pale.

Here are some of my favorite Hammond organ songs that span a few decades.

A Whiter Shade of Pale – Procul Harum

I wasn’t alive in 1967, but I think this song struck me for the first time in 1989 when I saw New York Stories with my mom.

Spider – White Snake

This one’s good for emotional detoxing.

And if you’re interested in instruments (of which I know nothing), I’m not positive, but I think this technician is the David Morrin who’s credited with keys on Spider’s album.

Toussaint McCall – Nothing Takes the Place of You

I’m eternally grateful to my friend Becky for turning me on to this song during a Hammond discussion.

Booker T and the MGs – Fuquawi

Booker T’s famous for his Hammond playing, and this jam bares his talents as much as Green Onions and Homegrown.

Toussaint McCall – Shimmy

Booker T and Toussaint: Dueling Hammonds. Becky recommends the B-side to Nothing Takes the Place of You:

The Charlatans – Come in Number 21

This was part of the soundtrack to my first trip to England.

The Zombies – Time of the Season

All my life, anytime I’ve heard the first nanosecond of the opening bass line of this song, I’ve lost my mind with joy. What I love is the bass, and the “ahh,” and the vocals … and the organ is pretty groovy too.

Other Awesome Organs

I’m on Fire – Bruce Springsteen

The first and most prominent sound in this spectacular song could sort of be a Hammond B-3 but is, well, not a Hammond B-3.

Simon Dupree and the Big Sound – Kites

This does not, my research indicates, involve a Hammond, but rather a Mellotron. Still, I felt like including this one because it’s so completely weird and I love it.


Here’s a pretty interesting Spotify playlist of Hammond organ songs, created by The Guardian.

Top image: I think it’s a Hammond organ. By Flickr user David DeHetre.

Posted in Art, Music, Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment