Reverse the decision to hold school in the ICCSD on MLK Day. Sign this petition.

Reverse the decision to hold school in the ICCSD on MLK Day. Sign this petition..


Something for everyone. Let the griping begin?

Something for everyone. Let the griping begin?.


Arts in Boston schools works wonders


Tellme, how are we not doing something like this in a community with a heritage as rich as ours. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop has produced 28 Pulitzer Prize winners. Iowa City is the only UNESCO city of literature in north america, and one of only five world wide.

We can do it, people, but we have to want to do it first. That takes a movement. Let’s start one, yes?


Sad Iron Press

It’s been almost a year since I published my novel. Writing it, living with it, and getting it out into the world was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I worked on it for 8 years. Suffice it to say that when it finally did see the light of day, I was very proud, very excited and I thought that those feeling would carry over to my family as well, at least on some level.

On one hand, I knew there was some stuff in the book that would land pretty close to home for those who were a part of my life. It is an autobiographical novel of many levels, but it is ultimately fiction. I did think about writing a memoir and I did have others suggest that I do that, but when I thought about doing that, when I tried to do it, I found the…

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TOTD: Dinosaur jr.-Freak Scene

Something about Dino jr. always relaxes me.


Follow-up: New tattoo

Haven’t gotten a new tattoo in more than 10 years. Image


Fashion dos and don’ts for the contientious rocker

List of efficacious rock n roll stage attire

This is an exhaustive list of attire permissible to be worn by the participants of a rock n roll show in all of its various permutations. Straying from these guidelines is possible, but not advised unless you have achieved “Master” status. Only you will know when that status has been achieved.

Leg wear:

  1. Jeans:


    Blue or black, perhaps other colors, but never green, never acid washed or otherwise artificially distressed. No relaxed fit. Tightness to taste, but be mindful that dozens of people might be looking at you and take their mental health into account. Also, if you have a flat butt, avoid flashing the crowd your plumbers crack by never bending down for anything. Keep picks on the mic stand or amp. Learn to adjust pedals with the tip of your shoe.

  2. Corduroys are OK, pending aforementioned no green rule, (although with cords, anything is possible).
  3. Slacks: Well, this is a tough one and case-based. If you have a cool pair of suit pants and that works for you, then ok, but stick with dark colors, pinstriped if patterned at all. Pinstripes are thinning and you can never be too thin to rock.

Torso garb

  1. T-shirts: There’s a lot of leeway here. Use discretion. Tightness rules applied to jeans apply here, but some like a little gut peeking out. With T-shirts, it’s kind of a if you can rock it, then rock it. Anything can be ironic and we all know that irony is the height of comedy.
  2. Blazers: The top consideration here is enough room through the shoulder. If you can’t cross your arms in front of you, then reconsider the blazer. Nothing sucks worse than restricted motion on stage. Also, be aware that blazers are heavy and therefor, hot; they may not be appropriate for all styles of rock.
  3. Button shirts of most any derivation. You have carte blanche here, but be wary of patterns and materials. If a 50-year-old man would wear it to work in his insurance office or on a vacation, beware.
  4. Jackets: Leather, denim are permissible. Satin jackets are not, unless you’re applying the aforementioned irony “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Members-Only also falls into the irony category, but not as egregiously. Warm-up jackets are permissible, but perhaps genre-determined. You must also consider possible damage that could be caused by jackets. If you don’t play an instrument and you’re in a band that means you’re a dedicated lead singer and you have other, more pressing problems.
  5. Belts. Again, anything short of rope is fair game, but be careful about instrument damage, unless you’re from Texas. Then all bets are off.


Headwear is usually dependent on fluctuating fads than other pieces of clothing. As a general rule, I say no to headwear, but extenuation circumstances such as male pattern baldness tend to make headwear preferable. Depending on genre, cowboy hats may be permissible, but never leather. Please see the list of “Don’ts” for a full list of head wear to avoid.


Another tough one. In some genres of music, jewelry is very important (various stripes of metal, for example). For others, jewelry can become a identifier (Ringo Starr’s rings, Flavor Flav’s clock necklace). If you decide to wear jewelry on stage, you have to own it. If you can pull it off, then go for it, but I advise against earrings in this day and age unless you’re a pirate.


  1. Sneakers: Generally, yes. There’s one caveat: absolutely no white leather cross trainers or running shoes. Nothings says “My Mom Bought These for Me” or “I’m really a 46-year-old accountant” than white leather sneakers. Stick with the classics: Chuck Taylors, Vans, Puma, Adidas and similar and you’ll be safe. Avoid running shoes that look too expensive or over designed and basketball shoes other than Chucks.
  2. Leather: Doc Martins of any style and other makers that approximate any of these styles. Cowboy boots are also OK, but beware intricate patterns or colors other than black or brown unless there’s a “Jr.” at the end of your name. Beware of suede shoes. These have gone in and out of fashion over the years, particularly the Wallaby design. Unless you’re 100% sure this is the material for you, avoid suede. Also, suede doesn’t take beer and other liquids spilled on it very well and if you have a can of Scotchguard in your home, there’s no way you can be a rocker anyway.

Those are absolutely the ONLY types of footwear allowed onstage at a rock show.


You can accessorize as desired. Scarves, bandanas, wristbands have all shown rock n roll efficacy, but avoid headbands unless you’re Keith Moon. And you’re not.


If you’re lucky enough to have it, wear it how you like, but no mullets, no pony tails, no highlights.

Clothing that offends the rock gods:

Under no circumstance should any of following articles of clothing be worn on a stage for any reason. There is no bend to these rules. Break them at your own peril. If you are in fact a moonlighting 46-year-old accountant or your mother still buys all your clothes, you have my sympathies, but I hate you because you probably have better gear than me.

No Shorts, especially no jean shorts (aka, jorts). This is about respect. People came to hear you play music. You are not delivering pizza or working a summer job at a second-rate theme park. Put n pants and suck it up.

No overalls. If you’re not performing on an episode of Hee Haw (and you’re not) or just in from detassling corn, you have no reason to be wearing overalls. Yes, they are comfortable, but again, suck it up and have some respect.

No khakis. The rock stage is not your job as a legal proofreader. Take off those ill-fitting symbols of servitude.

No cargo pants. You don’t need ten different pockets to carry stuff.

No sandals. Seriously, look at your feet. Jesus H. Christ. The only time you should wear sandals is in the shower at the YMCA.

No fedoras: We had enough of zoot suits and fedoras with that annoying swing craze of the late 90s. It’s just not time yet.

No porkpie hat/wifebeater T combo: Face it, you’re a 25-year-old from Naperville, IL. You are not the long lost son of an unknown bluesman. That clothing combo just makes you look like an extra in a period film that will never get made.

No trucker baseball hats.  I know, you bought a ton of these in the early 2000s, but get over it. Keep them long enough and maybe they’ll come back around, but my advice it just to burn them in a safe environment away from children and pets to protect them from noxious fumes.

I’m sure I’ve left some stuff out, so be sure to add on.

Coming soon: Instrument dos and don’ts!


Wilco-The Whole Love streaming right now

I have to say that I’ve been pretty unexcited about a new Wilco record for a long time. They really haven’t made a record I loved since A Ghost is Born and that was almost ten years ago. But I have to say, first time through this stream, I’m really into what I hearing. The tunes finally sound energetic and multi-dimensional again. No more angular naval gazing and flat recordings and arrangements. Finally some aural candy that seems to actually fit in the context of the tunes. And now eponymous songs. I may actually buy this one and not download it, listen for a week and get mad at the suck.

Thanks for coming back to me, fellas.

Wanna hear the new Wilco? It’s streaming @ wilcoworld.net.


Rare folk/rock records in the hopper

So I recently “acquired” 37 folk/rock albums. I’d been kinda jonesing for something I’d never heard before, which is kinda a difficult order to fill. I’m going to do my best to go through them all and maybe report on them as I go along.

Right now, I’m listening to Gerry Rafferty’s debut solo record, “Can I Get My Money Back.”    It’s actually kind of a revelation. It’s mostly mid-tempo folk/rock, with a feel similar to Dennis Wilson’s “Pacific Ocean Blue” in places (but better than that record songwise. I’ve never bought into that record.) and The Band, with a little English folk feel thrown in. If you only know Rafferty because he’s the guy who wrote “Stuck in the Middle With You” and you loved that song in Reservoir Dogs, you kinda owe it to yourself to “find” a copy of this record and check it out. It’s strong from start to finish. For those of you who are into that sort of thing, it’s on Spotify.


Nirvana-Nevermind: 20 years ago? Holy Crap!

1991. It was kind of a golden age. Of course, everyone probably thinks of their salad days as golden, but things were amazing in Morgantown, WV in 1991. There were fantastic bands in town of all kinds, a great club where we all played, a couple of fantastic record stores, we’d started our own record label and the compilation we released was actually garnering some recognition. We were young and figuring it all out in a little cocoon that was just the right amounts of dangerous and nurturing.

This is how I remember Nevermind coming into this world: Collectively, we all knew Nirvana. Many of us were members of the SubPop Singles Club (a mail-order subscription to a monthly series of 7 inches), and we’d all heard Bleach. I remember thinking that it was kind of primitive and unformed compared to other SubPop bands like Mudhoney. Like Nirvana was younger and hadn’t yet found their thing. I didn’t really like Bleach all that much.

Then we heard that they signed to a major label. Sacrilege. Heresy. It was agreed upon tacitly that whatever came from this selling out would be terrible, pap, compromised by virtue of how it came to exist. We didn’t know what was about to happen.

Christie Muncie and me in what had to be the summer of '91

Someone, I think it was Christy Muncie, got an advance copy of the record ’cause she worked at the radio station. She seemed to be everywhere in those few weeks before the record came out, playing that cassette over and over. It’s hard to remember exactly when I first heard it. I recall specifically being at a party at the Satan Sister’s house and Christie put it on the boom box. I wanted to hate it. I know others among us did too, but as that music spooled out into the summer night I couldn’t deny that it was something really special. In many ways it was like the perfect version of the music that our generation had been trying to make. I can’t say what others felt, but for me, Nevermind marks the first, and perhaps the only, time in my life where I heard music take a great leap forward into something new, different, that transcended every expectation–for the audience and the artist, I imagine. It became the soundtrack to our lives those few weeks before the rest of the world claimed the album and the band and took them away from us.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter that the rest of the world got to experience Nirvana and that record. At least, not entirely. There was a sense of pride, that they were a part of my extended family and they had done something amazing. On some level I was excited. My life and the lives of a lot of us in Morgantown started to change that summer. We were fringe dwellers for most of my high school and early college years, hated by the popular kids, feared by parents and misunderstood by the town in general. We were “Dry Housers,” a derogatory name taken from the name of the by-then-defunct all-ages club attached to the bigger bar. Post-Nevermind, we went from being harassed by the frat boys to getting paid to play their parties. It wasn’t a bad deal. And we had Nirvana to thank for it. They made us cool.

So now it’s twenty years since Nevermind was released. I find myself melancholic. Not just because I relize I’m twenty years older than I was then and that means that I’m old, but also because of what’s happened to music in those twenty years. It’s hard for me not to think that Nirvana, like Peter Frampton before them, upset a delicate balance in the music industry. At the time, the indie labels and the underground network they were a part of, were a thriving ecosystem that very consciously spurned the “big time.” I desperately wanted to be “big time”, but I understood that that world was playing by its own set of rules and the rules were working. I don’t begrudge Nirvana or anyone else accepting any opportunity placed in front of them. I would have done the same thing and probably not have agonized that much about it, at least not the 19-year-old version of myself. Kurt, Christ and Dave could have never imagined that what happened would have happened. Sometimes that’s just how it is.

But in the end, Nevermind was the beginning of the end for the music industry, or maybe the last nail in the coffin. I remember being around label folks in New York during the mid-90s post-Nevermind glut where it seemed like any band that was half-way decent could at least have a conversation with a couple A&R people. I watched bands like the Old 97s get signed to huge contracts basically from the stage at Brownies. And I’m not saying they didn’t deserve it. But underneath it all, even then, I could sense the desperation. Grunge would run its course. There had to be The Next Big Thing. And if there wasn’t, the money would run out. There was the thought in some industry circles that maybe The Next Big Thing was alt.country. But it wasn’t. The money ran out in spectacular fashion. The record industry couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see the digital age coming. The Next Next Big Thing didn’t materialize and the whole house of cards collapsed.

This was not, I repeat not, Nirvana’s fault. They did their job. They made an undeniably great record that transcended every expectation and spoke to people on levels that can’t be fully explained. They made art. But in the end, art and commerce cannot exist on the same level. Commerce wants predictable outcomes. Art does not. Art will always fail commerce and commerce will suffer terribly for it while art will continue on. Art knows pain. Commerce seeks comfort.

But none of us knew this in the summer of 1991. That summer we were blessed with the opportunity to watch Nirvana and Nevermind soar in to the summer strata. It was glorious to watch them go.

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March 2023