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Apr 29, 05 09:14 AM

The Bunny.

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Some guy named Dustin emailed me a mashup of Jay-Z's "Threats" and Soul C's "Screenwriter." NICE.

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Dan Chen and I are doing production rehearsals this week for the tour; our illustrious and wonderful soundguy/tour manager Chuck has come in from Los Angeles. So fun to tinker around with the songs. And mildly melancholy that we're gearing up for the Farewell to Small Rock run.

Five days 'til Haughty is in the stores. It's exciting, and terrifying--as I keep saying, over and over.

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Posted by Mike at 9:14 AM

Apr 27, 05 10:11 AM

"...that gave us leave to be as we inly are." (Emerson)

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Minneapolis, briefly; reactions; mingle-dom.

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So Haughty Melodic has been clicking with some people out there, and I've been running around doing radio stations and print interviews. I went to Minneapolis on Monday to do a few appearances, and stayed at Dan's; the first time I've been there since we finished the album. I woke up the next morning and instinctively felt like we should be getting to work again, like, Hm, OK, well we can start by trimming the solo on "Looking"--I had to shake myself out of that mindset. Like one of those apocryphal Japanese soldiers, still stranded on Pacific islands decades after the war's end, still believing the war is on.

The nice thing about shilling for this record is that it feels really complete to me; I really like it. I hear it and think: Yep, that's what I meant. Nice feeling.

Reading some reviews out there on the intraweb, and they fall into three categories: 1. It's awesome! 2. It doesn't sound like Soul Coughing! 3. (and this I find the most intriguing) I've been listening to these songs live for ___ years, and I thought this would be different!

It's funny, the last time I heard that reaction was when Soul Coughing put out Ruby Vroom; the crowd that used to go to our gigs in New York, and knew the songs backwards and forwards were disappointed in the album, it didn't live up to their ideal of the songs. For months I felt like they might be right, and we didn't nail it. It was only at a Boston show, at the Middle East, a long time after the record's release, that I heard the whole crowd singing along with "True Dreams" and reconsidered.

I've been playing some of these tunes for five years, a lot longer than Soul Coughing was an unsigned New York band, and I guess it's to be expected. The audience I've had in these past few independant years has been a real gift, and it's unnerving to think that they've developed ideal versions of the tunes in their minds, and they feel I haven't lived up to it.

I know there's an audience out there that haven't experienced these songs yet. Trying to keep my eye on the ball.

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I'm newly single, and it sucks to a big degree. A new loneliness, the loneliness you never expect. I've gotten so used to reporting my life to my girlfriend that things that happen to me don't feel real because I'm not telling her about them.

And I keep flashing on that one billboard in the opening sequence of Futurama: BACHELOR CHOW.

But, I'm mingling. Went to a SuicideGirls party at the Hotel on Rivington, that monstrous/stylish structure they put up in my neighborhood. I'm focussed on my work. Keeping my head down and taking it as it comes.

Posted by Mike at 10:11 AM

Apr 23, 05 12:18 PM

Lin Ze Xu.

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Jury duty is over now. Every day I walked from my place on the L.E.S. to the court building on Centre Street, passing through Chinatown; on Chatham Square there's a statue of an imposing Chinese man in a conical hat, formal robe, and a sort of Van Dyke beard, with the inscription:

LIN ZE XU
1785 - 1850
Pioneer in the War Against Drugs

Yesterday, there was a scruffy junkie couple canoodling on the benches just below the statue. In general, the heroin seems to have gotten really strong in that vicinity; I keep seeing junkies on the sidewalk, stopped dead in their tracks, nodded out while standing up.

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Posted by Mike at 12:18 PM

Apr 21, 05 07:56 AM

He said Let's Go, and they went, with Technicolor haloes of the usual around them. And why? Because: they come from a star, live by its light, and burn with it here in the darkness outside the department store. (Alan Dugan)

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Some rough events in my personal life, and I'm kind of reeling. Consoling myself with the Spring warmth, and the soothing sounds of Handsome Dan Chen. Not to mention Shanghainese soup dumplings.

Posted by Mike at 7:56 AM

Apr 19, 05 10:25 AM

Death of The Biscuit.

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I do believe my iPod has shuffled off this mortal coil. It made a whining, buzzing sound from the depths of my murse/man-sack, and now there's a graphic with an empty folder and an exclamation point where my songs used to be.

I named my iPod "The Biscuit." Au revoir, The Biscuit.

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Posted by Mike at 10:25 AM

Apr 18, 05 08:05 AM

I Once Overheard Don Byron Say: "Man, I Can't Get With That Yeedle-Deedle-Deedle Shit."

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I looked myself up on iTunes and found there's another artist with my last name, Francis Doughty, whose album contains tunes such as "Hermit Thrush" and "Gandalf's Guitar Garden."

Posted by Mike at 8:05 AM

Apr 17, 05 05:24 PM

Diversity.

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Three boys walking down E. 14th Street on this spectacular Spring day:

Boy number one: "White girls are getting sexy now."
Boy number two: "You know, I was noticing that."
Boy number three (exasperated): "I told you that. The other day."

Posted by Mike at 5:24 PM

Apr 15, 05 08:49 AM

I Administer Justice, and then Break for Roast Pork Buns.

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This jury duty is generating material like a mofe. After every case I scribble like a madman--cops, jurors, cases, attorneys, circumstances. I've filled up half a notebook.

I can't write about these cases/people, so I'm gonna funnel this excess of writing into...a short story? Something like that.

Posted by Mike at 8:49 AM

Apr 14, 05 08:57 AM

The Bloody Angle.

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Culinary discoveries in the winding streets of Chinatown.

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Andrew happened to be around Centre Street when I was on my lunch break from Grand Jury duty, so we met for lunch at a Shanghainese cuisine place on Bayard and Baxter. There I had a thing called a soup dumpling. Have you heard of these things? Astonishing. They're dumplings--WITH SOUP IN THEM.

I am not messing with you. Seriously. Not like a sauce or anything--actual soup within the confines of a dumpling. You have to either pop it whole in your mouth, or pry it open carefully while balancing it on a spoon.

The streets of Chinatown, and that weird Centre Street judicial district fascinate me, because they used to be the Five Points slum described so vividly in Luc Sante's Low Life, a great book about the old, dirty, sinister Lower East Side of the 19th Century. I don't know precisely where the Five Points were--they renamed the streets, presumably to shake off the bad reputation. I do know that Doyers Street, which curves sharply, used to be known as The Bloody Angle.

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Posted by Mike at 8:57 AM

Apr 12, 05 08:44 AM

I Had the Lemongrass Chicken.

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I saw David Gage on Centre Street.

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They gave me a lunch break from jury duty and I went to Pho Nha Trang, something of a judicial institution down there, nestled amid the stately court buildings and the boxy, 70s-era federal buildings. Tasty stuff. I need to thank the readers who wrote me to recommend the place.

Lunching across the room was David Gage, the maverick string repair guy of Tribeca. Weird as it is to call a string-instrument-repair guy that, you gotta trust me, the vibe this guy has couldn't be described as anything but maverick. He looks like if Marc Ribot was an Eastern European carpenter.

My bass player Andrew and I went over to his shop a few weeks ago, and played some instruments. "It's like Six Flags in here," said Andrew, a note of wonder in his voice.

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Posted by Mike at 8:44 AM

Apr 11, 05 08:29 AM

I Fought the Law. No. I Brought the Law?

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Begin the (legal) beguine.

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Goin' down to Centre Street today, in bustling downtown Manhattan, for the first day of Grand Jury duty. Keeping my mind on the positive parts:

--It's great to be up so early. Really. To see the morning light, the pink sky.

--They have great Vietnamese food down around Centre Street.

--I take the J train to get there. I almost never have a reason to take the J train--a train of great loneliness, and mystery.

Fingers crossed that it'll be an adventure, not a drag.Or at least equal parts adventure and drag.

It's gonna be all narcotics cases. How funny is that?

Posted by Mike at 8:29 AM

Apr 10, 05 11:56 AM

Harvard Law School Fed Me a Steak.

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A rib-eye, in fact.

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I flew up to Boston for the Signal/Noise conference, put on by the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School. I was interviewed by Eric Hellweg at 9:15 in the morning--on sampling, on recording digitally, on the basic chordal structures that underlie all Western music (i.e., I played 'em "Louie Louie" and "Wild Thing" and a bunch of other tunes with that precise same riff). I had a blast, and was gratified that this stuff--a lot of which I feared would seem really pedantic--was news to the law students, and the next couple of panels kept referencing our presentation.

I was supposed to fly back that afternoon, but I changed my ticket and watched the whole thing. Fascinating to see these kind of questions filtered through legalese, and legal minds. And some of the speakers blew my mind:

Walter McDonough, a lawyer who founded the Future of Music Coalition; a brilliant, fiery Boston Irish guy, just hilarious and fascinating.

I expected him to be the usual kind of infuriating, non-pro-artist-understanding, "The web will free copyrights for everybody, yay!" kind of a dude, but he was nothing of the sort. In fact, when the webmaster for Beatallica (a live band that flawlessly mashes-up the Beatles and Metallica--their singer, nom de guerre James Lennfield, entertained us at dinner with his spot-on Hetfield) went off on that fluffy let's-free-the-art rap, saying that Beatallica should be allowed to exist because they "promote the Beatles," McDonough interjected sharply, "I think the Beatles sold a couple of records before you started 'promoting' them."

A presentation on Machinima, an art form in which movies are made using videogames not intended for filmmaking. Check 'em out: machinima.org. He showed us movies made with Halo, the Sims, etc.

Lawrence Ferrara, a lawyer who's consulted for hip-hop artists, and described these evil genius forensic uses of ProTools to unearth buried illegal samples.

Paul Hoffert, an incredibly engaging mathematician and composer from Toronto, with whom I sat at dinner; a guy who expressed in the most articulate way I've ever heard the moral/economic line an artist has to walk in terms of appropriation, sampling, etc.

William Alford, who wrote a gorgeously titled book called To Steal a Book is an Elegant Offense: Intellectual Property in Chinese Civilization.

John Perry Barlow, the Grateful Dead lyricist and old-guard of internet philosophers, who admitted, astonishingly, misgivings about free downloads of Dead recordings (who's going to download them from iTunes when they're available, the exact same recordings, of the exact same quality, for free on archive.org?). So ballsy of the guy to publicly speak of his questioning his own attitudes.

And a bunch of others. I was jazzed all day.

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Posted by Mike at 11:56 AM

Apr 7, 05 12:04 PM

I Bought a Man Sack.

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...or, as it is sometimes (and less elegantly) known, a murse.

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Look, I've just gotten too much shit. I have big fat headphones. Camera. Journal. And, of all things, lately I've been reading. !!!

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Mason Jennings was in town yesterday--strangely, playing on a bill at Southpaw with my new drummer, Pete McNeal, who was backing Inara George--and I met him at his hotel, a tatty, ornate, century-old place near Herald Square. There was a tour group of British teens idling in the lobby, jet-lagged-ly.

We took the R train down to Union Square and hung out, watching the skaters in the sunlight (first warm day in April), talking about music and the musician's life, and this meditation practice that he hipped me to. I took a course in it last week, and have been enjoying the hell out of it--I've tried to meditate in the past, and I start fidgeting like a mofe before two minutes have passed--using this practice, I do twenty minutes twice a day and it's a snap.

The language and the nature of the practice, too, is good for me: it suits my nature as a kind of grumpy, omnivorous spiritual dilettante.

I've had some borderline-psychedelic experiences with it--I guess I entered a hypnogogic kind of pre-sleep state--but mostly it's just a chillaxed kind of inner journey situation. I've been seeking out adventurous places to meditate--I did in St. Patrick's cathedral the other day, as parishoners grieving the Pope filed in to pray before a large portrait on an easel. There was a woman unwrapping candy in the pew behind me--that was a drag. Otherwise it was wonderful.

Yesterday I meditated in St. Peter's, that modernistic wooden-minimalist Lutheran church on Lexington and 54th. They wouldn't let me in the main sanctuary, as there was a 12-year-old organ prodigy rocking the gigantic pipe organ. I watched him from the balcony a little--his bookbag on the floor beside him--and then went and meditated in a side chapel.

Jewish readers--can you tell me something about synogogues? Firstly, I've never been in one, and want to go. Secondly, I just want to increase my selection of meditation venues. Can a lapsed Lutheran just walk into one and take a seat?

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Posted by Mike at 12:04 PM

Apr 6, 05 11:43 AM

The Fool Reconsidered.

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You know, in the April Fool's email, when I said Judas Priest's British Steel was one of the great albums of the 80s, I really meant it. However. I was joking when I said it was better than Remain in Light.

Posted by Mike at 11:43 AM

Apr 5, 05 06:41 PM

Look.

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Look. "La La" by Ashlee Simpson is really awesome. It's a bad time to be Ashlee Simpson at this particular moment in history. But the tune is fantastic; like a great AC/DC song. Really. I can't stop listening to it, along with Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone," and Amerie's "1 Thing."

Look. Look.

Posted by Mike at 6:41 PM

Apr 1, 05 06:04 PM

People Are Bad.

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I flew down to Asheville, NC, yesterday, and cut a couple songs with Galactic.

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It was for Radio Bonnaroo; I left my house at seven a.m., flew to Asheville, went to the Orange Peel, napped in the dressing room, drank coffee, ate at the Laughing Seed, and then we cut "The Gambler" and "People Are Bad." I left the club at 8, was on a plane at 9, and walked back in my door in New York at 1 am. I'm exhausted, but how cool?

In the airport in Charlotte, between connecting flights, I ate a BBQ pork sandwich. It was a sandwich of above-airport quality. Ditto the hush puppies and green beans. The plate was served with a deep fried pickle--!!

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Posted by Mike at 6:04 PM