Month: January 2013

the 12th step

The music was co-written in 2001 with Bill Kollar, a brilliant New York-area engineer and producer, who coaxed out the glorious rhythm guitar verse progression and overall tempo.

I hear noises outside my door.
They’re the kinds of noises you can’t always ignore.
Drunken lovers stumblin’ to their floor.
Ain’t it funny when the everyday becomes such a chore…

The stairwell speaks of their arrival,
creaking slowly up they spiral,
held up by one another’s lurch.
Mr. Christ himself never had such a church

They’re openin’ up that side door again,
and they’re crawlin’ up those side stairs again.
It’s just funny, until one of us walks in
to find them trippin’ up that 12th step again.

I hear the wandering echo of a gull
Misjudgin’ the water, scrapin’ itself on a shell.
I close my window to cut out its calls,
and listen to the drunks as they knock into my walls.

They’re openin’ up that side door again,
and they’re crawlin’ up those side stairs again.
It’s just funny, until one of us walks in
to find them trippin’ up that 12th step again.

I light one up and splinter the match in three.
And with that window closed, the smoke is all I breathe.

like these chords

this one’s for lovers forced to live apart b/c of distance and/or time. not sad, tho. it’s in that moment when one knows the other’s coming home.

we’re stronger than this day – that’s all I know all along
and your distant night flight voice – is just the prettiest song

you left this life for the myth – you’ve been gone a while
fall into a trance with me – travel the stars

we’re like chords that ache to play
and open doors on sunny days
we’re like these chords

we’re the keepers of the truth – we never tired of the world
and now you’re coming back to me – with everything that you’ve learned

got the sun on your back – heading east racing clouds
fall into a trance with me – under night flight stars

we’re like chords that ache to play
and open doors on sunny days
they’re all I got, when you’re far away
we’re like these chords

we’re like chords when you’re far away
and open doors on sunny days
they’re all I got and they ache to play
but we’re like these chords
we’re like these chords

i must have love

This track materialized one night after a friend of mine off-handed challenged, “Westy, I bet you can’t write something unabashedly happy.”


(downtune guitar 1/2 step, play in open C form. B=C, F#=G, E=F)

B Bsus4 B Bsus4
Walk down the street, it’s easy to see
B Bsus4 F# E
All those lonely people looking at me
With envy in their eyes. I’ve ruined their day,
G#m C#7sus2 F# (walkdown)
But I think I know why they stare and feel this way.

B Bsus4 B Bsus4
Walk down the street, clear my head,
B Bsus4 F# E
just as those hollow people rise from bed.
Off to face their groundhog days,
G#m C#7sus2 F# (walkdown)
they won’t see me starin’, ’cause i’m always wearin’ shades.

B F# C#m E
They want what I got.
B F# C#m E
They fear what I got.
B F# [break] C#m E
They want what I got.
E Em
Don’t turn it on its ear – it’s perfectly clear,
B B/A# B/G# G#m
They would die for what I got.
C#7sus2 Emaj7 B Bsus4
I must have love!

G#m D#7 G#m D#7
I must have love – don’t know what else this could be
G#m D#7 G#m C#7sus2 F# (walkdown)
I must have love – that’s why they all stare at me!

Walk down the streets of the living dead,
Surrounded by loneliness for blocks ahead.
But I don’t worry – I just while away
‘Cos my baby’s at home & she sings to me every day!


Chapter 1: Customs Playboy


LENINGRAD, 10 MARCH 1985, 10:38A

The hidden pack for the drop bunched beneath my long johns. The Aeroflot flight had been freezing, the pack’s stainless steel hardware sucked body heat, and the threadbare cotton blankets emblazoned with Vladimir Lenin’s image given out by the polyester’ed flight crew were useless.

As we landed, I switched out a New Order mixtape in my Walkman FM-1 for one that Camilla had given me the night before in Helsinki. Putting the New Order tape back into my zippered vinyl 10-cassette carrying case, I pulled out Queen’s The Game to make room for the New Order tape.

McGuiggan, sitting next to me aisle seat 7B, had given me the Queen record when we reached cruising altitude. I turned to him as we made our descent into Pulkova Airport and held the cassette over the armrest for him to take back. But he said “Nah, keep it,” and his already alabaster complexion was somehow paling a few shades whiter as I looked at him.

“You feel all right?” I asked, worried he might be airsick. The worst is landing in a foreign county next to a pucker.

“You think they’re going to search us good?” he asked through a shaking voice. This answer eased me a bit. No vomit potential. McGuiggan was merely deathfraid of Russian customs from all of Fr. G’s lessons leading up to the trip. “Fr. G said a lot of ‘western’ music was still considered contraband. I’m shedding anything that may be a threat to have me detained,” he continued.…


Chapter 2: Bees In The Bar


Part of me was still in Helsinki (or “CamillaLand” as I called it now), and even the rickety Aeroflot flight to Leningrad and my Russian Customs scare didn’t cloud my floating. We arrived at our foreigners-only hotel, The Pribaltiskaya, a fashion-forward troupe of Patagonia and North Face jackets, a bit before 4pm Russian Standard Time.

“All IDs are checked in the lobby, at the dining tables and on every floor,” Mrs. X had forewarned me in Training Session #2. “But not for age or name; just for nationality. Remain dopey like they expect a sex-starved American karate kid to be.”

Zubes & I dropped our bags in Room 534 and as he flopped onto the windowside bed, he swiped my carry-on from the floor between the beds and began to rifle through it. Everything for my drop was secured to my body, but this unnerved me a bit. Before I could intercede Zubes unzipped my bag’s outside pocket and grabbed my Walkman FM-1. He unplugged my headphones and jacked his own into it.

“I want to hear Camilla’s mix tape, Loverboy,” he needled.

“Go for it,” I said as he hit play.

He clipped my little tape deck to his belt, rose from the bed and began to unpack. I told him I needed to find a Coke. He didn’t hear me through his critical listening, but made no protests as he watched me head to the door. His working-for-the-weekend mind was on Annika. The door auto-closed behind me.…




Late one late December day in the late ’00s, on a new-mooned new-years evenight in the Mexican-not-Mayan Riviera, a small vacation coven gathered under soft starlight, poolside on a bluff overlooking an inking Pacific Ocean. As the group’s just-like-grandma’s cake started to kick in, Orion turned away from Earth for a few moments and a twinge of lawlessness neuroscaped through them one by one, in a cascade.


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