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Jan. 9th, 2013 | 10:55 am

Wondering who is still here. Stephen? Anis? Sean?

I'd like to have some sort of forum to post things in that wasn't as "public" as facebook or twitter or whatever, and this never comes up in search results for my name and, frankly, anyone who knows I'm here is exactly the type of person I wouldn't mind keeping up with.

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Call for Quotes

Nov. 25th, 2010 | 08:55 am

This is probably a terrible idea. 

I'm relaunching my web site in December, and I have a section called "applause," where I'm including quotations from all kinds of people, generally about my writing. As I started to put things together, I realized that this particular page was fantastically boring (and stone-cold serious)... so here's what I need from you. 

A quote, your name, and an accolade. 

Beyond mentioning me, you can pretty much have free reign. I mean, it'd be nice if you said something (sincere or not) about my writing, bit that's not absolutely necessary. Here's an example I made up: 

"If I drank beer, JM Huscher would owe me one. What I'm trying to say is this: he owes me like 40 Diet Cokes." - Matt Mason, President of the Nebraska Writers Collective

You can leave them as a comment here, email me, or leave a message on my phone.

Do what you dig. 

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For those about to make out: We salute you.

Oct. 11th, 2010 | 08:11 pm

For any of you thinking about doing any making out in the near future, here's some medical information you need to be aware of

Kissing, the filthiest custom of man, is the most important single method of accidental transmission of pneumonia, syphilis, leprosy and tuberculosis. Influenza, common colds, sore throats, measles, diptheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough, trench mouth, meningitis and a host of other diseases are constantly spread by it. The human mouth is a veritable cesspool of corruption, what with rotting teeth, infected tonsils, running eyes, purulent bronchi, fetid sinuses and putrid gullet discharging pus into it day and night. With the tabus and abnormal repressions of civilized life osculation is nothing more than an aberrant form of sex expression. Avoid it like you would the plague if you would keep your teeth and remain health[y].

Medical Bacteriology and Clinical Parasitology

Page 38, M. Fernan-Nunez, MD., F.A.C.P.
1943

The more you know. 

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An Update

Oct. 2nd, 2010 | 06:15 pm

"Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum."
-Graycie Harmon

I had sent the manuscript to about 40 agents when I started to get some positive (albeit reservedly so) responses. I went ahead with revision while sorting through these responses, then, finally, about two weeks ago, I got one that started off with a lot of praise: 

"Thanks so much for the chance to read the newest version. I again am taken by your writing style, your dark humor, your ability to craft a scene and I do think your changes make this a more fluid narrative." 

Of course, it eventually ended as the rest of them have. I want to be able to sell this, but the market is bad for this kind of book right now. I'm changing strategies and sending off to small presses now. And since a lot of these agents asked me to let them know about other projects I'm working on, I'm also gathering some information on how to write a non-fiction proposal. 

More importantly, I have time now to dedicate to music. My band, Pronouns, is headed to the studio in two weeks. My other project, Anchors and Oceans, is also working toward a full length album, but in the mean time, you can download the home recordings for free. They're not awful. 

And Vespas. I'm still riding the Vespa. About 100 miles today. My butt hurts.

That is all.  

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15 albums

Sep. 5th, 2010 | 11:16 am

I'm not a fan of the ads/interface on LJ ("apparently this is pronounced "leej"). So after 6 years of blogging here at the good ol' Livejournal, I am, for the most part, hanging it up. I have moved my blogging efforts to Blogspot, and you can read me here:
A History in Rust
Internet Fight

In the mean time, My buddy Micah posted this, and since I haven't created a facebook or LJ note in something like 5 months, I figured I'd give it a shot. Blah blah blah, name fifteen albums that will always stick with you for one reason or another. I'm leaving the reasons alone. It's more fun if you have to guess. 

In absolutely no order whatsoever.
 
1  John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom
2  Counting Crows - August and Everything After
3  Foo Fighters - The Color and The Shape
4  Godspeed You Black Emperor - Lift Yr. Skinny Fists, Like Antennas To Heaven
5  Aloha - Sugar
6  Hey Mercedes - Everynight Fireworks
7  Rainer Maria - Long Knives Drawn
8  Cranberries - To the Faithful Departed
9  Jeff Buckley - Live at Sine
10  Weezer - Pinkerton
11  Unwed Sailor - The Marionette and the Music Box
12  Pedro the Lion - It's Hard to Find a Friend
13  Mars Volta - De-loused in the Comatorium
14  Nirvana - In Utero
15  Sufjan Stevens - Come on Feel the Illinoise

So that's something.

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2010 Music

Jul. 10th, 2010 | 01:17 pm

I've been doing a crap job at keeping up with new music this year. I went through the new bands I've heard this year, but this list strikes me as fantastically incomplete (and short!). What 2010 releases are getting heavy rotation on your iPod/CD player/record player/tape deck? I'm missing more than I'm hitting lately, so I could use a little help.

Here are a few bands I came across this year that I hadn't heard (or didn't exist) before. I starred the ones that I thought were either really fun or just downright good: 

*Local Natives - So indie it hurts, but they're good. Complex harmonies and amazing composition. 
*Mumford and Sons - Best of the year. 'Nuff said.
Free Energy - This band sucks in every way possible. They are almost comically bad.
Hundred in the Hands, The - Sounds like a band from Brooklyn. Lots of Korg. Fake drums. Lots of reverb on the vocals. I'm not a fan. 
Karen Elson - Should go back to modeling. Awful.
*Mayer Hawthorne (album was an '09) - Worst lyrics, but it's a solid do-wop album. Makes me miss Marvin Gaye.
Two Door Cinema Club - Hell yes. In spite of the ironic disco beats. Very mod. Very good... Until you get sick of the drums.
Broken Bells - James Mercer and Danger Mouse. It's predictably solid.

Just to make it a multi-media event: Mumford and Sons - Little Lion Man (on youtube)

Oh yeah, and Pioneer Youth. Best new band of 2010... though I don't they we... I mean they... even have a myspace page yet. Look for shows in the fall. I'll keep you posted. 

OK, peeps. What should I be listening to? 

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It's pronounced Ah-Knee

Jun. 27th, 2010 | 07:46 pm

This was my first exposure to Ani Difranco:

And I know this won't import to Facebook correctly, so here's the link: Ani DiFranco - 32 Flavors (Live on PBS' Sessions at West 54th)

I think I saw this at around 16. Watching and listening to Ani in subsequent years fundamentally changed how I played guitar. She taught me to be political without being abrasive. "Tiptoe" was the first slam poem I ever heard. I owe a lot of who I am as an artist to this one woman, whom I always assumed would be there, somewhere in the background, still creating, still doing things at a great distance from me. I lost track of her over the years, returning every now and then to albums like "Not a Pretty Girl" or "Dilate."

In 2006, through a bizarre series of events, I became acquainted with, and eventually became good friends with Andrea Gibson. Andrea and I have had a lot of conversations about art, and a lot of conversations about where it should go. We did a quick collaboration on a track last year called Glider Plane. I had been working on a project called "Anchors and Oceans" at the time, but it wasn't supposed to be music for poetry. It was just instrumental stuff. We talked about working together on something else, but nothing happened until Andrea drove up to San Francisco in March(?). We got together the night before her show and write five songs to back her poems. By the way, five songs in one night is too many. The show went really well, so when Andrea got picked up to open for Ani DiFranco for two shows in August she called me to freak out, and then, a few weeks later, she asked me to come to Colorado and back her up. I did my best not to shit a brick (unsuccessfully).

I won't be reading poems. I won't be shredding. I won't be singing or dancing or doo-wopping. I'm just the backup band, and that's all I want to be. Some people dream of being James Brown (or the equivalent front man/woman of any other band). Not me. I always wanted to be in the backup band. I really did. It takes a special kind of person to fill the spotlight, but it takes another kind of person to create that spotlight, and to make it bigger and brighter for someone else. There is an art to being in the background. People remember the crazy Charles Mingus or Art Blakey solos, but for most of those songs, those guys were making other people look good. I dig that. I dig it a lot. And when you're working with someone as good as Andrea, that's really all you need to do. 

If you come to Colorado, don't expect much more than a dim stage light on me. But expect Andrea to shine. Expect the show to be new and interesting and maybe even brilliant. I'm very excited about this project. I'm practicing several hours a day. I'm Joe Pass compared to the guitarist I was even two months ago, but there is still work to do. 

Here are the dates if you're in the area:
August 14, 2010 @ The Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, CO
August 15, 2010 @ The Belly Up in Aspen, CO

See you soon, my lovelies. But not until after the 15th. The world is big and bright and everything is vibrating with electricity.

-J

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What I have been up to lately

Jun. 22nd, 2010 | 04:01 pm

I have dropped off the radar, but I'm still alive and kicking. I'm not going to poetry readings at all anymore. I'm not on a slam team for the first time since 2004 (and won't be at NPS in August). I'm barely keeping up with reading. I'm lucky if I ride the Vespa twice a week. I'm out with friends maybe once a week? Twice if I'm lucky. The bike gets dusted off a few times between Monday and Friday. I'm not even spending much time with writing at all (updating the Vespa blog twice a week and maybe editing for no more than a total of 4 hours a week). I run a little. Do a little Yoga, but other than that, I'm planted in my living room.

Things are afoot. Big things. I'm breaking my neck on a project and a few shows that are coming up in August. Once you hear about it, I think you will forgive me for not being around. Here's what the project has done to my living room.


An incomplete list:
Tascam 424 Fourtracker, Roland RS-5 Synthesizer, Johnson J-Station amp modeler pod, MobilePre M-audio preamp, Shure PG48 microphone, Boss TU-2 chromatic tuner, Digitech Tone Driver overdrive pedal, Digitech Digiverb reverb pedal, Boss DD-6 digital delay pedal, Boss DD-20 Giga-Delay pedal, Akai Head Rush tap delay and loop pedal, Martin D-28 guitar, some headphones, a bazillion cables, and a fat stack of cassette tapes.

In other news, I found a rusted, dented, abused VBB frame (polished VBB shown here), and I think I'm going to start a resto project from the ground up with it.... starting in August, but no sooner.

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Book Agents: A perspective

Jun. 7th, 2010 | 08:01 pm

My post on rejection letters got a lot of good discussion going. I'm interested where this will go.

I've emailed about 40 query letters now, and had a few responses. For the most part, though, it's all too similar to the process I went through with the literary mags. There's a lot of "This isn't quite right for us" that I take on the chin. I don't mind. I really don't. John Kennedy Toole got shot down by everyone before some tiny press picked up A Confederacy of Dunces and he won a pulitzer... posthumously. Toole took his life before the book even made it to print. The moral of the story here is not to take the rejection letters from Simon and Schuster personally.

Anyway, I finally got a positive response from an agent last week. We emailed back and forth a bit, I sent more samples, and then eventually the whole manuscript. The final verdict is that they love the writing (and used that word specifically - love), but they want me to do some more revision before they go marching into major publishing houses with it. They're being really supportive of the revision process and they're open to representing me for more books later down the line (not that they've committed to this one). I have to be honest, though: this project is beginning to wear thin on me. Rest assured, I am still the old JM. Taking my lumps like a champ.

Things I have to remind myself of that keep me patient:

1. The longest short story I wrote before this was 7 pages, but this is well over 160 and only getting longer.
2. This is the first time since 2004 that I've even tried writing creative prose in any capacity.
3. Revision has always been four fifths of my writing process. There is no reason this should be any different.

Breathing.

-J

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A paragraph. The first one.

Jun. 1st, 2010 | 07:19 am

I just read some of my old poems. They are weird. I don't know if I like them or not. I don't know if I can go back to poetry or not. I just don't feel compelled to write slam anymore.

I sent the manuscript off to a few more agents today. Can I just say that writing query letters is wholly and completely frustrating. It really is. I spent some time revising the beginning. Do you want to know how it starts? I'll give you the first paragraph, but that's all you get. OK. Here you go:

Out of everyone in the fifth grade class, I’d say there were really only three of us who lived on the outside, but I was the first one and by far the worst off. I was the Yankee, for crying out loud, and all of these guys had grown up with Soviet Union this and that being crammed down their Eastern European throats. People’s Republic nonsense. Anti-American propaganda. Red Pioneer Youth. And that’s where the line was always drawn. This was about blood and borders—about who was born where and who was not. I was not one of them, and no matter how perfect I could have been, I would still have my dark blue passport with the gold letters boldly spelling out UNITED STATES OF AMERICA below the picture of an eagle. I wore the passport every day in a small white pouch hanging around my neck under my shirt. It wasn’t like a ring or a pair of glasses. It was never so familiar that I was able to forget the weight of it.

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