Category Archives: Personal

Breakup Songs

Here are some of my favorites:

Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U

“Since you been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing, I said nothing, can take away these blues”

This is probably, objectively, the best breakup song ever written. Prince, as a songwriter, boils heartache down to its simplest, most direct form via commonplace, universal descriptions, and Sinead O’Connor’s vocal performance is fittingly raw, direct, and devastating.

St. Vincent – All My Stars Aligned

“There are no signs / There are no stars aligned
No amulets, not a charm / To bring you back to my arms
There’s just this human heart / It’s built with this human flaw”

Effort, faith, hope, even genuine love aren’t enough to sustain the relationship discussed in this song. It’s a nuanced perspective on breaking up — devoid of self-loathing, and rejection – but tragic and fatalistic just the same.

Feist – Let It Die

“The saddest part of a broken heart
Isn’t the ending so much as the start
The tragedy starts with the very first spark
Losing your mind for the sake of your heart”

A song that makes you never want to fall in love again – its despair is so potent; its caution that happy memories themselves are the cause of misery. Feist really nailed it with this concise, but lyrically complex song.

Blur – No Distance Left to Run

“When you see me // Please turn your back and walk away
I don’t want to see you cuz I know the dreams that you keep
It’s where we meet”

Coxon’s guitar work (in terms of tone and voicings) and Albarn’s vocal textures evoke resignation and sadness.

Beck – Nobody’s Fault But My Own

“When the moon is a counterfeit
Better find the one that fits
Better find the one that lights the way for you”

Cryptic, longing lyrics during the verses find relief in the simplicity of the chorus which is peaceful and resigned.

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A Few Thoughts on Dabbo

I am shocked by the tragic death of my friend and musical colleague, Devin “Dabbo” Caucci. This week has been terrible in the lives of those who knew him as a a family member and friend. My heart goes out to his mother Florence and his brother Anthony, as well as Justin, our friend, the guitar player in our band, and Dabbo’s former roommate. Over the past week, Justin has absorbed immense trauma with strength, maturity, and so much grace. Thoughts also go out to Heston and Gabe, his other roommates, and everyone who knew and loved him.

Though I am in a state of sorrow and confusion, I’ve tried to organize a few of my thoughts about Dabbo in the hopes that they may comfort myself and others who knew him…

a show at the Great Scott in Boston Summer 2010

Dabbo joined my band in February of 2010 and throughout that time, I came to know him as a generous, loyal, intelligent, complicated, and talented individual.

Playing on Newbury Street, Boston -- Spring, 2010

Dabbo possessed uncommon levels of generosity. His couch was your couch if you needed a place to sleep; his friend would soon be your friend; and his infectious laughter was also yours. He had razor-sharp wit that could disarm just about anyone, but he was also one of the few people that I could have a serious, emotionally vulnerable conversation with. If you needed to talk or express yourself, he was there to listen and offer insightful, nonjudgmental advice.

As a musician– he was a gifted bass player whose approach to the instrument has inspired- and will continue- to inspire my own playing. One of the last songs we worked on together, “Blackout” had a bass line that I blatantly ripped off of his style of playing- and told him so. Of course, he played it better than I could. A Jamerson nut (he called Standing in the Shadows of Motown, his “bible”) as well as a serious student of slap bass, there was an unmistakable personality to his playing– his feel was always rhythmic and grooving, his note choices were tasteful, and he had a perfectly controlled tone that he enabled via left-hand muting and his beloved bass pedal. In spite of his technical abilities (which far exceeded my own and most bass players I’ve encountered), Dabbo’s bass playing was never egotistical or showy, and he had a hilarious disdain for virtuosic playing. He didn’t view simplicity as dumb, and I never had to justify my music to him. He got it.

at the SXSW festival, March 2010

As a showman, his stage presence was ceaselessly entertaining. It was a joy to watch him play with Kris Roche and Zac Taylor this past December in Egypt. There is something really wonderful about watching your band-mates shine in other people’s bands, and this was very much the case with Dabbo. He brought something special to every band he played in, especially Haley Jane and the Primates, who it must be mentioned are playing a show tomorrow at the Middle East Downstairs, which I imagine will be wrenching and celebratory at the same time.

The first time I saw Dabbo play was with Sincerely, the Management in 2008 at Harper’s Ferry and I liked the show so much I wrote an article about it in the school newspaper. At the time, I only knew Dabbo as that really good bass player in my Anthony Vitti slap lab who rode his skateboard at insane speeds with his bass on his back. But based on that Harper’s performance, I felt like he had a keen understanding of the role of a bass player in a band context, which is why I asked him to join my group, in preparation of a series of important gigs.

I have many fond memories of spending time with him– both on and offstage. To name just a few: fierce in-flight trivia battles; his incredible mastery of accents; extolling the virtues of Jurassic Park and how it’s the greatest movie ever; revisiting the merits (and demerits) of nu-metal on St. Stephen; him covering me with a towel during a chilly morning by the Red Sea; roaming around 6th street in Austin, Texas flyering for our shows; drinking Rolling Rock on Hooker Street; his big, goofy, reassuring grin from the audience during a disastrous guitar malfunction at the Paradise; cuddling with him and Mr. Zen; playing big stages to thousands of people; playing shit-holes where our audience consisted of a single surly bartender; sharing our tenderness for cats and dogs; hitting up Dunkin Donuts on a regular basis for big-ass iced lattes; taking care of me when I got sick on Cape Cod; recording “Make Up Your Fucking Mind” in Poughkeepsie which he nailed in several flawless takes; working on crosswords together; and of course, the wonderful night we had this past New Years in Brooklyn, in which we reaffirmed our professional and personal commitment to one another.

Dabbo and I danced like fools on New Years and talked excitedly about pursuing our shared dreams of musical success in New York- where he was slated to move in just a few weeks. We were to play a show on Friday at the Bell House in Brooklyn, for which he had given many hours of his time into rehearsing. His overall excitement and ambition about music and the next phase of his life, as I understood it, were too great for me to view his final, permanent act as anything but the result of an impulsive, impermanent state of despair.

After our show in Cairo, Egypt December 2010

There is no sense to be made of such a tragedy except to find greater value in our lives and raise awareness about mental health resources. I find the words of Dabbo’s aunt, Kate, clear-headed, wise, and appropriate:

“This week depression took the life of my talented, beautiful nephew. To honor Devin’s memory, if you have this disease, seek help. And please pray for my sister, Florence, Devin’s mom…Depression is a disease; it works in cunning ways to convince you to end your life and never tell anyone what you are thinking. It feeds off feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy. If you are depressed, do not believe the lies the disease tells you. Tell someone. Get help. It CAN get better.”

I am in a state of complete grief and look forward to mourning with our friends in Boston this weekend.


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Dog is God spelled backwards

My mom’s church in Cincinnati, Blue Ash Presbyterian, had a “Blessing the Pets” day. Pastor Mike Brewer gave some of these pooches (and kitties) a little Jesus.

Here’s my mom and our cat Teddy.

Blessing a black lab

This pooch is pleased. Religion makes ya happy, I guess.

This little doggy is dignified and takes his/her blessing very seriously.

Jesus apparently loved everyone. Prostitutes, lepers, and yes, even homely little dumpster dogs (This is my dog, Coco, aka “Ratdog” and “Ratty,” at the blessing)

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Tonight’s Show at Hennessey’s

Cross-posted at Danvers blog

Mrs. D played at Hennessey’s, one of the Irish pubs on Union Street by Fanueil Hall. It was Drew English’s going-away show before he moves to LA. There were very few people in attendance for our set. Maybe 10 at most, only about 5 of whom were actually listening. The reception was pretty tepid even though we were playing our absolute balls off, so to speak. The sound guy and door ladies LOVED it though. They even signed our email list afterwards. Pretty nifty. Dhy told the audience about how each time we play “Jamie” we change the name and lyrics of the song to match that of a female audience member with two syllables– and some hoots (of the straight male bro variety) could be heard. Not every crowd we play for will be queer-centric nor even indie, so it’s good practice to play in these kinds of situations. Drew’s set was pretty cool. He has some good players in his band, and I enjoy his vocals and guitar tone a lot. His music is incredibly marketable and I believe he has the tools and skills to do very well in LA. Afterwards, Vargas and Dhy and I went to the Rattlesnake for Boofer’s birthday party. The bartender was an absolute bitch, but it was nice seeing Boofer. Exhausted, we left around 1:30. Now I am home, reflecting upon the events of the day, which included two 3-mile jogs. Conclusion upon reflection: I need to focus less upon my selfish desires and more on being a good human being and treating other people with the respect that they deserve and that I would want for myself. That is a major goal for this fall semester.

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losing someone to religion

I had a dream last night that my mom became a scientologist. Losing a family member to an obsessive relationship with religion would be nearly as devastating as an Alzheimers diagnosis. To have someone you love invest him or herself into an alternate reality that conflicts openly with the complexities of human experience, and hence your own experience- past, present, and future– would be horrifying. The film, My Summer of Love deals explicitly with this subject. The main character, Mona (played spectacularly by Natalie Press) loses her only loving family member, her brother Phil, to fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. The extreme loneliness that she encounters because Phil has replaced jagged, unpleasant but genuine connection with self-important, impervious fantasy is heartbreaking in the movie. It also reminds me of episodes I see of Intervention where the subjects choose their addictions over their emotional availability to their loved ones. Addiction and disease are more terrifying than religion because they are physical conditions, but doesn’t it make sense that so many alcoholics become born-again Christians, and that the mission of AA is so closely tied to Christianity? Addicts and religious people cannot function without some kind of escapist fantasy constantly accompanying their lives. Perhaps religion is the most potent non-chemical drug.

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my new haircut

im pretty satisfied, id say. lisa zoglis at g2o salon on newbury is my girl. she really knows her shit and helped interpret what i wanted my haircut to look like.

yesterday i was filled with girl-related anxiety. but it all evaporated once i started having a pretty good rehearsal with my band. my friend, jon schmidt of morningwood is drumming for our gig on monday june 22 at tt the bear’s (8:30 pm) and im really enjoying his drumming. he’s bringing some fresh ideas to the table without stepping on the toes of the songs, if that makes sense.

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yesterday, had another black kettle rehearsal in studio b with andrew and keeley. went to the gym for a bit to do weights. then went out to sichuan garden, a chinese restaurant in brookline w/ emma who treated me 🙂 we had some very spicy fish dish and a chicken stir-fry that was quite good. emma, who speaks chinese and knows her chinese food quite well, said the restaurant was very legit and authentic, and approved of the food, which i definitely also really liked but then again, i have no real authority on chinese cuisine since i usually eat sweet n sour chicken at teriyaki house.heh, afterwards, we got ice cream at bon-bons. fuckin forgot how much i love that place. their cinnamon toast crunch gelato makes my heart sing. then we got back and downed 3 bottles of red wine with sawyer. fun times. emma leaves sunday for south dakota then france for the entire summer 😦 … tonight mrs. danvers plays all asia with gypsy cab, rathbone, sawyer stoltz, and proud monkey. should be a very fun time. ! it’s sawyer’s boston debut, so it’s exciting.

found out yesterday that mrs. danvers will play dyke march! very exciting!

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wow. tired!

today, i got up a bit before noon and went to a black kettle rehearsal at studio b in 136. i got back, had lunch with dhy (made us turkey sandwiches). and then i went for a jog. i ran more miles than i have ever run in one day. i jogged from my apartment in back bay to the weeks bridge by harvard. i met up with emma, dipped my feet in the supposedly swimmable charles, and she showed me her house next year. wow what a beautiful courtyard. very majestic, tons of trees, grass, nice patio. dining hall was nice too. she ‘ snuck’ me in (not a hard feat as there were no visible cashiers or security guards) and i had some food and water. i was having such a pleasant time that i lost track of time, and had to get to the south end as soon as possible for a mrs. danvers rehearsal. public transportation being a little slow, and non-existent to the south end, i just said fuck it and jogged from harvard to south end, stopping once to use the restroom at the 150 building on mass ave. granted there were two stops (one rather long stop during which i ate and relaxed) but i believe i jogged 7.5 miles total, if not 8 miles. google maps mileage estimates are not an exact science. went to rehearsal, got a lot of shit done, and then walked back to my apartment. i got home, made myself dinner and watched ‘wendy and lucy’ with sawyer. a very simple story with existentialist and political implications. i enjoyed michelle williams’ acting, but her character, Wendy lacked depth and needed more development. now im utterly beat, in bed.

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My Summer So Far

Well, shit. This summer has been totally rad so far! School ended on May 8, and I’ve hit the ground running.

On May 9, Mrs. Danvers had a gig at All Asia. We played with a really great band– Milquetoast and Co. They’re kind of like Muse-meets-Dresden Dolls and they have a sick nasty cellist. Her intonation was so fucking good, I immediately thought “Shit, she MUST have gone to a great conservatory.” Lo and behold, I found out she’s an IU grad– the alma mater of some of the most talented people I played with in symphonies throughout high school. It was also special because Dhy had just graduated the previous day, and her entire family was in from Ohio, seeing us perform.

Tuesday, May 12, I had a long recording session with Black Kettle a folkie indie pop band featuring the talents of two MP&E students/singer-songwriters, Kailynn West and Keeley Bumford. They’re very talented songwriters, arrangers, and musical minds, and I’m so pleased I get to play bass on their recordings. We did three songs, and I hope I gave them some useful bass parts. As a singer-songwriter, I’m very paranoid and sensitive when I’m in a supporting position about giving the artists what they need. I can’t wait to hear the recordings which will form their debut EP.

Thursday, May 14 I went to a screening for the Boston LGBT film festival and saw the Women’s Shorts at the MFA with my friend Emma. It was really awesome! Tons of lesbians in the Remis auditorium, and the films were spectacular. I mean, really. I enjoyed nearly all of them. There were several that I loved. “Donkey Girl” a film from Morocco was sweet, funny, and the cinematography was gorgeous. The last film (whose title escapes me) was haunting, moving, and poignant, and probably the best of the bunch.

Later that night, Dhy and I went to Queeraoke at the Midway in JP. Having never been, it was awesome. We handed out flyers for Mrs. Danvers, got to meet some good folks from the Boston Dyke March, LOGO, and obviously the Midway (hope to play tennis with Ange sometime soon), and talked to lots of cool chicks. We also did a pretty remarkable version of Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out.” heh. heh. Our good friend Rebecca Perkins was there and gave us a much-appreciated ride back, so we could party til 2 without worrying about catching the T.

Friday, May 15, Mrs. Danvers had a photo shoot at the old abandoned church by MassArt with photographer, Natanya Khashan. That church was some creepy Blair Witch Project shit, and the photo shoot aroused several of my worst fears (namely, spiders and heights). Steph and the ladies were jumping on these elevated pillars and unsteady, rotten wood steps like American fuckin Gladiators. And when they insisted on leaning against a stone corner filled with cobwebs, I almost freaked out. The photo shoot was awesome, overall though- Everyone looked pretty sexy, the church despite the creepy factor (or perhaps BECAUSE of the creepy factor) was a great location, and Natanya had very creative ideas for framing and poses.

Later that night, we had a show at McGanns a pub near Gov’t Center. Dave Crespo, the promoter, is a real class act. Nonetheless, some funny/awkward/weird shit went down. For starters, there was this insanely drunk girl wiping out constantly. Her friends were just not taking care of her. I mean she NEEDED TO GO HOME. As the ladies of Mrs. D and my roommate Sawyer and I were sitting at a table, we kept on joking about how this girl was going to fall on us and kill us. Ha ha ha, right? Wrong. As lo and behold, she DID fall on us, or me and Sawyer specifically, shattering his beer glass and spilling beer all over the both of us. My immediate fear was that my roommate had just been cut, but thank god, no blood was spilled…until…

We went on stage and I guess because I cut my nails and I wasn’t using a very long pick, the skin on my index and middle finger just got cut to shit by the strings. By the second song, a nice pool of blood had accumulated over Randi’s white guitar that I was playing. A few Outbreak jokes, and a napkin from a thoughtful friend of ours, later, things went swell.

Saturday, May 16, which was yesterday, Emma and I went to the MFA again for the Boston LGBT festival and saw “Still Black” a remarkable film about black transmen. A most unobtrusive, revealing, and simple-yet-profound, documentary, the film provoked my thought and even caused me to choke up a few times. It neither sentimentalized its subject nor gawked at it. Showing a diversity of black transmen with different experiences, socio-economic levels, sexual identities, it provided a very unique depiction of a way of life that is perhaps at the bottom rung of visibility and respect in both the queer community and society at large. Fascinating.

Today, Dhy and I are gonna get together and go over new music, and then Thursday, we have a gig at All Asia at 10 pm. Ali Rapetti, Gypsy Cab, and Owen Ross (of Re-Up) will also be performing. And since I personally really think all of these artists are immensely talented, it should be one hell of a show.

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