Monday, December 29, 2008

2SG Vlog 1 (Monroe, CT -- I70W Ohio)

Well, we're just going to see about this.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

and another thing:

The Brandeis show has been pushed to the 24th. [insert cutesy internalized anti-Semitic statement here]

Monday, December 22, 2008

Disaster Strikes

So look at that: our show at Jumping Juice & Java got cancelled because of the horrible snow and we didn't even tell you. We're sorry; that was not very thoughtful of us. We'll tell you when it gets rescheduled--it'll be sometime in February.

Last time we were in Worcester, on Thursday, The Ship showed us a great time, but I'm not really sure how to describe it in appropriate or savory terms. I'm sure that anyone who has been to the ship can sympathize with me. The Ship is literally a ship that people drink in, and it's been serving alcohol continuously for a century. During the prohibition, the password was "I'm here for the Worcester Yacht Club meeting"
(Worcester is landlocked).

I'll just say that it was an honor to perform my poetry in such an intimate setting with Victor Infante in the audience. We were also both insanely pleased that Erin Jackson was there with us.

Portland was fun too. Their venue makes this terrific sandwich, the Carina, which has this smokey tempeh bacon and mesclin salad, and you can even get it with avocado, and they've got Allagash on tap, so I was set. They even had these vegan pumpkin cookies which were pretty awesome.

This old man with a fiddle showed up just as I was about to perform my one serious poem (which is about when a dear friend of mine wanted to kill herself). As soon as I started the poem, he started strumming the fiddle dramatically, usually just accenting the end of a phrase. I think it was an A major chord. Curiously, he didn't do much during our songs. We talked to him afterward. Sweet guy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

in ur paradime, stealin ur idiomz: A Brief Defense of Lolcats

The Laugh-Out-Loud Cat, or "Lolcat," phenomenon, officially began in 2005 on the 4chan imageboard but its influences could be traced back to early 20th Century photography [1]. In a typical lolcat image, a picture of a cat is paired with a caption that is usually imitative of Internet parlance [2]. Inherent in the popularity of these images is both ironic review of the culture and medium in which it participates, what I will call the "world of computers," and unironic embracement of the natural world and its creatures--not only cats, but sometimes dogs and parakeets.

It is perhaps worth noting that these creatures are nearly always the sort to be kept by humans; they are presumed to be pets, "belonging" to the creator of the image, which to me implies an interesting symbiosis between creator and subject in which the latter is both owned by and celebrated--nearly worshipped--by the former, with no small implication of fear in certain examples such as this:

I am, of course, willing to concede the layer of irony in this "fear," but the reverent attitude toward animals (missing in most facets of mainstream culture) remains.

It is not, however, what makes lolcats unique; their most unique and valuable aspect is the lack of inherent commercialism. Though the blogmakers capitalize on the content [3], the content generates from the lolcatters' desire to amuse their fellow Internet surfers, and to participate in the world of computers. So much in our society--music, film, literature, food and drink--is commodified, to the point that it can barely exist as anything but commodity. An online store can sell you a shirt or a mug, but the day it sells you a lolcat (coffee table reprints notwithstanding) is the day the paradigm shifts.

In time, fequenters of imageboards will tire of lolcats, at which point I can only hope that someone will find a mode of humor as potent, as full of humanity and Thoreauian love of nature, and as nuanced in its relationship to its medium. Whether that happens, it is very important that we continue to share a medium that is free to the public and (if it must be commercialized at all) does not exist for the sake of commercial promotion. When we lose such things, we lose the collective soul at once resistant and necessary to a capitalist society.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I can has Internet?

So Steve introduced me to "LOL Cats". He kept talking about how much he liked them, and I kept saying "What the hell are you talking about?" and he said "Don't you like, use the internet?"

Apparently, LOL cats are something of a big deal. So I checked it out ( And I came to the following conclusion.


1. Old Ladies
2. The people that the character Angela from "The Office" is designed to make fun of
3. Steve

And that's why I love him so very very much.

So! Onto the most recent shows!

Loser Slam,
Long Branch, NJ

This show was a blast. We seem to really be hitting our stride, the sets are flowing really well and both of us are starting to instinctively be able to respond to one another. I made a slight rhythmic misstep on the birthday song, but Steve covered it up for me, so nobody really noticed. Connor, the Lost Slam host, is an absolute love, and I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to meet him. The fun thing about doing shows away from home is getting to perform our hits and have the audience react to them for the first time. Its always nice to get a fresh reaction. I once had a crowd mistake "Can You Look Me In The Eyes And Lie To My Mother" as a comedy piece. That was strange.

NH Poetry Slam
Manchester, NH

This is my home venue, so this show going well was really important to me. The crowd was pretty small, as there was massive power outages and ice storms all over the North East, but they were enthusiastic and receptive. Steve and I performed some newer work that we don't get the chance to read very often, which was pretty cool. I really like performing "Handstand", a poem that I wrote for my friend Mark, with Mark in the room.

Tonight is Portland. I'm going to make us a couple CDs to play in the car on the way there, the play lists of which will be posted on this blog tomorrow. The goal is to make my guilty pleasure mix AND a more serious mix.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Manchester/Long Branch/Providence

Slid across the table at The Bridge.

We went up to Manchester the other night, even though Sam's father and older brother kept calling us and telling us to stay at Hampshire because there were two inches of ice on the highway, which there weren't anymore. The Northeast had gotten power-glazed the night before (when we were driving back from Long Branch).

The worst of it that we saw was some light wreckage. We saw white trees playing creepy-touch with our car. The power was still out all the way up to New Hampshire, so at 6pm we were driving through a zombie movie at midnight. Sam kept making up little songs about it, using the tune of "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah" to say things like "This is really kind of creepy." He also used the tune of "Sweet Caroline" to say a whole lot of things. I told him to stop.

But Manchester was fun. We tried out some different things, like Sam opening with "Dinner With My Mom," and then me doing "I'm Standing Around Looking Like a Grown-Up" (a.k.a. "the dinosaur poem") as my first piece. McKendy was there to give us some noise, which was great because otherwise it's a pretty quiet venue. But I guess they liked us. Fun times.

Long Branch was a blast though. LoserSlam happens in the attic of this little diner-y restaurant called The Inkwell. Connor Dooley hosts it, snarkily, and he and the DJ keep digging on each other the whole time (is he actually called DJ Little Daughter or did Connor just make that up? I'm not sure). In their slam, the lowest scores win, so their 0 is everyone else's 10. The winner did a typical slam "addiction poem" about being addicted to playing BINGO. Amazing.

Clearly the highlight from Blue State in Providence, all charming Ryk moments aside, was Sam doing "Aram" with a flautist that we saw on the mic. This guy carves his own flutes, which are the kind that can sound two notes at the same time, and plays them beautifully. I wish I could find his MySpace or something.

That's all the update I've got in me for now. Next up: Portland and the Worcesters. I'm looking forward to doing the Jumpin' Juice & Java gig and all, but it's going to be really hard to follow last night's feature over there. It was Karen Finneyfrock. Yeah. Wow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008



So This tour is functioning as a part of my senior thesis at Hampshire College (also called a "Division Three" for those of you in the know). My committee of professors who are my supervisors through this process are having me keep a journal, reflecting on the shows as they happen. So Imuna post them here as well, for you all to enjoy. These entries are for the first three shows.

Northampton, MA

And here we are, our first show. A basement show, not the biggest of the tour by a long shot, but still an exciting way to kick things off, and a crowd of 25(ish) is not anything to be ashamed of for a not-really-advertised poetry reading in a basement in The United States of America in the year 2008. Steve and I rocked it as best we knew how- there were blunders, I was on page more than I would’ve liked to be, but that’ll be fixed soon enough. What I’m really excited about is the dynamic that we’re developing. Also noteworthy- we premiered our first dual-voice piece, something that I wrote last year and refurbished to make it function better as a duet. In the piece, I discuss the guitar that I purchased and never played as though it was my neglected lover. Steve speaks in the voice of the guitar, which has developed a drinking problem.

Boston, MA

The Emerson College Poetry Project. This is the real deal. Interestingly, our sets are getting shorter as the tour goes on- the Northampton show was an hour long, this one was forty minutes. Most of the rest will be thirty. We did many of the same pieces that we did at the last gig, with a few taken out for the sake of time. We also premiered two more group pieces, both of which are sort of song/poem hybrids written by Steve. The first, “The Searchlight of Responsibility” is about Batman struggling about the moral implications of vigilante crime fighting and the toll that it is taking on his psyche. I play Robin, and sing the backup vocals. The second, “Behind The Music: One-Man Post-Punk Band” is about feeling full of angst and anger at your thirteenth birthday and not being sure why. This piece I actually have my own stanza as well as singing backup. There’s talk of getting me a tambourine.

Providence, RI

Extra special thanks to Ryk for putting this show/venue together, it looks great.

Performance-wise, I’ll call this our best show yet. The poems all went over really well, Steve gave an amazing performance of “Hey Babe”, his piece about trying to explain his choice to become a vegan to his family, and performed a couple of the greeting cards he’s submitting to the Hallmark corporation. The open mic included a guy who got up and played his handmade wooden flutes, and I invited him up on stage to perform with me. We’re really getting our transitions/banter down and now we seem a little less awkward. Well, no. We’re still awkward, but we’ve become awkward in a charming way. I got to rant about the terrible week that I’m having (Steve pointed out, heartbreakingly, that its Tuesday). The set lists are also becoming a little more varied- Steve and I managed to do a whole damn feature without “(Can’t Do) The Twist” or “Can You Look Me In The Eyes And Lie To My Mother?”, which are the two poems for which the two of us are most well-known. So all the positives aside, the 2SG tour has encountered its first major setback: I fucked up the chap books. Our collaborative book is really fine. By “fine”, I am referring to the size of the print. That is to say, the words in the book are almost too small to read. I was all for just going with it, until Steve pointed out that one of the most important assets for a book to have is its physical ability to be read. The margins in Steve’s personal book got messed up somewhere in between the two of us, and the page numbers are way off. All in all, think of something akin to the “Stonehenge” incident in Spinal Tap. This was kind of like that. Despite this, we are in high spirits and looking forward to the open road ahead of us!


Guilty Pleasures

Sam had us both make mixes of our guilty pleasure songs for the road. I had a pretty hard time with this because I mainly listen to good music. Seriously though, I'm not really ashamed of anything I enjoy (at least as far as music is concerned), but I managed to make one. I'm sorry if anyone has a completely unabashed love of any of it; I seriously enjoy all of these songs.

I had to interpret the concept of "guilt" pretty liberally. For example, Wesley Willis--it's not an "oh my god, that's so lame" sort of thing, since it's kind of hip to appreciate Wesley Willis, if ironically. But that's just it: I feel a little bad about what a laugh I get out of this guy's mental illness. "Birdman Kicked My Ass" legitimately gets stuck in my head pretty often though.

Chris McGovern is a friend of mine from the open mic at The Space in Hamden, CT. My guilt here is that it took me so long to listen to his CD in the first place, and also that I've pretty much lost touch with that crowd.

The Black Lips make some genuinely good music that I can feel proud to listen to, but "Dirty Hands" is so obnoxiously "we recorded this when drunk and we don't give a fuck" that I kind of wish I didn't like it.

A lot of the other choices are just things that I don't think people would expect me to like, which I'll admit strays from the "guilt" requirement, but there are only so many ways that a guy without shame can make a guilty pleasures mix.

Okay, here it is:


1. Gates of Redemtion[sic] - Rob Abilly (open mic-er who burned his own CD's, don't bother searching)
2. Hate to Say I Told You So - The Hives
3. Elevation - U2
4. Don't Panic - Coldplay
5. Vicious Circle - Chris McGovern
6. Only love can break your heart - Saint Etienne
7. Modern Moonlight - The Dresden Dolls
8. The Sound Of Settling - Death Cab for Cutie
9. Birdman Kicked My Ass - Wesley Willis
10. We Are All On Drugs - Weezer
11. One Night In Bangkok - Murray Head
12. Kid A - John Mayer
13. Something Isn't Right Here - The Juliana Theory
14. Fields Of Gold - Sting
15. The Ballad of El Goodo - Big Star
16. Just My Imagination - The Cranberries
17. Will You Love Me Tomorrow? - Carole King
18. I Don't Know - Punchline
19. No Soy Bo Diddley - Fito & Fitipaldis
20. Dirty Hands - The Black Lips
21. Are We The Waiting - Green Day
22. Get Free - The Vines
23. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me - George Michael feat. Elton John

Soon to come: Sam's guilty pleasures mix.

What This Is and What Is Happening:

The Two Sensitive Guys tour leaves the state of Massachussets today, and to commemorate this, we are launching our road blog (this is it, this is the road blog).

We will be posting video web logs, or "vlogs" here while we tour in Sam's toastermobile.

We'll also be posting various mixes that we have made and are listening to in the toastermobile.

I'm out of things to say to you, except that Sam is about to come to my house and drive us to Providence for our first gig.

Thanks for caring,