Friday, November 30, 2012

Overnight America Appearance

This week I appeared on syndicated radio program Overnight America to discuss Popdose articles and to promote BASEMENT SONGS. Check out my discussion with the host, Jon Grayson, by following this link!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Almost there...

And so it is complete. The book cover is done and it looks fucking beautiful, if you pardon my French. Joe Game did one hell of a job with the cover. He even took a nice picture of my ugly mug.

I've submitted the book to Lulu. I've ordered a copy that hopefully will be here early next week.

The book has been uploaded to Amazon and now we just wait until it is ready for downloads.

Tuesday may be right around the corner, but I'm full of excitement.

In 2008 my movie, King's Highway, finally found a home on DVD. I was so proud and couldn't wait for the world to see it. However, no matter how much I call it "my" movie, I know that a team of people worked with me in front of and behind the camera to make it a sweet little picture.

A couple years ago I wrote a comic book that my writing partner and I released. We'd hoped that there would be an entire series. Unfortunately everything stalled when our artists got too busy. Again, I'm so proud of that comic book. Yet I didn't do it on my own. In fact, my co-writer, Jeff Marsick, paid for most of it.

BASEMENT SONGS is my blood, sweat and tears. It's success and failure rests on me. I am so excited for the world to read it. I'm excited for the friends and followers of the Popdose column to see the differences between the original posts and the narrative I've created for the book. I'm excited that new readers may discover it. And I'm excited that there's potential to raise money for the CF Foundation.

This calls for something fun.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Book Cover

Behold the front cover of BASEMENT SONGS. This was the third of three ideas for the cover, and certainly the best. It was designed by a talented artist based in Los Angeles named Joe Game. I've know Joe a little over a year now; our friendship began based on a mutual appreciation for the Gaslight Anthem. If you don't know that band, check them out today!

When I was tossing around my ideas for the cover Joe offered to help out. My original plan was to place my beloved Emerson boombox (below) on the cover, a concept that Joe began working with while the family and I were in Florida for our Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. However, when I returned he'd been inspired in a completely different direction. Joe's idea of making my mix tape of Basement Songs look like and actual mix tape blew me away. Not only did he capture the heart of the book, but he gave it a unique appearance.

The cassette featured on the cover is actually the very first mix tape I made for Julie, back in 1992. Among other songs, it contained a certain Springsteen tune that was played on our wedding night. That song was...

You didn't think I'd tell you did you? I want you to read the book!

Please look up Joe and tell him how awesome the cover looks. His web address is and his Facebook page is

Monday, November 26, 2012

Kindle version...

Hmm. Been working on the Kindle version and it's coming along very quickly. Is it possible there will be an advance release over the weekend for my e-book readers? Stay tuned.

The cover.... page!

And now the cover.... page!
The front cover to the book should be completed tomorrow! Until then, Here's a look at the cover page on the inside of the book, which hints at the cool design being done by Joe Game aka Chogrin Art. Let me know what you think!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Porcupine Tree/chapter preview

Today I'm previewing a chapter from the book. Last year, the day after Thanksgiving was the final time I got to see Seann. I wanted to pay tribute to him and wrote this for Popdose in January. I've also included it as the final chapter of the book.


I could sense a presence at the foot of my bed; someone standing there, waiting for me to wake up.  Raising my head, my eyes fought their way through the haze caused by the alcohol and turkey I’d consumed the night before.  It was my brother-in-law, Seann, dressed in his motorcycle jacket and his backpack hanging over one shoulder.  His mouth curled into the cocksure smile that never seemed to leave his face.
The night before, Thanksgiving, he’d joined us for a feast at my brother’s house.  We hadn’t seen Seann in a while, and it was a pleasure to catch up.  All in attendance came from Karyn’s side of the family yet I always found it beautiful that Seann could effortlessly fit in with them.   Just as they had welcomed Julie and me into their lives many years ago, they did the same with Seann.  It helped that he was so personable and an interesting individual to be around. If you asked him, he could talk to you about just about anything.trans
It wasn’t always that way, though.  When I first met Seann, he was a cute, ten-year-old boy in love with the Cleveland Indians and the game of baseball.  He was also pretty nonverbal.  Our conversations generally went something like this:
Me:  “What’s up, dude?”
Seann:  “Hmm. Not much.”
Me:  “Indians look pretty good.  I really like the team they've put together, including that Lofton guy!  I love him!”
Seann:  “Hmm.”
And that was about it.  I was content with having this type of relationship with Seann seeing as I’d bonded with Julie’s other brother, Michael, over shared interests in music, movies and comics.  Still, I hoped that someday Seann and I might connect, despite the fact that Julie and I lived in California and he resided in Northeast Ohio. 
Everything changed the day Seann took up drumming.
Having played drums throughout my entire adolescence and into college, I could finally relate to my young brother-in-law and really get to know him.  To my great surprise, Seann didn’t just bang around on the drums, playing to the radio; he excelled at the instrument through discipline, hours of practice and an innate sense of rhythm.  He found a way to express himself, and it was awesome. As any drummer can tell you, it’s a joy to listen and watch a natural talent on the kit, and Seann was a true natural.  We now spoke the same language.  Instead of grunts and mumbles, Seann and I began having conversations about drum kits, tuning, cymbal brands, drumsticks and which drummers he admired the most.
I'll admit that I took secret pleasure in being able to jam every time Julie and I went back to Cleveland, and Seann was always gracious to give up his drum stool whenever I asked.  There were occasions when he would hang out just to watch me play.  I’ll wager to say, though, that he didn’t receive as much pleasure in watching me as I did when he was behind his kit.
When the time came for Seann to apply to colleges, I was intrigued that he was considering Bowling Green State University, my alma mater.  He wanted to major in music and seeing as I’d spent four years roaming the halls of BG’s music school, I felt that I could offer my two cents.  We discussed the school’s excellent music program and the great campus atmosphere.  I'm not sure if what I had to say had any sway in his decision, but Seann chose BG in the fall of 2000.
At Bowling Green, Sean transformed from a great drummer into well-rounded percussionist and musician.  His studies introduced him to a variety of instruments that added richness to his skills.  In addition, he became interested in sound engineering and began thinking about a career as a sound designer for films. 
It was such a marvel to watch the light of his spirit shine.  This was no truer than when he returned from a trip to Ghana, Africa. An openness and a joy for life were bursting from him as he regaled the family with stories of his trip abroad.  Africa had fortified his soul and given him a new purpose in life.
In 2005, Seann graduated from college and moved to Los Angeles.  In Southern California he really came into his own.  For a short time he slept on our couch, made daily treks over the mountain into Hollywood and soon hooked up with some Ohio friends in that area, taking up residence on their couch.  Eventually, he found a place in Venice, a city close to the beach and full of culture. 
With the two industries in which he wanted to succeed surrounding him, Seann flourished.  Moreover, the access to nature – oceans, forests, mountains – kept him in tune with his physical and spiritual sides.  We began seeing less of him as his new life took off and he became busier, working as a sound designer and composer for a small production company, even recording and distributing his own music.
Still, Seann was never too busy to visit when we called.  All it took was the pleading voice of Sophie on the other end of the phone and he would ride up to our house on his motorcycle for a home-cooked dinner and quality catching up.  Each year when it came time for the CF Great Strides walks, he never had to be reminded.  In fact, he would ask when the walk was taking place so that he could program it into his calendar.  I will never forget his dedication to the children, not just to my kids, who had the good fortune of seeing him regularly, but also to his nieces and nephews who lived on the other side of the country.
Whenever the two of us got together, I was eager to talk about film, music or baseball.  I never would have given Avenged Sevenfold a chance if it hadn’t been off of his recommendation, I would not have been able to say that Thirty Seconds to Mars is not my thing, and I never would have discovered Porcupine Tree, the British prog metal band with a cult following in America.
During the Christmas of 2010, as I scrolled through his iTunes, their album, In Absentia, popped up on the screen.
“Those guys are great,” he told me, “you really should listen to them.” 
Intrigued, I copied the album to my iPod.  Months later, while commuting to work, I fell in love with the record.  The multiple time changes, the lush harmonies, the slick production – everything reminded me of my favorite Yes album from 1983, 90125.  In particular, the second track, “Trains,” stuck its hooks into me and had me singing it for days.  Because he was the only person I knew who’d ever heard of this band, I always associated the album with Seann.
It should come as no surprise that when Seann was killed in a traffic accident last December, I sought comfort in the music that made me feel closest to him.  To numb the hours, days and weeks following his tragic death, to block out the screaming in my head and the hot tears of sorrow, I listened to “Trains” over and over again – on the train, in my office and before I went to bed, forcing myself to sleep.  Sometimes it was a great help, and at others it was just the noise I needed to help me get through the grieving.
I’m so fortunate to have known this man. As I said, he was a good uncle, a good friend and a brother to me.  Was Seann perfect? No.  But who in their 20’s is?  He was still learning, growing, trying to figure out this world and how to make it better, trying to find his place in it.  I'm so glad that he decided to spend Thanksgiving with us last year, to have him join us in the good food and company that the holiday symbolizes.  The next morning, while Jacob slept and Julie was out shopping with Sophie, Seann entered my bedroom to say goodbye before leaving.
It was the last time I ever saw him.
He stood at the end of my bed, dressed in his motorcycle jacket, his backpack hanging over one shoulder.  His mouth curled into the cocksure smile that never seemed to leave his face.  I craned my neck to look at him.
“S’up?” I asked.
“I’m taking off,” he replied.
“Mmm, yeah.”
“Tell Julie I said goodbye.”
“Hmm.  Yeah.  Sure.”
“See ya.”
“See ya.”
I fell back on to my pillow while Seann left the house.
He walked across the driveway and started up his motorcycle, parked right outside the bedroom window. 
As I drifted back to sleep, I could hear the sound of his motorcycle drive down our street and fade off into the distance.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2 week countdown

2 weeks until the book is released. Are you excited? I am.

It was around this time in 1987 that the Whomobile, the car I drove throughout high school, gave out and died in the middle of Lorain Road in North Olmsted. In honor of that noble beast (I think my memory is a little cloudy), here are the Who and one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mom & Dad

My parents were in town this weekend for the first ever Malchus clambake. It's hard not to get nostalgic whenever my folks are around. Although they moved to Tucson over 10 years ago, and Julie and I have been in Southern California for nearly 19 years, I still consider the house I grew up in my "home." The fact that I'm always back in North Olmsted (where Julie's parents moved) reenforces this feeling.

Nail biting...

Now the nail biting begins. Next week I'm supposed to record a podcast with my Popdose co-horts, Matt Wardlaw and Jeff Giles. I sent them the book on Friday night and they're the first two people to read the final draft.  Logically, I should be thinking, "Hey, these guys already like the column, what am I worried about?" However, there is still that side of me - the writer side - that fears rejection.

It can't be as bad as the reactions to "King's Highway" can it? I mean, some people HATED that movie (I shouldn't publicize that, should I. What I meant to say is that some people just didn't GET the movie. Yeah, that's it).

I think I'm more nervous that two people I highly respect are reading the book and I really hope they like it.

Not that I don't want everyone to like it. Because I do. I'm a writer, see, and we're neurotic messes.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jake!

Today was this guy's birthday:

In honor of Jacob's birthday, here is one of his songs. Enjoy!

Once more with feeling

Tonight I completed my final pass at the book. I hope it's up to the standards that readers are used to. I've done my best, having read and re-read the book six times and had two people proofread the manuscript. If I don't stop now I could be revising the book forever. In fact, I rewrote the introduction of a chapter on  the train ride home tonight.

It's done. I have to move forward and trust that I've done my best and the people will appreciate all the hard work that has gone into self-publishing the book. Now I will spend the next two weeks finalizing the details, like completing the cover, building the master PDF that will become the book (a painstaking but necessary process) and figuring out how to upload and create the Kind version of the book. That last one seems easy, but I'm always suspicious when things appear too easy.

For all of you who are following the progress of the book, I'll be filling in more of the details about it in the coming weeks. For now, since it's after midnight and I have work in the morning, I'll just say goodnight.


PS- Oh what the hell, here's They Might Be Giants!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A little Journey for your Tuesday

What, you didn't think Journey would get some love in the book? Here's a great way to get through Tuesday. "Still They Ride," from ESCAPE.

And in case you haven't figured it out, yes, I am trying to post all of the songs mentioned in BASEMENT SONGS.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


December 4, 2012.

As I typed this date to announce the day the book will go on sale, I realized the significance of it. I must admit that I chose it because I thought it would give people enough time to make their purchase and get a copy before the holidays. It's the first Tuesday of December and all new books usually hit shelves on Tuesdays.

But seeing December 4 typed out in front of me... it's a day away from the one year marker of my brother-in-law Seann's tragic death.

One f'n year

As I wrote in the book, BASEMENT SONGS wouldn't have happened if I wasn't inspired by Seann and the way he embraced 21st Century methods of releasing his art to the world. He wanted to get his music heard and it wasn't about sales so much as it was about sharing.

Now I don't believe it was a random selection of December 4th, and whatever fears I have about not completing it on time or not figuring out the technology are abated. I have someone watching over me and he's going to help me get this done in time. That I really believe.

December 4, 2012.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Heavenly Day, no matter what

After the degree of rancor we've lived through these past six months, I think it's time to take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we live in a country that allows people to express their opinions and practice democracy.

No matter which way you voted, I think we all must agree that Patty Griffin has one of the most heavenly voices in music. Here's a song to get you through the day.

BTW- in this video, she's singing with Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller and Shawn Colvin. Man, I wish I could have seen that tour!


Monday, November 5, 2012

One step closer

Today I received my ISBN number in the email. It's funny how little things like a series of numbers can excite you, but these numbers, the barcode you find on the back of every book, make the whole project feel more legitimate. All that's left now is to complete the cover, including taking a photo of myself -  blech - and piecing together the final PDF.

It's the first week of November and I'm confident that the book will be ready in a month, just in time for the holidays. Can you think of a better way to spend your Christmas day than sitting around the fire, glass of wine (or beer, or Scotch) in hand, feet propped up and a copy of BASEMENT SONGS to comfort you into the wee hours of the morning?


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The No-brainer of the Book Sales

This was a no-brainer, so I don't know why it's taken me so long to post the news.

All profits from the sale of the book will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I could say something cute like "Hey, not only are you getting a book of essays that will ROCK your world, but you're also helping a great cause," but I won't (even though I kind of just did).

The truth is, the people who are going to buy BASEMENT SONGS are already fans and I want them to know that they're helping out our family and thousands of others. If that inspires more people to give the book a chance, then that's icing on the cake.


The first appearance by Mr. Springsteen

Bruce gets plenty of mention in BASEMENT SONGS. "The Rising" has been an important song for our family and it seems appropriate considering all that's happening on the east coast. Stay safe, everyone, and lend a hand if you're able.

A brief message from our editor

As some people know, I initially only had a Facebook page for the book. Then I got good advice to start a webpage, as well. So these early entries are re-postings of comments I made on the FB page. Starting tomorrow, the two will correspond. Thus, my non-Facebook readers will get the same information. We all good? Awesome. Thanks!

Cover underway

The cover is underway. Pretty excited about it. Meanwhile, as I complete my final polish before I hand the book off for a final proofread, I'll share this video. Witness the insanity of the B-52's performing one of the songs featured in BASEMENT SONGS. It's "Rock Lobster."

PS- First three people to make it through the entire video get a free copy of "King's Highway." Good luck!