February 17, 2012

Somerville Scout (Jan/Feb)

Sophia Cacciola and Michael J. Epstein at the Regent Theatre.
Married To The Music: Musicians Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola are so filled with ideas, even their side projects have side projects ("Somerville Scout", Jan./Feb. 2012, No. 13)
Sea monkeys, x-ray spectacles and dirt from Dracula’s castle are a few of the things Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola have thought about – and written about, and tried to collect – since starting their fourth band, Darling Pet Munkee, last spring. [CONTINUE]

February 14, 2012

A Love Letter to Arizona

Dear Arizona,
    I confess to you that my love for you has only grown after moving across the country. As you enter your one-hundredth year of statehood I congratulate you. You may lack the historic magnitude of Massachusetts and New York; the laid-back ocean breezes of California; and the seasonal patterns of most other states; but AZ, baby, you’re in a class all your own and I love ya.
    You are an enchanting region where the rocks run red and geology spreads its wings. From the pockmarked border towns with miles of dirt in between, through the Sonoran desert spilt in the middle, to the forests of Flagstaff and its hidden jewel lakes, up North through the gaping Grand Canyon and to the snow-capped mountains that watch over suburban palaces.
    I’ve driven sunset-first on your highways that circulate around one another. I’ve had too many close calls of crashing into other cars trying to catch a glimpse of the sunlight shrapnel. Here the sun is a god and it casts down the sins of the universe. Sweat drops ten months out of the year. When I walk across Lindsay and McKellips my line of vision reaches out for ten miles. In the distance mountains are like prehistoric whales lurching from the ocean. If I should find myself drunk, lost and weary in the desert, I know the mountain ranges will always lead me home—Four Peaks to the Superstitions to Red to Camelback. A fortress that protects the valley. An open sky to watch over you always. And when night falls and the sun closes shop an achingly gorgeous array of purples, pinks and slices of orange mix and mesh with exhaustive pollution for the most beautiful showcase of nature anyone could ever imagine in one lifetime. Arizona, happy birthday you devil!

February 13, 2012


One of the dirtiest, most filthiest, things just happened to me. In discussing the impact of Amar'e Stoudemire fitting back into the New York Knicks' newfound rotation, with sudden superstar Jeremy Lin effectively working the point, ESPN showed old clips from the Steve Nash/Stoudemire era from 2002—10 in Phoenix. The real disgusting and most offensive part, though, was not the steepening sense of disappointment, but, when the clips ended it was Bruce “Bowtie” Bowen, the ex-Spur, doing the analyzing with his dumb face. I had to take a shower to let all the aggression slide away.
Bowen was on the San Antonio team that beat the Suns in the Western Conference Finals in 2007 winning the championship that year, and it was Bowen’s multiple cheap-shots to Nash’s groin, and Stoudemire’s ankle the following year, that created a hostility between the two teams that will never die (Horry, Duncan, Ginobli: you are not forgotten). But this is not about holding a grudge the size of Texas, but rather paying tribute to the best point guard to ever play the game of basketball. A point guard who makes everyone he plays with (even Lopez) better. Stoudemire flourished with Mr. Assist and is now considered one of the top power forwards in the league. No one threads the needle with such grace or has the cool and calm to dribble in and out of human trees and wait patiently for the perfect pick-and-roll to present itself. And if none of that pans out, he’ll just do a quick hop and drain a three. That’s Nash 101 and we in Phoenix hold onto it with our collective grip like it’s a dying baby slipping from life’s grasp on a hospital bed. Steve Nash, 38, heads to his eighth All-Star game Feb. 26 as a reserve and he’ll be there representing the team that gave him the platform to be a star.
In today's hypercharged market, basketball stars are constantly chasing the next best scenario. Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams have all suffered from inflated ego and visions of gold and confetti, but still have had trouble controlling their destinies. Their anxieties have created an atmosphere of constant discontent in this league. If your name isn’t in lights and you’re not immediately deemed Larry O’Brien-bound by a bunch of ex-basketball star hacks, then you’ve failed by many. Forget chemistry, loyalty and honor, it’s nothing but a crab factory on this beach.
By all accounts, Nash could’ve asked to be traded from the organization in these last few seasons and no one would’ve blamed him. But that’s not his style. He stuck around when Coach D'antoni left; looked for the beauty in adding Shaq—the biggest, clunkiest player ever—into a “run-and-gun” offense; was patient after two early playoff exits and two years under .500; and still remains mired in the post-Richardson, post-Dragic, post-Carter era we now find ourselves in today.
“Maybe I’m old school,” Nash says, on honoring his contract amid all the terrible moves the front office has made. (It was only two years ago that we lost the Western Conference Finals at the hands of Ron Artest only to trade half the team away!) He could be shipped to New York or Orlando and get his ring by this June, but he’s hung around. That loyalty is next-to-impossible to find on any other team and before the unfortunate, damning event that he actually is traded, let’s pause and shout hallelujah for such an icon and one that may be the last of his kind. Steve Nash, you’re my hero (Monta Ellis ain’t nothin’ but a bitch to me).

February 05, 2012


Pale stone tan neighborhoods
that seem to never end, and
when they do it's nothing but
desert waiting to snap like a
bear trap the moment your paw
touches down. Every step
more watchful as the rooftop
shadows fall away. Dried out
cacti spine, snake holes, twigs
looking like scorpions, tarantulas
looking like dead weeds and
the most beautiful mountain-work
ever crafted beaming in front. It
causes awkward walking
patterns—dipping, swaying,
hopping—Bow down &
worship the rocks of time!
They breathe openly the light
of the sun, which rests eternally
on the shoulders of everyone.
* Home forever no matter
where my rent checks are

February 01, 2012

Thurston Moore Reminisces, Slides Into the Future

SOMERVILLE, MA--Last night marked a sort of return to The Somerville Theatre for Sonic Youth guitarist and vocalist Thurston Moore. The feedback-and-drone rock band last played the theatre early in their career in the 80s. On that night Moore threw a temper tantrum, left the stage thirty minutes early and locked himself in their van. “I’m back exorcising that demon,” he said with his typical smirk.
     This time around, the scene was different. Moore played in support of his third solo album, last year’s, Demolished Thoughts, with his new backing band. Christened Demolished Thoughts, the ensemble includes Keith Wood on acoustic guitar, Mary Lattimore on harp, John Maloney (former Burren employee) on drums, and Samara Lubelski on violin. A surprising split from Kim Gordon, his wife of twenty-seven years and co-founder, bassist and vocalist of Sonic Youth, threw the fate of the band in permanent jeopardy last year. No announcement has been made on their future.
     In his newest musical incarnation Moore is much calmer than that night in the 80s. Gone is the distorted destruction and wall of feedback from his previous work and in place are spiraling acoustic crescendos. The song structure is still mostly the same with long-winded outros that melt down and disintegrate in acoustic noise. Clearly there’s still a soft spot in his heart for Sonic Youth that this band only hints at, but this project follows its own meandering path.
     The group played songs from all of Moore’s solo discography, even reaching back to 1995’s Psychic Hearts. “Circulation” from Demolished Thoughts, roared out of control but was pulled from the static bog by Lattimore’s plucked harp strings. The addition of violin and harp created a constant classical drone that led the audience down stereophonic hallways of dread. Moore’s vocals are still the vocals of warning, dead-pan and off-putting.
     Moore was friendly with the audience and patient as they shouted senseless one-liners for attention. Between a few songs he offered his own beat-up poetry streaming free from his mind. Sentence fragments were mashed in a sweaty electrical pulp offering an angulated glimpse into life with his new band. One poem reflected on a beer-fueled heavy metal practice they had.
     Kurt Vile, who released the full-length (and #4 Best Album of 2011) Smoke Ring For My Halo and the EP So Outta Reach last year opened the evening. He brought his usual sleepy songs drenched in soft reverb and highlighted by his fishtail mumble. He stood mostly alone, center stage, with acoustic guitar, but was joined every few songs by Lattimore on harp.
     It was a casual show, a laid-back affair, the soundtrack to those final moments of a deep sleep and so, the rest of the night was spent in a perpetual awakening. Moore takes his Demolished Thoughts to The Allen Room at Lincoln Center in New York City tomorrow night.
Photos by Eli Jace