please don't stop the music

random netizens seem to be on the scent of the peptides music project, modest though it is. this review of 'stereo stereo' popped up and holy shit, it's pretty positive. then this writer singled me out and posted my aimee mann cover on a track list. oh god!

also, the host of CHUO's 'do you hear what i hear' played a couple of tracks on his show last week and announced that he'll be spinning the whole album tomorrow night. eeps.

lord knows music is one of the only things that makes me feel better. that's why i'm glad to be back to guitar lessons and mediocre songwriting, why i've accepted to sing a couple of soul tunes at a friend's wedding next weekend, why i'm hopeful about the acoustic set we're planning to perform at the mercury lounge next month, and probably why i've been downloading the likes of otis redding and martha redbone at itunes today.

neat how things curiously percolate out there as i'm holed up in the house, fretting about whether or not to get a real job and how the hell to kick my own writing ass to let loose all the seemingly important things my gut wants to purge. oh but i've got big plans for enforcing a new (and strict) schedule wherein despite the absence of a benefactor to bankroll my stupid dreams, writing will be more disciplined than ever. it may be the same plan i announce to myself at the top of each month, but this time will be different godammit.

on the health front, i'm in no hurry to ascertain why my body has downshifted so drastically. the coma quest continues, too. i found myself formulating kiddie rhymes in my hazy head this morning in an attempt to justify another day and night of unwellness: "maybe it's the pillows, maybe it's the bed, maybe it's cuz mine is such a messed up head..."

late yesterday, the snow finally decided to come. and stay. i find myself relieved. there is something comforting about the world chilling down beneath a layer of frosting, if only for a few months. i'm charmed by the prettiness of this season, sure. but winter makes people run inside and curl up under things, slow down, hide out. so i guess it's the season when my habits are less peculiar. yeah, that's it.


old news and catchup

a couple of webby things came and went -- never too late to share.

my friend and fellow communicator robin phoned me in columbus on october 30th to interview me about vote today ohio for his social media podcast. the interview appears halfway through this episode, posted november 3rd. i sound a bit rhaspy and out of it, but reasonably intelligible, thank god.

and an update on the peptides: popular music blogger 'cover lay down' reviewed our covers at the bottom of this post. other than his reference to us as a 'musical theatre troupe', i don't disagree with anything he had to say. relief. in related news, we launched 'stereo stereo' at the mercury lounge's 12th anniversary party last weekend, and i took a small handful of photos to mark the occasion.

me? 1.5 weeks home from the ohio experience and not much less discombobulated than when i unlocked my door and crossed back over the threshold. i'm working on it, though. the gloomy weather ain't helping. there hasn't yet been a solid snow, but it is going to land and stay any minute. til then, the days are dark, damp, and short, which makes me want to curl up and read more than clamor back to sustainable routines.

the emotionality and fear of post-ohio processing are less intense, but i still haven't managed to jumpstart the writing-down-of-it-all, which needs to happen soon in order, i think, for me to get repositioned and forwardly postured. i have, at least, decided on an approach -- one that seems less overwhelming than 'omg write down Everything. NOW'. i'm taking it one anecdote at a time: blurbs about voters and funny or edifying moments and places and instances. i figure they will serve well enough on their own or somehow weave together to reveal macro level conclusions. doesn't really matter, i just need to download the stuff, run my fingers over it, and move on.

meanwhile, i've been laying low. not quite ready to socialize yet, at least not in that energetic, enthusiastic kind of way. i've spent some time with a couple of VIPs, but that's it. and i'm ok with that. being away so long under such intense circumstances can't help but force you to think about who you missed or didn't, and why.

i shan't linger in this limbo too much longer. but lord knows i'm less than sure about what's next.


this is it

i can report that a few minutes ago, the last phoner was talking to the last identified voter and as soon as he said 'but no sir, there's still time, here's the address where you should run to get in line to vote' we all started yelling into the phone GO GO GO GO GO like bona fide lunatics. then we piled on for a weird group hug. and that pretty much sums up many things.

i can report that i am presently nursing a mix of nausea and excitement. not bad, considering i've spent most of the day wondering what to feel at all. auto pilot. numb. numb.

i can report that our voter taxi operation today surpassed even my wildest expectations. whereas last night erik and i were speculating we'd field maybe 20 ride requests, our final number as of ten minutes ago was somewhere near 60 happy, chauffeured obama voters. it was nutty at times, lulled at times, but so profoundly satisfying to transport those people - THOSE VOTES - when they almost mattered the most.

i can report that no one here in this coalition staging site is feeling SURE of anything, but that HOPE is in every air molecule i smell and breathe right now. in moments, i will pack my car and hurtle up the highway to columbus where i will meet the 'family' with whom i've lived and worked for damn near seven weeks and no matter what the historic results are tonight, there will be cocktails to consume and comas to slip into. and when i wake up, i will wend my way up interstates in a haze of relief to wrap myself up in my home and friends and delicious, amazing memories.


campaigning in ohio - dispatch #6

this november 3rd has been as balmy as any warm summer's day here in cincinnati. the line-up at the early voting center is already challenging the lengths it achieved on saturday. twas apparently wrapped around a downtown city block by 7.30 this morning, and by all accounts, will be that long when the sheriff makes an arbitrary cut-off at 4 pm.

i have been staffing our voter taxi dispatch line since 8 am. i'm in the america votes election staging office in a cute office with a cute view of cincy's west side on a very cute E-minus-1. i share this office with the lively jessie jenkins of the naacp voter fund, who has kept me pretty much in stitches with his punchy mouth. beyond the thin walls, we are surrounded by the determined voices of telephone canvassers leaning in for the final push of confirmed or almost confirmed progressive voters. it is so cool to overhear them giving voters the toll free number that would lead straight to my ride line. i've been making canvass calls too, in the spaces in between, and am actually enjoying that contact, however limited, with the very people who could bring this thing home. as the day plods on, logistics people are keeping us watered and fed and coffeed here as members of my intrepid cincy voter shuttle team flit around this buzzing town to drive ohioans to the early voting center.

well now here it is: today is the last chance for early voters to get it done. the crowd is evidently thick, mostly enthusiastic. you really get the sense that people are doing more than show up to vote -- they're taking some sort of stand. i've managed to grab a few interviews and am always heartened to hear about the motivations of folks: 'a black man is so close to the white house you can almost taste it', 'i ain't never done anything that felt this important'. oh sure, people are cranky pants in those lines, but generally, the atmosphere i've seen is festive. there is music and dancing and whooping among the groans of pained feet. volunteers from any number of campaigns are doing their best to distribute water and snacks and folding chairs to the waiting voters; others are just helping keep spirits up with comedy and chants. the critical task is to keep people from defecting. we're just so aware of the unlikelihood of dropouts ever coming back -- even on election day. speaking of which, none of us is sure what tomorrow will bring. as for my organization, we hardly know whether to expect 20 or 200 ride requests. of greater concern is what trouble of a macro kind we might face. ohio voters know damn well the kind of problems that possibly await them at regular polling places tomorrow. that's why the early voting period has yielded such tremendous turn-out. and that's why it's been easy to feel fulfilled about the kind of work we have been able to do. meaningful.

bitter am i that i missed the mary j blige/jay-z event today. would have been uplifting, i think, if only for some tension relief. that tension would have either been aided or exacerbated had i attended the big barack/michelle rally in cincy last night -- i just wasn't sure how my crowd tolerance would hold up, not to mention the work erik and i knew was priority: oh driver-map-making and leaflet-dropping, you time suckers.

(i've been amused by the extent to which corporations seem to have climbed aboard the democracy express: starbucks is offering big coffees for anyone who claims to have voted; those same people can exchange their proud votership for a krispy kreme, too. jesus.)

most difficult to grasp, i think, is the notion that the end is finally here. the polls say things i should like, as does the pulse of the situation on which my finger has been firmly placed all this time. but i refuse to celebrate until it is time to celebrate. this night four years ago in a decorated madison ballroom was absolutely the saddest night of my entire life -- and we didn't even like john kerry that much.

i think i've been surprised by the range of emotions this roller coaster has been. what was first fatigue has given way to homesickness that is thick. every single feeling is amplified by the fatigue and intensity of it all. i miss my bed and routine and the easy silence of close friendship. i've come to realize just how deeply i appreciate things like the fidelice bakery, prolific middle eastern cuisine, and the daily presence of the french language.

on the one hand, my ohio stint has flown by, but on the other, it is a lifetime. there just winds up being such an attachment to a place the longer you work in its roots, you know? i'm glad i chose to spend the duration in ohio, not play political tourist as i once thought i might. there are pros and cons to either choice, i suppose, but i'm sure content with mine. i have learned things yet to sink it and felt things never to be forgotten. i'm wobbling over all that i've built here, and all that i'll have to leave behind in just a few fleeting days. including people. if this whole nutty edifying draining thing hasn't been all about the people, nothing ever will be.


campaigning in ohio - dispatch #5

i/we crafted an op-ed that just went up at alternet.org. BEHOLD AN EXCERPT:

"I've thought of more excuses why not to vote, why not to do this," Bobby told us. "And each time, it has cost me more than it would have cost me to get up off my a** -- excuse my French -- and try to make a change."

So said Bobby Johnson in the back of one of our Vote Today Ohio shuttles. When he spotted our van at the Bishop Cosgrove Centre, a food pantry in Cleveland, he climbed right on in. He hadn't voted in years, but on October 4th, 2008, Bobby became one of the 67,408 Ohioans who cast a ballot during the first week of Ohio's new Early Voting period.

We have seen and heard Bobby's story repeated from Cincinnati to Youngstown, from Athens to Toledo. So many unlikely voters we drove to Ohio Early Voting Centers represent this truth: elections are changing. You might even say democracy itself, in fact, is changing. For the better.

Ohio no longer has an Election Day. Innovative updating of the process has now yielded an Election Month. And we've seen the embracing of this change in the faces of the very voters most positively impacted by it.

This year, an estimated 1 out of 3 Americans will cast their ballot either through absentee or early voting. Colorado is even expected to see half its turnout amongst early voters. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner opened Early Voting Centers in every county on September 30 and will keep them open through November 3. She has gone openly and vehemently on the record as supporting Early Voting as a means of broadening access, and estimates that "25 percent of Ohio's registered voters, or the number of voters voting, will have voted before Election Day."


Our vans have transported all manner of Ohioans -- of Bobby Johnsons -- who are unlikely to have voted otherwise. Nick drove an elderly Dayton man to vote early who figured his absentee ballot would be lost at the housing project where he lives. Caty drove Columbus college students who were too excited to wait until November 4. Erik drove a transient Cincinnati woman who for forty years, has abstained from elections, thinking her vote didn't matter. Rafiq has driven countless young Cleveland men who most people fear or overlook as part of the urban scenery.

Moving nearly 3500 Ohioans to Early Voting Centers has helped us understand all too well why opponents would devote precious time and resources to convincing the public that early voting is trouble: because it helps bring marginalized people in from the margins. And that must threaten them to the bone. Challenging democracy, indeed.

Vote Today Ohio is eagerly calling any and all volunteers to help with the final push.