May 19, 2015

Christopher and Yvonne


That's Yvonne Prinz, whose forthcoming book If You're Lucky I'm in the middle of reading and it's great.

If you want King Dork Approximately, I hear they still have some copies left.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:51 PM

Support the Arts, by which I mean: Me and My Things


I came across this drawing on the internet somewhere and saved it and unfortunately I can no longer find who drew it (if you did draw it and you notice this let me know so I can credit you. I dig it.)

Anyway, as you can see and as you may have heard, the MTX is doing a couple weekends' worth of shows with the Queers and Screeching Weasel. Some have described it as "the bill of the century" and though it's pretty early in the century to judge, sure why not? The Bill of the Century, ladies and gentlemen. Also, I've heard a bit of the new SW album (Baby Fat Act 1) and it's stunning. We've got some things in the works too that you might get a bit of a glimpse of and of course the Queers are always great. So, what I'm saying is, it should be a pretty good time. Tickets are going fast but they're still available for all shows as far as I know, and I've included ticket links to those listings.

Also I'm doing the Bay Area Bookfest on Saturday June 6th, and by doing I mean I will be there at 2:30 PM trying to draw attention to myself and my book among a whole lot of other authors trying to do the same thing with themselves and their books. And if you're in Sacramento on June 19, you might want to see us play an outdoor punk rock festival type show.

More stuff may be added, you never know, but as it stands this is where things stand.

Saturday, June 6

Bay Area Bookfest, Downtown Berkeley. 2:30 PM

Not yet sure exactly what I'll be doing or where precisely I will be doing it but the Festival is in the downtown area around the BART station and I have a half hour. I figure I'll present my book in that way I have, with songs and self-deprecating anecdotes.

Friday, June 19

The MTX is playing at the Sacramento Concerts in the Park event, along with the Four Eyes, The Enlows, Rebel Punk, and DJ Whores. Cesar Chavez Plaza, Sacramento, CA, 5PM - 9PM.

If you come, we will rock you.

Friday, July 24

Screeching Weasel, Queers, MTX at the Howard Theater, 620 T Street, NW (at T & 7th), Washington DC. 7:30 PM. Buy tickets here.

Saturday, July 25

Screeching Weasel, Queers, MTX at Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street, NY, NY. 7 PM. Tickets here.

Sunday, July 26

Screeching Weasel, Queers, MTX at The Royale, 279 Tremont Street, Boston MA. 6PM. Tickets here

Friday, August 7

Screeching Weasel, Queers, MTX at Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA. 6:30 PM. Tickets here.

Saturday, August 8

Screeching Weasel, Queers, MTX at The Observatory, 3503 South Harbor Boulevard, Santa Ana, CA. 6:30 PM. Tickets here.

Sunday, August 9

Screeching Weasel, Queers, MTX at The Observatory North Park, 2891 University Avenue, San Diego CA. 6:30 PM. Tickets here.

So there you have it. As I said, there may be a few things to add here and there, and if there are I will add them so watch this space.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:41 PM

One of Life's Little Lessons, Happening Still

My agent and friend Steve Malk texted me this photo alerting me to the headline:


My first thought, being the paranoid narcissist that I am, was the extremely unlikely and rather alarming one that Barbara Ehrenreich had written an article about my own obsolescence, somehow, for some reason. In fact, of course it's nothing to do with me: it's about robots taking everyone's jobs. But after a little thought I realized what he was getting at, which is that one of my old songs, "The Dustbin of History," has the line "welcome to obsolescence." Small world, or something.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:53 PM

May 15, 2015

A One Man Punk Rock Tin Pan Alley to Nowhere

Looking through old lyrics notebooks and noticing how much time and effort I had to have put into trying to be a one man punk rock tin pan alley to nowhere in the 90s, all these closely-written pages of intricate, internally-rhymed, love lorn songs and bits of what could have turned into songs most of which were never likely to be heard by anyone and have by now effectively just disappeared, all that's left of them being the scribbles. Like I was operating a kind of delusional self-staffed and -attended Cole Porter Fantasy Camp or something, and sometimes bits of it that only hinted at the extent of the total's insanity would find their way on to records, and people would say things like "oh that's [too] clever". So weird, because I don't remember having spent all that much time doing that when obviously I did, and of course kind of embarrassing like most found old writing. "You've come a long way baby, and it shows, and heaven knows you've gone through rough terrain; you may have changed your tune but it's too soon to ascertain..." Endlessly.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 11:32 PM

May 11, 2015

The Cold Hard Facts of Life

Like, I imagine, a lot of writers/musicians/artists I often get messages from very nice people interested in helping me out, asking how best to go about it. For any writer, the answer is going to be: go to a store (in meat space or on line-- doesn't matter which) and spend actual money on a new (not used) book. There's nothing wrong with not doing that, but if you really do want to help the author, and influence whether or not more books by that author will see the light of day, helping the book is the way to do it, and buying the book is the way to do that. If you're really keen, you can encourage others to do the same. Go ahead then, philauthropists, show me what you got.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:01 PM

May 09, 2015

How literary is to literary?

Word on the street is my songwriting is "too literary." (Or, as in the title, "to literary" as the most recent one spelt it.) At least I've been seeing this pop up on the internet here and there all of a sudden. First I heard it was in Larry's offhand response to Last Will's generously hyperbolic reference to me as a "HOF quality songwriter", a week or so ago, but now it's being said elsewhere. The long arm of Livermore? Some other "meme"? Anyway, I wouldn't disagree, necessarily, nor agree either, and in fact if someone has to be too literary it might as well be me. But I thought it worthy of mention, in my capacity as a narcissist.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:45 PM

Shoot Out the Lights

They've been making an effort to improve the traffic light system in my neck of the woods (North Oakland/Temescal.) And by "improve" I mean, gradually making it more and more complicated. They keep adding new lights and varying the pattern in which the various signals and combinations of signals are deployed, presumably with the goal of providing in an ordered sequence an unobstructed and uncontested free route for every conceivable traffic action, vehicular and pedestrian. And while these specific permissions protocols cycle through, one by one (though in no necessarily predictable order), all other activity must cease.

For pedestrians, this means waiting at the corner to cross the street for longer and longer periods. There's a button to push, and it lights up to indicate that it knows you have pushed it, but it clearly has no other effect than lighting up. The traffic lights go through their various combinations of flashing, like the computer banks in Adam West's Bat Cave, the cars creep by, each waiting for its turn, four versions of left turn, four versions of right turn, everything else halting while each of the Byzantine variations gets its chance; and the don't walk guy on the display is a solid red for... ages and ages. A taunting electronic voice says "wait" over and over. The chirping bird sound, intended I have to assume to let blind people know when it's safe to cross -- it always makes me wonder what mayhem might be caused by a mischievous or merely oblivious real life bird -- well, it never seems to chirp. It is all done, I'm sure, in the spirit of efficiency and safety.

But here's what happens in the real world. People on their way to the BART station worry about missing their train, figure the system is broken or simply get tired of waiting, throw up their hands, and cross against the light. Others see them doing this and run across themselves. And there is now an unofficial pedestrian folk culture of ignoring the lights entirely. They just cross and hope for the best, shaking their heads at the suckers who are still waiting, pushing and pushing the placebo-like walk button.

And the more complicated the system, the more routines and variations they add, the more frequently it all seems to break down mechanically or electronically. This situation is indicated by all lights flashing red. Then it's just a free for all, where cars and pedestrians alike put their heads down and zoom across hoping not to get hit by a bus. Because there is no other choice.

Usually they fix these physical breakdowns within a day, but there was one time recently when for whatever reason they didn't. Instead they put up makeshift simple four way stop signs, on poles set in temporary portable concrete foundations.

And this was to miraculous effect. Pedestrians and drivers had to use their judgement instead of blindly following a seeming irrational system of brain dead, needlessly complex permissions and prohibitions. And I have no doubt that everyone, drivers and pedestrians, got through the intersection more quickly, more efficiently, and with less aggravation and anxiety than we all have when the system "works." (And for what it's worth, though it's not a good "sample" and is just from personal observation, there were no accidents that I ever saw during this period; on the other hand, crashes are pretty frequent when all systems are go.) When it happens again, I'll consider myself lucky, as crossing the street will have become, however briefly, a less vexing experience. You know, it's the little things.

So of course, I'm going to draw a cutesy moral here. The more complicated and restrictive the rules, the more difficult they will be to maintain and enforce, the less people tend to respect them, and the less likely they are to follow them in the end. And sometimes simple, easily understood systems that leave room for judgement are better. You could apply this to all sorts of things, but hey, what about: taxes? Shoot out the lights.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:29 PM