A Quick Update

Posted by Unknown | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013


Those of you who know me or who have followed this blog know that I'm a bit of an obsessive music hoarder. I've been collecting tunes for years, hosted my own radio show in college, and venture out to see as many performances as possible. It's been a while since I've contributed to the musical scene myself, but now things have changed.

Recently, I've begun writing (and editing) for an up-and-coming music site called Axis of Metal. Rather self explanatory, it's a site devoted to all genres of metal. I've listened to its various forms for years, now, and it's refreshing to be able to extend my writing into various other areas that I enjoy just as much as poetry and prose.

As far as everything else goes, I've been in a bit of a rut lately. The writing has been coming slow, but it's still there. I keep speaking about my manuscript. It's going to get finished. Even if I have to chain myself to this desk and slam my head across the keys of my typer...it will happen.

This year's first Prose in Pubs is taking place this coming Sunday, the 24th. Featuring Write Bloody poet Jon Sands and extraordinary, local poet friend of mine, Eric Wilson, this is going to be an incredible PiP. If you're in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, or anywhere close, this Sunday, stop by Jack's Draft House on the corner of Gibson and Prescott in Scranton at 4 p.m. Grab a bear and take a listen.

Next weekend I'm off to see Buddy Wakefield perform. There are no words right now. I'm far too excited to think of them. As if that were not enough, Andrea Gibson will also be coming to Scranton in May to perform. This year is already chalk full of amazing.

Til next time.



Attending Church with Chelsea Wolfe

Posted by Unknown | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Snow fell across Philadelphia in a silent hush. I was standing in the vestibule of the First Unitarian Church, avoiding the cold as best as I could, watching vehicles creep along Chestnut street. It was, relatively, quiet. It was the perfect setting for what I was about to witness. 

I had arrived in Philly around 10 A.M. after grabbing a few hours of sleep and catching the 7 o'clock bus south. Most of my day had been spent wandering the streets and browsing various shops and used bookstores. This was all secondary. What drew me to Philly was the chance to see Chelsea Wolfe perform. 

When I had learned of her tour and the stop in Philly, I was already too late to purchase tickets for the first show. I was, to say the least, disappointed. Chelsea Wolfe's albums have been spinning constantly this past year and filling the confines of my apartment with her hauntingly angelic vocals and the dark, but beautiful, shadows of her sounds. 

In October, Chelsea released her third, full-length studio album, Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, which she was now touring to support and which I, seemingly, was going to miss. Maybe it was simply by popular demand (I'd like to think it was my disappointed Tweet to Sargent House about the show already being sold out) that another show was added. 

Whatever the reason may be (probably popular demand), I hoped online and purchased a ticket as soon as they went on sale. The earlier, additional show sold out just as quickly as the first. But, here I was. An hour early, freezing my ass off, watching the snow fall like a funeral shroud over the city. 

Chelsea was scheduled to play in the side chapel of the First Unitarian. I had been to shows at the Church before, but they had always been in the basement. I'd never witnessed a show in the actual chapel, so I was, on top of everything else, excited by the prospect

When the door finally opened and I walked through the doors of the tiny side chapel, I knew that I was in for an extremely special and intimate show. Two rows of church pews lined the walls split by an aisle that led directly toward a makeshift altar where white candles with flickering flames surrounded a bouquet of white flowers in front of a smoke-charred American flag. I took my seat in the very first pew and awaited my baptism.

After a few tracks of Hawkwind over the PA system, the lights dimmed, leaving only a crimson stage light glowing across the altar and flag. The opening act, King Dude (don't let the name throw you), took their place in front of the congregation. Dressed in button-down black shirts and black slacks, slicked-back hair, and holding a glass of whiskey each, the two piece toasted the audience and began their set. 

I had never heard King Dude prior to this evening, but I was assured by friends that I would enjoy them. Their sound falls somewhere between Johnny Cash and Death in June with a healthy dose of pagan rituals and Satanic incantations. Somewhat of a contrast to the hosting venue, to say the least. At times, the Lucifer references seemed a bit hokey (see their "Lucifer's the Light of the World" track), but, overall, I enjoyed their set and will definitely look into them further.

The lights came back up, and the music returned to the PA system. This time it was a mix between 60's psych rock and doom. Chelsea appeared from the side entrance of the chapel, a handful of pages in her hand which she placed under the skull of an Ibex on a humble, worn table close to the main mic. Chelsea appeared in a long, white dress that made her look even more ethereal than her pale flesh and ice blue eyes did already.

She opened with "Apalachia", a track off her new album, and I was instantly drawn in. As Chelsea strummed her guitar, the violin slowly came in leading to the vocals. It's not often that a musician's voice sounds as clean and perfect live as it does on a recording. Chelsea takes that rarity a step further, producing even more passion and beauty live than you can achieve on a recording. Her voice is, simply, angelic and hauntingly beautiful.

Song after song, I was continually blown away by Chelsea's ability. The acoustic version of "Moses" was a great addition to the set and I hope it shows up somewhere in the future on a recording. Other highlights included a new song, which she didn't mention a title for, and closing the set with a live performance of "The Way We Used To" alone, building the song completely from her voice using a looper. She humbly thanked us and disappeared through the side door.

As I walked down the aisle toward the exit, I felt I had just received some sort of holy communion. That I had witnessed something extremely special. Over the past year, Chelsea has grown in popularity and I feel that performances set in such intimate settings will become rare or non-existent for her. Though, if it's completely up to her, that may not be the case. 

The hours spent in the frigid temperatures of Philadelphia were, ultimately, more than worth it. The snow was still falling as I climbed into the back of a cab. By the time I reached my friends house, the second show would be starting and another group of fortunate spectators would witness one of the most satisfying and incredible performances I've ever had the chance to see.


Watch the new video for Chelsea Wolfe's song "Flatlands"

Additional photos from the January 25th show in Philadelphia

Books Devoured in 2012...Onward to 2013

Posted by Unknown | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Tuesday, January 01, 2013


A new year means more writing and much more reading. Last year, I squeezed in 32 books. I even had time to review some of them on Goodreads. That site has been extraordinarily helpful with finding new reading material. Books I never would have found have been suggested to me or I've found them by chance. My "to read" list grows by the day. Below is what I devoured in 2012 with links to reviews, if I happened to write one, and where you can pick it up.

It was the year of Nabokov for me. His writing has completely captivated me and I can only imagine I'll be reading more of him in 2013. Total, I flipped 8,437 pages with The Satanic Verses being the longest book I read at 560 pages.

I've set a goal to read forty books this year, but I'm hoping to break through to fifty. What did you read in the past year that I should look into? What are you planning to read in 2013?


 The Smell of Good Mud 
by Lauren Zuniga

We Are Taking Only What We Need
by Stephanie Powell Watts

Live for a Living
by Buddy Wakefield

Death by Black Hole 
And other cosmic quandaries
by Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Moon is Down
by John Steinbeck

Capital Punishment
An indictment by a death-row survivor
by Billy Wayne Sinclair
and Jodie Sinclair

The Age of Reason
by Jean-Paul Sartre

Selected Poems
by Carl Sandburg

Satanic Verses
by Salman Rushdie

The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath

Laughter in the Dark
by Vladimir Nabokov

by Vladimir Nabokov

by Vladimir Nabokov

by Vladimir Nabokov

Moby Dick or The White Whale
by Herman Melville
Yes, I did read this
old, beaten, 

A Wonderment of Seasons
by John E. McGuigan

Don Juan in Hankey, PA
by Gale Martin

Julia and the Bazooka
by Anna Kavan

The God of our Dreams
by Le Hinton

The Garden of Eden
by Ernest Hemingway

The Short Stories
by Ernest Hemingway

by Terrance Hayes

Manufacturing Hysteria
A history of scapegoating, surveillance,
and secrecy in modern America
by Jay Feldman

by William Faulkner

The Big Hunger
by John Fante

Attack of the Theocrats!
by Sean Faircloth

The White Album: Essays
by Joan Didion

The God Delusion
by Richard Dawkins

Unfortunately, It Was Paradise
by Mahmoud Darwish

The Fifty Year Sword
by Mark Z. Danielewski
Get it

South of no North
by Charles Bukowski

Sailing Alone Around the Room
and other selected Poems
by Billy Collins

Garbled Mess

Posted by Unknown | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012


                  Today, I learned headlines

                                                   cut razor deep

                   I bleed confusion. 

                                                               Words won't form easily. 

                                                                                 They're g a r b l e d mess

                                                                                                                behind ribs.  

                                                   Can we talk about this?

                             Can we stop SCREAMING?

                                                                            I am not Republican


                   Liberal                       Conservative                          Christian                      Muslim

                I am not gun owner

                                                           I am not gun control

                                                                  I am human


                                                                                  I am  b    o     e
                                                                                              r    k     n


                                                                                            I ask

                                                             can we all be human

                                                                      for a moment?

                                                                                                              One moment

                                                                                         for a lifetime of moments

                                                                                                       innocence lost



"Man is subject to innumerable pains and sorrows by the very condition of humanity, and yet, as if nature had not sown evils enough in life, we are continually adding grief to grief and aggravating the common calamity by our cruel treatment of one another." 
~Joseph Addison

The New York Post & the Real Questions We Should Be Asking

Posted by Unknown | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, December 05, 2012


New York Post
During my university days, I sat as the news editor of The Keystone, Kutztown University's campus paper, for a semester. Multiple challenges arose. Long hours of layout and editing of articles that seemed to be written by 8th graders took their toll. But those issues were minuscule.

The first few issues of The Keystone to come out that semester included articles on the death of multiple students. I was reminded of one of the articles in particular following the New York Post's article and front-page photo on the subway death of Queens resident Ki-Suck Han. A student had been walking along Norfolk-Southern railroad tracks, presumably, intoxicated. We ran the article accompanied by a photo of a Norfolk-Southern train running down the tracks. It was our front-page story.

After the issue came out, our supervisor questioned the use of the photo used. Why hadn't we gotten a photo of the student? Why hadn't we gotten a photo of where the accident took place? This is just a stock photo of a train. 

Yes. It was, simply, a stock photo of a Norfolk-Southern engine. Personally, I felt it would compliment the story better than a photo of empty tracks where the accident took place. The photo of the victim was unavailable at the time, so we couldn't run it. As the news editor, I felt the way we presented the article was in decent taste and that the photo we used was sufficient.

When I saw the New York Post's front page photo accompanied by the headline "DOOMED" and the  blurb pictured above, I was unsure of how I felt. Certainly, this was a tragedy but what questions does it raise journalistically? Morally? The internet has exploded with commentary aimed at both the New York Post for printing it and the photographer, R. Umar Abbasi, for snapping photos instead of helping Han escape his terrible fate. There are bigger issues to think about than the actions of both, though.

Is the New York Post's cover page in bad taste? That goes without saying. But how many people really expect journalistic integrity and high moral values from the New York Post? The Post is known for its bombastic headlines and tabloid stories. It's a sensationalist paper that caters to the human obsessions of violence and tragedy. Murdoch and Co. knew exactly what they were doing when they printed the photo and headline. And everyone, including myself by writing this article, fell into it.

Instead of examining the Post and shaming them for doing what the Post does best without shame, we should turn the tables and examine ourselves. Why is it that this photo of a helpless, NYC resident, seconds away from his death, evoke so much anger and emotion while the stories and photos of the dead in warring nations go almost unnoticed by the public at large almost every day? 

Yesterday, amid all the fervor of the subway article and blaming Abbasi for not "doing enough", "Syrian rebels kill 9 students in attack on school near Damascus" was one of the many headlines hitting news. "Typhoon Kills Hundreds in Philippines" ran today at The New York Times

Over the past few years, we've seen video of Saddam Hussein put to death by hanging, Muammar Gaddafi executed and his corpse paraded through the streets, countless stories of innocent people killed among war-time gunfire by all sides, tsunamis devastating sea-side civilizations. The list goes on. Plenty of graphic media portrayed through countless outlets. It all goes largely unquestioned. And how many ask, "What can be done to stop it? How could we or how can we help?"

It's not easy for Americans to identify with those issues, though. And when we see a reported "bad man" put to death, we accept it no matter how gruesome or barbaric it is. Flip the switch. Imagine, for a moment, if a sitting president were executed by rebels here in the states. Imagine those rebels strung his body up or paraded it through the streets, desecrating it every chance they got. 

Or, just think of Ki-Suck Han. How many of us have been on a subway platform? How many of us have relatives or loved ones who use the subway? It's easy to identify with. It's easier to imagine yourself on a NYC subway platform than it is to imagine yourself ducking for cover amid spraying bullets and firebombs in Syria. Maybe we should try harder to put ourselves in those shoes, though.

Fingers are currently being pointed at Abbasi for doing nothing but documenting the tragedy that unfolded before him. He could have / should have done more! Abbasi has become an easy target. Could he have done more? Maybe. How have the rest of those present on the platform avoided scorn, though? Was Abbasi the only one who could have helped? Certainly not. Anyone on that platform could have done more than they did, but didn't. In reality, whether or not you believe Abbasi's claim that he was using his flash to attract the attention of the conductor or not, he seems to be the only one who did anything.

Hindsight is 20/20. All of us, at one time, have witnessed an accident and have said something to the effect of, "Well, so and so should have done this and that," or, "I would have done more." However, no one can assert these claims without being thrust into the situation. What you say you would do in any given situation will differ greatly from your actual actions. Was Han's death an unfortunate result of the Genovese syndrome, or did the tragedy simply unfold so quickly that no one, including Abbasi, have the time necessary to process what was happening? 

In the end only one fact remains: Han's death was an unfortunate tragedy. Sitting around computers raging at the New York Post or Abbasi will do nothing besides sell more attention to Murdoch's bloody pages. This is what the Post wants. Instead, let's focus on the bigger issues. Let's ponder why the Post, and media outlets like it, can turn an easy profit off of a tragedy like this. Let's discuss the increasing use of sensationalism in media and the fall of actual, journalistic merit. And let's not allow Han's death pass without a possible discussion on how to make subways safer for the public.

Despite the crass front page of the New York Post, let's try to move away from calling slime slime and move towards a productive, public discourse. Let's turn the mad voices down and turn the reasoning up. There are terrible tragedies that occur every day. Let the tabloids do what they will with them and let humanity try to improve our lot.

“The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money.”
A. J. Liebling


"Passerine" published in Full of Crow

Posted by Unknown | Posted in , , , , , , , , | Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Recently, my new poem, entitled "Passerine", was accepted for publication in the October 2012 issue of Full of Crow Poetry. Full of Crow Poetry is edited by Lynn Alexander who I had the pleasure of receiving a personal correspondence from after submitting. Lynn collects and eclectic mix of poetry from all over the world for Full of Crow Poetry and you can check out the rest of the submissions, as well as mine, at this link: Full of Crow Poetry October 2012

For information about submissions, visit the Full of Crow submission page here.

We are looking for content that is bold and unapologetic,
 presented in thoughtful and purposeful ways. We like work 
that touches on the surreal, the mythic… enduring themes 
and images that are rooted in something deeply personal
 but connect to something transcending and universal. 
As many editors say, we know what it is when we see it.
~Full of Crow staff


For more of my published work, visit my 'published work' page.