Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Autotune The News - or - Watchin Newt Get Jiggy Makes Me Hard, Shorty

So damn stuck in my head. I keep song open on my computer so I can have a funky-ass Katie Couric breakdown anytime I want it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Life's Story On Tape - or - The End Of One Career

The recording studio that I used to work for is going under. They are folding the hand, shutting the doors, calling it quits, moving to greener pastures, tossing in the chips, joining the great studio in the sky, kicking the bucket, going the way of all flesh, giving up the jig, buying the farm, shitting the bed, rolling over and dying, curling their toes, hopping in the coffin, digging their ditch, going to see the great egress, finding the cure for success, croaking, making a final curtain call, meeting their maker, biting the bullet, pulling the plug, sucking the big one, and calling out for their reward.

It is sad, yet not unexpected.

I started working in recording studios in 1996 as an assistant engineer for a children’s record label called ReBop Records. I lent my voice to one of their project as the part of a monkey. I attended an expensive college in upstate New York to study Chemistry. In 1998, I redesigned the control room at River Dog Studios in Vermont: installing a new mixing board, a TRS patch bay, a ton of analog gear, and streamlining the signal flow of the studio. That same year I switched my major to music. I worked one-on-one with Trey from Phish. He got me fired. I hate Phish. I hated Phish before Trey got me fired. I hated them more afterward. I got a BA degree in Recording Arts and Electronic Music in 2000. I promptly moved to Boston and interned at a recording studio owned by a husband a wife team, both of whom were *expletive deleted*. They hired me on as a full time engineer and producer within a few months. I bought a can of pickled beats because the first question any hip hop artist would ask me was, “You got beats?” I never showed the clients my can of beats, but I kept in on the corner of my desk as a little inside joke with myself as I Frankenstein edited rhythmically hopeless hip hop artist after rhythmically hopeless artist. I produced stacks of crappy hip hop albums and was given the nickname DJ Disney by one of my clients due to my ability to whip out 3-part, generic, ubiquitous, uninspired beats in minutes. There was one artist who had skills and we would stay all night long, off the clock, and lay down track after track. Those were good beats and good rhymes. I recorded songs about 9/11 in the weeks after 9/11, Remember 9-1-1 being the worst of them. I started getting Boston punk and hard-core bands to record albums with me seated behind the glass, at the board, on cans, in control, and loving every second of it. Something Against You was my first front-to-back full-length record. They taught me the best pick-up line ever, “Come ‘ere, stupid.” It sounds great with a thick Boston accent. I recorded multiple Collegiate Acapella Albums because they had Big 10 budgets and even bigger egos. My take on the matter was that someone was going to take their money and autotune the hell out of their voices, it might as well be me. I like their money. I was recognized by Cara (Contemporary Acapella Recording Awards) for the “best mixed arrangement of 2001”. I believe it was for an arrangement of Dido’s, Thank You. The *expletive deleted* liked me. I made them money. Thousands of dollars a week. They paid me $11.75 an hour. They tried to convert me every Tuesday night. I resisted their efforts every Tuesday night. They once pulled out an e-meter and offered to give me a personality text. I laughed and headed for the front door a little faster that night. Tuesday nights became a heavy drinking night for me. I quit working at that studio after four years; I went out with a bang as, with one fell swoop, I punched four knuckle shaped indentations into a steal door. With those four dents, I had quit. I blamed the years of being treated like dirt for my emotional explosion. The *expletive deleted* blamed toxins in the air for my mental breakdown. In 2004, I moved to Chicago on the 4th of July, only days before my birthday, with my bass, my mattress, my peace lily, and a small trunk of clothes in the back of my truck, and a little over a thousand dollars cash in my wallet. I celebrated that birthday alone, as I didn’t know anyone in the Windy City. I quickly landed a job, albeit a bad one. I sold life insurance to union workers, at their homes, practically door-to-door. I was living out of the back of my truck and selling overpriced whole life policies out of the front of it. I spent more money on gas than I made at that job. I got an apartment with an angry Yoga instructor and I eventually landed a job at a recording studio that opened around the corner from my house. I recorded my favorite album, Imelda De La Cruz’s Noise Noise Noise. We are still good friends. She is an amazing person and a phenomenal musician. I recorded more and more acapella albums to pay the bills, something that I swore I’d never do again after Boston. College kids were more than willing to shell out piles of money for hour after hour after hour of studio time in some ill-conceived effort to get the perfect acapella recording of a Dark Side of the Moon medley. I was beginning to be known for recording amazing vocal percussion parts. I hate vocal percussion. I hate hearing it and I hate recording it. In early spring of the next year, I started engineering live shows for a wedding band, filling the gaps in my weeks and in my wallet. For Halloween last year, Imelda was Kaonashi or No Face from the movie Spirited Away. She silently gave me Tootsie Rolls before I knew who she was. That same Halloween, her husband and I went biking through the streets of Chicago as part of Critical Mass. I was an In & Out Burger manager. He was the Nurse Joker from The Dark Knight. We passed a bottle of SoCo back and forth and I played the Jew Harp while peddling down Ashland Ave. in The Loop with thousands and thousands of other bikers. I continued to be promoted as a live sound engineer and have been booked as head engineer every weekend for the last four years. In 2006, I broke up with my girlfriend a few months before our six-year anniversary. She was going through medical school in Berlin. That’s where she lived, that’s where she was born, in Berlin, Germany. Over the course of the six years that we were together, we were only physically together for a handful of months. We went on a couple of vacations together, but for the most part, every time we saw each other there was a ten-hour flight and vacation time involved. We haven’t communicated for years now. I didn’t get over her until after my next girlfriend had dumped me years later. She lived in Vermont, five thousand miles closer than the German. Nine hundred and ninety miles too far away. We haven’t communicated in nearly a year. I quit smoking while gasping for breath half way back up the side of the Grand Canyon on Jan 2nd 2007 with my bother’s wife. I had spent the pervious week running sound for the Bellagio’s 2007 New Years Eve High Rollers Ball. The room, the food, the booze, and the cigarettes were all comped; I maxed out at three packs of reds a day and God knows how many bourbons. I left the recording industry behind in the beginning of 2008, but got roped into one last acapella album shortly after I started my next job, my current job, at the greenhouse. I took the money one last time and wanted to jam pencils into my eardrums. There is this amazing theater company in there that, for some reason, I’m not mentioning. I should mention it though, that theater company means a lot to me. I’ve worked with them for years and watched kids who, when they first walked through the doors didn’t stand a chance against the world, succeed and go onto some of the best colleges around. Middlebury, Smith, NYU, NorthWestern, University of Chicago, Columbia College. I run sound tech for this theater company. I also tutor Chemistry to some of the kids in the company that are failing out of high school. I wear a tie and drop F bombs. I’ve been doing it for three years. Since then, I’ve gotten my own place, I’ve bought a car, a ton of gear, and a ton of drinks. I love plants. I love making bread. I love playing upright. I love remembering my path up to this point, no mater how bitter I might sound. Last week, I learned that the studio I helped create when I moved here almost five years ago, is going out of business. Tonight, I can’t sleep, again. I will probably never work in a recording studio again, and I'm just fine knowing that. Right now, it is 2:59 am and I’ve got to be at work in a matter of hours. This seems like it turned out to be a sad story. I didn’t mean for that to be the case. Maybe I’ll write a punch line tomorrow. Probably not.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Good Friday, And No Prophets Had To Die - or - Now I Kinda Wanna Get Fired

It’s 2:26 am on Saturday night. Sunday morning, I guess. I have be at work at… holy crap… 8am, again. Last time I was supposed to work at 8am, I got sent home at 8:10 for arriving at work at 8:02. Okay, fine. I was 8:03 when I actually showed up, but I kicked my own ass carrying those four heavy boxes minutes before I was sent home. That was on Friday. Friday was a beautiful day, the first real day of spring here in Chicago. I should be asleep. It’s 2:26, whoops, 2:27 am for Christ’s sake. I should be sleeping, especially because I also just got back from a ten hour work day at the Intercontinental Hotel, running tech for a “get the homeless people off drugs and into a home” fund raiser, complete with a fifteen piece band with horns, violins, a bald percussionist with tape on his knuckles, and five singers of different ethnic back grounds to keep the transitions between Sinatra, Soul, Salsa, R&B, and Rock love ballads totally seamless. The host of the evening was a local news anchor, the guest speaker was a man who lived with the homeless for a month on the streets, an auctioneer with a gavel fetish raised money by chattering and pointing at people the way only an auctioneer can, and then there was the quintessential tear-jerker documentary about homeless people overcoming the impossible challenges set against them, cleaning up their lives, and eventually owning their own home. I laughed, I cried, I bought a raffle ticket and lost, I farted in a room full of rich people and, just as I suspected would happen, watched them all react by wrinkling their noses and looking around the table for the guilty party. But this post isn’t about how I should go to sleep, because that isn’t going to happen until I’ve documented my Friday. And now that I’ve started, now that I know that I want to write about my Friday, yesterday (and a half), I’ll just get to it, cause it was great, even though is started out pretty crappy.

Yeah, I got sent home 10 minutes after I punched in at 8am on my day off. I went in to make up some lost time earlier in the week due to a krink in my neck that I got from falling asleep while reading in bed. I was pissed when I punched out, but, in all honesty, I wasn’t all that upset after spending a few seconds outside, plus I now had the entire day to enjoy, which was, again in all honesty, the first real day of Spring in Chicago. So being fired for the day, although ridiculous, although insulting, although financially unfortunate, was totally worth it. Here’s how I spent the rest of that day, which is going down in the books as one of my favorite days ever. Here is my ode to April 24.

Right, so I got sent home from work. I quickly removed my uniform and put on an obnoxiously colorful and completely polyester Hawaiian shirt, complete with repeating images of windsurfers, palm trees, and bright yellow Hibiscus flowers. I wear this shirt from time to time when I feel either really good about life or really crappy. I also wear it during thunderstorms in hopes of being hit by lightning and having this 100% polyester Hawaiian monstrosity fused to my body forever. Once I was properly dressed for hilarious disaster and geographically confusing hijinks, I donned my new boots and set off for the lake front to record an homage to my a video I shot on my favorite day in January, when I tromped along the frozen lake in a 9° silent snow fall. In January, the entire lakefront was mine. This Friday, my Friday, the lakefront was teeming with people, but I remained undaunted and I talked to my myself as I tromped through puddles, waved at trees, and ate my lunch in a playground full of screaming children with sticks of chalk bigger than their arms. The most memorable moment of my little walk was probably when I noticed a girl. She was dressed head to toe in black, with jet back hair with a purple streak out lining her face, all of which was hidden underneath a black lace scarf, and she was wearing heavy eyeliner and black lipstick, and she was slowly spinning a white rice paper parasol on her shoulder. She was taking cell phone pictures of a baby squirrel running around in circles betwixt three trees. I asked her if she had made a new friend and she instantly flashed a cold look at me. To my surprise, the ice in her eyes melted almost immediately and she replied, “I’ve seen this guy here lots and lots of times. I think he is the cutest squirrel in Chicago, so I give him bits of homemade cookies. Sometimes I make a whole batch just so I can bring some to him.” Somewhat shocked by her sudden openness, I told her about a little black squirrel that lives in one of the old trees around the corner from my apartment who has either no fear what so ever, or no sense of self-preservation. The first time I met this little black squirrel, he (I’m assuming he is a he due to his boldness and/or stupidity) ran across the street directly at me and jumped onto my foot, looking up at me with this look that said, “Yeah, I’m on your Goddamed foot, what cha’ gonna do about it? Nothing, that’s what. Now give me a Goddamned homemade cookie, punk.” A hippy chick friend of mine who was with me at the time of this confrontation with the animal kingdom said something to the tune of, “that was magical.” Parasol Goth-Girl didn’t find my story very moving and, with a halfhearted “Oh, that’s cool,” went back to photographing her squirrel with her phone. I complimented her sun umbrella, wished her good luck or happy birthday or some snarky remark, and quickly retreated from her. I was on a mission and I found a small tree to give the thumbs-up, the same tree which I had waved to with a gloved hand 61° ago.

Soon after my reunion with that small tree, I received a call from Dan, a fellow sound-man. Three years ago, we had bought Frisbee golf discs and had played Frisbee Golf religiously for one summer. That following fall, we religiously excommunicated said discs and hadn’t touched them since. It was time for the Church of Dan and Obsquatch to reestablish a spiritual connection with the plastic apostils: Driver, Midrange, and Putter. I walked home from the beach, put on some mesh gym shorts and a clean, white, just been bleached Guinness shirt, hopped into Dan’s new-car-smelling new car and drove to the holy land of the North Suburbs, where Frisbee Golf Courses are abundant and fruitful. I was doing well until I threw my bright orange midrange disc into a river. Maybe it wasn’t a river, maybe it was just a stream, but I was going to have to swim across it to get my disc. I wasn’t going to swim across it. I was going to have to cross somewhere else, hop over the barbed-wire fence that protected the golf course on the other side of this creek and rescue the disc. I got dirty and bloody as I slid along the soft, over-saturated banks of this stream of lawn fertilizers and chemicals; and that is how it came to pass that I christened and baptized my new boots in mud, blood, and isazofos. I ended up being eight over par and happily caked in mud. There are cuts on my legs that sting in the shower.

We stopped at White Castle on the way home from the Frisbee Golf course. We split an order of fifteen sliders and nine chicken rings, complete with “Zesty Zing” dipping sauce, an order that probably feed five normal Frisbee Golfers. That is probably the reason that the charity partygoers were so offended by my flatulent fly-bys. White Castle can and will rip you up, for real. For really real.

Directly after White Castle, I went to do a sound check for my first show with the band Paper Thick Walls. They had called me on Sunday, we had our first meet up on Monday and I had learned all their songs by Tuesday. I was a half hour late for sound check and still had a golf course mud, industrial poison, and hemoglobin crust coating on my arms and legs. My once clean, white, and pristine Guinness shirt was spattered and blotched with dark gray brush strokes of dried mud from wiping off my Frisbees and sliding down the bank of a runoff ditch “bum run” style. My headband was brilliant blue though and I was ready to play. I had totally missed the sound check. “Well just get a quick level before you start tonight,” said the sound man. Whoops. The cello player I picked up on the way was pissed because he never gets a good sound check, and thus can never hear himself on stage. I went home, posted that mornings videos to YouTube, put on a black tee-shirt with an illegible logo for a Santa Rosa record store, an old pair of jeans, my blue headband (of course), and a brown suit jacket, and I headed down to the show. As a result of my tardiness and its resulting lack of sound check (I did not fess up about the stop at White Castle as I knew that would seem… offensive to both the band members and their sense of smell), the cellist had to play Friday night’s show with one of the tuning pegs of his cello stuck in his ear; without proper monitors, that is the only way he says he can hear himself. “Good trick” I commented at the end of the show. The show was a total success. I had a blast playing the tunes and I’ve been told that the whole show sounded great, even the unsound checked cello. A few shots of Jameson later and everyone was happy. We thought, nay, we knew that we were destined for greatness, which we still know now, even after sobering up a few days later.

Yes, Friday morning was bad, but it was the catalyst for an amazing day. And if I get fired from my job at that greenhouse due to being three minutes late on my day off, I will be bummed out, but only for a minute or two. In fact, if I get fired, I will be crushed, but I will also be excited. Because if a day that started with me being sent home can wind up being one of my favorite days in recent history, I think that with enough free time and a complete lack of resources, I will find myself on the other side of the world, sporting a blue headband, a polyester Hawaiian shirt, a pair of oversized old-lady sunglasses, a dirty set of old gym shorts, and a huge smile. And I will be looking around at all the tropical plants that I used to only find in the greenhouse in Chicago that I got fired from a lifetime ago. I can’t wait.

Now it’s 4:22am and I am going to sleep. G’night.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Most Impressive Song Lyric Ever - or - Old Friends In Hardcore Bands

My buddy, Dave, the guy I got in a 4am drunken fight with on the streets of San Diego during our 30th birthday celebration, yeah that guy, well, he's a motherfucking bad ass. I just listened to the newest song from his new grind-core band, The 25th Hour, and one line in particular jumped out at me.

"This should be the least of your worries for you are about to be mauled by a fucking bear. A FUCK-ING BEAAAAAAAAAAAAR!" - The 25th hour, Isosceles Triangulist

The barbaric honesty, totaly absurdity, and ball-punching brutality of that one line rockets this band to the near top of my "favorite lyric" list. If you can understand the guttural ear drum cheese grater vocals, you'll hear some funny stuff in there. Enjoy?

"The song is about the apocalypse coming to Las Vegas in the form of thousands of rabid bears. Then David Copperfield tries to save them. And fails."
-David Martin

He wrote this bad ass madness.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Days Of Thunder, And Neck Pain - or - Sad Day, Boy-O

I've had to take the last couple of days off of work because I krinked out my neck. I feel like batman when I move, or Frankensteins Monster, or Igor, or Godzilla. I can't lift my head or look to the left without receiving the sensation of being suddenly stabbed in the neck and shoulder blade with a carving knife, so I move my entire torso from side to side and up and down. For some reason, when I hold my neck with my right hand, I get more mobility and less pain, but as a result, I look like a stab victim from a B horror flick. All I need is a ketchup packet to ooze out from between my fingers while I'm grasping my neck. Wait, I've always enjoyed saying betwixt. Let me try that again. All that I desire, good sir, is a minute parcel containing semi-coagulated sweetened tomato paste that I could rupture and have the contents spurt and gurgle betwixt my digits, and then continue to percolate down my upper appendage, thus giving any unsuspecting onlooker the impression of a jugular laceration. Much better. Just saying that makes my neck feel healed.

In sad news, today I discovered that I am unconsciously dodging puddles in my boots. I hopped over a dozy on my walk to work (I went in for an hour, just like I did yesterday. My boss said, "If you are faking that pain, you are doing a good enough job that you deserve to take the day of on account of brilliant acting." How do you say no to that?), and side stepped another one that I would have, just months ago, tromped straight through without a second thought. It is indeed a say day, Boy-O, but I need me some new boots. I love these old mofos, but, like I said in my ode to my boots, they are going the way of all flesh. I'll record it and post the trauma. I've been thinking about getting a pair of cowboy boots. I've never even tried them on. I can't imagine that they will go with the head band. We shall see, fair maiden, we shall see.

As far as books go, I am quite happy to report that my book club seems to be successful, as two people have started reading suggestions I have made. I plan on picking up The Beach this afternoon on my trip to the pharmacy for pain killers. I want to slaughter my pain and bathe in it's blood. I'm putting The Beach officially on the stack of books by my bed. As it stands right now, I am finishing What is the What first, then I'll read Ovid's Metamorphoses (about which I just heard a two hour piece on NPR, calling it the worlds most inspiring poem to sculptors, painters, composers, and date rapists), followed by Krumbine's Explorers Of The Unknown: Vampires!, and then Oliver Sacks' book Musicophilia which has a chapter on perfect pitch named Papa blows his nose in G, then "11 minutes", and that's when I will get to The Beach. If you suggested books for TOBCAP, fret not, I will eventually get them onto the pile by my bed. If you have not suggested books, why the hell not? There is a bad ass list of books down there. What's wrong with you? Are you a book burning asshole? WEll, are you? No? Good. I do love book suggestions from people I love, and I guess that I'm admitting that I love you, just as long as you are not a book burning asshole.

In the spirit of all this love (and pain), I present you with my favorite musical duo on YouTube. Last year, Rhet and Link completed a cross country road trip full of ballads, rock songs, rap tunes and hoe-downs. They zig-zagged across this great nation, attending every chilli cook off, farmers market, edible festival and pie eating contest that this land has to offer, and then wrote a song about each of them. To prove to you that they are geniuses, the road trip was sponsored by alcheseltzer. The Great American Road Trip got me hooked on these two, but their newest project has me in stitches. "Custom-built, Micro-Budget Commercials for MicroBilt Customers". Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Big Boy Toys - or - What Would Jeshua Cottontail Do?

I had a thumper of an Easter Celebration. I have photos and videos, jokes and stories, scars and stinks from three days and two nights on the pig farm. I will tell them to you, I promise, but not just yet. I need to take down my Christmas lights, stack some extra wood for the winter, vote, and finish my taxes.

In the meantime, here's a hint about my activities.

And this should give you a chuckle.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Darksiders VS Nerdfighter - or - Someone Is Gonna Get An Eye Poked Out

Krumbine has been hinting that he wants to start a battle royal between the Darksiders and nerdfightaria. Krumbine, I am sad to tell you that I'm completely convinced that the nerdfighters will eventually overpower you and destroy you, and you will walk away from this confrontation with a pocket protector full of pens, duct tape on your glasses, and a surprisingly emotional love for Harry Potter. You will be crushed.

First off, you are severely outnumbered, 2,528 to 76,366*, and even though us darksiders might posses formidable physical prowess and prolific mental aptitude, us nerdfighters are straight up smart motherfuckers. Let's break it down a bit though. Of the four horsemen of the Darksiders, You (Krumbine), MissPacman, Depointless, and SolidGold (Middlebrook), there is no question that Misspacman could easily bring her quota of 30 seventeen year-old boys to their knees in a matter of seconds, in fact I bet of all four of you, she would be the most effective weapon against nerds. I'm also sure that Middlebrook could eat quite a few nerdfighters before they eventually overpowered him and shaved him. But in all honesty, you, Krukmbine, don't stand a chance of standing up the the Hank-ogling nerdfighter fan-girls or the John-worshiping screaming dork bookworms that those two brothers have amassed since Jan 2007. Don't you forget, John Green in a bonafide New York Times Bestselling author, where as you write stories about poop.

Secondly, nerdfighters are currently and feverishly working on making a time machine to kid-nap Kim Jung Il's father when he was a baby. The reason they are after Kim's father is because he is currently the, ahem, President of North Korea for [get this] eternity, even though he is dead. I shit you not. Now, the nerdfighters have already figured out how to make a time machine that will forever be able to time travel back to this precise moment in time, but not any earlier. And by this precise moment I mean Easter 2009, cause this is the precise moment that I have 6 pounds of pepper bacon in my fridge. That being said, if they are planning on taking out the North Korean President for Eternity, I don't think that they will have a moments hesitation taking you, an awkward flailing hairless ape of a man, out of the picture.

Be afraid, Krumbine. Be afraid.

I am torn between the two sides of this battle and, as much as I would enjoy stomping some nerdfigter-ass, I really like reading and learning and solving the problem of world-suck. Nerdfighters vs. Darksiders. I gotta go with the nerds on this one. We are legion.

*I got these numbers by adding the subscription count of what we will now and forever more refer to as the Four Horsemen: MissPacMan08, the brains, brawn, and beauty of the the operation, Depointless, the seducer of all things innocent to the darkside, Krumbine, the under appreciated, mischievous, yet lovably pet monkey of the group, and Middlebrook, the hairy yeti.

For those of you who have no idea what the hell I'm talking about and have gotten this far and actually want to know what the hell I'm talking about, I guess congrats are in order? Here's some info.
The VlogBrothers YouTube page. They have more fans than Oprah.
Nerdfightaria, home of the nerdfighters.
Krumbine, Mr. Creative-creative-creative-shoot-me-in-the-face-already.
MissPacman08, the lawn-chair lounging, lemonade sipping, Queen of hearts. Read what she writes here. It's really good stuff.
Middlebrook, the most awesome Canadian ever, period.
Depointless, a confirmed and accredited sexy beast of a man.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Is For The Pigs - or - 6 Pounds Of Bacon

I am headed out the door to drive to Minnesota to meet my brother, his wife, and her parents. They are hosting an Easter Pig Roast for the entire town they live in; yes they are pork farmers and yes I love them with all my heart. I've gotta run, but here are some pictures of my brother, my father and my brother's father in law with bacon wallets. As gifts to each of the men in the family, I bought them all bacon wallets. Nothing says family like bacon, and I get to bring home 6 pounds of the stuff this weekend.

I also recently received a strange package in the mail...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fanfare For Footwear - or - Insert Obvious Song Lyric Here

I wear boots to work, whether the day’s work calls for boots or not. Most of the time, the day’s work demands it, but I wear boots to work no matter what I’m doing. They are leather and rubber and nylon and solid. My boots are worn in, weathered, battered, and scuffed. But they are not worn down. And they are not beat up. When I got them, they were waterproof. Now, they are mostly waterproof except for that big hole in the leather on the right toe, which got ripped open on some sharp edge of a loading dock ramp in the bowels of some fancy-schmancy hotel. I didn’t feel a thing when it happened, but I remember looking down at my feet and swearing, a lot. Later that day I had to cut the resulting leather flap off the toe because it was catching on things as I walked by. I used a utility knife, a sharp as fuck utility knife. It sliced through the old leather like my boot didn’t mind at all, like the knife was imposing its will and the leather just agreed. I was not going to use scissors; safety first, rounded tips, plastic ergonomically formed handles, no way. There is still a layer of thick nylon mesh covering my toes, keeping them partially dry, but when I walk through a thunderstorm and absentmindedly tromp through a puddle, water now sneaks under the leather. It saturates the hide from behind. The formerly impervious sanctuary of my boots has been corrupted. That means my right foot gets wet. It also means that the boot has additional cracks in the leather, on each side of the ball of my foot, where the toes bend. They are getting worse, these cracks in the damn. I like it, I suppose. Looks tough, looks honest, looks good. My boots are deep brown and the leather is marbled and shines where it’s been rubbed thin after years of work. Rubbed thin by hundred pound steel boxes of audio gear and pallets of poured concrete gargoyles and Venus De Milo fountains. The leather is thinned by the day-after-day ritual of getting soaked, drying out, getting soaked, drying out, and getting soaked again. My laces are the same ones that came with the boots. Over the years, they have gouged channels into the surface of the boot’s leather tongues, as if to say, “I know where I’m going, I’ve been going there for years, get the hell out of my way.” Parts of the laces are worn thin and stringy from where they pop into the shinny brass clips near the top. They aren’t threatening to break, just showing evidence that they have popped in and out of those damn clips too many times to count. I tie these boots in the dark, half asleep, exhausted, at ungodly hours, before the sun rises or long after it has set, in a lethargic blur, on my knees, always on my knees. I can’t get them on otherwise. It always takes a long time. It is always a process. When I finally squeeze and stomp my way into them, my feet feel right at home, instantly. At first they feel like dumbbells, slow and lumbering, graceless and ungainly. But the weight feels good; pulling my legs down, making me walk with purpose, making my gate mean something, adding force to my stride. Half a block later they have balanced themselves out, half keeping me grounded, half pulling me forward; each step landing with a satisfying thump on the surface, no matter what surface it is. I love going up and down stairs in my boots. I don’t look for staircases and run up and down them for no reason at all, but I will always take the stairs rather than an escalator. My boots reverb out along my apartment hallway as I stumble down the stairs in the day’s first light, or trudge up them after a long day of work. They pound out each wooden step with a cave-like echo, the opposite of stealth. Stomp stomp. I feel bad for my neighbors sometimes and take the back stairs, outside. Stomp stomp. Attic steps creak and whine underneath my boots and with little to no effort on my part, and I can completely disrupt the concentration of anyone on the floor below me. My boots never fully fit on any one step. They never slip, even on ice. They are never too tight. They never let my feet get cold. They never stop me from running. They make winter better as I don’t give a second thought to walking through snow or slush. They leave prints of mud and water and salt and dirt everywhere I go. They feel legendary going on, and feel even better coming off. They always make me feel like I am doing real work, no matter what the day’s work might be. They are leather and rubber and nylon and solid, and they are going the way of all flesh.