1. Marcia and I had a nice trip to Las Vegas last weekend to see Katelin and John. For entertainment, we visited The Neon Museum, The Punk Rock Museum, did a hike up the north side of Mount Charleston (getting turned back by snow and freezing rain just below 10,000 feet), and had a pool party with friends. We also had a great dinner at a restaurant called Black Sheep; I don’t watch reality television, but their owner/chef was apparently a big hit on Top Chef, if that’s meaningful to you. Either way, the food was outstanding and interesting, and I commend it to you should you be seeking a non-Strip culinary experience while in Vegas. As always, I took pictures, and there’s an album awaiting if you click on the image below. It’s from the collection at The Punk Rock Museum: the saxophone played by Fear’s Derf Scratch (RIP) on “New York’s Alright If You Like Saxophones,” both on record, and during their infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live. Pretty darn cool, along with loads of other goodies there for gawking, especially great if you know what you’re looking for and at going in, since interpretation is pretty minimal in the exhibit spaces.
2. When we got back from The Punk Rock Museum, Katelin put on one of the many curated punk rock playlists on Spotify as background music for our obligatory Settlers of Catan session. After an hour or so of listening to the usual suspects (e.g. the more accessible songs by the likes of the Sex Pistols, Ramones, Clash, various precursors of the Iggy variety, and adjacent post-punk faves like XTC), it occurred to me that this really did not sound at all like what my own key punk and post-punk listening years sounded like, in large part because the more brutal and less melodic hardcore artists were largely ignored. So for our pool party, I rectified that situation by making my own Punk and Hardcore Mix, focusing on North American artists, not English ones, largely from the period between 1980 and 1995. Genre Police Bores might quibble that some of my selected artists would not be judged as punk, nor as hardcore, when viewed from 2023’s lens, but having lived and experienced it in real time, these sorts of songs were all part and parcel with the musical extremism of the era which my posse embraced. I honed the playlist a bit after getting home, limited to some extent because a lot of my favorite artists from the ’80s were obscure to the point that they don’t exist on Spotify in 2023, but still and all, I’m quite enjoying headbanging to the collection of 100 songs. Want to join me? Here’s the playlist:
3. A friend asked me recently why I wasn’t posting photos of my Sedona hikes on my website anymore, as I did for the first couple of years here via my 10,000 Words series. The easy answer is that I’m doing it in real time, most every day that I hike, on Facebook now instead, having rejoined that social media time-suck to promote various writing projects, despite my better judgment. But if you’re on Facebook, and we’re not connected, and you want to see the hiking photos, you can follow me here. I will take no responsibility for the time you waste there, just be forewarned.
4. Speaking of writing project promotions: I posted recently about the pre-order window being open for my forthcoming book, Ubulembu and Other Stories, and then later shared my gratitude for the robust pre-sales that the story collection has already accrued. So thanks again to those of you who pre-ordered, that helps a lot! And if you’ve been meaning to get around to it, well, there’s still time to build buzz and convince the brick and mortar bookstores to stock the work right from its release date on August 1st. You can click the book cover below for a link back to the page with all of the ordering site information, and (once again) I will be deeply grateful to any and all of you who choose to reserve your copy now. They’ll make great gifts, too, so go ahead and load up and save yourself some time when the holidays roll around!