Archive for December, 2006

December 27, 2006

New Band in the New Year

Yes I have a new band. We’re not really all that new–having cut our teeth on three private shows in the last year or so–but we’re new to the public performance. Our loving bass man Jimmy posted on the daily page forum about our debut performance and I’ll let his words speak for me:

Used to be you had to be getting married or know somebody who was if you wanted to hear Madison’s most eclectic cover band. Not anymore:

Thursday, January 4th, 2007
It’s the public debut of The Low Czars!
High Noon Saloon Happy Hour! (1st of two set starts ~5:30)
Cover charge: $3 (Cheap!)

Featuring members of some of Madison’s most beloved musical acts, past and present (and maybe future?):
Aaron Scholz & The Have Nots
Ass Blown Off
Boba Fetish
John Ashcroft Fan Club
Mr. Pants
New Recruits
… and more! (And that’s just five guys!)

Hear timeless tunes from artists both legendary and contemporary:
Beatles, Big Star, Elvis Costello, Bobby Fuller, GbV, Joe Jackson, Kinks, Nick Lowe, Monkees, The Move, Elvis Presley, Ramones, Rolling Stones, Swamp Dogg, Wilco, The Who … and many, many more …

Admission entitles you to half off your next wedding reception entertainment package! Don’t miss it, come dig it!

I’m excited about this one as it will be only the second band in which I’ve played electric guitar (all the others were either acoustic guitar, drums and the occasional bass gig). I’m also a bit nervous as I’ve never been in a “cover band” before. Hoedunk was sort of a cover band, though we “countryfried” most of what we covered. The Low Czars are not playing even a single original tune and that is indeed a strange idea for me. It’s also very liberating and hopefully will draw some folks out to see what the heck the five of us have been cooking up in the basement for the last few months. My goal is to get some sort of regular monthly thing somewhere and go to town. We’ll whip out the Love show again and we have a couple of other record tribute type shows up our sleeve that, if we get residency somewhere, will get a workout. And you other cover bands in town? We want to split bills with you, damnit. I’ll be calling ya.

December 17, 2006


Here’s my review, courtesy of The Dispatch

The Taxi That Hurried
By Lucy Sprague Mitchell
Irma Simonton Black and Jessie Stanton
Pictures by Tibor Gergely
Published in 1943 by Golden Books

This children’s story is about a cute little yellow taxi with red stripes all around its body that lives and drives in some vaguely Philadelphia-ish American city circa WWII.

“It was a smart little taxi. For it could start fast-jerk-whizz!! It could tear along the street-whizz-squeak!! It could stop fast-squeak-jerk!! Its driver’s name was Bill. Together they made a speedy pair.”

While enjoying a smoke at his hackstand, our driver Bill is approached by a woman and her son who are running late and need a ride to the train station. On their journey, Bill drives like a maniac and they get stopped by the police, blocked by a coal truck and finally stuck in a traffic jam. Like all good cabbies, Bill lays into the horn to clear those pesky other vehicles and somehow ekes through the masses around the station and gets the family to their train with seconds to spare.

Terse and thrilling from cover to cover, I was soothed by the cool pastel illustrations of round, clown shaped taxis. In their lyrical, rhyming exchanges, Bill and the mother comment on the taxi industry (“We’re a speedy pair/We can get you there) as well as middle class angst while dealing with Man (“first it’s a cop that makes you stop and now we’re stuck behind a truck”). The ideological climax at the station hammers home two points-how train travel is cold and rigid while automobiles are speedy and flexible-and how man and machine working in tandem can serve the greater good.

(It appears that the reviews of this one at Amazon seem pretty well split about this book. I love this book but understand how someone might really hate it, too.)

December 10, 2006


I recently took on a new position at Union Cab of Madison: I am now co-editor of our monthly newsletter The Dispatch. I’m still driving my same two shifts a week but now have a small–but essential–part inside our company. The Dispatch is an internal newsletter which means that its function and design (and content) are only for coop members. We don’t keep it internal because we publish trade secrets or gossip about our customers but because most of what goes out is information that might be helpful to our drivers and staff.

My co-editor Paul is also a driver but he has assorted other jobs like photo clipping for the Wisconsin State Journal. His focus is the layout and design of The Dispatch which works out great. I did some design work in my years at Impressions but found it frustrating and time consuming. So my role is doing some writing but mostly taking submissions and doing real editing. Oddly enough, this is my first job in this field and so far I’m loving every minute of it.

In college I was a master at writing papers. I took so many incredibly boring courses–there are many periods of literature that nobody should have to endure–that I had to learn how to crank them out. After a great poetry class and some encouragement from my peers, I figured out that I was much more interested in writing songs and I gave up all formal writing for good. Ten years later, I’m still writing songs–not as many as often but they still appear–and trying to get back into the writing business. This blog was more or less created with that in mind and I’ve found that writing is hard work but the more I do it, the easier it is to create good stuff. My first piece for The Dispatch was a book review of the 1943 Golden Book The Taxi That Hurried in which I examined the political overtones of this beloved children’s book (I can put it up here if anyone wants to read it).

I am a pretty fair writer but a much better editor. I’m a good songwriter because I’m a good musician and someone who is fascinated with language but I wouldn’t be anywhere if I wasn’t my own harshest editor. I won’t let a song out of my site until I’m confident I’ve boiled it down to the best possible point. This has made the return to long form writing somewhat of a challenge. I want what I write to be pre-edited before my fingers do the typing and unfortunately the world doesn’t work like that. So I’m learning a lot from the articles submitted to The Dispatch. All of our regular contributors have given me the green light to edit as I please and with this freedom I can turn good pieces into smooth professional writing.