Monday, August 12, 2013

My Review of Ayahuasca

I've been experimenting with psychedelic drugs since I was a teenager but the peak of my experience came when I was in my early twenties working at Masquerade Fantasy on Decatur Street where we made and sold hand painted leather masks in the Italian style. The owner was a big, eccentric drunk guy who always wore Hawaiian shirts and would ride around the Quarter on his electric scooter hitting all the bars. This fellow wasn't a strict boss and was frequently out of town, so I would often live in his mask shop for weeks at a time presiding over the place by day and having raucous parties by night.

As it happened it was right at this time that an old friend of mine started up an herbal entheogen business and began importing exotic hallucinogens from all over the world. From Salvia Divinorum to Peruvian Torch Cactus to powdered toad venom, I did it all sitting behind the counter of the mask shop listening to my White Album and Live at Leads tapes for the ten thousandth time.

The Ayahuasca came already brewed in a two liter 7-UP bottle. I couldn't help but think of poor Bill Burroughs slogging through the jungles of South America and eventually contracting worms in search of the same thrill. In the modern world the most exotic drugs you've never heard of are just a mouse click away.

Now back then when I had access to all these weird drugs I have to admit that I was irresponsible. I would give the stuff away at parties and festivals in a haphazard fashion. For example I went to Jazz Fest one year with an ounce of Salvia 10x and handed it out like candy to whoever wanted it. In retrospect I realize that kind of freewheeling behavior was unwise and it did occasionally cause problems.

One time I gave a gutter punk a hit of 10x (which is 10 times stronger than raw Salvia) and he sprinted off down the street into the night. The next day I saw him and a friend sitting on a stoop. When he saw me he told his friend, "Watch out for this guy. Last night he drove me completely insane."

I was a madman on the loose and needed to be stopped but I had yet to learn this lesson when I got my bottle of Ayahuasca. I immediately offered some to a couple of gutter punk friends.

"What the fuck is it?"

"It's a shaman's brew from South America. A mixture of two plants. One plant contains the DMT and the other enables your brain to process it."

"It smells like shit. Have you tried it?"

"No, I have to go to work today. Supposedly this stuff is pretty potent. Like, "talk to aliens" potent. I'm going to drink some after I close up tonight."

"Alright, hook me up.", said the Alpha punk. The Beta punk concurred.

We went down to the mask shop and I locked the door behind us and drew the curtains. I know it's hard to believe someone would give me the keys to their business but I swear it's true.

"How much are we supposed to drink?"

"Not much. Just a couple swallows."

I poured the vile liquid into plastic go-cups and the punks choked it down. Then we sat around and smoked a joint while they waited for the DMT to take effect.

It wasn't long before the punks started looking green around the gills and within twenty minutes they were clearly feeling it. They were slurring their words and flailing around and one of them kept laughing maniacally. They started to get nervous. The mask shop can be a menacing place with all those frogs and witches and ducks glaring at you in the florescent light.

Trained spiritual guru that I am I recognized their agitation as a symptom of sensory overload and suggested that they go lay down in the bathroom. The mask shop used to be an apartment and had a pleasant, spacious bathroom with a functioning tub. I got the punks situated, closed the door and put on "Dear Prudence" from the White Album which always has a soothing effect during a heavy trip. Then I opened the curtains, flipped around the sign, unlocked the door and started making a pig mask out of leather.

It was about an hour later that my coworkers Mindy and Sylvia arrived for work. Mindy was a former model who had moved to New Orleans from Florida with her boyfriend Dave. Sylvia was a cheerful and gregarious native deeply involved in the local bar culture. By then they were both accustomed to, and I'd like to think highly amused by, my stupid antics. Neither of them were particularly surprised when I told them about the comatose punks in the bathroom.

After the usual pleasantries I said to them in an offhand way, "Oh, I almost forgot, there are a couple of gutter punks writhing around on the bathroom floor. I gave them some witches brew from South America and apparently it's pretty intense."

"You saved some for us right?"

"Of course, but I thought we could do it at your apartment after work."

"Hell yeah! Dave won't mind."

The gutter punks finally came to after a couple hours. They seemed no worse for the wear.
"Good call putting us in the bathroom man. I puked twice. That's some crazy dope you got there. Insane visuals. At first I didn't know what was happening. I could hardly move. It was fucking great!"

Another successful experiment.

After work we locked up and walked over to Mindy's house off of Eylsian Fields. Dave wasn't home so we lit the Nag Champa and I poured us three small doses from the sacred 7-UP bottle of foul tasting enlightenment. That stuff was pretty bitter but we got it down.

I'm going to forgo rating the categories by number. It seems so arbitrary. I'll just list some important points about the experience and comment on them.

Authenticity--- In all truth, my Ayahuasca was not brewed up by witch doctors in South America but by sketchy looking guys with long hair and dark glasses in the French Quarter. I know what ingredients they used and what they were supposed to do but I don't know if they followed the recipe carefully or just winged it together. I doubt they prayed over it. The dose I took was about four ounces and lasted for three peak hours with two hours of come down. I've heard tell of Ayahuasca trips lasting for eight or nine hours, but like I said, these guys weren't exactly chemists.

The "Oh shit! I took too much!" Factor--- The first effect I noticed from the drink was a sudden and certain panic that I had taken too much. The room started spinning and my heart was beating out of my chest. The fear was overwhelming. The incense and trippy music Mindy put on the stereo wasn't helping either. Mindy must have been feeling the same way because she got up, went into her bedroom, and closed the door. Sylvia was, as usual, in a state of pure bliss. Not wanting to disturb her with my frantic vibrations I went out on the balcony which was overflowing with plants. It really felt like the jungle. I curled up into the fetal position on the ground and began to recite the Litany Against Fear.

The Power of ONE!!!--- After writhing around for what seemed like hours, but was probably more like forty five minutes, I started to relax a bit and became more aware of my surroundings. I was still laying on Mindy's balcony surrounded by plants in full bloom. Mindy's cat, Sid Vicious, was staring at me with mild curiosity. I was now profoundly struck by the beauty that had been created on that balcony as an act of pure will. This jungle I was in was not to be taken for granted but had been painstakingly eked into existence in this unlikely place, through careful nurturing and diligence. Did Mindy realize the profundity of what she had made?

The cat was a product of the ages. Bred down from countless generations to be as pleasant and agreeable to my sensibilities as possible. In the forth dimension he looked like a vastly long cat-snake that got cuter and cuter the closer you got to the head. He seemed to know I was in a strange mood.

Even the mosquitoes swirling around me were my friends. I let them land on me then shooed them away without killing them knowing that they too were part of the tapestry of the universe that comprises all things.
I sat there in a blissed out revelry for maybe an hour or two before the intensity began to subside and I again felt I could handle human company.  

The Come Down--- Ayahuasca is one of those drugs that makes you thank god you're still alive. I went into the living room and Sylvia was still sitting in the same spot on the couch. She gave me a knowing look.

"Holy shit dude!", she said shaking her head in amazement.

"I know what you mean. I just took a tour of the cat's genetic history."

Mindy came out of her room and we all shared a kind of "high five" moment. We had survived again.

"I'm going to say that this was more intense than the toad venom but not as crazy as the cactus.", said Mindy.

"Yeah" agreed Sylvia, "This was more intense at the peak but the cactus lasted much longer."

"So do you think you would ever want to do it again?", I asked them.

"Hell fucking no! Just like most of the stuff you come up with it's fun to do once but not something you want to do every day. There's a reason the classic drugs never go out of style."

We all cracked a cold beer and drank to that.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Stories Behind My Songs

Every song has a story behind it and when you write songs as fucked up as mine, they sometimes have pretty good stories behind them. One of my main goals as a song writer has always been to push social boundaries and to show that many of the things that people take very seriously,like the devil for example are,in fact,completely ridiculous. Here are the stories behind all of the songs that appear on my albums The Hippie Bum and Sex at the Zoo with introductions explaining when and how they were recorded.

THE HIPPIE BUM--- I wrote all of the songs that would appear on The Hippie Bum when I was in my late teens and early twenties hitchhiking around the country, living in squats and playing music on the street every day. Most of the songs were written on Pearl St. in Boulder Colorado, 6th St. in Austin Texas, and Decatur St. in New Orleans. Playing street music is what made the whole thing come together. You only have ten seconds to get the attention of someone walking by on the street so every word out of your mouth has to be some kind of hook. I discovered that outrageous humor was a great way to kill two birds with one stone in that you could horribly offend the conservative couple walking by while at the same time delighting the teenagers walking behind them. It was this dichotomy that provided the inspiration for my entire song writing approach. I would test out new songs on the street kids in town and if they laughed I knew I had a winner.

I recorded The Hippie Bum at Minimum Wage Studios in New Orleans in 2002 and started selling it in 2003. Over time I've sold about 7000 copies right out of my guitar case. The album, which was engineered by Lance Koehler, was recorded over 2 days and mixed on the third. I played all of the instruments on the tracks with the exception of “Going to the Cave” on which Lance Koehler played percussion and Ray Bong played percussion and drum synth. I produced the album with lots of input from Lance and Ray. I think I preform some of the songs better now but 10 years latter I'm still happy with how the album stands up.

The Poop Eating Gnomes--- To give you an impression of how warped my perceptions are, I actually wrote this song to impress a girl. Needless to say I was way off. She was driving her van from Connecticut to the West Coast on a winding route and meandering path, smelling the flowers along the way. We hooked up in New Orleans (I had known her for years) and we decided that I would join her for the trip. We went through Austin, where I made 300$ playing on 6th street at the South By South West music festival. We went through New Mexico and Arizona and the Grand Canyon and all that shit. Round about the time we got to Utah things were looking pretty grim for our relationship. My money was running out and she made it perfectly clear that she wasn't pulling any dead weight. She went “ice queen” on me pretty quick and within a day or two was no longer laughing at my jokes. The death knell. One day in Moab while she was off hiking in the red rocks I wrote The Poop Eating Gnomes as a way to try and win back her affections. To make a long story short, it didn't work and it was a moot point because the next day we got pulled over by the pigs, I was arrested for marijuana possession and paraphernalia, did fifty days in Buncombe County Jail, and we never saw or heard from each other again. One interesting point is that there was a lot of argument in the studio about whether or not this should be the first song on the album. Lance and Ray both thought that the (slightly) more commercial “I Love Being A Homeless Bum” should lead but I stood firm. I wanted the first track to be in your face, “Poop Eating Gnomes. Deal with it.”. Maybe I'd have sold 8000 if I'd have listened to them.

I Love Being a Homeless Bum--- One of my most requested songs, I wrote the chorus in Renaissance Square in Austin and then wrote the rest a year later in Jackson Square in New Orleans. Something about Squares gets me going I guess. The truth is that, at the time I wrote it, I didn't really love being a homeless bum much at all. I was more or less constantly depressed and I wrote this song as a way to try and cheer myself up. Now all these years later I'm still homeless and I actually do kind of love it. Or maybe I'm just fooling myself but what difference does it make? Over the years I have, at times, lived in apartments and houses and sometimes people (mostly gutter punks) have questioned whether I'm homeless enough for the song to be sincere. Apparently I have to live in a ditch the rest of my life to remain authentic. By way of reassuring the skeptical all I can say is that if you can't by listening to my songs tell that I know what I'm talking about, maybe you're the one who's not homeless enough.

 New Orleans City Jail--- The truth is, the original name of this song was “Buncombe County Jail”. Remember how I told you I got jacked by the pigs for possession and did fifty days jail? They take “the weed” seriously in Utah. It was the longest time I have ever been locked up, but it was in some ways the most fun because of the unbelievably creative and intelligent class of criminals they had in there. In our cell block there was a guy who invented board games for us to play on construction paper, a Buddhist who had "painted" a giant ohm symbol on the ceiling of his cell in toothpaste, a secretly gay guy who made collages out of fashion magazines which were much cooler than you might think, a guy who made hooch out of juice drinks, and me. The Buddhist was actually in for going into an open court session with a fake bomb. He was looking at 5 years. We wound up spending Easter in there and the secretly gay guy hid plastic eggs that the guards had given us all over the cell block. We went and hunted for the eggs then he dressed as Arial from the Little Mermaid using a big laundry bag for a tail and spent a good hour singing songs from the movie as we all drank jail house swill. It was quite a spectacle. It was in that environment that I wrote down the words to what would become “New Orleans City Jail”. I made up the music on my guitar the day I was released. When I go from town to town I learn the name of their jail and just put it in the song. The concept is universal. While I was in I also wrote a reggae song call “It's All Bad”. I might get around to recording it one day.

Crazy Rachel--- One of my personal favorites, this song has traditionally been quite popular with girls named Rachel. If you've hung out for any length of time in the dank underbelly of New Orleans, you've probably met, or possibly been attacked by, Crazy Rachel at one point or another. Rachel is totally unpredictable. The first time I met her she was friendly and engaging and we talked for several hours down by the river. The next time I met her she threw a full can of beer at my head. The night I wrote the song, I was walking through Jackson Square and saw a bunch of punks gathered around watching a fight. When I got up close I saw that Rachel had a big punk guy pinned to the ground, gripping him in a merciless choke hold. His face was turning red and you could tell he was about to pass out. Rachel was laughing like a mad scientist and kept screaming in the guy's ear, “Kinda hurts to breath doesn't it? KINDA HURTS TO BREATH DOESN'T IT?”. The punks thought this was the funniest thing they had ever seen and I had to admit it was pretty choice. I went home and wrote the song figuring that if anyone deserved a song it was her. The album got around and eventually Rachel got a copy and heard the song. Now whenever she sees me she makes me play it for her but pretends she doesn't like it. She comes up and says in her most menacing voice, “Play that song you wrote about me, fuckin' asshole.”
I play it for her and she says, “I sang the lyrics to my daughter and it made her cry.”
“Well, I guess there's no higher praise than that.”, I replied.
She stalks off after calling me an asshole again but I know that deep down she secretly loves the song because she hasn't attacked me in years. I kinda miss it.

I Love the Devil--- My big hit. “I Love the Devil” came from several different inspirations. First of all I was making fun of Pantera. I've always thought that big, tattooed white guys playing heavy metal was hilarious and Pantera always seemed to me like the most unintentionally funny band of all time. All the devil noises in the middle are my take on Phil Anselmo's vocal delivery.  As for the lyrics, it's basically me saying all the most evil stuff I can think of. When I first started playing the song it was completely free form. The part about sacrificing babies was always in there but other than that it changed every time. It wasn't until I got into the studio and was just about to record my vocal that I took a sheet of paper and wrote down the words that would be in the song from then on out. In a way, it used to have more energy when it was improvised but what can you do? The other main idea behind the song was to write a catchy song about the devil that people could sing along to as opposed to most songs about the devil which are so fast and loud that you can't even tell what they're saying. When I'm in the right mood this is still my favorite song to play.

The Burning Bush--- Originally, this song was written on keyboard and was meant to have a more up tempo rock vibe but for some reason I decided to slow it down for the album and play it on guitar. This is one of the rare instances of my having vague, hard to interpret song lyrics. There is no way anyone would ever guess from listening to it that this song is about a girl who shot fire out of her vagina as a circus routine. She was part of a troop that was pretty big in the New Orleans underground in the early two thousands and all of their acts had something to do with their genitals. One would hang a six pack of beer from hooks in her labia, one would shove a power drill up his wang, one gargled his own piss and, most inspiring to me, one shot fire out of her vagina. What a perfect symbol! I wasn't really in love with the girl, I just thought she was super hot and had a great act. Hilariously, her boyfriend was kind of pissed when he heard the song and gave me  some shit about it, kind of jokingly but kind of not. I told him, “Look dude, if your girlfriend shoots fire out of her vagina and you let someone else beat you to writing a song about it, that's on you.”

Kinky Sex With You--- I wrote this one when I was 17 making it the earliest composition on the album.   Frankly, I think it shows, though it has had it's share of fans over the years. The impetus for this song was this friend of mine who had a super hot girlfriend and a super hot sister, both of whom I would have liked to have had kinky sex with. I had the first few lines of the song but couldn't think of anywhere to go with it. One day while riding on the bus to my job doing political polls on the telephone it hit me that the song didn't have to be about the guy's girlfriend and sister but could be about the concept of kinky sex in general. I made up the rest of the words in my head right there on the bus and played it on guitar when I got home that night. That was an important early lesson in letting a song go where it wants to instead of forcing it to be something it's not. Kind of a crude song but not bad for a beginner. The gutter punk girls liked it.

Glue Head Girlfriend--- This was one of the first songs I wrote on keyboard after learning to play. I bought a super cheep wind organ, which is kind of like an electric accordion laid out in keyboard form, for thirty bucks at an antique shop on Decatur St.. I was working at a mask shop there making and selling Italian style leather masks for this big, fat, drug addict guy who would dress in Hawaiian shirts and ride around the French Quarter on an electric scooter. He was pretty lax with his managerial duties and for several months I lived in his mask shop having crazy parties every night. I brought the wind organ to the shop and wrote songs late, after people had gone home. “Glue Head Girlfriend” started as an homage to this gutter punk girl that would huff paint and glue down by the river. She always silver paint on her face because metallic paints supposedly give you a better buzz. For some reason this girl fell in love with me and would try to get close to me at parties and stuff. I wasn't attracted to her and resisted her advances but when I got the song idea I knew I had to follow it through to it's logical conclusion. I've never been able to write a good song about love when I was actually in love because they all come out too cheesy and sentimental. To really nail a love song you have to be emotionally detached. This, along with “The Burning Bush” is the only song that survived the mask shop period as most of them were just too fucked up and over the line. One title that got axed was “I Want to Have Sex With Your Wife” after I noticed the chilling effect it would have on whatever group I played it for. Some of the songs I won't even talk about. I was still testing the waters of how far I could or should go.

Going to the Cave---  This is my favorite recording on the album and one of my favorites to play. It was a more collaborative effort than most of the others in that it was co-written with Ray Bong, with Lance Koehler providing much in the way of production and musical expertise. Ray and I had discussed the concepts behind the song for weeks, like moving to a cave, taking your dog and a shotgun in order to escape from society and become self sufficient in preparation for the apocalypse as a metaphor for social alienation, and talked about writing a song based on the ideas. We batted it around at jam sessions but nothing much came of it until one night when we went to go see the jam band moe. at the Howlin' Wolf. After the show Ray raved on and on about how great the performance was but I hadn't enjoyed it. I felt that they jammed directionlessly in ways that were totally irrelevant to the “song” they were supposedly playing, not incorporating it tastefully as a good jam band would. We were both pretty drunk and the argument got heated. When he finally dropped me off at the flop house I went upstairs determined to prove that I knew what I was talking about and that he was full of shit. I plugged in my four-track recorder and started laying down keyboard tracks and writing down lyrics. By the time the sun came up I had the song finished. Most of the time I have to be feeling happy to write a decent song but this is a rare occasion when a pretty good one was motivated by revenge.

Draft Dodger Rag--- I included this song by Phil Ochs on my album partly because I love the song but also because I wanted to show that my music was based on the folk musical tradition and not some bullshit like “Weird Al” Yankovic” or Tenacious D. Back when all the other kids were grinding away on Slayer riffs I was learning Bob Dylan and (old) Leonard Cohen songs on my acoustic guitar. I always loved Phil Ochs because of his beautiful, classic voice, his dexterous guitar picking and his bitingly clever hatred of the man. Unfortunately, Phil killed himself in 1976 at the age of 36, but I and lots of other people still sing his songs and struggle to play them half as good as he did.

Beautiful Hippie Princess--- This one's another collaboration, written with Brian Aurther back when I was 19 living on the streets of New Orleans. I've always been fascinated by hippie girls and blown away by how beautiful they are. Brian felt the same way, and the day we wrote “Beautiful Hippie Princess” we had met a particularly beautiful one at a homebum feed down at the gravel lot. Her street name was something ridiculous like “Piranha”. We went down to the river and drank malt liquor while trading verses back and forth and pretty soon we had the song. I can't remember who wrote each individual line but I can say for sure I came up the music because I've always been into the whole country-folk vibe. I've since played the song for many hippie girls and the response has been largely positive.

Money For Drugs--- This song was the bread and butter of my street act for years. If you've walked down Decatur at any point between 2001 and 2008 you've probably heard me play it in person. One day it just popped into existence while I was busking and I immediately started making mad bank. I would play this song over and over as people were walking by and if someone tipped me a dollar I would offer to play them one of my “real” songs and then they would usually buy an album or at least tip me another buck or two. I thought I had found my life's work until Katrina fucked up my hustle in 2005. After the hurricane I kept at it for a few more years but, for me at least, it would never be the same in terms of money. During festivals pre-Katrina, I would have impromptu parties form around me on the sidewalk and everyone would be sing along and contribute to the energy of the scene which made it fun and easy to make living. For some reason that stopped happening after the hurricane and people started being much tighter with their cash. I still look back on it as the highlight of my career because it was so organic and seemed to speak to the true purpose of street culture. After a while it got to be a drag trying to compete with the new t-shirt shops popping up every day and the horrible canned “Zydeco” music they pump out at maximum volume. It didn't help to realize that most of the yuppie tourists didn't know the difference between real culture and fake culture and didn't really care besides. From what I understand the scene has since come back in full force so maybe I'll go back one day and play on Decatur for old times sake.

Hip Hop Medley--- Obviously, I didn't write the words to this one, I just took some rap songs and “white-boyed” them up for comedic effect. I assumed a lot of black people walking by on the street would think it was hilarious and it turned out I was right. The fact that so many rap songs are inherently funny made it pretty easy to crank this one out once I got the basic idea. I would bet that other comedy musicians have “written” similar songs because there are few things funnier than a white dude trying to be “gangsta”.

They're Red Hot--- The reason this song is on the album is that Ray Bong was there while I was recording it, yelling out the names of songs between takes. I kept telling him to be quite, that I already knew what songs I wanted to do, but he wouldn't listen. So here is my rudimentary take on a song popularized by Robert Johnson in which I mess up the words and skip most of the song because I didn't really know it. What the hell, it makes a fine coda. Having said that, it was good to have Ray there to bounce ideas off of even if I almost never followed his advice.

SEX AT THE ZOO--- The songs that would comprise Sex at the Zoo were written between 2001 and 2006, right in the heart of George Bush's reign as President. I can remember reading the paper in those days and seething with rage at whatever stupid bullshit he was doing or saying that day. I actually canceled my subscription because it was making me so angry all the time. The album was recorded at Sound Mike's studio in Houston Tx, and unlike the first one, it was a bit of a slog. Sound Mike and I had some different ideas about how the album should sound and working it out was a bit of a struggle. It's unquestionable, though, that he made certain tracks much better than they would have been otherwise. This album differs from my first in that I got other musicians to play a lot of the tracks. Eric “Lief” Moore played drums, bass and lead guitar on most of the tracks and Olivia Dvorack sang on several and played kazoo on Sex at the Zoo. I played all the rhythm guitar, keyboards, and banjo and played bass on I Just Want Your Booty. The main argument I had with Mike was about the layering of the vocals. I thought it should be minimal but he kind of went nuts with. It really worked on some songs though so credit where credit is due.

I don't think my song writing approach changed much between my first album and this one. I guess maybe the songs are a bit more structured. An interesting bit of trivia is that, although obscene by many standards, there are no curse words on the entire album. How that happened I have no idea.

Let's Get the Baby High--- I wrote this song to honor the birth of my favorite drug dealer's first child. I was wracking my brain trying to think of something tasteful and appropriate when it occurred to me to combine his work and his family life. This was one of those songs where I knew it would go over the line for some people and asked myself several times while writing it, “Is it OK to sing about this? Is it OK to sing about getting babies high?”. As I expected the answer was “No” for some people. I usually like offending people with my music but only for the right reasons, when I intend to. It irritates me when people get offended by this song because it is so transparently farcical. I mean, of course you shouldn't really get a baby high. It's a joke. Anyone that needs me to tell them that was going to fuck up their kids anyway. At any rate, plenty of parents, including the ones I wrote it for, have told me they like the song. I really like Olivia's backing vocals on this one and the keyboard sound we got using a fairly cheep little Korg which is why I had it lead the album. Also because you can't tell how fucked up the song is until you get to the chorus.

Laura's Bush--- This is one of my only overtly political songs. Like I said, I was very unhappy about George W. and I knew I would eventually have to write some kind of song about him. Before he got elected I had never been that interested in politics. I followed the elections and all but it was W. who really got me paying attention which is probably true for a lot of people my age. I don't remember exactly when I got the idea for this song but I remember that for a long time before I wrote it I was telling people how bad I wanted to sleep with Bush's wife (and daughters) just to fuck with him. The guitar riff is something I had been playing for years and improvising over so I finally put it in a proper song. My favorite part is the breakdown in the middle where I name all the different parts of the White House Laura and I are gonna do “it” in. My dream was that one day, somehow, W. would hear the song himself and be super offended by it. Offended, but somehow unable to track me down. I really like this one but the problem with it, and most political material, is that it gets dated quickly. It's simply not as poignant now that Bush is no longer in office. Singing about banging Michelle Obama just wouldn't be the same.

Sex at the Zoo--- This one came out of a visit to the Audubon Zoo. I wish I could tell you that I got kicked out for breaking into the primate house and slapping the old man meat on an orangutan but, in reality, I only fantasized about it.  A simple little call and response number, once I came up with the premise all I had to do was think of which zoo animals it would be funniest to have sex with and the song wrote itself. It just seamed so obvious. Sex is funny, animals are funny, sex with animals is fucking hilarious, so sex with exotic zoo animals must surely be the funniest thing ever. This was one of those songs where I couldn't believe I was the only person to ever think of it. How could it be? It was always floating out there in the aether, just waiting for someone as warped as me to channel it into reality. This was one example of Mike's vocal layering technique being used to good effect and, as a result, this is my favorite recording on the album.

The Stink--- I usually start out with the lyrics to a song but with this one I had the music for a while before I put words to it. Also, this is a rare instance of me writing a song in a minor key.(A)  In my head I imagine it being sung by the evil sounding guy who sings in the Grinch cartoon. Some people have told me they don't like the song because it about stinking and stinking is, like, gross. Well, ya know, life is gross. Lots of modern music is about pretty people who don't stink singing about how great they are and I want to be the antithesis of that. Anyway, it's artistic license, I don't really stink all that bad.

Anal Butt Love--- I don't want to cop out here but I honestly can't remember writing this song. Frankly it's surprising that this is the only one. A funny thing about it is that when I do my show in bars sometimes people come up and ask me afterward if I'm gay because of the last verse. I mean, after all the crazy shit I sing about (sex with animals, purposely contracting STDs, poop eating gnomes, etc.) the question in their minds is, “Are you gay?” Believe it or not, listening to it now I'm pretty sure it was inspired by Willie Nelson's version of the gospel song, “I Couldn't Believe It Was True”. There are several songs on Sex at the Zoo, and this is one, where I feel the addition of the female vocal adds a whole new level humor and/or weirdness.

I Just Want Your Booty--- This is one of the two songs on the album that I played all the instruments on and one of the only songs I've ever written on an electric guitar. For this one the music and the lyrics came all at once and just meshed together immediately. I was playing around with a wah pedal and came up with the riff, and the words just seemed to suggest themselves. The song is meant to be ironic, you can't just have someones booty after all, but people have a tendency to take it at face value which irritates me. One film maker guy made a video for the song full of stereotypical, sexist cliches which I was so embarrassed by that I completely disowned the project. Lot's of shots of girls dancing in hot outfits and shit like that. If I was to do a video of the song, it would consist only of shot after shot of girl's booties, one after another until they become hypnotic and stopped meaning anything sexual, as a comment on the ridiculousness of  objectification. I don't know, maybe I'm misjudging the material, but I know I'm not misjudging the video which is why it's not included in this package. I do like the song, though, and like to think it has a bit of a Prince vibe.

Smokin' Crack--- I wish I could say that I am the white boy that loves smoking crack but I actually wrote this one about a friend of mine and changed it to first person for convenience sake. The guy's name was Phoenix. He would hustle all day making palm frond roses in the French Quarter and then go blow his wad on crack every night. I went with him to his crack house one time and smoked with him as kind of a “National Geographic” experience. The thing about Phoenix was that he was such a happy go lucky, positive dude. He was always in a good mood. He loved hustling roses on the street and he loved smoking crack as much as anyone has ever loved anything. It was infectious, which is why I had to write the song. At the risk of sounding immodest, I have to say I think this is the best song I've ever written. It's hard for me to imagine someone doing a better job with the subject matter. When I was writing it my neighbor told me that he heard me playing in his room and that I kept having to stop because I was laughing so hard. That's usually a good sign.

Horse Cop---  Anyone who knows me knows I hate authority and that I fucking despise the police. It's hard to imagine anyone who's spent much time on the streets of New Orleans thinks too highly of them. You got your car patrol cops, your foot patrol cops, your undercover cops, your bike cops and, last but not least, you got your horse cops. I've always felt it was especially evil for them to co-opt unsuspecting animals into their sick war against humanity. I came up with “Horse Cop” during Jazz Fest one year when it seemed like they were just everywhere. Once I realized that “swine” rhymed with “equine” I knew I was on to something. Some people have asked me why I didn't sing the song myself on the album, but in fact, I'm singing the whole time. My vocal is a very subtle whisper in the background behind Olivia's lead. It's easy to hear if you know to listen for it. I just thought this song would be a good opportunity to showcase Olivia's amazing vocal range. I want to say that although the words “fag” and “dike” appear in this song, I'm not homophobic or anti-gay in any way. I included those words only because I felt police would be offended by them. I'll admit it's kind of questionable and that if I was writing the song now I might think of some alternative but believe I will let the song stand as it is. I would argue that those words are funny in this particular context.

Crabs and Pubic Lice--- “Crabs and Pubic Lice” was, like “The Stink”, my attempt to write the exact opposite kind of song that guys usually write to try and impress girls. Go to any open mic. and you'll see tons of dudes passionately performing tunes designed, in they're minds at least, to portray themselves as sensitive guys with lots of attractive qualities. My idea was to write a song that any girl would be repulsed by, and by virtue of reverse psychology, attracted to. My theory turned out to be correct because from the first time I started playing the song in Jackson Square I could tell lots of girls were amused by it. This is another song that benefits greatly from the added dynamic of a female vocal and I think Olivia sounds particularly good on it.

VaticaN.A.M.B.L.A--- Yeah, ya know, I just can't get over the whole “Catholic priests molesting children” thing. It strikes me as a significant detail. Lots of people have laughingly told me how this song is “just wrong” over the years but I don't see it that way at all. Convincing people you're some kind of liaison between them and the creator of the universe and using that position to indulge your bizarre and perverted sex fantasies is “just wrong”. Scathing ridicule of such people in the form of a catchy song is right on the money. These guys don't even have to pay taxes and I'm supposed to spare their feelings regarding their widely known, barely repressed pedophilia? Give me a break. They should be kicked out of their parishes and tarred and feathered on national television. For a while I was thinking of writing a musical about the subject and might still if I can come up with a good story. My favorite part the song is the thing about eating meat on Friday.

You Don't Suck Blood, You Just Suck--- Ah, the Vampire scene of late 90's early 2000's New Orleans. The whole French Quarter was overrun with prosthetic fang wearing kids with spooky contact lenses and black clothes they had bought at Gargoyle's. Kids who lived on the street would save up the money they panhandled and buy 400$ shoes that went up to their chins. To me this seemed like total insanity. In my view, the main thing that separated Vampire kids from Goths (whom the Vampire kids felt greatly superior to) is that Goths had a sense of humor about how ridiculous they were whereas Vampires took themselves quite seriously. They would walk by me with their noses turned up to the sky. It was only a matter of time before I wrote this song to irritate them and irritate them it did. I was “threatened” by butt-hurt Vampires on more than one occasion. I put “threatened” in quotation marks because these Vampire kids were possible the biggest dorks I've ever seen in my life. Their idea of a threat was to say, “This is your first warning. You only get 3.”. Three warnings?!?! You got to be shitting me! The guys that hang outside Port Authority they were not. I wrote the song on the acoustic guitar and that version is kind of folk-country, but for the album I used a cheesy pre-sequenced keyboard line as a way to make fun of the horrible dance music they listened to. And you gotta love the title.

Well that's it. I've got lots of other songs but those are the only ones I've managed to record. If you've read this far you must be a true fan so thank you for your interest in my work. I honestly believe that I have the coolest fans in world.