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Curled and writhing
grasping at dust that plumes away and mud dripping through
stretching pointed fingers

Little Doyle in the safest place imaginable

Little Doyle, asleep in Ashley’s hands. We didn’t know you long enough, friend.

Eyes sealed against the din of light
lungs kicking against the drowning rush
nostrils straining, stained, and staining
red.

Yours was a cruel, brief morning
mourning you now an hour removed
from when I removed you
cradling my lost hope – your cold, delicate stillness.

Yours was a chaotic afternoon
squeaking against the pleading fangs and
digging claws of an innocent, destructive curiosity
spared a final maw as your impossible escape
from your wooden cage and bassinet
exposed you to a damp freedom,
a dug dirt ditch turned mud, and
my decision to leave your barking tormentor inside
so I could tend the yard –
a silent beckon that bent my routine,
to better tend your resilience.

But
yours was a night of stillness.
Eased along by caring hands and whispered songs
cradled in towels and
warmed, rice-filled socks
in an empty shoe box.

You met your fate with clawing hands and forced breaths,
kicking and pawing
with whimpering roars you greeted your end.

Sleep now, sweet prince,
in your resting place of earth and roots and leaves.

Rain fell as I made your bed, as I laid you down, as I spoke my ritual to the earth.
My tears, my final embrace.
A mournful song to carry you off.
A stone to mark you beneath the ancient oak that welcomes you home.


 

Yes, I only knew Doyle briefly. But this little squirrel touched me profoundly.  Maybe it’s because of the furry creatures we keep, and how deeply they’ve made me feel, or maybe it’s because of the one who makes me feel more deeply than I imagined possible.

This little guy, this little flicker, lives within me forever.

If you know me, you know that I’m inspired by reading about others’s creative processes, and I’m always fascinated by articles about music in general. This Rolling Stone piece covers both, and focuses on two of the best to ever do it, NoID and Jay-Z, whose collaborative album 4:44 just came out on June 30th. My review will likely follow, but I can tell you this much: I haven’t liked an album this much upon first listen in a long time.

Jay-Z and No ID in the studio.


Conversations“, via @cubansoze

What strikes me about the described process is that NoID explains the process in a way that I always imagined it working best, especially how he reflects on the creation of a musical playlist, intentional use of samples, and a true dialogue between artists that pushed Jay to stretch his voice. I’ll let you read the rest, but suffice it to say I really want to get creative. ASAP.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/444-producer-no-id-talks-pushing-jay-z-creating-500-ideas-w490602

Does anybody else hold a fond spot in their memories for that point between 1999 and 2002 when the West Coast had a bit of a Dogg Pound based revival?

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One of the worst day-ruiners has to be a wet sock. Hands down, it’s awful. It stops you in your tracks. You know you’re going to have to air out your shoe. And in the worst case scenario you’re stuck sloshing around all day. It happened to me recently, and it couldn’t have been at a more sobering moment.

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This past March I spent two weeks abroad in France and Belgium (more details to follow). One of the most touching moments of the trip was walking on Omaha Beach, the stretch of the Normandy beaches where American troopers landed for one of the most infamous and bloody battles of WW2. The place rang with echoes of pain and torment. As I moved from the drier entrance to the beach, past the shard-like memorial, and onto the wet sand, I could see the footprints embedding themselves as young legs leapt off ducks, imprints of bodies downed by enemy fire, sprays of sand as bullets missed their targets, and the knee marks left by those who dropped down amongst the bedlam to be with a friend as he took his last breath, or try against that onslaught to heal a wounded brother.

Everyone – all 30 something students and teachers – was absolutely silent. There were no politics. No disagreements. No barriers. Just people blessed enough to walk onto that beach without a single fear of being hurt, of it being their last time on beach. What I saw was a student, previously disconnected from the potential joy of the trip, utterly lost in the moment. What I saw was a pair of students embracing, supporting each other although no one physically needed a hand. What I saw was a student staring off into the crashing tide, completely unfazed by the lack of a jacket and his decision to wear shorts on such an overcast and windy day. What I saw was a couple of kids who quietly and without question followed my directions for how to properly fold an American flag. What I saw was a group of students apparently reaching for shells or handfuls of sand to carry as mementos, when they might as well have been trying to bury themselves in the omnipresent memories of those who were carried home instead, shells of their former selves and too soon to be sand.

And I stared into the horizon, imagining the vessels carrying these terrified, brave men into an uncertain battle, sure of their purpose but wary from the travel. And as I sought that perfect mound of sand to stand on I was distracted by a bright purple shell. I reached down and shifted my footing to grab it.

And I stepped my right foot directly into the water.

Normally that would have triggered my anger, or made me feel self-conscious. But there was something visceral happening around me. History flooded my every sense. It was inescapable. I had submerged myself into an ocean of a moment, shared by so many, stretched across time, and yet utterly singular and personal. There is no way to disconnect and yet there are miles between. It’s a comforting dissonance. Much like my reaction to my lack of reaction. I just stopped. There was no revelation. There was no poetic bursting forth as I realized what my being angry meant in the face of the vastness and weight of this place. I just didn’t get mad.

Because years before me there were hundred of kids with wet socks, too scared to be mad about it, to determined to think about it -sloshing onto a beach, boots needing more that airing out.

And now as I look back at my pictures I realize that pictures don’t show wet shoes, but they hold more than we can ever hope to see in them.

 

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Anybody else feel like Schoolboy Q’s “Groovy Tony/ Eddie Kane” deserves its own holiday based on how dope it is? And that Jada verse is the unexpected highlight of 2016. Fire.

While we’re in the subject, lemme get that beat.

A new segment, in which I examine the good songs on bad albums, the bad songs on good albums, throwaway lines on bangers, memorable lines on terrible song choices, and reevaluations of once loved or reviled albums.

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Can-I-bus was such a let down. Remember first hearing one of his monster guest verses and thinking, “Man, this guy is about to destroy the whole game”? 

And then he let us down with those albums. At least he gave us one thing: an easy way to remember the day Biggie died – “The greatest rapper of all time died on March 9th” (from “Second Round KO”).

I hope you all rocked out to your favorite BIG jams. At the gym I banged Life After Death, and was reminded of why he’s considered one of the best to ever do it. The album reminds me of high school and of a particular trip to Boston. I’m still in awe at his verse on Notorius Thugs; but I’m not in awe at how easy it was for me to rap along (I mean, come on – how do you forget that verse). “Mo Money Mo Problems” will always remind me of some of my favorite moments of high school, while “Going Back to Cali” (along with Outkast’s entire ATLiens) specifically bring me right back to the passenger seat of Clark’s SUV. 

You’re still missed, BIG.