Sunday, February 21, 2010

TRANSCENDENCE!

PEOPLE KNOW THE WORDS TO THE SONGS, AND THEY SING ALONG.

Things are different now, and they will stay this way. Ebb and flow, change and more change. Stasis still equals death.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mega-Manic Fall

It's 3:33 p.m., and the sun has already clocked out here in Boston. In dark times, you have to make your own weather. This is what I'm working on:

11/16-19 NY for work
11/19-21 Boston for life and rehearsal.
11/22-23 Toronto for work (looking forward to this, as I've never been to the city before).
11/24-29 NY and Philly for Thanksgiving.
11/27: INFRASTRUCTURE AT TRITONE in Philly

And then:
12/11-12/14: ABBQII in Austin! With a crew of at least 5!
12/18 INFRASTRUCTURE at Church in Boston
12/26 INFRASTRUCTURE at National Underground in Manhattan.

Doing stuff is awesome.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Some Infrastructure Videos

Howdy. Here's the band at Harper's Ferry a few weeks ago. We have show coming up this Saturday, 11/7, at All Asia in Central Square, Cambridge. We're working hard to make it a great one! Hope to see you there.

Here, we debut our Steely Dan meets Beatles meats country punk tune, "Moorpark."


Here, we tear through the breakdown on "Old World."


This is the first time I've had video on the blog.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Escape to San Diego, 2008, Part I: The Coast

I am a manic American. When I tire of America, I escape into America. My brain tells me to go somewhere, and I go. I am a slave to the landscape, less so to the people. I photograph everything. I also write about what I see, in little spiral notebooks and blog posts and lyrics, and set the lyrics to music, and play the songs in rock clubs. This is how I live.

A year ago, I grew very tired of whatever I had been doing. I decided to engage some temporary manifest destiny and go west. Thanks to the graciousness of my host, I was able to explore San Diego and its vast desert backyard. This is what I saw.


I found this guy hard at work in Pacific Beach. Somehow, seeing him made having the day off even more awesome.


Arrival at the beach, Wednesday morning. A welcome sight to a denizen of the miserable northeast.



Get down tonite!


Looks like I started writing the lyrics for the INFRASTRUCTURE song "Republic, Michigan" while having a burger for lunch at this Irish pub. We just played the song for the first time at Harper's Ferry two weeks ago.


Rust.


Car window sunset.


Ocean Beach street scene.


That's me, yo. I'm about to ascend Iron Mountain in 95° weather. Iron Mountain is in Poway, northeast of San Diego.


The summit.


You can see the entire San Diego skyline from Iron Mountain's peak.


Looking away from the city, you can see a big cross erected among the rocks.


This is what doing homework at San Diego State looks like. I read an entire noir novel on the beach the first day, Kenneth Fearing's The Big Clock. Tremendously impressive. I wish I'd been aware of it when I taught my literary noir course at Tufts.


The military industrial complex is a huge part of the San Diego economy.


San Diego lifeguard.


San Diego FD.


Friday evening, Mission Beach.


Green house, Mission Beach.


These four Hispanic guys were working their asses off in ninety degree weather, while frat parties began to rage and vacationers whizzed by on beach cruisers. They were covered from head to toe in sun-blocking gear.


Obvious.


Part II: The Desert, soon.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Meanwhile...

  • Just got Telecaster out of shop. Dude told me I lucked out and "probably had a better guitar than most Americans," as my tele is a Mexican.
  • Just bought MAN-CAM (hd camcorder) for MAN-AM VLOGGING
  • Erich coming in tomorrow to start final rehearsals for the Harper's Ferry gig.
  • Meade also coming in for photo/video documentation, Man Am site construction
  • Just saw "It Might Get Loud" which confirms that I think the right thoughts.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Also:

I'm an idiot for not setting up any gallery (photography) shows yet. I need an agent/manager.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

"...so let me tell you mo__erf__kers who you're f__kin' with."

(For soundbyte, go here, and fast forward to 4:43)

Past 72 hours:
  • Infastructure booked at Harper's Ferry
  • 5-hour Infrastructure Practice
  • James McMurtry show at Johnny D's
  • manicamerican.com server configured
  • Camcorders and video software researched
  • Learned WordPress implementation
  • Infrastructure booked at All Asia, again
  • ABBQII (Austin weekend roadtrip) dates blocked out and Austin Motel booked
Next up:
  • Infra-rehearsal tomorrow
  • manicamerican template designing
  • Attempting to book Infra-shows in NY, including CPC show at potential ex-German, now Jewish-Irish rock bar
This is what my my allies and I do on nights and weekends. And now I'm going to watch Season 3 of "The Shield" instead of sleeping.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Momentous, Manic Day

The past 48 hours have been a big step forward.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

This morning, I will smash into the door-blockers at the Harvard T Station with a renewed zeal.

I'm psyched because INFRASTRUCTURE just confirmed its next show, and it's at a time that should work for nearly everyone. We'll be playing at Harper's Ferry, the venerable Boston music club, at 8:30 p.m. on Tues, Oct. 13, the Tuesday after Columbus Day. We get to perform our tunes on the same stage that's been graced by Maceo Parker, B. B. King, and every one-hit wonder of the 90s.

This is awesome! We're on a mission to deliver the greatest soul-punk-blues-rock show we can, and we will.

This morning, when I attempt get off the T at Harvard on my way to the 66 bus and our studio in Allston, I know what I'll find. Dozens of tourists and assorted ignorami will be standing in front of the train doors, deliberately not looking at the people attempting to get off the train. Today, I will smash into them not with rage but with elation, as my guitar, my equipment bag, and I literally clear a path for the show to go on.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Momentary Update.

I'm tired. That's probably because, in addition to doing my job and biking everywhere, my band played its first gig in Cambridge and is actively trying to book two more, in Boston and New York. Dates are set for CPCCPCIV1 and ABBQII2. The Labor Day beach week in NC turned out to be a huge success for photos and stories. Meade and I are inching toward launching our road stories website, MANICAMERICAN.COM. It'll be an exhilarating fall.

1. COLLEGE POINT CLASS CONFLICT PUB CRAWL
2. AUSTIN BARBECUE TOUR

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Hi, I'm Rob Bellinger

and things are about to get interesting.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

LBRDY IS ON!

More to come.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weeks without posts

mean that things are happening faster than I can process them. Love and death, work and travel, music and photos.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Places I would rather be right now:

  • Lawrence, Kansas
  • Saint John, New Brunswick

Reasons:
  • No one will come looking for me.
  • Far from people and things that I don't like.
  • Low cost of living.
  • One city is starkly serene and industrial; one is a mini-Austin that provides a stimulating intellectual environment.
  • One city is for writing and the other is for music-making.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wogie's and stuff

We will be holding court at Wogie's on Tuesday, then going to a show at Pianos, in case you want to come.

We've found a drummer for Infrastructure and are now rehearsing on weekends in Boston. Shows in a few months, I hope.

More Deep South photos and stories to come.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Beginning of a Thousand Journeys


This is not the Deep South. This is my (former) bus stop in Queens, the place from which I started leaving home for the first time, first to go to high school in Manhattan, then to the rest of America.

More Deep South soon.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Eighteen Challenges in Contemporary Literature"

Dan Barry forwarded me a Wired blog article by author Bruce Sterling entitled "Eighteen Challenges in Contemporary Literature." I much appreciated that the article was written in bullet form (no sarcasm intended).

My response:

photography, music, and video are possible evolutionary sandbags against the destruction of the realm of the individual artist

but despite hybridization, technical evolution, network-generated texts, cultural-technical re-indexing of all human achievements, etc, people are still the same pieces of shit as before

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

What mode will I be in during DS09?

a. vigor
b. furor
c. grace

Why is my entire life governed by lines I wrote when I was 19?

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Back to This


That is: UP #221: Rob and Dan at Tahquamenon Falls.

In just a week and a half, we ship out for the Deep South and whatever experiences it has to offer us. It has been a tough week (no posts for seven days) and a tough spring. I am alive and exhausted and ready to move forward with many goals. These goals include completing the construction of Infrastructure, doing more with my many photos, and, oh yeah, mastering my new job. I also have to decide where to live in America. No big deal.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Update


Here's Erich landing in Norwood two weekends ago. We had a great time shuttling around eastern Mass. and having dinner in Provincetown. The pics are on Flickr.

Now I'm in Manhattan for meetings. Meade and I just bought our plane tickets to Atlanta for DEEP SOUTH 09. It truly is on.

I am working a lot and haven't slept (well) in three days. Perhaps tonight will be the night.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ghosts

I got to my hotel outside Miami pretty late. I'd been entrapped in "secure" areas for almost ten hours, so I decided to explore the quiet stretch of Route 1 outside my air-conditioned tomb. Large American cars whizzed by. There were no pedestrians in sight, just two separate hispanic guys biking down the sidewalk, apparently coming home from work. A few people waited for a downtown train at the elevated platform across the street.

Not fifty feet from the entrance of my hotel, I spotted this...


...an ancient-looking concrete street sign embedded in the dead grass at the corner, the letters eerily calling out to the ghosts of the city's past. Calling back, in my imagination, to the time when the city was largely caucasian and agricultural and the original carpetbaggers came south to meet their fortunes. Now Miami is a totally mixed hodgepodge of humans. The agriculture is gone. The Cubans that the city became famous for have been supplanted by waves of northern retirees, suits, asians, central americans, etc. And each wave has shaped and nudged the city into its present form.

If there is one thing that American cities do, they change. I enjoy trying to understand the changes, and I try half-assedly to honor the ghosts of the past. Some American ghosts are horrible, and some are inert. But every square mile of America is haunted by something. I suppose the same could be said about anywhere, but many Americans willfully ignore this country's past, in favor of nothing, or, worse, in favor of neverending bourgeois obsessions with overseas ghosts.

But ignorance is bliss. Still thinking about that concrete street sign, which could be one year old or one hundred years old, I stepped into the only nearby business open, a TGI Friday's. I had a beer and two delicious sliders. In that frat boy-laden atmosphere, the only ghosts conjured were those of girls I didn't like anymore. I went back to the hotel.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

This

is getting old.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

I am completely fascinated by Salt Lake City.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I. Go back to Vermont and die II. Cardiac Nurse

I. At the conclusion of the workweek

after contemplating the THREE drivers who ran solid reds at powderhouse sq in an attempt to run me over
i try to cross mass ave at porter sq
white Nissan approaches at 'high rate of speed'
vermont plates
i am crossing from center in crosswalk; tools in jackets are crossing form other side
car does not slow
i stop in crosswalk, make WHAT THE FUCK gesture
car immediately and purposefully veers directly at me, then swerves away at last second, missing me by inches
rules of engagement for car punching
immediately met
car punched; bitchslapped with open palm
fat orca fuck behind the wheel starts cursing me out over his fat c*nt of a passenger
TRY HARDER NEXT TIME ASSHOLE i say
"they're from vermont..." say passers-by
GO BACK TO VERMONT AND DIE
learn how to fucking drive while you're at it
fat fuck omits phrases about me being a faggot and how he'll kill me
fat c*nt sits there terrified
i catch up to car on foot....around here that's a crime, i say

hours pass. then i am smoking with julia the cardiac nurse in front of christopher's
who turns out to be my neighbor
who works in a a cardiac ward with ablation patients
I was an ablation patient when I was 13!!!
when ablations were experimental
things are going great
then her friends exit christopher's and see her talking to a boy
they immediately attempt to sabotage
she says thanks but no thanks; i'll walk
i say WE COULD SPLIT A CAB, NEIGHBOR!!!
they say NO YOU ARE GETTING IN A CAB AND TAKING A CAB BY YOURSELF TO YOUR HOUSE
she tries to get rid of them
she looks at me but they do not
they hail a cab and put her in it and send her home
then they stand there and look like c*nts

and that is that

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Monday, February 23, 2009

A Marquette of the Mind

Every roadtrip* hits its peak. You don't know when or where it's going to come or what's going to happen, but worry and care vanish, inhibitions cease to inhibit, and a clearer path appears. It's the point where vacating and creating truly synthesize, where obstacles are overcome. After a long night of catharsis, life starts anew.

These events--grand and unplanned--happen only in places where we have no business being, places we know nothing about. The entire mind-clearing event must be shared by all roadtrip participants and must be a series of perfectly aligned happenstances. Everything is left to chance, and chance delivers. You have to have enough buildup, the right number of drinks, and you have to be in the right place. It also helps if you don't have to be anywhere the next morning.

On the Upper Peninsula trip, catharsis came in Marquette. At almost 20,000 people, Marquette is the largest city up there. All Dan and I knew going in was that it had an ore dock (saw a postcard photo of it in Ishpeming), an electronics store (told by a 35mm news photographer in Houghton), and a regional university. We spent an entire dark and cold June day working our way east from Houghton--where our legendary stripper encounter the night before could almost have been the highlight of the trip.

We arrived in Marquette just before the weak presummer sun set on the trail of shit towns destroyed during the long wane of Michigan's copper empire. The city's outskirts, seen from a state highway dotted by regional chains that faintly resembled their national competitors, looked like a sprawling nowhere, a perfectly Lynchian Lumberton. Both the people and the landscape communicated a delicate balance of hospitality and terror.

Downtown, Marquette looked and felt like a Canadian Maritime city, like a half-sized version of Saint John, a place where honoring expensive architectural traditions once symbolized the industrial importance of the region.

We drove right through downtown to Lake Superior. The giant ore dock, where trains had once dumped millions of tons of iron ore pellets into waiting ships, turned out to be abandoned. This was heartbreaking. Worse, the immense trestle over downtown, which had carried the trains over city streets, had been completely removed. Even in America's smaller cities, industry and functionality are now hidden from everyday view.

Dan and I decided to work with the fading light and try to get some decent shots, even though we knew that every tourist who arrives in Marquette probably does the same thing. Dan disappeared on the other side of the dock. I walked out on an adjoining pier where the locals had their boats tied up. As I shot, a dude approached me from behind and stopped to talk to me.

"What boat are you on? I've never seen you down here before." The dude looked like a younger version of my Uncle Lenny, mid 40s, white and gray polo, curly Italian hair.

I didn't understand his question, so I asked him to repeat it. He meant: which boat did I own? In as few words as possible, I tried to explain that no, sir, we don't have a boat and we don't belong on this dock, we are two guys from New York who as continuously as possible roam the continent with cameras in hand, attempting to find meaning in America as well as in our own lives.

"You guys have a tent?" he asked.

Yes, I told him. We bought it in suburban Milwaukee but we hadn't used it yet.

"Don't stay in a motel. Head on up to Tourist Park. You can get a camping permit for fifteen bucks and take a cab right downtown from your tent."

This sounded great. I told him how disappointed we were to find the ore dock abandoned. No problem, he said, there's a working one about four miles up the shore. Up there they were "dropping pellets pretty regular."

Before we left, he asked where we planned to eat dinner. The North Woods Supper Club, I told him. A good friend recommended it. He made a wincing gesture and shook his head.

"No, you want to eat at the Vierling, great microbrewery. V-i-e-r-l-i-n-g. Right there on Front Street. You can park anywhere on the street...or you can take a cab from your tent."

Intrigued by this notion of taxi-camping, I reconvened with Dan and we headed up the shore of Lake Superior to the massive, working ore dock, which we found easily. There were no ships there, but we photographed it anyway, shooting the many mineral red ore chutes illuminated by the setting sun.

We found Tourist Park in the woods north of downtown, and we were checked into a riverside, "rustic campsite" by two shaggy, teenage dudes who occupied a little office. A few cars were already on-site, scattered among the trees, and a pitched tent accompanied each car. Dan and I opened the package that our tent came in and neurotically read the assembly directions.

The park workers, and the sun, were gone by the time we were set up. I 411'd a cab. The operator asked me if I wanted Checker Cab or Apple Cab. Checker, I said. I heard a faint click and the sound of ringing.

"GUY FAULKENAGEN CHECKER CAB HOW MAY I HELP YOU?" said the phone. I explained my situation, which took some effort, hung up, and cracked a Red Bull. I wanted to drink drastically. We had seen and shot a lot. We were as far from work and the East Coast as we were going to get. Now was the time for drinking.

20 minutes later, a yellow minivan pulled up. Inside was an utter giant of a man, who barely regarded us as we entered the vehicle. As Dan and I got in, his cellphone rang. "GUY FAULKENAGEN CHECKER CAB HOW MAY I HELP YOU?" said the dude. Dan and I looked at each other. The one-man taxi operation--suddenly reminiscent of Lawrence**! Ghost of expurgation past! Dan pulled a Red Bull from his coat and cracked it. At the PSSST! of the can opening, Guy Faulkenagen turned his tremendous head towards us and hit us both at the same time with a look of utter contempt. It's just Red Bull! I said. His face relaxed a bit, and his throbbing neck muscles rotated the massive head back to face the direction the cab was going.

Guy was a character. Dan wrote a song about him. He had played for Baltimore, back when Baltimore was Baltimore. He had some interesting fares lately, including a lady photographer who was shooting Special Olympics stuff for ESPN. He dropped us off downtown and told us to call him when we wanted to go back to the tent.

The Vierling was okay. I had prime rib with horseradish--why not? The high point of my meal was the giant shit I took between the salad and the main course, Peter Griffin style. I don't remember what kind of beer we had, but it was alright, too.

--------------------------------

Then we are walking around. It's chilly outside, and there are no people in the streets. We get money from a drive-through ATM on foot. We hear live music around the block. There are not that many blocks, but we have to walk down some alleys to figure out that the sound is coming from above us. Suddenly we are walking up lots of stairs. The buzz has set in. We are at a townie bar, on the third floor of a loft building. The cover band is timid, seemingly unaware that anyone and everyone downtown can hear them. They have a songsheet going around, almost all 90s and classic rock. CRACKERMAN!!!, Dan and I start shouting when songs end. We drink cheap beer upon cheap beer, bottles of stuff like Miller Lite. The place is mostly dudes, and no one looks at us except when they are taking our money. We talk about what we'll one day do with the thousands of images we're creating on these trips. The band plays the requested STP tune, and Dan and I love it. We leave. We are wasted.

Out in the street, we hear more music. This time, the music is coming from below us. Close to the abandoned ore dock, there is a cavernous brick club. We decide to enter. The bouncers tell us $2. What the fuck, I say, let's get out of here. Where I'm from, $2 doesn't even buy a slice of pizza, but the thought of paying that much to walk into this show deeply offends me.

We stand on the sidewalk. We are about to call Guy Faulkenagen, but for the first time we hear the music. It's heavy, heavy soul, with crazy harmonica and saxophone overlays. Marquette is delivering--delivering the last thing we'd expect to hear in the land of the pasty. We go back through the door and pay our two dollars each.

What happens next is what Dan tells me happens next. The band continues to lay on extremely thick and not-fake soul. I apparently dance with or hit on every woman at the estabilshment, from the patrons to the female band members. My notes indicate that I speak to the common-seeming "girl with camera" but also to more flavorful characters like the "MILF nurse from Escanaba" and "decent-looking human systems major" wearing a retro Pistons shirt. I sit down with the band at the bar, between sets, and find out that they are up from Atlanta, booked for a two-night stint in Marquette. The backing players are all white soul nerds like myself, and we talk about gear and how bands form and the gas mileage that their van gets. Thousands of thoughts about music and songwriting and equipment rush through my head.

I don't see Dan for this much of this episode. I think he may have his Vivitar on him...I certainly carry no camera.

Toward the end of the show Dan reappears and starts screaming at me to do bad things with the girl in the Pistons shirt, but I suddenly want to sleep and walk out. We pass the Pistons girl as we leave, and she looks confused. One of us uses the business card we got off of GUY FAULKENAGEN to summon him back to a downtown intersection. He's much more jovial with us this time, but he keeps getting in cellphone arguments with NMU students trying to get a ride home from a party ("HOW CAN I PICK YOU UP IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE?").

The next thing I remember is waking up midmorning to the sound of the river rushing by the tent, and the sound of an empty ore train rolling downgrade back to the mines.
--------------------------------

Is this really all about a night of drinking in Northern Michigan? Of course not. It's about how you become your own person. It's about how you work to end up unspeakably different from the way you were raised, and once in a while have a chance to check on your own progress. It's about how you live in America--all of America. The more trips you do, the more you get out of them. You have to do them for yourself, not your job, not to satisfy grant or scholarship requirements, not for a one-time thrill. The road teaches you not to conform, not to accept the security of a thrill-free life. The road is out there, but you have to work hard for the opportunity to experience it on your own terms.

Racing eastward out of Marquette toward the 1 p.m. departure of the Munising shipwreck tour, we passed by the working ore dock and saw that a ship had come in that morning. We studied it and photographed it, gorgeous in the almost-summer sun. Thousands of tons of ore pellets made a whooshing sound as they fell into the ship, soon to be headed east to what was left of the Rust Belt. The night before felt like nothing but a bad hangover, but we soon realized that a lot more had happened then and there. The two neurotic, ex-Catholic boys from Queens had once again escaped their backgrounds and experienced a night of total freedom.

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NOTES:
*By roadtrip, I mean an exploratory pilgrimage to a selected region--not driving through somewhere in order to get somewhere else, and not going somewhere as a business traveler.
**Lawrence, Kansas was the Marquette of the KC Siege, Summer 2007. I still haven't processed, written about, or posted any photos from Lawrence.
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And, with that, the UP photos will be starting back up...100 to go!

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Trianglerock

I'm home for a whopping 17 hours this (3-day?) weekend, then going back out on another business trip. I'll be staying in Chapel Hill and visiting undisclosable portions of North Carolina for a few days.

The last time I was headed to N.C., I found a neat little website called Trianglerock.com, which lists all local rock shows going on in the Research Triangle area. It has a companion player at groovo.org that streams mp3s of bands performing any given week. These sites are awesome, and it would be great if other cities had people dedicated to offering such great distillations of their scenes.

I might try to check out a show at the Cave tomorrow night. I checked out the Double Door in Chicago this past weekend, and I'm on a quest to hit as many venues as I can as I travel the country nonstop for the next six weeks. Rock and roll is alive in America.

Related Photoset from NCBBQII, May-June 2008: Night Falls on the Tar Heel State.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The New Year

As I sit here preparing to head off to a gathering of friends, I feel the need to play out 2008 with a few more UP images. These desolate places really provided a lot of inspiration and momentum, not only for Meade and me but for others who heard about and saw them later. Infrastructure is kicking (we wrote a song about Republic, pictured above). The photo thing is going well, and I have some new equipment to help me further both efforts. I'm always kicking around ideas for writing projects that I don't start. No time for shit. I am unmarried, have no children, and I don't own a home or car, yet I don't have a spare minute. I'm supposed to be on vacation, but I feel insanely stressed. I am inhaling a Lean Cuisine® Thai-Style Chicken frozen dinner and downing a Harpoon IPA. My blood pressure must be incredibly high. Happy new year.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

...and by inspired I mean focused.

I don't think I have enough (time for) vision. I've shot over 8,000 photos so far this year but cannot use the emergent themes to create a gallery-worthy print show. I've been working on a rock album with C. and E. since August 2007 but barely have five songs done. I turned on fiction, but that's fine with me for now.

Here's hoping for more "free" time in 2009. Art is work, and there's only so much work you can do before you fall asleep.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

I used to be inspired.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Complete F*ckery

Recently it dawned on me that I could have a life* if I stayed in the same place for more than a week at a time. Then I pinned two business trips onto my ABBQ itinerary to create an 8-day trip next week.

*a different version of the life I have now.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Burden of Being RB

You can't enjoy a weekend without laptop, guitar, and photographic equipment (all of which are on the bus today). No one helps you with your laundry. You don't have time for girls. You have three jobs and live in at least two cities. When you're having a good time, everyone thinks you're complaining.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"I have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer,"

quoth the radio preacher from a transmitter somewhere near Galax, Virginia. As Tuesday became Wednesday and a sharp, 21° crosswind unforgivingly rocked my piece of shit rental car from side to side, his voice continued, "We leave this world as we enter it, with nothing. Some people sacrifice their health and distance themselves from their families in order to work too much, to accumulate wealth..."

The preacher told me to represent my products honestly and make an honest profit, and give the rest away. I hit the seek button and all of a sudden Anthony Kiedis was shouting, "GIVITAWAY! GIVITAWAY! GIVITAWAY NOW!" When the song ended I shut the radio off, took my exit, and almost impaled myself on a guardrail.

I am currently traveling from Boston to New York to North Carolina to Virginia to North Carolina to Boston. I have been working for the past 17 hours, driving for the last three. I don't do many of these trips anymore, but they still destroy my mind.

I have three jobs.

I only write lyrics when I am in airplanes and miserable.

I write music all the time.

I only take pictures when I am not at home.

I only post pictures when I'm bored.

I am going to sleep.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blog/Life Update

This Upper Peninsula project I've given myself is quite a challenge. I'm not supposed to blog about anything else until I tell the entire story of the trip (which will take about 300 photographs). The feedback has been very positive, though, so I shall continue.

About fall non-work travel events, to which you are invited...

College Point Class Conflict Pub Crawl III (CPCCPCIII) happens on 11/28, Friday after Thanksgiving. It looks like we will have a very respectable turnout this year.

ABBQI, the first Austin BBQ roadtrip, will happen the weekend of 12/12-14. Amazingly this jives with my meeting schedule AND coincides with Dale Watson's only appearance at the Broken Spoke in the month of December.

Back to the UP. There will be other major news soon...

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

4:37 a.m.

All of New York City is a drunken circus right now. Tourist couples in too-tight clothing are arguing on the steamy, desolate streets of Midtown. The cops are responding to a scene of apparent violence at a club in Astoria, trademark red and white lights everywhere. Yellow cabs and livery cabs are ferrying drunks in any possible direction in all boroughs. Lights are still on in many homes. Even our usually quiet one-way street is jammed with pairs of headlights competing for asphalt. Everyone is awake or outside because they can be.

Amid these many chaotic scenes, the INFRASTRCTURE boys return home via the upper deck of the Queensborough Bridge. We have completed a marathon 12-hour recording and arranging session in a fancy Manhattan studio 400 feet above the hoochie-laden streets. When you play for that long, which I don't usually do, awakeness goes away and all that remains is muscle memory and punch drunkenness. You lock into your fellow musicians and the equipment you are using and you try to make something good.

Tonight, we made several very good things. A lot of remixing is required before we can share, and we didn't record vocals, but we're very proud of what we achieved. We need some serious sleep, though, before we can appreciate it.

It was also nice to find freshly baked brownies when E. dropped C. and me off at home. Things are finally beginning to work.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Next Episodes

I'm crazy busy with work and the next few projects that you'll see here. More specifically:

Untitled EP. An incarnation of INFRASTRUCTURE will be getting together in NY this weekend to start recording an EP. The oversimplified track titles, according to recording priority, are "Climber," "Busted," "Cul-de-Sac People," "Misery," and "Home." The personnel will be Erich Rastetter on keys and rhythm guitar, C. Bellinger on bass, Greg Caputo on drums, and myself on lead guitar. All of the personnel are angry young men from Queens. The band will sound like a combination of early Elvis Costello, early ZZ Top, and Wilco. What can I say? We're white people.

UP. Very soon, the blog switches completely over to a chronological retelling of the trip Dan Meade and I took to the Upper Peninsula this past June. Photos will serve as the main narrative element, with text filling in only where necessary. Any posts I've already put up will be re-posted to fit the narrative/chronological order of the trip. There are some really good photos in this set.

The Fall Excursions. If art-traveling is fun, why do it only in June? I have to clear the days off, but it looks like I'll be meeting up with some friends in SoCal, hosting the third annual College Point Class Conflict Pub Crawl in Queens, and putting together ABBQI, the first open-invite barbecue roadtrip to the Hill Country of Texas.

Read on (or listen, or view), or join me on one of these trips.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

2.

I think it would be awesome to do a dropped-D cover of Aimee Mann's "Freeway" into/out of Warren Zevon's "Jungle Work."

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3: Rob Bellinger

would rather be a realist than a total phony.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fulfillment in Wallyworld

Beyond the ghastly railroad suburbs* of southeastern Connecticut lies a place where people focus on their lives and not their careers, a place without ties to Boston and New York, a place where every other building isn't 30% parking garage and you're never more than 5 miles from a commuter train. That place is central Connecticut, and it's where a few of my good friends live and have lived.

It's also the home of Barnowl Studios, a rehearsal studio located in a sprawling, formerly industrial complex in Wallingford. In the dimly hit hallways of Building 14A is a community that blurs the lines between music and business, art and artistry. Having only found the place on MySpace and Craigslist, Erich and I thought we'd give it a shot.

Entering a "cheap" rehearsal studio means truly entering rock world. Empty beer cans, cigarette smoke, very low lighting, improvised sound dampening devices like old carpeting and foam blocks. It is in these environs that songs are written and performed. As indie rock and death metal and whatever else (often Latin music in Boston and NY) scream out from behind closed doors, I chuckle at how uncomfortable certain people I know would be in rock world.

Whenever you enter a studio, you wonder about what kind of room you'll get. Will the bass drum be destroyed and the cymbals ripped apart? Will the room smell like piss or weed? Will giant rats run up and down the brick walls as we play? I've seen and smelled it all.

At Barnowl, it's only $6 per hour to practice in a shared space (i.e. a space used by other bands at other times). Said space had a fully equipped drum set, a huge ass bass amp, plus some stuff we pilfered from another band, like a tiny Fender tube amp and a cheap old organ hooked up to a huge Fender amp.

We settled in fast and began casually working on a few songs and arrangements. As we played, people came and went, including a huge metal dude who wanted to try my Ampeg bass. Suddenly some young dudes who had heard us playing came in. One asked if he could play drums with us. We did a few of our tracks with me on electric, Erich on his newly wired acoustic, and this dude Jesse on drums. Shit sounded awesome. We got some serious compliments from the bystanders on these unfinished songs and then blasted out a crazy rock organ trio jam.

When we finally stopped playing, we realized we had been in the studio for four hours. Ryan, the owner, loved our story of meeting halfway at his place, and he wasn't even going to charge us for the session. We made a donation anyway.

This wasn't a show. Our arrangements and lyrics for the songs we worked on weren't even done. No one sang. But it was great to try some tunes out on other musicians, even with one other musician.

We're planning a rental car return trip to Wallyworld with CMike on bass and we'll see if we can get our new friend to sit in on drums again. Things felt good on the long ride back to Boston; the glacier continues to move.

*Stamford!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

View from the Whitestone Bridge, New York City


I took this shot from my parents' minivan as they drove to Boston for the first time in five years and three months, last weekend.

I grew up just beyond the left extremity of the frame in the Queens neighborhood of College Point. In this shot we've got some gravel barges coming down the East River and a freight train crossing the Hell Gate Bridge in the background. LaGuardia is just out of site beyond Riker's Island.

From ages 14-17 I commuted to Regis High School in Manhattan, buried in the Upper East Side skyline behind the Hell Gate Bridge.

The repeated journey from one edge of this frame to the other and back is basically what my entire life is about.

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Drinking Advice from Long-Lost BFF

"Bob, as my best fuckin' friend of 25 years, I have to tell you: get fuckin' Crystal Light and vodka. You go to the store and get fuckin' Crystal Light--anyone sees you getting it, says something, punch them right in the fuckin' mouth. Get Crystal Light Lemonade and vodka. It's like five fuckin' calories and you get fuckin' hammered."

--CK, via telephone, August 27, 2008. Almost exact quote.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

update

family in boston. homebound for a while. many, many new photos and ideas coming soon.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Five Weeks

In the past five weeks, I've been to Portland, Maine (2 days), home (45 min), Edmonton, Alberta (3 days), home (2 days), Bloomington, IN (3 days), home (2 days), NY (4 days), home (2 days), Miami (2 days), home (2 days), Philadelphia (3 days), NY (x days), and now what?

How does anyone expect me to keep doing this? How do I expect anything from myself? Why am I still in a groundlessly good mood? Where am I sleeping tonight?

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Monday, August 18, 2008

"willing to bet that this is just a phase"

quoth a colleague re: my being in a band.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

27 Years STD-Free

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Two Evenings on the Mississippi

Because I'm extremely stressed and am experiencing typical life conflicts, I'm uploading twenty pictures of Mississippi River traffic that I took in New Orleans this March. That was a good trip with what I'd call creatively used downtime. Between convention and dinner, I'd walk down to the riverwalk, buy an Abita draft in a plastic cup, and sit down with my camera. Just like my adolescent days in McNeill Park in Queens, though I wasn't a beer drinker then.

Go to the photoset for more detail.










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Thursday, July 10, 2008

One Month To Go

In this very productive 26th year. Four year blog anniversary has passed, too.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I

really don't believe how easy lives can be.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

You don't even know what is about to happen to you.

Between the 900 photos I took in NC this weekend (including like 3 undeniably awesome ones) and finishing writing the Infrastructure EP, some cool new stuff will be here soon. I am also working approx. 3-4 jobs.

It seems I will be doing an overnight trip almost every week this summer. So far, two of them are not for work.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sense of Shock

I think I've just figured out why I can't grow up. It's the unabating sense of shock that I can do that which I do. I suspect from reading many copies of the USA Today on the road that this very sense is instilled in dozens millions of American children from childbirth. But the sense I mostly got from my birthplace was that you work, reproduce, attempt to "build equity," die. Not necessarily in that order.

My sense of shock is one that I had to learn to feel, and it will give way to some form of greater confidence that I don't have yet. Many significant things I've done thus far have had question marks attached to them--usually before, but sometimes after the fact. It often felt that I was getting a great bargain or setting myself up for a challenge I was not worthy to face. I could go to Regis? I could go to college? Tufts? I can sell things? Market things? Write songs? Write stories? Learn photography?

I've been doing all these things and many others. They keep me up at night. I barely sleep. I need to keep pushing the envelope, artistically and professionally. I will not consider myself fully developed.

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