Yankee Hotel Foxtrot at 20 (but it’s not REALLY about the album)

I drove home early Saturday morning after spending the evening accompanying my father-in-law at a hospital as he recovers from open heart surgery.

I drove home, thinking about my own father, and how the last time I left a hospital was the day he died, almost 11 weeks ago.

I drove home, playing Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, an album officially released 20 years ago today, and one whose words and music always find new ways to move me, even (and maybe especially) after all this time.


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I Finally Got Around to Recording an Album

This record is a true labor of love.

Love lost. Love that never was. Love found. Love beyond imagination.

It’s the love of working with my nephew to take the music I’ve had in my heart for years and working it out of me into something we could record. He took all my notes — the descriptions of music and sounds I don’t know the technical terms for — and put into the world exactly what was in my head. Continue reading

Update — A Kindness Project: Hall a Day Season

The project in its full form is as follows:

I do not want my kindness to be in hindsight.

As I’ve mourned recent deaths and mulled my own mortality, I’ve thought about what I’m putting into the universe.

I do not like the bitterness I’ve developed.

As the world rages around us, mostly thanks to the hate waged by the current administrations, I find myself boiling inside, my cynicism growing while my eyes are rolling.

It’s not healthy.

Perhaps more importantly, it’s not happy.

As I hold my son and hug my wife, I am overwhelmed by love. I’m reminded of why I care so passionately about this world. I will continue to fight the good fight, to rebel and resist, but I also have a new project in mind.

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The Favorite: A Final Salute to a Graduating Nephew


Jon Brooks was always everyone’s favorite.

Ask my dad. Ask my grandmother. Ask either of his brothers.

Or just ask Jon. I’m sure he will tell you. He’s never lacked confidence, and truth is truth.

img_5705I should be perfectly clear I’m not joking about Granny. One day, sitting at a table at one family gathering or another, without prompting, she announced that Jon was her favorite. I’m pretty sure it was my birthday.

Jon truly was everyone’s favorite.

Until now. Continue reading

Josh Nolan’s Kind Heart to Follow is a must-play album

Josh Nolan looked like he was in his mid-20s and acted like he was in his early teens. For this particular summer weekend trip to Chicago in 2006 to see dozens of bands at Lollapalooza, both would see prominence. Thanks to the older side (plus the long, curly hair and the general overall demeanor of a rock and roll star), Josh would get stopped by would-be adoring fans, convinced he was in a band playing the festival. Thanks to the younger side, Josh would freeze at the attention, then tell them he was meeting friends at Taco Bell (TACO BELL!) before scurrying off down Michigan Avenue.

Oh, Josh. Continue reading

Not an Exit

I’m thrilled to announce the online debut of my first published collection of drawings and doodles I dare call “art.”

I’m pleased to be part of The Sketchbook Project 2018, giving me an outlet for the drawings I started creating in 2017 to deal with the presidential administration and the turmoil in its wake.

So, please enjoy Not an Exit (and share with friends)!

Tougher than the Rest: A Song, a Story, a Wedding

I do not want to get married again.

Yes, that sounds harsh, but before everyone cancels their RSVPs and returns their gift cards, perhaps I should clarify. The statement “I do not want to get married again” is a true statement, with the key word being “again.” That word, those two little syllables, imply Marriage the Reboot, which, simply isn’t the case.

I had accepted, even encouraged, the thinking that I would be alone the rest of my life. I’d become a hollowed out person, unable to allow anyone to come close enough to hurt me, let alone love me. Sure, I’d date, perhaps even attach a label to it, but I wanted that distance, needed it to survive, even though it was killing me.

In almost exactly one week from this moment, I will be huddled in a hallway with the woman who changed all that, and our small gathering of guests will be listening to a song that captures us. It is not a shock to anyone that it will be a Bruce Springsteen song, but what might escape everyone is just how on the dot the lyrics to “Tougher than the Rest” are.
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A touch of magic: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”

Many of you, particularly my social media friends, have already seen this story, but I’m sharing it here to reach a wider audience to celebrate the love that has been showered on my friends. To those who are familiar with my friend Kellee, her battle with cancer and her journey to Disney, I ask you to continue spreading this type of joy. To those who are just now discovering this tale, I realize what follows is lengthy, but the payoff is worth it as, at least for me, it has helped reaffirm my faith in humanity.

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For Gabbard: A Briefcase History of Time


Anthony Gabbard never won our fantasy football league. Never came close, really, despite often being armed with more picks in the first seven rounds than the rest of us had in the full draft. He would methodically fill slots based on need, meaning he always – ALWAYS – ended up taking a kicker not just too early but entirely too early. Like ridiculously early. Like seventh or eighth round early, having already rounded out a roster and ready to go worry about other things, usually poker.

Unlike others in the league, Gabbard didn’t study charts or meticulously pore over fantasy gurus in the days leading up to the draft. He preferred to print out a couple of sheets, then let the numbers be the guide while the team fell into place.

This is not to say, however, that he didn’t come prepared. Continue reading