Saturday, March 27, 2010

PSYCHOPOMP - CHAPTER FIVE (Twitter Novel / Keitai Shousetsu)

To start at Chapter One, click here

KG sits back from the computer and sighs. 6 months of work equals 2 stars. If this anonymous punk even knew how much KG had literally taken out of the mix in order to achieve the balance that he wanted...“uninspired and uninspiring”. Jesus. He scrolls down to the comments, and unfortunately there are few fans of “The Narrow Way” to be found there either. In fact, most of the comments are about how a review this negative shouldn’t get two stars – “I mean, that’s a one-star review if I ever read one!” Seething, KG begins to post a comment of this own and realizes after about a minute and a half of composing how pointless and sad this endeavor is, how embarrassing it would be to see his bitter response to his own bad review. Better judgment kicks in, and KG erases what he has written, clicks off Ambient Wavelength and over to the anxiety/depression boards.

KG pokes around for a bit and doesn’t find anything new except for an entry headed “Anyone Heard Anything About Comaxyn?” when the phone rings. KG sighs, looks over at the ID which reads “Matthew Stokes”. He closes his eyes, grits his teeth, lets the phone ring two more times before he picks it up.


“What’s up, Cage? Matty here."

“Hi, Matty. How are you.”

“Good, man, good! Just got back in from Rome.”

KG rolls his eyes, plays his part. “Really. How was it."

“The food, man, the food! Amazing – you would’ve loved it. The calamari’s like nothing you can get in the States.”

“Hmm. I’ll have to get over there sometime.”

Matty chuckles. “Yeah.” He pauses, the false bonhomie weighing on them both. “So, uh...have you been reading any of the reviews of ‘Narrow Way’?”

KG sighs. “Yeah. In fact, I just read one.”

“So how do you think it’s being received?” Way too formally phrased.

“Okay, I guess.”

“As good as you were hoping?”

KG takes a moment before answering. “Um, are you trying to ask me something else, Matty? Something that you’ actually asking me?”

“No, Cage, not at all. Just trying to get the lay of the land, you know.”

“Uh huh.”

“See, the thing is, and I’ve talked to Bill and Sandra about this, you know they love ‘Narrow Way’, I love ‘Narrow Way’...hell, Elliott loves ‘Narrow Way’ and you know how competitive he is!” Pauses. “But it has not been selling. You know this. When you removed the rhythmic underpinning, the shit just sort of...floated out into space. It doesn’t come across on the edits satellite has been playing, and the New Age stores are complaining that when they play it it’s putting the customers to sleep.”

KG grits his teeth. “Matt, this isn’t Muzak. You have to pay attention. That was the whole idea of ‘The Narrow Way’. To get people to really listen.”

“You’re preaching to the converted here, Cage. But if we can set something up, nothing serious, a couple high-profile DJ gigs, maybe something at the Float On festival, or the electronic day at Seamless, you might be able to get people in a setting where they could really listen. Now that might do something to even out the sales situation. It certainly wouldn’t hurt your back catalog either.”

KG shakes his head in disbelief. “Wow, Matt, you know touring isn’t an option for me. We discussed this, Bill and Sandra and I discussed this, before you even joined Abstrakt. I make this kind of music so I don’t have to tour. That’s my deal.”

Matty exhales. “Okay. That’s okay. But if we can’t generate more revenue from touring for ‘Narrow Way’, we’re going to have to think about moving a hell of a lot more units of the next product.”

“Meaning what?”

“Meaning, basically, that it might be time to think about ‘Desert Music III’.”

KG exhales. “Jesus Christ.”

“Cage, I know you can’t make too much money because it’ll endanger your insurance setup, but Abstrakt needs to make more money to stay afloat. Abstrakt needs to make more money to continue to allow you the artistic freedom that produces something...majestic, like ‘Narrow Way’. And I just happen to think that revisiting your greatest artistic peak would be a great way to...purchase yourself the kind of...creative currency that would allow you some leeway, some room to make more work that is as...challenging as ‘Narrow Way’.”

KG has barely heard the last half of what Matty said. He is shaking with rage, nearly speechless. “Why are we...why would you even bring up my ‘insurance setup’? What the fuck does that have to do with ‘Narrow Way’ or my future with Abstrakt or anything?”

In the ensuing silence, KG can almost hear Matty wince. “Cage, I just meant I know it’s important, know...”

KG stands up, begins pacing. “No, Matt. I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Be specific.”

Matty sighs. “I know you need to keep the SSD and the SSI because it keeps you eligible for the health insurance. And I know that you need to limit your income from Abstrakt or it endangers your SSD and SSI.”

KG waits. “And? What else, Matty?”

“There is nothing else, Cage. I feel stupid for bringing it up.”

“Yeah? Well, here’s what makes me feel stupid.” KG is so angry he is losing track of what he is saying. He doesn’t have a follow-up for the last remark, but then suddenly it comes back to him. “That I can’t get through a conversation with my record label without them making snide comments about my mental health.”

“Cage, you know I didn’t mean anything by that...”

KG couldn’t stop himself now if he wanted to. His blood pressure is raised, skin hot and prickly, the anxiety on him like a thing alive. “No, I don’t know that Matty. I started doing this kind of work to help myself, to heal myself. And now you’re using my honesty against me? What the fuck is that about?” He is almost shouting now.

“Cage! Jesus! I just meant that...some commercial potential in the music isn’t a bad thing. I didn’t mean to imply anything about your...we’ve been friends awhile now, KG...”

“Have we, Matt? Have we really?” And then he slams the phone down. He raises his fists to either side of his head and presses them hard against his temples. He stands like this for several minutes until his breathing slows, until he is able to think clearly.

Then the self-recriminations begin. Did Matty really deserve that? Was he really making unfair reference to the anxiety/depression stuff? Or were you completely on edge because you just read that shitty review of ‘Narrow Way’ and some of the stuff that Matty was saying about the sales of it were true, and it hurt? KG sighs sadly, sits back down.


He feels immature, pathetically out of control. Considers calling Matty back immediately, then thinks better of it. Considers an apologetic e-mail, then nearly jumps out of his skin when a car horn blasts twice outside. KG looks at his watch - it’s the cab he called earlier, for his appointment with the new doctor. He laughs to himself - at least he’ll have something to tell him if he has any questions about the intensity of the anxiety or the waning effects of the Paxil.

Go to Chapter Six

Saturday, March 20, 2010

PSYCHOPOMP - CHAPTER FOUR (Twitter Novel / Keitai Shousetsu)

To start at Chapter One, click here

Retrieved from internet on 2/17/10, http//

KG – “The Narrow Way” (Abstrakt Recordings)

Like a lot of people, I fell in love with ambient music in college: it was pretty all-purpose for studying, smoking, sex and sleeping. Aside from the classic stuff (Eno, Budd, early Aphex Twin) the one that got the most play on my stereo was KG’s “Desert Music II”. His warmly distorted pedal steel was a revelation, like some dreamy combination of Ry Cooder and Robert Fripp, and the music, although placeless and timeless, still seemed somehow rooted in the American experience. His later, more world-focused work (most notably “Off Koh Samui”) also contained some real highlights, but the native percussion came too close to the fore to consider it truly ambient, at least in my opinion.

Well, be careful what you wish for, because although “The Narrow Way” does remove the percussive clutter, it replaces it with...nothing. A whole lot of nothing. Consisting of one 60-minute track, “The Narrow Way” is, according to its press kit, “an investigation into the spaces between thoughts”, and brother, they’re not kidding. Even at a relatively high volume, the album barely exists. A low thrum permeates, occasionally accentuated by a brief piano figure or series of far-off, water-echoed bells. That’s it. The aforementioned pedal steel, distorted or not, makes not one single appearance and without anything to fill the space (sorry) left by KG’s dominant instrument, the music floats away in a manner that doesn’t take you with it. Uninspired and uninspiring. TWO STARS

Go to Chapter Five

Saturday, March 13, 2010

PSYCHOPOMP - CHAPTER THREE (Twitter Novel / Keitai Shousetsu)

To start at Chapter One, click here

KG’s weekdays run, almost exclusively, like this:

He wakes up around 8 am and immediately writes down his dreams. As KG has been on Paxil for several years, his dreams tend to be vivid and memorable, and he often uses them for inspiration for his work. Afterwards he fixes some coffee. It’s good coffee, Turkish, the best KG can get, but he only ever makes one French press worth. He does this because if he drinks more than this he becomes jittery and nervous for the rest of the day due to the medication he takes to control his anxiety and depression. He smokes one cigarette at this time. He will then spend up to an hour and a half online at the anxiety and depression boards he is a member of, conversing electronically to an extent with the acquaintances he has made there. He also checks the music review sites, specifically the ones centering on ambient music, to see what notice, if any, has been paid to his latest CD. He also looks to see what notice is being paid to his contemporaries’ music and notes what he may need to listen to.

Some days he spends more time online trolling for pornography. Other days, he will sit on the porch and quietly fret. If the weather is too cold, he sits in his kitchen. He smokes his second cigarette of the day during this period. If he smokes much more before he eats he finds his stomach gets upset due to the medication that he takes to control his anxiety and depression.

Around noon he makes his lunch. It’s usually very simple, a sandwich, soup, but he tries to do things, small things, to make it more interesting. Lately he has been experimenting with mayonnaise using basil and parmesan cheese or with some Asian hot sauce and crushed cilantro. Occasionally, when ambition fails he will just heat up something frozen delivered from the supermarket. He eats at the table in the front of the house and reads, or if it is baseball season he will sit in front of the television and watch Sports Center. He takes his first set of medications. Occasionally he cleans up afterward but usually leaves the dishes for days at a time.

After lunch he drags himself down to his basement studio. It is dimly lit and a residual haze of incense hangs about the place, but it is fully carpeted and reasonably tidy. The studio is littered with various electric and acoustic instruments; computers, keyboards and sequencers crowd the wooden workstations that line the walls. Microphones on arcing stands sit in a semi-circle around the center of the room like the legs of an overturned metal spider. In the middle of this is KG’s pedal steel guitar, which he usually begins by sitting and playing, purposefully or not.

The afternoon session is usually relatively short, and KG will only add grace notes to previous recordings or sketch new ideas in order that he will be able to answer the door starting at 3pm. Beginning then the mail comes, and with it new CDs, DVDs and books. UPS deliveries of new software and supplies he orders from the internet culinary houses also arrive around this time. If KG has set up for his weekly delivery from the supermarket this will arrive during this period as well. He’ll usually spend between an hour and an hour and a half unpacking, perusing, and stacking on shelves.

Afterwards he prepares his dinner which is usually a much more involved process than lunch. He will drink a beer (Asian, light) or sometimes two with dinner but never any more than that because it will counteract the medications he takes to control his anxiety and depression. When he is done eating, he cleans up and takes his second set of medications for the day. He smokes his third cigarette.

When finished he goes for a walk, usually the 2 miles down to the railyard and back. If the weather is temperate he will amble out past the torn fences and walk the blasted fields along the railroad tracks. If it’s cold or rainy he will usually stick to the road. Often during his walk he will begin to cry; occasionally there will be a reason he can cite for this, but more often there is not.

His work proceeds in earnest when he returns from the walk. If the work is going well KG will often not leave the basement studio until he is ready to go to sleep or to break for his fourth and final cigarette of the day. If the work is not going well he will return upstairs, watch a movie or listen to music and read. Occasionally he will allow himself a fifth cigarette. If he is too restless to sleep after this he will return to the internet and wrestle himself to a joyless orgasm. Often, sleep follows. Just as often it does not.

On the weekends, the schedule changes enough that KG allows himself dinner at a local Thai restaurant on Friday, a trip to the library on Saturday, and occasionally a movie in a theater on Sunday. He does not drive any longer and takes cabs into town for these three trips. This is the most his schedule changes unless some issue (contact from his record label, the family’s lawyer or his doctor) comes to bear and he is forced to make changes to accommodate it.

These are the parameters of KG’s life. They have been established over the course of several years, and they are inflexible.

Go to Chapter Four

Friday, March 12, 2010


Hey folks! 'Gun Crazy' Part 13 published in Artvoice v9n10 and here (if yr in WNY you can grab a print copy pretty much anywhere). But, of course a hipster like you would've read it here months ago, right? Right.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

PSYCHOPOMP - CHAPTER TWO (Twitter Novel / Keitai Shousetsu)

To start at Chapter One, click here


Granta, Kevin (prefers “KG”), DOB: 2/11/71

1. Identifying Data: KG presents as a 39-year-old, single Caucasian male who resides alone in the family home at 122 Belt Line Road, and who is here for a psychiatric evaluation and update. He is of average height, short blonde hair, hygiene and grooming within normal limits, slightly overweight. KG has a long history of severe depression, social phobia and multiple hospitalizations. He is a transfer from Dr. Lynch (retired).

2. Chief Complaint: KG claims that the Paxil he takes for his anxiety complaint has ceased to work effectively. He began this process with Dr. Lynch prior to transfer of case.

3. History of Present Illness: KG states that although he was always described as a “nervous, mopey kid” his mental health issues came to the fore during college, which also coincided with alcohol abuse/dependence and drug experimentation. KG showed early aptitude for music and after college was guitarist/singer for rock band whose “label showcase” performance coincided with his first mental health breakdown and hospitalization. KG consequently discontinued live performance but records “ambient” music under his own initials for a small record company. This is the only paid work KG has done since – he receives SSD/SSI in addition to any proceeds from recording. KG has been hospitalized two other times – once brought by ambulance after slashing wrists, once for overdose of medication which KG calls an “accident”.

4. Current Medications: KG has been taking Paxil for the past 5½ years for anxiety. He is also currently taking Abilify, Wellbutrin for depression and Simvastatin for high cholesterol.

5. Family Psychiatric History: None noted. KG referred to an aunt who always had a problem with “nerves” but had no official diagnosis that he knew of.

6. Lethality Assessment: KG has been hospitalized for severe depression three times, twice due to lethality concerns. KG expresses no lethality currently, but mood has been much lower than usual due to what he believes is diminishing returns from Paxil.

7. Strengths: No current ideation, willingness to get help, musical talent/vocation, support groups through internet.

8. Liabilities: Single, male, living alone, partially unemployed, chronic, isolates, history of lethality/hospitalizations.

9. Substance Abuse History: KG smokes an average of 4 cigarettes per day. KG claims to have had issues utilizing alcohol for self-medication in the past to the point of blackouts, but currently drinks 1 beer per day/3-4 times per week. KG has experimented with marijuana, hallucinogens and amphetamines in the past, but found that they interacted with his mental illness in negative ways so discontinued use.

10. Allergies: No known drug allergies.

11. Past Medical History: Denies any serious illness/operations.

12. Developmental and Social History/Personal History: KG reports childhood as “unremarkable” before age of 14 when father was killed in industrial accident. Mother did not remarry. Mother died when KG was 32. He has lived in the family home all his life with exception of college and short period thereafter. KG has never married and is childless. He has carried on several relationships with women but claims that all “ended badly”. KG has not been in a serious relationship since prior to his mother’s death. His social circle is nearly non-existent aside from the internet and various phone contacts. KG expresses some regret over this but also appears to have accepted the situation as being a logical consequence of his mental illness. He did not respond to overtures to broaden social contacts or to begin attending support groups/continued day treatment available through clinic.

13. Impression: KG is a pleasant man of young middle age. His orientation x3 is intact, memory good, appearance and grooming within normal limits. Displayed some agitation and negative viewpoint but was unerringly polite. Displays very little hope/motivation to change but despite this no current lethality concerns. No hallucinations/delusions; reality testing intact.

Axis I: 296.33, Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent ; 300.23, Social Phobia
Axis II: R/O Personality Disorder NOS
Axis III: Denies.

Axis IV: Psychosocial stressors and environmental stressors, mild.
Axis V: GAF 55.

Treatment Plan
1. Change in meds to Comaxyn, 125mg 2x daily. Discontinue Paxil.
2. Other meds remain the same.
3. Review labs with client, blood work within normal limits. No side effects noted from the previous medication; will monitor new medication for any changes at first appointment.
4. Desired outcome is to maintain stability and prevent relapse, promote quality of life and social functioning.
5. Advised client about appointment in 1 month or to call sooner if he has any mood changes, side effects, problems or concerns.

Dr. William Hennig
(electronically signed)

Go to Chapter Three