Life with Music

Around the World in Nice, France

Rock Paper Scissors

“The key is in your hand,” said guru.  
    I kept Looking.

-once for god
-twice for me
-and another should
-suffice it three

mind body spirit, sun
feed them all to see The One


What Kind of You are You Awakening?

when I put my walls down, all the walls fall
When I put my walls down, All the Walls Fall

sitting alone I see
my kinda company

A sea of green and tangerine 
A self-reliant farmer scene

These are my teachers
Every body every one

Each tree and designation
A forest of linguistic symbols

Creature me and tender you
will a dove fly gently
Does this bird know home?


Feb 25 2014 – A style, a philosophy, and birds who fly together

Two people today

The first is a woman of about 70 years.  (she “has” about 70 years)
She has a rich garden on her sunny-side 3rd floor balcony (the “second” story)
about 30 or 40 feet from mine (~10 meters)

 She visits her garden periodically to eat and water, and when she leaves,
birds approach her plants, and eat something that I cannot see

The pigeons look nice here – a more smooth coat, of very light-grey (almost off-white)
it’s hard to imagine them as pests the way they land and dip their beaks calmly.

Then two cats edge towards the veranda – all at the same moment the birds fly off in a huff

but I can imagine, and in fact I saw it happen, that
one pigeon first spies the cat and identifies the threat
the brain sends a wave of electricity down its body – cell to cell
and all the pigeons’ cells are tuned into this pulse, like a radio to 88.5fm
commanding their own wings to flap before the first bird visibly reacts

 You know how birds all fly together in a flock?

I’ve been reading about the fluidity of their motion; turning angles and weaving shapes simultaneously, in synchrony.

They have a way of navigating simultaneously, imperfectly but reliably,
that scientists and traffic engineers have not yet been able to replicate,

But I have seen some musicians, in groups, weaving their way on a stage
or in a small apartment overlooking the red clay rooftops.

The other woman is a shop owner.  Today I entered the vintage clothing store
and was swiftly whisked back into the past, to that mysterious Value Village scent,

the pulsing odors; not quite cacophony, certainly not order; reminding me
of the delight in low prices, and clothing with meaning

like a beam aimed at my heart
;finding the gem amongst the ruckus, the costumes,

each of those had a story! Each of these was in vogue,
“à la mode” at some point or other.

 [insert economic/marketing perspective on the abundance of expensive, luxury clothing in Nice for contrast]

She was reading Sartre – L’Age de Raison (the age of reason)
which I spied on the table in the center of the small room.

“bon jour”
“bon jour,” as she returned to the table.

I danced around her, breathing in her particular arrangement of vêtements
We spoke briefly as I left, she has keyboard.
“back there?”  (I ask in gestures)
    I hope to hear her play it some jour

Jan 13 2014 – Food

Food here is expensive. Clothes here are expensive. Everything here is expensive.

It was nearly impossible to find peanut butter. Apparently that’s just not really a thing here. Devon and I had a friend over for breakfast, and she informed us that our peanut-butter-bananas and hummus-carrots are “quite strange.” 

It’s really fun checking out all these restaurants, and pausing in outdoor cafes between rehearsals is a lovely respite, but it sure does add up in expense. Fortunately, our arrangement with the managers puts us in quite a solid position to afford these luxuries, but I do have some internal tension going on. I’m enjoying it for now, but I think at some point when I’m more acclimated I may scale back on dining out. It’s part of the lifestyle here (at least for our band mates), so we’ll see.

We pay 3.50 euros for a box of tea at the grocery store. That’s about $4.67, Yikes! (But on the other hand, many cafes offer a single tea or coffee for the same price). All of these prices and expenses are relative.

It is quite wonderful that our management agency takes care of our rent and utilities. All I have to worry about while I’m here is feeding myself, drumming, and singing. Morale is high, prospects are good, life is dynamic and every day brings new surprises.

I’m so blessed to be here.

Jan 7 2014 = Nice is Amazing (3 days in)

Nice is amazing.

 The women are beautiful. The men are beautiful.

Les immeubles, the apartment buildings, are built on top of the ground level magasins (stores), typically 6 stories high. The cars are much thinner, as the streets are quite narrow, and the walkways are filled with folks milling about, eating and drinking, walking, biking, riding scooters and motorbikes. This place is extremely sunny, and social, even in this wintertime. I have not yet been “carded” – I don’t think that’s even a thing here, really. I’m able to freely enter bars, pubs, I can buy wine and liquors without a second glance. People drink out in the open; wine on the beach and such. The police ride segways and the only thing I’ve seen them do is ask a man to put his dog on a leash in the park.


The city is full of expensive touristy shops. There is an “old town,” called “vieux niece,” close to the beach, and a more “developed” section further north. Devon and I live in the old town in a two bedroom apartment overlooking a reasonably busy street. We walk through the alleyways of vieux nice in the direction of the beach to get to Wayne’s Bar; the english restaurant whose basement contains our rehearsal space, aptly named “the cave.”


The band is going swimmingly. Evan and Dan, our 5-years-experience proctors of the land, are really great guys. They are social and hilarious, knowledgeable and helpful, and they listen and speak openly. The four of us have a great chemistry already, freely bouncing ideas off of each other and gracefully giving and receiving feedback as it stirs.

We are learning popular music. In Europe this phrase corresponds not only to the American pop repretoire (Bruno Mars, Robin Thicke, The Beatles (yes I know they’re British) and so on)  but also a slew of international songs that quite literally everyone here sings along to. They include Volare, Besame Mucho, Champs Elysees, Sympathique, and the favorite around here, Emmenez-Moi (a song about the beauty of the southern coast of France).


Phly Boyz got their start when Evan and Dan took a summer vacation to busk (play street music) in France. They had a friend who recommended Nice as the best spot for such a business. One day they were guided into a restaurant, La Petit Maison, and were very well received. Dozens of business cards later, the Phly Boyz were a private events band with regular gigs at restaurants and dinner parties.


On Saturday night we played our first gig; 6 days after setting eyes on each other. The venue was the restaurant l’Uzine, opened last year by ex-staff members of La Petit Maison, who had saved up to start their own culinary project.

It was a blast! We went around table to table with our upright bass, tiny-drum-kit, guitar and saxophone, singing customized songs for each table. The whole restaurant was enthralled and we got some serious sweat and adrenaline going.


Now it is Monday and we leave for our first big gig on Friday, to the mountains of Switzerland. This week we are preparing more of our repertoire, getting haircuts and swanky suits, and generally chillin hard. Nights with the boyz are really enjoyable – we are a funky little bunch.


Devon and I have met a number of cool french folks. Andreas is in an electropop band called A.Jam with songs in mixed french and english. He showed us a cool music bar called Bspot, where I met a jazz singer named Lucy. Outside of Wayne’s, we met Regis and Michael who offered their advice on local bars and international travel, but who were particularly interested in informing us about the local ladies. I seem to have met a lot of people who seem vested in getting me laid.


Me? I’m more interested in making friends here. It’s a new place and I’m still straddling the language barriers. There’s a lot to take in. I’m taking my sweet time settling in and growing a network of supportive creative friends to chill with.

The people here sure are beautiful.

Sexy New Kitchen

Hey there Starshine
I see that teapot simmer
Hot knife ice breath buttersky flutter
Baking coffee pie
Dance across the sky
The moon’s a square if you see it there
Lawless, bra-less
All this distance star-kissed
Red hot oven and I
Can’t even feel my twinkletoes
as we the beats flutter by

Through a Filament

we emerge from salty bodies soaked

in drudge. We gather substance, patching

our burst skin with moss, with fur.


Trees fell to build steps out of the bog 
Others climb to a feasible escape. 

Others lie down – stars drip

nectar on their still faces.  None are alone,

the whispers caught in the claws of

a squirrel scurry up a nearby tree and drop on


the head of someone who might look

up in time. Just to receive our thoughts in

pools of dew I seek our reflection, we

so often do


Voice in the Wind

The moonlight froths with delight at our meeting. The time “with” feels without thinking and the time “without” is and fuels both. Reservoirs brimming like frat boy dreams in cups, chirping back to the frogs and singing praise to the cool, greeting those who seek. Hello wanderers, drink. When we share there is enough.

The roars of the ocean! “Remember where you came from!”
“Forget where you are going!”

I stand here before you with saltwater dribbling down my chin and kelp between the pearls in my toothful grin. I have sailed, and battled, and rested. I have maps. I’ve torn them to shreds if it fits the mood.

You remind me of the light that brought me here. You unite the land and the sea with each breath, each step, alternating current.

Disruption. Change. Fire. Who cares where it comes from, it’s here baby! The man on the beach, what was his name? Danny doesn’t care if you use his fire while he’s getting beer. The fire consumes the wood the ocean gathered from a tree in Taiwan blown apart by winds from Australia. Smoke churns the way eyes search for direction.

And here, we, the seed, become we, the flower, become we the seed.

What are we? Becoming, Be Going. Be Always Flying Floating
Sifting, Shifting Magic Because.
Simple Whispers Filling Wishers Well
Beyond Their Means. A Far Cry from Home, where
Broken Goes and We Know and All Things Grow

Back to me, toothless and still grinning. I wanted and saw and ate and ate. Lost my chompers to a greedy crow. That’s okay, I can still make soup from the sacred stones we found on the pier. One foot forward, the other the same. Sand cushions steps between places. Remember the time I lost my voice in the wind? Somehow you read my waving arms and knew what to look for. I would have said “take your time” if I could, so I did and that’s when I knew magic.

River’s Dream

The Silver-tongue Ice Lout is a perserverant breed and the colder it gets the hotter it feels. The more distant the flame the faster he runs towards it, but never directly. He spirals into this infinite dance until the flames lick at his fur and bite his ears and he himself is so mad and hot and confused that he spirals back where he came from. Tongue unthawed, he licks his wounds and dances back around the fire. This ceremony is his favorite and most dreaded! He whips himself up like a king feast in oil and syrup and spins into the flame, catching the end of his tail ablaze. The silver tongued lout rumbles “Should I lop it off or merely douse it?!”. It creeps up his spine and begins to spread. In a panic the creature grabs its tail and devours it whole until all that’s left are a flame and a mouth eating each other.

River awoke with a lump in his pants.

“What a strange dream, huh Gigi?”

The bear’s pumice eyes stared back, confused and somewhat concerned.

“I think today I’ll be encountering… Monsters….”

River jumped off the bed and through his closet, landing in a jumble of clothes.  In this crawlspace there are two shoeboxes, a screwdriver, and a candle on a plate. Hunched over, he thrusts his index finger into his little pocket and grasps at a smooth surface.  After shifting to his bum and extending a leg he loosed the lump; an oblong orange stone. Turning it in his hands he noticed it looked a bit like candy corn, one of those with a broken tip, with a lighter ring around the base and a rusty sunset-colored crag in the top.

River pressed the stone between his hands and bowed his head. He sat like this for several minutes before opening his hands.  He studies the surface of the rock. “I see!”

In one smooth motion River drops the rock on the plate with a “clank,” removes a match from his left ear, and strikes it on the rock.


He triumphantly lights the candle and sets to work carving in the rock with the screwdriver.  “Won’t need this for monsters,” he giggles as he sets “LUST” in the box. “How about…”

He scans the rocks: BEAUTY, FUNNY, FEAR, LIES, BIG, SILENCE, are all near the surface. He grabs Funny and Fear, “Monsters need to laugh most of all! And… they…”

He looks at his clothes up and to the left while digging his fingers around the bottom of the box, searching for the right feel…

“they… need that too!” He closes his palm around the gem and breathes the world in a breath. He holds it, holds it,

Then lets go.

“Let’s go Gigi!”

He slips Vans over his bare feet, grabs the bear and slams the door behind him, followed by rocks clacking and a whistled tune glowing softer and softer.

Billy Brickle Brine

 Singing’s talking from the start. A simple raft would travel far. If floating’s swimming and splashing too, what’s an ocean tween me and you? Let loose that brush, that teal touch and the flick of a scant-clad wrist! In times of change the fools play games and look how happy they can be. Whose turn is it, oh me?
 Oh my, I seem to be a wee bit shy this evening, but see the castle rising behind the tombs, entire worlds inside our rooms. If I am a part of you then zen one and zen two. If you’re a part of me then grace let it be, some kind of crazy anomaly. what’s the difference? perspective is poetry like fishes and dishes. What am I mumbling? Did I mention I’m frequently stumbling but crumbling is scumbling an apple with a pie.
 Flame is one I often seek, it’s often where the clouds meet, or so i’ve heard, so say the birds.  I once had it and it drove me mad I spat it and if you looked right at it scorched yer eyelashes a bit. Fire got mad at the world, at its dad, blew up a building and chaos unfurled. The waters prevailed and showed a blind man how to sail in a dangerous world with pirates and veils. Water’s lost on salty chops as words are lost on salty chaps.
Call me Billy Brickle Brine.

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