For mom

When I was a child, things were forever. The strawberry blonde curls of your hair, the salty wind against my forehead on the island, little hands fastened tight to yours, and a spirit that I never saw before and haven’t since. Your humanity created the heart that beats in my chest. With each coursing stream of blood flowing through my limbs I hear you whispering: love, compassion and the hard work of an honest man’s life. People sometimes ask me, why are you so nice, implying I should harden my heart, as if I were able to do such a thing. But the truth is this is how I am. You taught me to open my heart, and I can’t imagine another way.

I want to go back and understand the stories of your life, the millions of memories. The courage of crossing your first street, did your right or left foot lead? Was your breath silent for a moment or did you breathe faster? Were the troublemakers watching your first day at school and did you keep your chin up and your eyes forward?

I feel the curve of your life and it is strong.

I’ll do my best to practice everyday, the things you taught me. I’ll practice seeing the world as it is. I’ll acknowledge the suffering and joy in life. I’ll keep an open heart.


This is a day for being sad

48 days since my mom passed away.

It seems longer and shorter depending on the day. I miss her greatly.

I wish I had some way to understand what it means. I don’t know what to do or when.

A Review of the album “Griffin and the Seventeen Mummies” by The Chomps

When Forkahalla, Montana’s The Chomps were still a two piece whirlwind of guitar distortion and drums they were frequently compared to the sonic thunder of My Best Death, the Providence, R.I. hardcore regulars. Now that they’ve expanded to a 3 piece, adding Robert Fargles Johnson on bass, they’ve shifted into more complex and lengthy time signatures, giving them an almost acid folk feel that’s surprisingly cogent.Before Fargles Johnson joined the group he was known mostly for playing in Back Beats Suck Your Mothers Teats, and was pegged as a sort of modern day Rip Van Winkle, sleeping his way through sets in the backrooms of Myatosa, Wisconsin. How he came to move out to Forkahalla is a sort of mystery, with a few details escaping, including that he briefly became a spiritual truck driver, preaching over the CB radio to legions of faithful almost pederasts while gaining several pants sizes. Whatever the journey, the outcome was his chance meeting with Melort Famine Darbender, the lead axe for The Chomps, in Forkahalla’s sole laundromat / library, the Clean Page. It’s not clear if Famine Darbender was as drunk as his usual self, or maybe just on a mushroom trip as he’d been rumored to have scored a couple days before. It is likely, however, given that the first interaction involved his screaming at the top of his lungs to watch out for the “Dragon Princess Sloth” apparently in reference to Fargles Johnson. Despite the aggressive first words, the two became fast friends over a liter of Mountain Dew and a load of laundry. Famine Darbender found that Fargles Johnson was in fact a serious metalhead, with the passion to back it up. They discussed ways to re-aggrandize the failing Forkahalla metal scene, first throwing out the possibility of wearing eyepatches on Tuesday mornings and refusing to eat with silverware, before settling on Fargles Johnson’s addition to The Chomps on bass.

The change was instantaneous, and shows here on their sophomore effort. Fargles Johnson embraces The Chomps destruction by desecration brand of metal, and adds his own furiously stilted bass ripples. At times you can picture him shoving Famine Darbender into the pool of fast and ever changing time signatures. Famine Darbender responds in kind by literally shredding his strings on this latest offering. To round out the effort Ballard Wormen furiously pounds on the drums with the kind of ferocious intensity usually reserved for bats escaping Arnold Palmer’s infamous napalm adventure into the salt caves of Georgia.

Given the current direction of the band, things look dark in a good way. The addition of Fargles Johnson clearly invigorated their bass, and if they can manage to keep the drug use under control there very well may be an intriguing third album on the way. 3.5 out of 5 Valhalla Death Metal Axes.

The pavement in your heart

“Rocksteady friend. The world is big, we are small, and this ship’s going down so be joyful.”A friend of mine posted a note on Facebook today. She wasn’t too specific (it is a public place after all) but she mentioned a few things that seem to be overwhelming her mind and heart. This got me to thinking that 2011 has been a strange year. Last year went out like a sack of dirt. So I was hoping this year was going to kick my face into happy smile land. But alas, no luck.

Anyway, the point is, to get ahead of all this nonsense: we are all screwed. The world is absolutely a mess. All of our hearts are going to be broken twice over, and maybe even covered in oil or nuclear particulate.

But so what? When has the human endeavor not been destined for terribleness? There’ve been good times, to be sure, but there have also been some tremendous mess ups.

In the last 3 years of my life, I have been out of a job, homeless (briefly), cheated on, messed over, married/now about to be divorced, my dad’s got Parkinson’s which is progressively sucking more every day, mom’s got cancer and after 4 years it’s winning, had to give up my dog, went through bankruptcy, had my car wheel stolen, and any number of other insults that I’m sure everyone has had to endure as well.

But, on the other side of the coin, I found a great job that lets me work at home, stopped driving and started biking everywhere, play in a great band with some badass dudes who are also good friends, met immeasurable numbers of people who’s hearts are so big I have no idea how they even fit in their chests,
stopped taking my life for granted, and started enjoying more moments than ever.

So, the thing I want to share is that we’re all screwed, to be sure. But we are all blessed as well. We can choose to pave our hearts over or we can choose to open them up to whatever may come. I’m no philosopher, that’s for sure. But if we cannot find joy in each moment how can we ever look at the world as anything other than a giant mess.


Yesterday after work I got drunk instead of running. I used to be a competitive distance runner, but it’s been a couple of years so I’ve been trying to run most days. I got about 200 yards though, and decided that it’d be better to go to the bar instead.I drank a sufficient amount to get me sloshed, and then went home. I didn’t really want to get drunk, I just didn’t want to be not drunk either. I’d say it was an acceptable response considering recent events. I’m negotiating a divorce, trying to care for my mom while cancer kicks the hell out of her body, and trying to get my life together financially after a bankruptcy.

But seriously, in spite of all of this, I seem to be doing well. I’m not and won’t be a hardcore alcoholic, I’ve got a good job that I like, and friends who care about how I’m actually doing. It’s easy to get messed up thinking about how your life could be better, and how it sucks now.

I’m not sure where this comes from. I suspect it’s a combination of that’s just how we are as humans and the fact that we’re inundated day after day with messages that tell us we aren’t good enough. You don’t look good, you don’t smell good, you aren’t smart enough, you’re going to look like a loser/geek/jerk/douchebag and the list goes on. Who gives an eff, right? I mean, I could spend the next 50 years of my life taking this stuff to heart and still end up useless. Until someone invents a matching jogging suit that can travel me halfway around the world and spit fire at my enemies, I could care less.

But we’re blessed anyway. Not by sausage egg mcmuffins at McDonald’s, or the latest season of True Blood on Blu-Ray. Not even by money, a good job or boss, or healthcare benefits, or some other measuring stick for success.

We’re blessed by the world we live in. With clean air and water, and blue sky and a universe that has an inherent sense of humor and an eye for making things better when they need to be better. We’re blessed by our ability to turn off our stupid minds that keep us busy chasing nothing. We’re blessed by the presence of other people in our lives. We’re blessed to be here.

Joe Cardillo Terms & Conditions

1. Services. Joe Cardillo, from time to time and as designated by himself and at his sole discretion, shall perform certain friend/and or acquaintance activities and services on behalf of his friends, acquaintances, and close companions. The “Activities” and “Services” can include but are not limited to “Having a Beer,” “Going Over Niagara Falls in a Barrel,” rocanroll of the highest order, and may also be referred to by the term “Event” in conjunction with this “Agreement.” Friends, acquaintances, and close companions shall adhere to all technical requirements communicated by Joe Cardillo, and shall, in connection with each event (as defined above) provide Joe Cardillo with all necessary information, including but not limited to what activities they would like to do together, background for any requests that they may ask of him, emotional and mental presence (“Be Here Now”) and/or allow all access information and other reasonable cooperation that may be required for the performance of the Services.

2. Term and Termination. The term of this Agreement shall commence on the date and time friend or acquaintance requests an event, or initiates an event de facto. For example, agreeing to participate in an activity or simply “Dropping By” will be construed as events covered under this Agreement. Unless otherwise agreed upon and clearly defined by verbal and/or written communication, the Agreement shall be in effect upon the initiation of the Event. The parties shall be entitled to terminate this Agreement a) upon any material uncured default or breach of this Agreement by the other party or b) instantaneously upon verbal and/or written notice. If other parties are happening and are awesome, Joe Cardillo reserves the right to attend them and/or immediately terminate this agreement in full.

3. License. Subject to any limitations set forth in this Agreement, Friend or Acquaintance hereby grants to Joe Cardillo a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free license to use, copy, reproduce, digitize, store electronically, display, transmit over the Internet and distribute any awesome thing you say or do, intentionally hilarious or otherwise. However, the right of Anonymity shall be kept at all times; therefore this agreement binds Joe Cardillo not to reveal the name and/or likeness of anyone without their prior verbal and/or written consent. Joe Cardillo being a reasonable dude, will do his best to stay within the realm of decency, not limited to but exampled by keeping secrets and treating each person by the Golden Rule. E.g. “pillowtalk” shall be construed as an item which he would not reveal unless under extreme duress, say, if it would potentially save the world from a totally uncool nuclear spring. Or winter. Something like that, man.

4. Ownership. Friend and acquaintance shall acknowledge that for any event and/or interaction covered under this agreement, they do not own Joe Cardillo, either in physical or metaphysical form. In sum, Joe Cardillo also acknowledges that he neither directly nor indirectly shall own any other person in physical or metaphysical form, or, yo problems are yo problems and this isn’t 1794 so don’t use backwards terms like “Ownership.”

5. Fees and Invoicing. Free willy. Nobody’s paying no one no how for nothing. Doesn’t negate this Agreement in any way though.

6. Communication and Correspondence. By entering into this Agreement the friend or acquaintance does not relinquish their right to avoid emails, text messages, or more ancient forms of communication, like talking. Additionally, at no time will your communication avenues be restricted by cubed meat of an unknown origin. Homie don’t play that.

7. Rocanrol. Joe Cardillo, shall, at his sole discretion, engage in deliberate and not so deliberate acts of rocanroll whether agreed to by friend or acquaintance at time of said Event or not. Also, he urges you to keep in mind that it ain’t noise pollution.

8. Indemnification. Friend or acquaintance shall indemnify and hold harmless Joe Cardillo from and against any and all claims, losses, damages, liabilities, costs and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) arising out of or relating to any breach by friend or acquaintance, of a generally “Very Not Dude” attitude.

Joe Cardillo shall promptly notify friend or acquaintance of any such claim of which he becomes aware and shall, with all costs for White Russians (“Caucasians”) to be paid by friend/acquaintance, look into whatever the situation is and figure out how it all ties the room together.

9. Rights Reserved by Joe Cardillo. All of ‘em.

10. No Warranty. Joe Cardillo is not responsible and shall not be liable for verifying any facts espoused by friend or acquaintance in the course of any Event. He shall also not be responsible for any stupid ideology or thought that comes from anyone’s poor quality swiss cheese of a brain. SINCE EVERY TERMS AND CONDITIONS FORM  I COPIED FROM HAD IT, THIS IS THE SECTION WHERE JOE CARDILLO SAYS SOMETHING IN ALL CAPS ABOUT NOT MAKING ANY REPRSENTATION OR WARRENTIES  EXPRESS OR IMPLIED IN CONNECTION WITH SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES.

11. Force Majeure. Neither party shall be liable for any failure to perform any obligation hereunder, or from any delay in the performance thereof, due to causes beyond its control, including industrial disputes of whatever, acts of God, public enemies or of government. Any performance must be only on a reciprocal basis, as this aggression of receiving but not giving will not stand.

Either party may terminate this Agreement upon verbal or written notice to the other party in the event of some crazy stuff happening for a long time.

12. Beards. Beards can and will happen at anytime. Any attempt to dissuade Joe Cardillo from having one, liking them, or generally any beard activity at all, will be met with full and active force. Consequences can include but are not limited to, Angry Looks, witholding of delicious homemade cupcakes, and watching endless re-runs of Homeboys from Outer Space.

13. Miscellaneous. This Agreement, its terms and the enforcement thereof shall be in effect for as long as it’s in effect, and then when it’s not it won’t be. Peace be with you all of my friends, including but not limited to beatniks, uptight young urban professionals, laid back young urban professionals, lazy beard wearing college students, rad writers, musicians, and artists, and then some.

Zine #1


I just got into zines recently but I’ve been aware of them for a while.  When I was in college I had a friend, named Kyle, who was all about them. She was a DIY kind of person. I also found out about 2 years after we became friends that she had an identical twin and they totally pulled that switching thing where they pretended to be each other and confuse everyone. But anyway, that’s how I first heard of zines.

So I wasn’t sure how to start, but I did like the idea that I could get some short form thoughts put down on paper. I’m writing a novel, which I’ve been doing for a couple of years now, and although I’ve had a fair amount of progress it just seems harder to keep together plots, make things tie up, etc…

I figured I’d stick with the one rule of writing that I actually believe in, which is write what you know. And like anyone I know lots of things, for example I’m very familiar with how to grow a beard. I also know how to run really long distances and never give up. These probably sound like things you could not or would not ever do, but like anything it really just takes practice. So give yourself a couple of years and you too could be mistaken for a homeless man who is running away from the police. True story, that happened to me once.

So without further ado, let’s talk about beards. We all know someone who has one, whether it’s by design or they just don’t feel like shaving anymore. I’ve grown beards for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I’ve grown a beard because I liked the way it looks, or because I need to store food for later consumption.

In my experience there’s usually a reason. It can be related to a person’s idea of who they are (badass, intellectual, or just plain grubby) and it also can have something to do with how the  bearder wants to be perceived by other people, the beardees, aka the people who’ve been bearded to. There are basic archetypes, and I want to share just a few with you and then explain my reasons for having a beard.

The guy who is alright with everything and everyone

You’ve probably run into this guy before. And he’s probably apologized and assured you that it’s no big deal and not to worry about the sole of the sandal you just stepped on that tore right off. He’s a great guy, and his beard is an extension of his personality. It says, hey man, don’t worry about anything, let it be, and let it grow. He probably also doesn’t do a lot of precision grooming of his beard, and he may or may not shave off the accompanying neck beard. He is also often a hippie.

The beard’s beard

This is the beard that a beard would have, if it were a person. It’s usually worn by a guy who takes good care of himself, he may work out a lot or do extreme sports, and it’s manicured more carefully than a golf course. He’s the guy who kicks ass and also has a beard. He isn’t necessarily arrogant, but he can be. Usually you’ll be able to tell exactly where the beard starts and stops, and it’ll probably be trimmed on all the outside edges. This works well if you’re able to grow a dark, thick and robust type of facial hair. The man with a beard’s beard is usually confident, and has had a beard for a considerable length of time. He also seems to be very well liked by the ladies and men also, but it’s hard to tell if this guy actually gets any action. You’re more likely to see him out on the town than you are up close and personal in the back of his Doge Dart. Just kidding, a beard’s beard would never drive a car like that.

This guy doesn’t give a fuck

Ok, so this is a great one. This is the guy who grows a beard because he could care less what you or anyone thinks of him or wants him to do. He may or may not be in the habit of wearing sunglasses and inadvertently quoting lines from the Big Lebowski on a regular basis. His deal is this: someone, somewhere, treated him with great injustice. It could be an ex-lover who messed him over, or maybe it’s related to having a crappy job or roommate or something like that. Whatever it is, he’s not gonna take your shit anymore, ok?

The horn rimmed glasses guy with a beard at a hardcore show

This is really one of the best of the beards. It’s usually very full, and natural and not often styled. This guy is great, he’s just the fucking epitome of why you would want to have a beard in the first place. His stupid girlfriend broke up with him to start seeing some dude or maybe chick in another band. She was cool, smart, had bitchin’ good looks and sweet tattoos, and now he’s miserable because she left. Typically he’s going to be fairly shy, maybe have a little bit of a PBR belly, and he’s a nice guy. But you have to understand that his entire world view is tinged by his great loss of love, so that’s what the beard is for, it’s to tell the entire world how much his heart is breaking, but he’s not a 12 year old girl so he can’t actually just say that out loud.

There’s a lot of other beards out there, but this is a good start and I don’t want to bore you to death with my in-depth analysis of beards.

So, maybe you’re wondering, what kind of beard do I have. Over the years I have dabbled in a number of categories, but I wouldn’t say I fit neatly into any particular definition. I’ve definitely done the guy who doesn’t give a fuck beard before. I’ve also been in the beard’s beard category to a certain extent, although I can’t really give myself credit for being quite that cool of a beard guy.

Right now, I’d say it has some elements of the not giving a fuck, I like the way it looks, and of course food storage. But also it has something I like to call barriers to entry. It’s similar to the way the term is used in economic theory in regards to competition. Basically, in the parlance of our times it means if it throws you off or you can’t handle it than maybe I’m not your kind of person. It’s got certain advantages when it comes to friendship, but it’s like a goldmine in romantic settings. I mean, how many people do you know that actually like a beard? I’m not talking about liking someone in spite of them having a beard, mind you. The majority of women I know think I’m a decent sort of guy, but the beard reminds them we are friends and if they are looking for anything else they’re going to have to meet some strict standards. Liking a beard for example. Of course, the food storage, well I’ll give anyone a free pass on that, that’s disgusting.

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