Death Culture at Sea "Fire Crimes" from Matthew Gallaway on Vimeo.

Here’s my latest Death Culture at Sea song/video, which is meant to capture the manic frenzy of a drunken cab ride home after a night out in the city. (Not pictured: almost throwing up from all the swerving through traffic.)

You can also watch here if it’s not displaying properly.

Last year the city tore down one of the houses on my block, which left an ugly gap. One of my neighbors — the unofficial “mayor” of the block, who’s lived here for 40+ years — planted some morning glories on the fence in front of the vacant lot, and while I’d rather see the house, it’s hard to feel bereft looking at flowers (even invasive ones) on a perfect-weather morning like this.

Stephen’s been working late these days, which means that when I get home from work, it’s just me and the cats in the garden, where I like to spend a few minutes reading without the aggravation and distraction of the subway/city. The cats love going outside: most days, they’re waiting for me at the door, although Zephyr usually needs to be carried out because he’s more skittish since he and Dante had a fight after seeing a stray. (This is a known thing with cats: they can suddenly turn on each other when confronted by a stranger.) Once they’re all out, though, they go through their rituals; Zephyr chews on greenery, Dante sniffs around, and Elektra will examine the pots. Then they all settle in to their spots, watching and listening in still, unblinking concentration. After twenty or thirty minutes, I call them and they follow me inside. Having grown up with dogs, I’m often pleasantly surprised by how similar cats can be to dogs in terms of social behavior; at least in my experience, they really do spend most of their days waiting for you (assuming they live indoors, which they should, for the sake of the birds and their own health, at least here in the city), and they listen and obey (or disobey) and like to rest their chins on your knee or get scratched behind their ears. They will sometimes “talk” back to you in endearing ways. Etc. Which I mention because in the past few months, I’ve noticed an increase of “cat hatred” crossing my dashboard, which to some extent I can understand given how the internet works (we’re all saturated with every kind of annoying/cloying picture, whether it’s of cats or dogs or violence or sex or people acting odd or serious). At the same time, this brand of cat hatred has left me a bit vexed, not just because I happen to feel very affectionate toward my cats, but also because this hatred is (to me, disturbingly) often being espoused by those who love their own non-feline pets and aren’t at all shy about putting it on display in the usual manner. (And I don’t trust anyone who claims to hate animals generally, so if that’s you, let’s agree to live in different countries and never talk again.) For those of you who do like animals, let’s also agree that there’s a special bond between ourselves and the animals we live with — call it love or whatever else — and if you experience that, why would you want to denigrate it in others? There’s enough hatred in the world, so why not respect the love, particularly if it’s not hurting you or anyone else? I guess what I’m saying is that if you make hatred of cats (or dogs) part of your personal platform, we’re going to have a hard time being friends.   

When I run on the treadmill at the gym, I use “earplug” style headphones designed to block out the ambient sound of the gym (meaning all the horrible music they play). Yesterday one of earpods snapped when I was pulling it out of my ear, so (having already been to the emergency room via an earpod stuck in my ear) I threw the entire apparatus in the garbage, thinking I would just buy a replacement. Which I did, but the replacement doesn’t have a little clip that allows you to snap the cord to your tee-shirt when you’re running. It was a BIG disappointment, because I could have taken the clip from the set I threw away yesterday, and the cord was flying everywhere and getting into my mouth when I tried to get a drink and so on. I was reminded of how when I was in eighth grade, after I got my braces off, I threw my retainer out with the remains of my lunch. I realized what I had done in science class (taught by “Mrs. Gill,” whose hair would subsequently turn white in one year after dealing with the class after ours, a group of kids who were notoriously difficult and also gave the cooking teacher a nervous breakdown) and went down to the cafeteria, where the janitor led me out to the dumpster and invited me to “have a party.” It was disgusting, but after a “deep dive” through the food and slime (during which I pretended to be reenacting that scene in the compactor from Star Wars), I found the retainer! (I did not pop it back into my mouth.)  I will not be finding that clip, however, which just goes to show how you can’t always recapture the magic of eighth grade.  

Stephen has taken up knitting and recently finished his first hat, which I’m “modeling” here in honor of #nyfw. Knitting is a complete mystery to me, so I was completely shocked that he was able to do it; he learned a few things as a kid from his grandmother. The stitching is really gorgeous, even if the hat’s a bit large for my Herman Munster head. Bottom line: I'm prepared for winter, even if it’s 110 degrees out today! 

Here’s a few pictures of me heading to the polls this unseasonably hot morning for the NYC primaries. I voted for ___! But not ___, because sorry, no. For some reason today I kept (almost) bumping into people and vice versa. After I voted, I was texting and walking — even though I hate when ppl do that! — and some guy veered in front of me and yelled at me. Let’s face it: I totally deserved to be yelled at. (But of course I yelled back.) That said, I didn’t deserve the nasty glance from the woman on the subway who tried to cut in front of me on the way out the doors at 42nd Street. Sometimes people who have seats act as though they’re royalty and should be carried forth to the front of the line. The good news is that the sun is starting to angle down, which means the shadows are longer and we can all pretend that we’re ghosts walking through the mists. 

Ferns in late summer. I bought these ferns in 1999 at the Union Square farmers market, which makes them older than the Bloomberg administration. I asked them what they thought had changed over the past twelve years, and they just shrugged and said they missed the dinosaurs. 

Death Culture at Sea "Slated for the Range" from Matthew Gallaway on Vimeo.

One of the best/worst things about music these days (speaking subjectively of course) is the technical side of things, which obviously allows just about anyone to record ten million tracks/instruments on a laptop in ways that would have been inconceivable not long ago (in geological terms). For the past few years — really, since I stopped playing in a “real” band (i.e., with other people, at least regularly) — I’ve avoided software as much as possible, probably because 1) I’m far from being a “natural,” with any kind of software 2) music-making software is almost always WAY TOO slick and complicated for what I want or need, 3) I still would rather play with other people (even though it’s just too complicated logistically because everyone has jobs and kids and pets, etc.) and 4) I forget what four is, but anyway, on Friday, I went to Sam Ash on 48th Street and after learning that the old location was closed (the whole block is a ghost of its former self, and will probably be converted to luxury condos and Banana Republics) I went to the new location on 34th Street, where I dealt with a serious music-store nerd/sales dude and Soviet-style bureaucracy (you have to wait in three lines) before emerging with my first MIDI keyboard. (One cool thing about Sam Ash: Stevie Wonder strolled in and bought some stuff while I was there. The sales guy was like, “yeah, he always comes in.”) Then I went home and downloaded some drum software, which I then miraculously managed to play with a sufficiently pounding imperfection I found very satisfying (with the keyboard of course), along with a bass and of my guitars. It wasn’t quite like playing real drums, but it served a purpose. Sometimes I feel a little weird or immature writing/recording songs when I could be, say, reading or writing, or even gardening or sipping wine or something else more “age-appropriate,” but there’s just something very gratifying about writing a song and having the tune get stuck in your head (even or especially when you’re walking from the subway to a corporate-drone job). It’s a good way to remember that you haven’t completely lost touch with the creative universe when I sometimes feel like I’m suffocating under spreadsheets and databases. I’ll also always love playing with guitar distortion, which I think is one of the great symbols of modern life, that sense of something beautiful but fraying at the edges. Anyway, here’s my latest Death Culture at Sea song, with a video starring all my friends from the garden, including a white moth with a very demanding personality.   

[Update: I’m not sure if this video is displaying properly, so feel free to click through to YouTube.]

Saturday morning in Washington Heights, starring blindingly perfect weather. 

Bryant Park yesterday, where under the glowing leaves it was pretty much impossible not to set aside the usual fears and anxieties for a few minutes.