Party this Friday

This Friday, December 4 at 7:00 PM, please join me for a house party!

I’ll be playing music including songs from “XMAS,” there will be wine and hors d’oeuvres, and we’ll be raising money for the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project. KCAVP is the only organization in Kansas and Missouri working to end domestic violence, sexual assault, and hate crimes in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and through the end of the year an anonymous donor will match our new or increased gifts up to $2000! When Jill shared this with me, I had to get involved!

Please RSVP to Jill Gillespie at 913.669.3926 or jill.puffer (at) no later than November 30th.

Friday, December 4, 2009, 7:00 PM
2524 Red Bridge Terrace (home of our friend Larry Brown)
Kansas City, MO 64131

Please join us to learn:

  • What is LGBT violence?
  • KCAVP’s role in turning the tide against LGBT violence
  • How you can help make a difference!

$15 per person/$25 per couple (Make checks payable to “KCAVP”) includes drinks and appetizers. Guests will receive a copy of “XMAS,” a compilation of original and re-imagined holiday music by MFR artists, including Scott Morris’ new track “Hush Hush.”


P.S. If you cannot attend the party, please still send a contribution. Please send your check to: Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, PO Box 411211, Kansas City, MO 64141, or make your gift online at To learn how you can host your own house party, please contact Beth via e-mail at or by calling 816-561-0550.

At the Crescendo

I’ve spent the past two days listening to Art Tatum (with a break last night for Michael Jackson via This Is It, which was entertaining, vastly more tasteful than I anticipated, and left me with a fresh appreciation for his music).

Tatum was a solo jazz pianist, more popular with other musicians than with audiences for his fanciful improvisations over popular and Broadway standards.  I picked up both volumes of his “At the Crescendo” in Denver back a couple months ago, which was recorded live in 1950 at Gene Norman’s club in L.A.

This quote from the back cover of volume two says it better than I ever could:

“He is always breaking up beautiful lines into amazing acrobatics, breaking up those acrobatics into a tender note, breaking up a tender note into a violent rhythmic approach … Tatum tried to avoid known and accepted patterns of improvising in a continuous fight against the mediocrity of the popular melodies he used.” – Rudy Koopmans, co-editor of “Jazzworld”

You can hear and download a few Tatum tunes yourself via Skreemr. -h

Three Quotes from Bayles' & Orland's "Art & Fear"

Jill gave me “Art & Fear” to read, from Tim, from Tim’s brother Troy.  Outstanding book, quick read; an incredibly generous dose of the truth and reality about what the artist’s process is, how to survive it, and why we do it at all.

Three passages in particular jumped out at me.

“To require perfection is to invite paralysis … The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections (or mistakes, if you’re feeling particularly depressed about them today) are your guides – valuable, reliable, objective, non-judgmental guides – to matters you need to reconsider or develop further. It is precisely this interaction between the ideal and the real that locks your art into the real world, and gives meaning to both.”

The last sentence here rang so completely true to me, and not just about art; about morality, and about life.  The middle space between the vision and the mundane is completely vital, and vitally hard to occupy.  We tend to gravitate toward one or the other, to the detriment of both.

“…You can find urban white artists – people who could not reliably tell a coyote from a german shepherd at a hundred feet – casually incorporating the figure of Coyote the Trickster into their work. A premise common to all such efforts is that power can be borrowed across space and time. It cannot. There’s a difference between meaning that is embodied and meaning that is referenced.

I have always felt intuitively that difference in meaning, but never been able to articulate it as well as the authors do here.  Reference/incarnation is probably more of a spectrum than an either-or proposition, but the truth of the statement persists.  I seem to have a lower tolerance for referenced meaning than most of my peers – most of you? – I am interested in embodying meaning.

There is a moment for each artist in which a particular truth can be found, and if it is not found then, it will not ever be. No one else will ever be in a position to write “Hamlet.” This is pretty good evidence that the meaning of the world is made, not found. Our understanding of the world changed when those words were written, and we can’t go back … any more than Shakespeare could.”

This reminds me of Paul Tillich’s vision that our moral calling is to meet each moment with the precise love called for by that moment.

I wonder what is says about me, and about the connection between ethics and art, that I respond to what the authors write at both levels.

Read it if you can, especially if you are an artist struggling to produce your next, or first, work.  Ask Jill to borrow it if you must! -h

Lyrics – "There is Something and not nothing"

Sally Ride
“There is Something and not nothing”

Drums by Matt Pluff
Everything else by howie

Recorded at home

Music & lyrics by howie
Except “Miami” and “Can U Feel It?” music & lyrics by howie howard and Joel Hines

Thanks: Friends & family of MFR, Jill, and Tracy

“Science questions the common assumptions which seem to be true to everyone, to the layman as well as to the average scholar. Then the genius comes and asks for the basis of these accepted assumptions; when they are proved not to be true, an earthquake in science occurs out of the depth. Such earthquakes occurred when Copernicus asked if our sense-impressions could be the ground of astronomy, and when Einstein questioned whether there is an absolute point from which the observer could look at the motions of things. An earthquake occurred when Marx questioned the existence of an intellectual and moral history independent of its economic and social basis. It occurred in the most eruptive way when the first philosophers questioned what everybody had taken for granted from times immemorial — being itself.

“When they became conscious of the astonishing fact, underlying all facts, that there is something and not nothing, an unsurpassable depth of thought was reached.”

— Paul Tillich, from “The Shaking of the Foundations” Chapter 7, The Depth of Existence

“Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, 0 Lord.” — Psalm 130:1

01. Out

Out of this town
Out of this deathtrap we call home
Into the world
Onto an open road
Out of:
–our breath
–a sense of where we’re going
–this town
–this nowhere



What a mess to find us in
Out of ourselves
Bound to a beat I can’t contain
Beating my steps
Turning me into someone else
I couldn’t tell
Out of this love I can’t express



(Out of this town / Out of this love I can’t express / Beating my steps)

02. Heart Stops Beating

Love, you are a passing wave;
Momentary; transient
Made of stars and shattered things
Am I?  What if I am?

Stops beating
Making it feel alright
We’ll see it
Building it up tonight
We’ll beat it alright, we’ll see it

On the town and on the floor
Call me when your heart stops beating
Every club and everyone
Easy, easy, easy, we’re coming undone

When your heart stops beating … we’ll see it

03. Deft

You came in a wave
Pouring through our veins
Pressed to a shape I would not have named grace

And I’m losing control
I’m slipping out of phase
Becoming a change in the world, but still away…

I’m: losing, slipping out, changing, coming down

All this trouble in my heart
All the mystery you’ve caused
All concern and every thought

You’re deft

04. Yr Right

My arms are beaten
Ribs are fallen in
You caught me cheating; magic in my skin

I’ve been convicted
Banished from belief
No spells, no feathers now, only what I see

You’re right

Whaaat??? Am I?  Still??

Harrowed by a Love?

You’re right

05. The Biggest Choice You Make (Every Day)

Are you alone?
Isn’t the vacuum freezing?
Can you make a sound?
Pushing away – keeping yourself from feeling
Signal’s fading out

We were at home
We were together, reading, in the broken light
It was killing your hope, finding in Camus’ teaching daily suicide

You don’t love this life, but it
Feels like something
May be worth your time
You’re always running by

Breathing it in
I’ll probably never believe it, but
I won’t walk alone
Asking myself,
Pulling my shoulder, dreaming
I would die to know

This will hurt
In time
You feel the something
May be worth your life
Your heart, your hands, and everything

This could be your sign
Though it feels like
Nothing can be right in your arms

In your eyes

06. Stopstopstopstopstop

Seems you want it back
You want it all
Thoughtless rapture;
I can’t stand it!

Simple & certain
Yes, love, I’m on the run

Stopstopstopstopstop saying that,
Stop saying what you don’t mean

Tempted and righteous
Chemical, religious
We’re still fighting to wake up and
Start again


When love breathes down your neck, I can feel it,
I can feel
Feel it


07. Miami

Calling out across the floor, I
Turn around
I thought I heard my name
In the crowd I feel alone
I know the way people play this scene
Every touch is meaningless
Every contact, emptiness
I feel every one

Can’t say that you want me back if you’re dancing in someone’s arms; when I’m already gone

I remember other nights when you and I thought we would find our break
We told each other fairy tales
This city’s cold and love doesn’t work that way,
Or any way

Can’t say that you want me back…

Not your fear, and not your anger;
Love, it is your love that hurts the most
Don’t deny that we’re in danger
I am sure that I can stand to know what it is, and
Whatever was to come

(Love your love left me – love your love returns)

…when I’m already gone

08. Turning the Wheel

Don’t say “nothing”
Don’t adore a void / avoid
Love, come burn me pure of
Every word

You are temptingly real, suffer you for the tease
I am turning the wheel, trying not to believe

I am luminous
In the moment when we both forget

You are temptingly real…

Don’t say, don’t turn

(Pure of every word)

When I knew what you meant, there’s not a thing I could say
If it’s the Empty you feel, who can take it away?

09. Seven

Blindness, bright for sure and we
Take it as a comforting word
So bound,
Sick, and
Sightless, suffering,
Stumbling for some conviction to hang … can I hold on?
I can’t find one – I’ll make one – and I’m fabricating an end, end again, and I end again

This is seeing?
This is what I’m left when I’m on?

This is freeing?
This is courage under a cross?

Yeah, it’s troubling my heart, and I think
You could go on
Go on with me and find serenity
Peeling every image apart,
Every idol and every image apart

This is seeing?
This is breathing?
This is how I feel, beyond?

This is freeing?

10. Can U Feel It?

Can U feel it?  Can U see it?  Can U tell what it is, can U put words 2 it?

Can U mean it?  Be it?  Can U go on living like there’s something 2 it?

Say what you want to say about us
It doesn’t change anything, love, can U feel it?

Can U speak it?  Hear it?  Does it haunt your nights, can U make it quiet?

Can U leave it?  Do you need it?  Can U hope 4 it when U know you’ll never reach it?

Say what you need to say about us
It doesn’t change a single thing,
Love, can U feel it?

(One is never enough)

Say what you’re going to say …

Can U feel it?