I been stripping a guitar.



Well, sorta before, the other side looks like this 


Krispy! You might even say on fire. :-)


and after sufficient burning had happened, we used an angle groined dr fit wit a 150 grit pad. Which made easy work of the black burn up bits and even ripped a tummy cut by eye and thumb alone….good, good to able to work an hour here and there. Then Poof! A guitar,a badass guitar.



Boho Blue over Pearl. One thick coat of pearl withone medium coat of Natueal Crackle.  And then a coat of Boho Blue on top,I hope the Pearl looks real pretty thru them cracks, dig?  


Can’t hurt to hang with the king….


Scrambling get nots -worked out & we rocked the houex … Goodtoimessayyessirbo b

Then, oen mic at Shameless  Grounds coffee shop-anne cranks up!  

Which makes Todd happy. Me too.


& sso y,ou knww wwe rcked that house  og nnudies &&  ccaffiene.. MMMmm.

AAnd then hom e to more wwaiting for crackjle to dry & then it’ss bblue  and cracks and tung oil and iin a little wti/e aa realttalhginiish.. AAnd EMGS  I’m looking forward to pplaying this thin, SSuieer Vintage Modified Mustang, well, for sure oddeed non.   

Next up, Crackle, then blue!!!!!!

  LLasct bshot, Jigsaw diy-ed expansion of slots to fit EMG’s. Tomorrow chiseling the body to accomodate the biggier pickups, battery, box, and an extra volume knob. Sure hope Jon knowws how to wire this fucing thing……

And a few more photos now that I’ve got most of the blue on. Another 15 minutuets and I’m gonno brush the rests and crash out. Tomorrow chiselling. 




Sweet! I always wanted to hit a guitar with a hammer. SSquier VM’s, what they’re for, right?-)

Rock n Roll

That is, it’s all rock n roll to me. Good enough to rock, you know, whatevs, . .   . .   . uh, maybe?


Enjoy. I hope, since Anne, Todd & Sal (me) have worked pretty hard for about two months, in addition to nursing kids and kancer, we’ve been learning to rock out together, write together (these are all improv tunes to one degree or noe other) and say yes to everything that we make conversation about during the course of our performance. Here’s what we got so far (please notice the dramatic improvement in recording quality February vs March), hah! It’s all good enough for rock n roll.

For you gear heads out there, that’s an acoustic Sonor Martini drum kit with Wuhan cymbals, a 7 string LTD tuned BBEADF#B, which allows low harmonic intervals that can’t otherwise be played easily. Anne’s vocals are running into my guitar chain (AMT wah, tiny TC Poly, Nano Metal Muff, El Cap, Rc-3, joyo power on a slab of diy-ed lucite) via the RC-3 looper’s aux port with an impedance converter in the line (it works ok). One Blue Snowball running into Garageband on Female R&B Vocal, the mic set close to my blue tube amp and pointed back at Todd’s kit gave us a nice balanced mix with a wee bleed from my other amp which has reverb to put a kinky echo on Anne’s voice from time to time.

Man! a second effort, completely live, no second tracking, no cutting or post of any sort, I’m digging it. Thank you Anne and Todd for helping me make this happen:

Lines / Colors, #1


The Orchids Bloom

Sharon gives me orchids. From time to time, they bloom, as now

I find them quite beautiful.

Outside, snow falls on the sycamores, and I must change plans for the day.

The sangha meets today, and I will miss them. This results from my choice of vehicle, a bike instead of a sleigh. But then

I notice my guitar and delay, a step backwards from the Timeline I’ve been running for the last two years.

the old El Capistan limits me in a way that forces tension into the music. And I love that.

later in the week, Thursday:

I think about what’s been up for the last several days and why I cannot seem to finish the message above. I have had a lot to do: grocery shopping, doctors visits, yoga, showering, dog walking, laundry, dishes, cooking, some other overhead, nail clipping, etc and quite a bit I don’t recall. My memories of the last several days seems somewhat ambiguous, blurry perhaps, maybe unclear; I am unsure. Should I invest in one of those Hero cameras? This way I might capture more time.


I re-read and notice, there’s so many instances of judgement made in just a few sentences, and those judgements limit the way I view the world. They also drain the magic out every moment because they suppose that I already know everything, yet I know almost nothing about anything. Still, I cannot see this lack for all my knowing.

I am lucky to have flowers and music in my life, that’s for sure. But I notice so much more joy around me when I am less descriminating and more open minded. This is why I have an inexpensive guitar. It’s leaves room for me where there would be not so much, if I’d paid more for it. It’s like a tattoo; I wouldn’t have them if they didn’t hurt. Where is the sweet spot; can’t I just be close and let it alone from there?

The scarlet spots and yellow clash with the purple. I hadn’t noticed that until now. The colors are perfect that way, for how else could they be?

Thank you!

You people are the best. Seriously. Two months ago, I had a crazy idea. You are helping make it a reality. The tiny house campaign just recently closed with almost $21,500 in it! This combined with the donate page has brought in almost the entire goal. Your generosity continues to amaze and humble me. Thank you all so very much, especially, my brother Sean who graciously set up the campaign and managed it for the entire run, awesome, truly awesome dude. Also, thank you everyone who bought a copy of one of my books; it’s a real validation as a writer to get paid for it! Thank you!

Updates- lately, I’ve been in survival mode. I’m fogged almost all the time, brains not working, memory zilch (I just locked myself out of my phone, hope the Apple store can fix that), averaging around 1/3 of the energy that I had before cancer came and whacked me out. Chemo remains very, very hard, and I continue to feel very lucky in that fatigue is the worst side effect; it could kill me (organ failure due to poison), make me puke really bad (this has been minimal), do all kinds of bad shit to my skin, create neuropathy (terrifying for a musician, also, minimal here) and make all my hair fall out. Mostly, I just feel dumb, foggy, extremely tired, body hurts all over, headaches, aluminum taste to food, memory shot and like I have the flu. So, overall, yep, it’s chemo and I’m beat.

Besides trying to survive chemo, I’ve started a band, which will be my main focus for the foreseeable future. I have not been doing much else. Writing, painting, blogging and so forth, I don’t have the energy or vision or whatever. This is a good thing in that I’m almost done with Embracing Cancer, my next book, and in my experience, when a book feels somewhat blocked, it means that it’s time to wait for god to bestow a gift. The only thing for me to do is keep working it. And so, on any day that chemo and my willpower permit, I put the book back up in my mind and continue. Today, I got the final page of the journal that I began specifically for this project. Only a few paintings and several essays remain before the book is done. Deadline, March 16- we’ll see.

Speaking of Embracing Cancer, I’m still looking for a publicist, an agent, a publisher (like McSweeney’s, they seem like they’d be ideal for this sort of multimedia thing) and a book designer. If anyone has a serious lead on any of these positions, please let me know. I’ll need to open a kickstarter to fund this project, so I need to know ahead of time what these people need to be paid, expenses, etc, etc.

Thank you all, especially those who have written me, like Kaitlin in Pittsburg, PA. Your letters mean the world to me and really lift my spirits which are often a bit low. If it seems like I’m taking a long time to get back to you, it’s because I’m sick, not because I don’t like you or I’m mad or you said something wrong, I’m just sick, that’s all, and it has taken me up to six months to return a simple email from time to time these past couple years. I’m sorry, but I’m slowe, and I do love your letters and email and other communiques.

People who have sent money for the tiny house, watch this space, know that we love you and thank you with all our hearts, and we’ll post updates about the project as it rolls onward. We tentatively  plan to build in the beginning of June when it will be warm and the people on the construction crew are off work from their day jobs as teachers. Sharon and I will spend the next months looking for a place to park, materials for the house (special magic objects for everything, we mean to make this place mean something), and educating ourselves in building techniques. We watched a Tumbleweed construction video the other night that was really informative and gave us a big boost in confidence. Thank you all for helping make this dream a reality; I could not have even begun without you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


How Dumb Can You Get

Thank you everyone! Although today’s post is about autonomy, obviously, _I_ can’t do anything alone, and you have all helped by reading here, buying Werewolves and helping with the tiny house. You are truly awesome. Thank you.

I’ve been wondering lately, how dumb I can get before I give up. Chemo brings these thoughts because with chemo ramping up in my system again, I can feel myself getting dumber. Get ready for more typos here. My memory becomes even more spotty. And because in order to stay alive, that is to eat, I have to smoke weed, so, I’m stoned quite a bit. And, stoniness also fucks up short term memory. Bleh. Besides which, chemo saps energy, and I have fewer functional hours each day. With all these factors combined, I’m surprised my vision begins to penetrate the fog to any degree whatsoever.

I’ve thought also about what it means to me to be alive, what counts for me. Autonomy counts for all. Of course, autonomy comes in various degrees. I think of the basics of life wherein, as oldsters are evaluated, I might or might not be able to perform the tasks necessary to care for myself, such as:
-getting out of bed on my own and walking around
-so that I brush my teeth and do my toileting
-and shower and dress and breakfast
-and do something that means something to me with my day
Without these basics in my immediate possession, some of my autonomy goes away, and I must rely on someone else to help me care for myself, that is, to stay alive.

I wrote some in the book yesterday, and also in a letter to a friend. I got a painting done yesterday, that I’m not going to show here. There are tons of them, the best ones, you’ll have to buy the book to see them. :-) Just kidding, I post the best ones here and save the ugly ones for the book. No, really.


Real Dumb!

to(o) dumb!

I think I’ll go play some guitar now, stoner rock, of course.

Werewolves: more than five years in the making

Hi everyone,

Thank you all for your attention, love and support. Special thanks goes out to those who have been eagerly awaiting the next book, Werewolves. It is now available for sale, just click the title or the cover below. Extra special thanks goes out to those who have freely given to support me and to raise the tiny house for Sharon (and maybe even me, if I live that long).

Werewolves Cover

guache, inkjet color print, December 19, 2014, Sal Laughter, in private collection: NFS

More than five years in the making, I gave Werewolves everything I had. I gave my retirement account to support myself while I wrote. I used every tool in my writer’s toolkit, and I honed each piece to the best of my ability as shown to me by my excellent teachers, Ann, Don, Allen, Singer and Janet. And now, I have abandoned the work on Amazon for your perusal.

If you want to see the next title in print and on Kindle, Embracing Cancer, please buy Werewolves. I can’t play pinball here without lighting up the free game light, and the only way to do that is to sell enough for me to live on.

Thank you everyone. You people are the best!

This One Goes Out To My Sister

Hi Everyone, thank you, darkling readers, and thank you for helping us get this house built. You people are just awesome. Truly.

Speaking of building houses, perhaps, I will live long enough to drive a nail or two. To that end:

more chemo. enjoy.

more chemo. enjoy.

Thanks also to the Dr F and the Kancer Krew for getting this poison for me, as well as the lovely people at Accredo and Express Scripts who facilitated this order, and all the people who contributed to CancerCare Co-pay Assistance Foundation which makes it possible for me to afford these pills.

I’m hanging out here with a savage headache, just took two pills, seven minutes ago. Operating at maybe 30% of normal energy today. Can’t wait to see how I feel about two hours from now. Oh, god, please don’t let me forget to pocket several spare Ativan.

Good luck, everyone. See you later.


Hi Everyone! Thank you all for your ongoing assistance with everything, like the Indiegogo campaign to help build Sharon’s (my wife) new house. It’s just awesome how this is proceeding! Seriously, I remain humbled and amazed by your generosity.

Also, many comments have come in offering kind words, valuable advice and encouragement. These messages really help keep my spirits up. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Andrew left a comment a short while ago about the value of eating raw fruits and veggies. I’ve been eating a big bowl of mixed berries, apple and orange almost every day this past year or two, and I do think that these ingredients have helped me survive. Thanks, Andrew, for the reiteration. Awesome!

Today’s topic- Time

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to best spend my time. I really began to think hard about time last November, the 16th to be precise. I began with an analysis of how I’ve spent my time since the year 2000. For the first decade of the new century, I had fun hanging out with friends, rode bicycles quite a bit, having no other transport other than shoes, studied pretty hard to earn a BA and an MA, trained to be a writer by writing close to a million words of fiction, and I fixed a whole bunch of broken computers to support myself. For the last five years, I’ve been working on Werewolves, my first novel written for publication. The book should be coming out on Amazon for Kindle later this week, either tomorrow or Sunday. For real this time, it’s really going up; I have the files in hand.

Anyhow, back in November, realizing that Werewolves was about done, I began to wonder, how best should I spend my time? I can no longer work very much: I have maybe one or two hours per day where I have enough energy to do something, and that’s about it. Seriously, there have been many days where simply getting out of bed, putting on pants and plodding into the kitchen leaves me breathing hard and going, “fuck, fuck, fuck, need to eat, what’s to eat, fuck, food what fastest banana oj kefir?” and then I try to get something down as quick as I can, working through the fog that surrounds my head. I stare into the fridge dumb as hammer. There. An egg. Raw. Where pan? Coffee. Thank god, Sharon made coffee. And so on. Therefore, a full time job is pretty much out of the picture.

I also cannot remember shit. My memory is shot. Sharon sometimes says, “Remember when I told you….” and I’m like, huh? No recollection. Also, I cannot really think. I was once able to put a whole novel up in my mind so that I could see the relationships between the arches and flying buttresses, where I could figure out what needed to be shored up so that an altar could stand. No longer, those days are gone. 1000-1500 words, that’s close to the limit now.

The bottom line is that the only thing that I can see doing with 10 years of training and 5 years experience as a writer is to work on short pieces. To this end, I’m writing this cancer book, and then it’s songs and poetry, I think, until I’m either alive again or dead. And you know, that’s not so bad. I always wanted to be a rock star. I can, after all, play a power chord or two, and I have a distortion box on my board.


Last night I played my guitar, on stage, in front of a packed coffee shop. It was the first time I’ve played for strangers. Sharon was too tired to come with, and Todd, who’s exploring music with me a little, he couldn’t make it either, so I went alone. I like that I had to go alone because now I know: I can do this. I liked the attention, I liked the applause,  and I liked the fact that I was doing something that no one else there was even attempting, that is, to extend the art. All I brought with me was an idea and an acoustic guitar. I took notes while others played, and I got a painting done there too. I think the paint reflects what I was attempting. And when it was my turn, number 20 of 20 players, I didn’t choke, and during the quiet parts, besides my breathing, you could hear a pin drop in that room which is what pleased me most.

Here’s the notes and the painting. Click on it for big-


Open mic night at Stone Spiral








Back to November 16th. I laid out a timeline for this book then. It expires March 16th since that’s as long as I could foresee being alive at that point (dig the optimism, that’s 120 dayz). I think we’re close to halfway through that time now. And this book is more than halfway done. I’m on page 78/120 in the notebook pictured above. What else would you like to see covered in this book, Embracing Cancer? Let me know in the comments, please.

Again, thank you, everyone!



Hi Everyone. Thank you all! I am so pleased to report that Sean’s Indiegogo campaign for Sharon’s Tiny House has gone over $12,000. Also, many have hit the donate button, like John in Concord, OH. Wow! I am taken aback by your generosity. Thank you!

Yesterday, I was able to paint. I began with the idea of yin/yang. I’ve always liked this symbol; it’s in my dna somewhere, I think. It has to do with balance, opposition, contraction and expansion. Something like that. At any rate, a painting emerged:



I haven’t done much representational rendering lately, so this piece feels especially satisfying to me. Also, I like working with unforgiving media like this, the ink in particular. This unforgiving nature forces me to accept the fact that there are no wrong notes, that as I go along developing the image, I must work with whatever lines were laid down before, and so on.

The idea of accommodating all possibilities can be a real boon when you’re facing something like cancer or death. Allowing stillness to enter my person in the face of such disaster has helped me keep my balance and not freak out too much, become too much of pain for the people around me, and lets me continue to see where life leads without assumptions.

For a moment, I’d like for you to imagine. No, not like Lennon. Imagine for a moment, please, that you have a batch of incurable cancer growing into a mass that will soon kill you. What questions arise in your mind? If you write these in the comments section, I’ll think about them and perhaps do an article on yours.

Why I’m Still Alive

Thank you everyone, who has donated to the Tiny House Fund for Sharon and me. And to everyone who’s still reading. It’s been really great to let some some of this stuff out into the world and know it’s getting read. I hope that some of it is helping someone with cancer because that’s the intent here, to help people with cancer.

Anyhow, along the way here, I’ve paused now and again to contemplate why I’m still alive. I mean, usually, stage IV pancreas cancer patients, like me, live about 3-6 months (Dr B, primary care physician, told me this about a year into it), and so I’ve often wondered why I’m still alive when 37,000, or so, other people who were diagnosed the same way, here in the US, in ’13 along with me are now dead.

The easy answer is that no one knows.

Also, I’m still alive because my daughter, Sophia, she taught me to be nice and to be patient with people, and that’s a gift that not many can give. I’m sure I’ve not fully received the teaching, and I hope I can absorb more. Patience counts a lot when you’re stuck somewhere between life and death for a year and a half. Nice counts for quite a bit too, when you’re depending on the kindness of other people to save your life. Luckily, Sharon (my wife) and Tom raised Sophia right.

I’m alive because Tom, Sophia’s dad, he mentioned, a week or so after diagnosis, that one of his colleagues had pancreas cancer, took 5FU and got back to work like nothing happened. I decided, when Dr R offered, to take 5FU rather Gemzar/Abraxine, and the 5FU worked. If I’d started with Gemzar/Abraxine instead, it might not have worked, the tumors might have grown instead of shrinking, and I’d be dead now. Luckily, Sharon had that conversation with Tom where he gave her that knowledge.

I’m alive because Dr U gave me a minute to wake up before he started talking. And in that minute I decided, looking around the room at 5 senior docs all wearing sad expressions at 7 am, that I would be happy and at peace with whatever they told me. Luckily, Sharon took me to the hospital when she did.

I’m alive because Dr D did acupuncture on me one day when I thought I might blow my head off in order to escape the pain. It was a pain in my back (the celiac nerve complex in the abdomen next to the pancreas often manifests pain in the upper right back) so strong that morphine couldn’t touch it, and I am not sure how I made it out of the apartment to the car and up the stairs to his office, but I stumbled in and Dr D pulled up my shirt and stuck about 3 needles (very, very few) into my back. Five minutes later, I felt fine. No shit. Magic. Luckily, Sharon had built a relationship with Dr D’s practice that goes back more than 10 years, and Dr D took care of me for free for nearly 12 months.

I’m alive because my aunt Cathy drove me to the hospital and sat with me each of 12 times I had infusion therapy there. It took all day every time, and I was wasted, almost dead after every one. She also bought me breakfast and lunch, when I could eat. Cathy also gave me company when I could talk. We talked about god and fear quite a bit. She was also terrific in that when I needed to sleep in the infusion chair and ignore the constant beeping of the IV bag monitors, she left me alone. Luckily, Sharon mentioned to me once that I might need someone besides herself to look after me that fall when I was doing infusions.

My pal, Timothy got me drugs to help keep me eating and from puking my guts out for the last 18 months, and that’s not nothing. Drugs that are effective at treating chemo side effects tend to be expensive, like about $350-1000 a month, depending, plus hassle costs like driving around and time and the uproar that this kind of thing can bring to a household. Some might include major civil disobedience and courage in these costs. Without these anti-nausea drugs, I’d almost certainly be dead now. Luckily, Sharon reminded me to call him and get things going.

While I’m talking about family, my mom, Lydia, and her man, Julian, deserve a mention. Between them, I think they’ve kicked in about twenty thousand dollars to help pay for my treatment. This is money that I absolutely do/did not have, and I had no other way to get other than to ask. Without it, I’d have long ago gone bankrupt or done without the treatment. And when the treatment is essentially poison, you have a huge incentive to just do without. I’d be dead now if they hadn’t given me that money. Luckily for me, Sharon said, can’t you just swallow your pride and eat some autonomy this once and ask?

Also, my brother, Sean, besides setting up the Indiegogo campaign that’s currently running, he gave me $500 a month, every month, from diagnosis until my federal disability checks began to show up. This money allowed me to pay rent. And that’s not nothing, having a roof over your head when you’re dying sick. Luckily, Sharon reminded me that I had family that I could count on in time of need.

Speaking of disability checks, I’m still alive because Social Security, that pinko commie system that we all are forced at gunpoint to buy into here in AmeriKa, well, it’s working for me. I paid into the system for 30 years, and now it’s paying me back. Who knew? I looked like death on wheels when I showed up there at the local Social, really skeletal, and I think that helped get my case approved. Luckily, Sharon figured out where the office for SSI is here in the STL and drove me there and filled out a million forms that I couldn’t even read much less work through.

I’m alive because I started practicing zazen in the early ’00’s sometime, not sure exactly when. This practice is simple: you sit in lotus (or your closest approximation) for 20 minutes and stare at a bare wall during which time, you might re-focus your attention on your breathing and your posture each time you find your mind wandering which is about every five seconds. This practice is guaranteed to take you to places you’ve never been to unless you seriously practice some other spiritual tradition (almost any will work if you do it hard enough, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Indian, whatever). Because these places might be somewhat unfamiliar, it’s best to have a qualified teacher. Luckily for me, Sharon took me to the MO Zen center where Rosan Yoshida teaches and a visiting teacher, Brad Warner gave a talk one night, and I have been able to deepen my practice because of Sharon.

I’m alive because I’ve received excellent medical care at Mercy hospital and Mercy clinic where Dr B practices. Dr B got me admitted to the hospital in time to save my life, and for this, I owe him a debt that no one can ever pay. Luckily, Sharon convinced me that it was time to see a doctor when my stomach started to hurt real bad.

Infusion therapy costs about $12,000 per dose. I had 12 doses. When I went for my first infusion, I asked what it would cost. No one at cancer could tell me. I googled. Then I became discouraged because there was no way that I’d be able to pay for even one dose, much less a course of treatment that might be effective. It was a lot like buying a house without knowing the price, without ever seeing even a photo of the property, without even reading a description of what I’d be buying. No one could tell me. Debbie, a senior nurse in the infusion center, performed some magic on the phone with Anthem Blue Cross and got them to pay my bill. Without her help, I would have refused treatment, being unable to pay, and I’d be dead now. Luckily, Sharon had signed me up for insurance some months before.

Speaking of Anthem, these people live up to their contractual obligations. Although I’ve been insured by Anthem for maybe two decades, I’d let my policy lapse when I stopped working at the university and thought that I’d be unable to afford the cost on my own. I went naked for the first 3 years of my retirement from the computer business in order to start my writing career. When Sharon and I had worked to the point where we could afford to have me insured, Anthem was my first choice because they’d always taken good care of me. Currently, I pay  about $150 a month for health insurance. With costs the ways they are (about a quarter to a half million dollars, that’s as close as I can guess for my own personal case), insurance is the only way I’m able to afford treatment without just walking away from my bill with the hospital that just got finished saving my life. Luckily, Sharon convinced me that I ought to buy coverage.

There are limits to insurance coverage. Some new drugs cost quite a bit when they first come out. This is so that the drug company can recoup development costs, which are enormous (think 100’s of millions for a single drug), pay their employees and play pinball again with the next development cycle. Therefore, when Dr F prescribed Xeloda (generic = Capacitabine), I was left looking at a co-pay of around $1600 a month. I took Xeloda for a year. To make up the gap between insurance and my co-pay, Jenny, the pharmacist at cancer, she got on the phone with Genentech, the drug company, and explained my case. They gave me the drug for free. Without this drug, I’d be dead now. Luckily, Sharon suggested that I talk to the people at cancer about payment, specifically, the social worker there, Carol who led me to Jenny.

If I begin, even for a moment, to consider the supply chains, such as who built the hospital, who made the tiles on the floors there, who cleaned the toilets there, etc ad-infinitum, I will have soon touched everyone on the planet. You are never alone. Always, there are other people here who are working their asses off helping you stay alive. I thank every single one of you who has ever helped me. Right now, this second, I see a phone, a computer, a coffee mug, a pair of scissors, a collection of drugs, a hardwood table, three chairs, one natural, one orange, one pink, and a beautiful view out the front windows, and I am sure that if I track back through the chains of people who have given me these things, I will find every one of you. Thank you. Luckily, Sharon has terrific taste and has brought me all these goods.

I’m sure there are other reasons why I’m still alive, but as far as I can see, the main reason  is because Sharon, my wife, has chosen to give up some of her own life, her time, to think about the best ways to care for me and to then effectively execute those plans. And if you haven’t guessed, I’m not always the easiest person to work with.

Because of Sharon, I’m still alive.

Love you, baby.