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The Tale of the Train Clipper and the Sauna Flosser

I was on the commuter train into Manhattan and the guy next to me started clipping his nails. Usually I’m not shy about saying something when a person violates such a social norm, but the last time I came across someone conducting personal grooming in public, it almost exploded into a fist fight.

I was at the gym. I’d just completed a great workout and I walked into the steam room for a few minutes of heat and relaxation. What transpired next, occurred in a flash of discord, a sequence of emotional reactions.

My gym has a cozy steam, it’s tight when four people are in there. An older man sat just a few feet away, flossing. The steam blurs everything and at first I assumed I had it wrong, but no, he was a Sauna Flosser.

I shut my eyes and tried to ignore him, but the sound of floss sawing between teeth was too loud.

I wanted to say something, but what do you say? Instead, I shook my head and walked out mumbling, “This is unbelievable.”

As the door shut behind me, I heard the guy cry out, “Asshole.”

Anger bubbled inside my belly. I could not … Read the rest


Don’t ask the poet Rilke if you’ve got talent

Here’s an essay I wrote in April, 2005, after my first trip to Nashville. Bob Regan, the president of the Nashville Songwriter’s Association, called me after he read it, saying this should be required reading for anyone that comes to Nashville with dreams of selling their songs. Both he and Steve Seskin have used parts of it in talks to aspiring songwriters…

I spent a couple of years hanging out in Nashville learning how to write songs.

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Last week I attended the NSAI Symposium in Nashville. NSAI is the trade association that represents songwriters.

Although I had a few business meetings, my intent was to watch and listen because I have nothing appropriate for the market. I did play a few cuts from my upcoming CD and the reaction was quite favorable. But I’ve been warned about this town’s friendliness, nobody will say your song sucks.

NSAI is a great organization because it caters to both the professional and aspiring songwriter. NSAI runs song camps and seminars, they publish books and provide a critique service as well as career guidance.

But the possibility of fame and fortune draws all types to the two-day Symposium. It reminded me of the … Read the rest