The first of 30

Photo by Joel Filipe on Unsplash

It’s a foggy February day, the kind of day where you can’t tell if it’s morning or evening. Some of you wonder where I’ve been all pandemic year. In the days to come, I’ll answer that and so much more. Inspired by Nicholas Cole’s “Ship 30 for 30” yet unable (unwilling?) to spare $200, in the next month I’ll write 30 “atomic” essays, a trigger I’ve long been terrified to pull.

In the next 30 days, you’ll hear what it’s like to quit music for a year; to be unemployed, living with your girlfriend’s dad, on your 30th birthday; fleeing…

Nich Mueller’s latest EP picks up where his full-length left off

“Dot” is out July 27th.

When I last reviewed Culture in Flame’s full-length album, “Colloquies”, we were pent up in a pandemic. From that perspective, the music felt like a soundtrack to blanket your ears on solitary walks through a city once brimming with activity. If you read it, you’ll know my only misgiving was that its production didn’t always bring the listener into the room — a result of recording remotely. In a sense, the way we made music last year only mirrored the way we socialized — through electronic mediums instead of the air between our faces.

Now, only months later, Mueller’s latest…

A Review of “The Storm” EP by Greg Dallas

The Storm was released this May, 2021.

The storm outside mirrors the storm inside. So too does The Storm EP mirror a sense of loss. At its best, Greg Dallas’s latest release succeeds in re-enacting the aftermath of a breakup, when the drama has passed and we’re left feeling washed up.

There’s the unbraiding of memories, bitter from sweet. That’s the remembering. But what strikes me as human here is that half of this album is a trying to forget. In the end, breakups become more than the loss of a relationship — inevitably they force us to grapple with our place in the world. …

You know the kind — so sure of itself, with a point to make

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I’m tired of top-down writing — writing with a certain point to club over our heads. I’m tired of writing for the faceless “you” on this platform.

Sometimes I think I’m wasting my time. After all, sometimes doing nothing is better than trying a little. No self-help article will tell you that. Sometimes, I think that’s just depression whispering in my ears.

But really though, if I added up all the time I spent freewriting mediocre 300-word essays, I’d have at least one polished piece ready for publication rather than 10 small turds that aren’t going to make a splash…

Until now

Photo by Elisa Calvet B. on Unsplash

I turned 30 during the pandemic. Yeah, it was a rough one. June 11th I think it was. I don’t remember it being a great day and my mind’s too hazy to bother remembering. I do remember some summer thunderstorm, a power outage and a double rainbow. But the day of the week eludes me.

It sucks being brain dead when you sit to write a piece. I was going to riff about how creative — literally — I’ve been. I’ve been “creative” all my life. But I don’t have much to show for it — two albums with my…

Here are five things I’m focusing on in the back half

Author not pictured! But you have to love the fan. Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

“In a sense the next thing always belongs. In the world of imagination, all things belong. If you take that on faith, you may be foolish, but foolish like a trout.”

Richard Hugo — The Triggering Town

When I embarked on my own “Ship 30 for 30” writing challenge, I couldn’t have predicted the challenges I would face. The original idea was spurred by Nicolas Cole’s program for writers, but unable (or unwilling) to shell out the dough, I decided to take this on solo. No one was going to stop me; there’s no copyright on self-flagellation. …

Here’s my quick take on what I’ve learned so far.

Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🪴 on Unsplash

Some days, you won’t feel like it

I learned you still have to write hungover, cramping from a mysterious abdominal pain, or while on the job hunt. So I drank less, went to the doctor, and flexed my writing chops in cover letters (granted, I wrote more of these than I did those).

You won’t always know what to write

You know that feeling (most of the time) when you simply don’t have an opinion? You still have to write when you don’t know what to write, or you have no hot takes. You have to riff anyways.

I hate “top-down” writing

I learned I hate top-down writing. You know the kind. Written headline first, following an outline…

I was dreaming of a world without civilization

Photo by Boris Stefanik on Unsplash

You could say the city was crippled. But the subway kept running, mostly empty. There were no blackouts and the shower ran hot. You could say the city was crippled, but the streets were free, all of a sudden. And the air? Incredibly fresh.

Though my job was with an essential business, packing and shipping $300 sneakers across the world, I quit when my girlfriend developed what you might call situational asthma. We thought it was Covid; it wasn’t. That didn’t make it any easier, and those days she seemed like an easy target for the virus. …

My letter to myself this time last year

Inspired by Craig Spencer MD MPH’s piece in Elemental

New York City, January 2020. Photo by author. (Ignore the ’98 date stamp — it’s a Huji app feature)

In New York City, March this time last year marked the pandemic raging on our shores. Remembering its anniversary, this is the letter I wrote to my former self. Yeah, former is a strong word but every cell of my body has changed hands, and so have yours.

Brace yourself. The whispers of a global pandemic have become sirens. But not the Odyssean kind.

You’ll never quite hear them the same way again, their Doppler shift shuttling yet another soul to the E.R. It’s not the flu; it’s different this time…

Spicy chicken sandwich, anyone?

Photo by Hasinteau on Unsplash

There’s nothing quite like a Wendy’s drive through in pandemic land. Shacked up in Bay Village at my girlfriend’s dad’s place, I couldn’t wait to hop in Xssy’s beat up Chevy Cobalt or whatever the model was, drive, just driving was a fun, head to the drive though and return reeking of fryer grease. I felt like a smoker airing out that old black sedan, 100,000 miles on it, manual windows, manual steering.

I’d mask up, roll down the window at the drive though, joining the line of cars. It felt appropriate — the proper social distance. As I inhaled…

Marco Frey

I’m a drummer and writer finding his way in the gristmill of New York City.

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