X Spells Christmas


Christmas day is nearly upon us and it is with no small amount of pride, relief and astonishment that I can shout from the roof top: I am ready!

Shopping – check.

Decorations – done.

Cards, RSVPs, Gifts – mailed.

Christmas song – Christmas song? Yes, that has also been written, recorded and posted here for the public.

I hope you all have your holiday ditties in the can by now because musicians are hard to book on such short notice this close to December 25th.

Regretfully, I waited too late to produce one of my more bizarre Christmas videos. So, fans of the King Truelove Festive Film Festival® may be disappointed at having to watch reruns. But I hope you will enjoy this addition to my Christmas Oeuvre.

or Download the MP3

A note about this song. There is usually some hubbub around the more secular spelling of Christmas, Xmas. It makes more than a few Christians uncomfortable when Christ is dropped from one of their holiest holidays. There is more on this here Xmas Reading.

If you are devout please keep in mind that in this song X spells Christmas because two lovers have parted.

The guitar was played by country music superstar John Carini.

Archives of the King Truelove Festive Film Festival®.

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2011

And of course some heavy metal

Iron Maiden Christmas

9 Word Football

“Dynamism of a Soccer Player” by Umberto Boccioni

I have always enjoyed “Dynamism of a Soccer Player” by Umberto Boccioni. I have visited it many times at the MoMA here in New York.

In the painting Boccioni breaks down the form of a soccer player into pure energy that moves out into the surrounding atmosphere.

I have never been very good with a paint brush, as many an art teacher and the dingy walls of my apartment can attest. I did, however, attempt to deconstruct a soccer game I saw recently. Here’s to all you strikers out there who like to keep your game simple.

9 Word Football
Kick, Kick, Kick
Kick, Kick…Foul…Card
Kick, Kick, Kick…
Kick, Head…Kick
Kick, Kick, Kick

African 12 Gauge Trance Music

My 12 Gauge

I love shotguns. Handguns are sexy, rifles, efficient but nothing says you mean business like a shotgun. Just the word alone has power. Go ahead, say it out loud and listen to those hard consonants and feel that dark aftertaste it leaves on your tongue.

I am not allowed to own a shotgun where I live. Even if I could possess such a thing it would fall into disuse here in the city. It would collect dust much like the balafons, ngonis, and djembes that have been collecting dust around your own house.

Instead, I have  bass guitars. Singers make the money, guitarists take the glory but bass players are the dark horse, we know a visceral secret. And we get the girls.

I have a 12 string bass who I call 12 Gauge. If it were to play in an ensemble with your dusty African instruments it would sound something like this bit of music by Nhoj Serya.

Download Free MP3 (right click to Save As…)

Algiers Louisiana

I love New Orleans even when it rains. There are plenty of places to take shelter if you get caught without an umbrella. You are never too far away from a good bar,  for instance. However, in this picture a sudden thunderstorm caught me between establishments and I had to make do with a balcony. If I had been close enough to duck into one of my favorite places I might have played this little 45 on the jukebox. It is an on old single  from an artist named Jimmy “Ghost” White called Algiers.
John Truelove in New Orleans

Morrissey Plays Bass in a Country Band

John Truelove channels Morrissey on Bass

I must play the one and fifth only
And listen to myths troubling and lonely
Of cheatin’ and lyin’ and blue eyes a’cryin’
In the rain where farms burn to the ground

The whisky and smoky refrains
The rumbling rhythm of trains
The drawl and the twang and Good Old Boy slang
The Nashville and Bakersfield sound

Long roads, hard times and good people
Faith and the little white steeple
Captured in verse for better or worse
Troubles and joys are entwined

With four-string and passport in hand
I am leaving this old country band
For England’s bleak shores and her moldy old bores
Where sorrow is much more refined


Violence is a terrible thing for a child to carry around

When I was young I often saw my parents fight

My father would tell my mother he would kill her

Then he would threaten us kids

My mother would threaten to leave

And he would threaten to kill himself


Mrs Wilson lived two houses down the street

She would come over for coffee

Sometimes her face was puffy and discolored

We would be sent outside to play

Once I hid in the laundry room beside the kitchen and watched them

Through the wooden louvers of the door

My mother comforted our sobbing neighbor

Like she would one of us after falling off a bicycle


Violence is a terrible thing for a child to carry around

Like receiving a shining silver dollar

From the moldy purse of a distant relative who smells of mothballs

They don’t understand what it is or its purpose

Until one day a playground bully turns them upside down

And shakes the coin from their pocket

Other children scramble to pick it up screaming

“Money, get the money.”

Their circle tightens around the gleaming profile of Eisenhower

Little fingers with dirty nails claw desperately

To be the new owner of this hypnotizing treasure

Sayounara, Mr. Coffey

I am reminded nearly every day how much the world has changed in the short time that separates my childhood from the present. My wife recently sent me a text message from London announcing her safe arrival. Not long ago she would have been faced with the complications of an international call hoping that I would be home to pick up the phone. One might not think that a simple haircut would cause a person to reflect upon the capricious nature of our modern age. After all, the mechanics of blades slicing off hair has remained fairly constant throughout history. But each time I visit my hair salon one of my earliest memories returns to be measured against its present day scenario.

I look forward to haircuts nowadays. Not only because they leave me looking younger and more handsome but I enjoy the whole experience of pampering and personalized service. I also enjoy being in the company of the salon’s intelligent, beautiful, staff of Japanese women.

There weren’t any girls in Mr. Coffey’s barber shop when I was a boy. The closest thing to a girl in that establishment was a little sissy like me who had been pulled by the locks of his flaxen towhead by his grandfather. He sported the proper buzz cut of a man’s man and I was to be transformed into his masculine image by the angry sneer of a pulsating trimmer. The closest thing to Japanese in small town North Carolina would have been a bottle of Kikkoman if, indeed, it was available.

“Well, hello Mr. White. I see you brought your granddaughters,” Mr. Coffey, owner and operator would joke, referring to my older brother and me above the glassy tinkle of a tiny bell dancing above the door to announce our entrance. My brother got the worst of the barber’s all-in-good-fun derisions because he was also on the chubby side. So, besides comments about his mama letting his hair get long he endured digs about his mama “feedin’ him good, too.”

The staff at the salon I patronize today does not indulge in this type of playful ridicule no matter how innocent or how easily my appearance makes it for a person with a predilection for acerbic observations. Instead, I am greeted at the reception area with bright smiles and cheery hellos. In the colder months they offer to hang my coat and remain patient and pleasant as I fumble around blindly behind the fogged lenses of my glasses threatening to upset the neat piles of magazines. These are glossy fashion and design periodicals from Tokyo, Berlin and New York spread out for waiting clientele to idly thumb through.

No such reading materials were provided at Mr. Coffey’s. The best a literate customer might have hoped for was a well-read and wrinkled daily paper left behind by a freshly shaved banker. For the most part, however, anyone in for a trim sat silently or passed the time participating in the mindless palaver of middle-aged men. The topics varied but I remember them mostly focusing on the hair length and possible gender Mr. White’s grandsons. Every now and again, amid the chuckles produced by one of Mr. Coffey’s nasty bon mots, someone might feel comfortable enough to join in the fun and add their own chiding two cents. Once a gaunt shadow of a man in overalls offered that “he had a son-in-law with hair down to his shoulders if it was a inch.”

There is plenty of long hair at my salon, on both men and women alike, and it all gets treated to a luxurious wash by one of the junior staff members working her way through cosmetology school. With the same care used to handle an infant, this young woman gently lowers my head backwards into a basin of black porcelain where her soothing fingers work up a rich lather of mild, fragrant shampoo. I am then rinsed squeaky clean with warm water the smells and feels like summer rain. Towel-dried, I am lead with overly cordial gestures to the swiveling thrown of my stylist who begins to comb down the saturated strands while asking my reflection in the mirror how much of it should be removed.

If you had a wet head while seated in  Coffey’s massive iron barber chair it meant you’d been caught in a sudden downpour on your way to the shop. My hair was always as dry as the scratchy paper collar fastened around my neck and there were certainly never any questions about desired style or length. Once I’d climbed into a special seat designed to elevate kids to the average height of an adult, I was wrapped securely in a smothering white smock and at the total mercy of this heavy set stranger who smelled of talcum and a stale cigar smoke.

A thick slab of ominous leather hung heavily from a hook on the back of the chair. I recognized it as the razor strop from the nightmare stories my grandfather told of a not too distant generation that brandished such sinister weapons for use upon the tender hides of naughty children and undisciplined, recalcitrant youth. As the clippers began harvesting the crop of my scalp, I focused every bit of energy a five-year-old could muster on being a good boy that didn’t fidget.

I don’t fidget now; there is nothing to make me feel uncomfortable as my stylist’s begins deftly snipping away at my dead ends. Photos ring the mirror like a wreath hung as a journal of her world travels and in each snapshot she poses in front of some famous landmark or natural wonder or at a table set with dishes of exotic food. Vacations and cuisine are generous topics for casual and enlightening conversation and in no time my head is beautifully manicured. The tiny debris left behind is rinsed away and during the application of invigorating peppermint conditioner, my temples and forehead are softly kneaded. I am given a hot towel for my face and after my new cut is shaped with pomade, my neck and shoulders receive a relaxing massage. I hit the New York streets ready for action, feeling and looking like a new man.

Mr. Coffey concluded his business by sweeping you with a few brusque and desultory strokes of a stiff bristled brush. Despite this treatment and the protective intentions of the collar and suffocating smock I always itched until my next bath. And, even for a kid, I looked terrible. I felt even worse riding home in the nauseating backseat of my grandfather’s Buick rubbing the stubble of my unimaginative Dachau trim.

Mr. Coffey and his shop are long gone now. So is my grandfather. A lot has changed since then, too. However, had they lived long enough to understand that I get my hair cut by a woman at a hair salon in New York there is little doubt that my status as a sissy among these men would endure all time.