santa and the stork crossed paths in mid-flight halfway to our house (or, born while i was totally blogging this)

16 Masa’il 167 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head:  Cloud Cult, “You Were Born”

A baby boy was born right about the time that I finished the last blog post–about twenty minutes to midnight on Christmas Day.  This surprised me because I heard very little in the way of sound coming down the hallway.  I didn’t actually know until the next morning. I’ve caught only a little glimpse of him at this point–his parents have rarely left their room, but I have heard his crying down the hall from time to time. He has a name, but for the purposes of confidentiality, I will call him Noel in this blog.  Don’t ask me how I got the name–it just sort of came to me.

Here is a little video which I think serves as an appropriate greeting for him.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4VZF8PRvs0&fs=1&hl=en_US]

a new housemate is arriving…boy or girl?

15 Masa’il 167 B.E. (Baha’i calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: Beat Pharmacy, “Nature’s Disco”

A few hours ago, I was engaged in an animated Christmas Day phone conversation with my dad in Albuquerque. At the end of the conversation, I put down the phone, stepped out of my bedroom, and saw an inkjet printed sign taped to the bathroom doorway that said “Samantha is in labor.  Please use this bathroom as little as possible.”

My housemate Samantha has been planning a home birth here at the co-op,  We’ve known about this since summer and the time has now arrived. I knew that her due date was this coming Monday, and I knew the chances were high that the child would be born this weekend.  Nevertheless, the sign definitely threw me for a loop.  I still found myself scratching my head, wondering what I should do, as if there was something I could do.

I walked downstairs and I saw some strange but likely beneficial herbs boiling in a large pot, and I knew they were related to the birth.  Then I saw the midwife and said hello to her.  She’d come to a house dinner a few weeks ago so she could get a sense of us and we of her, so I was not the least bit surprised to see her.  Her assistant arrived a few minutes later. They both looked serene, calm, and happy, which eased my nerves. 

As my co-op house’s secretary, it’s my job to copy down the upcoming house meeting agenda from the whiteboard and forward it via email to my house members. Two of them are out of town.   So I started the email, and as I did, I notified them of Samantha being in labor. Then I said, “Now here’s the house meeting agenda.  (How did you like that transition?  Smooth as a Chicago pothole.)”  At the end of the email, I quipped that the arrival of the new housemate wouldn’t likely have an impact on our policies regarding house meeting quorum, because such policies don’t actually exist right not.

I remember earlier in the year, a housemate talked about how she hoped she would be here for the delivery of Samantha’s baby.  I replied, “Well, I don’t think she’s installing bleachers in her bedroom.”  Now that the time arrived, I found myself wondering what a single guy like me should be doing when his housemate is in labor.

I noticed that soft music was emanating from Samantha’s bedroom, and I realized the best thing I could do was tune in with that energy.  So I walked into my bedroom, put on some of my own soft music, turned on only the Christmas lights in my room, lit an incense stick and started doing some writing and praying.  I’ll be going to sleep soon, and my sense is that this house’s population will have increased by one when I wake up tomorrow morning.

my youngest housemates

8 Masa’il 167 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head:  Trio, “Da Da Da”

“You’re WILLINGLY moving into a co-op house with a baby?” asked a friend of mine at a co-op party. He was in his thirties, but still seemed surprised that I would leave my co-op in downtown Madison to help start a family friendly co-op house several miles away.  I would be joining a family from Chicago–Nicholas and Samantha with their baby, Cheyenne (not their real names)–in starting the co-op from scratch.  We had a lot of cleaning to do, and we needed to recruit five more house members as well establish how the co-op would be organized.

In some ways my friend’s question was ironic. His co-op house is across the street from the Kollege Klub–aka Drunk College Student Central.  In my part of downtown Madison it was also frequently noisy, to the point where I had the police nuisance noise line on speed-dial.  When I moved into the new co-op it was nice to lie in bed at night and listen to the crickets and cicadas–and no drunk college students.  Nevertheless, living in a co-op house with a new baby would be a new experience for me, and I didn’t quite know what to expect.

It was fascinating to watch Cheyenne grow. Shortly after we moved in, I went out to dinner with her mother and we took Cheyenne in her baby carriage.  She remained in her baby carriage next to the table as we ate and talked.  Cheyenne wasn’t yet at the age where she’d babble, laugh or acknowledge my presence, but for some reason she found the Christmas lights on the wall at the restaurant absolutely mesmerizing. At one point it almost seemed like she was trying to communicate with them, as if she were ET communicating with the Mother Ship.


I watched Cheyenne as she started crawling, walking and talking. She started sitting in her highchair with us during dinner. I remember her parents would tell her that she needed to finish a certain food, and she would look towards me as if to appeal their decision, and I’d say, “Sorry kiddo, it’s your parents’ call.”  If she was wanting attention while one or both of her parents were occupied, I’d sometimes distract her and play with her–and often read her a book. For a couple of months she would greet me when I came home, saying “Book? Book?”–earning her the title of Book Zombie. 

It blows me away to realize that I have been in this child’s life as her housemate since she was 1 1/2 months old.  She actually doesn’t remember life without me as a housemate.  I’m not as close to her as her parents are, of course. But I occupy a space in her life that is fairly unique–in many ways closer than her grandparents.

Eight months ago, another family moved into our house.  Autumn brought her two children, Dylan and Grace (also not their real names).  Grace is just two months older than Cheyenne.  The two girls have a tight relationship in many ways, though both of them are still learning to share and realize that they are not at the center of the universe. 

Now Samantha is pregnant with her second child, due any day now.  She is going to have a home birth in her family’s bedroom.  To my knowledge, this is the first time such an event has happened in this house.  We are very excited.

I have zero regrets about moving in with children. I feel that the children have added a new, interesting and colorful dimension to my life. We are a family-friendly co-op, but I think that we are more than that. Between the presence of the children and the unique chemistry among the adults, we do really feel like a family here.  To me, this is what co-op life was meant to be.

i’ve become involved in a cult, but this time it’s an awesome cult

6 Masa’il 167 B.E. (Baha’i calendar)
Soundtrack in my head:  Cloud Cult, “Chemicals Collide”

It’s true. I ended up walking a mile through a blizzard at midnight for a group of people I’d only become acquainted with 24 hours before. 

It started while I was waiting in line outside the Majestic Theatre for the Josh Ritter concert about a month ago. I didn’t really have too much to do except stare at the posters for upcoming shows.  I found my eyes drawn to a poster for an upcoming concert by a group I’d never heard of called “Cloud Cult,” who would be performing at the Majestic on December 11. 

During the next few weeks, I walked up King Street every morning from the bus stop to Capitol Square to catch another bus, and each time, my eyes would be drawn to that same poster. I kept on making a mental note to check out their videos on YouTube, but I would keep on forgetting to do so.

Upon closer inspection of the poster, I noticed that the musical group had eight members–four men and four women.  In my mind, any rock group that has more than five members must be up to something interesting. 

Finally, on the night before the concert, I decided to check out the group online.  The first video I found was the one for the song “Chemicals Collide”

I was blown away by the song. 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMskKuG6Vsc&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Then came this video.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMpOhwUTUwc&fs=1&hl=en_US]

I did a little bit of reading up on the group, and they were even more interesting than I’d imagined.  The group consists of a lead singer/guitarist, a bassist player, a drummer, a keyboardist, a violinist, a cellist and two painters.  Yes, I said painters.  Their shows include two visual artists who create brand new paintings during each show, which are then auctioned off at the end of the show.

Cloud Cult has made remarkable efforts to be eco-friendly. They’ve turned down major label offers and work with their own label called Earthology, located on their organic farm in Minnesota, powered by geothermal energy and built partially from reclaimed wood and recycled plastic. They developed the first CD packaging made from 100% post-consumer recyled materials, and all their merchandise is either made from 100% post-consumer content or certified organic materials.  They tour in a biodiesel van with solar panels.

The lead singer, Craig Minowa and his wife Connie (one of the painters) unexpectedly lost their two year old son in 2002.  Cloud Cult’s songs have been strongly infuenced by this tragedy, and on big “meaning of life” themes.  They remind me a lot of the Polyphonic Spree because of that theme, because of what seems to be an endless spiritual pursuit of light and love, and also because of the symphonic quality of their music. The main difference between the two bands is that Cloud Cult’s sound is a bit more indie rock and experimental.

Impressed, I decided to buy a ticket for myself for the December 11th show.  As the day progressed I began to have second thoughts.  Outside we had freezing rain which was quite unpleasant, and a blizzard warning for the evening.  Nevertheless I chose to take the bus to the show. The buses were running late, and I ended up striking a conversation with two young women in the bus shelter–it turns out they were on their way to see Cloud Cult too.

Cloud Cult’s show was quite spectacular.  The opening song was a bombastic crescendo of drums and a wall of sound and the artists began their paintings by spinning their canvasses on the easel and randomly throwing on paint. During the course of the concert they transformed the splatter into real paintings–both of them were portraits of women. Band members would often switch instruments, with the painters contributing backing vocals, and other instruments like clarinets, french horns, trombones,

I was surprised by how LOUD the concert was.  During the fourth song I went down to the bar to order a club soda and a pair of earplugs.  I’ve never used earplugs at a show before, despite having seen punk bands like M.D.C., The Descendents and Naked Raygun during my youth.

After the show ended, quite a bit of snow had accumulated on the ground.  I checked my Droid phone to see if a bus was coming, but it told me that all buses had stopped running.  I could have waited for a cab, but I knew that it would probably take less time for me to simply walk the mile home from the Majestic.  I was  sufficiently dressed for the weather.  The wind was blowing and sometimes I found myself trudging through six-inch deep snow on unshoveled sidewalks, but I was unfazed and relatively comfortable.  It was worth the trip.  The show was one of the best I’d seen in years, and a new band has joined my list of favorites.

five years of the different drummer soundtrack

16 Qawl 167 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: The Pretenders “2000 Miles”

Five years ago tonight I posted my first little post on this new blog called The Different Drummer Soundtrack.  It was a very brief and rather silly little post where I likened working with my new blog and website to hijacking an alien space ship, and not being very sure how to drive it.  Half a decade later, this “space ship” and I have taken a rather amazing journey. 

I started writing this blog because I felt like I had something to say, and a unique perspective to offer.  My perspective has changed and evolved over the years.  One of the main purposes for starting this blog was to talk about my positive experiences with a religion I belonged to, but instead, I left that religion nearly two years later, and threw their so-called holy object to the bottom of Lake Mendota.  I chronicled my discovery and rediscovery of the Baha’i Faith and then finally announced my declaration as a Baha’i on November 19, 2007. I intend to continue writing about my experiences as a Baha’i. 

The other reason for starting this website was to talk about co-op life.  When I first moved into a co-op house in December 2002, I was not quite sure how long I would keep up this lifestyle, but eight years later, my dedication to it is only stronger and I continue to chronicle it.

During the past five years, I lost my mother to cancer, began DJ’ing, turned 40, moved from a co-op house in downtown Madison to a family-friendly one in a quieter neighborhood, and now serve, in essence, as an uncle to a nine-year old and two two-year olds.  I’ve promoted the cause of Net Neutrality, criticized the treatment of a former astronaut by the media and the blogosphere, twice wrote thirty posts in thirty days, geeked out on the Baha’i Calendar, written about the seasons which never cease to amaze me, and posted the names of a number of songs that were going through my head. 

I want to give a shout-out to Squarespace, which has been the host of this website all five years. When I was thinking about where I wanted to post my blog, I looked hard for a service that would give me maximum control over the design and layout of the website.  I knew I’d be paying a little bit of money anyway because of my desire to have my own URL (especially since it ended up being quite a find IMHO), but it’s not much more than what I would pay to use my URL and have it hosted on a server.  A lot of people have raved about WordPress in recent years. I tried using it earlier this year for another project, and with the improvements they’ve made I can see why some people like it–but compared to Squarespace, I find WordPress to be quite clunky, inflexible, and not very intuitive.  I personally don’t know anybody else who uses Squarespace, but I would highly recommend it.

I’ve come a long way, which is why the above song selection seems appropriate–not only was it the first “soundtrack in my head,” on this blog, but it feels like I have traveled 2000 miles from where I was five years ago.

getting into the sound

12 Qawl 167 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: The Fauns, “Cool Stuff”

My DJ set last night was one of my favorites.  It wasn’t necessarily my best–indeed it had a couple of weak spots–but I felt like I was headed in the right musical direction. 

I see one aspect of DJ’ing being the art of balancing the desires of the audience with one’s own sound. I think DJ’s, whether consciously or unconsciously, have their own sound and style, and it’s something audiences can often identify even when the DJ’s themselves can’t.  In my new introduction and artist’s statement, I define my sound as an effort to explore alternative forms of beauty and inspiration.  I did pretty well with that last night, I think.

This is my playlist from last night:  Eastmountainsouth, “You Belong,” Beat Pharmacy, “Nature’s Disco,” Naked Music NYC, “It’s Love (Wamdue Dream Dub),” The English Beat, “I Confess,” Bebel Gilberto, “Sem Contencao,” Waldeck, “Get Up…Carmen,” MC Solaar, “Un Ange En Danger,” J Boogie, “Deep In The Cut,” Ulrich Schnaus, “Knuddlemaus,” Thievery Corporation, “The Foundation,” Cocteau Twins, “Iceblink Luck,” Suba, “Tantos Desejos,” Roebeck, “White Universe,” Arkestra One, “I Really Want You,” A Skillz & Krafty Kuts (feat. Cathy Burton), “On Your Own,” Thievery Corporation, “Sweet Tides.”

While there was one time the dance floor was thinly populated, (and an early part where people seemed to be more socializing than dancing on the dance floor), overall, people seemed to like the set very much.  There were a couple of comments in the DJ feedback book.  One person really liked the set, the other person felt that their needed to be more diversity.

The nature of the Barefoot Boogie really demands diversity in music–moreso than other venues, given the diversity of people who attend.  I’ve seen DJ’s at other venues perform where they really have just one essential sound.  I remember at an event listening to a DJ who was very good, but as a Thievery Corporation fan, I recognized more than seven different songs beat-matched into the mix.  I try to limit my Thievery Corproration to one track per night, though last night I cheated and slipped in a second. 

But I also remember giving feedback to a fellow Barefoot Boogie DJ.  I told him that while I wasn’t really into his music too much, I could see that others were, and I told him that I respected what he was doing in a developing rather unique sound.  I told him that he now needed to mix more variety into that sound.  Maybe it’s time for me to follow my own advice. 

In any case,  my YouTube channel has links to some of my favorite songs and musical artists.  Enjoy.