Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Me Decade & Post Office CD's available again

Local label Spade Kitty has made copies of albums by my previous bands, The Me Decade and Post Office available again via CD Baby.

Click on titles to get copies of Gentrification Is Theft and Public Displays of Affection. Reviews of each are below.

Witty Anglo-jangle pop group includes Larry O. Dean (who last year released a solo record entitled Throw the Lions to the Christians) and Stephen Becker. Their debut, Public Displays of Affection is on Spade Kitty. Centerstage Chicago

All right, so I'm really late catching up with the debut by this indie-pop quartet– Post Office recently finished recording their second album– but jangly, effervescent tunes such as "The Whole Thing's a Bust" and "Damen Avenue" are too good to overlook. In fact, the latter joins the Handsome Family's "The Woman Downstairs" as my second favorite song this year about a Chicago thoroughfare (The Handsomes' tune pays homage to Ashland). To find a local band in this genre as good as Post Office, you'd have to stretch all the way back to the Reverbs, and that's saying something. Jim De Rogatis

Sweet sounding... loose pop. This Chicago-based band is led by Stephen Becker and Larry O. Dean, two talented fellows who know how to write a catchy pop tune. There's a certain bubblegum-like quality to many of these tunes, but they're actually much deeper than that. Thick waves of guitars caress these thumpy little tunes, and the vocals fit the music just fine. Fifteen memorable tunes. Four star rating. Babysue

A quiet release that every pop fan missed and now dug out for enjoyment for Not Lamers everywhere from two guys, Larry O. Dean who was in a SF band called the Fussbudgets and Chicago/New York based songwriter, Stephen Becker. Merging Game Theory/Let's Active, Rickenbacker pop of cool Matthew Sweet come db's, and pinches of country acoustic rock played with the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy with supple guitar and some doses of Let's Active and Go-Betweens as well. Delightful, unpretentious and full of snappy pop surprises throughout and with each successive listen. Very Highly Recommended! Not Lame

This Chicago band could almost be a Go-Betweens tribute band, they have the same exact feel as that clever, loose limbed Aussie act. With guitarist/songwriter Larry O. Dean's plaintive vocals, Derek Walvoord's viola soaring in the background and the backup harmonies of Pamela Richardson, Jeff Greaves (also on drums) and Tim Ferguson (also on bass), their folky chamber rock songs have a similar depth of feeling. They easily mix strings sections with edgy abrasive guitar parts and both factions are better off for it. Leader Dean is a prolific type and has also spent time as a member of the Fussbudgets, Malcontents and Post Office as well as being a published author, poet and comic book artist. The Me Decade is one ego trip that you should definitely take. The Big Takeover

Pretty melodies and Americana sounding pop with the kind of earnest nasal voice that wins nerdy fan loyalty. The Me Decade should be able to draw fans of Bloodshot Records and Weezer and Violent Femmes and I hope they do. Roctober

The Me Decade is an enigmatic Chicago five-piece combo fronted by scene veteran, singer-songwriter Larry O. Dean. Fresh off of Dean's latest solo album, Sir Slob, the backing band is ready to mark its "official" debut entitled Gentrification Is Theft which will be released in October on the indie label, Spade Kitty Records. The fifty-minute disc is full of heady string arrangements and rock guitars, reminiscent of early XTC and Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins. "Dawning on Your Face" is a splendid, sing along pop song with a refrain that threatens to stick with you throughout the day. "The Boy Who Fell Too Far From the Tree" is a vibrant opening tune, and "Echo Beach" driven, whereas "Looking For a Spark" is the moody and sad tale of growing old. All at once, Gentrification Is Theft feels like an anthem and something distinctly personal. Co-produced and engineered by Mark Schwarz (Chamber Strings, Neko Case, Freakwater) the album may just emerge a sleeper to ascend the college charts. Dean has been working the windy city music scene since 1996 where he is called "one of the hardest working men in Chicago rock" (Home Pride Chicago). Prior to that, he cut his teeth both as a solo acoustic performer and front man for pop bands like the Fussbudgets and Malcontent in San Francisco. Not just a prolific musician, Dean is also an anthologized poet whose bibliography is as impressive as his discography. Cosmik Debris

Chicagoan Larry O. Dean has gathered together another talented Windy City bunch – The Me Decade. This band's disc, Gentrification Is Theft, should be released soon. From a contemporary perspective, the band's songs sound like Russ Tolman and Girls Say Yes. On a more dated basis, one can also hear wisps of the mid-60s San Francisco mixed gender bands, Jefferson Airplane and It's A Beautiful Day. Whether the tunes feature strummy pop, straight-ahead rock, fuzzy amplification, psych/pop or guitar pop with strings, the twelve songs are all catchy enough to make this disc a worthy addition to your pop music library.

Music Marathon & Benefit

For the past few years, I've been making the trek to Milwaukee in snowy January to read at Woodland Pattern Book Center's annual Poetry Marathon. It's always been a terrific opportunity for me, with audiences that are big as well as enthusiastic, and satisfying too since the store's one of the last great independent booksellers.

On August 22nd, Woodland Pattern will host its first ever Music Marathon & Benefit in support of the Alternating Currents Live (ACL) music series. ACL had its official inauguration in September 1995 with a solo performance by Dutch saxophonist Luc Houtcamp. Hal Rammel, ACL's curator, had already been on 91.7 WMSE-FM when Anne Kingsbury & Karl Gartung invited him to extend the show into live concerts at Woodland Pattern. The concert is then aired the following Sunday on 91.7 WMSE-FM.

For 15 years, Alternating Currents Live has presented composers, performers and improvising musicians from around the world as well as next-door. The Music Marathon is a wonderful chance to discover and connect with a rich variety of musicians from the Milwaukee area. Spoons, mandolin, drums, flute, violin, trombone, guitar, cello and rubber duckies have all had their turn at Woodland Pattern.

Each music marathon participant will perform 10 minutes of music –- jazz, folk, rock, instrumental, rap, hip hop, experimental, etc. or any combination. All money raised will go towards the Alternating Currents Live music series. Individual pledges can be for any amount.

I'll be playing during the 1:00 hour. If you'd like to sponsor me, please contact me by email.

Thank you! Hope to see you there.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

on the no road way to tomorrow

I was very pleased to be featured in the recent New Poetry Appreciation anthology, which included six translations of my poems into Chinese. Even more exciting is the fact that two of those poems will be republished in a bilingual anthology coming out next month.

Commemorating that publication, thirteen poets featured in on the no road way to tomorrow, a new anthology of poetry from Chicago and Kunming, China, will gather at St. Paul's Cultural Center, 2215 W North Avenue, for a reading at 7:30 pm on Friday, August 28, 2009. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Featuring Jan Botiglieri, Nina Corwin, Larry O. Dean, Maureen Flannery, Paul Friedrich, Christopher Gallinari, Larry Janowski, Wayne Allen Jones, Lauren Levato, Liang Huichun, Charlie Newman, Deborah Rosen, and Steven Schroeder.

The Facebook invitation and announcement is here. Feel free to pass on the word, and hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I don't keep up with Goodreads as much as I should (and I'm even a Goodreads author!), but will try to actively post there more often. In the meanwhile, check out the cool grid of books I'm 'currently' reading:

Larry's currently-reading book montage

The Selected Levis

Miscreants: Poems

Flight: New and Selected Poems

Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets: Selected Poems 1962-1996

Misfit:: The Strange Life of Frederick Exley

Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War

The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition

Selected Poems

Immanent Visitor: Selected Poems of Jaime Saenz, A Bilingual Edition

Paul Celan: Selections

The Three Way Tavern: Selected Poems

Complete Poems

The Art of the Possible!: Comics Mainly Without Pictures

Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko

Ring of Bone

Tarumba: The Selected Poems of Jaime Sabines

Selected Poems, 1970-1980

Sojourner Microcosms: New & Selected Poems, 1959-1977

Sleeping It Off in Rapid City: Poems, New and Selected


The Government of the Tongue

Selected Poems

Larry's favorite books »

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Recently learned that I'll have a poem appearing in the 2010 edition of Alehouse, which will be out in November.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Russian review of Fun with a Purpose

Here's a review of Fun with a Purpose on the Russian site, Not reading Russian, I trust it's a good one.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More iTunes

My first solo album, Throw the Lions to the Christians, is also available on iTunes:

Larry O. Dean - Throw the Lions to the Christians

On iTunes you can also find the singles, "Frosted Flakes"

Larry O. Dean - Frosted Flakes

and "Thorn in My Side"

Larry O. Dean - Thorn In My Side

I'm just sayin'.

Post Unposting

Haven't posted in almost two weeks. For one thing, I decided to cease (temporarily? Permanently??) reproducing work from Pith & Vinegar. Hope everyone enjoyed the poems, and more so, that the manuscript finds a home somewhere.

Since my last post, I appeared on WLUW in Chicago, promoting The Injured Parties' record release party at the Double Door later that same night. (If you'd like to hear the show, which runs about an hour, it's archived here; you may download it, or listen to it streaming.) In addition to discussing the band I brought along some music I've been listening to lately. Thanks to DJs Razor and Di for having me on! The gig itself also went well; we finally had copies of Fun with a Purpose for sale, and as an added bonus, people who came out specifically to see us received one of four randomly awarded rock 'n' roll rubber ducks as a door prize:

The next day I hit the road for Murray State University where I successfully defended my thesis and then read with fellow graduates at the Clara Eagle Gallery. Murray has a terrific low-residency MFA program that I cannot endorse enough! Thanks to everyone there for making my experience such a rewarding one.

Since returning to Chicago, after collapsing from all the recent activity, I've become aware of some early reviews and airplay for Fun with a Purpose. Whenever I can, I'll pass on other notices here.

Finally, a reminder that the album is available on iTunes,

The Injured Parties - Fun With a Purpose

and elsewhere, including Rhapsody, Napster, eMusic, IMVU, Lala, Shockhound, and Amie Street. It may also be ordered directly from the label, Zenith Beast and me!

More to come...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Pith & Vinegar: "Heart's Desire"

The centerpiece of Workers' Comp. was a longer poem for a girl I'd met while working in San Francisco's downtown. Before I knew her name I called her the "stoop brooder," because that's how I first saw her -- sitting outside where she worked, brooding and smoking -- and how I often saw her many times after that, before starting to talk to her. I found out she was also from the Midwest (Wisconsin) and had had a tough upbringing, which lead her to run away from home at a young age.

As we became friendlier, she felt comfortable enough to ask me to help her move. I didn't have a car, so I asked a friend at the time if I could borrow his. The move itself didn't take long -- she didn't have much in the way of material possessions -- and since I didn't have to return the car for several more hours I suggested we get out of town and just drive. Somehow we made it to the titular beach, and while details have been sieved through a poetic filter everything here happened pretty much as described.

Was this a romance? No. I felt an attraction to Meg but it was more of a brotherly thing; she was over ten years younger than me, and had a combination of strength and fragility that made me want to protect more than woo her.

I like this poem very much. It has never appeared in print aside from the chapbook and often winds up selected for longer or more retrospective readings.

Heart's Desire
for Meg Lewis, wherefore art thou...

On this parched beach
we have come to
lie corpses of starfish,
arms outstretched
in a desperate plea
for belonging.

Perhaps it’s something
about muddling forward
that drew them here
toward land, some
need to evolve

we with our two-legged
can’t or won’t understand,
or have forgotten.

◊ ◊ ◊

Blunt stones
poke through cold sand
like baby teeth;
broken seashells
bob in the thirsty surf.

In your battered black
leather jacket and ripped
jeans you are a pale angel,
an underage,
Botticellian refugee
booted out of heaven
for smoking.

◊ ◊ ◊

Company picnickers
play volleyball, bonding
over flat beers
and barbecues. One
of them―wheelchair-
bound―stares out
at listless waves

lapping the low-tide
shoreline, remembering
swimming lessons
he took as a kid,
methodical laps
in roped lanes
of the YMCA pool.

◊ ◊ ◊

Near the parking lot
someone has chained
a black, slobbering
dog to a sign scolding

tail wagging
maniacally; edging

toward our borrowed car,
past trash cans full
of ketchup and mustard-
smeared paper plates,
plastic forks and spoons,
that dog’s lonely

hysteria counter-
points the complacency
of those beach-bound
humans, one of whom
abandoned him here
to a funless
afternoon, choking for love

at the end of a leash.
Then I consider
this place and its name―
invocation of all
the unattainables
of mutt or man,
too truthfully unjust
for the frivolity
of a lazy
Sunday spin.

◊ ◊ ◊

Driving back
to the city,
the road curves
through mountain dells
and tucked-away towns;
in one such town
you lurch against the seat-
belt, like a child

against her mother’s arm,
craning your head
a plain
but hopeful house,
its white picket
fence clutching
bunches of wisteria
like a bridal bouquet.
“Look,” you cry, pointing,

“isn’t it beautiful?”
In the rear view
mirror, flowers flash
in a cloud of purple-green
Later you light
another cigarette,
exhaling smoke
out the open window.

As I slow down, handing
the toll guard two
dollar bills
in the long-shadowed
late day, you smile
sleepily; tying your hair
of sand glitter in it
like stars in the night
sky. Behind
us, an anxious horn
honks emphatically.

◊ ◊ ◊

Pulling up
to the curb
outside your Tenderloin
apartment, double-
parking, waiting
for you with your new
set of old keys

to set foot safely
inside the front door,
you turn then,
waving goodbye,

as a pair of tattooed
prostitutes standing

nearby simul-
taneously spit.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Pith & Vinegar: "Bridging the Gap," "4th of July"

In honor of the holiday, aside from walking around with lit sparklers in my back pockets, I first present one pertinent poem, which originally appeared in Nobody Quarterly and was included in my QWERTYUIOP chapbook, as well as a second poem from Identity Theft for Dummies (published in an anthology called Summer Peaces in 2004) not earmarked for inclusion in Pith & Vinegar yet directly on theme.

Bridging the Gap

I think of you, father,
thinking of your son
as you watched him grow.

Was I much different
from what you had originally imagined,
when mother’s stomach swelled

with the likes of me?
Or just as you’d hoped?

◊ ◊ ◊

Now I watch my friends—
kids at their feet
learning to walk and talk—
their tired, happy faces,

thinking back perhaps
to their own parents as well—

to fathers and mothers working
day after day
in the crazy machinery

of American life—the drinks
in their hands
and cigarettes
mashed between their lips.

4th of July

All through the night,
firecrackers boomed

and shook
the foundations of homes
like bombs
in some uncivil war

no one could win
but everyone would be sure
they had a blast losing.

◊ ◊ ◊

alarms gasped in the dark
in their death throes, dying

only to be
reborn following
a new barrage of explosions
bloodying the black clouds.

◊ ◊ ◊

There is no fear in cars,
just simple stupidity;
no patriotism, no opposition.
Fireworks lit up the sky

and there was some faint relief
with each idiotic flash
at just being alive, almost.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Pith & Vinegar: "Truce"

Here is another Pith & Vinegar poem that never appeared in any chapbooks. It was originally published in The Cathartic in 1986.


We made love in the summer
on the bed that groaned with us

windows wide open
flies landing on our skin
no sense at all of time

even as it passed us by
raking its fingernails
across our sweaty backs

◊ ◊ ◊

The sun made a blanket
on which we slept

sheets tore loose
from where they'd been tucked
and tangled around our legs
like ivy, poison ivy

as we sleepily listened
for the discourse of birds
watching from the sill
wondering what we were

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Pith & Vinegar: "Hi, Question for You"

For your reading pleasure -- a selection from I Am Spam (2004), my most recently published book of poems, 'inspired' by spam email subject lines. I lament that I didn't include my first successful spam poem in there, too, but once I got it in my head that I wanted to try to do a whole book I had many more titles on hand that I wanted to try writing from. Of course, it could've gone on (and on, and on) as well.

Hi, Question for You

Where did you get that?
I hope I’m not being too personal.
It looks great on you.
I could never wear one of those,
my butt’s too big,
pardon my French.

Oh, are you French?
Parlez-vous Français?
Habla Español?
You look kinda European,
especially with that on.

When you take it off,
do you have to hang it up?
Does it wrinkle easily?
I hate to iron; come to think
of it, I don’t even own one.
An iron, I mean,
because obviously, I don’t
have one of those, although
I’ve always wanted one.

How much did it cost?
In American dollars.
I’ve been saving up
and would like to give myself
a gift, you know, something
special. Just like that.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Pith & Vinegar: "The Plunger as Villian," "The Plunger as Hero"

A twofer today, from QWERTYUIOP (1989). Each could certainly work on its own, but the cumulative power of both together is undeniable.

The Plunger as Villain

How the eyes of passersby
bulged as my roommate and I
bore the plunger I'd bought
to clear the stopped kitchen sink

up like the Olympic torch,
or the Statue of Liberty
lighting the path home
to standing water and dirty dishes.

The Plunger as Hero

I carried the plunger home
and pressed its lips
to the mouth of the sink
for a resuscitative kiss,

whereby the drain
swallowed finally
and gasped, breathing
unobstructed again.

Popular Posts

Throw the Lions to the Christians


The Fussbudgets: Hog Wash!

The Fussbudgets: The Naked and the Daft

The Fussbudgets: Fresh Brood

The Injured Parties: Fun with a Purpose

Malcontent: Embarrassment of Riches