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Talented Playground

mp3 [6.76 MB] | Appears on Album, Overrated

I long to play on the Talented Playground
push me on the swingset of fortune and fame
don’t pick me last for your team recreation
Capture the Flag at night with flashlights is my best game
may the gods of Wall Ball not judge me too harshly
prone and spread-eagled at the side of the school
when I’m called for Red Rover may they not treat me nasty
so what if I tried to take a dip in the roof swimming pool?
in Four Square ace makes the rules
and the poor workman puts the blame on his tools
yeah I’m not even jack and it goes Jack Queen King
I’m at the back of the line
what the hell am I doing?

on the roller slide we play Chicken or King of the Hill
my fingers get caught, I feel sick and the nurse gives me a painkiller pill
I can’t wait for cooking class
I’m ready as heck
I built a cast iron skillet in shop class
next is home ec
but for now I’m playing tetherball forever
I’m up to my neck
a challenger approaches
my nerves break
I’m a wreck
and on the blacktop a map of the globe
it’s a contest to see who can control the most
don’t bite off more than you can comfortably take
you say I should give you my lunch money or i’ll die in a earthquake
well, false modesty prevents me from saying as much
but I make a mean buttermilk pancake

all is in vain on the Talented Playground
nobody sees you till you kick the can
are you nervous?
when the game’s over you get lip service, sure
there’s enough of that to go around but you need to strategize
you need to plan
you wanna play jumprope?
learn to jump
you wanna play hopscotch?
learn to hop
you wanna play Cops and Robbers or Jackpot?
when the bell rings, it’s time to stop
crammed in with your classmates in the game of Sardines
bully bit your leg to the bone till it bled through your bluejeans
olly olly oxen free, that’s what they say
Hide and Go Seek then Speedball, then call it a day
to live in perpetual recess with no obligations
olly olly oxen free


Talkin’ Talkin’ Hitchhiking Amphibian Blues

mp3 [7.06 MB] | Appears on Skeletons

once upon a time driving down the road
I happened on this little toad
he said do me a favor, man
I said "sure little friend, I’ll do what I can"
"gimme a ride downtown
to the farmer’s market
gotta sell this fresh produce"

hop in I said and hop in he did
starts asking me if I got wife and kids
I point to the condoms on the side of the dash
I think of something and we almost crash
I say "how old do you think I am?"
toad says "uh, old enough
you got your own car, don’t you?"

I say "who you gonna vote for come November?"
toad says "tell you the truth I don’t remember"
I say "November hasn’t happened yet"
and toad pulls out a cigarette
I look to my right and tell him "hey, buckle your seatbelt"
he said "look at me
I’m an amphibian for chrissakes"

we get to the market just half past noon
not a minute too late and not a minute too soon
toad gets out with his crates and bins
drops ’em off then gets back in
I say "how ’bout these gas prices, huh?"
he jumps out of the window and into the sky
and that’s what I did during my summer vacation


A Tall Boy, Who Has a Mustache for Eyes

mp3 [6.66 MB] | Appears on Autumnal Jams

I’ma rap at you about a tall boy who has a mustache for eyes
he can’t blink to see straight no matter how hard he tries
and when he drives a car he can’t see the stoplight
which inevitably leads to road rage then to a fistfight
you remind me of my grandpa
he had a mustache too
he once sang in a barbershop quartet but got his mustache covered in glue
the barber tried to chop off his mustache so face his face would look brand new
Grandpa wasn’t having any of that
back off if you know what’s good for you

anyway back to the tall boy who has a mustache for eyes
he works at the drive through serving up burgers and fries
he lives in Thousand Oaks but his job is in Van Nuys
to speculate why he shows up so late would be unwise

a lane of oncoming traffic splits like a row of synchronized swimmers
considering the promises on his warranty, that car of his delivers
he cuts through the homebound like a pair of left-handed scissors
he cast a spell and witches fell to underhanded wizards

bred and born
born and bred in the San Fernando Valley
he’s got that So. Cal mentality, doesn’t he?
his mustache for eyes holds a secret code
A 1 B 2 C 3 B 4
he’s also a caller for bingo
what’s more, his face is a topographical map
people his mistake his mustache for a feather in his cap
he’s no tap-dancer but he’s been known to tap
other children’s heads get tickled by his mustache when they sit in his lap
he can serve burgers, sing and tap dance
he’s a triple threat
he puts a leash around his neck and trades places with his pet

the tall boy who has a mustache for eyes uses his eyes as a disguise
he uses his mustache to cover his lies
he sings himself lullabies until sunrise


Tape Kalimba

mp3 [9.52 MB] | Appears on Sring Cleaning

everything i know about the world i learned from listening to pop songs
i crack a book every now and then but i never finish

every time i’m faced with a choice i take the coward’s way
and even if i admit it i’m never gonna change



mp3 [6.06 MB] | Appears on Skeletons

you don’t see me but I see you
you look beautiful through my telescope until you draw your shades again
I don’t know you that well like you don’t know me
I gave you a call to see if you were around
and when it’s raining I miss you that much more
and when you go to sleep I wish that I was there
watching you

I tried to make sense of this but I’m still confused
lighting a match on a desert island won’t get you home

I could burn down the neighborhood and rescue only you
I could hit you in the street and take you to the emergency room
in your bed you’ll slowly heal

yeah no need to meet sweetheart
no reason why
I want someone to talk to but don’t we all so I’ll let you go
and when it’s raining I miss you that much more
and when you leave the house I wish that I was there
waiting for you


Thank You Note

mp3 [5.24 MB] | Appears on re-Itori Pleads the 18th Dimension

Dear So-and-So,
thank you for coming to my graduation party
I’m so glad I could celebrate with you
thanks for the book on writing resumes
bet you I’ll own a skyscraper soon

will keep you posted on my search for full-time employment
odds are I’ll just go back to my old summer job
most lifeguards are between 16 and 20
at 22, I’m borderline ancient
I’m older than God
maybe I’ll apply for an internship
they don’t even pay but people line up to do it
buy the cow or get the milk for free
anyway, enough ink on me
how are things with you and your family?

oh, I almost forgot
here’s a poem I wrote

uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews
always sending me crates of new shoes
I know how to tie them
I can’t get inside them
and when it’s all through, they’re brand new

feel free to clip that and put it on your fridge
and please keep in touch

very respectfully,
your favorite erstwhile scholar

P.S. who’s Erstwhile?


These Are the Opinionettes

mp3 [4.19 MB] | Appears on Greg Reinfeld & the Opinionettes

I am a shining metropolis
phony intellectuals swarm around me like flies
but to me they’re only punching bags
blondes brunettes and redheads
with their non-prescription lenses and their hangover cures
I’m a second-rate poet and a first-rate chef
and everyone’s an amateur nutritionist
for all the world-weariness I try to project
I’m ignorant and terrified of everything

by the fingerprint lab
as results were coming in
I broke into a nervous sweat
it felt like I was floating
my lungs were paper sacks
I was a lost cause

I’m a cinematographer’s storyboard
a series of pictures untainted by words
clunky metaphors and generalizations
chances are you’ll be quizzed
I’d rather play the part of the angry young man
than be dulled by the wisdom middle age might bring

in the polygraph room
when they asked me where she was
I said I don’t know or care
the needle started spinning
the experts broke for lunch
it was a tough crowd

around conservatives I’m slightly left-wing
in a room full of liberals I’m a socialist
in the company of people I’m prone to agree with
I become apathetic
my immortal brain it reaches
contorts to climb the grade
it’s a sticky bowl of peaches or a weather vane
I spent my early years on a raft in Mississippi
I’m a modern-day Huckleberry Finn


3D Movies

Lyrics on numbers page

Three Page Paper

mp3 [4.25 MB] | Appears on No Destination

three page paper
three pages long
my parents wrote it for me so how could it be wrong?
I could bribe the teacher
but that wouldn’t be fair
if you’re opposed to cheating then you never learned to share

three page paper
you broke my heart
everything I thought was true has just been torn apart
by a red pen
cruel mind
they should realize I’m not academically inclined

I hate writing
I hate school
I hate everything yes I do


To Have a Foreign Girlfriend: the Video Game

mp3 [1.55 MB] | Appears on Bookbinding and Other Songs

to have a foreign girlfriend, the video game
takes hand-eye coordination and steady aim
at first her figures of speech are staticky
but they even out
ease on the joystick to get intimate
you mustn’t be too forceful or too delicate
tell her bad stories in a southern drawl
take her to the theater at the strip mall
the boss is dinner with her family
all I can say
"good luck and Godspeed"
mash the buttons to make her mother laugh
one wrong move to face her father’s wrath
to have a foreign girlfriend, the video game
it’s not so simple
lucky you
it comes with a walkthrough


Tortured Artist

mp3 [5.90 MB] | Appears on Tedium of Life on a Space Colony

art is small consolation for misery
I’d trade it all for love
I’d betray friends and family in a heartbeat
but would not do the same for money

this paintbrush is my artillery and this canvas is a battlefield
I’m an atheist in a foxhole with shrapnel in my eyes
praying I might be slain by the enemy

there are no stakes to be raised or lowered
not in solitaire
there’s no prize to be had
no pot of gold
I tried to reverse the awful spell that makes me invisible
I’ve been sold a bill of goods

my mind is a brutal democracy
the strongest forces vanquish the rest
threats from inside
threats from beyond
will the West go unconquered?
place your bets

ah, adulthood is learning to cry quietly
the tortured artist is a tired cliché
there’s no debating that point
fair enough
but cliché or not I’m really suffering [suffering / suffering]

I’ve always known I was a fraud and a coward, powerless
as far back as memory serves
I thought I could call my own bluff
lift this curse
cut the last thread that holds me
what a bill of goods I’ve been sold


Totalitarian Orchestra Labor Dispute

mp3 [7.5 MB] | Appears on Autumnal Jams

totalitarian orchestra labor dispute
never again will I dress up in this monkey suit
may I opt out of the meet and greet fundraiser please?
I need more roughage than crackers with cheese
with our powdered wigs we sure look distinguished

the inalienable right to go out on a weeknight
curfew says by sundown we oughtta be tucked in tight
pounding of the timpanI at the crack of dawn
put your cummerbund and bow tie on

at long last the oboe for tuning
yes, it’s true
A is 440, not 442
you might think it’s sabotage to play a wrong note
anything to get the slavedriver’s goat

who’s that clapping between movements?
plants in the audience
double agents
these barbarians make the civilized wince
in the program there’s even a chart for clapper fingerprints
and stern instructions not to unwrap wrappers for breathmints
onstage we can’t even chew bubblegum

no one makes my blood boil like the scabby harp
showing up for rehearsal at 8 a’clock sharp
I took the harp’s harp out in the rain with no cover or tarp
spring-loaded the pegs so every string stays sharp

if it continues like this, oh man, I’m gonna quit
sic semper tyrannis, you benevolent despot
the day job pays for the night job and the night job pays for the brain
get on the totalitarian orchestra labor dispute train

the whole thing was staged
they even had a script
it was all fabricated
ain’t that manip?
art for the masses
the original guilt trip
seasick entertainers on a sinking ship


Tragedy Strikes (Tape at 11)

mp3 [4.72 MB] | Appears on Greg Reinfeld & the Opinionettes

do you follow current events?
you might have heard of this
a student tied himself to the railroad tracks
and was killed by a train
to protest a shipment of nuclear waste
here’s something you may not know
I was witness to a hit and run
from the back seat of an SUV
just after closing time

"warning: rig your tires" read the sign
flipped horizontal and in cursive
could have been for oncoming traffic
but the driver rigged his tires just in case

we swerved and barreled into Emanciplate Station
against siren’s wail and sheet metal clanging
the brakes were no use
then a terrible groan and not from the engine
a body under the bumper
late teens/early twenties
the passenger, raised Catholic, said "what should we do?"
the driver said
"pray to the patron-saint of keeping your mouth shut"
then we got out for fresh air
the passenger, let’s call him Jon, said
"if only Wilburforce knew how to drive"
and Wil, still in earshot, said
"if only the Government could put down roads right"

fast forward three hours to the break of dawn
no sign of Wilburforce
no sign of Jon
when the train struck
then came the press
collecting misfortune at a furious pace
the inverse of Johnny Appleseed
you’ve heard the expression
"if it bleeds it leads"
but how about this one?
"it’s more what’s omitted than what’s left in"
here’s what Forensics missed
it was a corpse before the train ever arrived

wires relayed the story
invoking the wrath of a political god
he’s become the poster boy for activist types
likeness printed on t-shirts
symbol of solidarity
my right from wrong is stretched paper-thin
should the truth get out?
what if I called in an anonymous tip?
they’d say thanks but no thanks and hang up


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