Monday, October 21


harvest wanted cupcakes.
harvest got cupcakes.
that's just what it is.

lemon cake.
white chocolate frosting.
october sprankles.
i got in late from breezy's dad's 70th berfday party surprise exxxplosion,
and fired up the oven immediately.
i love berfdays.
so i'm going to alllll the parties.
that's right: rules is rules.
and i'm going to all the places where there's cake and glitter and sh!t for sure.
but anyway,
i got in and got to work.
you want the recipe for these little yummers?
preheat the oven to 350℉
line two muffin tins with cupcake papers
in your stand mixer with a whisk in place, whip together:
1 stick vegan butter (1/2 cup, 8T)
1/2 tsp salt;
1 cup sugar;
1/2 cup brown sugar;
1 tsp vanilla;
1 tsp lemon extract;
1 lemon's zest;
1/2 cup vanilla non-dairy yogurt.
mix that well,
then add;
2 1/2 cups king arthur all purpz flour;
2 tsp baking powder;.
1 tsp baking soda;
/4 cup tapioca flour;
1/4 cup lemon juice;
3/4 cup non-dairy milk.
whip whip whip whip whip it all up to a fluffy batter,
and spoon it evenly into 24 cups-
bake it all for 30 minutes, and be prepared to be excited.
did i zest a little more lemon on the tops?
i did.
too much is the right amount, man.
don't be dumb.
and when they cooled,
and it was dark out, but also very early the next morning,
i made some white chocolate frosting.
3 cups powdered sugar;
1/4 cup micro-grated cocoa butter;
2 tsp vanilla;
1/3 cup non-dairy vanilla s'milk.
whipped to a frenzy and piped out all over those little cute guys.
plus the spranks.
i mean,
is it even a berfday cupcake without 'em?
no way.
and i'm not feelin' that no-glitter vibe.
not once, not never.
harvest is 19.
that's incredible.
a full-sized short-statured adult.
we don't always talk long, but we always talk well.
she's insightful.
these kids of mine just are.
they got the best parts of their ma,
and whatever DNA i added to the mix as well.
that goes for all of 'em.
and that's good news.
i got the baking skills, tho, and those're no joke;
never quiet, never soft.....


harvest skye is nineteen years old today.

i have a nineteen year old person i helped make.
and every day since she showed up,
there's been a LOT of strong opinions.
hers most of all.
she's usually the fist to make her opinion known,
and to give a verrrrrry confident voice to what she feels and believes.
i respect that.
even when we're not on the same page, she's writing her own story,
so that's okay with me.
we spanned time in northampton, massachusetts yesterday,
drinking boba,
eating dumplings and noodles (and falafel),
opening presents,
going shopping,
snacking on berfday-specific cupcakes,
and generally enjoying each others' company.
also, she almost threw up, and i was there to try and capture the moment.

she survived without regurgitation, so i guess that's another 'nother berfday present,
from her own body.
and we all (her ma and her stepdad and i) went back to umass
for a little iphone set-up meltdown and a singsong and present opening thing.
y'know- like how you do.

rules is rules.
and everybody had fun, and almost everybody, including he roommate
was sick,
so there are enough germs in my body right now to kill off a continent.
but that's cool, too.
who wouldn't want to get sick on their berfday?
we all missed her sister, but a facetime get-together helped us all out with that.
shoutouts to technological reunions from all over.
she's motivated, and determined, and driven, and she's making plans
and implementing plans and being a forward thinking momentum-gatherer,
as well as a total GIRL to the 11th level.
she's one of those people who says "that's funny" instead of laughing.
100% girl.
so happy nineteenth.
i'm grateful every day for who you are,.
and for being the first true little lovey dovey itty bitty baby i ever learned to care about.
you paved the way for all good things to come,
and you'll always the first big tears of joy i ever shed;
never quiet, never soft.....

Wednesday, October 16



thanks, dylan.
he always gets better tattoos than you.
that's why he's a real one.
he even had his sweet boo-boo bring us pizza.
that's tight.
you could be getting something so dope instead of more mountains,
but whatever, man,
that's your problem (which is therefore sorta mine, too;
never quiet, never soft.....

twenty years

yesterday was a hell of a milestone for me.
i've officially been tattooing for twenty years.
in a row.
two decades.

look at all that dark hair!!!!!!
everything i am,
everything i've done,
everybody i've met,
everywhere i've been,
for the last twenty years all traces back to this career.
...and i fell into it and just couldn't ever climb out.
so this is what it is, and what i do, and what's happening.
two decades, thousands and thousands of tattoos, gallons of ink,
tons of needles and tubes....
all of it.
and let's never forget the big loves and bigger losses
and the long lengths to which interactive participation have taken me;
from the very worst albie rock show runaway trainwreck moments
to the very best enduring close connections to genuine people.
it's all due to tattooing.
the job i love to hate, and hate that i love so F*ing much.
i've overlapped with so many many other artists over the years,
and fortunately/unfortunately
i haven't spoken to almost all of them in a very long time.
mostly because i took my old motto to heart too often.
breaking hearts and burning bridges
is exactly what i did for a solid decade straight.
and that didn't work too well, honestly.
this new approach- doing tattoos all day every day,
at AMPERSAND TATTOO in the environment that suits me best
has changed everything about the way i tattoo.
even when it's bad, it's still pretty F*ing good...
and it's a damned sight better looking, smelling, and feeling
than the places and spaces i occupied and spanned time with prior.
how wild is that?
only in the last few years have i felt at home in what i do.

i had three apprentices after a fashion.
i'm at a 33% success rate, although they've all gone on to do great things.
i had four separate careers in the same sense.
that's about a 25% win ratio.
i went from the tiptop to the bottom to the middle of nowhere
and now i'm up here just doing all the things i do best every single day.
there's just so much history wrapped up in the past two decades.
there's my babies who're big and my big baby who is small,
there were two divorces, and there's one real redheaded love that outshines both.
there've been big moves and big houses and small worlds and triumphs
and tragedies and death all over the place-
from the tiny deaths of love and money to the big gaps left by blood and family-
maybe i'm not making a big enough deal out of this:
that's a practically a life sentence.
if it was a real job, i could retire.
although, if i'd wanted or been suited to a real job,
i wouldn't have ever started down this reckless road of makery and mockery.
i thought about firestorming all the folks who made my life terrible through tattooing-
a long list of who can get bent and get lost, who did me dirty or -
and as quickly as the thought came, it left....
nobody is a F*ing A*-hole for no reason,
and i'll bet the reason was me most of the time.
i literally have only true stories to tell about tattooing,
and all of them end with all of us leaving without the title.
and there's a kind of wild animal poetry to that.
i'm sayin'- if it has to end, let it end brutally.
at least that's worthy of another story to weave into the fabric of tattooing.
maybe thanking those bastards and dirty b!tches by name is never going to happen,
but if i'm gonna outright flame anybody,
it's gotta be my own damned self.
sure, it wasn't all me all the time,
but i'll bet it was always partially me most of the time.
no lies: being albie rock is a hard style.
i said those things, i did those things.....i can live with that.
so thanks, tattooing, for EVERYthing.
and i cannot stress strongly enough that i mean that literally;
never quiet, never soft.....


that diastatic malt is doing good things.
look at this CRUST, son:

on a white pizza?! the crust is a must-
this jaun has sauteed leeks,
and roasted mandoline'd potatoes,
and tempeh bacon,
and fire-roasted tomato sprankles,
and fried garlic sprankles,
and cheddar AND mozzarella daiya chee',
and arugula.
neighbors, if that ain't some sort of super hottness i can't imagine what is.
i had the oven roaring at 480℉.
i did all the things i always do-
the chee' was minced, the leeks were soft,
the baconish tempeh was smoky and salty and sweet,
the arugula was bitter in a good way,
and my attitude was bitter in a different way,
i still ate the whole thicck, heavy, crisp-crusted boomfire.
i dunno how many ways i can tell you about pizza.
suffice to say that without it, we'd all be without me, too.
that's the truth;
never quiet, never soft.....

Saturday, October 12


i made another cake.
because more cake is better than some cake, of course.
and because i couldn't work up the excitement for costume making,
but i also needed to make something.
and when cake works like it is supposed to,
you'e not just making deliciousness unfold,
you're operating in a successful sequence of steps to achieve a goal,
and that's a small part of making sense of the wild world we live in.
i mean,
nothing else makes sense...
but then a cake comes along and comes together and for a few bites
i have something resembling clarity.
it tastes good, and i made it, and it worked.
it's a small victory, to be certain,
but it's still a victory, and i need more of those in some part of my days and nights.

pumpkin chai cake.
that's what it is.
with cinnamaplecreamchee' frosting.
and sprankles.
i like a fancy seasonal sweetness in my morning routine.
and this is that and then some.
here's the recipe:
preheat your oven to 350℉
grease a 9"springform single layer pan,  man.
1 stick vegan butter;
2/3 cup brown sugar;
1/3 cup sugar;
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut;
1/2 tsp salt;
1/2 tsp maple extract;
1 tsp vanilla;
1 T maple syrup.
cream together, then stir in:
1/2 cup pumpkin puree;
1/2 cup coconut yogurt.
next, add:
2 cups king arthur flour;
1 tsp baking soda;
1 tsp baking powder;
the contents of 2 chai spice teabags;
cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice;
3/4 cup non-dairy milk.
stir well, spoon evenly into the pan,
and bake for 35 minutes, turning the heat up to 375 after 15.
mine came out great, which was great, but make sure yours is done in the center.
i let it cool while i walked crabtree in the rain and we dragged each other
across the hilltops, getting our grudging togetherness in while he defiled the lawns
of my absentee neighbors.
and then i came home and activated the frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar,
plus one stick of vegan butter,\plus 3 T vegan creamchee',
plus 1/4 cup real maple syrup,
and cinnamon for good measure in a whisk-affixed high-speed stand mixer..
there's cool colored grey frosting?
too much is the right amount.
i added black gel to the o.g. whip, and gave it a twirl in the mixer.
that's all.
swirls from out of the pastry bag piper make it pretty,
and the sprankles make it even nicer.
it's just cake, and i don't need it, but i sure like it.
wanna know a subplot?
i'm working on working and working on myself but i don't think it's working.
if i work myself to death, then i might get a few days off, right?
i'm working the most i can,
and eating every moment i'm not tattooing.
that makes me sluggish and sloppy looking,
and that makes me irritated and aggravated and aggrieved
by every single conversation i don't initiate,
and i don't initiate many because i don't know what to say,
other than to leak out the litany of loss and lack i know by heart by now.
i don't want to be left alone,
and yet i don't think i should be around anybody, either.
...which is dumb when there's so much cake around.
i don't know how to be different.
i don't know how to do much.
i don't know how to get better.
i only know about cake and, like, three pointless chores;
never quiet, never soft.....

Friday, October 11


i threw all sorts of stuff in a bowl,
and made myself a pretty good treat.

apples, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, brown sugar, maple syrup.....
all just mooshed up and mashed together and baked.
i had three big apples, peeled, cored, and chopped up.
i had half a cup of brown sugar,
a quarter cup of sugar,
a half teaspoon of salt,
a quarter cup and 2 T of oats,
6 T vegan butter,
half a cup of coconut yogurt,
half a cup of soymilk,
two cups of king arthur all-purpose flour,
two teaspoons of baking powder and one of baking soda,
a teaspoon of vanilla,
a lot of cinnamon, and a little nutmeg and allspice,
and a fat glug of real new hampshire maple syrup for more wet sticky goodness.
the oven was cranking at 400℉,
and the baking trays had parchment on 'em-
i shoved all that into a very coarse, loose battery doughy bloppity blarpy mess,
formed small balls,
and baked them for thirty minutes.
that's all.
then i iced them with thick wet powdered sugar drizzles,
and a few cinnamon sprankles.
then i ate them in rapid succession.
a whole lot of them.
whatever, man.
i make treats to make sense of my crumbling world.
it doesn't always work,
and sometimes i make crumbling creations, like these lumpy lovelies.
and some other other times,
i do all my making things right,
and still can't make things right.
i just have treats and also a bad time in bad relationships,
with people and places and portion control.
i'm a mess, and this sugary side project reflected that.
it still tasted good,
unlike every other thing that leaves a bad taste in my mouth;
never quiet, never soft.....


i'll cover a big black naked lady silhouette with a bird.
or i'll try to, anyway:

drawn on, redrawn on, and tattooed with alllllll the lines...
i don't know if i'm doing it right,
but i'm writing these permanent marks on with permanent marker,
then even more permanent pointy pieces.
i'm gonna do every tattoo.
i'm gonna draw every picture.
i'm gonna smash myself to bits on the rocks and hard places.
i'm gonna work myself to death.
sound good?
never quiet, never soft.....


santana gets stephen king tattoos.
this one is a good one:

the dark tower, the gunslinger, and some poppies.
those are key elements, or so i'm told.
if more people got literary-inspired non-harry potter tattoos,
i think i'd be into that.
reading is pretty F*ing tight, and so are tattoos,
so when they're combined, that's expert.
i'd like to think that there will be more interesting tattoos in the days to come.
mostly because i'm coming up on a very big day in my life, soon.
i mean,
they're all big days,
but this one marks a passage of time that impresses me, and maybe you, too.
the rest of my time passes like kidney stones.
so, i'll take a tiny tattoo reprieve wherever they've got 'em,
and let that soothe a small portion of these dark days;
never quiet, never soft.....


i'll put a scoop of your loved ones' ashes in the ink.
is that cool?
is it safe?
is it a little baby bit gross, and a big bit morbid?
for sure.
am i the good idea police?
i am NOT.
but i am a tattooer in good standing among the ranks of tattzappers.
so i do weird sh!t like that:

this one has real bits and pieces of bernard in it.
the cardinal is from somebody else's work,
reworked and wrestled with,
while grampy and the twitches fought me at every line.
these things are what make meaningful tattoos more memorable,
in memoriam,
that's just what it is;
never quiet, never soft.....

Thursday, October 10


diastatic malt powder.
the secret is OUT.
i got some;
nate has some;
we GOT some.
and it gets it IN, son.
for real.
you want excellent oven spring and a strong rise in your dough?
you want a sexxxy brown crust on your baked breads and such?
you do?!
then y'gotta get that powder.
it makes alllllll that happen.
check it:

it's my favorite blend-
brussels, 'bacon', and onion-
that's the expert Folk Life & Liberty Fortress signature pizza pie.
and look at that crust, bro: tight AF, am i right?
i know!
a spoonful of diastatic malt powder is what makes the magic so much more magical.
it's barley, bro. barley flour is the big action,
and it activates the best yeasts to do their best work.
everything else is the same.
sauteed brussels sprout quarters, with a splash of water to soften them up.
one sliced vidalia onion slowly sauteed to caramel perfection.
tempeh baconis always invited to my pizza parties, too.
11 strips of tempeh, slow bubbled in a half a cup of water,
with tamari and liquid smoke and agave and Garlic Powder and Onion Powder
and black pepper and smoked paprika and olive oil....
and when it all gets absorbed it all gets ready to rock your F*ing face off.
that's a thing.
there's minced daiya mozzarella chee',
and minced store-made cashew mozzarella chee',
and crushed tomatoes, and kale,
and fried garlic sprankles, too.
i mean, rules is rules, dudes.
you need all those things to do the thing correctly.
i did it.
in a 480℉ oven on a set of stones.
and the dough was what made it all so much better.
in a stand-upright mixer, combine:
1 spoonful diastatic malt powder;
2 cups king arthur bread flour;
2 T olive oil;
1 pkg active yeast;
1 tsp fast-actin' bread machine yeast;
1 cup water.
give that a quick whirl with the dough hook, like fifteen seconds-
then let it stew for an hour.
add 2 tsp sea salt, and 2 T warm water,
and knead that bad baby up for 11 minutes-
cover it, and let it proof in the fridge for 12-16 hours-
take it out when your oven is preheating and stretch it on an oiled steel tray.
i use steel because it makes the crust bubble up nicey-nice.
but that's just me.
how long do i bake it for?
until it's finished.
and i take it off the steel and give it the last little minute ON the stones, too.
does this make sense?
so you get it?
are you feeling it?
do the right thing, kids.
what can i say?
i have a lot of true stories, but they're all sad.
i have a whole long list of low points and losses,
but really, according to the logistics on this little diary,
nobody is looking,
and that's probably for the best.
i may be all alone.
i may have nobody to actually talk to most days.
i may spend every night huddled in a puddle of quaking shakes and comfortless comforters.
i may not have any avenues that look promising.
all that may be the honest-to-goodness way it is.
my hallowe'en costumes may be lame.
and my food is annoying to look at over and over.
and the giant armoire of fancy napkins and cutting board tableaus is excessive.
and my art may be too weird for northern new hampshire.
and i may have so many heavy weights from all the aspirations that asphyxiate me.
and my dog may be impossible to adequately care for.
and my kids may all be better off with less of me in their lives.
and i may say all the wrong things without exception.
but maybe that's the beauty of it-
who ever read it?
who still reads it?
who kept on after the picture of the pizza?
y'wanna know what's actually all really happening?
it's ending.
this thing.
those things.
and i'm telling this little captain's log all about it.
maybe i'll feel better,
maybe i'll feel nothing.
either would be preferable to feeling like it doesn't matter if i stay or go.
and that's how it ends each and every night;
never quiet, never soft.....