All Hail the 97 Pound Weakling

Charles Atlas ad

I am the 97 pound weakling, perhaps not the original, but I have always been super scrawny. Like the kid in the Charles Atlas ads that peppered the back pages of comic books for decades, I am a skinny. Even when my weight topped 240, I was a slight man under a concealing layer of flab. Peel away the spongy exterior and you find a pale, stickboy suitable for ass kicking. As a kid I dreaded the beach and wore long pants and long-sleeved shirts to conceal my scarecrow body.

While I have gone on to become a strong swimmer, cyclist and runner, I never have been able to put together a weightlifting program for any consistent period of time. I can run a marathon, but I can’t do a pull-up. I’ve cycled 150 miles in one day, but I have never been able to lift much more than baby weights. I have mastered cardio, but success with adding muscle has always eluded me.

Bullworker 1 – Hartnett 0

Yes, I have tried many times over the years. From weight training classes in high school to sporadically working with a trainer over the last year, I have set my sights on the weight room, but the treadmills and spinning classes have called my name. As a kid I even bought a Bullworker thinking that might help me turn it all around. It ended badly with the spring-loaded apparatus breaking during an exercise involving a door jamb. Before I could react, the fist-like end drove into my chest knocking me to the floor. That was the end of the Bullworker as well as a spirited three weeks of bodybuilding.

Over the last few years I’ve gotten back into shape, challenging myself to dozens of road and trail races. After a half decade of sedentary middle age I am feeling pretty good about my fitness. I set ambitious goals and have been able to accomplish them with a little hard work.

I noticed this past year that my race paces were increasing instead of decreasing. How could I be running more yet slowing down? Perhaps it was middle age, but I suspected an overindulgence in bagels and pizza played a role. It had been months since I weighed in so I stepped on the scale. Ooof! I rocked that bad boy at 238 pounds. My suspicions were correct and I opted to try Weight Watchers. It has been several months of fruit, vegetables and a constant gnawing hunger, but I have dropped 45 pounds. For the first time in nearly a decade I am under 200 and my running feels better than it has in years.


This very welcome weight loss has revealed a skeleton in the closet. That skeleton is me. It is wonderful to see my bones, but I wish they weren’t so damn bony. The 97 pound weakling is back!

Can a slight man well into middle age get results from a weight training program? That is my 2017 goal.

It doesn’t help that I HATE lifting weights. It’s boring, it hurts and doesn’t offer the same endorphin rush and head clearing bliss as a five mile run along the waterfront. I’ve managed to put together a decent program for a few weeks at a time, but soon dread the workout and opt to do cardio instead.

My hope is this time it will be different.

My targets are simple. I want to maintain roughly the same weight, build some muscle and bang out 100 push-ups and 12 pull-ups without stopping. I can struggle through 45 pushups now and the pullups aren’t happening at all. I’ve got one year to get there.

How will I make it happen? My plan is to lift three times per week. I’ve got a trainer who will love seeing me concentrate more on weights. He isn’t a fan of all my sissy running. I hope to work with him a couple of times per month and find some lifting pals so all the big guys on the gym floor won’t beat me up.

Two things will help me build momentum. One, I am going to set clear goals every week and evaluate my progress. Second, I am going public with my goal and hoping friends and colleagues will keep me honest and cheer me along.

This goal went in effect today, January 1. I will document my workouts as I go and write an update every month. I won’t horrify you with the before pictures. Let’s hope I have something to show by the end of 2017. Wish me luck and I will see you at the gym

Heard Ya Missed Me, Well I’m Back

One year ago I limped away from blogging. It was less a decision and more part of a process to focus on writing. My last post essayed the dilemma. It wasn’t a case of writer’s block. It was a case of publisher’s block. While I was writing every single day, I wasn’t publishing. I took much of 2015 and all of 2016 to focus on writing, not publishing. I wanted to create a powerful writing habit and discover what I wanted to write about without the need to publish.

When I first set up this wordpress blog my hope was to showcase my expertise on all things content and marketing. It wasn’t what I wanted to write about, but more what I thought I should write about. The blog (and my writing) meandered and sputtered. There would be a flurry of posts followed by a drought. My momentum and dedication waxed and waned. I needed to decide what I wanted out of blogging. Rather than forcing myself to write so I could have something to publish, why not focus on writing, and writing only. Forget publishing and write.

This process began in early 2015 as I sought resources and prompts to encourage regular writing. I started with One Month Writing from the great folks at OneMonth and saw my productivity increase, but not quite as much as wanted. I had spent decades thinking about writing and rarely setting pen to paper. A half measure wasn’t enough.

Then I found the key


One of the resources recommended in One Month Writing was 750words. The idea is simple. You sign up and write 750 words every day. Yes. Every. Single. Day. Once you hit 750 words the site pops up an alert. You can keep writing or save.


There are badges and plenty of data to encourage a daily habit. I signed up in February of 2015 and have written every single day, except for one. With 692 total days and 574 days straight (and counting) I’ve written 540,000 words. That’s enough to parcel out into 6 or 7 short novels.


The positives resulting from this process have been remarkable and rewarding. I’ve broken it down into 7 powerful benefits.

1 Creating a habit – I set a goal to write more. I had the motivation, but needed to gather momentum. The hook of checking each day off on 750 words gave me the impetus to write. As the days added up I had the weight of each successive day behind me pushing me forward. Today, I must write. It is what I do.

2 Discipline – I have missed one day out of 691. I write when I am tired, uninspired and just plain sick of writing. inspiration doesn’t just happen. It comes with discipline and hard work. Often I start with nothing and just write. As my words become sentences and then paragraphs, an idea will form. 30 or 40 minutes later I walk away with a polished essay, a rough draft or a handful of baby sketches.

3 Focus – Writing requires time and few interruptions. i must put down the phone and ignore the bleeps, buzzes, notifications and digital distractions that carve my time into tiny slivers. Complete thoughts demand undivided attention. The increased focus plays out in many other parts of my life and I am much more present and available than when I started.

Organization – My brain fires at hundreds of miles per second. The process of writing down and sorting out ideas gives them a framework my brain can’t. My mind may be the inbox, but I must process. Do I save for later? Act now? Delete? Writing out my thoughts clears out the clutter and frees my mind to focus on what needs to get done.

5 Creativity – In the beginning I struggled to find writing topics. Today I keep a file for future posts. Every day I write down 4 or 5 possible ideas that I want to explore. I dig deeper on past ideas and spread my ideas wider to satisfy my curiosity and explore new topics.

Rough Drafts –  I can test drive ideas and beat them into shape. Writing daily means I often revisit and rewrite the same ideas repeatedly. Rough drafts are often terrible, but they lay out the idea so I can refine and focus it. Repetition allows me to dig deeper and find the essence of what I want to capture with my words.

7 Catharsis – Perhaps the most surprising result of creating a daily writing habit is the ability to toss out all the garbage. The negative thoughts pile up. The recurring mental conversations about unresolved personal issues create too much distracting chatter. Writing shovels all that crap up and out. It is the ability to spring clean on a daily basis.

Now I am ready to make publishing my new habit for 2017. It worked for writing. Let’s see if I can do the same with posting here on my blog.

Heard ya missed me, well I’m back.

Publisher’s Block or My Inertia?


September 24th was the last time I published a post on this blog. I had ambitious plans to get at least two more posts up by the end of the month. Instead, I stopped publishing. It’s not writer’s block. I’ve done plenty of writing. As a matter of fact it’s added up to more than fifty thousand words in the nearly three months since. There are at least twenty pieces worthy of posting. But I stopped publishing and I am not sure why.

Could I call it publisher’s block? I just can’t seem to press publish. More than anything it is publisher’s inertia. I have discovered that for just about anything I do inertia plays a big role. If I am exercising every day, I will keep exercising every day until something bigger stops me. The same goes for writing, meditating, organizing, journaling, etc.

So it happened with publishing. I was clipping along at a pace of one or two pieces per week and it seemed so easy. Until it wasn’t.

It’s not that I can’t publish, I am simply not publishing. There were a few days at the end of September that got interrupted by various things and my forward motion stopped. The trick for me is how to use inertia for good. Like most of us I am driven by habit. When I am moving forward and inertia is in my favor it is easy to write, meditate, set goals, exercise, publish and more. It is simply something I do.

How do I turn it around so I can take all my unpublished posts and set them free?

If I have learned anything this year it is all about setting goals and acting on them. I have discovered the best way for me is writing goals down on paper first. Yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. Then I review and update those goals at least a few times a week. Yes, I have used just about every ToDo app out there, but they are tools to use once I have set the goals and tasks down on paper. From there I can use Wunderlist, ToDoist or Clear. They are great, but the regular act of writing and reviewing is what keeps my goals fresh, top of mind and actionable.



I kept a Spark Notebook with all my goals this year. It was only a six month notebook and once I hit the end of June my goals and focus for the year softened. At this point I’ve been counting down the days until my 2016 Spark Notebook arrives in the mail.

This weekend the mail brought good things. My new 12 month notebook is here! It’s time to get the pen out and set some goals. I’ve got some publishing to do and I need inertia on my side.

A Tech Vision For Newark – An Ambitious Plan To Transform NJ’s Largest City

one washington park newark
One Washington Park, Newark, NJ

This is something I wrote for the NJ Tech Meetup website.

Newark, New Jersey – the next tech hub? Could new companies and new jobs be the next big step in the city’s renaissance? Newark Venture Partners (NVP) thinks so and they are placing a 50 million dollar bet they can ignite the high-tech fire that will reforge, reimagine and reinvent New Jersey’s largest city.

You’re likely wondering, “Newark? The next tech hub? 50 million? How can I learn more?” Well, you’re in luck.

Next Wednesday 9/30, NJ Tech is heading to Newark for a very special evening. In partnership with NVP, we are hosting a fireside chat with Don Katz, the founder and CEO of Audible (the largest audio book producer and retailer in the US.) Don also founded the NVP team and will share his vision of Newark 2.0.

You can read more right here.

The Goldilocks Playlist – Week 9 of @Spotify Discover Weekly

Spotify Discover Weekly 9

Well, hot damn! Did Spotify get it right or what? Week 9 nails it on so many fronts. It’s got great tunes almost across the board, plenty of variety and both old and new stuff I have never heard. There are five classic funk and soul tracks from the seventies, four great bands that are new to me, some loopy French pop and wild orchestral psychedelic folk from Korea. Let’s call this week the Goldilocks Playlist. It is just right.

Let’s get right to it.

spotify discover weekly 9

The list kicks off huge with Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg in one of the greatest French pop duets, “Bonnie and Clyde” from 1968. Heavy guitars, crazy hiccuping backup vocals and the simmering vocal interplay between the two leads highlight this gem. The lyrics are based on a poem written by Bonnie Parker weeks before she and Clyde Barrow were gunned down.

Former indie rocker (Six Finger Satellite) John MacLean began dabbling in electronic music and joined former bandmate James Murphy on DFA records and began releasing records as The Juan MacLean. “Running Back to You comes from his 2014 release In a Dream. The slow electronic boogie features Nancy Whang on lead vocals.

New Jersey’s Family Portrait hail from the same circle as Real Estate, Beach Fossils and others. They trade in the same lo-fi garage pop and “Otherside” is a swell track from their 2011 eponymous debut.

Are there any bad Buzzcocks songs? At least not on their original 70s/80s records. The Buzzcocks delivered that manic pop thrill with just about every tune. “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” was their first single of 1979 and you can find it on the bulletproof Singles Going Steady compilation.

The first Steely Dan album, 1972’s Can’t Buy a Thrill, is a minor masterpiece from a band that was just getting started. Lead singer Donald Fagen had stage fright and the band enlisted David Palmer to handle live performances. Palmer would be gone shortly after they recorded the album, but he left us the incredible “Dirty Work,” his only released studio performance.

spotify discover weekly 9

Patto’s “The Man” showed up in an earlier Discover Weekly. This slow blues burner comes from the band’s debut album. Perhaps the most notable thing about Patto is drummer John Halsey showed up as Barry Womble in Neal Innes’ Beatles parody The Rutles.

The Moby Grape made one brilliant album in 1967 and were heralded as the next big thing. Superstardom proved elusive but they hung around for four more albums before calling it quits. Their third album, Moby Grape ’69, features a few standout tracks including the country rock crawler “I Am Not Willing.”

Since we’re talking country rock let’s turn to the band that arguably started it all. The Flying Burrito Brothers. Their 1969 debut, The Gilded Palace of Sin, went all in on country rock, from the Nudie suits on the cover to the killer tunes on both sides. “Christine’s Tune (Devil in Disguise)” is a scorcher that leads off side one.

Black Sabbath was known for their bone-crushing proto-metal and 1970s Paranoid was one ot their heaviest and loudest record. “Planet Caravan” was the one ultra-mellow exception with Ozzy’s processed vocals oozing out over producer Tom Allom’s piano and Tony Iommi’s jazzy guitar riffs.

Philly Soul pioneers Gamble and Huff first big hit was The Soul Survivors’ infectious 1967 smash, “Expressway to Your Heart.” Knowing they were on to a good thing, the band stuck with the formula and followed up with lesser hit, “Explosion in Your Soul.”

spotify discover weekly 9

Let us now praise Curtis Mayfield! Superfly is one of the finest soundtracks ever, plus it stands on its own as a classic album. Here we’ve got the title track in all its funky blaxploitation glory. It was Mayfield’s third studio album and it outgrossed the 1972 film. If you’ve never heard it, listen now!

One man band Abner Jay billed himself as “last working Southern black minstrel.” He traveled the South in a mobile home playing wherever folks would listen. “I’m So Depressed” comes from a posthumous collection and opens with some off-color jokes before he breaks into his wild outsider folk blues.

1972 found Stevie Wonder at the peak of his musical powers and Talking Book was a tour de force across the board. “Maybe Your Baby” is a slow churning funk workout defined by Stevie’s bubbling moog bass and Ray Parker Jr.’s (Ghostbusters) stinging guitar leads. Hot!

“Home” is the closing track from the third and final LCD Soundsystem album, 2010’s This Is Happening. The slowly percolating and lyrically introspective track is a great way for James Murphy to say goodbye.

Fly Golden Eagle’s “Tangible Intangible” from their second album, the double deluxe 26 track Quartz, is all slinky psychedelic with high lonesome vocals. These guys are from Nashville and brand new to me. They’ve got my attention and I want to hear more.

spotify discover weekly 9

Courtney Barnett broke big in the wake of “Avant Gardener” and even bigger with this year’s Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit. “History Eraser” comes from last year’s The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas. Not only does it name check The Triffids, it captures everything that makes her great, from her sprawling stories to her shambling folk-rock and her wonderful singing drawl.

Drummer Buddy Miles played with Hendrix on Band of Gypsys, was a founding member of The Electric Flag and had a solid solo career. His 1970 album, Them Changes, had a hit with the title cut, but also featured a stellar funky jazzy version of Neil Young’s “Down By the River.” Yes!

The Moody Blues seem to have been erased somewhat from classic rock history, but they deserve better. They cranked out a clutch of solid, if somewhat lightweight, prog-rock albums and scored a handful of big hits. “Ride My Seesaw” is one of their harder rocking cuts from 1968’s In Search of a Lost Chord.

All I’ve got to say is more electric jug! If anything screams 13th Floor Elevators it’s that burbling, gurgling sound punctuating their wild garage rock and Roky Erickson’s manic yelps and howls. “You’re Gonna Miss Me” from their 1966 debut, The Psychedelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators, is an essential song for any real music fan.

“Is This What You Wanted” is song one, side one from Leonard Cohen’s 4th album, 1974’s New Skin For The Old Ceremony. The song is a one-sided dialogue between the singer and a lover who may or may not be there. The puzzling lyrics add more layers to this haunting song.

spotify discover weekly 9

“Love and Mercy” was the lead single from Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s eponymous 1988 solo debut. It had been years since Brian had released music and he was warmly welcomed back. Initially. his then round-the-clock therapist was credited as songwriter, but that has been removed on reissues. The song is classic Brian WIlson with gorgeous harmonies in spiritual cry for love and mercy.

Shin Joong Hyun was a South Korean musician and producer who found a college student, Kim Jung Mi, in 1973 and transformed her into a psychedelic folk singer. “Haenim” from her stunning debut LP Now is a lush orchestral dreamscape with her delicate vocals leading the way. Wow!

“96 Tears” is a true one hit wonder. You’ve heard the farfisa organ driving one of the catchiest garage rock singles of the mid-sixties. ? and the Mysterians burst onto the scene in 1966 and went straight to the top. There was nowhere to go but down and they never achieved similar success. That one song cemented their place in rock’n’roll history.

“Night Drive” is this week’s earworm. I want to hear it on repeat. Released in 2013 on PDA, the second album from Part Time, it is a wonderful New Order/M83 knock off that is captures the essence of both of those bands and stands on its own. Love it!

The seductive jazzy funk of The Lafayette Afro Rock Band has been sampled countless times. Nothing quite like going straight to the source and hearing “Darkest Light” from 1975. They never got the recognition they deserved, so check out the 1999 compilation Darkest Light – THe Best of the Lafayette Afro Rock Band. Superb!

spotify discover weekly 9

The Talking Heads reached their pinnacle with 1980’s Brian Eno produced Remain In Light. Their jittery new wave combined with funk and layers of percussion made for a paranoid, polyrhythmic masterpiece. “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)” opens the album superbly with David Byrne’s ranting and preaching vocals.

The Slits 1979 cover of the Whitfield/Strong classic, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” only gets better as the years pass. Ari Up’s incredible vocals and Viv Albertine’s skeletal guitar are anchored by Budgie’s drums. Dennis Bovell produced. So so good!

Garland Jeffreys was poised to be the next big thing in 1977. His album Ghost Writer got huge buzz, “Wild in the Streets” was a tough catchy single of teen anger, and then…..crickets. It’s a shame because the song is a classic and the album is just as good.

ESG is short for emerald, sapphire, and gold. They played minimalist funk with only drums, bass and vocals. “You’re No Good” is the lead song from their 1981 self-titled debut EP. Highly recommended.

What a great playlist! It started with the crazy Brigitte Bardot/Serge Gainsbourg duet and ended with the slamming ESG track. Plus there were two brilliant covers from The Slits and Buddy Miles. My only quibble, there were THREE repeats. Leonard Cohen, Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Patto. Spotify, I promise you won’t run out of songs. The only problem is now that everything is just right the three bears will come home.

I debated a couple of months ago about who would would win my monthly subscription fee, Spotify or Apple Music. Just a couple of days ago, i cancelled my subscription to Apple Music. Spotify has been winning my heart just a little more every week.

As always I wonder what Monday morning has in store.


NJ Tech Meetup 64 with Kevin Ryan In Review

Here’s something I wrote for

Aaron Price Kevin Ryan NJ Tech
Fireside chat with Aaron Price and Kevin Ryan

Key Takeaways:

  • Great teams build great products
  • Deciding what you’re NOT going to do is important
  • We need more computer scientists, NOW!

Summer is over and it’s time to get back to business. The NJ Tech Meetup kicked off fall with its 64th meetup. It was a double packed house and there wasn’t a piece of pizza, drink of water or seat left in the house. The crowd was there for an evening with special guest Kevin Ryan, “The Godfather” of NYC tech. Plus, three startups were there to fight for NJ Tech glory; Ceros, Vognition and LivnList™. Only one would leave victorious.

You can read the rest of it here

RIP @ThisIsMyJam and Thank You!! @Han and @flaneur

this is my jam

On September 26th another great music site will shut down. One of my favorite social platforms, will pack it in and say goodnight. The internet was supposed to be about infinite niches and a place for every fan to find his fellow enthusiasts and celebrate their shared interests. As a card carrying, flag waving member of for the last 3 years and 9 months, I’ve shared a “jam” every single week with my followers. Plus, I’ve spent countless hours enjoying their shared jams as well.

goodbye this is my jam.

But not every niche lasts forever. The site will be archived as of September 26th. My jams will live on, but the site will be inactive. No more new jams.

It was all about discovery, surprise and a shared love of music. Not just everyday music, but the weird and wonderful, old and new, amazing and bizarre. The site has taken me down dark, winding roads into unknown and undiscovered worlds of music. I’ve made friends, learned about new bands and delved deeply into countless songs and artists.

What truly made TIMJ special was the community. I follow and am followed by about 250 intense music fans who passionately love music and live to share that music with friends and followers. Every time I log in I am guaranteed a schooling in old reggae, deep dusty blues, obscure garage singles and plenty of challenging great new music. It was raw, random and full of surprises. It may sound anarchic, but there was a method to the madness. Just about everyone had great taste in music. You never knew what would come next, but you could be pretty sure it would be excellent.

hartnett this is my jam
How it worked was pretty straightforward. I would type in the band and/or name of the song I wanted to jam. The site would find it on Youtube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp or other streaming services. I would then post it with or without comment and share on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. My feed was simple as well, in order of the most recent jams. I could love, share or rejam the tracks. If I wanted, I could comment on others’ jams as well. It was a supportive community of friends that I may never meet, but will always remember their great music. You could only post one jam at a time and it lasted up to 6 days and 23 hours. If you hadn’t updated it would revert to your eternal jam, a song you chose as the best of all your jams.

eternal jam

Some weeks it was easy to find a new song, something new or something old that had knocked my socks off. However, I wanted my jam to resonate with my fellow jammers, so that meant choosing wisely. I kept a list of Future TIMJs just in case I wasn’t inspired when I got that weekly email asking “What’s your new Jam?”

Certain things played well. Old soul, funk, reggae and blues were always winners. New music was a risky bet. Some new tracks would go over big while others would get ignored. My biggest flops were always obscure post-punk/new wave songs. I would serve up a masterpiece (in my opinion) only to find it left on the side of the road, abandoned by my followers. But it really was the sharing that mattered. There would always be a new jam to post.

Until now. They notified us a few weeks back. It was a shock, but not really a shock. Apps, websites and online platforms come and go, but for me and a whole lot of others this one hits pretty hard. Some people are moving over to Let’sLoop or God’s Jukebox, but it won’t be the same.

I am busy figuring out what my final jam will be right now. I’ve got a little over a week to find the perfect final jam. I will miss the great new sounds. I will miss the community. I will miss the challenge of finding a great new jam. Thank you to the folks at TIMJ for such a wonderful site!

#longlivethejams #thankstimj

Week 7 – The Unbearable Darkness Of @Spotify Discover Weekly

spotify discover weekly 7

It was a cruel joke played by the calendar. With Labor Day coming so late it was still summer, right? Wrong! Instead of letting the good times roll, the fun-killers at my son’s school decided to ruin a perfectly good three day weekend by starting early. Wasn’t it just a few brief weeks ago that we were cranking Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out?” Next thing I knew I was trying to put on a brave face for the vice principal at morning drop-off. I was so busted up I couldn’t push publish for two weeks.

Maybe that’s why Week 7 of Discover Weekly was such a double bummer. While the music was great and the curation was solid, it was all just a downer. Almost every song reeked of darkness, sadness, madness, depression and death. Coupled with my end-of-summer blues, I was ready to give up music forever.

Opening this week and setting the dark tone is Blind Melon. All I can think of is the Bee Girl and the lead singer dying of a heroin overdose. I never listened much beyond the one hit “No Rain.” This track, “Tones of Home,” rocks harder than expected. It was the first single from their 1992 debut album and has a bit of a Jane’s Addiction vibe.

“Dangerous Type” closes out The Cars’ second album Candy-O. Released in 1979, just a year after their incredible debut, this album is almost as good, but without the novelty that made their first album so satisfying and surprising.

The Replacements jumped from indie Twin-Tone to major label Sire in 1985 and killed it with their second best album, Tim. “Swingin’ Party” closes out the LP and showcases Paul Westerberg’s emerging songcraft and heart on his sleeve vulnerability in this poignant ballad.

The second album from Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Pig Lib, came out in 2003. The mid-tempo “Vanessa From Queens” is a fun little track on an album that showed the doubters he had truly broken free from his previous band, Pavement. Love the great low-key guitar heroics throughout the song.

Jesus Lizard evolved out of the phenomenal Scratch Acid. “Here Comes Dudley” starts their 1991 album, Goat. Recorded by Steve Albini, the track pummels from the get-go with a long musical vamp before David Yow’s vocals add the knockout punch! Boom

Then we travel sideways to Tom Petty’s solo debut, Full Moon Fever, and the fifth single from that 1989 blockbuster, “Yer So Bad.” There’s a reason it was the fifth single. At this point they were milking it and this cut got the nod. Sure, it’s fine, but sounds like every other mediocre Tom Petty song, pleasant but forgettable.

Recorded in 1972 right after the death of founding member Duane Allman, The Allman Brother’s “Eat a Peach” was a half live/half studio recording. “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” opened the studio album and is a heartfelt tribute to the departed Duane from brother Gregg. The album proved that the band could and would go on despite the tragic loss.

Here’s something I didn’t know, “Misirlou” is actually a traditional Mediterranean song dating back to the early 20th century. What I do know is Dick Dale’s twanging surf-rock version crushed it in 1962 and Quentin Tarantino’s placing it in Pulp Fiction guaranteed its immortality.

Born to Run just celebrated its 40th anniversary and countless articles lauded it as Bruce Springsteen’s breakthrough. It’s easy to forget that he had already delivered two fine albums. “Kitty’s Back” from 1973’s The WIld, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle is an epic seven minute workout for the entire band. Hot damn!

Ween’s 9th album Quebec was their first release after getting dumped by Elektra. “Transdermal Celebration” traffics in the Ween tradition of making big arena rock sounds that sound like they are thumbing their nose at those same big arena rock sounds.

From Real Estate’s 2011 album Days, “Easy” opens the record with their wide screen jangly pop. Tom Scharpling of WFMU’s Best Show fame directed the video for this track. Wonderful!

Then we leap backward for Donovan’s “Season of the Witch.” Yep, that’s Jimmy Page on guitar and it’s rumored John Paul Jones may have played an uncredited role in the song. This slice of psychedelic folk came out in 1966 on Donovan’s third album, Sunshine Superman.

Don Henley was pissed that the press made a big deal out of a 16 year old naked overdosed girl found at his house so he wrote “Dirty Laundry,” ripping apart tabloid journalism and journalists. It was his first big post-Eagles success from 1982’s I Can’t Stand Still and became a #3 hit.

Jackson C. Frank released one almost forgotten, but incredible album in 1965. Produced by Paul Simon, it was just the man and his guitar playing some of the finest folk music of his time. “Blues Run the Game” is his most celebrated track and it leads off the album. Poignant and beautiful.

Creedence Clearwater Revival released three albums in 1969 and instead of getting tired, they just got better and better. “Midnight Special” off Willy and the Poor Boys is a raucous version of a traditional prison work song celebrating escape on the late night train.

“Slip Inside This House” was originally done on album number two, Easter Everywhere, in 1967 by The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. 24 years later Primal Scream covered it for their groundbreaking Screamadelica. They copped Sly Stone’s laugh from the Stand! LP and threw in a little Amen Break to transform it into a crazy indie rock acid house masterpiece.

What more can be said about Big Star? The best band you never heard brings it with “The Ballad of El Goodo,” an Alex Chilton classic from their perfect 1972 debut album, #1 Record. Just listen. Then watch the documentary, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. Then listen some more.

Let’s travel all the way back to Checker Records and 1956 for Bo Diddley’s absolutely essential “Who Do You Love?” It’s been covered by everyone (Quicksilver, Blues Magoos, UFO, The Doors, George Thorogood) but the original is still the knockout champion.

From Mac Demarco’s 2012 album 2, “Cooking Up Something Good” juxtaposes a lazy soft rock tune against dark lyrics. What seems like an ode to childhood boredom reveals ugly family secrets beneath the shiny pop surface. .

The big surprise this week is “I Love You All” by fake movie band Soronprfbs with actor Michael Fassbender on lead vocals. It’s from the 2014 movie Frank and the tune has a new wave, art pop, Magnetic Fields vibe. I love the tune and want to see the film.

We heard a 13th Floor Elevators’ cover just a few songs back. Now, we’ve got Elevators’ lead singer Roky Erickson with his band The Aliens in 1981 with the insane psychedelic rock of “Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer),” the opening song from The Evil One.

Black Mountain debuted in 2005 with their dark, loud, psychedelic self-titled album. “Druganaut” is a killer song and best played at 11. If you didn’t know the vintage you’d swear you were trapped in a heavy, dark album from 1970. Rock on!

On his 4th album, Elliott Smith jumped to a major label and released one of his finest records, 1998’s XO. “Independence Day” is a gorgeous track, revealing his songwriting prowess, emotional fragility and lyrical depth.

Jane’s Addiction manage to mangle a version of The Grateful Dead’s “Ripple” for the 1991 tribute album, Deadicated. It’s mostly a case of two bands that don’t go well together. The song plays against their strengths and it’s basically a waste of time.

Much of Blondie’s catalogue isn’t on Spotify so many of their best songs are only available on the 2014 half greatest hits re-recorded/half new studio album, Blondie 4(0) Ever. Yeah, their original cover of the essential Nerves’ song “Hangin’ On The Telephone” is one of their finest efforts. This version just doesn’t do it justice. Not terrible, just not very good.

When it was released in 1970, Paul McCartney’s solo debut was largely hammered by critics. Decades later the scrappy, loose album has been reappraised and given its critical due. “Momma Miss America” is a rough and raw instrumental that fits right into the homemade magic of the whole record.

Most heartland roots rock has just never been my thing. I just can’t relate. “Memphis in the Meantime” which leads off John Hiatt’s 1987 album, Bring the Family, is a perfect example. I can see all kinds of dad rockers loving this, but it sounds forced and phony. The critics love this guy, but nope.

The incredibly prolific Ty Segall seems to release an endless amount of music. One of his many projects is Fuzz. They deliver a stomping version of King Crimson’s signature anthem, “21st Century Schizoid Man.” Hardly essential, but for the fact that King Crimson just ain’t on Spotify. So go Ty!

Erika M. Anderson did time in Amps for Christ and Drones before going solo as EMA. On her 2011 debut, Past Life Martyred Saints, she destroys it with second single, “California.” It’s a little shoegaze, a little Kim Gordon and a whole lot of awesome.

Closing out this week, we get Junior Murvin’s amazing falsetto on “Police and Thieves” from his 1977 debut album of the same name. Produced by the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry and backed by The Upsetters, this is a happy ending to a weird, dark week of Spotify Discover Weekly.

Summer is over. It’s getting darker every day and winter is coming. Let’s hope the weeks to come bring brighter, sunnier sounds. See you next week. Let me know if you;ve been checking out your Discover Weekly playlists and what you think.

#NJTech Meetup 64 w/ Kevin Ryan, Founder: Gilt, MongoDB, Business Insider

Here is something I wrote for this Wednesday’s NJ Tech Meetup with special guest Kevin Ryan.


kevin ryan

DoubleClick, Mongo DB, ShopWiki, Gilt, Zola, The Ladders, HotJobs, Business Insider. One thing they all have in common is Kevin Ryan, “The Godfather” of NYC tech.

What started it all? How did he become an entrepreneur?

Dilbert made him do it. Yeah, that Dilbert. Back in the early days of the internet Kevin Ryan was working for E.W. Scripps and set up the Dilbert website. If he could get the comic strips online, maybe it would become a destination. Not only did people come in droves, but the site made money. He had seen the future and that future was the internet.

You can read the rest here at

Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen – Week 6 of @Spotify Discover Weekly

spotify discover weekly 6

How did it happen? How could I let Week 6 go by without standing on the rooftop and shouting to the world. Rock solid, it was the best one yet. However, as Summer 2015 drew to a close, this listener got lazy and didn’t press publish two weeks in a row. With Discover Weekly completely updating every week, how can I prove this near perfect playlist ever happened without screengrabs and a link? If a playlist falls in the woods without a blog post does it even make a sound? I will have to let the songs make my case.

Week 6 burst open with an overabundance of current new rock, old favorites and wonderful surprises. Plus, the genre selection expanded (slightly and warily) beyond the usual 1960s to 2010s rock. I keep trying to hack the curation algorithm to broaden the variety, but I am battling three years of listening history.

Let’s get to some music.

“Lawyers, Guns and Money” is the closing track from Warren Zevon’s near perfect third album. 1978’s Excitable Boy was a career high point both critically and commercially. Nice start to week 6!

Brand new music from Ty Segall is next. “Mr Face” is from a 2015 7″ EP and it sounds completely 1967. Fuzzed out guitar, breezy double tracked vocals and it all ends in a wild garage rave up. Two for two.

The awesome continues with the Cambodian pop/garage rock crossover of LA’s Dengue Fever. From their 2008 release Venus On Earth, “Tiger Phone Card” is a delightful mix and match of styles! Yes.

Seth Kauffman is a veritable one man band with his indie lo-fi project Floating Action. “Don’t Stop Loving Me Now” is a wonderful example of his pop sensibilities. Nice and brand new to me.

Who can deny the awesomeness of “Take the Skinheads Bowling” from Camper Van Beethoven’s 1985 debut album, Telephone Free Landslide Victory? Is it ska, folk, rock or are they just messing with all of us? This has been their signature song from the beginning and still sounds great.

Wreckless Eric emerged from the Stiff Records class of 1977 with his classic single “Whole WIde World.” He may never have topped this one, but this cut cements his legacy to be sure.

Bradford Cox and Deerhunter have a brand new album (Fading Frontier) just out that’s damn good. Going back to 2008’s Microcastles, their third album, “Never Stops” is a tremendous track from a great album.

We jump backwards to the heavy blues groove of Savoy Brown’s “Hellbound Train” from 1972. This is the title cut and closing track to their eighth album. They’ve kept going for almost 50 years with guitarist Kim Simmonds the only constant member. This nine minute epic is one of their finest moments.

Rising out of a successful run as drummer for Fleet Foxes, J. Tillman took on the stage name Father John Misty. He has released two must-listen indie folk rock albums and “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” comes from his 2012 debut, Fear Fun.

“Killing Floor” was a 1964 single from Howlin’ Wolf. If you haven’t heard this 12 bar blues masterpiece, you might know the tune from Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song” which borrowed heavily from “Killing Floor.”This is Chicago electric blues at its finest.

On their 4th album, 1969’s Liege and Lief, Fairport Convention covered the traditional British folk ballad, “Matty Groves.” It’s an epic story of temptation, adultery, betrayal and murder. Yes!

Dr. Dog is one of those bands that friends have recommended so highly and I just can’t make it happen despite my best efforts. “The World May Never Know” is the shuffling opener on their third album, 2005’s Easy Beat. Sorry, I just can’t hear it.

Who didn’t cover John D. Loudermilk’s “Tobacco Road” in the 1960s? Pretty much everybody took a shot at it. The Nashville Teens were part of the first British Invasion and they had a minor hit with their garage rock version in 1964.

“Brighton Rock” opens Queen’s third album, 1974’s Sheer Heart Attack. Brian May destroys it with one of his finest guitar solos. Hard to believe one guy could do that with only six strings. Nice choice.

Bradford Cox of Deerhunter returns with his just as excellent solo project Atlas Sound. From 2009’s Logos, his second album, he is joined by Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) from Animal Collective for the joyous “Walkabout.” So good.

Psychedelic electronic music pioneers Silver Apples came and went in the late sixties, leaving two brilliant albums behind. They returned in the late 1990s, but their greatest work is captured on those two early records. “Oscillations” is the opening track from their 1968 eponymous debut.

They only lasted one album, but Blind Faith made a classic. Steve Winwood of Traffic, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker of Cream and Ric Grech of Family teamed up to form one of the first supergroups. “Can’t Find My Way Home” is a nearly perfect song from their brief time together.

“Easy Plateau” is a gorgeous Grateful Dead-influenced song from Ryan Adams. It leads off the second disc of his 2005 LP Cold Roses, his first with backing band The Cardinals.

With more than a slight nod to “Baba O’Riley,” “Teenage Wasteland” from Wussy’s 2014 terrific Attica! features Lisa Walker on vocals recalling her youthful memories of listening to The Who. So good!

Vetiver emerged from the freak folk scene in the early 2000s. “Strictly Rule” is a hypnotic jam with a slight Latin vibe from their 4th album, 2009’s Tight Knit.

Ginger Baker rears his head for the second time this week, but on a radically different recording. Fela Kuti and Ginger teamed up in 1970 for Live!. “Let’s Start” leads off this classic afrobeat album. There are a many ways to explore Fela’s music for a newbie and this is definitely one of them.

“Hot Dreams” is the title song on Timber Timbre’s fifth album from 2014. The Canadian band leaves their freak folk roots behind and explores more traditional soft rock territory.

Seaming together Modern Lovers, Velvet Underground and a little early Talking Heads all propelled by Anton Fier’s hyperkinetic percussion, “The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness” leads off The Feelies 1980 debut, Crazy Rhythms. This one is the first of many classic moments from a band that keeps on rolling.

“Jackie Blue” is the biggest song Black Oak Arkansas ever had. They hit on their first album with “If You Want to Get to Heaven” and hit even harder with their second album, It’ll Shine When It Shines. “Jackie Blue” hit #3 in 1975. Sadly, their fortunes went downhill from there.

Boom! “Passage to Bangkok” is always welcome on pretty much every playlist ever. Opening side 2 on Rush’s 1976 breakthrough album, 2112, this is an incredible song from and even more stellar album.

The Allman Brothers first released “Midnight Rider” in 1970 on their Idlewild South album. Three years later Gregg Allman rerecorded the track for his debut album, Laid Back. The earlier is rawer and sparser while Gregg’s version is smoother, more heavily produced and became a Top 20 hit.

The Meat Puppets changed styles quickly early on in their career. The angry fast punk of their debut gave way to the wild cowpunk visions of Meat Puppets II. By 1985’s Up On The Sun, they had begun evolving into the proto alt-country band they would become. The title song is a great snapshot of a band with punk roots and big ambitions.

Simon & Garfunkel released only five albums in their short time together and Bookends could be the finest. “America” tells the tale of a young couple hitchhiking across the USA. Poignant and beautiful, it was originally released in 1968 and reissued as a single in 1972 in support of a post-breakup greatest hits package.

And now we hit the one big turd in this week’s playlist. Yes, it is a jam band, The String Cheese Incident to be exact. “Colorado Bluebird Sky” is the opening cut on their 2014 studio album, Song in my Head. I don’t hate this, but I just don’t want to have to listen to it. Ever.

Finishing up this week’s playlist it’s MIracle Legion. Like so many jangly eighties college rock bands they play, yep, great jangly eighties college rock. From their 1987 debut Surprise Surprise Surprise, “All For the Best” delivers for five minutes and eight seconds. Yes, indeed.

There it is. One more week with some great tunes. The only real clunker for me is String Cheese Incident. I could also do without Jackie Blue and Dr Dog, but loved, loved, loved the Feelies, Silver Apples, Deerhunter, Atlas Sound and Wussy. And hell yeah, Rush, anytime anywhere. It was excellent to hear some variety, a little blues, Fela, Fairport Convention and more. I am working my other Spotify plays hard to break the mold and get a playlist that really knocks me out with bold choices. Will it happen? Not sure, but I will be checking it out first thing Monday morning. See you next week.