So much changes so quickly. When I walk around my new neighborhood thousands of miles from where I grew up and the places that comprised all the rest of my life, I feel as though I am witnessing myself from above, looking down through a magnifying glass, at a tiny bug in a plexiglass dome - like the one my daughter is documenting for her first grade class.
I call my friend, Kevin, almost every day on the East Coast to touch home and laugh at the dissonance of the then and now.
I live in San Carlos, CA, dubbed "The City Of Good Living." It is beautiful. People are uncompromisingly good-natured. Even if someone didn't like you, they would help you.
Is that what normal people do?
I miss the East Village and New York. I'm not bored. It's a slow path to disassociate from violence.
I recorded the album I'm holding in my hand a couple of years ago in New York, shortly before I left. Deceived is a compilation of mostly murder ballads, as well as traditional, folk and country songs about the bad things that can happen to "bad girls." It's about killing women, and about women being deceived, but the songs are deceptively beautiful, or upbeat, or funny. They are songs that catch you off guard when you realize what the stories are about, like Tom Jones' "Delilah," in which the narrator stalks and murders his girlfriend because she cheated on him. "I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more."
I have spent most of my life in deep consideration of violence. My college thesis was on Emmanuel Levinas, a post-holocaust Jewish ethicist. "The Goodness Before Being." It set forth that Creation is a blueprint for Ethics. Contact is gentleness and responsibility.
My childhood dream was to "make the world a better place." I wanted to help people live without violence, particularly in their homes. I didn't go to church or synagogue, but I used to pray for it every night and during the day.
I did not recognize it as I was making the record, but when it was done, points made contact. I have always volunteered and tried to do "my part," but to be rigorously honest, it hasn't been enough.
More to the point, it has been simple to begin a campaign to raise money and awareness for family violence prevention and domestic violence. I picked Sanctuary for Families, AVON Foundation (Speak Out!), Shalom Bayit, Family Violence Prevention Fund, because of my experiences growing up surrounded by violence - that's part of it. Because, also, I believe we cannot begin to have peace in the world without first having peace in the home. Because of my gratitude to every person who did for me. Because, finally, of the material on the record itself.
I didn't create the songs. They are songs I chose to piece together, like a collage of photographs cut out and layered to express something. On the album, I often sing as a man - I keep the male voice of the murderer, because, I am still seeking, through speech, to understand what makes one appropriate another.
The charities I've chosen to donate proceeds to (as well as tour for and perform Living Room Concerts* for) also seek to understand the why of domestic violence, in order to dissolve it. At the same time, they do for the families, mothers and children, without asking why, but how. If you walk into Sanctuary For Families in NYC, you will be asked how you can be helped live a life in peace and safety.
*Living Room Concerts, aka House Concerts, are intimate performances in private homes. Hosts invite over as many as will fit in their living room for an acoustic performance. These shows are very successful models for fundraising. Find out more at .