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Portrait Of A Man Crying In A Rental Car Parked Somewhere In The East Bay

by The Small Calamities

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  • full color lyric booklet with many photographs. all lyric book purchases come with exclusive bonus tracks not available anywhere else (a download code will be physically mailed to you along with the book).

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  • "only one rule" canvas
    Poster/Print + Digital Album

    limited edition—printed locally and stretched by hand onto an 11x14 canvas. US shipping only.

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  • "bask" kimono

    "let the wildfires burn & we will bask inside the glow" with haunting california wildfire imagery on a lovely silk kimono. whether these are unisex or for women is a matter of opinion and debate. we can't decide for you.

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bask 02:59
LYRICS: there are tin cans, twine, and scissors and there is something in the air. maybe some of it is ash and maybe some of it’s not there. it’s funny how this all would sound a year or two ago so let the wildfires burn and we will bask inside the glow. there is poetry as promised. there are songs so sweet and soft. there is calm humiliation and little things we can’t turn off. to speak and dream and wonder who we were and what we know… let the wildfires burn and we will bask inside the glow. your voice decays outside my window. we are healing, we are bored/boarding up our futures, clear your schedule. take the hint! there are things we can hold onto, and there are calendars and plans. there are clocks (that we weren’t minding) ticking numb to our demands. we are prisoners in frozen time and soon we’ll have to go but for now we’ll let the fires burn and we will bask inside the glow. i’m Rebekah in the veil or you are Isaac in the tent. there are prayers and maybe answers but there is nothing to repent. not-quite-penance but confessions took us to not-quite-friends from foes as the wildfires burned and we were basking in the glow. we both know this can’t last—fretting over phantoms and arguing our past. we don’t know what this is—but sitting in the smoke with you, i like it just like this. there are things that we’re not proud of and we can leave it all behind. we won’t worry about the future… it’s so blissful to be blind. the world may burn around us as we step into the flames but after the wildfires burn us things can never be the same.
LYRICS: my stupid fucking face always shows just what i’m feeling. my stupid fucking face… i can’t blame you for reeling at the thought. i want to be somebody else, someone completely different. it doesn’t even matter who, so you can send me your requests. i should have picked up on the signs, i should have understood your meaning: a subtle change inside your eyes and the direction you were leaning on the couch. Gavin Newsom closed the gyms, so maybe i can just blame him?? Gavin Newsom closed the gyms, and maybe i could just blame anyone but there's only one photo of us and ironically i am the man in the mirror. yeah, maybe it started as lust, but i promise my words and my wounds were sincere. a feeling i felt i could trust but you made that error so perfectly clear. it’s good to be clear. i want to kiss you in the car. i want to fly back to November, run my fingers through your hair, and make a moment you’ll remember. i want to hear some violin but we don’t have that anymore. i want to call you late at night like there was something to restore (but there isn’t). i want to crash and burn and i want to drive into the fire. i want to be engulfed in flames and throw my head onto the pyre. but there's all these brief memories of us and ironically i am a man in the past. there’s so many things we discussed and i hope those polaroids fade nice and fast. those feelings i felt i could trust and questions i realize i shouldn’t have asked. the flash of your face with disgust—a role, there’s no question you’re perfectly cast. new seasons at last. lip gloss in autumn, polka dot strings, and moments that passed.
LYRICS: take those flowers from your hair, this is oakland. now i'm broke beyond repair, so sick of hoping when there will never be a flame, but you still set my world on fire. so take those flowers from your ear, this was everything i knew. cinderella, guess you forgave me! i'm wide awake, you're barely dreaming and i can't sleep now i got your colors all out of my head. cinderella, please believe me: i tried to change, i tried to listen, i miss the days before i got your colors all out of my head. they said november's gonna come, well i was ready for a fight. take no credit for your sins, just set a timer. there was a little piece of you in my office on a shelf. last night i thought about driving off the deep end or screaming into space but i just waited for the tears to break. cinderella, guess you forgave me. i'm driving dead away from oakland and i can't see 'cause i got your colors all out of my head. cinderella, don't try to call me… it's getting late and i am empty (an open wound) now i've got your colors all out of my head. the radio still plays those prayers i said to you two years ago when you were fast asleep. i wish i never knew what you were hearing on the internet, it's worse to know you'll never feel this. is that true, am i a bet? AM I A FUCKING BET?* we have a saying back in Texas**, i'm sure you probably have heard it. "fool me once and that's your fault, but fool me twice and i deserve it." hurt me three times, make me wonder if i'll ever get it right. i know i'm somebody to someone but i'm nobody tonight 'cause we were basking in the glow and i was breakin' all the rules and you were smashing up my windows or i was wishing i was cooler or I was trying to pretend to play the same old song again. you know the words are slightly different but they're all that i could pen. i'm just a fuckin' voicemail but you know i wanted to believe it. the stars have left the sky tonight & it's only wildfire light that guides my way home. i'm not your fucking postcard (yellow and crimson and clover). i dreamed it all so many times—i know, it's just a dream, it doesn't mean anything. cinderella, wish you forgot me—i'd given up (so tired of asking) but it fits the crime... * This was recreated from scratch. Please don't sue us, Miramax. ** I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee
hit&run 03:21
LYRICS: you do you, yeah, speak your truth, whatever helps you sleep at night and if it breaks my fragile bones that’s okay as long as you’re alright. songs you sent to me be damned and i’ll be damned to see you shining like a beacon blinding all of instagram. you hit and run, you get off easy. don’t check the damage—it’s not yours to bear. you smashed my windows, you kicked my teeth in with a "hope you take care". i’ll be me & i’ll retreat but it’s not that i don’t want to talk. you see, the problem is i do (so much that i can barely walk) but off the precipice i fell, you held the cord, but i know, i was never yours to crumble. no, that burden wasn’t yours. this hit and run, this weeknight easy, you don’t check the damage 'cause it’s my repair. you smashed my summer, you kicked my world in with a "hope you take care". when you called me late at night and said you just want to be clear, was that all a bunch of shit or did i hear what i want to hear? when this city loses light and the traffic disappears, when i’m a distant social blight, will you cauterize my tears? it felt easy to say to you i’ll be okay when i drove up that day, yeah you picked a bad way but the point still remains that we did say that this ending might come but the night of the scars in that terrible car under glowing red stars, i felt pain tear up parts of my soul that i opened to you before coming undone. and so you run… it looks so easy but that's not the whole truth, yeah you had a lot to bear. but it was fun! you made my nights long, you sent me sweet songs, and we chose to dare. we jumped the gun. it felt so simple. we knew the risks and i really do hope you take care we tried to run. we should have walked first. i know you meant it. i meant it too. i just want to get some sleep tonight.
LYRICS: this is where i pretend to be at peace. this is where i pretend to be okay with candlelit confessions to cleanse your conscience or clear your time. this is where i memorize my lines. this is where i pretend i don’t recall all those stupid plans we had at all. this is where i pretend that nothing’s changed… i guess they put the warnings on the game. this is where i pretend i eat and sleep. this is where i pretend that i don’t dream of basements, gowns, and tarmac or dying graceless on the pew. this is where i pretend that it’s not you. this is where i pretend to hide away or that i don’t still have paragraphs to say. this is where i pretend there is no blame. this is where i pretend it’s all the same. suddenly i'm 17 again, standing on the ledge and looking down. saved by pure coincidence that solemn summer night… so lucky that i never touched the ground. some days i am overwhelmed with grief. some days the reality sets in. some days are the novocaine and some days are the mace. some days i remember all the contours of your face. i want to talk for centuries but i know that i need space… some days i’d give so much to erase. this is where i go return the car and they ask me if i had a pleasant time. i grew up in LA so you’d think i’d be more convincing when i grit my teeth and mumble that it’s fine. this is where i’m dying to pretend that i will learn to trust myself again… a hopeful note to end on even if it isn’t real. let choirs fill the empty space and mask the way we feel and i’ll do my best impression of a person with appeal, speak in single words so there’s no meaning you can steal, and make believe at one point it was real. there will be return to color, i’ll be baptized in the hue. circumnavigating silence and hoping other words will do. it comes slow then all at once or it’s a warning i forgot… finding faith in lieu of trust. i dream i’m somebody i’m not. give it time and tender touch. try to breathe, but not too much. i try to scream until i fail straight to prison, skip the jail. if there’s music in the chamber it’s cathartic and divine. watch my youth dissolve in writing and grieve the lies we left behind. grieve the fiction and the fact and grieve the grass and grieve the lake and grieve conviction in a feeling even if the feeling’s fake. in the morning i am reckless, late at night i’m in a daze, i’ll forget i learned your language or got lost inside your maze. scale the hedges to ascension, throw my hands into the sky 'cause i am half awake at best and i am halfway in july. it’s your separate september, it’s a casual farewell. drops of fire on the windshield cast a solitary spell. you start searching for the next show, let the laughter leave your eyes. it’s not worth it to discuss, there’s nothing there to analyze. you can learn another lullaby or sing some sober tunes. it’s not so much the weapon, it’s the age of all the wounds. i am either worth it or i’m not so i will never wait outside your window holding feelings that i never should have caught.


all songs written by charlie wolf (BMI) over one very long and sleepless night at a hotel in walnut creek & recorded with the band deep in the sonoran desert the following days during wildfires and pandemics with additional overdub sessions in LA & pennsylvania.

with all due apologies to matt berninger, gavin newsom, rachel leigh cook, and one other person.

misc thanks/help: olga, chloe, john, arlene, liv, stephen, ruby, dan, sarah, zak, tess


released October 2, 2020

charlie wolf - guitars/vocals/mellotron/mandolin/synth/programming/field recording
christian kalafut - bass/shouting/car conversations
hayden parker - drums

ethan farmer - mix assistant
jeff babko - harmonium (2-3)
christian ruth - assistant engineer, additional percussion (3, 6)
hamilton belk - dobro (4)
bobby victor - additional drum programming (2)

olga yatsenko - voice acting (1)
liv brazill - voice acting (6)
chloe owen - impression of rachel leigh cook in a recreation of an iconic scene from the 1999 film "She's All That" (4)

mixed by ian farmer at the metal shop in philly.
mastered by jonathan kirchner in SF.


all rights reserved



The Small Calamities

A whirlwind of punk rock angst, power pop hooks & Americana jangle, The Small Calamities blend a wry humor, Springsteenesque imagery, and naked earnestness to create what reviewers have called “imagery-laden anecdotes" & "poison-tipped confessionals". Smash Mouth follows them on twitter. ... more

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