Monday, December 29, 2014


Your mom and I have started a new tradition, little sweetheart. We go into SF on the Sunday after Christmas and have a day out that I’m going to tell you about now.

There’s a place in Nob Hill that my own mother used to talk about. It’s the restaurant on the highest floor of the Mark Hopkins Hotel – The Top of the Mark. It’s a totally gorgeous spot with big windows all the way round, offering a panoramic view of the city from its vantage point high above the intersection of California and Mason. By night, it’s an upscale music venue, a bit like the Rainbow Room here in New York, I guess. My mom went there with my dad, from what I understand, when we were little and when she heard that I was coming out to San Francisco to work at The Magic (when you and I met, my love), she told me that that was something I absolutely had to do – go to the Top of the Mark. She must’ve told me that a dozen times.

At some point, just a couple years ago, I mentioned this to your mom. And it turns out that she and your dad had gone there, too. She even remembered that they went to see Judy Collins perform.

Anyway, last year when I came out to see your folks at Christmas, your Mom told me that she had learned that on Sundays they have a champagne brunch at The Top of the Mark. And she made a reservation for the two of us (your dad was working). You wouldn’t believe the spread they have! It’s an enormous buffet in the middle of the room, a sort of raised platform that, now that I think of it, is probably the stage, the tables all around the periphery and against the windows that surround the beautiful space. There’s even a pianist softly tinkling away and singing standards. The food is amazing, pretty much everything you can imagine from eggs benedict to fish and foul and French toast, to yogurt parfaits and fresh fruit, bagels and lox, even desserts. And there’s a chef or two on hand ready to slice a nice cut of meat for you and another to whip up any variety of omelet you might like, and, your favorite – waffles! You just pick up a plate and go back as many times as you like, trying a little (or a lot!) of everything. And when you come back to your table, the breathtaking vistas surrounding you, the very nice waiters are filling up your coffee again and/or your glass of champagne (none for me this year because I’m sober again but last year, several glasses.)

It’s just lovely. And that has become a new tradition, my sweetheart. But there’s also a second part to it. One we didn’t plan last year when we set off for your old stomping grounds but something we simply came across before getting back in the car and liked so much we did again this year.

After brunch, we came back down into the lobby of the hotel, looking at the huge beautiful Christmas tree there and then wandered out into the fresh air. A beautiful Northern California day, it seemed like we should at least walk around for a bit before driving back, so we did and we came across Grace Cathedral.

It’s a beautiful and historic gothic structure, full of inspiring art and architecture and extremely welcoming. There are so many wonderful things to tell you about this place, my sweetheart. All around the far walls are paintings of historic scenes in the life of the church and the city. On the floor, as you first enter, is a big labyrinth, a kind of prayer path based on a French monastic tradition, that people are invited to walk and quietly meditate on. The vaulted ceilings and stain glass throw the most beautiful light and shadows everywhere and there are dozens of little alcoves and nooks where one might say or write down a little prayer (as I did for you, for us) or sit quietly in thought. There’s a beautiful pipe organ and in addition to the regular schedule of services, there are any number of musical events planned – there’s almost always music in the chapel or main altar/space. That first time your mom and I visited, just as we were about to leave, a woman was coming through wheeling an enormous harp for a recital later that night. And one of the most striking things about the cathedral that day was an art installation we had the good fortune to come across at the end of its public showing.

Grace Cathedral actually has an annual “Artist in Residence”. How cool is that? The display was/is called Graced With Light – The Ribbon Project and it features hundreds if not thousands of ribbons hanging from the top of the high ceiling, streaming down to just overhead. The artist’s name is Anne Patterson (she lives in New York and I’ve recently been in touch with her, my love) and her vision was to create “a series of light pathways, connecting heaven and earth, manifest as ribbons. The ribbons carry our prayers, dreams and wishes skyward, and, in turn grace streams down the ribbons to us…” They’re all different colors, little sweetheart. She started by hand-assembling the blue ones and hanging them in March 2013. In May and June, hundreds of community members wrote their prayers and hopes and wishes on red ribbons and then in July, she hung those alongside. In October, she added the white ones along with a video projection in collaboration with another artist, Adam Larsen.

Your mom and I just walked around in thrall to its beauty. And the beauty of the idea that people had written their prayers on the ribbons sending them skyward. We read that the installation was only up for another two days so imagine our surprise and delight when, continuing our tradition, we came back this year after post-Christmas brunch at the Top of the Mark to find the beautiful ribbons still hanging!

And that wasn’t all. They added a beautiful Christmas tree in another part of the sanctuary, near the entrance, that looked to be decorated with small white paper birds, but when observed up close were actually hand-written prayers people had penned on white paper and folded into the little bird shapes. Nearby was a table with paper and markers, so I took one up and wrote our prayer on it, my darling, and placed it in the tree with the others.

After that we walked around a bit. There was a young man playing classical guitar near the altar and your mom thought it might be nice to sit up front and listen to him. So, we did for quite a while. Finally, his dad (at least we think it was his dad) came and collected him and we were about to go ourselves, when a nice man in robes invited us to stay for the service. He said if we liked, we could come up and “sit in the choir”. We were down in pews, sort of down front, but he was inviting people to come up much closer – it’s a big church! We were a bit shy and not entirely sure what to do but your Mom was game and me, too – I really wanted to stay.

When we got up close and took a seat in the rows way up by the altar facing in and I got a look at the little program or order of service handbill they gave us, I noticed that where we were sitting, where we’d been invited is called the “quire”. So, it sounds like the word choir and one could even imagine a choir being seated there, but it’s a totally different name. I liked that. Don’t you, my gorgeous girl?

The service was lovely, sweetheart. And everyone was so nice and friendly and I really think your mom enjoyed being there. She kinda didn’t want to leave. Me, either. We sang Angels We Have Heard on High (did I ever tell you that when I was a little boy I thought the part where they go “Glor-o-o-o-o-o, o-o-o-o, o-o-o-o- ria” was “Beau- oh-oh-oh-oh… regard”? I think I’d been watching too many Foghorn Leghorn cartoons…) and we turned and shook hands with everyone, saying “hi” and “peace be with you” when the Passing of the Peace came round. And there was a wonderful quartet of musicians, sweetheart – trumpet, clarinet, piano and a little harmonium! Your mom asked me what that harmonium was. I don’t think I’d ever seen somebody play one before. And the second hymn was that one I like so much from Nine Lessons and Carols – the opening one – Once in Royal David City. I leaned over when I saw it in the program and told your mom, “this is a great song!” and she looked at me and smiled a smile very much like one of your surprised smiles and said “really?” just about exactly the way your little nephew says it. “Really?”

There wasn’t a sermon or anything, just a blessing, which was really nice. And I said our prayer, sweetheart. And then at the end we all sang Go Tell It on The Mountain. I think your mom liked that one best. I always think of it as very closely aligned with the 60’s and Civil Rights – sort of a companion to We Shall Overcome. Ya know?

And, like I said, afterward, we really kind of dawdled. Kinda weren’t in a hurry to get back. It was such a lovely day, full of thoughts and prayers and music… and you, my little sweetheart. I just know it. I could feel you near me. And I know if I just do right, let all the noise around me go, be quiet and get to that deepest place inside me, I will always find you near. And soon, so very soon I pray, I will find you, you will collect me, and we will be together forever in Love and The Beautiful New Place.

Thank you, my sweetheart. I love you, Summer. With all my heart and soul I do. Always be with me. In everything that I do. Don’t go too far away, right, little sweetheart? Love you forever, my love…. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Into the Woods...

I'm with your parents, my sweetheart, and it's the day after Christmas. Tonight we went to see the film adaptation of the musical Into the Woods. I've never seen the play before but your mom told me it was the first play you were ever in - playing Little Red at the age of 10 - and that they have a video of it I can watch in Davis. Anyway, we went to the movie tonight and I was really loving it. And near the end there's a song, it's a medley with most of the characters called "Finale" and there's a part where the Baker's wife, who has died, comes to him and sings:

"Sometimes people leave you
Halfway through the wood.
Do not let it grieve you,
No one leaves for good.
You are not alone.
No one is alone."

I gasped when I heard those words, those first two lines, my little sweetheart. I gasped out loud sitting there in the dark of the cinema and began to cry and your father reached over and patted me on the shoulder. And my darling, I know you are with me. Always with me. Love you forever...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Best Coast...

Sweetheart, when I drove up to Cape Cod in a panic over the artwork for Of Love and Loss and Sean got it all sorted out for me, he gave me a mixtape that had this song on it. It's the first time I ever heard Best Coast. I think you would so love them. It sure does make me think of you. It sure does make me cry for you. I wanna see you. I wanna see you. I wanna see you. I wanna see you. Forever and ever. For ever and ever. For ever and ever. Forever.

Two Boxes

Sweetheart, your mom sent me two packages today, just before Christmas, just before I’m headed out there. And everything inside and about them is all, all, all just wonderful and amazing and so very thoughtful. The boxes were numbered one and two and I was instructed to open number one first because inside was a card and note explaining things. On the front of the card is a beautiful angel, just like you. The note tells me about care of the item within the box – your pretty black sunhat. Your mom has attached a lovely gold seahorse pin to it. Saying that she thinks it is something you might do yourself, one of your “tricks” as you might say. I find myself gasping and weeping at the sight of it. She’s tucked a bit of wrapping paper into the crown so that it stays upright and full and the instructions are about how I should keep that inside the hat should I decide to hang it (she’s also included a lovely wall hook for just that purpose. I stand in the kitchen with your beautiful hat in my arms looking around a bit lost, not knowing where might be a good home for it. Finally, still sobbing, I settle on placing it quietly for now on the bed next to your place that I never turn down, next to and then, thinking, atop the pillow where your famous purple shirt lay as well, before coming back into the kitchen where the boxes sit on the floor. I keep unpacking the first one, finding the hook the note mentioned, thinking I probably won't hang the hat because I may not have the proper tools, only to find the next thing thoughtfully included in the box are the proper tools – a multiple bit screwdriver - also carefully, thoughtfully gift wrapped. I set them aside together and open box two. Your mom has included swiffers on top (Needed! This place is awash in dust, brick dust, plaster dust, every kind of dust from 10 months of destruction/construction in the "posh" new parts of the building). Next, the wonderful owl sachets. Everything in this box that I touch smells lovely. An infusion of the most intoxicatingly beautiful aromas float into the air – your kind of cotton candy scent. You are everywhere, my sweetheart. Next, I spot what seems by its shape to be a glasses case. I wonder if it's the second pair of Ray Bans I'd sent your Dad (he thought he lost the first pair I got him for Father’s Day so I replaced them but a few weeks later the first pair turned up…) rendered redundant. I open it and am in tears again – they’re the sunglasses with hearts all over the frames that I bought you on Valentines on our trip up to Lake Tahoe, the weekend “We Went to the Snow”. Oh, my sweetheart. Oh, my love! The rest of the box is filled with four lush, lovely folded bath towels with the “S” Serafin monogram from the house in Davis, smelling wonderful and fresh. They come in handy immediately still awash in tears for you. It's all all all so indescribably lovely and thoughtful. I immediately call your mom to thank her so very much. And I know you’re with me, holding my hand, stroking my chest and telling me that I am your treasure. And I know I need never ashamed to cry for you. Knowing, my love, that you are even nearer by than I can readily imagine. Until that day. Until that day...xxxxoooo

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On the air - NOW!

Holy cow, little sweetheart! Irene Trudel played our opening track "It's Christmas, Sweetheart" in her first set between The Byrds and Big Star! Should be up on the WFMU archive later tonight. Thank you, Ms T! Hey, sweetheart, you're on the radio... xM

In and On the Air

Little Sweetheart, we're going to be on the radio tonight. The great Irene Trudel is playing one of the tracks from the new Christmas record on her show on WFMU tonight. 91.1 FM in the Greater NYC area and streaming/archived at You're not only in the air, my darling, you're about to be on the air. And me with you! Love you forever....

Sunday, December 14, 2014

More from the baking aisle...

As I set out all the supplies for our molasses-ginger Christmas cookies the other day, my sweetheart, I discovered I was missing a key ingredient - the ginger! So, I headed over to D'Agostino's to grab some from the spice aisle. But as I stood there looking for the usual, familiar little bottle of McCormick's, I couldn't find one. I did, out of the corner of my left eye, see a rather upscale bottle in the adjoining display of high end gourmet spices, but ever-thrifty, I kept on perusing the entire collection of the economical brands. Finally, giving up, I turned to the gourmet side and took the bottle there in my hand. I looked for the price. I looked to see where it was listed. I looked to see if there was another bottle among them. There wasn't. Among the collection of every conceivable spice and seasoning, there wasn't even one more bottle of ground ginger there. Nor was there a placard for where there should be. I looked more closely at the label.  The bottle was heavy, thick glass with a pretty red top.  The print read  "Ground Ginger. Morton & Bassett. San Francisco." Of course. Of course. And the only one there. Hi, sweetheart. Thank you, my love. I'm saving an angel and a star for you...

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's Christmas, Sweetheart... (lyrics)

In dreams I weep to wake from
Because I'm bound to you
Oh, thank god for the day
I was ever found by you
The snow was falling
And so did I
So sweet and kind and true
It made me cry
To ever have to say goodbye

It's Christmas, Sweetheart

I can feel your footstep on the stair
Smell your ginger sweetness in the air
And I know you're everywhere

It's Christmas, Sweetheart

I can feel your footstep on the stair
All I want is just for you
To take me with you there

In dreams I weep to wake from
Because I'm bound to you
Oh, thank god for the day
I was ever found by you
So I'll remember, darling
What you said
About a life of love, so better led

It's Christmas, Sweetheart

Michael: Happy Christmas, Summer.
Summer: I can't wait until you're here!

c.p. 2014 Michael Louis Serafin-Wells, Thirteen November Music (ASCAP)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hear an angel...

Oh, sweetheart... I'm at D'Agostino's getting a few things to make Xmas cookies before practice tomorrow and one of our favorite songs just came on- The Cure's "Friday, I'm in Love". I remember walking through Trader Joe's together and watching you break into one of your gorgeous, earth-shattering smiles, pointing to the speaker as you heard it come on there, taking my hand. Here I stand in the baking aisle in tears. Never be ashamed to cry for you. My love. My little sweetheart. My very best friend.  Love you forever...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"It's Christmas, Sweetheart"...

Yesterday, sweetheart, we released the holiday EP, BPXmas. You're on it, of course, and the first song is one I wrote for and about you, my love. It's also on SoundCloud (below). Ground Control Magazine's Daryl Darko Barnett interviewed me for his review of it and here's what I said. 

"...I had the little riff and the jangly kinda chorus playing my Tele through a short delay and I was trying to find the words. I kept singing “It’s Christmas” and then the next line sorta wordlessly, just looking for the sound of it, over and over, until it just came out: “sweetheart”. I really feel that Summer gave that to me. Like she was sitting here looking over my shoulder while I played and just whispered the word into my ear because I could barely sing it for crying the first several times it came out of my mouth...