Variation on the Word Sleep

Monday, November 22, 2004

Old Journals

It's late at night and I'm reading through old documents -- some ranging back to 7 years ago. Some more recent. It's strange reading through them. They fall into either academic or personal, and both have a sense of loss to them. It's the personal ones that are the strangest -- struggling now to remember the moments when I felt these thing. There was one which struck me in particular :

There's a loneliness to walking through the mist, its beautiful but you feel like the only person in the world. Rare cars turning the air white with their headlights break the silence every once in a while. I expected the mist to be thickest near the lake, but as I approached it thinned. Its funny how the times I fear will be the hardest like the last few weeks after our conversation... But they've turned out to be some of the most intimate times we've had, the mist has cleared in some ways.

I sit on the bridge over the little pond, everything is still and clear the trees, streetlights, and clouds reflected in the still water. I'm still, untroubled by anything, thinking of life, you. Walking home I smell the beach by my grandparents where the morning glories creep along the piles of driftwood and the beach retreats every year. My mom once showed me where it used to be when she was young, now 20 foot trees stand a safe distance from the water. I want to go with you, there and everywhere else.

Upon reading this I remembered the moment, and yet looking back at it from the now... from the future which I worried about then -- I don't understand what I was thinking. I was in love. That much I remember, but I don't remember "the conversation" which was evidently quite important. I also don't remember the "mist clearing" -- I apologize for the pain which that cliche may cause. I don't remember sounding as pathetic.
In fact judging from much the stuff I wrote while I was in love, fear was omnipresent. I don't remember it now. I don't remember the feeling of worthlessness that seems omnipresent. I am not worthy of you seems to be the most common sentiment when I wrote about her. I'm glad that I can't relate to that feeling anymore. Now I just remember the joy and excitement -- the pain as well, but that has it's own strange joy to it.


Friday, November 19, 2004


There is a feeling you get when you hear certain songs, see certain films, read certain books. A spiritual feeling-- sheer beauty which threatens to overwhelm you. It feels like the lump in your throat before you cry -- except deeper and more subtle.
This feeling is at the root of a lot of religious experience, and it's easy to understand why. There was a long period of time when almost all art was religious hymns, paintings, calligraphy, etc. Combine that with the fact that aesthetic overload like that feels like being touched by god, and it is little wonder that for much of my childhood art was what I thought of when I thought of god -- that sense of beauty which takes you out of yourself.
Last night I couldn't sleep and was laying in bed listening to a live version of Lover's Spit by Broken Social Scene and it struck me -- its beauty, and the beauty of the whole world. For a moment I wanted to wake everyone I knew and force them to listen to it. To show them that beauty is alive and well.

Is it possible to proselytize for art?


Monday, November 15, 2004

November - Volume 1

One mix a month. Distributed to whomever wants a copy. Here's November's annotated tracklist. Email me if you would like a copy.

November - Volume 1
1. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Me and the Mia from Shake the Sheets
Um. Not really much to annotate here. This is why it's on this mix.

2. Stars - Your Ex-Lover is Dead from Set Yourself on Fire
"You were what I wanted/I gave what I gave/ I'm not sorry I met you/ I'm not sorry it's over/ I'm not sorry there's nothing to say/ I'm not sorry there's nothing to say." I love it when songs articulate things you've felt, but never managed to express.

3. Metric - IOU from Old World Underground Where are you Now?
I discovered both Stars and Metric through Broken Social Scene. When they played at the 400 Bar partway through the show during an ocean of feedback a woman walked on stage, grabbed a microphone and began screaming into it. The noise -- feedback and screaming -- then subtly morphed into a song. It was Emily Haines lead singer of Metric and a startlingly attractive woman.

4. Modest Mouse - Sleepwalking (Couples Only Dance Prom Night) from the Interstate 8 EP
This is one of my favorite Modest Mouse songs -- a cover of an instrumental song from the 60's with lyrics added. "The white trash boys/ listen to their headphones/ blasting white noise/ in the convenience store parking lot."

5. Pulp - Dishes from This is Hardcore
Jarvis Cocker's initial's are the same as Jesus' (if you count Christ as a last name). He was 33 when This is Hardcore came out, an album about aging, sex, and morality. He writes songs with a moral like a Woody Allen movie -- "You don't want to be as depraved and empty as me." From the same album in fact: "You look like me, but please don't turn out like me. You look like me, but you're not like me at all. I look like a big man, but I only have a little soul." He needs a hug, or less heroin.

6. Neko Case - Twist the Knife from Some Bootleg
I love the beauty and sadness of her voice. "Carefully, quietly, you took what's young from me/ Didn't deserve it, I gave it away/ Cowardly, thoughtlessly you walk away from me, and I'll tear my heart out to save you the pain." Liz fainted at a Neko Case concert once. Neko asked after her health.

7. Built Like Alaska - Burnin' Mine from Hopalong
Built Like Alaska deserve to be much more popular than they are. There's a calm beauty to their music -- it perfectly fits the landscapes they describe. They have a new record deal and a new album coming out soon.

8. Stars - Heart from Heart
I put one song from each of Stars' albums on this mix. This is from their second album which is probably my favorite. The female singer (also connected with Broken Social Scene) has a voice that makes me want to melt.

9. Aesop Rock - No Regrets from Labor Days
I love this album. I love this song. "You can dream a little dream or you can live a little dream. I'd rather live it, cause dreamers always chase but never get it." It's such a strange and engaging song.

10. Talking Heads - Psycho Killer (Live) from The Name of this Band is the Talking Heads
Someone explain this song to me. I love it -- especially this version, but what the hell does it mean?

11. The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence - Pavement from Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (LA's Desert Origins)
"Some bands like to name-check, one of them is R.E.M." A deliciously odd song. The lyrics include listing the songs off of Reackoning which is my favorite R.E.M. album. Then somehow it shifts to the civil war. I think Pavement must have been smoking a lot of grass when they imagined the confrontation between General Sherman and R.E.M.

12. Prince Paul ft Big Daddy Kane - Macula's Theory from A Prince Among Thieves
This song is so wrong that it's right. I don't even know where to start -- the opening joke? Sometimes you have to turn off your ability to be offended and just enjoy. "While y'all are making love/ I'm making love into a buisness."

13. The Flaming Lips - Brainville from Clouds Taste Metallic
Given how amazing the Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots are, I think a lot of people overlook Clouds Taste Metallic. It's a tragedy that we don't have a Brainville -- we could send our president to have his "space enlarged".

14. Pulp - Bar Italia from Different Class
This is the ultimate hangover song. It says something sort of disturbing about me that it is the Pulp song that I most often put on mixes for friends. This captures breakfast the morning after -- preferably at the Triple Rock. The way Jarvis Cocker delivers the end of the line: "Oh look at you, you, you're looking so confuse/ oh what did you lose... It's okay it's just your mind." Of course the kicker is the very end "If we get through this alive, I'll meet you next week, same place, same time."

15. Stars - This Charming Man from Nightsongs
A cover of a Smiths song. I confess that while most people seem to adore the Smiths and Morrissey I can't stand either. Which is particularly odd considering the other music I like. This song is good though and this electro-pop version seems particularly appropriate.

16. Softies - Holiday in Rhode Island from Holiday in Rhode Island
My first (and I guess only) real love was from Rhode Island. I went to visit and when I ran across this song I couldn't help but love it for the happy and sad memories.

17. Grandaddy - Why Took Your Advice from Under the Western Freeway
I like Grandaddy. This is from their first album which is endearingly unpolished. There's something sad and obscure to this song.

18. Broken Social Scene - Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl from You Forgot it in People
This is one of those songs that took hearing live to really appreciate. The weird vocal filter. The slow building repetitveness. The banjo. Emily Haines' voice.

19. The Coup - Ghetto Manifesto from Party Music
This album cover originally had Boots Riley setting off explosions in both towers of the world trade center. "Got a house arrest anklet, but it don't bling bling/ got a hommie with a cell, but that shit don't ring." Like public enemy except all about class.

20. Angelo Badalamenti - The Dance of the Dream Man from The Twin Peaks Soundtrack
You know you love this song. You love the little midget with his backwards dancing crazyness. The owls are not what they seem. Oh and your favorite gum is going to come back in style.

There it is. It's fairly random. December is going to be quite a bit more deliberate -- I've already started picking tracks. I figure throughout November when I hear something I really connect with I'll toss it on a list and then whittle that down.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Pain

This election hurts more than the last. This time there are no excuses: no popular vote, no hanging chads, no Ralph Nader, no voter apathy. This time the American public stood up and made themselves heard. I believe what they said was, "We are a bunch of ignorant, terrified, fools who deserve what we will get for the next 4 years." Unfortunately the other 49% of us are going to get it as well.

What bothers me the most is the disconnection from reality. I don't think it's ever been this bad. One of the realities of a society like ours is that culturally the majority of people would rather be presented with and accept (even in the face of overwhelming evidence) a comfortable fabrication, than deal with the difficult realities which face us. This is what the neocons have hit upon. Give people a simple way of understanding the world. Tell them that it comes down to good and evil and they are good.

It doesn't matter what the truth is anymore. The public are so willing to swallow what is comforting and simple that they don't care that it is completely false. We're winning the war in Iraq. Our schools are getting better. The economy is improving. They eat it up, because they don't want to acknowledge that the world might not be perfect and safe.

In a sense it's parrallel to religious fundamentalism. Christian (not to mention Muslim and Jewish) fundamentalists point the finger at the unimportant things: homosexuality, drinking, sex, language; in a vain effort to distract themselves (and perhaps God) from the real sins of pride, hypocracy, and selfishness. I hope hell exists so that the self righteous bastards of the religious right can arrive there with cries of, "But I wasn't gay." Not that I'm bitter. It's ironic as well that the religious fundamentalists in this country are the ones who are most likely to critique Islam as fundamentalist and freedom threatening. Are they completely blind to the fact that they are the American Taliban?

Yes they are. They and 51% of the country are willfully blind to anything that challenges their world view and their comfort.

Perhaps we were guilty of the same thing. We took comfort in the fact that the American public could not possibly be so stupid and blind as to vote for Bush. We can see clearly now, and what we see is terrifying.