When you write for a newspaper, things are covered in a shroud of mystery mechanics. I have no idea who writes the headline for my column. Sometimes they surprise me with funny ones.
I just made five banners and am burrito-famished from all the cutting.
PS> I don't know if Battles are gonna be as rad live tonight as they are on this new record, but that record is a slip n' slide of pure pleasure. It reminds me of the Cocteau Twins (you already disagree, but draw the line between "Cherry-Colored Funk" to "Leyendecker"); they feel the same but in high speed reverse and totally macho. Macho thousand. Pulsing macho obliteration. I am not opposed. When Dave Konopka used to live here, I would see him at parties, and he was so uptight, someone--JJ always teased him about it. Once, we asked him how he achieved such a peerless prep look, and he told us his secret was that he only shopped at Banana Republic and then showed us the labels on his clothes to prove it. Thats one way to do it.
PPS> Ever notice that "Never Too Much" by Luther Vandross has this tense panic to the vocals? It's totally unsettling and doesn't feel like a love song at all. Did you ever read that thing on popbitch about how supposedly when he was on tour with En Vogue, they were really horrible and called him a fag all the time? The gender non-specificity in his songs seems really obvious now, in hindsight. I love Luther.
Dudes and dudettes, be aware--Chicago's own Condenada are touring out to the east coast RIGHT NOW. Radical feminist, queer, latina-fronted hxc sung in Spanish and English.
I love music! aka How I went broke at Amoeba without really trying!
Yes, I would go so far as to say I loathe Rebecca Walker's book, but the Lamott one is just boring, which pains me because I used to like her work.
It started with this--the cat-infuriating mobile.
or, actually, with this.
I realized I gave away all my paints when I moved--am trying not to see that as a mistake. The main question I ask myself lately is "what would a pioneer lady do?" and the answer has been "work with what she's got". Which is 4 colors of paint, modge podge, embroidery floss and construction paper. So I have been constructing much as I think to be constructing. Which is a lot.
I woke up Tuesday and baked a cake for JR's birthday. Long time cake enjoyer, first time cake baker. It was from a box, but the orange-ginger-cinnamon buttercream frosting was by my own hand. I tried to use a stencil to make a cinnamon bird on the top, but it went haywire. Later, I called JR and said "wake up and come eat yr cake, pal". He did. His gift was an inspirational banner, which we worked on together, with JR's 07 coin "summer of forgiveness". It came out nice. Summer of Forgiveness is a something to consider for yourself. The last few years have been wicked for everyone. Summer of Forgiveness is latent promise for the new, que no?
Once we got going, it was hard to stop. We are on day three of making banners for our friends. We just listen to the troubled callers on the Savage Love podcast and laugh and cut and string and tape and paste for a few hours. I took part of the week off from writing, so I just paper-make for a few hours, cook a bit, then read the hugely inspiring book of collected writings Bayard Rustin for a few hours. I had no idea who he was, but knew his name from a Smart Went Crazy song that has been stuck in my head for almost nine years before I thought to google him, which, in turn, prompted a library trip. Rustin was black, gay, christian, radical activist/organizer who was largely responsible for bringing the ideals of non-violent protest to the civil rights movement. He was an organizing powerhouse, but a lot of the people he worked with kept him in the wings and would sell him out because he was gay. When he was working to desegregate interstate busses in the south in the early 1940's, some white dudes started to beat him up and he winds up getting arrested. The cops get him to the jail and are infuriated he's not cowering and the cop tells him he should be scared and Rustin says
"I am fortified by truth, justice and Christ--I have no need to fear."
And that's just the third page. You should really read the book for yourself.
The high tide of inspiration is lapping at the shore.
A woman with a smoky voice is standing below my window yelling "RICKY!" over and over with long pauses between. Her tone does not distinguish whether Ricky is a man or a dog. We have 15 windows in the apartment and most of them are open now, and this being our hot season here, it's neighbor-noise-TBA, pure speculative matter on the summer volume. Matt theorized that maybe once the trees grow back their leaves, it'll be quieter, tree-insulation. Maybe the ruffling of the leaves will be a white noise that'll block out old yellers.
Hey! Big week of shows--Bird Names tonight, the return of Mahjonng and the Atom and His Package of the Paper Rad generation--Dan Deacon. Details here.
See you in the pit!
First all day bike excursion of the year. It feels like 100 years, condenced into five hours, a la Raintree County. I went to the car-laundry to get quarters and dudes were playing Frankie Beverly and R. super loud in line. Then I took the quarters to the gas station with the air hose for my bike tire. There was solitary dude there polishing his rims to ultra-loud R. as well. Post pump, I aimed towards United Center. The mega-block where they tore down the projects is slated to become a massive condo development; not sure if it's yuppie or CHA development. I liked that section of town best because it was half empty. Empty since that whole stretch burned in race riots 30-plus years ago. I wonder what it will be like when that block goes from empty to 200 bedrooms. Where will they park?
I turned down the wrong way street and had to be on the side walk and there was a grip of ladies in hats leaving the big church to obstacle around.
I turned down Washington, and two or three blocks below Ashland, I heard a drum corps banging away. I turned the corner to see whats going on and it's a uniformed jr high marching band loitering against a wall. Banging, tooting, sharing ear buds.
(Dreams do come true)
I got to the corner and stared at them a little, wondering why they are here and when I turn to look the opp. direction, all I could see--for blocks-- were blue and white floats, other marching bands and roughly 500 kiddos in traditional Greek outfits; pom pom shoes, tunics, embroidered vests. It was the Hellenic pride parade (my guess), and every Greek Orthodox school, parish, club, bank and community organization is out in their special outfits, milling and waiting for the parade to start, so they can get up on their floats. The traffic cop told me it started in an hour--I had time to get to the library and back and see it. I got to the library and hustled back as fast as I could. I wound up seeing the whole parade! Best part: the freedom fighters/resistance militia people who I think were part of a re-enactment society that had to do with a genocide in 1921 or occupation of Greece that I know nothing about. They wore super tight black outfits with bullet belts; like they were in From Ashes Rise.
I biked from there through the meat packing district, past Mr. City and Bee Jay Meat Market (whoa), then past the ADM mill, past a pile of curious CDs (Connells, Poi Dog Pondering) in a tunnel. Then on a crooked street up towards Wicker Crotch, I saw a dude eat shit on his bike and almost get mushed by a black Mercedes. He was ok. I gagged when he showed me his wound, which looked like a split banana, had already bruised and had gravel embedded in it. I went up towards the crotch and it was mayhem. Shirtless Wrigleyville style bros in wrap arounds yelling like they own the world, frost n' tip ladies and dudes in major vehichles were out in surplus numbers; also, an unnamed emo celebrity driving a black H3. Exiting the Walgreens, a young lady with a hair-down skaterbangs mohawk walked past me and smiled a huge giddy smile. She was wearing a super tight skirt with the tops of her stockings peaking out from underneath, her shirt read "I FUCKED YOUR BOYFRIEND" in old english lettering. She flounced like she'd taken walking lessons from Mr. Jay from Top Model. And I swear to gosh, it was the most disturbing thing I saw all day. Watching her tug down her skirt every couple steps, I felt like her mom. Then I just wanted to like, throw a burka over her like a Spidey net, and take her home and lecture her about how even though high school rebellion is a must, there is pletny of time coming up--her college years--in which to give it all away and dress like the dorm slut, and even be the dorm slut if she wants. I prayed that she is just in some Distillers style hardcore band and on her way to go play a show somewhere.
I feel like the world is coursening faster than I can handle sometimes.
Then! I saw JR on the street and we agreed to stencil Bayard Rustin t shirts later on.
Then, I saw on the wee median, the kid that played the organ all summer long--he was back out, now with an accordian. I requested "Moon River" and he said he didn't know how to play any songs at all. He was just out on the corner making people happy with the accordian, it's a mission, since he got arrested for playing the organ. He told me he's really doing it because, "obviously, this is the last summer that Wicker Park is going to really be Wicker Park, because, well, Filter is leaving"--apparently that will really seal the gentrification deal for him. Up until that point, I was thinking, I should do a story on his tender all-summer accordian initiative, until I heard that was his reason. His nostalgia for "the Wicker Park of two years ago" was enough to turn my stomach. (Wicker Park hasn;t been Wicker Park since they stopped finding bodies in the alleys c. 99. Boo Hoo, the cool shopping area is not very cool anymore! Tell it to the kids in Cabrini.)
I sped off, towards ice cream, towards home. I passed a "free" sale that had two toy xylophones and bunch of reel to real tapes each labeled "Comedy 1976" with a different month and two afrocentric candle holders. I didn't take anything, but appreciated the variety, to be sure.
When I got hom the neighborhood kids were on the corner unison-yelling "Honk!... Honk!... Honk!" --duetting along with a car alarm.
Also, if you have been sleeping on it thus far Savage Love Podcast is a must. Episode 21--last week--where he calls and yells at the guy for being a mysogynist is amazing in particular.
Story on the rock n' roll girls camp Chicago getting it together and a peek at nu-goth looks for spring from this week's Reader. Boo Ya.
In case someone for got to put the memo in yr intra office mail box, "secret" show tomorrow. These Arms Are Snacks w/ special not secret just announced openers Jesu and Zozobra (all hail, Old Man Gloom fans), Friday at Subterranean, up in the Wicker Crotch.
In other news:
I successfully made a mobile and if i can just keep the cats off the table, I could wind up making one everyday. Pix tk. People told me you need a digital scale and straws and I used sticks and string and glue and paper and stapled the shit ot the ceiling and ouila! You don't need to be Calder to build art that even is mesmerizing to animals.
The SSION album is queer punk disco bonkers. I have no idea how one gets it other than mailorder. It's a comic book kind of thing with the CD in the back. Sing along style, with Cody's illustrations. Mine came with the SSION "Chopped & Crude" version, which supposedly--not saying to floss, but rather to let you know you might have to outsource yr efforts to find one--limited to an edition of 100 copies. It's not chopped from what I can tell, just a slowed down version of the album, which is still genius, and helps you figure out the words if you lose yr sing along booklet. Or for when you cruise in yr Cutlass.
Went on the first train-bridge walk of the year SANS COAT with JR today. He summarized the entire French Revolution for me in the span of a half hour. SUMMER IS OFF TO A TREMENDOUS START!
Against the odds, Rollin Hunt has a myspace. I saw Rollin and his band play last week, and Liam who was in Bird Names for a spell is on drums, and there is a tiny trumpet and a bass. I'm not sure Rollin is aware he is making outsider art; he's earnest and oblivious from what I gathered. I wish the song "the Pamphlet" would play in it's entirety, it's the only thing I have heard in a year that made me want to make a band, because he played it with the whole band singing back ups, the horn, a glut of reverb and it was kind of Daniel Johnston meets the Shirelles. "Lonely Night" is also genius stroke, also the line "I took out some gum / and began to chew" is what is missing from all songs previously written. Chewing gum in the wind while you watch yr neighbors make out is exactly what is missing from rock songs. New favorite local band, tied with Bird Names. Be advised!
Does anyone out there in reader-land know anything about making mobiles? I want to do one with thin wire, but I know i'll prolly end up with cardboard suspension... but I want less clunky, more floating. SOMEONE CALL THE EMAIL TIP LINE IF YOU KNOW TIPS.
BARR was in town last night, now with his band. No longer solo, so you can't hear the words as well, which makes it less a confrontational referendum on the nature of being a performer, but he is still spearheading the current dialectic on audience/band relationship. Also, with a band behind him, his stage moves no longer recall yoga poses; now I just think "young Rollins". Brendan is like the inverse Rollins. Purely positive, performance as dialogue, macho rock n' roll mythos folded into a pale pink orgami swan and given as a gift.
"eyes closed / eyes open"
Barr is playing a secret show on Monday, at Ronnys (California between Armitage and the Blue Line stop), 8pm sharp. Marnie Stern and a sideproject of Eyesearsnose also play. Eyesearsnose opened last night and they were gentle, I picked up their cassette--it came in a spandex snakeskin cover that was sewn on. EEN, along with Bird Names and a few others I have seen lately give me two theories: 1. Animal Collective is the Beatles for art school kids 2. All the kids who came up on Wolf Eyes and Lightning Bolt and deconstructed blast music are all starting pop bands, but channeling the same chaos and energy into baby pianos and reverb.
These kids took my picture, so I took theirs. They were talking about Paper Rad, but their look was aNYthing meets Suicidal Tendencies. The kid on the left said "Lets do the stereotypical asian thing--throw a peace sign", but his friend was not very enthusiastic. There is a haunted house in his eyes.
As if we needed one more reason to love Dan Savage and hate Garrison Keillor.
Winter before this one, when Octavia Butler died, Bookworm rebroadcast the interview she did about Fledgling. I have yet to read this book or any of her others, but I go back a listen to this every couple months and understand something new of what she is saying. She has a voice like chopped and screwed sap. The bookworm podcast is one of my favorite things about the internets oppurtunities. On the recent one, Michael Silverblatt (so candid, so smart) asks Gore Vidal about a simple question about contemporary writers, and GV answers by going off about ancient Greeks, quoting poems he's memorized through the years and why he hates America for about a half hour without hardly a breath in between and not answering the question at all. Gore Vidal is pissed!
Also, more from the book I am reading:
My rambling metaphysics was getting caught in the trap of reducing experience to coherence and meaning, letting the perplexity of meaning reduce the joy in their mystery. To insist that diligent thought would bring an understanding of change was to limit life to the comprehensible.
In the cab home, I spied boys, boys in short sleeves, in the D&D parking lot with six packs straining plastic bags, dangling pendulous from handlebars of their bikes. I thought about a line from Blue Highways I read a few hours before, over ample plains; he's descibing a bog on the verge of spring, but it's about something bigger than the season effects of a tupelo swamp:
Things once squeezed close, pinched shut, waiting to become something else, something greater, were about ready.
Out of California mind state and home to soggy glamour, I feel in love with prospects and making after scouring the Sister Corita book I got today--inspiration to DO has come on like a command--and in tandem with faked out spring promise. Making little arts feel tangible, which is lucky, because I think the rest is out of order. I keep trying to talk but my conversationalability is way broken, so I think it's best to just use my hands and keep busy with them. My thinking and theory and work function is tired out, and I only have small talk to offer--anecdotes about animals, feelings, the two tv shows I like, the forecast--the limited gamut of old person chit chat, essentially. I told Cali my theory that something is wrong with my brain, this morning, over a breakfast of melon balls eaten up in a Hollywood parking lot. He assured me nothing is wrong with my brain, I'm just in between things. Like in between spaces of knowing one thing and knowing a new another, I think. I trust him enough to be willing to go on him being right on this one. Then, not long after that, he dropped his cigarette to the ground to put it out, but it landed perfectly balanced, standing on it's filter, ash end to the sky. We took it as an omen and let it be.
We drove the PCH to Zuma, and my left arm looks like a tattooed buffalo hot wing, no Misfits, and Jane wanted to vomit from the canyon curves, but dreams came true!
1. I'm going to see my girls, and I'm going to see my way back dudes. The way backest, from back when they were puking on Pico and I was a little boy with a shaved head.
2. I just wanna cruise the canyons out to the PCH listening to "Where Eagles Dare" on repeat. For a whole day and night. Til my heart explodes on the sands of Zuma. "You better think about it baby!"
I just got the last three issues of ANP Quarterly in the mail, and I plowed through them and I really think it is the best underground magazineses going. I can't always get through the mystical art school jargon; I'm more into feelings than concepts, but it's full color, inspiring and about hope as much as it is art and the people who make it. Plus, being full sized, you can pull out the centerfold and OUILA you have a poster. Anyhow ANP is redonkulissly hard to find, and thank gosh that they now offer subscriptions. I like ANP also because they keep the story about people selling things to a minimum. Seriously, just as a note here--I know as punx/half-punks/aging hipsters, there is still this weird novelty to stores that sell things we are interested in, and weirdo-run stores get a lot of play in the underground press . Art books, curious shoes, vegan belts with wagon wheel buckles, feminist lederhosen and eyepatches for lesbians by lesbians etc. are all things I would buy--but I think we need to get over the awe. Capitalism is usually not any more special in the hands of a DIY-er than some regular douchebag who opens a hat store (or what have you). I know it seems like, wow, were really getting one over on the man if a punk can have a punk book store that also sells handcrafted soaps can exist, but people selling things is not a story--it's just not. I think people having those businesses, those galleries, etc and applying their own anti-cap ideals to the standard business format and that they do not have to work at DSW or temp at Dolphin hungover in their borrowed pleat front slacks is REALLY GREAT IN ITSELF--MEANINGFUL WORK IS INHERENTLY ANTI CAPITALIST.
I just think writing stories about it is done as hell, and not the revolution at all at all.
Capitalism "on your own terms" is not much of a story in 2007, so much as it is a myth, and when we cover it in certain ways, we're conflating, say, a feminists ability to sell handscreened messenger bags with feminist liberation itself. Which is a sure sign we have lost the plot. I'm not sure it's possible to make a new machine from the old machines cogs (I say that as someone who ran a "punk" business for 11 years. For a long time, I thought working for way too cheap meant I was an ethical business person, that profits were the sign of shadiness--but in being so "ethical", I was ripping off my employees (and myself) because we were we all slaving away for less than minimum wage and had no benefits aside from guest list and scene cred.) Because business is business is business unless you are using a totally seperate model. To me, a good story on a store might be about how a little business found a creative way to give employees affordable health care, incorporate daycare in a small business setting, or ways to organize or profit share or manufacture responsibly--things that are about quality of life or ethics, rather than a congratulatory totem to the growing market for cool junk and fanzines, and punks ever growing ability to turn a buck. Word?
Listen, I think I have something you want in on. 2007 is an auspicious year for learning, so lets get to what might be the first truly great thing we (you and me and also JR) all do this year: our pact. Discipline, let alone self-discipline, is hard for most people, so perhaps if we all agree to do together, it'll make it easier--to draw on collective willpower.
Here's a suggested outline:
The pact has to be personal.
It has to be for the greater good of your creative or learning life.
It has to last between 1-6 months.
You have to appoint a role model--so you can ask "What would Miranda July/Sacajawea/Larry Blackmon of Cameo do?" when you are in dire straights with your applied risk-taking pact. Print a picture of yr role model off the internet and put it in a copious place to remind you that you are on a path, you and your pact.
There is no reason not to start today. Even if it's something that seems hard, you can probably do it.
My pact started at the beginning of this month, and it is that for the next six months, I am not going to buy any clothes (socks excluded, shoes included); if I need or want some clothes I have to make them myself.
JR said his pact is to only listen to music made before 1950. I am not sure when he is starting.
What is your pact?
I really liked that Rob Sheffield book. I wrote a review that got pulled because I didn't say much beyond that it's restores the dignity to music nerd-dom that Nick Hornby stole. Or imbued. I liked Rob Sheffields book because it is sentimental, sappy, and has all sorts of weird little rules for living that are borne out of liking songs too much and I have that problem too. It's a book about missing a lot of things, which is not terribly fashionable at this late stage, and so I also liked that about it, because that's brave. Anyhow, there is an interview with Rob up on Fluxblog where he says:
RS: The live record is phenomenal. And it is SUCH a tape. Everybody had that on tape. It SOUNDS like a tape. Everybody had a tape with Remain in Light on one side and Fear of Music on the other. Everybody in 1985 had a tape with Little Creatures on one side and Fables of the Reconstruction on the other. In 1983 it was War and Murmur. You always like one side better. Summer '83, everybody had a tape with Speaking in Tongues/Synchronicity. In 1986, everybody had a tape that was split Lifes Rich Pageant and True Stories, but everybody taped over it with Raising Hell and Licensed to Ill. In 1988, it was Nation of Millions and Lovesexy. I taped a Sonny Rollins record over Lovesexy, it just didn't fit. You're Living All Over Me and Sister, that was another universal one. I miss that--like, what would be the right album to put on the other side of Boys and Girls in America?
Which is enough to make me think I might need to star gunning for a double cassette dub-deck at the thrift. My worldview shifting tape was my 9th-grade busride and hallways jam, which had had 2/3rd of Daydream Nation on side A and most of 3 Feet High and Rising on the other.