When the chasm of human experience feels unbridgeable, and the past is keeping you like the stocks, and there is no absolution to be had, no forgiveness to salve you, and the world feels too much in it's infinite newness and it's midnight and people are screaming and feeding babies ranch flavor chicken fingers from a bucket, when all you see is difference and a long string of your own unqualified failures, there is Van singing "Lay me down / in silence easy / to be born again / to be born again". There is so much wanting in "Astral Weeks" but it's not desperation, it's all vessel; it's faith enough to cover us all. He waits until to 4:55 to slip the big one, "I'm nothin but a stranger in this world" --after he's sung all this future-hope, he's just fucking untangled joy over pipping flutes-- Here, he flashes his wretch-like-me makings, and dovetails his abyss with deliverance--there is something beyond this---"way up in the heaven" --"in another time/in another place"--he sounds like he's about to giggle he's so delighted, he's so sure. It's fine, fixed sureness, an easy sureness when he repeats it this last time, in this final ecclesiastic glee coda. He has all the reasons not to believe, but he does. The buddhists say hope is a trap, it's a set up for suffering, but the hope in this song, it is free, it drags nothing with, it is only onward, onward in love and frailty.
New Brunswick's only hope, Screaming Females start a 45 date tour this week. When Marissa solos for a solid minute starting at 1:36, then restarts cos she can't stop from 3:50-4:23, when it dissolves into stomping and feedback? I shiver. Also, head-to-toe black out with fresh yellow keds is a look I'm going to have to steal. Who can deny her Sleater-Kinney goes "Little Wing" style? Best show I saw last summer, bar nothing. You'll be so awed by her that you'll be able to ignore that the bassist doesn't wear shoes.
Scheid came straight from the airport in this sweet ride and so Stephen Stills Appreciation Brunch went on beach-cation to the Hawaii of Indiana™ in a Sebring with Wisconsin plates.
JR brought some esoteric Turkish disco, I brought a Zep/Metallica CD I burned, and since we roll drivers choice, my choice prevailed. He did not mind.
Morgan, we should note, got 100% on her algebra final this week. She took algebra again, just to keep up on that shit. She also spent every other Saturday for the last six weeks in an ER working as a volunteer advocate for women who'd been raped. Being friends with her forces you to constantly ask yourself: what am I doing with my life?
And I know now, after a handshake pact amongst us all: I'm playing drums in Fuck and Run: A tribute to Liz Phair's Guyville.
They were playing it on the radio and David and JR knew all the words; JR hitting the falsetto on "I'm a cunt in spring" sealed the deal--they are fronting this band.
It was funny to hear two dudes bro-ing down about what that record really meant to them, how it changed their lives at the time. We're looking to play a house party in say, December, if yr birthday is coming then.
Then we picked up Nora, who insisted on getting in and out of the car Dukes-style.
Whenever we saw someone we knew while we were driving, she'd yell:
"IT'S A RENTAL!"
Anyone here a buff or casual expert on Zeppelin recording techniques or studio lore? Specifically relating to drums on IV and Led Zeppelin II. If so, I need to talk to you for about four minutes. It's for my book, for the benefit of the future girl Bonzos of the world. Emailz me msjessicahopper AT gmail
Due to the drunken fictions and frictions of those grievous in-between years an apology was due. 15 years after the fact, but due is due, so I offered one up. I was feeling penitent, though I knew nothing more was owed, so I kept hanging out, though, really I just wanted that to be done with it. I didn’t want to bro. I didn’t want to bond. I didn't want to rehash that midwestern teen epoch. There is no old times sake between us now. That shit was bullshit on either side and I just wanted to be clean of mine. He accepted my sorry and grabbed my hand hard and kissed it and didn't let go. I fought the impulse to punch him straight in the teeth since my balled up hand was so perfectly poised, but didn't want to have to apologize twice. I got up to go smoke and he followed me.
On the corner, I got a light from a guy who does what I do for a living. He was standing with a girl who looked like Snow White, but hotter. I wished for a hole to open up in the sidewalk and magically shoot me home. We all stood silent for an awkward few seconds. The mens balance tentative, they rolled from their toes to their heels, teetering like they were on the bow of an invisible ship that held only them. They were both wet-eyed and sloppy drunk, the blast-from-the-past boy’s eyelids had the persistent slow slitting of the narcotized. The local boy handled the introductions.
This is Melissa
Actually it’s Miranda
Melissa, this is Jeszzzzsss--
He sounds like the snake on The Mighty Bouche when he says it, the s like a slow leak.
Jessica. I shake her hand.
How do you guys know each other?
I’m a writer, he’s a writer.
Jessica she’s a music. Journalism. write. She. He’s trying to untangle the words, to properly conjugate “write”. His eyes seem loose in their sockets. “She’s theee writer here.”
Oh, really. That’s what I want to do. Says Miranda-Melissa.
We talk about writing, she asks for advice, I explain to her what a fanzine is.
HIT IT OR QUIT IT the past boy thunders, bowing and throwing his hand towards the sky. “I know! I was there!”
The local boy interrupts.
Jessica has a blog.
It’s true, I do.
I write about it sometimes. He scrunches his face down towards mine. I love it, but sometimes I have to make fun of it. He shrugs by way of apology.
It’s ok. That’s how I make my living too.
He turns to the girl: She’s great, but lately, her blog is. Confusing?
He turns to me: No! Flat.
Back to the girl: But her paid writing. Hoo boy. Fire.
To me: Blog. Nuhsomush. He smiles nervous and hard like he’s trying to keep his teeth in.
Yeah. It hasn’t been a funny-fun summer. I’m lean on jokes.
He begins to backpeddle: Actually can I fawn, can I explain to her who Jessica Hopper is?
I’d prefer if you didn’t. He tries anyway.
Is your grandma dead now? He asks in the middle of a sentence.
No. She is still with us, thankfully.
Both of the boys are trying to jibber at us while we try to talk to one another. They are too drunk to handle the sobriety of our conversation. I hear Kathleen Hanna in my head—“tell me what the fuck we’re doing here / why are all the boys acting strange” --and the girl drops the bomb.
Yeah, this has been a terrible summer. My ex boyfriend just died and then my boyfriend dumped me right after.
Both the boys reel back. The hot girl has a just-dead boyfriend: there goes Plan A! No one is getting in her pants tonight. Their default setting is treacle-slow game spitting, but they manage to offer condolences in unison: “Whoa.”
At stoplight, Chicago and Ashland 1:10 am, on bikes:
I need to get on that, get a summer romance going before the end of summer.
Well, then it’ll be a fall romance.
I think if I apply myself, it’s possible.
What about that girl, on the bike there?
She’s a touch young.
So. She’s really beautiful. Look at her.
Start placing Missed Connections for people who may not exist.
This is your de facto advice now. You suggested the same method to Dave Scheid.
Yeah. It’ll work eventually. It's got to.
How about this: “I saw you. Mecca Fashions. Me: guy buying white sportcoat. You: Woman trying on XXXXL Tweety-Bird-As-Notorious-B.I.G. airbrushed t-shirt. Would like to pump semen into you im-meeed-iately.”
Yeah, I think that’ll do it.
(Light changes. We roll towards home.)
Me and Dave Stone and Shannon from 16 Bitch Pile Up played an improvisational noise set on this kids bed in West Covina a few weeks ago and now it's on the youtube. This 1 minute clip represents 1/10th of the show. It got louder. Then we swam when it was over.
Ritual is the vice of the pious, but we are merely hungry goofballs stupored from sleeplessness and imbibing.
We get high on friendship and frenchtoast.
Such is the way of the second inaugural Stephen Stills Appreciation Brunch. Once we are mostly full, but before we do a dramatic reading of the lyrics to "Relaxing Town", we must make an offering to appease Stephen.
Enjoy some shredded cheese and a sip of a soy latte, brother.
Adam, one of our two out-of-towner guests told us of contemporary Stills lore; about how Graham Nash unearthed some sessions SS did with Hendrix that he just forgot happened, and also that he saw him in concert and that SS was wearing a long flowing blouse that Adam classified as "only something a very rich person would wear".
Salud to his hippie wrath, his wisdom, his solos, and his hallucination that he served in Vietnam.
Going by the trailers for the forthcoming duds and blockbusters at the multi-plex, and factoring in the enjoyable morality play that followed (BATMAN!), all American movies w/o animatronic animals and Jennifer Aniston in them are plotted by this simple equation:
A man in a hood/mask who is not afraid of anything
is going to come do this. Again.
It taps our base common fear, but also serves as a therapy, an aversion fantasy--the traumatic outcome and all of it's anxiety pass by having a different "positive" outcome: Good guys and bad guys are clear and separate. Violence is framed with an pre-9/11 American gaze, but a post 9/11 vengeance quest. The apocalyptic event horizon can and will be averted. We are right so we get to live.
We were riding home and out on the corner Craig stood, amidst intersecting crews, just shy of last call, everyone drinking seemingly drunk beyond drunk firmly in that realm of free-associative genius that comes right before blacking the fuck out, where every convo and rant sounds like a Ghostface freestyle. I put the camera up to my eye and he said Do you wanna see my teeth? and flashed 'em all.
I think it'd been going on for a good half hour before I woke all the way up. The exact point where I realized it was a domestic and not the creepy people on the corner w. the M.I.A Bring Them Home Now Flag who are always fighting, was when she started using the door for punctuation:
then the refrain:
GETOFMYFUCKINGHOUSENOW (slam slam slam)
The building shuddered with each slam. She kept going. It was a conversation in noise. Her screaming and slamming, the other party, no longer yelling back, responding what sounded like the lobbing of glass objects at the wall. One by one. A house quaking thud, a screamed demand, a shattering, repeat. The shattering had a lightness, crystalline quality. I wondered what kind of thing was getting broken. Not plates. Were they ripping pictures off the wall? Collectible Christmas figurines, cut glass candy dishes strewing Werthers Originals as they hurled? It was 4:27 a.m. when I rang up the cops. I laid back in bed, looking at dawn on the tin siding of the Trump Tower. I heard the cruiser arrive; cop cars have that particular high idle. Like all Chicago Police Cars do, they drove the wrong way down our one way at top speed, bumper scraping the speed bump. The breaking stopped. The cats returned to bed. The morning came.
If you are coming to town for Pitchfork, two things to know, just to scribble down on your funna-hit-that list or whatever:
Friday evening! 10 p.m. til 4 a.m. at Continental, aka Mistakes, aka where the folks go if they are slurring and wanna take it to the bonezone, DJ BEN FASMAN will be playing thong songs for you if you need to get the taste of that Sebadoh reunion gig outta your mealy mouf. Google that shit, I don't have the address.
Saturday am! 10 am to later, The Ukrainian Museum of Art is having A YARD SALE. They will sell all manner of stuff, but it said there will be "recordings" as well as art and shelves and stuff to do with slides and projectors. That's a half block east of Western on Chicago ave. WHAT SORT OF RECORDINGS?! I hope it's tapes, don't you?!
Zuzu's Petals might never have been on your radar, unless you were a Minneapolitan punk or Everett True, but let that matter not--you needa read Laurie Lindeen's book about being in Zuzu's. It is my favorite book about being in a band since The Dirt. I woke up before 7 am to read it because I just want to get to the part when they start playing shows and then also where she gets together with Paul Westerberg, to whom she is now married. (I always thought Tommy-at-16 was the cutest Replacement but my idealized boyfriend, in my teenage mind (ok, still) was a combo of Paul, Paul Weller and Chuck D.) I don't think I have read any memoirs, or at least not that has left an impression on me, of being a punk/girl with a dream of a band. It's always "I was a groupie, but really I wanted to be in a band". This book starts with knowledge of that futile path and evolves into real feminist love for her guitar. And it's funny and smart. & They have it at the library.
Hi! Good Morning! Wake Up! Time To Go To Work!
Did you know that people have done serious scholarship on why there are so many female bassists in punk and indie bands? ME NEITHER. I know, it's kind of a high class concern to be puzzling on... NONETHELESS. This book looks stiff and formal, but it's not; she gets it, and the analysis puts stuff (riot grrrl, ladyfest, indie rock criticism) in the proper contexts. (((P.tothedisgustedS.:I'm fucking tired of the culturally dumb academe books that are like "Mariah Carey sold 18 million records! This is a sure sign feminism has completely infiltrated the mainstream! HUZZAH! CHATTLE NO MORE!"--like, a pure capitalist read--ja, ja we know money=power---but c'mon that's so Clinton-era to relax into success-in-the-mans-world b.s., blindly reframing a girdled pop star as something other than the perfected unreal? Seriously? It's 2008. It's whole package or nothing, you can't just refute male gaze out of the equation because she's writhing in a bikini AND has a limo of her own.)))
Bobby Goldsboro --Summer the First Time, courtesy of Jenny. SOFT ROCK COUGAR ANTHEM! It seems implausible that any 31 year old woman would want to deviriginize a 17 year old boy, but that's not the only reason this song/video is a mindblower. Bobby Goldsboro looks like he was the basis for Javier Bardem's character's look in No Country For Old Men, and keeps referring to looking this woman in her one eye (singular) and being aroused by the touch of a finger... how have I never heard this?
Salience on humour and meaning, from Mark Van Doren's introduction to Sandburg's Harvest Poems 1910-1960:
"Just as we cannot take a man seriously who lacks the sense of humor, so we cannot take the poet. Humor is the final sign and seal of seriousness, for it is proof that reality is held in honor and in love. The little poets whom the renaissance of more than forty years ago swept into oblivion were first of all unreal; their poems were not about anything that matters; and so their feelings--the ones they said they had--failed to be impressive. They had no genuine subjects."
Sandburg writes much about the new skyscrapers of Chicago being lifted, lifting the city, Chicago built and rebuilt in Windy City and Good Morning, America--in those poems, they are valiant and triumphant--their triumph is in the toil and labor as much as it's symbolic progress and modernity. The night I got home JR pointed out that the glowing tower that got bigger while I was gone, the thing I would fall asleep looking at every night since it came twinkling into view this early spring--is, in fact, the Trump Tower. Since then I have kept the right side curtain of my room pulled on it. I liked it better when I thought it was a very tall parking structure or that twirling building that'll be the tallest in the world. I don't know why the building having a name and identity changes my feelings about looking at it; the toil of leather handed men, and building something very tall in 1928 was progress, now I think that continual triumph is harbinger of ruin--but maybe it's just a building.
Since you probably couldn't get in to the beyond sold out Tortoise-show benefit for Stella Ackerman last night, you can and should donate here. Maybe you know her dad Craig, he played in Lustre King and her mom Rebecca runs Flying Saucer. Even if you don't, you should throw some moneys their way because if your kid was sick and you had to crazy medical bills to pay, you would certainly hope people would do the same for you, wouldn't you?
Since we couldn't find Stephen Stills house using Google maps, we went to see Hellboy, the movie. An hour in, I fell asleep, which never happens, and Ben let me sleep for a half hour because there was nothing I was really missing. The subtext of this movie doesn't exist, because there is not a discernible text. In American summer blockbusters, even when the badguys are CGI, the hero stands in for America. Patriotism was nil, though--if we couldn't tell from the mammoth cross swinging from Selma Blair's neck--Catholicism loomed. The film's emotional axis is not will the world survive this not very evil plot hatched by the elves borrowed from Labrynth, which doesn't have much truck when a.) every American knows the apocalypse is nigh and b.) the only creatures that have the baleful elf-prince's back is an easily killed monster that turns Manhattan into a garden as it dies (RECYCLE, BITCHES!) and a rogue army made from what appears to be the innerworkings of Patek Philippe tourbillion watches. (Look out for that glowing timepiece, Hellboy, it's got a sword!) The emotional axis, instead, is the fate of Selma Blair's unborn child. Or to give the stupid fucking ending away--her twin fetuses! Everyone will risk their life and health, and fate of the world!, for the innocent life of unborn feti--and yet, still you will not give a shit. AND THEN: Hellboy offs the NSBM-looking elf and the legion of pocketwatches and OUILA!
suddenly he's Paulie Bleeker in redface.
Echo Park's arbiter of style and inspiration, Kime Buzzelli is coming to Chicago in August for an art show and stuff.
I'm wearing her dress right now, 2000 miles away.
Aaron and I are judging our zine contest tomorrow, so enter now while you have the chance to become the sole owner of the WAR&PEACE.
The score upon returning home:
Plants dead, cats live.
A trio of friends surprised me at baggage claim, they crept up behind me, and I turned around wondering "whats that smell?"--it was Miles' moustache! FRIENDS!
Back home, JR and I did some big talking about his radio story, and a series of long, long walks with him and Ben each ensued. Big loops to get tacos and back both times. Same tacos for different people from the same place, hours apart. Picante at 1:42 was all slobbery and slack faced men of the office, nighted out and ousted by some nearby last call, dress shirts untucked and matched to some breakless casual pant. Their voices are loud and their jokes are loud and their walk is a sideways amble, like a cartoon animal that's been hit in the head. On the curb, some white hats and a date night woman argued "I can too, I did know that song was Radiohead. I LUUHVE RADIOHEAD!" the teasing boy replied only with "I'M GETTING A CIGARETTE." She yelled back "I WANT A CIGARETTE TOO. I DID TOO KNOW IT WAS RADIOHEAD." They were standing five feet apart, I was lamping on a planter between them; I believed her, she was emphatic; those boys were just ragging on her.
In Chicago, you are invisible to these people, unless you are DJing or they are really wasted. You are a ghost unless you are part of their crew, or at least their caste. The more drunk they become, the more they are aware of us scuffed up old kids. When they see you, they need to know, as if baffled by their sudden discovery: WHY ARE YOU EATING YOUR TACOS OVER THE TRASHCAN? Living in a city of drunk jocks will keep you punk forever. In LA, what can you rebel against--the sprawl of humanity? The zombie Pat O'Brien? White skies? Desire?
I missed this boisterous insular tiny-big city, everything is smaller than I remembered. I feared I would come home and feel dislodged and adrift, but I don't. I feel home.
To steal from John and Exene: I'm not buying a lamp on Hollywood Blvd the day I leave, but it does feel sad. Sort of.
Almost. Not really.
I'm coming back.
Soon. I think.
California skim milk skies'll still hang heavy over the 5 whether I'm here to witness or no. I'm filling my dad's freezer with chickens I made so that he doesn't get Nicole Ritchie slender while I'm gone.
I just need to go home and stare into Wyatts furry face and cry with love, stare into all my friends faces and cry with love, finish a manuscript, ride around listening to Adina Howard tapes on bikes wiff Ben til 4 am, sleep not on the floor, stand atop the trainbridge facing East and channel the ghost of Sandburgs bowtie to purge my mortal fears, and go rest my face on the cool granite floors of the empty atrium atop Harold Washington library, kiss a copy of Neon Wilderness 3 times for luck and ask god what's next.
Minneapolis people who read this, you need to help a sister out: Becky Smith has moved into your ranks. Becky writes, organizes, feministizes, queerizes, has table-waiting skills, has run clubs and such, is the co-editrix of the TBA issue of Hit it or Quit it--and since she is new to you, you should embrace her how you can. This is my personal petition to you 612.
To reconfigure Agee: We are talking now of summer evenings in Los Angeles, California, in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself an adult.
On a rooftop with young things getting older, a birthday with no birthday cake--them: strangers all 'cept the friend that brought me. I don't know what direction I was facing but in front I was in a deep gris-grit valley of downtown, the mecca's non-mecca, the buildings ahead sloped up towards the peak point in the center. Mountain of downtown was ahead, and to the starboard, industrial lofts turned luxury living; third floor two young children cross legged in footed jammies glowed up by an apparently massive TV beyond my view; ground floor was someone who found purchase in a tent pitched in from the curb. The friend was couseling a girl who wants to go find her people outside of LA because there is too much punk here. "Are you intimidated by punk?" I asked. She was incredulous and seemed to be offended at the suggestion, so I took that as a yes and wandered off to scout out the other birthday party's cake. They were playing that Hercules disco epic and had half a cake left, I wanted to be at theirs instead, but I don't know "Can I eat some of this cake?" in Spanish. That is what I wanted from this LA night, with the gaping abysm between have and have not so casual and naked below us, I wanted the sybarite abandon, that experience of the full LA-ness; I wanted the cake, the disco, the strangers.
Instead I went down a flight into the empty apartment of the hosts, refilled my glass from the tap and hung out with the cat, nabbed the end of some french bread and checked their pro-style kitchen appliances and restaurant grade Wolf™ stove. Dave rang "Where are you?". "Peeing" I lied. Saying "Hanging out in their apartment checking out the massive flame on their stove," sounds a little psycho. Upon my return to the roof, the footie kids were gone and their TV off, so I busied myself with seeing how far I could spit water into the parking lot below. I ended up hitting a car with a big NASA logo on the hood. "That car has probably been on the moon!" said Dave.
Hell bent on contribution, Aaron Rose and I made a zine entitled WAR & PEACE last night, that features new original works from both of us, ltd. edition of five. One copy is reserved for the lucky petitioner: Tell us why you deserve it and maybe you'll get it in the mail soon.
Yesterday was the first day in two months where I didn't see nor tend to my dad. For 39 whole hours.
So I took the middle of today off.
Sylvie and I went to see the Marlene Dumas mid-career at MOCA; all those wild n' wet eyes and perfectly proportioned chubbed armpits of creepy maybe sleeping babies* hung high in a too cold room could make you forget anything. I'm into it. Dumas is scares me in my gutz.
The lumpy magenta and grey faces of school kids were visceral in the way that the porny posed portraits weren't but maybe it's just over-exposure (no pun intended). Ass-up spreading is made dull by it's sheer America-2008 ubiquity, even if the ass is unreal green-grey and the technique ooky/flawless.
(* Contemporary feminist painting is heavy on babies/corporeal, sure, but meanwhile the last decade of art as I understand it is nothing but D. Hirst fucking on a pile of cash, wack Lisa Frank rainbow-puke unicorn nostalgia, and human hamstering (all of which fits the capitalist fin-du-monde fantastic, but doesn't seem to mean anything**) and gets a pass---meanwhile every flickerflame of woman-as-vessel*** ideation gets the my other southwestern landscape is a vagina eyeroll. (Ironically) pregnant with a meaning which is taken to be understood, flatly understandable, like there is a singular comment within all feminist art.(Georgia O'K. rolls in her grave like a rotisserie chicken for all eternity, amen.)))))
(** Though, as Mike Taylor and I debated in his kitchen the day he gave me my last tattoo, art doesn't have to mean anything to be good (he convinced me), and sometimes it's better when it doesn't, but I feel like there is a greater issue at hand given that much of the nowish art I see seems to aspire to not just "no meaning" but to being meaning-proof, which is foreboding, to put it mildly.)
(*** If there is any more natural and valid feminist reaction to art, let alone everything else, than this? )
I woke up at what felt like dawn (8:45 is freelancer dawn!) to talk to Feist on the phone, for an article, and she gave great quote, including this sage thought for the day:
Is struggle, having a roadblock of some sort, necessary for creating?
I think it is. Comfort is comfortable--there is no need to circumnavigate. Once you stretch your mind out to get around something, as it pulls apart, you see stuff in the cracks--things you wouldn't glimpse otherwise. After falling apart, when you are putting things back together, if one piece is in the wrong place, it's a new puzzle and it's worth puzzling over.
Ask for offensive jokes, and the universe delivers-- Scheid and Ben had dead baby / fucking a dead baby / jail rape / regular ol' rape / pedophile / cum jokes on blast-- a great way to wake up no matter where you live. KEEP EM COMING, BOYO.
You are older and you think you are settled in who you are but a new city and sitch in extremis can mute you. Dave said tonight, "The other night in the car, I realized that maybe we're not seeing all sides of you." The other sides being my naturally dominant crass and caustic side. The moment he was referencing was Friday night, five of us packed in a car, driving to West Covina for a show, the taciturn stranger in the front seat mentioned he was from a midwestern city I have little love for. I said emphatically, "Really?! That place is a shithole!" and laughed. Everyone else was silent for about 15 seconds. I was joking, I said. It's not that bad. Damien offered up a consolation "Well, that arch thing is neat." Yes, yes it is. It's a fucking miracle of modern engineering--but if mocking suburban St. Louis is profane, lord help me.
I'm coming home to Chicago by mid-month; all I want is to ride bikes and have Kells and Morgan regale me with the nastiest, most offensive jokes they can conjure, maybe Ben can meet me at the airport with a big banner that says "WELCOME HOME FUCKFACE"--cos I gotta shake these West Coast propriety blues.
Meanwhile, I updated the muxtape in case you needed some jamz.