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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Southern California burns like


so many harsh desert suns

like, ten thousand tanning booths all running at once.

Now I sleep in the day and stay awake from night through morning. Seriously, does anyone else think it's pretty damned weird/random/crazy/annoying for it to be THIS hot? I've got a new weight loss program - it's called sweat-my-ass-off.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Somedays


somedays sundown takes forever

somedays nobody says hi

somedays morning looks like night

somedays everyone seems too fucking chipper

somedays old wounds reopen

somedays you don't get out of bed

somedays things are what they seem

somedays we go dancing

somedays people stare at you a lot

somedays there's no cell-phone reception

somedays you've looked better

somedays the paintings on the wall watch me

somedays i'm older

somedays everything decides to break at the same time

somedays i hate everyone

somedays you need to repeat yourself

somedays i laugh out loud


somedays there's always something else.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Perspective takes only one line


How many of you have read Howard Zinn? Herodotus? William Shirer? Voltaire? Probably not that many...Hell, I haven't even read most of their stuff. Mostly I stick to the "good parts".



History has always been a story to me. And like most stories, there are sides to it; complications, points of view. Nobody has the complete truth, just a piece. I've held to that idea for a long time.

But then I saw this movie, The History Boys. (Great flick, by the way. Adapted from a play by Alan Bennet.) It's about these kids at a semi-decent English school who're on the kinda-fast-track to Oxford and Cambridge - provided they can learn the skills to pass their tests and interviews. Lots of human drama and sexual tension accompany - but the main thing I noticed was the stuff the kids learned from one of their teachers.



It reminded of idea behind Saboteur Academia; knowledge, information, factoids, that have little to no practical application when you first notice it. But then you think about it for a bit, and that stuff they know is worth learning more than the bullshit you usually get in most institutions of higher learning.

The best line (going back to the whole history thing) was, "How do I define history? It's just one fucking thing after another."

WOW!

Amazing shit, man. That line blew my mind. That's the best explanation for the totality of human civilization I've ever heard. Brilliant!

And so on.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One-Liners for the City


A friend recently delivered a rather witty quip during a trip to Los Angeles. We we're going to see that show at The Smell I posted pictures and opinions on last month.

It gave me an artistic idea. Why not try and summarize more major cities? Distill them into their single-sentence essence. I like it. Here's the start:

LA is a billboard on its side

and

San Francisco is a tie-dye protest sign

and

Chicago is a wind-torn jacket

and

New York is over-stewed soup

and

London is a still-damp umbrella

and

New Orleans is a dirty sheet of music

and

Brussels is an out-dated phrase-book

and

Paris is an old wine-glass

and

Washington D.C. is still a swamp

and

Orange County will always be a sandy strip-mall tanning salon.

If anyone has a suggestion to my existing lines, or one for a city not yet here, please, pass it along. I think this might become a new side-project of mine, aside from the quote collecting, and the music playing, and poetry book assembling, and vacationing, and much more other things which I do in the wee nighttime.

Hopefully I'll have pictures to go along with these guys soon. We'll see...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

More Music and Lyrics


We've all had one of those long lonely drives. Late at night and you're not really tired but just quiet - introspective. It's one of the best times for thinking about stuff, deep stuff. Like: why is it nobody ever looks at each other while they're driving, except for a peremptory glance as you pull alongside at a stop-light? Or: what's the reason for those signs warning you about an animal crossing nearby? If Bambi wants to commit suicide, shouldn't we respect his anti-Disney wishes and just let 'em end it all?



I was listening to The Decemberists' song, Red Right Ankle, and a piece of the lyrics caught me by surprise. Here's the part:

This is the story of the boys who loved you
Who love you now and loved you then
And some were sweet, some were cold and snuffed you
And some just laid around in bed.

Some had crumbled you straight to your knees
Did it cruel, did it tenderly
Some had crawled their way into your heart
To rend your ventricles apart
This is the story of the boys who loved you
This is the story of your red right ankle.

And while listening to that song, I wondered: am I one of those boys? Have I ever broken hearts or cruelly ruined a lover? In the big stage of someone else's life, did I ever play a cameo-role like that?

A part of me wants to - even the ugly, mean stuff - but another part of me can't stand being past-tense in anyone's existence. Who wants to go from somebody someone knows to someone that somebody knew? (To paraphrase Henry Rollins.) I mean, where's the closure? Where's the satisfaction of having come, gone, and done a good job of it too?



I've given up on EVER having closure. It seems like, in reality, Life is always more complicated-complex than a single instance that seals one experience for you to transition to the next. But, I still need some sort of completeness to make it easier for me. What's a guy to do?

Music and Lyrics. (Not the movie.) Notice the connections between your life and another's. See Life reflecting Art, or Art imitating Life...and so on. I feel a lot better knowing my current situation has happened before to someone else I've never met, never known, but still, somehow, connected to because they and I can say that, sometimes, there will ALWAYS be this thing in the world which isn't much more than unlucky coincidence. It's called sadness.

So to the lady heart-breakers out there, this one's for you.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Birthday


Well, it's not for another month and a half, but I think it's about time I at least started thinking about it, right? Damn right.

Here's the list:



1) My car is in some dire fucking shape. I don't think I've changed the oil, had it serviced, or even given it a cursory glance in over six months. I want to get it repaired; she needs work on the tires, the brakes, the transmission, a new windshield, a wiper fluid refil, some interior refurbishment, and one fucking helluva carwash.



2) Digital voice recorder. I HATE having to carry around a note-pad, or paper, or a book, or whatever, and some pens, just to write down an idea that's barely one line long. On the other hand, often-times I'll have a really extensive idea that takes a lot of wandering to get around to. It'd be so much easier to take down my writing ideas with this shmigigy, and then go back later to transcribe the parts I want to actually use.



3) Yes, a typewriter. Call it the E.E. Cummings in me, but I think it'd be fun to have one for experimentation. The good old ones are kinda expensive, but oh-so worth it for their stylish antiquated exteriors. I suppose I should also include that I want the necessary gear - so I don't have to run out to the store for ink, and so on, before I even use the damn thing.





4) DVD's are significantly cheap enough for a gift that I made this one a toofer. First, the entire collection of FLCL (six episodes in groups of two). Second, the entire second season of The Boondocks. Both shows are some of the best fucking animation, period. Plus, they're really entertaining. What other reason does a man need?



5) I need another bookshelf because I really miss all the books I've left down here, and I've decided to take them all back up with me when I return to San Francisco. But my old white bookshelf can't really hold all my books. I mean, it barely holds the ones I've got in it now! Don't worry, a regular-sized one will fit easily in my car. Hell, I drove with an IKEA-bed on top of the hood and both it & me managed to survive...going fifty miles per hour and taking about twelve hours to make the trip.

So it goes.

Anyhoo, them's my birthday wishes. But you guys don't actually have to get me any of that stuff. Mostly it's just wishful thinking. I'm sure I'll probably be getting most of it for myself, myself. Meh.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Shimmy she wobble / Shimmy she break


Shimmy she done do all night long / and Shimmy she done do all damn day / then one day she Shimmy / and goddamn Shimmy she died.



"The Blues ain't nothing but a good man feeling bad." - Leon Redbone

Maybe it's my romantic situation. Maybe it's my musical appreciation. Maybe it's just because I've always felt like an older soul than I seem, but I'll be damned if the Blues don't hold some sort of special place in myself.

What is it? What gives this music such power? Is it the simplicity? Is it the raw emotive power? Is it some mystery that nobody can articulate but everyone feels?

I've been listening to a lot of Blues music lately, and the one thing I've noticed that always seems to be the same is that no matter how the song's being played it always has some sort of sadness to it. A hot-tempo melody, major key, happy lyrics, and still the fucking thing will sound like somebody's mourning in the background.



For those of you who don't know too much about this music, I suggest you educate yourself. These songs are good for your soul - really. Artists like: The Black Keys, Ry Cooder, North Mississippi Allstars, Lay Low, Corey Harris, Joe Bonamassa, Blind Willie Johnson, Skip James, Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, Leadbelly; these guys just suck whatever emotion you're feeling with a single chord and replace it with something better, something easier to sit in your stomach.

Junior Kimbrough has this song, Meet Me in the City, about a man meeting his woman in the big city when she comes up from the south. It's about lovers reuniting in a new place with a better hope for the future. But the singer isn't sure she'll come. He doesn't know if she can leave everything behind to start fresh with him. That's why he sings.

Or how about Ry Cooder's, Feelin' Bad Blues, the single saddest song I have EVER heard. You listen to that screaming slide-guitar, lonesome like I don't even know what. But it's a song that doesn't make you feel worse - if anything, you feel better. Because how can things be so bad when there's still music like this in the world?

Put on The Black Keys', Have Love Will Travel, for a rockin' tune. It's about the singer, who's got so much love in him that he feels like he can do anything. I mean, who HASN'T felt that, at least a little?









You know what I want to do? Actually, this is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. There's this place, called Chulahoma, in Mississippi, right at the heart of the hill-country there. A lot of great bluesmen have come from this place.

But I don't want to go there for a history lesson. I want to go to a real juke joint and rock my fucking ass off to some gut-bucket Blues played by the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids of the people who wrote the shit in the first place.







Yep. That's pretty much all I had in mind. Go. Listen. Come back and feel like I'm really living.

Sometimes you've gotta have a destination, if only so you can have a journey; but in the end, what matters more: the journey or the destination? I think you need them both. I think you have to have somewhere to go, somewhere worth going. And I think you need be happy with getting there, because otherwise why'd you go in the first place? But if all you want to do is just get there, then you're really missing out on everything in-between. There's more to life than just living, and more to travelling than just getting from destination to destination. You've gotta want to be wherever you're at, even when it's not where you're going. Why? Call me cheesy, but because then you'll never be happy. That's why we do the things we do. If you want to be happy then be it. If you don't, then don't. In the end, it's your life.

I think the Blues really helps with that. You feel sad when you need to, happy when you can, and the rest of the time you're on your way.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Smell, and other insights


I recently took a trip to The Smell, on LA's illustrious south main street, between 2nd and 3rd street.



Beautiful, isn't it?

But seriously, in this dilapidated corner of Los Angeles hipsterdom, I got a reminder of why I just don't get my generation on some levels.

First, the doorguy with his Hot Chip-induced child-molestation glasses. (You can't see them really well, actually, because I'm a horrible photographer.)



Second, the fucking decor - says, "I don't give a fuck, but try so hard." Doesn't it?







It's hard to be original without being annoying too - at least, that's what it seems like anyways.

You can really get a good idea of that from the music. The first band:



They sounded a lot like some sort of noise-experimentation. Any semblance of melody, harmony, rhythm - the three prime elements of music - was tenuous at best. In fact, I think their intent was to be as abstract as possible. It's like a musical paint by colors except they're using chords instead of Crayolas.

The second band:



She was pretty much just a naked woman from England singing along to a laptop while her saggy tits vibrated in the high bass level. I think it was supposed to be some reactionary statement to how contemporary sexuality is just anorexic nonsense.

I don't think her point really came across. The music was too shitty.

The third band was the only band who's name I could remember. They were called: Battle Hooch.









These guys were a fun band; a little too much like Man Man copycats, but still fun. They had the place jumping, and their antics were a great way to keep the song transitions fresh.

Honestly though, I just didn't understand the whole scene. I mean, what's the point of super-skinny jeans and one-of-a-kind graphic t-shirts and alternative slutiness and abstract musicality and the random picturesque?





Do they feel cool like that? Or maybe they just feel self-expressed? I guess you'd really have to ask them - but I don't think the answer would make much sense. Besides, we're just here on Earth to fart around, right? Might as well get crunk.