yonkers

I don’t truck with the word faggot, let’s get right to that.  It perpetuates actual harm to actual people in the real world, it’s lazy writing, and it’s just slack-jawed stupid, especially for an also-persecuted minority.  Using it for shock value to promote yourself is incredibly selfish — Grow the fuck up.  If you’re really an independent thinker, independent think your way out of that box.

So that’s the rub, the hesitation: he’s basically a kid, talking about kid shit, being obscene for effect, same as the vast majority of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (yes, seriously) music.  I quit being interested in the attention-seeking vanity of teenagers when I stopped being one.

But still, here we are.  All of that being said, this video is worth your time.  The beat is stark, his flow is smooth, the intention behind the frustration is expression, and the direction?  Top-shelf, unadulterated, ART.  God damn, that camera.  That aesthetic.  It’s so deathly  perfect it’s pretty.

The other great thing about Odd Future, besides this one video, is the saga of Earl Sweatshirt.  But that’s a tale for another day.

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mother earth’s plantasia

Before Giorgio Morodor, before Wendy Carlos, there was Mort Garson.  Mort was a deeply weird man, who trained at Juilliard, fought in WWII, then got his hands on one of the first Moog synthesizers, with which he did deeply weird things.  Here’s the title track, “Plantasia” from Mother Earth’s Plantasia: Warm Earth Music for Plants.  

It’s an album for plants.

And it’s a strange, soothing, wonderful album.  “Concerto for Philodendron and Pothos” would become the inspiration for the theme music to the original Legend of Zelda.  I recommend the whole thing, even if you aren’t a plant.

But especially if you’re a plant.

somebody to love

It took me a long time to realize I had been misled all my life about Success.  In the end, I discovered, you have to do a thing for yourself, simply because it pleases you.  The thing itself has to be enough — all else is smoke and mirrors.  There is merit and wisdom in picking a thing, devoting yourself to it, doing it beautifully, then setting it on fire.  I learned, through much trial and error, that Fame is not Success.

This veneration of individuals, the gurus and cult figures, the phony idol worship, it’s all bullshit — people are just people, even famous people.  Some of them deserve respect and admiration for their craft, sure, but so do all sorts of people.  Fame itself is a vice, and a handicap; a careful-what-you-wish-for.  Venerating fame is a sickness, and our society is terminally ill,  while most of my favorite people toil away excellently in obscurity.

Anyways, you get the point.  I’m not here to meditate on our collective obsession with gossip magazines.  I’m here for Valerie June.

We met once, after a small show she performed at The Dock in Ithaca.  She came out after the lights went up and stood by her merchandise table, where a line formed.  Her hair was enormous and she was remarkably skinny.  People came up to talk to her, and she talked to them.  It was very sweet.  Mostly though, people were talking at her, giving her their opinions on this or that, and I’m standing there thinking, “What are you telling Valerie June?!”  So I got it in my head that instead I would just ask her for a hug, say thank you, then dip.  This became the plan.

So I waited, and waited, and finally the last person left and she looked me right in the eyes.  My mouth went instantly dry, as all my carefully cultivated opinions on fame shattered and rained down around me.  I managed to ask her for a hug and, bless her, she gave me a good one.  Then, having achieved my goal, I started to leave, and — she wanted to talk!  She was asking me something or other, but at this point I was a robot working on its original line of programming:  1. Get hug 2. Say thank you 3. Leave.  She’s being all fucking sweet and human and giving me this strange look as while she’s asking me something, I’m slowly backing away.  I found myself saying “thank you, thank you” over and over again like a broken machine, while half-saluting her.  Yeah, saluting her.  Then I turned and lurched away.

So not my proudest moment.  But I did get a hug from a talented and ethereally gorgeous woman.  And I did get to eat crow and question my convictions, before having them reaffirmed in the best possible way.  I’m sure it didn’t help me any that long before this encounter I had said out loud to friends (mostly joking) that I’d decided to swear off all other women and devote myself exclusively to her.

Don’t tell her that, okay?  This has been embarrassing enough.  But if you happen to run into her, maybe you could, I dunno, test the water a little for me?

I mean people are just people, right?

Even famous people?

“Well if you’re tired, and feeling so lonely…”

A Valerie June song

putting the dog to sleep

When I heard The Antlers were putting out a new album, I wondered how they could possibly follow Hospice. If I haven’t ranted hysterically in your presence about Hospice, well, prepare yourself: It’s so good. It’s SO good. The legend goes that the lead singer disappeared into his New York apartment for months, cutting all contact, losing his girlfriend, basically letting the rest of his life atrophy.  Nobody knew where he was, how he was, or what he was doing.  When he emerged one day blinking, back into the light, he was holding the first awkward drafts of Hospice.

What can I say about it?  The back of the book jacket would say it’s a concept album about a hospice worker who falls in love with a terminally ill child(?), with whom he has a sexual relationship and an abortion, and who lashes out in emotionally abusive waves of rage and sadness and frustration as she waits for her senseless death.

Hah.  I know, right?  But it’s also one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard.

Truly incredible.

Anyways, I wondered how they could possibly follow that.  They did it by not following it at all — they didn’t even try to make another Hospice.  Instead they just made a regular excellent album.  Part of what made Hospice so good was that quietly, hidden beneath the avant-guard nature of their accomplishment, The Antlers are excellent pop composers. Combine that with his voice and writing and you don’t need much else.

And that’s the central conceit to Burst Apart; the primary reason for its success: They didn’t try to make another Hospice, because they didn’t have to. They already had all the parts.  The follow-up is dark, but not bleak, and there’s a warmth to the sadness that carries, even in the upper register of his incredible falsetto.

So go get Hospice. I know you won’t, but just, do. Next time it enters the orbit of your life, grab it.  Put on headphones, lie down, close your eyes, and devote an hour to that thing. You won’t regret it. Then when it’s over, come find this song.

After the gorgeous frozen emotional tundra of Hospice, Burst Apart is like getting wrapped in a fluffy blanket and given something hot to drink. It’s still awful outside, and death is still coming — that isn’t going to change — but here at least, you’re watching it through a window.  Here, at least, somebody cares.

“But trust me to take you home…”

promise

“By 1995, Clear Channel owned 43 radio stations and 16 television stations. When the Telecommunications Act of 1996 became law, the act deregulated media ownership, allowing a company to own more stations than previously allowed. Clear Channel went on a subsequent buying spree, purchasing more than 70 other media companies and individual stations.”

Man, this Ben Howard guy.  When I first heard his voice through phone speakers I immediately wanted to dislike him.  Him and his 9 million views.  I know, that’s not fair.  But hear me out.

I grew up in the age of Clear Channel, the media conglomerate that quietly bought up an enormous market share, fired all the independent DJs, and replaced them with pre-recorded patter and standardized set-lists.  These set-lists consisted of whatever media executives paid them the most to play.  Subtly, carefully, without alerting the public that the game had changed, this single corporation neutered and homogenized radio music across vast swaths of the United States, for profit.

Fuck them so much.  Seriously.

Clear Channel and their ilk are the reason an entire generation was subjected to bands like Creed and Nickleback.  Bands nobody asked for and nobody liked, but who had clever and wealthy management, and were bland enough not to rile any focus groups.  Instead of the steady diet of Lou Reed and David Bowie we should have been getting, what we got instead were pre-paid formula songs, selected by empty suits, that then played constantly in the dentist’s office while we read Highlights magazine and waited to get our teeth cleaned.

The local Clear Channel puppet in my time was Lite 97 FM — Cursed be their name.  By the time I hit puberty I had already heard a lifetime’s worth of samey musical mush, all of it polished to a shiny nub of inoffensive nothing and poured down the ears of an undiscriminating audience.  Hell, I was part of that audience.  The radio was where you heard music, that’s just how it was.  That’s how it had been since humans first harnessed the airwaves.  How was I supposed to know the DJs were dead?

My childhood was a dark time for music.  The period between the demise of the DJs, and the rise of the internet was rough, and music didn’t mean much to me as a kid, not really.  I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of polished plastic trash.  That top 40 shite, for both the suits and the musicians, is all about making money — about “making it — it’s not about making art.  The ongoing commercial success of these people and their barren dreams and hollow ambitions really upsets me.  Can you tell?

It doesn’t upset me so much that they are rewarded — I mean fuck them, I really don’t care if they live in a cardboard box or an island mansion, as long as I never have to interact with them —  it upsets me because in pursuit of personal profit they’re stripping something gorgeous from the world.  They’re stripping honest art from the casual lives of people; leaving them to suffer without its solace.  Life is hard enough.  Stop fucking doing that.

So I heard this Ben Howard guy, all polished and professional and what not, and I figured, hell, more studio-executive-approved-focus-group-pandering turd music.  And I shook my fist and got on with my life.  But for some reason I came back to this one.  Despite that initial reaction, I found myself coming back for that melody, that guitar, and I brought headphones this time and, oh.

Whoa.

Then I found myself sitting at my desk, trying to learn it, discovering it’s in this weird tuning — some sort of open D, tuned down a step, then brought back up with a capo.  I couldn’t get it to sound right, so I stopped.  Bah.  But then

I was in the kitchen late at night, cooking a bachelor’s midnight dinner, and found myself listening to it again.  Aw, man, it’s pretty, I thought, but it’s really sad.  And I was standing there all lonely, late at night with headphones on, listening to this guy sing and cooking these really somber scrambled eggs, when the guitar started to pick up.  And then suddenly I was dancing around the kitchen, smiling like an idiot, while my eggs sizzled in silence.  He really got me good, that guy.

So fuck Clear Channel, still, always and forever, but this isn’t about them, not really.  And it isn’t about Ben Howard, or making money, or “making it,” either.  It’s about expectations, and art, and lonely scrambled eggs.  It’s about being sad, and listening to a song.

“Tell me, who am I
darling, to you?”

some of them are old

Search terms used today to find the bindle:

1. “Onanism”
2. “How to kill yourself using a handkerchief”
3. “Unknown search term”

Makes you wonder about number 3, doesn’t it?

“it will follow you,
it will follow you…”

The Morning Star

In the beginning there was God, only God, and God was bored. Above all, God was an artist, and so to amuse itself it undertook a great project. This was a grand and complex construction project, something novel, something unique, something of unparalleled beauty: In its unmatched mechanical genius, God built a layered series of dimensions, and into this new physical space, it crafted and inset a universe.

It was gorgeous beyond description, this universe, but when it was finished God found itself unable to enjoy it. It hadn’t counted on upkeep and maintenance, evolution and growth, and the time and energy required to run this project was enormous. So it built a shining city, the city of Heaven, and in the halls and homes of Heaven, God created life.

The first life was perfect — thoughtlessly obedient, flawless creatures of alabaster skin and fluffy white wings. It called them Angels, its arms and eyes and ears, and it loved them as it loved itself. And so its Angels took to running the universe, enacting God’s directives, repairing, expanding, and maintaining its creation. And God settled back on its throne, in the city of Heaven, and it marveled at what it had done. Now it had time to think.

And for ten billion years it thought. And as it thought, it realized something was wrong. It was bored again. It tried bringing its Angels to it for counsel, to discuss its misgivings, but in this they lacked all capacity. Their thoughts and opinions mirrored its own, endlessly, and God found itself more and more distressed, craving something indefinable. Then one day, in the greatest stroke of genius this universe will ever see, it understood. It knew how it could be surprised. Continue reading “The Morning Star”

music for airports

Here’s what you would do:

You would trust this isn’t some vanity trip; trust that this is for you.  You would put on a pair of headphones, and you would hit play.  Then you would wait — not forever, but giving it a bit.  Then you would hit play.  Then you would wait.  Then you would hit play.  Then you would wait.  Then you would hit play.

I have provided you with 4 buttons.

Then you would be quiet for ten minutes.  Ten minutes.  It would be difficult.  You would tell your brain to shush and leave you alone.  Already it’s telling you this is bullshit — That’s good, means you’re getting close. Continue reading “music for airports”

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