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11/30/2005

This Is Also Sort of About Lil Wayne

Another Stycast. I only post it here because I realized that we talk about Cat Power after Edith Frost but not Edith Frost after Cat Power, or really even Cat Power after Cat Power. Also, Edith Frost was in the "hot" Stycast and Lil Wayne wasn't. Also, "The Rain" was. Also Brad Shoup was a perfect gentleman, totally unpretentious, and good conversation, making a sturdy case for Texas being the land of plentiful, easygoing soft-focus fraternizing (though it is a big state, I know). Alright, the point is, I'm sorry for dissing B.B. King.

Peaks Lick Sky Like Flame Lick Sky


I'm obviously about the farthest thing from a mainstream hip-hop expert; really, I'm basically just getting wet on the whole genre. Still, and as weird as this may seem, hearing Lil Wayne on The Mind of Mannie Fresh early this year made me feel like I had been missing something, and it's at that point that I really started trying to pay better attention. I just wasn't comprehensively interested in the genre, frankly. I dunno, it might be because the scene seemed to lack sensitive creeps, it might just have been that I realized what a sensitive creep I was when I listened to it.

Either way, sitting here listening to Tha Carter II on a tile floor with some very flammable anaesthetic close at hand, it's hard to ignore the promethean feats of Weezy, who, while not sure whether he wants to be a fireman or the fire thief, is caught compellingly in-between. Let me level with you (that's what I do): this album is goth. Goth-gangsta. Now, Augustus Welby Pugin was a gothic architect; I remember looking at scans of his notebooks and thinking the peaks, the peaks, the peaks, how high the peaks only to be told later that they were supposed to represent a kind of reach towards heaven. Most of Tha Carter II follows the same ascension dreams (heat rises), flames all running around big beats and minor-key choirs drifting up like dutch smoke (but no Mannie Fresh, wah, get over it). Pinky & Brain finally get wheels, Weezy's grownsed old & big enough to chase the world-domination daydreams out of a waterlogged New Orleans, a pale horse rider, solo w/guns. Forget the fire imagery, the loneliness is fucking freezing at times, very Army of One; Wayne whispers: "what up Pa, what up Pac, Pun, what up Big, what up Soulja, as the streets get colder I get Chilier, what up Left Eye, what up Aliyah." Now, puns on bandmates of dead people is kinda opportunistic and name-checking famous corpses seems a little specious, but when Wayne scavenges it sounds thrilling: "allergic to winter" in a city where nothing stays buried, and everyone knows ghosts make things cold. Oh you didn't know that? Sorry. He tells us he's hungry and he sounds like it (I eat a lot in wintertime, too); there's only so long you can suckle the teat of youth before passing the milk on to someone else.

A couple very good exceptions. "Receipt" is a Ghostface love letter written on sandpaper with Kanye drizzle, that puppy-love nostalgia/"Tears of a Clown" machismo: "It's kinda hard sayin' this shit to your face, so I do it over snares and bass," which is practically Neutral Milk Hotel for a guy who, about 30 minutes earlier, actually chants "get money/fuck bitches." Whatever, mom always said that men are complicated (sigh). Even though it sounds like MOR talent show funk, "Shooter" whips the cold, fragile ass of anything that Adam Levine guested on this year by about eight Abercrombie & Fitch sweatshirts and your mom saying "wow, this is funky" before Wayne starts cussing a whole lot (which he apologized for earlier on in the album, I think he just forgot about it by the end).

Plus, does nobody else just love this guy's voice?

11/28/2005

The State of Pop Music in 2005

Mike: wait, sorry to interrupt again, but do you not like "hate it or love it"?

todd.burns: i don't think i've heard it.

Mike: it is very smooth

but not like loggins smooth

god, why does mike jones ruin everything?

sorry, now I'm just complaining

todd.burns: i gotta go to bed.

sorry.

11/27/2005

Our Fragile Erections

Hey, can everybody just shut up for like, five seconds?


Did everything not piss me off this year? Have we swapped the unspoken Christianity of our warmblooded wills to prosthletize for canned snark (hath the shark been jumped, or were we on the other side to begin with)? Fuck, everywhere I turn it's like I can't find the love, be it buried in the humps or humorous master-whipping. I'm trying to put together a list of singles for the year and I feel sapped, disinterested, and wholly un-excited about the state of Us (are we here?). I'm with Villalobos, even if he could use a shower and a nap (it's almost December; throw in some hot cocoa and a blanket and I think I'm hurdling towards universals here). Really, Got Purp Vol. 2 is fine, but Charlemagne Palestine's Strumming Music is a fucking rainbow (thanks Beta-Tor). In Philadelphia I found a little rock & roll, cheaper pints, and an empty bowling alley. Blah blah.

Who am I kidding, though?

TOP THREE ALBUMS I FIND BASICALLY RIDICULOUS EVEN THOUGH IT SEEMS SORT OF COOL TO APPRECIATE THEM:

David Banner, Certified

Anthony, "Crossroads" really is one of the most pathetic, embarrassing songs of the year, without a doubt. Thanks for setting slide guitars alongside thick beatz; critics will claim you unknowingly captured the robust spirit of the post-Katrina south when you actually constructed the aural equivalent of Kid Rock on Sunday morning masturbating to a pin-up of Robert Johnson while checking out the Scott Stapp solo disc. Still, Banner's got a heart, which seems like a lot more than most people run on these days.

EDIT: DEAR DAVID BANNER AND ALL DAVID BANNER FANS (FANCLUB MEMBERS OR NOT): I RESPECT DAVID BANNER; I RESPECT THE BREADTH AND DEPTH OF DAVID BANNER'S PRODUCTION SKILL, SENTIMENT, AND INTELLIGENCE; I WAS JUST FEELING FIESTY. BUT "CROSSROADS" IS STILL TERRIBLE.

Devendra Banhart, Cripple Crow

If I got divine word that in fact, this guy is really the protest singer for our time, I would steal a car, point it at the East River, snort a mound of heroin, and put a cinder block on the gas pedal. No redemptive or conciliatory words. Next!

Sufjan Stevens, Illinois

So far, this guy is shaping up to be the most consistently precious and thorougly overestimated American musician of the last several decades. Dear NPR, please keep my Steve Reich out of my Harry Partch out of my Brother Danielson out of my Jim O'Rourke out of my overextended, overlong, and generally pretentious song titles.

MOST OVERRATED ALBUM OF 2005 ACCORDING TO SEVERAL NUMBER CRUNCHING EXERCISES AS PERFORMED BY THE HA-HA BREATH:

Deerhoof, The Runners Four

I don't hate this album, it's just like, kinda boring. Is this going to be one of those things where in three years I'm going to have to call up all of my friends who liked this album but cowered under the bitter sorcery of my rhetoric and apologize? Maybe. Maybe we just let our expectations overshadow the reality of the whole thing.

ALBUMS THAT JERKED THE LARGEST VOLUME OF TEARS FROM MY OTHERWISE INCREDIBLY CALLOUS SPIRIT:

Hold Steady, Separation Sunday (by a rather wide margin)

THE BLOG THAT WHEN IT STARTED I WAS LIKE "WHATEVER" BUT I ACTUALLY RESPECT THE HELL OUT OF AND REALLY ENJOY:

Tom Breihan's Status Ain't Hood. It's not weird, it's not hilarious, and it's not gimmicky at all; it is honest, engaged, consistent, and pretty informative.

NUMBER OF TIMES I LISTENED TO HEAVEN OR LAS VEGAS BY THE COCTEAU TWINS WHILST UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ANY NUMBER OF DIFFERENT SUBSTANCES:

A really startling amount, actually.

Say it with me:

Though futures are silver and futures are gold, the glow of the present can never be sold.

Sunday, away!

11/22/2005

Joy-Wake

Nick S. issues forth gusts from the windows of the Piff Hut. Honestly, I know what he's saying, but still, you can't control the audience. The band does feel a little tamer, but still remarkably effective. Sitting here listening to the Brand Fucking New issue of Lullabies to Violane, I think my Cocteau Twins reference was even more prescient; sub-space gets clicked again in dark swathes, and at their best, what was Animal Collective the other night if not a bunch of New Age Steppers? Sure, "We Tigers" and "The Other Jamz That Kind of Sound like 'We Tigers'" were great, and I don't get tired of the screaming thing, but I was into the MIDNIGHT of their set, the violet streaks of Graceland and the echos of Big Youth or I. Roy (honestly, Avey Tare live always reminds me of Jamaican deejay culture more than anything). But that's my mindspace; I'm always up for a challenge, and while I think AC are getting to be more of a comfort food than a magic mushroom, I think it's just as much a testament to the havoc that they may have wreaked on my brain as anything else.

11/19/2005

(Revision/Return/Remix) Where We're Going We Don't Need Roads

ONCE MORE INTO THE BLUE


So I had a long post about getting back on the Animal Collective Live Carousel for the seventh (eighth? can't remember) time, but really, all my thoughts got lost in sub-space. Now, if you don't remember sub-space, it's the part of Super Mario Brothers 2 that you get to if you take the potion; it's essentially a negative image of the normal landscape except that A) it's unpopulated and B) you find things there that you can't find in the normal world. Forehead-smacking drug trip reference, okay. Still, I remember being a kid and wondering why you couldn't stay in sub-space longer and wishing that you could.

Animal Collective flips the sub-space switch in my brain; last night, all bathed in purple, I saw the band as better bros with nightglow sherpas like the Cocteau Twins than perennial Halloweiners Excepter (who also seared my brain in their own neo-dread way). I had gone in thinking about Jess Harvell's thing, which, like mine, talks about humanism, though I've mostly been stuck on Nick Catucci's phrase "radically sincere."

I had already stumbled on as much during and after talking to Antony back in January. While I'm not sure both groups are taking the same path, I think they're holding on to a similar Idea. A sold out crowd at Webster Hall - at least twice as big of a crowd as any of their other shows I've been to - and the band still had the faith and guts to devote more than half its set to brand-new material. (For those that haven't seen them, this is the norm, but I was pretty sure they'd bow to expectations in the wake of publicity-jizz; instead, the audience got an extra-viscous, screwed "Grass" that reminded me that it's a goddamn reggae song after all, a capella astral travelling on "Good Lovin' Outside," and a couple other songs from Sung Tongs and Feels whose tempo and energy belied a weird reluctance to perform them after they'd already been loosed on the world.)

And here's my riff.

I realized after reading Nick's post and thinking about what might be AC's "shortcomings" that I had almost completely thought about Simon's love of the almighty Movement. Now, this is exactly what Antony and I had really talked about; whether or not these bands were a bunch of stars forming a constellation, shining however independently of one another. The thing I realized that I hadn't really thought about before, is that you'll hear AC's name in conjunction with Antony (at least there in that particular conversation); you'll hear them with Ariel Pink and Devendra and Excepter, but you'll never hear anyone talk about Devendra and Excepter without AC. I think it's a testament to their staying power, a strange glue in a non-existent model. The band is always walking that line between the chummy/elfin/"soph-hop" types and the hardass city kids looking for a new head on the totem pole, i.e. the mystic taint of Excepter or NNCK or (stunted Wire references to ill-fated terminology). And funnily enough, the more they exist as a bridge between all these bands, the more they seem to define their individual worth, to be following a different feeling rather than simply mummifying a jumbled, well-publicized but only halfway articulated old one.

What I do know is that the band means a lot to me, and it's not because of anything deep, dark, and personal so much as it's just a reflection on my perception that, as always, what the world still needs now is more of that unapologetic positivity, however gnarled, moonlit, and googly-eyed; these guys carry it by the bucketful, from sub-space to treetops and back again.

11/18/2005

I Know My Lovers By the Height of My Flame

Mummer-Saint Andi always responds to me by email and never in the comments box, which is fine, but it always means that I have to drag his tempered, charged considerations over to this blog afterwards; I always get a little wince when Andi writes, the "I can't believe I didn't think/say/realize that beforehand, I can't believe I wasn't honest" wince.

A couple things:

He's probably right about "pillowy drama-nerd indie-rock" not being the best kind of poetry; in my fever/fervor, I probably overlooked the fact that while the phrase has its heart in the right place, it's ultimately squandered language; it doesn't build itself into something effective. I'm not picking on anyone specifically, just the general trend to overuse the hyper-hyphenated style without trimming the fat. When it works, it feels like a writer crammed 1,000 words into 200 (sorcery! vertical stripes! corsets!); when it doesn't work, it feels like the writer jogged into the room while being chased by a small bear, typed hurriedly without sitting down, and then was prematurely dragged away, screaming "QWERTY" and clutching faintly-considered cliches in his/her strained fingers. I'm for hyphens; MF Gill said once that my writing was really "dense," and I take that as a compliment. I want to be like a delicious fucking eclair: in your haste and excitement, you wolf it down and then realize that you're completely full and riding untold waves of narcotic sweetness. I think this is the proper metaphor; I'll have to abstract on it a bit.

Anyway, Plumber-Caster of Nets Andi gets on to better things:

"when i come across phrases like "Crampsian swamp-gurgle", i usually just ignore them, read right past them; or, i might remember the part about the Cramps, but ignore the part about the gurgle, because it's not clear EXACTLY what is meant, EXACTLY how and where the music gurgles, and what is description if not some fairly precise measure of the world."

This is where all the computer colors in my brain really started flickering. I wrote a long-ish paper in college for an Aesthetics philosophy course on the question of ineffability in music, phrased as a yes/no situation. In my mind there are a couple courses: first, there's the effability of our emotional experience i.e. this is exactly what I feel when I listen to music, my true emotions articulable in words; secondly, there's the re-creation/imitation of the music listener's dazzling sensorium, i.e. by the power of my words can I recreate the kind of emotional charges I get from listening to the music without necessarily describing the music per se. Of course, both of these things presuppose our emotional stimulation as the primary objective, which it isn't always. In the interest of feeling though, let's sidestep facts/"journalism"/background stories for a little bit.

I could chew on a book about this subject, but my ultimate conclusion is that in either case, you're relying on language, which isn't a science; it's practical but fallible. Example: for some minds "weak grooves" would be a potent enough phrase to use effectively; for others, "flaccid, a-syncrhonous polyrhythms" is more resonant and therefore more effective in conveying a sense of the music. We're not of one mind. I mean, when I say "sublime," you're activating you're long chain of thoughts and experiences and I'm sailing through mine and they're not always the same. So sure, "swamp-gurgle" might not do a lot for you. The word "gurgle" might be a pale pink fizzy to you, for me it might be a nauseating purple-green. So sure, we're getting back into the pre-verbal fireworks of synaesthesia, what else did you expect? Either way, I think the goal is to try to do either of these things but preferably the latter; I think it's to a writer's great sensitivity that they can "get" an album's feel, though that puts me firmly on the side of advocating artists from the get-go, something that not everybody's out to do (and I respect that, for sure). Blather blather, blah blah, let's get on with it. Like the new banner? Things are slowly getting finer & silkier, though I think it could use a gentle tweaking (what doesn't?). Adley did it; maybe once either he or Dania start getting laid regularly again, they'll update the blog.

11/16/2005

Kings of Memphis

Just got done listening to Three 6 Mafia's Most Known Hits. I'm sure the hard-cores will have complaints about the lack of earlier & more underground stuff, but I think it has just as much to do with the sheer volume of Three 6 material. Suits me just fine. As a very late comer to hip-hop, it is rather amazing to think about the fact that some of these tracks are nearly 10 years old and somehow fresher, chillier, and more effective than plenty of their imitators. Bonus Dualdisc material: an entire DVD of Crunchy Blac making absolutely no sense.

11/14/2005

You Speak the Jive So I Don't Have To

G. Stein, Author of How To See the World Anew in Less Than 200 Pages

I love poetry and think synesthesia is tops, but when I read The Observer's delicate veuyerism on blogspeak as linked by Sasha Frere-Jones, I can't say a lot of concerns I've been having lately about writing didn't get all fizzy-bubbly in my spirit. Okay, so you have Oxen in the Sun from Ulysses; the entire history of the English language capitulated in one breathtaking chapter. If you haven't read it, read it, but point is that it ends in a hailstorm of indecipherables. Joyce's prediction that the climax of speech would come in a diarrhetic flush of gnarled slang is frightening and also exciting; I remember the chapter not as pessemistic, but inspiringly primal, emotive, thunderous, and thrilling. I slip into my own trips of rainbowic language, but I think there's a crucial difference that The Observer is overlooking that frankly, upsets me. I'm not into not making sense. I'm into making sense, even if it's non-traditional sense. Sense is sometimes found in little corners. I do love Ulysses, I probably love Tender Buttons even more. And what's between Gertrude Stein and Lester Bangs if not an effort to RESONATE rather than EXCLUDE, which is to say:

Tom Breihan using phrases like "Pillowy drama-nerd indie-rock" and "Crampsian swamp-gurgle" are attempts ot be inclusive (the only pretense being cursory knowledge of the Cramps); but still, in getting abstract, he attempts to let words loose, to fire them off in hopes that they'll ricochet off our hearts, pierce Wernicke's soft spot, and get our little C-fibers a-tremblin'. Just sayin'. I'm not a huge Lester Bangs fan; I should say that I liked him a lot when I was about 17, but the verbal machine gun in crowded room of crystal thing wore thin, especially after getting bogged down in the non-truth of SPEED-TRUTH - ostensibly Bangs's trade.

So right. There's a line between poetry, which often "makes sense" by building new models of sense, by locating sense within feeling or blurring the boundaries between the two, and the dreaded JARGON, which thwarts our understanding. Still, it all comes down to this awful struggle (for me), the whole "do your vibrant and incindiery words really belong in your 'journalism' or should they stay in your lil' octavo notebooks?" Optimus Crank Sick Nick Southy of Stylus recently tossed out the dreaded bait of the critic as failed novelist on the Stylus staff message board, which I don't think is entirely true, but I think seems more true to me after reading this Observer thing, which basically ENCOURAGES the flashy wailings of critics over, hmm, tricky, sense. All's I'm saying is that you sometimes understand me when I'm being opaque; I like the rearranging of terms and obviously love the vividness of language. I have no problem with Flowery Criticism. I have no problem with Poetry. I have no problem with your notebooks. I do have a problem with getting cast as Slang Jockeys; it's not what I want to be. Part of it relies on the open-mindedness of the reader, of course. But even the most open of minds can slip beneath the heavy shadow of jargon. Congrats turbochoads, your efforts have carried you into the cuddly elite. Fight the good fight for sense however you make it, but don't forget: we have loves and we need to make them known. Right?

Starstroked

11/11/2005

AUTOEROTICISM



BIG YOUTH: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MIKE, HOW YOU FEEL?

ME: I FEEL GOOD, BIG YOUTH. ALL OF MY FRIENDS ARE COMING OVER AND WE'RE GOING TO BE DRESSED UP LIKE ZOMBIES AND MY WALL IS COVERED IN FAKE BLOOD AND GORE AND WE'RE GOING TO TALK AND MOAN AND PARTY.

BIG YOUTH: TOULA SALAMANA ZOMILINA WALADALLY, AS I WOUL' SAY.

ME: BIG YOUTH, YOU ARE AWESOME!

BIG YOUTH: HUAAAAAAEH! TELL YA!

11/08/2005

An Itcher in the Ol' Ticker

WE ARE THE KEYMASTERS

AND WE, WE ARE THE GATEKEEPERS

So I've been holding my tongue for a hell of a long time on this one but tongue be held no longer, behold:

For several weeks, I would sit and listen to little else than My Chemical Romance's "Helena" for hours on end, and I could not for the life of me figure out why. I would YSI it to friends and say ANALYZE THIS and they would just respond in the blankest of prose, something like "I feel like I don't even know you sometimes." I'd say, "it is the sound of two teenagers who look exactly the same, textbook androgynes of the early post-punk 21st century groping each other by the blue light of the television, fucking each other's bullet belts right off in suburbs across the country, it is brutally Honest and True and I might Love it, this past I never had." Usually they were gone by this point, but I still had "Helena." And alone with her I realized something, right at the end of the bridge: "when both our cars collide."

One day I snapped, realizing it wasn't anything short of the feeling behind my beloved Shangri-Las (esp. "Leader of the Pack); the same mountains of grotesque drama, the same cartoonish, uncanny, and morbid fixation on DEATH and ENDING; the same hopelessly myopic and hence thrice as intense passions, those heart-vomiting Teenage Feeling. Now I'm a man of questionable tendencies in psychogeographic/conceptual urban planning; you might not want to walk these bridges with me, but I'm going to build a few. I still love Kim Gordon circa EVOL (in my own riddled misogyny, "Shadow of a Doubt" is still one of the most cripplingly sexy songs ever, I guess I've just always liked my blowjob queens to be ghosts anyway). There's something in the mess of "Helena," and "Helena" specifically, that cries out to me as a return to some age-old form, the throbbing desires of youth not to die per se, but to feel the charge of death as something important; lest we be reminded that the Smiths are yet to come and still too intellectual, and Wallace Stevens (or at least on "Sunday Morning") has the feeling, but with fucking tongs (insurance is a tough sell with corn syrup blood on one's hands). Whew. I needed to get this stuff off my chest before moving into something a little bigger, with thoughts drifting into the world of One Kiss Can Lead to Another, which I recently purchased, and Justin Cober-Lake's great-duh pre-surgery probe of the girl-group myth, more than a little resonant with Maureen Dowd's recent plaintive, addled lamentations about the current state of feminism in a perceived culture of gender relations regression. Coincidence? FUCK NO, AS USUAL.

11/07/2005

IF YOU ARE SCARED YOU ARE NOT FREE

Right now he is actually staring right into your soul, shearing the dead flesh of hatred, fear, and civilization from your weary body, and also blowing hell of saxophone notes in one genius stroke.

I've been thrillingly fickle lately, as anyone who reads this blog might be able to gather, and while I slowly settle, I find I'm emerging into new areas of comfort. After seven or so months of speculation, I have decided that I can prove by science, fire, and feeling that "Hounds of Love" is one of the best songs ever, especially after seeing the video; I have also realized the depths of both head and heart occasionally lurk in dance music, especially the labyrinths of Villalobos and the New Red Earth of Booka Shade's "Mandarine Girl."

Still, I was completely shocked to arbitrarily check out Karma by Pharoah Sanders this morning and find that not only is it rather astounding, but I feel actually stripped of anything coherent to say about it other than "go find it and listen as soon as you can, you will hardly be disappointed." I've skirted jazz in a "canonical" way for a long time: in high school, Ayler and Mingus hit together with Trout Mask Replica, three explorations in the blues uprooted and twisted into new, clean things out of a deep hunger. I couldn't ever find anything to really truly love in heart-squall of Arthur Doyle or the head-squall of Anthony Braxton (except for the unaccompanied stuff); somehow Karma is hitting in between, like some hydra-monster of A) what I was "supposed" to get out of Coltrane B) the ecstacy of collective expressivity and C) the line between the avant-garde (which ought to test you) and the deep roots (which ought to comfort). At the intersection is the ol' spiritual, the rosier shades of the uncanny. At least, I think so right now, which is enough for me; my friend Kate had a dream of large hands above New York City that we were all afraid of. I feel that dream a little lately, but the flaring honks of Ra on Karma are pulling me through to somewhere better and beyond.

11/02/2005

Hug-Torn, Bedazzled

Gnash your terrible teeth, squint your weary eyes, feel the thunderquake of love; if you haven't heard "How Can I Love You If You Won't Lie Down" by Silver Jews you're a damn fool and an untrusting compatriot for not seeking it out when I done told you to, but not all is lost: there is a video available on the Drag City website. Cut the jabber, find the feeling, enjoy one of the best songs you'll hear all year, thank you.

11/01/2005

Done Gone Haunted Myself

It has been a long time since last post and with good reason; it's also with good reason that a new post finally comes today. My write brain has been moving away from music lately, partially because of music overload compounded by a fact that I don't often talk about, i.e. that my day job involves listening to so much music that I feel entitled to a little burnout here and there. Still, I'm not falling away into other interests, just feeling like I was getting too involved in non-life living, like my obsessions have given way to existential diminishing marginal returns.

Why do I post now? As life so often has it, two reasons converged. Last night I skipped regular Halloween festivities to see the ever-wondrous Mountain Goats at the Knitting Factory with an old friend. Having seen him/them several times now, the bar is always high, but I can confidently say that it was the best show I had seen by him yet. What really got me— me sitting all up in that chair, unshaven, tired, and uncertain— was the amount of "real" "experience" John Darnielle seems to have had in a life. For a while I thought of him as a vampire of humanity's most destructive, fragile impulses, uncannily attuned to the tiniest, most heart-withering tragedies. The Sunset Tree, with the whole "autobiography" tack, really shook that feeling up, that deep seated impression of Darnielle as a guy who used to write songs after simply pulling out a map and staring at the names of countries and towns (I read this somewhere, forgive me for forgetting where). No, last night he donned a priest's robe; "Dance Music" was prefaced with the words "this is a song about God's plan for all of us," to which the crowd laughed and Darnielle in turned silenced by saying "no, really." He talked about being locked in a room for an entire summer listening to the Birthday Party. At one point he said "This song is about all of my friends in Portland, most of who are probably dead." He paused. "They liked speed a lot. You say 'Tina, your teeth don't look so good and you look too thin.' And Tina says 'I'm fine, don't worry.' And you say 'Tina, you are not fine.'"

Now, I won't do any soulseeking, but I will say that I cry at every Mountain Goats show I've ever been to; I could have just come from eating a plate of veal, bench-pressing, and snorting a small mound of cocaine, and I'd still cry, he just wrecks me like that. This was the moment that I said "Yes, fuck yes, I don't want to spend time on the sidelines; I want to be a wallflower but I want the walls smeared with blood and the room filled with spirits. Relishing in my already hermetic tendencies is killing my youth." So it was a silly moment, of course, but it stuck.

Today, the ever-inspiring Justin Cober-Lake had a really compelling article up at Stylus. Go there now and read it. Really. It fucked me up a little, which is a testament to its quality and depth of thought and not an expression of fear or confusion.

I should say that I loved this piece; I loved it because I disagreed. Sure, I was reminded of this time that I had a breakdown in a large rare bookstore and ran out, completely shaken to the core. I told a friend that "there are just too many books; what is the world going to do with so many books?" to which he comfortingly said "you just find your corner and you paint it." Or something to that effect. Justin says you have to hang on to something, to do something. He's absolutely right, but I think I preemptively felt like I knew what that thing was. Furthermore, while I think there's a certain sense that one should embrace what they naturally gravitate towards, there is such a thing as not living up to one's potential. Not that this is what Justin is doing. Hear me clearly: I'm constantly amazed by his work ethic; he writes more than I do and in more places, and I didn't just become a father. I'm also not saying "yeah music is dumb I'm off to save the world." I am saying that I'm fed up with the nasty side of all this, the side that makes me unwittingly/willingly well-versed in things I don't care about, forsaking time I could spend on things I really am interested in. Part of it is my feeling about being comprehensive, i.e. it's my tendency, thorough = good. Still, I've come to some juncture where I feel like I know more about contemporary southern hip-hop than contemporary Japanese dance, and not for lack of interest in the latter, but because of a categorically overwhelming interest in music in general.

Part of the reason I've been absent from this blog was as a result of all this stuff: making little shifts in life, how I spend my time, how I hone my energies. Try to read the paper, try to be good about listening to the BBC World Service, because I figure out a shitload more about myself listening to that than the new Dominik Eulberg mix, no matter how good some of it is. Had to get out and get to Long Island and feel the cold of a ghost. Had to crane to hear "The Tennessee Waltz." Thought about the stories I never finished and finished a couple. Started more. Felt moral, felt ethical. Felt a number of things and came here to say them.

Forgive me, I haven't been myself lately, but I suspect I will be soon.