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5/30/2006

Wrinkles

"French Way" by Crown Heights Affair is ridiculous and great and I urge you to drop the baby in your arms to go listen to it.

A synopsis: single funk groove, vamped for four minutes and 13 seconds. A chorus of "Do it, do it the French way" alternating with wordless vocal coos, interrupted periodically for the group to take turns reciting commercial tag lines. All reasonably bonkers until the last: "Mary's BEEEEEEEEEP, and we helped." Mindfuck challenge of the day dares you to consider what verb both

A) Connotes helping

and

B) Ought to be censored

5/24/2006

Why I Try To Be Open-Minded



Peas, Pod: The Lovey Lovesick Lovers


I guess one of the virtues of being open-minded is realizing that the qualities that you value in a certain kind of music might actually be present in another kind of music. Maybe there were qualities that you liked in music that you were only half-satisfying until you heard something else, i.e. some appreciation of “freedom” in noise rock before you heard free jazz. (The fact that keeps on laughing: Anthony Braxton reportedly flipped his shit when he finally heard Wolf Eyes.) Now, there are reasons to qualify this statement – the obvious one being that it could easily route right back ‘round to sentiments like “I like music that is important, dude” – i.e. the superweird crit-fear of valorizing, say, hip-hop for the same reasons as someone valorized Dylan 30 years ago (socially conscious, poetic, whatever). But first—

I’m intrigued by music that gets its mileage out of emotional disconnection. My favorite indie rock band was always Pavement most likely because they so obviously gave a shit but always tried to be too shy or cool to do so; consider their unrepentant sloppiness, Malkmus’ reportedly impenetrable lyrics, their self-effacing monikers, etc. Their emotional unwillingness was probably the same reason I basically ended up hating the raw nerves of Lou Barlow (no matter how hard I tried), and more or less loved Kim Gordon (though liking Kim was probably infinitely complicated by the fact that SY were overtly urban and much more performative about their romance – that’s not even mentioning the fact that Kim Gordon is a woman and I was, when I first started listening to them, a 13-year-old Boy from the suburbs). So even though I really liked all of Malkmus’ frizzy poetics, my favorite Pavement line was always the one in “Gold Soundz” where he said “So drunk in the August sun, and you’re the kind of girl I like / Because you’re empty, and I’m empty, and you can never quarantine the past.” I liked the line because it sounded like a clean-cut lie when he sang it; I unthinkingly said the same kinds of things to a girl much later on (only realizing it recently), showing my abundance of emotion by trying simply to shrug it off. So, in a sense, my value of emotional disconnection was intensely personal.

When I heard Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” I had a similar experience. Donna Summer didn’t pretend to be cool, she sort of pretended to be hot. And she was hot. But she was more like Kim Gordon, in that sense: sounding so unbelievably passionate that you, well, didn’t exactly believe her. It was a farce (or not!) that would fuck with me, because I never thought that Kim could possibly feel the way she felt in a song like “Shadow of a Doubt,” nor did I think Donna Summer was actually feeling the love she purported to (or, as Frank Kogan said, "If she felt love, it wasn't for me"). I mean, they were feeling something really intense, but they were putting on something different; it made the emotional tenor of the music complicated. Like Steven Malkmus. And later, I found out, like Steely Dan’s Gaucho or when RZA cries on “I Can’t Go To Sleep” or Mannie Fresh or the Mountain Goats or Kiki & Herb (who, I should point out, covered the Mountain Goats on their last album – yeah, the one that hit me like a tennis racket across the face, that one). I’m not saying that “Gold Soundz” and “I Feel Love” are the same. That would be stupid. What I am saying is that my tendencies to listen for and fundamentally value emotional disconnect (or whatever you want to call it) is what ended up allowing me to like “I Feel Love” on the same level as “Gold Soundz.” And I only listened to “I Feel Love” because I was feeling open-minded and curious about disco, and it’s a pillar of the genre.

And I guess I find that quality of emotional disconnection fundamentally interesting and I do value it and I won’t ever apologize for that. It probably has something to do with the reach to identify with emotions in music and having it thwarted (or at least made sticky) by music that isn’t emotionally one-dimensional, or music whose performance somehow mucks up feelings that the lyrical content might belie.

I mean, I think that there’s nothing terribly wrong with “rockism” other than the fact that it’s totally uninteresting. It ignores humor, it ignores nuance in performance, it ignores the satisfaction of rhythm (I always thought that the “disco sucks” thing was a) limp and b) totally different than “techno sucks” because disco used real instruments); it ignores a lot of what makes music wonderful or rich. And I’m not afraid to use those words because "not giving a shit" is passé, but again, that’s a sentiment I’d like to differentiate from “giving a shit for hollow reasons.” Which is why I want to think of Scott Walker’s humor or Mannie Fresh’s self-deprecation or the fact that Fela had a harem. These facets make the stories deeper, more resonant. And I wouldn’t have been privy to any of it unless I had been open-minded about the things I listen to.

5/23/2006

Aperitif for Thought


WORD IS BORN


What is music journalism?

I guess it’s something like: “Sodden Leaves are a tropically-flavored electro-pop quartet from Staffordston that are really hotting up the college charts… Now here’s some dance music with real emotion.”

I am not allowed to pass judgment on the state of the entire Staffordston pop scene, its questionable ties to bocce gambling rings, the general relevance of bocce, or whether or not “hotting up the college charts” is a worthwhile thing to do (what with the stupidly obvious ass-backwardness of the entire Stafforston – fuck, the whole Quinton Province – aesthetic). I am allowed to say “dance music with real emotion” because one of the members unearthed a long-dormant case of bipolar disorder while programming a sequencer for one of the b-sides (says the press kit). Anyway, nobody in Staffordston has ever seen over the barbed walls at the Quinton Province limits, so “tropically-flavored” is a modified adjective that will best resonate with their knowledge of the Grössel Starfruit Yogurt Squirt (the jeeeeesisss, they call it), an immensely popular local kumquat-flavored shooter.

All I’m saying is that if I did, for example, say by way of a mystical, gut hunch that these Staffordston bands are spending a lot of time trying to look directly into their own assholes while the bands in Greater Kirschischirshire are absolutely slaying right now, someone will write to the Staffordston Herald SuperSaver and say “You are a closed-minded jerk, and I disinherit any passion I might have had for your writing.” And you might retort,

“But I’m from Staffordston; I mean, I love that scene. I care about it. Which is why I have an opinion and not a series of harmless, eggwhite facts.

And let’s be honest like David Hume once was – let’s not call a pond a lake. I mean, the whole project of trying to be catholically open-minded has mutated into a sick, limbless child of cultural studies. We’re taxed here, told to sublimate our own tastes and relish in the Technicolor panoply of the present; the strobing, rootless orgy of the now. I am drowning in an undifferentiated sa of difference. Who are you to tell me I’m not allowed to like what I like, or more regularly, that I should like something that I don’t? Sure, I am a window. But I’m a stained glass window. I have teal tits, fuschia freckles; I have a big purple splotch where my heart should be. So when the light of the world shines through me, I distort it, but I can make something beautiful nevertheless; I can make my own interpretation, my own opinion of the light. I am a critic.”

And then you pass out, high on the fumes of your own prose. But you got the chance to be you. And I, me.

It seems to be something that humans are struggling with. I mean, I should be gentle about this, but I remember having talks with friends who were really disappointed with how passive say, the New York Times was about certain political issues. And then someone says “well, that’s just journalism, isn’t it? Unbiased? Unblinking?” And so

What is music criticism?

I guess it’s the guys that Frank Kogan quotes, the ones writing in to metal magazines saying that “Poison have faggy poodle ‘dos and no balls, and if they did have even the most miniscule, pine nut-sized balls, Metallica would mercilessly wield the divine hammer with which to smash them” (in their dudely, hairyknuckled fingers, no doubt).

What is THE MAGICKAL SPACE BETWEEN?

Tune in tomorrow and find out.

5/18/2006

So To Share With You May 18th

The Mountain Goats' "Waving at You" is a song about a guy getting through his ex's birthday; more accurately, it's about a guy almost buying her a birthday gift and then realizing she's not in his life anymore. So today's "Waving at You" day at PBW, and a pretty amazing one so far:

James: "When you hit the ground, the last thing you need is a shovel."

The Guy in the Deli: "We all go through ups and downs, you know? But listen, elevator shoes--uplifting, right? Elevator shoes."

The Bus Driver: "Hey, I've got magic pants."

Also, I guess I missed PBW's 1st Anniversary. Dear May, leave something left of me for June. With Fondness and Regards, mp.

5/17/2006

On Isms and Onanism

Dear THE INTERNET: Make the ideas stop. Sorry for the "numerals," I just have a bunch of stuff I want to puke up, & I'm going to serve it in slightly different flutes.

I.

Every time I go to post about what the whole Merritt/Rockism/other provacatively-titled Slate articles/Hopper/S F/J hootenanny, some other musk enters the room; I choke in wonder, etc.

By way: I went to an n+1-sponsored discussion on the state of literature last night. Literature's not exactly my world, but the concerns were general enough to resonate with issues, ahem, outside of literature; interestingly, actually, one guy mentioned music criticism as some last bastion of true appreciation through a kind of considered, empassioned fandom.

Of course, it was a completely misguided characterization, as the SlateDebates have made absolutely obvious. Music critism, or like, Music Criticism on the level of Ideas or Philosophizing or Theorizing or Characterizing (whatever you want, as long as it's in caps) seems basically irrelevant to the general music-listening populace, something Frank Kogan laments in Real Punks Don't Wear Black. I'm always disappointed (and sometimes surprised) by what readers on Stylus--a free outlet for music writing--gravitate towards. I can tell you pretty certainly that it's not "idea" pieces; readers rarely seem to want to think about music as a set of abstractions or social conditions (they'd rather just live those conditions without consideration). And in a sense, what I take to be the really wonderful, heroic, brave gesture on the part of people like Chuck Eddy or Frank Kogan to divorce the intellectual from the academic seems to bother people even more; lit-crits have the decency to know their tiny fucking place in the world, whereas these guys are, what, intellectual missionaries? Martyrs? Lost causes?

I recently asked a friend for advice about writing for a certain music magazine, to which he responded, in part, that the watchwords are "lucid" and "accessible," which I basically (and probably appropriately) see as code for keep your ideas to yourself. Because really, these debates aren't doing anyone any good. It was inspiring to read someone like Jeff Chang basically throw up his hands on the whole thing; in a sense, it's all one can do--let the useless parts die without dignity.

II.

Of course though, there's gotta be something of consequence in here.

And of course, it's how we're dealing with who we and what we're looking for when we listen to music--the most interesting questions of all. Actually, the best thing a girl said last night at this lit panel was "you guys are talking an awful lot about writing, but you're not really talking at all about reading." It's why the toughest, most unresolved questions surrounding this whole thing are absolutely NOT dummy dum dum dums like "what is rockism?" and "is it good or bad?" but "why are we concerned with it?" What kind of fears and insecurities lead us to actually--hold on--formulate some grand scheme in which making certain value judgements about art and music is Bad or Wrong? Aren't those like, totally dated concepts?

III.

Okay, some specific comments I was interested in dealing with:

Pitchfork-er and ILM-er Nitsuh Abebe had snappy things to say about Merritt:

"Why are we concerned that a middle-class white person might have tastes that align with middle-class white idioms? Why is this any different than pointing out that Jay-Z grew up in a Brooklyn project and has tastes that come from a particular hip-hop idiom and culture? I mean, to put it bluntly, I feel like white people often try to make themselves neutral, to kind of run down their own particular experience and culture as non-experience and non-culture -- often (maybe) out of fear that admitting they have a culture means further dominating everyone else's, further oppressing everyone else's. They want to step out of the game and act as neutral parties observing everyone else's culture. But that's even worse, because it puts them in an even more dominant position, and a patronizing and untruthful one, too."


Cultural studies, welcome. It's the same thing academics talk about with regard to race theory and in gender studies with regard to "straight" or "normal": the position of dominance can only really stay dominant by going invisible. The problem I'm having is that it presumes some sort of logic for all these things--that there's actually some line between your statistical identity and these artistic "idioms." While there's something in that idea, I guess the issue I'm having is that creating a logic like that seems to only re-erect boundaries between people and what they would reasonably be listening to.

In an equally frustrating statement, Carl Wilson said, that an exclusive alignment with those "idioms" that Nitsuh talks about "may well indicate a sense of distance from and perhaps a lack of curiosity about black experience."

So now we have a good handle on what the black experience is? And the white one, too? I mean, does my interest in Fela Kuti mean I'm interested in the black experience? It's a hell of a lot different than the Cam'ron one. Is it an interest in the African one? The experience of rhythmic music? My passion for the history of Nigeria? My desire to appropriate and colonialize the radical funk of natives? Fuck if I know, but I think it's really dangerous to say that Merritt doesn't care about the black experience because he doesn't like hip-hop--it's just reductive. Do I not care about the white experience because I didn't get through the entirety of the new Taking Back Sunday or Thursday or Saves the Day albums?

Furthermore, when I am listening to Fela, where am I belonging? Am I a joint-rolling anthropology professor canoodling students? A laid-back guy who just digs on grooves? Racist? Of course not; I'm none of these. To say that I'm any one of them is only to belittle my appreciation to the music. But then, I can't say something like, "Well, I like Fela because his music is raw; I like the collective frenzy of it, I like the trance-like purity of it, I like the primal passions" because that sounds racist to people, even if it's the same goddamn reasons I love Animal Collective or taking a long bicycle ride or sex. We're stuck in a rut of self-policing; it feels like the reasons that we're freely allowed to like music are rapidly dwindling.

IV.

Also, there's a split between UNDERSTANDING and APPRECIATING. As critics, I do think we should have an understanding of what is out there. When I self-consciously exploded the range of the music I listened to, it wasn't in an effort to broaden my tastes so much as figure out what they truly were and how I functioned as a listener to a lot of different musics. Of course, I do like a lot more different kinds of music than I used to, and that's wonderful. The creepy thing is that the Liberal Critic will tell that it's okay to not like everything, but if you don't like something, you run the risk of getting called out for being narrow-minded. Someone will think that no, you just don't understand it, because if you really did, you'd obviously take a liking to it. Sasha asks: "Do we expect critics to have an unusually catholic range of hearing?". I honestly think that the answer, for most people, is Yes.

V.

There's something sad and creepy about it that Simon touches on in a recent post:

"This sort of primitive and quaint (and naff) rockism is very much an adolescent attitude, really (whereas the pop-ist sensibilty has always struck me as a post-adolescent reaction against the opinions/tastes formed during sixth form/high school and university years. Unfortunately the reaction often takes the form of a dis-intensification--adolescence is nothing if not a time of urgency and intense emotional investments, whereas in the phase of post-adolescent young adulthood (which lasts until late thirties or beyond these days) that dimension to musical cathexis usually disappears, especially as the onset of relative affluence encourages a music-as-smorgasbord eclecticism."


One of the reasons I love the Animal Collective is that they sorta dare you to; their music is wilfully adolescent. It's excited. It's tumultuous. All of these characteristics are unfashionable in listeners, I think. Which is why, if you have the same response to, say, the Marit Larsen record, you can be a poptomist, but liking the Animal Collective is somehow a statement because they're Indie and stand for something (or something). I don't feel green when I listen to them, I feel happy. But I think there's a sense in which being excited is really frowned upon; like the critical detachment necessary to try to understand something is dependent on a kind of anhedonia--"If I get too excited, I won't be able to say anything about it, because my excitement is impressionistic and not cogent, and that's not criticism, it's fandom."

I find this very sad.

I don't know where I'm going with all this, but I do know that recently, my Catholic hearing has slid over for my adolescent appreciation, and it makes me fucking delighted. My friend Andy asked what I had been listening to--"The Soft Boys and the Minutemen," I answered, to which he said "Wow, it's like 19-year-old Mike Powell all over again." And I didn't realize the gravity of that until now; the Soft Boys do make me excited, and while I might want to spread the love to interested parties, I don't feel like my love is of any particular critical consequence. But it's important to who I am as a listener and my understanding of what I look for in music; in a way, it's reactionary. I want to remember what it feels like to really give a shit. It's why I listened for a long time without ever writing a word--words, what are they doing here? I think I'm going to work on a questionnaire about this.

So,

Down with -isms for right now. Let's ask what matters. After the talk last night, my friend Brandon, who works for Basic Books, gave me a copy of Terry Eagleton's After Theory. Page 21, ahem:
"We need to imagine new forms of belonging, which in our kind of world are bound to be multiple rather than monolithic. Some of these forms will have something of the intimacy of tribal or community relations, while others will be more abstract, mediated and indirect. There is no single ideal size of society to belong to, no Cinderella's slipper of a space. The ideal size of community used to be known as the nation-state, but even some nationalists no longer see this as the only desirable terrain."


Imagine away. From the comfort of an armchair. Somewhere else, people are actually trying. Let's not forget our responsibility to what we care about, okay?

5/10/2006

X

Burial: Messing Your Brain on the Google Image Search Good-Like


I'm awoken from a rather unexpected dormancy on the blog to talk about the Burial album, which seems to be warming the loins of the hauntology crowd lately.

Burial, more than any other album in the hauntology scheme, is about time. K-Punk suggested that "Burial is haunted by what once was, what could have been, and - most keeningly - what could still happen." My own personal difficulty connecting with the rave/'ardkore/2-step/dubstep/the British dance underground has actually enhanced that response rather than dampened it. K-Punk also used the word "elegy"; my experience is like being at a stranger's funeral--a mourning without roots, an experience that actually has plenty more to do with your present than a past you never actually had.

So then, "elegy" almost seems improper becuase even if the experience conceptually relies on the past, that past can never make itself fully manifest or understood (otherwise it wouldn't haunt). So, like in Ariel Pink's 60s pop specters or Ghost Box's library music collage, we get a heavy referent for the music we're hearing, but one that always flickers at the horizons or has just left the room.

Burial, though, is the most vivid of the "hauntology" releases precisely because time becomes acute, rather than smeared or fucked-with (not to mention the urgency and presence of RHYTHM). When I saw Digital Mystikz some months back, I remember thinking about the obvious draw of reggae imagery/rhetoric for the dubstep crowd--doomsaying. You don't have to look much past the fact that "dread" is a compliment to realize that a lot of reggae's darkest glory comes from its fear that the world is always sliding further into dystopia, and it's a feeling that dubstep's frantic drum vortexes seem keen on making really goddamn explicit. (Incidentally Burial is being released on Hyperdub, whose founder, Kode 9, very appropriately covered "Ghost Town"--chew on it).

So Burial, in feeling tender or afraid or just generally preoccupied with both the past and the future, seems much more straightforward and readily affecting than some of the other things that have come into the hauntology mix. And the really off-putting thing about it is how mellow it makes entropy sound; there's very little agitation and the music is rebelliously imprecise at times (Burial apparently doesn't use a sequencer, another interesting factor in the "reanimation" aspect of sample culture--he's not interested in squaring all this audio away perfectly). Off-putting upon off-putting: the future's going to be completely rotted out. And we're going to feel just cool about it.

So it's redundant to say it's a sad album, because you could've guessed that; honestly, despite their obvious differences, I bet you could hoof it from Luomo's Vocalcity to the future sound of London in Burial; both albums derive their emotional resonance from their ability to draw emotions into view but remain detached from them. Yearning vocals roam in darkness because Burial ultimately leaves searchlights off; glints come from unknown, improbable sources. Really, one of the most forcefully lonely albums I've heard in a while.

5/08/2006

Last Dance for the Bleeding Hearts, Etc.

Simultaneously the easiest and hardest thing I've ever had to write, save an obituary. Sorry for getting High Fidelity on you all, but it has to happen sometime.

***


So, the new dance is Me, Teenager. I don't have Real Punks Don't Wear Black handy, but there's a part where he talks about how black music is more about control (James Brown, dancing/Detroit, maybe even the reigns Ayler gets on chaos), while white music is ostensibly about the loss of control (he acknowledges the generalization, but is thinking about stuff like punk or moshing and not necessarily "Spanish Fly"-style fingerworks). I saw Lightning Bolt last night; it wasn't the most on show I've seen by them. It was, however, insanely loud and glorious enough to make me forget everything stowed away in the link at the top of this post (for an hour or so).

Fat guys have a tendency to move horizontally rather than vertically in pits, which makes it really hard for someone of my stature (6'1", about 160) to survive, despite my workout regimen; I got tossed around a lot. Then again, surrender is part of, if not the impetus for the entire experience to begin with. Also, tying your shoes in pits: scary. It all reminded me, as my friends sat on the sidelines straight drankin', that it's really wonderful to get into a pile full of strangers, flail around, and tap into the oceanic via colliding tributaries of hairsweat and heaving dampness(es). And despite my weird pretense that these types of crowds (the ones that want to freak the fuck out sans dance diagram) can be really volatile, I only end up having glorious, smiling experiences. Sure, noize dudes and longhairs aplenty, but also lots of small asian girls, and more than a few guys holding their glasses in their hand above the crowd while they flipped out. A playpen for the plenty cautious, really. I left remembering all the good parts of 17.

5/04/2006

Something I wanted to point out the other day to Nick Southall, whose article on Stylus this week has given me the biggest surge of Sty-pride (TM) I've had in a while:

Monitor choice is also interesting. Quite deliberately Eno has chosen his own hi-fi system to be of average quality so that he can check-out his studio tapes on the sort of system most people will actually be listening to the final product on. Monitors, therefore, will follow the same philosophy.

"The monitors that I've most often found appealing to me are Lockwood's with Tannoy Reds. I find that a lot of the newer monitors with horns and whatever are very exciting to listen to but are also very tiring when you have to monitor on them for ten hours a day." (From an otherwise-mysterious 1975 piece called Eno: This studio is a musical instrument, which you can find here.)
The last time I had an "indulgent" hi-fi experience was actually in college with Another Green World; I just finished my last class, and I celebrated by lying on my back with a Bass in my hand, staring at the sun; I was wearing headphones and had set up speakers in the corner of the room. It was ridiculous, but memorable, I guess.

Anyway. Interesting that he uses the word tiring--the idea that the "quality" music listening experience is more difficult on the ears after a while. I know what he means from personal experience mixing bands that I've been in; I always find that the music revealed itself better to me while in the car the next day, just playing it on my factory system. Of course, there's that old "culture industry" argument that the steady stream of "thoughtless" experience is actually more work for your brain, the "worn grooves of association" or whatever they were hammering on.

Geeta responded in part by talking about bursts of J-Pop v. the experience of getting into songs that wind on longer and longer. Well, it was interesting, I was talking to Simon the other night about wanting to go to some of the Derek Bailey shows at The Stone and I'm sort of realizing my own small rebellion to the ambient iPod issue--I want to hear music made by people in space. It could be short, it could be long, but it has to be alive. I saw We Jam Econo--the Minutemen documentary--last night, and had sick desires to join that fray. Sick because that fray is gone now (spacey old Watt driving around in his van saying approx. that "it's ridiculous because it was so hard to be in a band then; now it's so easy and so few people do it"); the uncompressed, undiluted experience is sort of charming, a relic, documentary-able, etc. Feeling hopeless in all this, really.

5/02/2006

Hot or Not: Brains


: o


: /



I realized late last night that for this blog to be honest, I can't really avoid talking about books and movies. I've done it before, but with hesitation. Shake it off.

Dawn of the Dead was not my favorite in the quadrilogy; I expected it to be, which might sound weird, but I just did. Zombies take refuge in a shopping mall/last humans standing raid said mall while fending off zombies/fresh meat for the agonizing first day of cultural studies class in college all over again, ugh ugh ugh, all zombie-consumer/Trader Joe's squawking aside. Good heckling all around though; self-conscious talk about our hot slices of chicken parm pizza from Carmine's during the guts-eating scene, Tex Beta's jungle fever jokes and zombie lust monologues. And so, instead of that great, great, great feeling of zombie dread, I felt light and silly, carried on the bubbles of Canada Dry. Which isn't what I exactly what I hope to get from these films, but later on in the evening, I longed for it. To wit:

So I have a zombie thing and probably some issues with basic existential saddles like bodies and humanity and right, that's me up there on the banner, and yes, my zombie-girl was there that night, and okay, we won't talk about that (I finally called a therapist!). But for whatever, reason, I felt compelled to go home after Dawn... and watch Claire Denis' ultra-bare cannibal/sex meditation Trouble Every Day, which has fundamentally questioned my abstract appreciation of, well, the pretty suffocating eroticism of blood, etc. It seems beside the point to talk about the tender nexus of disgust, fascination, and shock, because it's so obvious in the contract of the movie; it's not exactly something you'd like, talk about a lot with people. (An aside: fondly remembering a hilarious interaction about 5 years ago when I met a girl and she was drunk and told me to read Bataille's The Story of the Eye; a week later, I did, and told her that I liked it, and thanks. She had no recollection of recommending it to me and blushed a great shade of red.)

The juxtaposition between Trouble and Dawn... was probably important for me--the dead stare of Romero's slapstick v. Denis' explicit linkage of MOUTH to FLESH to SNACK to DESIRE to CONSUME (a tired ring encircling an essay with the word "abject" repeated enough to make it totally meaningless). The film made it seem so absolutely real that the theme lost its metaphorical power. I remembered how my dad used to say "I'm gonna eat you up with a great big spoon"; I thought again about phrases like "you look good enough to eat" or whatever utterly insane things we thoughtlessly say to express affection. Those are interesting; Trouble Every Day isn't, exactly. But it is affecting. After it was over, the sound of my own breathing practically made me vomit.

Mom, I am working things out all on my own!