Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Awesome. As informative and engaging as ever and this one has been especially entertaining.
I would suggest showing it to everyone you know...
More info here...
Monday, November 4, 2013
Choose to Choose, Choose to Go.
It was in my 18th or 19th year, now further back in time than it actually feels. I was in the thick of an ever evolving process of self-isolating that truly begun in earnest, just a few years prior. I’d picked up a Sunday evening shift at a local college radio station as a favor to a friend, who was a station manager there, to help fill out the summer hours. Each week for an hour or two, during dusk, I’d turn the station into my own version of a broadcasted mixtape to long lost friends and lovers. It was a perfect outlet to communicate everything I was feeling without having to actually interact with others or use my own words. Without any theme I let the songs speak for themselves and complement each other. Releasing them into the atmosphere, with the possibility that somewhere, someone’s receiver would pull them in. Of course I also offered to take requests on the studio hotline. I only received one call the entire summer.
What was that song? The really soft one you just played, the really beautiful one?
I’m not sure do you remember anything else about it?
He was singing about someone’s eyes…
I noted the death of Lou Reed yesterday by not really processing it, I just let it roll off me. After all, older people tend to die and though the Velvet Underground had meant a lot to me at one point they now were just an occasional thought. The market for artistic influence in my life had expanded and as I met others I saw that in some ways the Velvet Underground had oversaturated parts of it. In many ways the beatification of the band had turned me off to them. So many folks who discovered them and then set their heart’s compass to their art and legacy just soured me on taking them too seriously anymore. They became a phase I grew out of. Then a friend commented on Lou’s passing yesterday “This hits hard. All I ever wanted to be in high school was Lou Reed.”
I first heard the Velvet Underground when I was 16 it was a greatest hits compilation CD of a friends. I recorded it onto a blank tape and listened to it non-stop until I could afford the box-set. The song that made me sit up and pay attention was “Stephanie Says.” I was fascinated with the line in the chorus “She’s not afraid to die, the people all call her Alaska.” I still have no fucking clue what that means but I developed a thousand expansive theories that summer and over the following years. What I loved about that lyric was, it wasn’t just druggy gibberish to me (like a lot of the lyrics from many of the bands from that era tend to be) it was a thoughtful attempt by to convey a meaning that was too broad and intangible to fit into words or melody so it had to be reduced to koan snapshots. Let the listener wrestle for an external truth by exploring the internal. So much of their work was like that, a foggy window to a much broader undefined theme.
The message in other songs was more straightforward and possessed a narrative. All of the work of Lou Reed from this period and I’d say until his death held a spirit of being resigned to the darkness but appreciating the light. Similar to the work of Townes Van Zandt, the artist is holding on to a spirit of hope but more grappling with this truth of a darkness. In essence it’s all about struggling with control. Something happens to some of us, most of us, all of us, during that time between being a child and learning the truth of it all. I think with Lou (like Van Zandt) the ability to reconcile the two and allow them to coexist, is the main undercurrent in the work. Even in songs like “I’m Waiting for my man” there’s a jumpy, childlike excitement about journeying into the black neighborhoods of 60s era New York in order to score some heroin. The situation is very sketchy on so many levels but the energy of the song is a living energy, jumpy and driving, with a youthful mischievous tone. That great duality of humor and sorrow really appealed to a presence already within me. Besides being very dark, Lou Reed’s music was also a testament to how powerful humor and rock n roll can be as tools for beating back despair and keeping you inspired.
What was interesting at that time too was that, living in rural Vermont it’s like I got to develop a relationship with the music in a vacuum. Sure friends and others knew about or liked the band but it wasn’t the same as discovering them in college or Art School or working at a coffee house or record store. I didn’t ask for and no one really offered their opinions on the music, so I had the space to investigate it and embrace it on my own terms.
That’s why it struck me when I heard that line from my friend about wanting to be Lou Reed. I realized I was shrugging it off, Lou Reed’s death; like it was a childish hobby that I could appreciate but had long since outgrown. He’s no messiah and a lot of the solo records were pretty bad, but he was always honest. The music of the Velvet Ground was so incredibly honest that it meant the world to me for that period when it was all I was listening to. It touched a place in me filled with simultaneous joy and sorrow and provided it with a voice I didn’t realize existed. Songs like Sunday Morning, All Tomorrow’s Parties, Jesus, and Pale Blue Eyes. That’s how heartbreak, loss, craving and fatigue sound and all of those experience ultimately give you a deeper appreciation of the joy, love and beauty that you experience. In one of his later solo albums he has a line about hanging around in a relationship and feeling not wanted that states, “ I’m a New York City man, you just say ‘go’ and I’ll be gone.” I can’t even tell you how many times I thought that line in crumbling romantic and non-romantic situations. I’d feel unwanted and just split. You just say ‘go’ and I’ll be gone. No bullshit, just be honest.
Lou was an astronaut to me. He had gone out there into the unknown and come back. His honesty gave him a quality of integrity that I saw disappearing from all around me as I grew up. So it hit me today, re-listening to those old albums and remembering the experience of that music and the world they described; how important it was for me to relate it to my own life and observations. How I wanted to aspire to those heights and depths. The passing of Lou Reed deserves a real, artistic reflection on my part; and it felt important for me to remember and pay tribute to the Lou Reed I knew and not the one defined for me by others. Life is gonna go fast, it’s important to take time to remember the words, the sounds and the spirit, to stand in the shadows and remember the light/ heat.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Henry Rollins on John Macias.
Circle One - Highway Patrolman.
Mental illness is a motherfucker.
Here's a nice article about John that I found on the There's Something Hard In There blog (which is pretty killer in general...)
Friday, November 1, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The only stuff I know about Englad's football (futbol?) culture are things I learned from Oi! records... That said, here are a few interesting documentaries on hooliganism and violence... Add it to my growing mental encyclopedia of British youth culture... Interesting to see how the police tactics are theorized and later implemented throughout these documentaries...