SOTD: Warren Zevon, “Keep Me In Your Heart”

26 Jun


You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for a while.

Hold me in your thoughts
Take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes
Keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you.

Getting my post-bac in A – &$*@!#^ – merica, flinging myself across the continental 48, prone to loving the new, but missing my friends, and probably being farther away from my family than I can justify, things get complicated.

Nothing like a little Zevon to put it in perspective.

SOTD: Fiona Apple, “Every Single Night”

12 Jun

“I really like snails” – Fiona Apple

From the new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.

If you eat one thing today, eat fresh corn because it’s in season now and it’s like DAMN. If you call one person today, call your senator about the Paycheck Fairness Act.

4 Jun

Okay, so actually I really hope you eat more than just a cob of corn today, and I think it would have more of an impact to call both of your senators (if you live in the U.S.).  But either way, the corn is juicy and it’s impossible to ensure fair wages in the workplace without payroll transparency!  Which is what the Paycheck Fairness Act calls for (the transparency, not the juicy).

So please, take a few minutes to chow some cobs and call your senators to support the Paycheck Fairness Act today.  But preferably not at the same time.

You can call 1-888-876-9527 to get easily connected to your senators.  Native Georgians like me, please confirm or deny my suspicion that you have to have a ridiculous name to be a Georgian senator.  Saxby Chambliss? Johnny Isakson?? Chocoball Mukai?!  Okay, one of those isn’t real.

Earning less than someone doing the same work is buuuuullshit.
Call your senators today.

How to Love

31 May


It would not be inaccurate to say that dating has been going better for me lately. Specifically, I’ve made it not only to date two (a significant event), but even to date three (nothing short of a miracle), and, more recently, to date four (you should be guessing that I’m lying at this point) recently with someone.

Per usual when I find I really like someone, I get nervous. Particularly when there is very little data to go on – that is, very few dates, versus having already known the person via some other capacity – one tends to over-read everything, searching for meaning in the arbitrary. I did this for a time, but after a while, began feeling comfortable in the person’s company, and decided just to roll with the punches, so to speak.

Yet, this particular string of encounters has had me thinking about an important distinction, one that I suspect we have all experienced intimately, but that I have not articulated until very recently: the difference between who we want, and how we want to be loved.

With all this dating, I have certainly affirmed the kind of person I’d like to be with: someone cerebral; quick-witted; hilarious; possessing of verbal acuity; genuine; outgoing; kind. This person should love books, maybe write a little every now and then, and greatly enjoy highly theoretical and personal conversations, replete with reflection and intellectual risk-taking. Brownie points for being creative, musical, and/or understanding my immigrant upbringing by way of personal experience. Serious extra credit for sharing similar politics on social issues (reproductive rights and gay rights, yes), and for being able to discuss canon formation coherently (swoon). I could go on.

Yet, as recent experience has shown me, even when I do find someone roughly around these lines (and as specific as those qualities seem, they do come in many different shapes and sizes), there is no guarantee that there is relational compatibility. As I’ve been talking through styles of partnering with various friends, I’ve tried to entertain styles that differ from my own, but to no avail. Instead, I’ve found that what I’ve always wanted does indeed remain what I continue to desire: intimacy, affection, tenderness.

I realized during a contemplative walk today that this has so bothered me because a fourth date, for someone who largely only goes on first dates for problems of tremendous pickiness, is nearly synonymous with the pivot point that edges into relationship territory. Investing that much time and thought? That is no longer rolling with the punches. This is the point at which I decide whether or not I’d like to keep investing in a more intentional way.

This kind of hypothetical investment manifests itself in letting go almost completely, giving abundantly to my partner, wanting to do so much for him. When I get invested, I get hands on, and I go all out. I will invest quality time, give words of affirmation, indulge in small but meaningful gifts, do tasks, and be touchy. I will want my life to slowly but surely integrate with the other person’s; to have him share of the everyday, and to share the everyday with him, typically through a nightcap conversation. Oftentimes, these would be the best part of my day (this was, of course, before I started my daily 5K runs).

I suppose I love to love, and as such really don’t enjoy holding back. I consider it a great privilege, and like to express my love for others in myriad ways. And while I understand, mentally, that people possess different styles of love – languages, as the book states – experience has shown me that I’d like reciprocity, that perhaps I’d like to be loved in the way that I love, and that veering too far from my style reads as unintelligible to me when true intimacy is involved.

Let’s do some demystifying here, while we’re at it: people who share my particular romantic-emotional needs are not necessarily insecure; our confidence does not depend on the affirmation of another. But when that other does very little to obviously celebrate you, when you constantly feel overlooked by the one person who knows and should value you most, well, then, that’s likely to have a deteriorating and deleterious effect, wouldn’t you say?  So I think I’d be stronger and more complete alone rather than with an ill-fitting love.

I’m building a theory now which says that you can detect another’s style of loving early on. When mutual interest and liking are established, people tend to feel more comfortable expressing themselves to one another. I’ve occasionally come across a few extroverted folks who have been very kind to me at these stages, but from others, receiving verbal affirmation is like pulling teeth.

And too, for me, it all comes down to how this makes me feel. However counter-intuitive this may seem, feelings can be a gateway, an analytic even, which helps us get to our truths. Something about this not feeling quite right? Time to investigate, to probe. Feeling lonely and distant when your partner is at your side? Let’s start asking some more questions to get at the inspiration for that loneliness.

At this point, I recognize my experience of various ugly feelings which happen to fit perfectly into the trajectory of my dating brilliant but emotionally withdrawn men. And this is the point during which I recall my friends’ and former colleagues’ comments and advice: “you are a wonderful person, and I hope you get what you deserve;” and “it is not time wasted if you put your lessons into practice the next time.”

If you want it enough, their band could be your life

26 May

wake up in the van
drink a beer
write a song
mail the fuzzy tape of it to your sound engineer- who’s your cousin
drive 8 hours to the next venue on the tour
eat a slice of pizza purchased for you by one of your few fans, knowing you wouldn’t have eaten otherwise.
blow fan’s ears and what was between them to smithereens at your show
give an interview for a hardcore music ‘zine
fight with your bandmates
get drunk together and make up (unless you’re straight edge, in which case you might just sulk) 
get back in the van
do it again

The period from 1981 to 1991 was dominated by Reaganism, new wave, punk bands knocking off one another, and musical acts that were more about style than about substance.  But for the bands profiled in Michael Azerrad in Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, it was a time to incubate true independence- to learn to live as an artist and a human being without the gilded trappings of shitty mainstream music.  It was not the birth of the American Underground, but it was a damned significant period of music and scene-making for bands in the punk, art rock, noise, hardcore, experimental and downright undefinable scenes.

The 2001 tome’s title Our Band Could Be Your Life comes from a lyric in The Minutemen’s subtly funky punk song “History Lesson Part II.”  The Minutemen are a working class band from San Pedro, California, whose career was depressingly cut short by the death of bandmate D. Boon in a car accident (fuck those, man).  Their aesthetic was to “jam econo,” that is, to do everything as cheaply and affordably as possible.  They lugged and set up their own equipment for their whole careers, and kept day jobs for most of them.

That concept of jamming econo, of doing it yourself from the album art to booking the tours to writing the songs to fixing your van to starting your own record labels (see SST and Dischord, among others), is what allows the scene to get by.  Not to flourish, mind you, but to start a club of people who could get a casette tape from a friend or hear a totally new sound on a college radio station, who appreciated creativity without definitions, a club who reconvened in all the smelly clubs for all the rocking shows.

The scene was about originality.  Profiling Black Flag, The Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Dinosaur Jr, Fugazi, Mudhoney, and Beat Happening, among other bands, Azerrad depicts a collaborative, broke, highly artistic musical underground that doesn’t exist in the same way today.  Yet ask many musicians currently working, and they’ll tell you how much the legacies of these bands (a few of whom are still playing today) and the knowledge from this book influenced them to start bands.  Admittedly short on women, Our Band Could Be Your Life can be read well with books like Sara Marcus’s Girls to the Front– in terms of timelines one leads into the next.

Which is to say, we couldn’t have the American Indie (and semi-independent) scene we have today without ’80s and early ’90s predecessors.  Thanks for forging ahead, and teaching us how to jam – and live – econo.

Recommended read, though maybe a bit too hefty for a beach read.  Have a rocking holiday weekend everyone!


Sam’s SOTD: “24,900 Miles Per Hour” by 7 Year Bitch

15 May

Hello from Seattle!

In keeping with the riotous spirit of the PNW, here’s a super90s SOTD and music vid by Seattle’s own 7 Year Bitch.

On [the Tarot Card] Deck

4 May


Last night, I ventured into the not-wilds of Tremont Street in Boston with my wacky friend EL to visit the Tremont Tearoom, which purports to contain many a psychic, always ready to read one’s cards.

A few weeks ago, E had told me that a bloke named V had read her cards with uncanny insight, and, knowing the relevant details of her life, I corroborated her claim. So, I thought, why not enjoy this novel experience? I’d been feeling 50% content and 50% befuddled; perhaps this V character could shed some light on my inner chaos.

As it turned out, V was a young-ish, tremendously tall, slightly effeminate, scarf-wearing, all-black donning RISD alum who I found quite endearing. I shuffled the deck several times, and in the course of 20 minutes, he gave me the following reading:

Shuffle 1: General environmental assessment:
–  V: You have recently completed something.
S: Well, I have ended a period of emotional turmoil and transitioned into general happiness and stability, yes.
– V: The past card is here; perhaps you are feeling some nostalgia for the past, or moving on from a past experience?
S: I’m generally over the past, but people from my past do pop up at unexpected times – and I do have a pattern of types of people with whom I generally cavort.
– V: The cards signifying dream and reality are on top of each other. With the dream, it seems you have a great many options or skills, but unsure of what to pursue.
S: Very yes. Reality is cool and one thing, but I’ve not reached the dream yet, and doing so would require me to optimize some aspects of my current reality.
– V: But it seems there’s a waiting period; this is a big decision.
S: Sigh, yes – two years feels like a long time to me, when I thought I’d know what I’d be doing for life at 21! (This is when the “Fool” card should have shown up, but didn’t.)
– V: Some sign of money keeps coming up – perhaps this is holding you back? You want something intellectual, but which can emotionally fulfill you.
S: I did think again today about trying to become a consultant – but I think this would require me to suppress a great deal of my inner being. I’m more interesting in cultivating others’ potentials.
– V: [Other stuff, but I don’t remember.]
S: [Thinking, engagement, conversation.]
– V: There’s a dignified figure on a horse with a javelin who seems to be charging into your life. He’s an intellectual!
S: WHOA. He has not yet arrived, but perhaps soon! I like me some intellectualism, and I do have a crush in mind.
– V: [Other stuff, but I don’t remember.] 2
S: [Thinking, engagement, conversation.] 2

V then asks me to keep a question in mind (or to express it), as the next shuffle will apply to it.

Shuffle 2: My unexpressed but held question: Who will I marry?
– V: It seems like you represent a change – creativity and sexuality – for this person.
S: Holy cats – that sounds about right! I am writing quite a bit for work these days.
– V: Here we see a death card, but don’t be alarmed – it represents transformation.
S: INTENSE. Dude. Um.

Shuffle 3: Another unexpressed but held question: Will I be settling down in Boston-Cambridge?
V: The first two cards here represent intense stability.
S: Well, I do have a great and very stable job, and I like my newly-evolving friendships here.
– V: But the final card in the set is the moon – motherly, nurturing, powerful, leading from one reality into another – so it seems you probably won’t stay here forever after all.
S: Well, right. I’m not sold on this town (yet?). Hrm.

Okay, so I took some creative liberties! But very interesting potentially relevant insights into work and love.

EL and I were pretty taken with these readings and decided to search for our own decks at a Barnes and Noble on our way home. I ordered one from Amazon this morning. Next we meet, I’ll be reading YOUR cards!

I’ve also experienced a newly-kindled interest in folklore – I’m curious about that which lies beyond the analytic, and the objects, practices, and beliefs that give us direction and comfort amidst the chaos. Also, tarot cards have some pretty crazy graphics!

How about you, reader – thoughts on the deck? What’s your non-scientific comfort practice of choice?