Notes From The Flip Side: 10.16.2005
"If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down."
Three months of no updates and what do I have to show for it? Sure, I have excuses - work got crazy, I was still recovering from surgery, I signed up for a prep class in Champaign that had me commuting two hours per day to sit in a classroom for four after another eight of sitting in the office. I simply didn't have a lot of time to update ... and, honestly, I didn't have much to say.
I've been stunned, more or less.
I've been stunned by hurricanes and the cost of gas (although I've known for a couple of decades that gas in America has artificially low prices). I've been stunned by governmental incompetence and greed. I've been stunned by blamestorming and denial. I have been stunned by the events of the summer.
And, in the words of an old American Steel song, "I'm ashamed that you're not more angry."
After all, the person or people who gave up Valerie Plame seem to be coming closer to a reckoning ... and the message about what would happen to someone who leaked that information is changing. Several hundred people died needlessly in New Orleans and, while international governments offered aid, we - as a country - couldn't get our shit together enough to accept the help.
Is there really any point in doing a post-mortem on the past few months? I still can't look at the AP wire without seeing opinion articles boiling over with vitriol, pointing fingers at the left and the right, blaming anyone and everyone for everything without taking responsibility for anything, no matter how small. Jesus Christ, this country is incredibly fucked up right now and no one seems able to get along. Everyone is in a hurry, anyone who thinks differently is automatically wrong - our national dialogue is nothing more than a collection of talking head soundbites on CNN.
America, we have a problem.
I love my country, but I don't like it much right now. I don't love my country blindly - I love the principles that it's supposed to represent but, over the past few decades of stealing from the poor to give to the rich, seems to have forgotten. I can't look at what my country is at the moment and think of it as something that I like ... but too many of my ancestors fought too hard for these silly ideas to let it all get flushed down the toilet by some spoiled rich boys who were born with silver feet in their mouths.
I haven't listened to much music lately. Beyond what's sitting here - unopened - I don't even know much about what has come out recently. I haven't been buying records. I've been sleeping, driving or working. That's about it.
I'm happy to say that the second operation was apparently completely successful.
Everything else is everything else.
My writing muscles feel atrophied right now; normally, I would have written reams of paper since the last update. Lately, I've just been thinking, looking at hard situations and getting ready to make hard decisions, determining what I'm willing to sacrifice for what I love.
And this is what seems relevant right now - I'm tired as hell. I love the new Sigur Ros record, but I'm exhausted and music just hasn't done it for me lately. Usually, there's at least one record that comes out in any given year that appeals to my inner 13-year-old boy, but I haven't heard it yet. No stage dives off the desk, no pogoing around my office. Almost all of the music I've picked up this year is reflective, mourning, wistful. It all sounds like longing for ... what? Space? (E)Motion? Simply being somewhere else? Or am I projecting my feelings onto these records, hearing only those things in these discs that I need to see reflected? Am I, once again, looking to music to find a better, more pure, reflection of myself?
There are things on my mind that I want to write about, but I simply can't find the words to describe them. It's not writer's block; if anything, it is reluctance to use anything but the most precise language. Since it all seems cloudy and foggy at the moment, I'm going to hold off on writing about it.
The Running List Of Shit That Kills This Year
While 2005 still seems like a pretty terrible year for music and general and punk in particular, I keep finding records every once in a while that seem worthwhile. Here are a handful of the ones that are likely to make me end of the year list.
- The Hold Steady's "Separation Sunday"
- Some Girls' "The DNA Will Have Its Say"
- Crooked Fingers' "Dignity And Shame"
- Red Sparowes' "At The Soundless Dawn"
- Jesu's "Jesu"
- M83's "Before The Dawn Heals Us"
- Lucero's "Nobody's Darlings"
- Sigur Ros' "Takk"
- Bloc Party's "Silent Alarm"
- Maria Taylor's "11:11"
- Orenda Fink, "Invisible Ones"
- Stars' "Set Yourself On Fire"
- The Kleptones' "A Night At The Hip Hopera" (You might also want to check out "Yoshimi Battles The Hip-Hop Robots.")
Off The Top Of My Head ...
- Living On Less has become one of my favorite blogs lately - entries about Green Day, critical theory, and - my latest favorite - illustrations about how to live well and inexpensively. Check out Comforts Of Home, Our Bedroom On Staten Island, 2002, Necessities and Things I Did As A Kid That Were Free Or Almost.
- Who knew that ninjas liked third wave?
- Bored? Try screen printing your own posters.
- Hydrahead finally sent me a replacement Jesu disc. Woo hoo!
- Dictionaraoke. You might ask whether it was really necessary, but you know damn well that this is the most logical extension of found art, boots and finding our own uses for things.
- Philip's assault on and rebellion against the pharmaceutical industry continues with his new blog, Furious Seasons. Go Philip!
Lucero. Joe Strummer And The Mescaleros. Sigur Ros. Bloc Party.
Richard Marcinko, "Rogue Warrior"; Bobbie Ann Mason, "Feather Crowns"
Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"