Saturday, September 29, 2012


An exchange of texts and me being blunt and saying I was depressed as hell the other night led to a long conversation in which I was damn near incoherent attempting to explain the little dark cloud that's hovered over my head as long as I can remember, that yes, I really am okay, because know that there is still some light in these dark nights of the soul, that the frustration and despair is not nearly what it was back in the teenage years, ironically enough before I found God and doomy tuneage around the same time and learned to cope.

But this was brought on by stupid writer's block, which extrapolated to not just sucking at creating, but sucking at everything, knowing that this is irrational, and totally firstworldproblem and I tell him that I feel even worse for feeling this way because my life's been way easier than his and I'm sitting on a back porch with a mug of tea while he's stuck in Erie. But we make each other laugh, so everything is fine. And now my laptop's dead for the time being at least so I have even more excuses.

And of course the clouds pass, and the laughter returns. I'm still tired from staying up too late and rocking out too much. I spent last night drinking tea with someone I rarely get to see, the morning with the ladies of the family and the absurdly cute nephe, the afternoon darkthroning with a friend's dog along rivers through the woods and wetlands. The sky was so perfectly azure and the leaves were green and golden. I finally feel like my soul's back to normal.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

best of the blotter: stun guns, pizza, bus people, and turtles

TRAFFIC DELAY, RICHMOND ROAD: Traffic was slowed down Sept. 20 when a large snapping turtle was seen trying to cross Richmond, south of Meadow Wood Boulevard. Officers were unable to locate the turtle.

THEFT, SOM CENTER ROAD: A Solon woman, 45, was arrested Sept. 24 at Marc’s after a store employee noticed her switching price tags in one of the Closeout aisles on about $40 worth of merchandise, including mirrors, socks, soap and 10 pounds of nectarines. 

DISTURBANCE, WEST 117TH STREET: Officers stopped by a local fast food restaurant after a group of men threatened to shoot up the place because their order had been botched Sept. 20.
The group left before officers arrived.
Employees at the restaurant requested special attention for the area, but said they hadn't taken the threat seriously.

ANIMAL ABUSE, COVE AVENUE: Several boys were terrorizing a squirrel, prompting a nearby man to yell at them. Soon enough, their mother also came out and yelled at them.
Officers noted the squirrel seemed fine and ran away.

SUSPICION, DETROIT AVENUE: A concerned resident phoned in a report of a suspicious-looking man standing on the corner of Bunts Road Sept. 20. Officers questioned him, but he said he was just waiting for the bus.

ANIMAL-AT-LARGE, RIDGEWOOD AVENUE: Police received a report shortly after 11:30 a.m. Sept. 18 “Lou-Lou the pig” was loose again. Dispatchers attempted to contact the owner but there was no answer, and police arriving on the scene reported the pig had gone back into the house of its own volition.

ANIMAL, EAST UNION: A caller complained that animals were near Medina High School at about 3:40 p.m. Sept. 19. An officer responded to the area, but saw only plastic coyotes that had been placed in the area to scare away geese. The location was cleared.
A passerby reported seeing "a very large animal" that was "eating another animal" on Pearl Road by GFS about 1 a.m. Sept. 21.
The animal seemed aggressive and snarled when he walked by, a report said.
Police found the animal, which was a dog, and its prey, which was a pizza.
A report said the white German shepherd had been seen in the area over the last few days and runs when anyone approaches.
It has not been reported missing, but appears to be wearing a collar and dragging part of a leash.

IMPAIRED DRIVING/CARRYING A CONCEALED WEAPON, CHURCH STREET: When a Chagrin Falls man, 50, called his lawyer on the evening of Sept. 23 seeking legal advice on his arrest, he was unable to use the “cell phone” police found in a nylon holder strapped to his hip. That’s because it was not a cell phone at all, but a Kelon Super Voltage Self-Defense Stun Gun, made to resemble a phone, except for the two electrical prongs sticking out of the top. Police also found a hatchet and three large survival and military knives in his 1985 Chevy Cavalier, as well as a walking stick that turns into a sword. Officers said they had watched him run two stop signs at West Washington and Water streets before they pulled him over and detected a strong odor of alcohol. Efforts to secure a sample on the Breathalyzer machine were unsuccessful. Bond was set at $500 on each charge.


My first exposure to the Melvins, along with other underground tuneage was a K-Tel "indie rock" comp that was way more awesome than what The Kids are into these days, and my first tipoff that the radio sucked worse than I realized. I knew that Kurt Cobain was a fan, but it took a few years to get into.

Fast forward a good decade and a few years and I'm heading out to the east side with a new homie after drinking much coffee since we both work early shifts, and we missed Tweak Bird, and I forgot my earplugs, because now I'm too old since it's too loud, but holy crap this band has been larger than life for so long it's a little surreal to see Buzz and his incredible hair bobbing ten feet away from me,b because he looks like a cartoon character brought to life.

I'm shorter than most of these hesher dudes and my camera is little use. But yeah, upright bass amazingness, swank drums, I forget how many hooks and jazz runs are buried within that sludge, it's hard to describe except that it was awesome from start to finish, big deconstructed Sabbathy riffs and  harmonies.

Given that there's 25 albums of which I've only heard a few, I don't know all the songs, but the songs are all good, not a dull moment, and I wish I had an upright bass I could play that well, a bunch of dudes were moshing, it was mostly dudes unsurprisingly, a chick and her boyfriend were making out and bumping into everyone, we both ran into a lot of people we knew, good times were had by all, picked up a t-shirt a smidge big, we drove back to the west side, fell asleep on the couch where I'm housesitting next to the protective Jungle Puppy and miraculously am awake and coherent. Behold the power of the sludge, indeed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

through restriction and repetition I'm growing old

so I thought that taking a creative writing workshop would make me write more but it hasn't. I can't write anything. I've tried, some would say maybe not enough. Even when I demarcate the hours and the caffeine to sit there nothing happens.  Nothing remotely worth sharing with the world is dribbling out of my brain.  All the streams of story have dried up and gotten tangled, khattam shud.

It's nobody's fault but mine, of course. The prompts are good, there are some gifted folks and I've got a notebook full of inspiring concepts about the craft but it's just not working, it's not working at all. At least twenty false starts in Google Docs and sundry notebooks, what the hell, I think too much and even when I try to crank it out I despise the end result so much, because I know it's not true, because if I don't like it how could anyone else?

Discontent with mediocrity, how many short stories have I read that were so uncompelling and self-consciously clever, characters I couldn't care about, incidents uninteresting, endings unsatisfactory.  How many novels that unravelled and fell apart halfway through, go all the way or not at all, and I don't have the endurance and for that honestly a sense of shame.

It's like when I've tried doing the band thing, and the songs are so profoundly mediocre that I feel the life being sucked out of me as I play the chords or basslines, why bother? Why contribute more mess and averageness. 

At least in art class you can keep throwing paint at the canvas, scrawl missives in pen and colored pencil on the canvas, collage the hell out of that trouble spot or at least smother it under a coating of white and start over again. With this it's harder to cheat. Either it's there or it's not and it's just not there.

I used to listen to a lot of Idlewild from the summer between junior and senior year all the way through my English litster undergrad and realize that they really need to make their way back into my Tuesday morning music rotations. I'm glad I caught them on their last tour through Clevelandia almost ten years ago now, because they haven't returned since and are now on hiatus. I was kind of pretentious about my punk rock back then to the point of being a jerk, but I still don't understand why this band never got big, cursed by falling through major label cracks and being a bit too brainy I guess. Songs about being socially awkward and reading books probably weren't quite as accessible maybe as songs about making out and getting cheated on. These tunes were what I once tried to write to. If only I could recapture that creative thirst again.

Monday, September 24, 2012

the chill

Last night the rain felt so cold as we walked back to his car after watching RJD2 conjure beatacular magic with keyboards and drum machines and turntables that remind me I don't know what I'm doing with those 1200s at the station.  There was hail this weekend, heated discussions of election issues which make me look forward to the day after election day when the kinder gentler machine gun hands return to business as usual, a couple of friends had babies, got to know some acquaintances better,  and some of the plants on the porch have died.

Sitting on the porch leads to chills now, the windows left open all summer are shut, the sore throat needs tea, and the grunge layers have resurfaced, as have the long skirts and clunky boots, melancholic dirge chord music and trip-hop being operative tuneage right now. I want to carve pumpkins and hibernate, sit by fires and get existential, see where all these new tendrils of acquaintanceships go. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

there is no "I" in street gang

All of these bands I saw last night were active back when I was in my late teens just discovering college radio and crawling out of the especially deep corporate rock abyss. My partner in grunge was a huge fan of the Chargers Street Gang, a local punk band that he saw open for Mudhoney that he said changed his life. After finding the CD in the dollar bin at the Exchange, I understood as well. By that time they'd broken up and reunited once every couple of years usually around Christmas when family obligations made it hard to get over to the east side.

Ten years in the making, he says when I get there last night, as we try to explain this era of our life to his girlfriend, who's really nice and perfect for him but more into going to Browns games with him than shows where the music's really loud and by the end of the night doesn't want to go up front with us when they get onstage.

It was probably a good thing since the usual suspects were getting their mosh on and the inevitable muscle memory kicks in and my hands are up shoving, my feet maintaining balance, and the blood gets moving in ways it hasn't in ten years. Someone's throwing beer around and my hair is soaked and then kind of sticky. I see a chunk of broken glass by my feet and pick it up wondering what I should do with it but there's nowhere nearby to throw it away, nowhere to toss it without it hitting someone and I don't want it in my hand, so I set it back down on the floor and wonder if I should have worn my old combat boots instead of Converse high-tops as I'm shoving people away and feeling bad that my body's being thrown into everyone else's. But these songs are best in a context like this somewhat chaotic, our favorites, Tom Waits for No One, Every Light on Euclid, belted out by us and others.

And when the stage is chaos, we're feeling like we're ten years younger again, but also too tired to stay for the rest of the headliner's set. Now that I've crawled out of the introvert shell more, I'm recognizing people that I've seen at past shows, running into familiar faces, it's funny how that works, how small this town is but how glad I am to still be here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

tossed and turned

Attempts at sleep foiled by staring at the ceiling thinking. It was one of those nights where the breezes were blissful and I missed having roommates to sit on the half-finished front porch with or drive around all night listening to music and talking or taking a long walk along the dark beach a few blocks over.

I don't know why I love the nights so much, and why they bring these kinds of things out in me, maybe all those great memories of sitting on the back porch with my sister and our friends melting candles together into a huge pile of swirling wax or all those nights of driving of aimless driving to good music, singing classic rock songs in stupid voices, chilled out cruising to Massive Attack through the rain. I'm a nostalgic sap I guess.

The writer's block is unrelenting, attempts to break on through to the other side meet with mixed results. I'm envious of those who capture the world they see in crystal clear detail and vivid story, even more envious of those who can conjure entire worlds and make them convincing like Tolkien did. Randal got it right when he said that no one else could really do the swords and quests thing afterwards in a way that's really any good.

That being said, being a geek of the first degree, mad props to Tolkien for giving me swank stuff to read in my formative years, for being way smarter than me, for starting a book club for the drinking of beer and reading of epic poetry (which I'd love to start, if I had homies who were into that stuff), for writing about hobbits and Middle Earth and inspiring generation after generation of The Kids. My sister and I had maps of Middle Earth and she had the old 70's stoner poster below on our door. I never made any pretensions to coolness, because this stuff is great. We still are such geeks.

and of course, the Zeppelin.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

redundancy department of redundancy

language keeps me locked and repeating...
At the risk of being a broken record, will not, will not repeat until further notice. Out of sight out of mind, easier to focus on one's own little corner than the big picture. I guess we need all of us, I just wonder sometimes if I'm the one that's gone a little crazy or if everyone else has or if we all are. Those I used to consider kindred souls years ago are now so far removed, others with whom I would have had less in common at one time I find myself kindred with now. Go figure. People are still more important than things, life is more than work and career, and the world is bigger than your own personal space and your own pet issues,  and that's where so much of the priority gets screwed up all the way around. I keep trying to see outside, see and learn as much as possible which means that I end up talking about things that no one else really gives a damn about, but it is what it is. I don't know if that's a bad thing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

never mind what you're selling

Not quite ShitList material, but three cups of coffee, not much sleep, and hearing about the awesomeness of warmongering presidents who manage not to sound like jerkfaces on video, and also of boomerific icons like the damn Beach Boys makes the Duchess prone to wanting to facepunch. No, I'm not watching the leader of the not so free world on Letterman tonight. I'm watching Stunt Rock instead. Partly because my TV is nonfunctional in the digital age, partly because all I'll do is angry up the blood even more.

That and my Abbie-Hoffman-loving ex from college who rightfully chastised me for voting Repub in the name of the lesser of two evils back in '04 who's now acting like the Dems are going to Save Human Rights And Civilization and Women and tells me I just don't understand what's at stake when I start spazzing about drones and NDAA and the letting off of war criminals and the general mission creep at home and abroad and the whole bailing out the banks thing and everyone being trigger happy on Iran. Conversely, I don't know how people think the prez is a socialist Muslim when we're bombing the hell out of the Muslim world and the status quo for the people at the top is being so meticulously preserved.

My progressive friends and the general life lessons of being around non-middle-class-non-crackers have consistently been a voice of conscience to help me realize how wrong I was about a lot of things (truth hurts, but some it seems are more willing to take the cut than others. I'd rather have my illusions shattered than continue to exist in them). So it's hard not to go WTF because I understood voting the way a lot of people did in '08 because even if I didn't myself, I hoped that some good would come of it but how wrong was that? At least I didn't buy either party line. I don't buy Occupy's either.  But now, suddenly your student loan debt means more than a child's life in Pakistan, you sweep all those unpleasant truths of the suffering of families split by deportation and detention under the rug because he said some nice things about gay people getting married that Dick Cheney beat him to six years ago.

What the hell.There's only a handful of people I can commiserate with about shit-is-fucked-up-ness in a thoughtful way. I just don't know how I manage to be simultaneously more conservative if only out of skepticism of large groups of people wielding power and at the same time in Dennis Kucinich territory with pretty much everything else. It's enough to make one's head hurt.

looking outside my window and all I see is grey...

I didn't play these on the show but I should have. The rain hit when I was leaving.

Monday, September 17, 2012


A meal improvised, our monthly get-together, tea-drinking, and I step outside to say goodnight and the breeze, the sound of the crickets, the coming autumnal, I don't want to go anywhere tomorrow, I just want to stay out all night and take a long walk or drive around and have some long absurd conversations approaching the profound. Not sure what brings on these moods of nothing quite blue but something where the memories feel particularly pungent, all these thoughts needing to spill deferred. 

best of the blotter: "profane music," happy balloons, and sauerkraut sandwiches

You Call that Music?
Police got multiple reports of a loud party Saturday night from all over the city.
One resident at Chestnut Lake apartments called about 9:30 p.m. and said the music could be traced to Broxton Drive.
A Pearl Road resident complained about "very loud, angry, profane music" in the area about 10 p.m.
Police said it sounded like a concert north of town. Dispatchers then confirmed with Berea police that Rock-a-Palooza was taking place at the fairgrounds.

A man reported six helium balloons caught in the electric wires on Prospect Road Sept. 7.
He said he was afraid they could explode or cause a fire.
Police said the Mylar and Happy Birthday balloons did not pose a hazard and probably came from a local business' anniversary celebration.

If it's too loud...
A garage band on Bowman Drive got some bad news from police after another noise complaint Sept. 6 -- no more garage practices.
A resident complained about 9:30 p.m. that the band practices -- loudly -- every Thursday night.
Police found the music was, in fact, loud and spoke with the homeowner, telling him that while years ago it wasn't a problem to play there, now that the area has been developed, it is.
The officer told him to either find a new place to practice or break up the band.

TRAFFIC DETAIL, LAKE ROAD: A few concerned residents called police to advise them that cars had been parked on both sides of the street Sept. 9.
Officers explained that they were allowed to do so due to “Come Home to Lakewood” tour, sponsored by the Lakewood Historical Society.
Nevertheless, the callers were quite upset.

A 12-year-old boy threw a fit after his mom made him a sandwich with sauerkraut on it. Then, when he and his mother argued, the boy called 911. Police gave him a lesson on proper use of 911.

THEFT, DRURY COURT: A woman said Sept. 4 a bottle of Lysol, frozen roast beef and $6 in quarters were missing from her apartment at the Schnurman House.

SHOPLIFTING, LORAIN ROAD: Workers at Drug Mart told police Sept. 5 a man tried to steel $36 in merchandise from the store. According to reports, the man tried to steal an air freshener, deodorant and a bottle of Taylor Swift perfume. He later admitted to police that he stole the items in question. He was charged with theft.

SHOPLIFTING, BROOKPARK ROAD: A man faces petty theft charges after workers at Walmart told police Sept. 6 he tried to steal alcohol and fake eyelashes from the store. According to reports, store employees watched as the man concealed five bottles of alcohol in a duffel bag and put two packages of Revlon eyelashes in the waistband of his pants. He was arrested and charged with theft.
HARASSING COMMUNICATION, NORMA DRIVE: A woman, 40, reported on Aug. 30 that she had been receiving unwanted text messages and phone calls from a man she dated about a year ago. The woman sent the man messages telling him to stop contacting her, but he continued, stating that she would eventually want to speak with him. In one instance, he sent her a photo of himself with a caption that read, “I look good.”
Police contacted the man and told him to stop contacting the woman or face possible charges.

last blasts

We converged in Chinatown for an exhibit on the community's history, with photos, oral history, and a lion dance, which I've never gotten to see before. Wandered around the building and some galleries and then ended up at the kind of Chinese restaurant where there's no crackers and weird game shows on the TV, and picking something to eat is like picking lucky numbers in the lottery, but good times were had.
Helped my mom out in the morning, braved the grocery store on Saturday and chortled at "Born to Be Wild" on the Muzak, drove out to the lands of the east to a beautiful Victorian house for the nuptials, which were of course lovely.
The reception was under a big circus-style tent, with burgers and homemade pies and and popcorn. Cute kids were running around, I got to catch up with some people I don't get to see as much as I'd like, animal crackers were set on fire with the candles, much laughter, everyone around me instagramming the hell out of everything, hence images.  I don't drink at these gatherings, because I get absurd enough as it is in the right company. I'm so happy for them, it seemed like everyone had a good time, and everything was just kind of perfect and festive the way these things should be more often.
Sunday, plans were altered, me and one of my Parmastani girls went down to the festival that was going on all weekend, no longer under the bridge, but in a warehouse down by the harbor, which, given that it was daytime and not in a sweet Gaimanesque space, didn't quite have the same magic, kind of reminded me of a convention center with loud bands and echoey acoustics.

We looked at some nice art, ran into some people we knew, didn't find anything that was really all that super exciting and spent the rest of the afternoon eating ice cream on the rocks along the lake, walking through the park and chilling on the balcony before I picked up the Queen of the Bondo and met up with Cookbook for rocking out courtesy of Corin Tucker's new band. It's no Sleater-Kinney to be sure, though if I could have another record with the sound and fury of The Woods I'd be all too pleased, but still satisfyingly punky and noisy.

No wonder bands are skipping this town, because evidently everyone'd rather get fat at swank restaurants than go see live music. Or maybe it's because Corin Tucker doesn't have a TV show. I don't know. Anyways, the club was near-deserted when we got there, and decided to go and venture outside to find caffeine and by the time the show ended there were maybe 40 or 50.  Still, they played a great set, there was lots of loud guitars and her band was fantastic, fabulous rhythm section and strong chemistry, way more dubby in a postpunk way than I thought it would be, and I'm glad I've gained enough Reflective Powers to wear earplugs now so I don't feel disoriented when I leave. Unlike Wild Flag, who in comparison seemed to be phoning it in, the crowd was mostly dudes which was surprising.  Also, my camera sucks so youtubes it is.

Picked up the CD (not much on the youtubes, but stream here), we drove back through the dark quiet streets, I couldn't sleep last night, thank God for the espresso in the coffeepot.

Friday, September 14, 2012


I couldn't get out of my driveway last night, the contractors have beef with the landlady for not paying and yours truly for not being interested in dating one of them, and me and one of my friends phonesnark and send each other our little dilemmas, and lo and behold, he is a chivalrous homie, and the Queen of the Bondo and I are conveyed in a hoopty jeep with broken glass in the backseat and doors with broken locks, riffage on the CD player to our destination of Writerland.

We're all in this together, this whole business of baring the shards that we've had hidden in desk drawers for so long, and I'm so glad I waited until now to do this, with other adults in the same boat rather than nasty undergrads. I've never done this before, but I knew if I wasn't forced to write, I'd slack like I've been doing for so long and it's been good so far. Every year I try to do something I never had the guts to do and a fiction workshop is the thing this year which might actually get me out of the rut I've been in for pretty much ever. An art show tonight and dinner in Chinatown, a wedding tomorrow for one of my grad school homies , sundry festival goodness as the summer officially ends. I'm ready to welcome the fall. I'm glad I've got these people in my life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


It feels weird being back in homework-writing-papers-oh-crap-this-is-due-in-three-days, and of course there is the usual daily grind clownery, the fine balance of margin walking, of sorting between what matters and what is pointless. Attempting to be decent and kind in the face of the small-minded and borderline insane which is hard but ultimately so much better.

Empire's been on my mind, what with studying ancient Rome and the republic giving way to chaos and then emperor. The trappings of empire, its theater of arrogance and populism, of games of power and no one wanting to rock the boat at the risk of losing life and limb and comfort, of prudery and decadence, of occupation and obliteration, it hits close to home, this bread and circuses and swords. I've never read Gibbon, it's easy to project one's realities onto things of old but so much reverberates, it's been stuck in there bouncing around.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

things I played today

since people actually want to know I guess.

I open up my wallet and it's full of blood

I should have played this on the show this morning, maybe, but there's plenty of other days to be mournful and angry and I feel like I'm permanent blast because it's election season and such. Last night was my grandma's birthday and we had dinner and while my grandfather and I don't see things the same way often, as he listens to way more talk radio than yours truly and I usually have to excuse myself, we were able to agree that as a country we have sucked fantastically (my words not his) at dealing with things, sacrificing freedom for "security," ill-advised ventures into sundry parts, an absurd approach to dealing with the day-to-day, the expansion of bureaucracy, an appalling lack of reflection on the who what and why. We are prideful and cowardly as a country, we continued to pass the buck and consume with gusto, because we're not the ones who are sacrificing anything.

We should have just moved on, he says, instead we've turned it into something else to buy and that cheapens it. Who needs a memorial? Who cares if someone wants to build a mosque over there? Life goes on.

Mind you, this isn't a peacenik talking at all. This is someone who's more close ideological to Glenn Beck than Glenn Greenwald, but even he's getting fed up with all this hagiography and the flag-waving.

I wish we could have done what Norway did when dealing with a national tragedy, sure there were the platitudes of coming together, but not fearing one's neighbor, welcoming increased militarization, moving on after dealing with wackjobs with weapons, not letting it change our day-to-day. I really respect that. I wish we had done that.

And then last night I ran into my movie night/softball homies at the gas station. We watched Stripes and drank sweet tea and talked about the way things were growing up for us, the indoctrination, the propaganda, each of us is a decade removed and grew up in very different circumstances. When I was younger, my anger was more abstract, now I'm way more chilled out but there's certain things that really angry up the blood more than ever. I say, happy to be among folks who aren't fearmongering with WAR ON TERROR! WAR ON CHRISTMAS! WAR ON DRUGS! WAR ON WOMEN!

I'm fed up with people trying to scare me. I'm fed up with other people being screwed over in order to maintain an unsustainable way of living that's starting to unravel. I can't be around the party-line-towers on either side because I find myself far to the ends of either of them. I want election season to be over, because I'm sick of the propaganda and the fact that my whole adult life has been a national nightmare. 

The car is on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
And a dark wind blows

The government is corrupt

And we're on so many drugs
With the radio on and the curtains drawn

We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine

And the machine is bleeding to death

The sun has fallen down

And the billboards are all leering
And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles

It went like this:

The buildings tumbled in on themselves

Mothers clutching babies
Picked through the rubble
And pulled out their hair

The skyline was beautiful on fire

All twisted metal stretching upwards
Everything washed in a thin orange haze

I said, "Kiss me, you're beautiful -

These are truly the last days"

You grabbed my hand

And we fell into it
Like a daydream
Or a fever

We woke up one morning and fell a little further down

For sure it's the valley of death

I open up my wallet

And it's full of blood

Monday, September 10, 2012

action reaction

I should know better by now to get embroiled in those arguments, with those kinds of people, who turn everything into an issue of degrees of melanin and presumed cultural order, because while that may be a component, it's definitely not always the defining issue. Maybe no one's talking to you because you're not a very nice person, or because they're so used to getting their heads bitten off that they've stopped trying. Especially those of us younger folk, who have plenty of issues of our own, but seem to get way less hung up on these things.

Crackers might be clueless on the finer nuances sometimes, but I know that's not the issue here. It's easier to have an abstract hulking entity to lob accusations against and in this case, among a group of people who have way more integrated lives than most of the general populace, it holds even less water. And I get so tired of listening to this  that I shot off an extremely inarticulate reply saying that this is getting old, if there's something wrong why don't you just say it instead of getting bitter or "you wouldn't understand," that my accident of birth is no more my fault than yours, and if I wanted to be in a homogenous world, I sure as hell wouldn't live in the neighborhood I live in, work at the place I'm employed at, or hang out with the people I hang out with.

Our city may be segregated but the part where we hang definitely isn't. It doesn't mean that the neighbors mix all that much socially but in general there's some degree of coexistence between the younger arty twentysomethings and the older gay gentrifiers and the blacks, whites, Latinos, refugees from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, of every economic and cultural stripe. So please stop acting like it's Alabama in the 1950's, okay? Because you know damn well that people in this room have intermarried, play music together, eat dinner together, share apartments together, and socialize in each others' circles where they're respective minorities. Sometimes the problem isn't me, or those who look like me, sometimes the problem is you.

sea of stories

“There was once, in the country of Alifbay, a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. It stood by a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy even though the skies were blue...

And in the depths of the city, beyond an old zone of ruined buildings that look like broken hearts, there lived a happy young fellow by name of Haroun, the only child of the storyteller Rashid Khalifa, whose cheerfulness was famous throughout that unhappy metropolis, and whose never-ending stream of tall, and winding tales had earned him not one but two nicknames. To his admirers he was Rashid the Ocean of Notions, as stuffed with cheery stories as the sea was full of glumfish; but to his jealous rivals he was the Shah of Blah.” 

Rushdie's known for being obtuse and top-heavy but this tale is one of my favorites and is reverberating with me right now, when I think of him being unable to speak and tell stories when his subscription runs out, and I was stupid enough to sign up for my first creative writing workshop ever and now I can't think of anything to write which is absolutely terrifying. I have three days and shards of ideas that I know I can't spin into anything worthy of being ripped apart. I'm probably my own harshest critic as it is, I wouldn't want to write something I wouldn't read or play in a band I wouldn't listen to. OH THE AGONY.

"'Anybody can tell stories….Liars, and cheats, and crooks, for example. But for stories with that Extra Ingredient, ah, for those, even the best storytellers need the Story Waters

If only it was that easy, because right now I feel more like the Shah of Blah than the Ocean of Notions. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

wonders of creation

Bestiary, Islamic style, thanks Internet!

a large winged fish
map of the world
 one horned beast

Of course, the Persians take the illumination job to the next level as always... 
 giant ants!
 pretty birds!

Looks a bit cooler than this.

we're in a rut

Back in the halcyon days of Soulseek before my computer crashed, I binged on the Throwing Muses back catalog, sundry obscure East Bay and UK punk bands and Pacific Northwest also-rans of various quality and different degrees of rage and despair. That first semester I borrowed all my friend's old CDs from high school and listened to a lot of pre-guyliner AFI when Davey still looked like a dude and Sick Of It All, because I guess I had a lot of abstract frustration with The Man and such. That abstract frustration has given way to some degree of resignation coupled with a righteous fury but that's a whole other story.

Maybe it's the climate of the election season that I've been very good at tuning out this year (my roommates could tell tales of me swearing and throwing things at the TV when Cheney and Edwards went head-to-head), or the general ennui of mission creep both abroad and at home, but finally finding a best-of comp of The Ruts (being frugal and not prone to instant gratification means that I wait until it lands in an actual store that a homie works at instead of clicking through at Amazon) at the Exchange (which my friend who works there describes as being a step above a pawn shop in these times) hit my punk rock sweet spot this week. That and an odds-and-sods comp of The Gathering's b-sides for a dollar, incongruous maybe but so is most of the record collection as it is.

Anyways, The Ruts, beloved by Henry Rollins and a big influence on Fugazi, one of my favorite bands ever. I had a few tracks that I compiled onto a CD, the top ten hit "Babylon's Burning" and the dubtastic "Give Youth a Chance" that's probably responsible for sending me down the old-school roots reggae rabbit hole. Those sinuous and menacing basslines, the skittering of cymbals, so perfect for late night driving through the dark streets of Clevelandia, that fire and brimstone apocalypse, Babylon emblematic of everything gone wrong in Thatcher-era England, with the class and ethnic tensions roiling.

It kind of amazes me that the Sex Pistols got most of the press when there were so many better bands writing really good songs and putting out solid albums, where there were some technical chops evident but less of the accompanying wankery. Paul Fox's guitar work is all over, driving and textured and reverberating over a rhythm section equal parts skank and Sabbath. Malcolm's voice is the perfect gruffness over such tunes.

Don't get me wrong, I love The Clash and the early work of the Police muchly, but The Ruts took that punky whiteboy reggae fury to another level.

Sadly, Malcolm's death by heroin overdose led to their being a footnote or a choice cut on a compilation rather than any kind of iconic status except about college radio dorks like yours truly. And that's a damn shame, and without further ado, I'll let the music continue to do the talking, since it's pure gold.