Thursday, February 27, 2014

on wrestling angels

I am in a new house watching over the jungle puppy and the cats, cooked myself a curry, did some laundry and some reading, and fell asleep sometime early because I only woke up when the phone rang around 10 and completely missed its beep before then. I wonder why the curry warms me and makes me feel so tired and the internet tells me it's got the same stuff that turkey does and is also an aphrodisiac which could explain a lot about a few things but that's another story.

But the rest was probably needed, given  a Monday night of getting booted from a convenience store by a tweaker employee for reasons I still can't parse, given that we're old and nondescript skinny cracker punks who weren't buying booze or lottery tickets or smokes and then we went to see Russian Circles and enjoyed it but his feet were sore and so were his ears. I could have stayed later, comfortable in stompy boots and ears insulated by foam, but both of us were cool with taking off early, having gotten our fix of post-metal catharsis.

I wanted to re-record my skeletal demos, flesh them out with some vocals and some structure instead of just parts-a-b-c-b-d followed by extensive noodling, see how they work with acoustic guitar and a voice and if they stand on their own instead of being this jumble of half-finished flashes of beauty. We got frustrated playing the other night, I couldn't hit the notes I wanted to and all my words sound dumb. Some nights the chemistry just isn't there but I talked to someone else tonight about coming into the circle, maybe him and his ideas will give us the infusion we need.

I hate to blame the weather for the ennui that keeps my eyes half open, maybe it's the soreness in the back that never seems to go away or the existential crises that I can't shake. It takes me longer to recover these days, and the continued bonechill doesn't help.

One of my friends tells me that one of the reasons why I have this sadness is that I don't pretend things aren't there, I don't distract myself with other things, I keep fighting for answers and can't escape into what other people escape into. Maybe she's onto something here.

It's not that I can't laugh, if anything I laugh when it feels most dark. I just have to fight my way through it when it comes, that's just the way it is, that's just how I am, I say. I want to apologize to everyone who hears my bleakest thoughts, because I know it's disorienting to hear from someone who's generally smiling and good-natured, but this is just as much a part here.

I can't be the comforter all the time, sometimes I need comforting too. I need it a lot, and feel like that is often so lacking when I want it most, and wonder if wanting it so badly makes me selfish. I know better than to expect that from anyone else, and long for the spiritual intimacy that comes with the heartbreaking yearning that I find in the mystics, and wonder why I only have the latter and not the former. When he calls, I keep it light, I don't say that I'm still as depressed as I was yesterday, that I was crying for no reason when the phone rang and composed myself when I picked it up. It weirds me out that he reads my cycle better than I do. I don't want to depend on him to feel better, especially since I feel like he already knows me too well.

I am strangely comforted by the warmth of this house and the presence of the dog that watches over me like Anubis when I sleep, the cat feet in the hallway. There are things going on this weekend, I think everyone I know is going to see the Sonics tomorrow and I just can't bring myself to. I said I was coming to a party that I now don't want to go to. I crawled unwillingly out of the shell last night and wish I hadn't and now I don't want to crawl back out any more than I have to.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

john doe is 60 today

so I played two hours of X, solo material, and such. I got requests for "Blue Spark," "The Once Over Twice" and "Country at War." I sometimes forget just how good this band is.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

i can't close my eyes

All the thoughts and contemplations, most of what was memorable this weekend falls into the category of too much information, things I do not know if I want to share with who knows who, but goodness I veer from moments of bliss that almost made me feel guilty to existential spiritual crisis in a matter of 48 hours and it freaks me out.

I could have gone and seen Dead Meadow last night but I was too tired and everyone else seemed to be too. I visited a friend's neighbor with her and played guitar and sang to her today. She's dying of cancer. Her religious belief makes me feel so agnostic. I wish it didn't. It's hard for me to process out the hundred thousand thoughts I'm having right now. I am now listening to Arvo Part and bawling because existentialism and spiritual crisis and catharsis are all too frequent. It will always come and go.

Friday, February 21, 2014

time wounds all the heals

I missed the medical museum lecture to order too much Colombian food with one of my metalhead homies from back in the Kentinista days. I have an arepa and plantain chips in the fridge for tonight at least,and we had good conversations, spouting our contrarian opinions about music, talking about the future, laughing about the past. Our other partner in hanging out was sick but it was good to get one last quality time in before he leaves for sunnier climes.

Maybe it's the winter weather that's making me remember those times when we were younger and had no idea what was coming, when our concerns were schoolwork and crazy roommates and scraping together enough money for gas to go to shows in Akron and eating out of dumpsters and selling off chunks of our CD collection for grocery and beer money until we got paid. So much has changed since then but we're still not all that much different, a little kinder, a little wiser maybe.

I'm a creature of habit and a homebody but I advocate others striking out for new frontiers, especially as the rulebook for successful life has been shown to be lacking, the conventional ways of doing just not working anymore, the jobs aren't here, who wants a house anyways, none of us are making enough money to have kids and our friends are getting divorced already. I've realized that my exceedingly low expectations have kept me from despairing more than I would otherwise but that my lack of expectations means that I am way more comfortable settling for things I shouldn't settle for because I don't see anything better and this isn't necessarily a good thing.  I've made it work here, but here is not for everyone, if it was, we wouldn't be bleeding population out to everywhere else. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

teenage angst has paid off well

Kurt Cobain would have been old today, and I don't know what he'd be doing, if he'd still be writing music or wasting away ala Layne Staley or who knows. I've been listening to more Hole than Nirvana as of late even though Nirvana's a better band and at least wrote all their own songs for the most part.

My first exposure to the voice of generation x was in the car with my dad, hearing "In Bloom" and thinking it sounded cool, but it wasn't til later when teenage alienation drove me into full-on music geekery that it really clicked. Grunge might have been worn out by then, as the late 90's were when the baritone cliches of angst took over the airwaves and generica sounded downright profound juxtaposed with the Fred Dursts of the world. Being in an unhip suburb, and a late bloomer in general, it took some time to develop college radio taste.

Randal's Big Four were the thrash bands, mine were the Seattle heavy-hitters. Nirvana got me into the Wipers and the Melvins and the Meat Puppets, got me wearing converse sneakers instead of dorky reeboks, connected me with other lonely suburban souls who maintain our bonds more or less to this day. My first guitar was a squier jagmaster which was the closest I could get to Fender Mustang territory on a poor high school kid's budget. My first serious crush was on a boy who looked like Kurt Cobain. One of my longtime friends started talking to me because we recognized a common affinity for heroin-addled Seattle musicians. I don't know why we related so much, given that we were pretty strait-laced but it is what it is.

We drove to prom listening to old subpop compilations and singing along to "Touch Me I'm Sick" and "Negative Creep." We debated whether or not Courtney did him in or drove him to it. At this point I no longer care, but this was something that was on our minds back then.

My first year of college at a small religious institution around the corner from Bamgier was an extremely lonely year, especially the second semester where I pretty much sequestered myself in the art building with a boombox and listened to b-sides and In Utero on repeat and almost had a nervous breakdown. I had friends, but my closest one dropped out after a semester and the rest were 7 years old than me, graduating and married.

I did a portrait of Kurt for an art project that came out really well and hung on the wall at every place I lived during the college years. The one where he has a bunch of eyeliner on. For some reason he's the only person in my world who can get away with that. 

My sister has a Nirvana shirt and doesn't even like the band, I saw one for sale at Wal-Mart once and thought that seemed kind of wrong so I didn't buy it. It's almost moved beyond a band into a brand at this point but the tunes still hold up really well as I head into my thirties. "Bleach" always holds a special place in my heart for its rawness, the covers and odds and sods of Incesticide are better than most bands' official albums, I love the wateriness of Nevermind, and the battery-acid corrosion of "In Utero." I was a little overwhelmed with how many memories I have tied up in these songs, how many moments of teenage joy and overwhelming angst. It's so cliche to admit, and absolutely true.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

the blankets were the stairs

One of my friends reminded me of Sunny Day Real Estate today when we were talking about formative high school years albums. And then a copy of Blankets crossed my desk at work and I was reminded once again of younger years and emotions that I thought I understood but didn't experience until much later.

A guy I went to Kent with who dropped out to move back to Pittsburgh to write comics and play in grindcore bands told me I'd love it. I did, and it also somewhat broke my heart because it was so familiar to me. The awfulness of youth group retreats, being the weird kid with spiritual doubts. It made me sad that by the end he'd lost his faith and his first love but oh goodness the artwork was so beautiful, every page so intensely rendered.

I had a conversation with a friend this weekend in regards to the science/religion binary that's been annoying the hell out of me the past couple weeks. We're on complete opposite sides of the fence when it comes to the culture wars, him being out and proud and skeptical and me being a self described bleeding heart hetero fundie, but neither of us want to fight those battles, because it's way nicer to just not be a jerk and assess people on their decency as humans rather than what sky-god they worship. Besides, we're too busy being good neighbors, eating dinner together, drinking Genessee and listening to punk rock. He said the other day that even though he believes in nothing, there's few things more devastating than watching believing people lose their faith. I'm inclined to agree with him.

it has a beat and you can dance to it.

My first call this morning was from a listener who wanted to know where some hot dance clubs were that play the kind of music I play on my show, which is evidently "intelligent for a change" whatever that means. While I would love to go out somewhere and hear this kind of tuneage instead of autotuned ringtone rap or earnest tweesters, I was at as loss as to where to send him, besides the local goth club which might have a little overlap. The second caller was enthused at the chance to listen to Jesu on the radio while driving in a snowstorm. I'm always amused by what people respond to enough that they call in.


Saturday, February 15, 2014


so my Friday night on the high-fructose holiday was spent at the station playing records and drinking our program director's IPAs and playing lots of 90's rock and roll, taking requests and snarking on the air and me rambling about lupercalia and Dave Wyndorf as a viable write-in candidate. I may or may not have been slightly inebriated because evidently my Clevelandian accent was extra strong. We played requests for My Bloody Valentine, Type O Negative, The Cardigans ("love fool" got us an angry call), and Nirvana, and found a mutual affinity for early Sub Pop. Here's a smatter of what I didn't previously post that hit the airwaves. Perhaps not so romantic so much as goofy but that's what I needed.

Today was spent skiing in the metroparks, talking relationships over hot chocolate, quality girl time with one of my Kentinistas that involved checking out some art, drinking tons of tea and savoring bitter chocolate and blood oranges while listening to angstastic music. There are some things that I'm realizing are going to get complicated and tangled and will probably end sadly and awkwardly and so I'm trying to mentally brace myself for that. I'm glad I'm surrounded by good folks but sometimes I wish that there wasn't so much heartbreak around every corner.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I'm not your keeper, no farewell sister

It turns out I will be hanging out on the airwaves tonight, playing various and sundry tunes, wondering why I feel so tensed and maybe it's just the tiredness, who knows.

 It seems like everyone's been on edge, and I don't know if it's the weather or a holiday that reminds us not so much of love so much as our lack of, or what it is. 

I got an email about something so trivial and stupid I almost didn't believe it was serious and then a second and third about the same thing that only made it more absurd. I've been clumsy when I've messed up too but I don't understand how such banal and unmalicious things set people off so much.

 Even trying to sort it out in person doesn't go so well, because I just can't get apologetic, because I just want to pretend it didn't happen because it means that little. And I'm the kind of person who says sorry for way more things than I should.

My friends who've gotten married aren't happy, they feel like roommates, what they want is different, they are disconnected from each other and now have that extra degree of obligation. They're trying, but there's that mess of living together, of feeling overwhelmed with work and debt that seems to be pulling down everything.

My friends who aren't attached are testing the OKCupid waters, weeding out the obvious freaks from the ones who reveal themselves to be freakos on the second or third date. They tell me I should try it, but it sounds awful.

And yet this spinning our wheels, this can't be the best thing, this can't keep going on. I shouldn't stress about what doesn't matter, but sometimes I can't help it. I don't know why I second-guess when there's no reason to. I don't want to delude myself into thinking this year is any different than any other. I don't want to expect anything I shouldn't so I get pre-emptive. I don't want to expect anything different.

I will not make you this

I used to make so many mix CDs, in part because I thought my taste was awesome, in part because this was a way of sharing something, of attempting to explain something. Most of the time with no implications, no innuendos inherent in songs. The last time I made a mix for a guy I was dating, I don't think he got why I thought these songs ruled because he suggested I annotate the next one. Maybe I put too much music that wasn't in English on there. The one he made me had a lot of synthesizer on it. Taste is no barometer of compatibility but ours were very different. Now I just inflict my taste via college radio for two hours every week for whoever happens to be listening.

If I was to make a Valentine's Day mix some of these songs would be on it. I wish I had seen that someone was looking for a fill-in tonight because at least I could have made a mix for all the Clevelandia lovers and those who wish they were.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

where two or three are gathered

One of my near and dear Kentinistas is moving to California to pursue heavy metal dreams. I don't remember exactly how we started talking but I was friends with one of his dorm neighbors and while I lost touch with them, he became part of my circle, became roommates with my friends, and there were countless nights of hanging out on my front porch eating vegan chili and laughing and talking about music and going to shows. When I moved and he got evicted we lost touch for years and reconnected via zuckerbook. 

He's one of the nicest people I've ever known and an incredible cook and when I say I want to hang out before he leaves I don't want to take advantage of that, but he shows up with homemade sweet potato gnocchi and in the meantime me and my roommate catch up on girl stuff that we don't want to bore him with saute up some vegetables with garlic, lemon juice and almonds and throw together a cobbler with the frozen fruit in the freezer that ends up being accidentally foodie since I'm almost out of oatmeal and have a stash of quinoa in the pantry.

We're older now, with less to prove, joking about how we've rediscovered our teenage music as we're listening to all manner of Chino Moreno projects while feasting and reminiscing and talking about what's been going on with us, plotting west coast trips to visit, the time evaporates, it's midnight and we part ways and my heart is warmed at how we've all ended up where we are. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

femina feminae

Friends of mine have been discussing TV shows I've hardly watched, parsing out these characters and their archetypes and varying degrees of exasperation with young women who are adorably klutzy and somewhat smart but in a way that's unintimidating and wear vintage dresses and have bangs and whatnot.

Half a life ago, I had large glasses and ugly bangs and flowery handmedowns from older ladies in the neighborhood and kind of looked like that girl from Welcome to the Dollhouse, and so I see these girls now and sometimes they're wearing what I hated wearing back then but it's ironic and twee now and wonder what is going on. One friend points out that it's Completely Different when the girl is hot instead of dweeby, in which case the ugly duckling always undergoes some major aesthetic transformation at the Big Party or the senior prom.

I think my general somewhat ruffled feathers come from the unbearable preciousness of being that my generation seems to think is something awesome and it's something that I've never related to, and the archetype of subcultural beauty that sometimes made me feel inadequate until I realized they were the ones who were being superficial. Between the suicide girls and the manic pixie archetypes, it seemed like there's not much room for the rest of us.

 The subculture for me once felt like a refuge, where conversations were struck up over band t-shirts and mutual affinity for similar things. Looking back that was unrealistic in its own way, and superficial in its own right, and I hung out with people who had great record collections but who were terrible people and there were the stunning scene queens who gave up pom-poms for tattoos and artsy haircuts who were always fawned over and talked trash about girls not as fashionable, but even in the smaller pyramids of pecking orders, I still found my crews and enclaves of kindred souls, especially since I moved back here and some of us grew up a little bit. 

 I now tend to eye-roll instead of feeling steamrolled by these images thrown at me, having become more comfortable with my own strangeness in a strange land.  The ones that stay seem to be the ones who are worth it, who don't mind my fanaticism and weird tastes and rants about all things, and this is still so strange.

I and I survive

It's HR's birthday today so I played a bunch of Bad Brains and realized there's a whole lot of overlap between the first tape and the Ric Ocasek-produced Rock for Light and that later output just isn't quite the same lightning-in-a-bottle swank. Anyways, the station library had quite a bit in the way of live bootlegs to flesh out two hours of the jazz-fusionists-turned-Rasta-hardcore-punkers, and I pretty much played every song on the iconic albums, skirting the solo records since I hadn't had the chance to see if they were good.

I saw him play at the punk bar up the street a few years ago but only stayed for three songs when it was clear that it was an off night for him. His struggles with mental illness have been well-documented and I knew this going in, and fended off drunk aging punks with claims that I was only here for the reggae, knowing that the last time he was this charismatic, I was probably a newborn.

Part of my love of this band stems from driving around Parmastan with hardcore kids, pogoing around someone's living room to these albums at 2am when everyone else was passed out except for formerly-straightedge-me and someone's drunk girlfriend, playing softball on summer afternoons with the Clevelandian punkers, wearing their t-shirt in DC and random people on the street wanting to be my friend in a land of J. Crew and politricksians, and how these records have gotten me through every hard time in my life. That combination of righteous fury, apocalyptic screeds, the frustration with the wrong and the focus on the right, the skepticism about human nature and the thirst for the divine. Not much music does that for me, but they do.

Friday, February 7, 2014

taffy-stuck and tongue-tied

I am trying my hardest to scrawl out lyrics that I like, things I could sing, things I could believe, things I wouldn't be embarrassed to say in front of anyone, and everything I write doesn't feel so far from all my stupid teenage poetry that probably would have sent me for counseling if anyone had seen it back in the day. I never liked the lyrics from previous bandmates' projects, which were mostly breakup songs and overly dramatic in a way that I just didn't get. I'm starting to wonder now if mine are all that much better and that's humbling.

What does come pouring out of my pen is heavy-handed and rambly, like the creative bastard child of Patti Smith and Bono, both of whom somehow make it work, though this is just too  accidentally pretentious. 

I don't know why this is such a struggle, because I know I'm not a total failure at writing, but something about the sharing process, the creative process, makes me choke. I took a creative writing class a couple years ago in an attempt to get writing and dropped out halfway through. I just couldn't come up with anything when I needed to that I felt confident enough about.

I know I am my own worst critic. I know he'll say that anything I do is fine because he's too shy to share his scribblings. I don't know why this is because I've blogged for 10 years and even have a piece that's been published, so what the heck? What's wrong with me? I used to wonder why it took so long for bands to put out records, or also how some come up with them in 6 months. It's taken us 6 months to even come up with a bunch of skeletal little parts that need to be worked into songs. I feel like I have all these embryos and no children.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


They said the pain was from some kind of infection, some kind of bacteria, when I get home I realize all my symptoms are those of tetanus booster aftermath, the lump under my arm, the soreness and the way my bone hurts.Googling one's diagnosis is generally a bad idea, though this time I wish I had. So I'm on some antibiotics, and they took some blood sample and my conclusions are less scary than they were even if I now feel like a grudging vaccination paranoiac because it really did freak me out how much it hurt. It's sore, but it's movable, nothing torn, I can still play guitar and do everything needing to be done, and spent last night curled up in blankets reading King Leopold's Ghost for class and marveling and the general creepery of humans.

I played music this morning.