And now for some old writings, from the blog I had at My Space; I'm afraid that the erstwhile social-networking favorite will up and disappear any day now, so I want to preserve these here at Google, which at least has the staying power of, say, C B S News, or your local public library.
First, a travelogue: New York (city), September 2006:
I'll begin by telling you about "harbor country," Michigan, which is across the lake from Chicago. My brother's wedding took place there, Labor Day weekend, in Union Pier. The area - "harbor country" (I think the locals would like me to say the phrase a lot... you know - branding) - had a pleasant tacky feel to it. Very Mid-West, like the Wisconsin Dells. Cute bed-and-breakfast's, fruit markets filled to the brim (It must be nice living in a part of the country where there's still a lot of farming) remarkably sandy beaches - and a state park to the north of "harbor country" which features sand dunes, mountain-like masses of sand with trees sticking out... from where?
Monday, Sept. 11, I avoided the city (and any sort of anniversary-memorial stuff going on, except for the two beams of light projecting upward from the W T C site, which I saw later in the evening) and took the Metro-North train to Beacon, New York, a beautiful scene most of the way, as the train travels along the Hudson River for much of the trip. Beacon is home to Dia: Beacon, part of the Dia Foundation of the Arts that also includes Dia: Chelsea and various site-specific works. The Beacon museum was once a factory, now a space specifically for large Minimalist and conceptual works that would have trouble finding a home otherwise.
Walking into the museum, one is immediately greeted by a long rectangular room housing a work by Walter De Maria, consisting of sets of one metal bar and one metal circle each [the circle is open], placed one after the other the length of the room. They are silver, and apparently each set gets slightly larger as you progress forward in the room, in order to counter the tendency of one's eyes to perceive things farther away as being smaller. Then again, the differences in size are minute enough that, when walking up the room, I could not note the difference.
An Andy Warhol work filled one room. I'm not sure what material the boards which ran along the entire length of the room's walls (except the entrance-ways) are made of, but on them were printed one of either two images. There did not seem to be a pattern to the arrangement of the images, especially as what were originally shadow-y black-and-white prints had been colored various gaudy shades of pink, yellow, green, etc. As with the De Maria, the experience of being able to sit down and appreciate a work from a distance, yet (considering the scale of the works) not so far as to preclude studying them closely, was refreshing.
On what was my second night in the city, I went to see To Live and Shave in LA at a sort of "unofficial" (that is, I presume, "illegal") venue in Bushwick, which is east of Williamsburg. Indeed, the venue was a space in the East Williamsburg Industrial Park - perhaps the name is a relic from a time when "Bushwick" did not exist, or those who named it preferred the more-recognizable name. Either way, I suppose Bushwick, especially when as far out as this industrial park, is at the farthest edge of gentrification - the "avant-garde," if you will.
The place was pleasant enough - reminded me of the basement of the original Eyedrum in Atlanta, where Rock shows took place, or perhaps the Backdrop gallery, also in Atlanta, which at least for a while (or perhaps just the night I saw Silver Apples there) hosted Rock gigs in its basement. There was a Rock band whose name I forget (I'll try to look it up) that was good, largely low-key instrumental. Then, To Live and Shave in LA played. Good set, I'll say. Noise Rock with vocals - which almost automatically makes it better than regular Noise Rock. Apparently, Andrew W K was playing with the band that night, as Tom Smith, the main guy (the singer), always has a revolving cast of musicians backing him up.
Going there, I had exited the subway station, and found myself not sure where to go -the all-too-typical N Y-subway experience. I ran into another person, Emily Easterley - a singer-songwriter who had recorded a record years ago with Rat Bastard, a member of To Live and Shave in LA. Together, we managed to find the place. Going back, the subway line was not running anymore, so we shared a cab home. This part of Bushwick is obviously not dangerous, since there seems to be so few residents at all, let alone criminally-minded ones; it's just empty. I'm glad the taxi driver showed up. Would've been a long walk home.
For my last night in New York, my friend Nathan (with whom I was staying) and his friend Steve and I, joined later by Nathan's girlfriend Grace, went to several bars across Manhattan, all of which at least date back to the early twentieth century. I had read an article in Village Voice about such historic bars and decided to be a pathetic tourist for once and plan this fun, yet uninspired, outing.
We started with Chumley's, in Greenchwich Village, which started as a speakeasy in the 1920's and which had great bar food - or, in some cases, "bar food"; after all, I had free-range chicken, not exactly dive-bar fare. We went to the Whitehorse Tavern next, where Dylan Thomas often went to drink, a lot. But it was filled with yuppies and big TV's and was very crowded. Of course, Chumley's had been crowded, but we didn't have to wait long for a table... and, besides, they had book covers all over the walls - books by writers who'd come there over the years.
I'm sorry, but I don't remember the names of the other two bars. One of them dated back well into the Nineteenth Century, but like Whitehorse was boring. Another was much nicer, well-lit with large mirrors behind the bar. I'll try to look up their names sometime.
I couldn't help but end the night with a visit to Marz Bar, which has only been around since the 1980's but which I enjoyed the several times I went there during my '05 trip to the city, when I was staying in Chinatown, not too far away. Marz Bar is a grimy "punk" bar in that East Village/Lower East Side in-between area. I suppose it's a throw-back to the pre-gentrification days, but of course the very fact of me saying such suggests it too has a "theme." In the end, it's all about the alcohol (and whatever other substances you may take) and the people, so you could just as well go to Applebee's. But the food won't be as good as it was at Chumley's.
Saturday, Sept. 9, there was a mini-festival, I'll call it, held in Bushwick (same industrial park as the To Live and Shave in LA show); apparently it was supposed to take place in a parking lot, but was moved to a rented-out floor of a building - very run-down and gritty, which I'm sure all the Brooklyn Indie Rockers just love.
The highlights of the evening were Growing, Comets on Fire, and of course Excepter, who I hadn't seen since my trip last year, in the meanwhile doing the correspondences with their main man J F Ryan for Sweet Pea. There was another decent group, Ex Models; a dismally bad group called Matt and Kim, who as it turned out turned up in Athens a couple weeks or so later, playing at Secret Squirrel; and some other stuff I missed or don't recall the names of.
Excepter's performance was an especially dissonant affair by their standards, while Comets on Fire's fit what I've read regarding their new record - very Rock, which was mildly disappointing, as Will Hart had told me when he saw them at Arthur Fest in LA in '05 they were quite good, with lots of electronics and sound-manipulation going on. Growing ended the night beautifully, with a space-y set that did a good job of drone-ing out the spastic flights of all the earlier acts.
Unlike the night of the To Live and Shave in LA gig, the subway back to Williamsburg was running. Still, it was long; it's not often you're in NYC and there's ample parking and you wish you had a car.
Walked through what is supposedly Long Island City, but which seemed more like Astoria, from the subway to the Socrates Sculpture Park, on the East River. Besides a couple men at work, I notice a woman, the only other person there. Listen to one sculpture which is also a sound-art work, the winds leading metal balls to strike a surface. Very pleasant.
Go to the Noguchi Museum; the woman it turns out is the museum guide. The Noguchi Museum is amazing, absolutely one of the best places to go in the city. I could have spent hours in the outdoor sculpture park, with the basalt rocks that Noguchi had only altered slightly, keeping the artist's role minimal, yet still in the choosing and placements of objects the center of attention. Noguchi set up the museum himself, in the later years of his life; indeed, focusing on one artist at a time, I prefer. This same trip, I went to the Jackson Pollack exhibit at the Guggenheim, devoted to his paintings on paper, and found the experience of getting to view works across his career, seeing the gradual developments, to be revealing - an academic tendency, I guess.
After Noguchi, I head south, cross a pink bridge that is perhaps a draw-bridge to Roosevelt Island, which is mostly ugly apartment buildings from the '60s/'70s, and then take the tramway back to Manhattan. The tramway ride costs the same as a subway ride, and while the view is not especially great is still worth the surreal experience of riding a tram in NYC. The only other time I think I've ridden a tram is at Stone Mountain.
To sum up, during my trip, I also saw the Finnish electronic duo Pan Sonic at the Brooklyn venue Northsix; went to the Pollack exhibit at Guggenheim I already mentioned; went with Nathan and Grace to Jackson Heights in Queens to eat Indian food; given that I was staying in Williamsburg this year, explored areas of Brooklyn I had always ignored, such as downtown, Fort Greene, Prospect Park, et al.; walked from 49th st. to Chinatown in the rain my last day there; and of course bought some books at the Strand and some C D's at Other Music.
Williamsburg I found to be rather drab. There's an interesting used-record and -book shop that also shows 16mm films in the back next-door to where Nathan lives on Grand St. I don't recall ever seeing the name of the place. I hope it survives, as it seems that, despite one good bookstore and some music shops, Williamsburg is mostly bars and bad coffee shops. To be frank, I'd rather go to a diner in the Upper East Side and talk with blue-haired ladies about Mayor Bloomberg...
I nearly forgot about the Howling Hex gig at Mercury Lounge, which you must believe was a highlight despite my having forgotten about it temporarily. I assume that at least a few of the musicians playing with Neil Hagerty that particular evening regularly play with him over in his current home of somewhere, New Mexico. Either way, Hagerty and the dude playing saxophone got in a lot of free-improvising on top of the great back-up provided by a bass player and a drummer. Hagerty is finally putting into practice all that talk over the years of applying Ornette Coleman's harmolodics. Now, of course, Coleman's "theory" of harmolodics has ultimately amounted to gibberish, which is not to discount in any way the extraordinary music he has made. It's just that, at least Harry Partch or Anthony Braxton were able to put their thoughts down on paper... Coleman, on the other hand...
All this is another way of saying that Hagerty was getting unbelievable sounds out of his guitar, the songs went on and on - inspiring, fun, surprising - and that's all.
Another set of My Space blog postings from 2006:
Two places stand out in my memories of southwestern Wisconsin, from the most-of-three-years I lived there: the House on the Rock and the farm where the Pasture Music Festival was held.
First, a word about Wisconsin - no, the Mid-West, as we still quaintly call a region whose borders we don't exactly know: it's flat... until you get to near the Mississippi River, where it gets hilly and greenery-y and pretty. And there, there's no sprawl. You're in the country, then you're in a town, then you're not. It's like you're in Europe. This is our setting!
One day, I ran into an old friend from college while walking along one of the two lakes Madison sits between (not the one Otis Redding died in [Lake Monona], the other one [Lake Mendota]). Turns out, she's going to grad school too. We hadn't kept in touch. As Madison seemed eons away from Atlanta, this coincidence was a little eery, surreal-like.
Another day, we went with some of her friends to the House on the Rock. Apparently, the man who built the house, and collected the massive collections of stuff contained in it, was some sort of sex freak. Or, perhaps, allegations of such arose simply because of the peculiar lay-out of the original house - it's all low-ceiling rooms, with beds and large love seats built into the walls, the decor of stone and wood evoking a sense of private affairs, locked away in an intimate setting sometime in the swinging '70's. Sounds fine to me. I don't see why we have to go digging into the man's past. Just keep wishing you had his house.
After all, there's the mechanical orchestras. Yes, orchestras of robots playing the standard instruments of the European orchestra. The rigidity and regularity of their movements gives the music the sharp, dissonant quality of electronic music, heightened surely by the fact that supposedly one only hears recordings of the orchestras now. Nonetheless, I bought a CD of the music. That's what I call "americana," not some drunkard townie pretending he's a southern good ole boy.
Most of the other parts of the collection pale in my memory next to the mechanical orchestras. There were lots of dolls though. And knick-knacks. Yes, that sounds right.
To top it all off, there's the Infinity Room. Protruding over a valley (remember, the house is on a rock, except this part, which sticks out from the rock) and consisting entirely of window panes, the Infinity Room is diamond-shaped: the ceilings form an angle above you, the bottom a sharper angle, though of course there's a flat floor above it for you to walk on. The room gets smaller as you go along. Eventually you have to stop; after this point, the floor moves upward, and somehow or another - through the use of mirrors, I guess - the room is made to look like goes on forever, though in fact it reaches a point.
In 2003, Madison started showing signs of the new directions manifesting themselves in indie/experimental music, with a surprising number of local artists engaging in the surprising resurgence of electronic "noise" music, a university residential co-op hosting one concert featuring Jackie-O Motherfucker and The No-Neck Blues Band and another featuring Nmperign, a duo of Greg Kelley and Bhob Rhainey, from Boston - two rare American improvisers who play in the "quiet," flightly yet drone-tastic, extended-technique-heavy sound that at the time was becoming very hip in European and Japanese improvised music.
Some of the folks involved in putting on these concerts, who worked under the moniker 23 Productions, in the summer of 2004 organized the Pasture Music Festival, to take place on a communal farm about 90 miles (if I remember right) west of Madison.
Driving to the Pasture Music Festival was uneventful, though I did almost get a speeding ticket. Those Wisconsin policemen: they're probably too nice to give anyone a ticket; they just warn you, and nicely send you on your way. While I was pulled over, the promo car sent to the festival by Red Bull passed me. It was a car with a big Red Bull can in the back, instead of what would usually be the backseats of the car... probably - I can't recall exactly. Apparently, it didn't stay long. The driver dropped off some free Red Bull, as he was supposed to do, apparently because the organizers had convinced the company that the people who'd be attending the festival would be turned on to the beverage. I think the free cans were all gone by the time I got there.
The day's performers were split into two groups: those that performed during the day, outdoors, on a modest stage facing a sloping hill providing seating/laying-down space for the audience, and those that performed in a dilapadated barn at night and early in the morning. Of those that played outside, I only recall Plastic Crimewave Sound; they were good. I bought a CD by Dredd Foole and the Din (featuring Pelt, Chris Corsano, and Thurston Moore) called 'The Whys of Fire' which, as it turns out, sucks ass. No shit... I've not heard too many records which have received such wide-reaching acclaim but have been just-plain awful. Thankfully, Pelt's records are blissful drone fests.
Christina Carter of Charalambides played solo, and didn't seem into it - didn't play long. Loren Chasse, part of the Jewelled Antler collective from San Francisco, did a conceptual/ performance-music piece under the moniker 'Of.' He has a long history of doing works that rest somewhere between field recordings and electro-acoustic music. He laid out a roll of white paper the length of the barn, and put leaves, twigs, etc., on top. He walked up to each member of the audience and rubbed some leaves, twigs, etc., near their ears, so you could hear them up close. Matt Valentine and Erika Elder played, as did Wooden Hand and the Vanishing Voice (or is it Wooden Wand... I don't care); the former did some nice stuff, but like the latter are too much of a fake-folk "let's pretend we're hicks" act. [M V and E E, as they tend to call themselves, have gotten a lot better since then]. Born Heller played too - a couple, Josphine Foster and some dude. Since then, both have turned up in Athens - Foster playing solo an especially mellow week-day night at Tasty World, and before that the dude playing with a jazz group called Dragons 1976. They're from Chicago.
By the time the second-to-last and last groups - Pelt and Son of Earth-Flesh on Bone Trio, respectively - performed, several people were asleep on the floor of the barn, wrapped up in sleeping bags to guard themselves against the surprising cold. Yes, though it was July (or was it August? I don't remember...) it was really fucking cold. Luckily, as I was in the process of moving, I had my huge winter jacket in the car. I put it on over my t-shirt.
Both Pelt's and Son of Earth-Flesh on Bone's sets were the epitome of great "ambient" music; they fit the occasion wonderfully. I distinctly remember walking into the barn when Pelt had already started. The sounds floated off into the ether, inviting you in, to hear them close-up. Son of Earth were playing mostly electronic instruments, which was especially intriguing given the acoustic-ness of most of the artists performing that day.
Alas, I had not planned on the day's festivities lasting so long into the early morning. I had a drive ahead of me, through a fog so thick I usually could only see a few foot in front of me. I was alone on the roads, and yet I was still going under the speed limit, because I simply could not see. The sun was rising by the time I got back to Madison. The site of the fog looming over farm fields in the dawn (everything was blue, I swear) was beautiful.
Reminiscences... (more old My Space-ings).
During our visits to La Push, part of a native reservation occupying a narrow strip of land on the Pacific coast of Washington, we'd sometimes visit other beaches in the area. Most of them had far less visitors than the La Push beach, which was always populated because of the very lodges and hotel we were staying in; though some town folk hung out there too. One of these other beaches was a favorite. The sea cliffs were especially large, and a large rock stood in the middle, a sort of mini-sea cliff that had gotten lost. One year, the beach was covered with fog thick enough that one had difficulty seeing more than a few feet in front. Another year, a starfish sat by itself on the beach, presumably left behind with the passing of high tide; our dad threw it back in the water. Often, one would pass campers and feel guilty about spoiling the relative isolation they usually enjoyed. One had to walk a trail through the rain forest to get there. On this occasion, our mom was not with us, but our aunt and a cousin were. Going back up, our dad and aunt lagged behind, catching up, as they live on opposite sides of the country and rarely talk either way. Arriving back at the road, my brother and I and our cousin decide to begin walking back. Actually, our cousin, who was considerably older than us - and a girl - decided; we followed. Eventually, our aunt and dad came along in the car and picked us up, surprisingly not too upset.
Customarily, students of Clarke Central did not to return to school the days they took A P exams; since they checked in with the teacher of the A P class at the exam site (the Navy Supply Corps school soon to close) they thus by some strange logic were excused for the entire day. Sophomore year, a friend and I got a ride with his mother to Guthrie's to get lunch, but then returned to school. Next year, I was determined to avoid that fate. So I went downtown, as did several others. I ate lunch at The Grill with three kids, two of which were part of the Punk/Industrial crowd that would loiter in College Square. Afterward, we went to Peppino's to play pool and video games.
Peppino's was quite the local institution in its original location. Using up the entire space of the bottom floor of what was once a department store, a large counter greeted the customer to the left, while immediately in front and to the right was the cavernous seating area. One game room was in the back, while the smaller of the two was to one's left if you kept walking straight after entering the restaurant, after the bathrooms.
The son of the owner of Peppino's went to St. Joseph's; now, he owns Little Italy. Before one of the dances, we all met at Peppino's to eat dinner. The original plan was to walk from there to St. Joseph's... not a long walk, but eventually someone's parents gave us a ride in their van. Before that though, an awkward moment: I ran into the pastor of the Lutheran church which my mom forced my brother and I to attend. The pastor was there with a group of church kids, part of some sort of "lock-in" churches have to encourage like-minded kids to mingle, sharing their piety or lack thereof. The pastor said hello, then whispered in my ears something to the effect that he hoped he knew what kind of crowd I was hanging out with. I suppose he saw that some of the girls wore dresses - the kind of dresses teenagers and adults would wear; I still remember the black dress one of them wore. I suppose also he might have thought weren't acting appropriately enough for eighth-graders.
We're sitting by a radiator heather. I'm wearing a green button-up shirt with a thickness to it and a pattern I remember somewhat fondly. Jeff says, "I don't like to eat my animal friends." A human friend walks in, greets us. Overall, the house is dark, but enough lights are on to forever give the scene an aura of Christmas time, which it was. A year prior, I had first heard Jeff's music, again around Christmas time. It snowed that year in December. I told Cary while at Low Yo Yo Stuff the day the snow and ice coated the ground that such weather made me nostalgic. He thought it was a little overwrought for such a young person to be nostalgic.
At the V 96 Festival in Chelmsford, England, August 1996, Pulp headlined. It was their last gig promoting Different Class, and they premiered a new song, "Help the Aged," which would end up on their next record, This Is Hardcore, released nearly two years later. As I stood among thousands of Englishmen and -women, a large video-screen told us Elastica were playing on the second stage. They were the last act there, but if one wanted a good spot to see Pulp, you had to be here, waiting. The bounty was too much for me: Super Furry Animals and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci both played on the second stage, but the one time I made it over there, I'm not sure who was playing. I had the impression that I would have greater difficulty getting near the front there than at the main stage - who knows why! I was correct though.
I was eager to see Stereolab, who played the main stage earlier in the day. They were followed by Jonathan Richman, who asked for the volume to be turned down. Gary Numan was there too, but he and his band played heavy Rock far removed from the sound that made him famous. Supergrass and Cast were the two big acts leading up to Pulp. Cast were forgettable, and have been forgotten. Supergrass were good, and still are today. The masses started singing along a lot during Cast's and Supergrass's sets. And when Pulp was on stage, the hundreds of people who were within ear- and eye-shot were singing along to every single line of their hits like "Common People" and "Disco 2000." They were great, and sadly I would never get a chance to see them play again. They toured the U S rarely, and when they did came nowhere near Atlanta/Athens. More important, I've never been to another British pop festival; are they as fun now, that the Brit-Pop moment has passed?
Indeed, when I had arrived in London, the weeklies New Musical Express and Melody Maker featured reports on the massive mini-festivals Oasis had just put on. They had purposefully tried to beat the attendance record for a music concert held by Led Zeppelin and their 1979 Knebworth shows. And they did. But the weeklies, despite their effusive praise for all sorts of awful groups, were already turning against Oasis and their excessive desire to the biggest band ever, and did not have many nice things to say about the just-past concerts.
Anyway... I bought a Pulp t-shirt; and the Blur t-shirt I had on turned out not to be an especially inspired choice: another kid had the same shirt on. I still have the program I purchased, and my ticket.
Nikki the dog spent most of his days on the basement steps. When Ervin was home, he would occasionally go to rest on Ervin's lap, especially when called; in such cases, Ervin was usually watching professional wrestling. Upstairs, Elsie sat talking with her younger friend Virginia, who always seemed to know what was best for Elsie, and brought copies of The National Enquirer and similar newspapers when she was done reading them. Elsie didn't read them, and kept them in a stack in the closet that was immediately to one's left when entering the house. Immediately in front of you was the upstairs staircase, the carpet over them so thin that the hardwood floors under it defined how they felt: one always felt a little surprised by how hard a carpeted floor could be; it was uncomfortable to walk on. I always feared the prospect of falling on them.
A final old posting from My Space. This time a biography of sorts:
Born and raised in Athens, Georgia, though no-one ever thought to ask me about it, I went to Catholic school (no, I'm not Catholic) - St. Joseph's, right near downtown - from kindergarten through eighth grade, and Clarke Central High School afterwards. Except for a few brief moments here and there, and a few individuals here but not there, I did not enjoy high school, and escaped to downtown, starting in 1996 to go to Rock shows at the 40 Watt and Atomic, and meeting many lovely individuals in those distant days before the booming economy and "indie" hipster dorks started flooding the town with new building materials and clever ideas about how to make money. I also spent too much time talking to strangers on the Internet; and reminiscing about childhood friends who I had known outside school, who'd gone; and witnessing my family's home in a part of town between the suburbs and the city, near a large chunk of unused land - a stretch of the Middle Oconee River passing through - gradually deteriorate, by which I mean, "change"; because when your childhood home changes when you're not there to experience the changes or have a say in them, obviously it's a bad thing. My family had traveled a lot - to Alaska, France, all over Washington state, the southwest.... and watched Dr. Who Saturday nights on P B S... and went to Atlanta to buy bagels at a great Jewish bakery when the only ones you could get in Athens were frozen, at the supermarket... and I remember the day I bought my first Smiths record - no: not the day, the moment first listening to it, on the car stereo driving down Washington St.
I attended Emory University, '97-'01. What was fun and intriguing about being in Atlanta occurred far from the Emory campus (naturally... since the uni. is separated from the city by Druid Hills and its golf course), including parties at the Candler-Smith lofts; working at W R E K, 91.1 FM, the Georgia Tech radio station that plays more avant-garde/ experimental/ yadda-yadda music than any other station save perhaps W N U R in Chicago or W F M U in New York; eating Mexican and all sorts of Asian cuisines on the Buford Highway (which is actually quite close to Emory, being in the other direction); going to Free Jazz and other poorly-attended gigs at the original Eyedrum, the Existentialist "church," and elsewhere; and engaging in various late-'90's-style ironic behavior with similar-minded friends, such as eating at Cici's Pizza.
I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, '01-'04; and, relatively free from the cultural currents I'd been a part of in Athens and Atlanta, I achieved a remarkable sense of mental clarity... fleetingly. Put more concretely, I got a Master's degree in history; since we're talking here about a doctoral program, in other words, I quit. Though I'm still interested in what I studied: namely, progressive and radical dissenters of the first half of the twentieth century (U S) especially with regard to foreign-policy debates - e.g., the neutrality movement of the '30's, anti-imperialists, Socialists.
I like many, many things, but usually only when they are taken out of their context - or, rather, after they've been enjoyed by many, and are abandoned to be taken up by the likes of me, to be contextualized, and thus made to be specters of a different time - for example, Roseannne re-runs or Sam Fuller movies or Frank Sinatra or "science" fiction.
I returned to Athens, summer of '04, much to the bemusement of many; yet having already come back regularly for winter and summer breaks from school, Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, and other music performances, and so on.
I like to listen to music - I'm academic [obsessive-compulsive] about it, so it's rarely fun or inspirational anymore.
I've driven the same car since 1995. In the summer of 2003, driving through the Illinois corn fields, listening to Swans's Soundtracks for the Blind, the setting sun seemed like it was actually rising from beyond the horizon of the flat land that laid out before me. This scene led to a song, which has been rejected but was one of several that lead to...
Making my own music, though the process of recording is still too disparate from the random pleasure or catharsis I get from singing to myself. I've completed a C D R record, Winter's, released in November, 2006, under the moniker, The People Under the Sun. The track listing:
"The State of Things (Self-Portrait)"
"Hell and Earth"
"Hone the Earth"
"I, I... (Prelude)"
"Sing Song (Part 1)"
"I, I..." / "Sing Song (Part 2)"
"Love and Social Death"
"Love and Social Death (Coda)"
The record consists entirely of vocals.
I read books and write essays; for the sake of publishing the latter, and more, I've started an e-zine, Sweet Pea Review - no, rather, it's an imitation of an e-zine, really an anthology-in-progress, as it is not updated often or with any regularity, and the contributions will stay there as long as it exists; it is a collection of writings/ photos/ etc. of whomever is willing to contribute. With regard to its primary subject, music, Sweet Pea offers discussions directly related to the music itself, not the gossip and faux-ideological disputes that envelope it, with the aim of tying musical criticism into the themes developed by essayists, literary and visual-art critics, philosophers, and historians - say, George Steiner, Hannah Arendt, Georges Bataille, Terry Eagleton, Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, Henri Bergson, Susan Sontag, Gore Vidal, Isaiah Berlin.
In these past few years, nearly always working on an essay or some other project for Sweet Pea, my listening has gone beyond any (mis)conception of the notion of eclecticism - that is, the point is moot. I actually do prefer those artists who cover a lot of ground, so to speak, whose work not only suggests several different methods and styles melding together but also compel thought about extra-musical concerns. Artists with massive bodies of work - not revolving around a center, temporal or conceptual, appeal to me: Anthony Braxton, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Harry Partch, Pierre Henry, Olivier Messiaen, Sun City Girls, John Zorn, Neil Young, etc.
I've recorded enough material to make up a second People Under the Sun record. I don't know when I'll have the inspiration to do the necessary editing, over-dubbing, and manipulating required to finish it.