2.21.2020

More Nada

I really want to write again, but I don't know how.

I had, for no particular reason, a really, really, dark day today. I mean, bad bad.

I was trying to convince myself I only had so much time to live, true, and that that time was up very, very shortly, maybe true, statistically-speaking, not at all, and I was wandering angrily through the streets practically yelling at myself just, "you can do whatever the fuck you want to do, what do you want to do" and I just couldn't think of anything at all. I'm in a really deep rut and I find it harder and harder to get out of these things than it used to be. The reward is harder to imagine.

I could go on a rant about New York and just, you know, where am I supposed to go, what am I supposed to want? I won't go on that rant, even though, really, this has become a truly shitty place to live, other than to say, after I was done slamming my head against the wind, I finally found myself in a subway station and, disoriented, I hopped the train in the wrong direction. Two stops later, I got off and went up to the street to cross the intersection towards taking the train downtown and I had this sliver of hope that maybe something unanticipated would be there to guide me to somewhere. I had forgotten, of course, that I had been at that intersection before, and I was pretty frustrated to figure that out less than a second from when I turned my attention away from ascending the staircase to my newly-visible surroundings, which were, well, I think it was a Best Buy and a Shake Shack. Crap Caravan. Wizened Wallets.

I don't want you all to freak out. I'll be around tomorrow. I do want to live, and I'm so dissociated from and inured to my own feelings that I'm writing that I want to live with a sense of distance and even bemused irony that is really impossible to convey, especially to those of you who, like I, have lost people prematurely. You have nothing to worry about, I have nothing to worry about. Which, in a weird way, is the fucking problem. I can go on like this, and this is nothing to me.

I want to live, even too much. I feel like a dog desperately licking the face of his owner who lies dead on the kitchen floor. I could stop, but only to curl up in the corner and stare at the crumpled body and wait, whimpering.

2.18.2020

Weatherall RIP

Probably a cliche to go with this one, but I don't think I'll ever stop pointlessly hoping that life could actually be the indescribable dream that rouses itself at the back of my head every time I hear this and the piano comes in for the first time.

2.17.2020

A Pathetic Summary That Is Nevertheless Reasonably Accurate

America: swim through this one mile of shit and win $500 million!

Actual radical: instead of swimming through this shit, I'm just going to get a bunch of people together and take that $500 million and we'll distribute it amongst ourselves.

American radical: anyone can swim through one mile of shit. I can swim through two, bitch!

2.01.2020

2010s part xylophone moose encumberance

I don't know.

I think I really, really did try and write something out, like a regular essay that could almost be like, maybe published or something, and have it mean something and all that, but I've really failed to find the right language.

In a gracious act of self-love, I'll note that I may be the only writer in the world who could be described as Sherwood Anderson impersonating Holden Caulfield impersonating a caricature of how girls in California supposedly talked in, like, the 80s or whatever. Reverse chronology, too.

It's worthwhile to go back to the 2000s, briefly. Or maybe the 1990s. I dunno. I read somewhere once that it's better to think of musical decades as beginning somewhere around the 5s than the 0s, and maybe, well, it makes some sense. I won't even bother to look this up because I think that the Internet has done deleterious things to my memory already, but, ok, if I recall correctly, which I am typing out instead of abbreviating, if I remember correctly, there was some sort of wartime, that is World War Two, wartime rations that greatly reduced the pressing of vinyl records and so bebop, which had been developing for years in various clubs around New York, was barely recorded and released until, well, unsurprisingly, 1945, and I'm sure it must have been some sort of future shock for the kids coming back from the war and the thing is I really don't know enough to know if this all means anything for a few decades but somehow it makes sense.  I actually don't want to go down this route. It's sort fo fun leaving these digressions up, like I'm just talking forever.

75-85- ish is punk and the gradual winding down of one million piece funk bands and the kids in the basement have guitars or synths or turntables or samplers but definitely four tracks and then really it all came to fruition between the mid-80s and the mid-90s and then it all sort of settled in and the mid-90s to the mid-00s were sort of a consolidation of all the advances and then really everything sort of starts anew for me, in a way, in the mid-2000s, only anew is not quite the right word; it's more like some sort of psychological break, or maybe something like it.

The not-quite-paradox of it all, well, it's like, the transition from what is the future to what was the future. There's a line between The Streets and Closer Musik and Burial that's a bit obscured, somehow, but it's there, the weird backwards-forwards motion of it all, the music still attached to a culture pushing the boat along even as the passengers are facing back into the wake and to the glittering lights of a shore receding. But 2005 ish to 2015 ish were different. Burial is the start, but then Fever Ray and Balam Acab and Chuck Person and Macintosh Plus and Ferraro and eventually, 2814. What was the future? The real shift from, like, the Streets to Burial to Chuck Person is the switch from a coherent subject appraising a consensual version of the past to the inability to recover that consensus and then a focus on the the mediating factors that create the hyper-subjectivity we all know and, um, love? I mean, part of the charm of the way in which various vaporware tracks stutter and seem to fall apart is the weird way in which it captures and inscribes the sound of technology failing in specific moments for specific people. Some varpowave track may sound the same to everyone who listens to it, but the sound of technology failing still feels very personal, doesn't it? I mean, no CD skips the same way twice, and the way in which your CD skips is different from the way that mine skips and if my CD skips a certain way in my CD player, it will skip differently if I bring my CD over to your place to play it on your CD player.

I'm gesturing towards something but if I was fucking Walter Benjamin I'd probably be doing better.

The last few years is when it all started to really fall apart, like, does anybody use the word "postmodern" anymore? It seems antiquated, but not because the state of affairs has changed, but rather because neither word means anything anymore. There is no Modern, so the post- becomes meaningless, like a road sign offering directions to a place that doesn't exist. It's all fully-internalized now.

So maybe this gets to some of what Simon is talking about here, this weird sort of world of masterpieces that are these weird sort of floating signifiers, deracinated from some sort of social context which produces them, nor some sort of coherent set of values by which importance could be judged. There's something really obnoxiously tautological about it all, it is because it is because it is, like popism has reached it's, well, rockist moment.

I mean, I was there, sort of, you know, just an observer, really, as I am now, but I remember it all going down right at the turn of the millennium, New York London Paris Munich, ILX, and all of that, like, how could you choose another competent Yo La Tengo records or the neo-neo-neo-neo-pastoralism of Elephant 6 over, like, Aaliyah? But it wasn't even that. I can't even remember, but probably someone, somewhere, thought they had to actually write about Rob Fucking Thomas from Matchbox Fucking Twenty like he was going to be, like, what, um, Adam Duritz? Who someone a few years before probably compared to, like, well, not QUITE Bob Dylan but I think you get it. And all the while, of course, Tricky and a million other things.

Somehow, it's the same shit now but it's even worse, if only because I don't feel the opposition on the horizon. I mean, what GROUNDS are there to say that Lana Del Ray is really Stephan Jenkins from Third Eye Blind? And what's waiting in the wings to displace it all, or to even provide a nice warm tent under which the deluge of empty praise can be observed from a comfortable safety?

What's odd now is that "we" won, and the victory seems to be the option of being on the inside of something just as empty as what brought this all about in the first place.

And did "we" win at all?

The scariest music I heard all decade is, well, don't search for it if you can all help it, but there are a lot of bands out there where there are four members and all the guys have long, unwashed hair and all the girls have long died hair and everyone looks like they could be cowering in the corner of an under-attended Lush gig circa 1993 only their whole "thing" is to play really pathetic copies of the American indie music of that year, with, of course, Jaguars and Jazzmasters and I can't even go on. I almost feel sorry for them, but really, jealousy, like, if I only I could waste my life with such conviction.

The other side of it is that I played Maxinquaye to some kids in a bar a few weeks back and they loved it, bless their hearts, opined that it still sounded new, but I secretly wished they would spit on me and play me something that would have me burning my jeans outside a store with a sensible range of khakis on offer.

Please antiquate me because I can't seem to get out of my own adolescence. It's not my fault I can't grow up because you have to make me old.

I'm gesturing towards something but if I was fucking Walter Benjamin I'd probably be doing better.

As I get older I keep watching all of the same mistakes being made over and over again, the same bones underneath changing flesh, and it makes me despair quite a bit.

I mean, like, in the 1990s, everyone told me the 80s were horrible and then I heard music from the 80s and I was like, well, wait, what? Which is to say that banal, unexamined consensus is the damn problem, not the object of that consensus. I mean, on some level, Lizzo is better than Motley Crue, but also, like, not at all, really. The product is somehow better, the machinery the same, and I only care about the machinery. I'm cranky because I'm being told the new flesh is the new bones and I want to coin the phrase the law of diminishing belief.

What's really funny to me, or sad, actually, heartbreaking, is basically the same thing. Read a few decade summaries and it's all about late capitalist hellscape and probably I could actually put quotes around "late capitalist hellscape" and attribute the phrase to multiple writers and yet, yet, fucking yet yet, underneath that cute little essay about all the things I hate will also be, verily, a fucking list of records that were supposed to be a reprieve from late capitalist hellscape and were also, well, late capitalist hellscape.

In the past three years, I've heard the most Sonny Rollins in:
1. My headphones
2. McDonalds
3. Possibly a pharmacy that has a few thousand locations nationwide
4. Literally nowhere else

I live in New York. And I don't really eat that many hot fudge sundaes, you must understand.

So here, in no particular order, and subject to change and update indefinitely:
Burial - Stolen Dog
Neo-Classical



Chuck Person - Nobody Here
Morton Feldman



Nothing Left To Talk About
Marcel Duchamp



Macintosh Plus - ???
Just What Is It That Makes Today's Computers So Different, So Appealing?



Kelela - All The Way Down
My brain is not a free-floating signifier



FKA Twigs - Lights On
The thing is, this sounds like it properly belongs on the soundtrack to The Fifth Element,  a film which came out around twenty years before this song and set a few hundred years in the future, which creates all sorts of confusions, and this future already feels like its over based even on the second album by the same freakin' artist. To quote our Most Glorious Leader: sad.


Balam Acab - Apart
The ideology can't precede the idea. Which is to say, I wouldn't be a Modernist anymore if only other people didn't treat interesting ideas as fads. Witch house forever.



James Ferraro - Killer Nerd
I wrote some pseudo-intellectual blather about the specific mediations of hyper-subjectivity and if I knew what I meant, I could explain this better.



Corbin - Ice Boy
This doesn't fit in anywhere, like, the singer, I guess.



Kanye West - New Slaves
Close but a truck of Cuban cigars.



Daughters - Satan In The Wait (and others)
Surprisingly-welcomed recrudescence, the singer's failed attempt to vomit is actually a spectacular metaphor for everything.



2814 - Rain Temple
I want to leave you with something pretty because I love you.



1.25.2020

Hip NYC Lifestyle

I feel so sorry for all you losers in the suburbs, stuck in your nothing lives. You could be here, wandering through an endless night, pregnant with possibility, hopping from party to party, each one offering new music and new ideas and a portal into unimagined worlds eating Wheat Thins instead of dinner,  half-watching old episodes of Law and Order on your computer while torturing yourself by looking on Petfinder for a cat to adopt knowing full well you'll never be able to afford an apartment large enough to provide a humane home for one.

12.02.2019

Misdeployed

Is there any word more misused than nihilism?

Or maybe it's me who doesn't get it.

I had already been thinking about this a few weeks ago and had forgotten I had been doing so when I was reading a review of a book in the New York Times and there was that word again. If I were to mention the book, the author of the book, the author of the review, we would all get quite distracted. 

As far as I can tell, most people accused of being nihilists seem to believe quite deeply that life is meaningful, and often despair of finding evidence for this belief due to their sensitivity towards the prevalence of unnecessary suffering experienced by others. Nihilism is an insult directed towards those whose capacity for empathy distracts them from "proper" levels of self-interest.

I don't understand why the capacity to not be distracted by the suffering of others is not considered nihilistic.

Isn't a notion of meaning entirely circumscribed by the limits of an individual's desire by necessity dismissive of any social foundation of meaning? Isn't that, um, nihilism?

I admit the first sentence of the preceding paragraph needs to be rewritten. I could distract you instead, though, by taking a cheap shot and reminding you that the New York Times supports coups, and the inevitable death that follows, but that would make me a nihilist.

When I'm 64

It's been a little while since I've thought a lot about The Beatles, which is only to say that I can't remember exactly which tunes of Paul's John derided as "granny music". I don't find it difficult to imagine "When I'm Sixty Four" being one of them. Well, at the risk of making some of my older readers feel, well, ancient, which is not the case, keep your heads up, etc., well, all I can say is that, well, punk is now granny music isn't it?

Youtube just told me I should go and listen to this band that are currently doing a version of punk that is so perfectly spot-on 1977 that it's eerie and, well, let's do the math. It's not unreasonable to consider that a punk could have been, say, twenty-two in 1977, born in 1955, like, I dunno, Steve Jones or Glen Matlock, which means that they are, erm, sixty-four this year.

I don't know what I'm trying to say it's just still mind-boggling that its been almost twenty years since the "return of rock" retro bollocks (or even further - Oasis blah blah) and it's still, well, it's still going. What's really baffling about this band is that they seem to go even deeper into the ventriloquism; the music sounds angry because that's what punk is meant to sound like, right?

I mean, I guess it doesn't matter. It's a fairly marginal band, though no band exactly seems marginal on Youtube (except for the old ones who, still, "nobody" cares about, and whose fans still bear the scars, sometimes decades old, evident in the comments section).

What's funny, and I've been noticing this trend for years now, maybe even, almost, decades, without commenting on it (I think?), is that a lot of (milquetoast indie) bands, for whatever reason, maybe a half-hearted bid at coming off as contemporary or open-minded or whatever, seem to always reference some significant hip hop act as being significant to their music. This band in particular, whose entire aesthetic universe exists across the great expanse between, say, the second verse of a C-grade Stooges song and the second chorus of the exact same song, takes the trouble to mention Cardi B as an influence. To what?