6.23.2020

This Whole Pandemic Is Just An Excuse To Finally Toss Out Consumer Capitalism, Isn't It?

Edit: Obviously, the title of this post is meant to be a bit provocative, but I still stand by my sense that something is up...

I've been struggling to find the ulterior motive behind what's going on. I remember, years ago, when the Iraq war was starting to ebb, or at least American involvement, I started to see a lot of articles describing America's actions over there as failure, and it didn't make sense to me; because I never bought into the idea that the publicly-stated and privately-believed rationales for the war were consonant, the idea of assessing the war as a failure on those public terms seemed naive. At minimum, a lot of American businesses did quite well assisting the war effort and I'm sure there were some major renegotiations of oil contracts. The people who were meant to gain did not lose. So now I'm wondering about now.

It seems too pat to assume that this is all just Trump's incompetence, or the results of the ravings of various Governors trying to curry favor with the Libertarian segment of their bases. There have been plenty of mistakes made by all sides. It's just amazing to watch the statues come down (not that I always mind), the cases go up, the financial hardships increase, and there seems to be nothing happening. While I have been operating under the assumption that globalized capitalism, long accustomed to operating without American labor, may now operate just as smoothly without American consumers, the political elite still need, last time I checked, some of us to vote for some of them to stay in power. Whatever critiques I could levy at politicians, I assume most of them are reasonably savvy at politics, so I figure there must be something I/we don't know.

To skip over a long thought process, I'm wondering if the elite are so wealthy, and capitalism so dependent on the financial and rentier sectors, that it actually becomes necessary for the value of assets, even those of the wealthy, to be purposefully-depressed towards forcing other, less-wealthy people to sell their assets so that the wealthy can purchase them prior to re-inflating their value.

I wonder if it's also necessary, and if so, why, to lock more personal spending into recurring/rentier-based arrangements (everything from rent/mortgage down to Patreon subscriptions) and curtail discretionary spending.

It's worth noting that, while much commentary sympathetic to the plight of workers has noted that we are basically being left to fend for ourselves, it's not just us. Here in NYC, Hudson Yards and Fifth Avenue may become the latest casualties of the pandemic/depression. It may really be getting to the point that even, like, LVMH is considered a small fish ready to be devoured and restructured, though I don't think that's quite the case.

(I get the same feeling reading those articles as I did watching the looting three weeks ago - the expected schadenfreude never materialized and I'm still trying to figure out why given how much mental energy I have expended thinking about wealth inequality and the huge loss of vitality on the streets of pre-COVID NYC due to the overabundance of luxury retail and chain stores)

(I won't even mention the fact that maybe, just maybe, there is now such an excess of labor power that it is becoming impossible for the state to manage. We aren't being forced back to work to keep the retail/service sector alive.)

For the record, just in case it matters, and I won't be bothering to find links, NYC was already experiencing a retail and restaurant commercial rent crisis before the middle of March. Anecdotally, I've been back in NYC for less than four years, and I've already worked for four restaurants because two of them closed due to hight rent (and one of them treated me like shit - the owner recently made national news for being a total prick and I did feel a bit vindicated by that, at least). There were also two restaurants I had the opportunity to work for, but I declined, and both of those closed, one pre-pandemic, one due to the pandemic. All of the above restaurants were owned by well-known chefs, were part of successful restaurant groups, and were (except for one) the recipients of at least two or three stars from the New York Times.

Edit: Another restaurant I worked for has closed as of today; only one remains.

6.22.2020

Heartbreaker


I won't be able to say certain things without getting, um, too specific. 

Let's just say that this was one of the handful of places in the world where I felt like I belonged. It's the last one to close, the one spot I could depend on until today, even though it's been fifteen years since I last walked through the unmarked door and up the nearly-forty stairs to the Main Bar. I'm sure there are more places like it out there somewhere, and some will survive the pandemic, and maybe even some will open after the pandemic, and I may have one more year or one more month or just even one more night of joy. Until then. This hurts, a lot.

If there are any DC locals reading, who knew the reputation, maybe it's a surprise that I care about this place so much. I'm a disillusioned, melancholy and alienated lapsed Marxist pining for a place that was notorious for attracting, especially on the weekends, a crowd of international cosmopolitans (and some really dumb college kids) in the midst of the long slide from taste and erudition to branding and Instagram. Also, I didn't and don't do cocaine.

I shouldn't have fit in, at all. At best, I now have the social skills to not call attention to the fact that I don't have any social skills, but, back then, I didn't. Nor did I have the money for nice clothing, for expensive drinks, for all the accouterments of what nightlife has sadly become. And yet, I was up in (co-owner/operating partner/DJ) Farid's face all the time, "what's this record?", "what's that record?" and, somehow, that's what made me belong there without my having tried to fit in. For all of the other shit that surrounded that place, some invited, some tolerated, at the end of the day, it was about the music. It still is, and always will be.

5.25.2020

Scary/Funny

The implications of the development of this kind of technology are not even fathomable, but, for now, just enjoy.

5.18.2020

5.12.2020

Pan-postlette

Two questions though.

Why is it that everyone in the world seems desperate to force every single new piece of information they receive into their preconceived notions so that no bit of new information could alter those notions?

Not quite unrelated, but different.

Why is it that almost every single journalist who has a question for President Trump seems to act under the pretense that they are the most courageous cast member in an episode (not my sic, theirs) of All The President's Men while simultaneously asking the dumbest, most-leading, and most-manipulative questions they can possibly come up with? 

So many of them come off like people who are trying to be bullies, who are failing at their attempt and who expect sympathy for their failure.

Every time one of those assholes raises their hand, I hear their interior monologue as "book deal, book deal, big advance".

They seem to be trying to bait him into saying something stupid or wrong for the sake of their own egos, all under the guise of public service, which is to say, they seem to have the same dedication to actual public service as he does, only with less self-awareness* or more mendacity. Tedious, tedious.

That's all for now. Hope all my reader(s) are staying safe and sane.

*Though this is wrong, the acting is obvious, bad, but they know what they are up to.

Oh, and more beautiful music for everyone!

4.11.2020

Quickish

Simply put, fuck everyone who has the audacity to complain about the bitter partisan and ideological divides in this country while actively working to undermine the political ambitions of anyone calling for universal social services.

Whatever the original intent, at this point, one has to assume that any means-tested program is specifically and deliberately meant to perpetuate the conditions it purports to solve. If you are a proponent of means-tested programs, and you don't desire to engender further inequality and polarization, you are not as smart as you think you are. Pick another axis for your self-regard.

4.09.2020

Diary 6-?

Well. I thought I would be writing a lot. So far, not really.

It's just that there isn't much to comment on. I'm doing a lot of chores around the house to keep sane. Messing with music gear. Sort of reading. Playing a lot of video games at moments of high anxiety. I'm oscillating between seeing this state-subsidized free time as an opportunity and as something much darker.

It always gets me, after tragedy, during, "we are all X". It seems like blather. I guess if this wasn't happening everywhere, if it was just, say, NYC, there would be massive outpouring of reflexive empathy that would ring a little hollow. I never liked playing along. I won't now. I hear sirens, I barely leave the apartment, there's more than a bit of dread, difficulty focusing; the next Great American Novel won't be mine, even if I wanted to do such a thing, although the next Great American Album, well, maybe I'm inching closer. I'm experimenting, practicing, but not doing. Somehow, I feel like I can't quite let go.

The one thing I'm sure of is that I haven't been able to truly give a shit about politics since this started a little over three weeks ago. I've probably said this before, and I may say it again, but my general theory of it all, well. I think the notion of "horseshoe theory" is total bullshit, but there is one little grain of truth, which is that there are some people who want things to be different at the level of ontology. Most of these people do not agree in any way at all as to what, exactly, should be, should replace, what is. Of course, those who don't want things to change on any fundamental level, well, all of us seem to seem rather similar to them. I don't even know who us or them are, really. I just think it's funny that the people who will die obsessing, arguing with friends, rehashing and getting combative over minute, nearly-forgotten disagreements between Lenin and Trotsky, well, some idiots out there actually might think that this little coterie of rapidly-decaying septuagenarian Marxists might have something in common with, I dunno, Bolsonaro, Le Pen, blah blah. I really don't know what intelligence is sometimes; there's some sort of thing Nietzsche wrote about those of us (smarty-pants) flying high in the sky looking like little specs to those on the ground (dummies), but it works both ways, doesn't it?

As always, I lost my point somewhere up there.

Simply put, I bet most people who supported Sanders simply wanted to have some external help in the facilitation of gaining access to the exact same boring-ass life I'm certainly privileged to be living right now, one I would almost-certainly give up if it weren't for, well, the only adventure to be had until the pandemic recedes is what, exactly? Even if I was the kind of person who looted, I can't think of anywhere to steal from. So I guess I will take some small bit of pleasure in staring empty-headed out the window while waiting for other people to pack and ship and deliver bottles and cans and boxes of processed food, all of this set in motion by a few seconds of pointing and clicking, though not really. It's not really pleasurable at all, but it's an option, one I have, one many others don't.

So after Sanders, what? I wrote back in 2016 that I couldn't get excited about the whole thing, but, this time, well, maybe I, well, not excited, not even hopeful, but it seemed more urgent this time around, and not even because of Trump, but because, well, what's next?

As for everything else, whatever graft and greed is built into whatever bills have been and will be passed and signed, I don't know how to get excited about any of that. So much of the moral outrage presumes some sort of fair way to do all of this; like there's some better version of capitalism that could be occurring right now, which is precisely the ghost one has to give up. Regardless, things are moving so fast and in so many directions that I'll probably know more about the exact moment I am typing these words twenty years from now. Someone will write a book, won't they?

Maybe it's just different here in NYC. We have a lot of confirmed cases. I'm much more concerned about: when was the last time I poured some rubbing alcohol onto a paper towel and wiped the door handles? Maybe if I were elsewhere, I could watch someone scream on Youtube about something or other.

Speaking of, it really hit me how much I've lost to the Internet, now that I am totally dependent on it. I've watched a few good movies this past few weeks, and, well, if I consider one as an example (Rome, Open City), I probably saw it for the first time about seventeen years ago. I can't remember where I saw it first - was it at the National Gallery, on a massive screen, for free? Or did I, having read about it a few years before, rent it at Video Vault, possibly the best video store ever to have existed as far as I know? If I rented it at Video Vault, I likely found it in the Foreign section, not placed alphabetically, probably, but, rather, in the sub-section Rossellini, perhaps the first video in that section, because of chronology. 

It's not nostalgia, even though, all-in-all, my twenties do seem a lot better in retrospect than they were when I was experiencing them. It's something else. I'm worried about the future. Maybe video rental shops will never come back, and maybe, well, good riddance, but what of the texture of it all? It's not that I miss renting videos, although there was a lot more serendipity in that process than telling the computer what I want and having it, exactly what I want, what I already knew I wanted, coming back at me, no more, no less. It's more about - ok, so maybe I'm going to Video Vault seventeen years ago and - what is the weather, am I walking or getting a ride? What does it smell like outside? Is it Spring, did it just rain, is it twilight? Or darker, or lighter? Maybe the sun is up when I walk there, the sun is setting as I clutch a DVD case or two, walking briskly back home, in anticipation of seeing something I read about years before.

All of this worry was here pre-COVID, and it's been sort of obnoxious reading the preemptive laments for the NYC restaurant scene. The disappearance of video stores, the relegation of record stores to something obtuse, the way even the best-stocked bookstores never seem to have what I want, the way nobody except for a few counter-people at the various, dwindling in numbers, pizza places, even remembers who the hell I am, well, this is threatening to become a run-on sentence. I think, even before, living in New York, I don't feel like I am anywhere at all. The Internet replaces people. What's left, really, besides the clothing boutiques I can't afford, and, even then, when I can, who cares, really it's just the bars and restaurants. And, well, going back to the first sentence in this paragraph, well, these laments are rubbing me the wrong way because, look, where I was working before, and where I may work again, but, hopefully, not for long, after this is all over, well, you want, say, well, say it's midweek and you don't feel like cooking and you just want to pop in somewhere and grab a burger and two beers, well, at my place, which is decidedly not mine, that's probably about a $55 investment, more or less. These crying restauranteurs chose wealthy people as their clientele, and fuck them, honestly. It's true, the overpriced places where future-hedge-fund-managers can court their girlfriends in PR over future promises of the coordinated ownership of, I dunno, something in Manhattan plus something for the weekends or the summers or whatever, I guess they are better than the haute-fast-food places that were taking over, or corporate retail, or another ATM but.

It's true, I am petty, resentful, but there is a little, well-known, Italian restaurant downtown. It's expensive, but worth it, and I know the techniques I could use to be remembered, being, as I am, in the business, and yet I don't use then, not to avoid anything but just to not add to the complexity of it all, or maybe something else. The thing about this restaurant is that I have been there a few times. It's a treat I treat to myself. They don't remember me. I guess I don't go often enough, it's true, but, probably, I don't remember them. I won't.

I guess I write like I already assume you understand me to hide the fact that I don't understand me.

Rome, Open City was great, as it always was. Watching in on a computer, though. Emails come in, I check the news to see if maybe the pandemic is over. Maybe I grab a snack. The Internet rewards impulsiveness, abhors reflection, even when I am away from it, it's in my brain. Rome, Open City doesn't come with anything, that walk to Video Vault, and all the things that could happen along the way. It just comes.

More than anything, I just want to walk nowhere to do nothing. It's almost smelling like Spring.

3.23.2020

5/6

This is going to get tedious real quickly. As far as I can tell, this is just going o be me coming on here and sayin' that I'm readin' and that's about it.

So this might be the last post for a minute until I can think of something.

Oh wait.

So, you are going to be reading a lot of articles, if you haven't already, about the damage done to the restaurant industry and while many of those writers will make some fine and salient points and all of that, the perspective will universally be one of loss and one of "if only you took us seriously" and all of that and I just want to state, for the "record" that things weren't better "back then", ie a week ago here in NYC.

Simply put, I have less anxiety thinking about - the pandemic and the possibility of friends, loved ones and myself getting sick, the economy and the possibility of a massive depression that throws millions of lives off course for a decade to come, and, of course, what will proabably be one of the shittiest and most-depressing elections of my lifetime (and I was alive in both 1980 and 2004) - than I do waiting tables. I actually feel better!

Except when I leave the house to get canned soup. That's a bit nerve-wracking. There is no social distance in a bodega, but at least there's only three or four people there. The grocery stores, from the outside, seem much worse. So, minestrone again.

For real, though...

I do feel a little ludicrous staying here, though I don't know what a better option would be. It does feel a bit as if some giant wave is about to crash and I'm sort of just waiting for it. Since we, as a nation, are not, as far as I can tell, testing for the virus at anywhere near the level we should be, I have no idea if things are objectively worse here in NYC. It could just be that we know more about what's going on here than in many other places, and it could be that we are just a bit ahead of the curve, and that by leaving, I'd just be somehow delaying the inevitable.

I hope everyone is doing as well as possible.

3.20.2020

3/4 ish

Not much new to say, but, somehow, mentally, doing this is helping Almost halfway done with LBJV1 already.

Maybe I've said this before, but what has made me, at times, avoid reading history books is the sad feeling I get, upon reading them, that people have always, really, just been the same. I gotta face it.

I hear sirens all the time, but I'm not sure if there are more of them or if I'm just here to hear them now.

Last night, walking out for some groceries (trying to minimize trips to once every other day or so), there was someone selling hand sanitizer on the street, calling out to passersby like, I dunno, newspapers or vegetables or drugs at some other point in history.

Also, the sound of ice cream trucks. Optimism of the will.

I do feel some bitterness towards those out there still partying, oblivious, but, you know, when I saw this I had to laugh. So Providence.

So, where I'm at in The Path To Power, it's, huzzah, the Great Depression and, although there is a long list of instances of indifference when it comes to Hoover's time in office, I like this one on page 246...

"Asked why, then, so many unemployed men were selling apples on street corners, [the President] said: 'Many people have left their jobs for the more profitable one of selling apples'"

3.19.2020

I Guess I Feel Like Writing (Day 0-3)

Though I don't know what to write exactly. Forgive me if this becomes tediously diaristic.

First off, yes, I am in New York, and yes, currently, I am fine. I may never care about politics again, am just financially-secure enough at this particular time to not have reason for immediate anxiety, and I am not sick.

Day 0 (Monday, March 16th): I found out I was unemployed and that this action had been taken to allow me to be eligible for benefits, so no harm there, really, given that no restaurant can actually, really, be open, except for takeout and delivery, and, honestly, I'm relieved not to be at work dealing with any customers that are still coming in.

Already, even in the week before the 16th, I was having a very hard time waiting tables. The veneer of hospitality was starting to crack as I became ever-more-incredulous that anyone thought that they were entitled to have me be there waiting for them. It's true, I continued to work right up through Sunday night, but, you know, things were changing on an hourly basis and it wasn't quite clear what to do other than, you know, wash my hands, which I have done so assiduously for so many years now that I have permanent damage to my skin. No pity expected, just, you know, saying that the one thing I had to do was already being done.

Anyways, so Monday was Monday and I really made a very simple decision on my own behalf. I did absolutely nothing. I had a bit of canned soup already. I ate some, watched a bunch of dumb crap on the Internet and.

Day 1: Is it more interesting? No. More dumb crap on the Internet, a long walk, and, most importantly, I filed for unemployment. The reports you are reading about the surge of new claims here in New York and the challenge of applying are actually underselling things a bit. I'm sure I was kicked off of the New York Dept. of Labor website at least thirty or forty times, possibly more. I lost track of how many times I lost track. Suffice it to say, for all of the complaining I could do, the fact is, I expected the chaos, and took advantage of the fact that, like most Internet browsers made this century, I was able to have multiple windows open at the same time. A bad movie kept me distracted quite easily. Eventually, my claim went through. This is great writing. I can feel your anticipation bubbling like canned soup ready to be eaten.

I talked to my parents. They are typical boomers, in their 70s, which should be read as 20s; went out, voted, had dinner, like nothing's going on. They are still more focused on voting the current President out of office than anything else.

Day 2: Things begin in earnest, which is to say, I'm already sick of the idea that I'm supposed to sit around watching movies or "meaningful TV shows". I'm already sick of the Internet, exhausted by the nervous tick of trying to stay up-to-date with the slowly-unfolding crisis. I think what I'm done with, and what I never really bought into, is the whole feeling one gets from the media, that everything is happening, and it's all happening to everyone. Yeah, things are probably very bad here in NYC right now, and my heart goes out to nurses and doctors and MTA workers, but, at least for now, knock on wood, I'm just sitting here. 

I (re)read almost two hundred pages of Caro's The Path To Power. I don't want to spend money on new books right now, not sure how I feel about ordering some at this time, and my expectation that somebody should be at work right now, dutifully packing a box for my benefit. I sort of want them to go home and not get sick but still get paid. Not just sort of. That's exactly what I want, actually. So I'll (re)read what I already have, which is no solution, at all, really.

Heard from a friend. It felt nice. Need to write to people more.

Day 3: More soup, more Caro, more walking, so far. And this.

Tomorrow, my last paycheck will be in the mail, Supposedly, all my earned sick leave and vacation time will be on it, though, since I have been unable to get information on exactly how many hours that was/will be, there might be a bit of unpleasantness. I haven't taken a vacation in years. I want all of my hours.

I think, for a minute there, I was thinking that this would change everything, but that's not how I feel today. Oh things, will change, but, I'm paraphrasing here, it's only because a lot of people will do some radical stuff to keep things the same.

At first, you know, especially given how I've been feeling about New York, I thought, hm, well, maybe this will be it. You know, rents go way down, possibilities open way up, who knows? And I still believe that, to some extent, but I guess, the other side of it is, well, first off, depending on how the money flows, and who gets it, it could easily be the opposite thing - rents stay the same, everyone has even less money than before except for the people who have always and will always be fine. It could also just be that, well, what exactly is waiting in the wings? What is latent? What possibilities have been denied? I really don't see anything (maybe I need to find it myself).

I'm already bored of the world the present Left will fail to bring about.

At the risk of coming across as being much more secure than I really am...

In the face of pandemic, looming financial collapse, even more poverty for more people, and, of course, climate change, it may seem silly to say it, but. I think it's time. To dream again. But. Keep washing those hands.

3.09.2020

Chain Jez

It's just nostalgia and I am getting old so everything I say is wrong.

It just blows my mind that the below is actually, probably, from the perspective of all right-thinking people at some point in nineteen eighty whatever, that this is the trash, this is the bottom, the corruption and decadence, the bad hair cuts, the wrong jeans, of all of what is available at a certain moment and I find myself wishing, nevertheless, that the best of all that is commonly available right now, in twenty fucking twenty. could be this. Please tell me I am missing something. And tell me what I am missing, because, really, at heart, I still care enough about this world, this reality, to not want to find solace in fucking Expose. Leave comments and recommendations or concede that this millennium has been a waste so far.

3.06.2020

Last Of Them

RIP McCoy Tyner

There's too much good stuff. This one hurts.

"Afro Blue"

Love the sound of those big chords played in 4/4 against the 3/4 meter. Blew my mind almost a quarter of a century ago when I first heard, still, yes, now.

"Night Dreamer"


"You Are Too Beautiful"

Truly true.

3.01.2020

Do I Understand Instrumental Reason?

Something about the Frankfurt School Adorno blah blah and and all o' that.

Um.

So I'm working last night, waiting on this table, and it's a bunch of, well, I dunno, dudes who make lotsa money doing something around real estate or finance and all of that and they are talking about the possibly-impending financial crash or whatever it may be and the logic of it all was: people will have less money and will therefore be looking to change their housing situation to something smaller or cheaper or both and therefore, therefore. It's time to look into investing in companies who manufacture mobile homes.

After all these years, I almost feel it's redundant to talk about what could happen with some sort of major recession or crash or whatever. No need to talk about, like, lives lived towards something headed now towards nothing, possible increases in: suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, or even just sleeping on couches or missing days of school and missing tests and not getting the grades that one would need to compete with the children of the above assholes for the chance of not growing up to be the next generation of people who take shit from those sorts of people.

I just think, shit, the collapsed imagination of the people who win right now. Fuck all of the morality of it, it's just... Things may get worse for billions. How do I get paid for this?

Meritocracy is just social Darwinism without the mask of the Enlightenment, Victorianism without Christianity, a hierarchy without a value system by which it could be held to account.

So.

Anybody know anyone at Merrill Lynch?

(rim shot)

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.