Break Time

I've got to take a break from this (reading and writing). It's obvious that the quality is in decline here. I type what my brain is thinking, and as inelegant sentences run into paragraphs that don't know each other, so, too, have the workings of my brain lost focus and coherency. I have a headache from reading the same thing over and over again. In the end, I may quit this job I have just for the sake of not having to look at a computer. Nevermind how much it sucks otherwise.

I am not retreating into ignorance, saying "fuck politics" and focusing on my tan. Ignorance is not bliss, but after being so overwhelmed with information, with countless dissections of frogs in order to prove frogs frogs, and my additional commentary ("frogs are frogs!") I don't really feel smarter.

That powerful people do what is in their interest is no secret and no surprise. Sometimes I feel like even writing about it is to implicitly expect otherwise. That is not to say that nobody should. Powerful people usually maintain that power by pretending that their self-interest has something to do with everyone else's. This needs exposing. But still.

I wouldn't mind something to read though. If you feel like it, why not send me a comment with the name of a book that I wouldn't have thought to read otherwise. Themes to avoid:

Politics. The state. Anything that has do with Marx or his influence. Existential angst. Nihilism. Social theory and political philosophy. Music was better in the 1960s. Music was better in the 1970s. Music was better in the 1980s. Music was better in the 1990s. Music sucks in the 2000s. Film theory. Sorry to one person who may read this, but I never got into poetry. If you want to recommend some, it has to have the same effect as consuming six or eight beers in order to break through. Even Baudelaire barely registers with me. And it should, shouldn't it?!?!

Anyways, see you next year if I have the guts to cut myself off.


Popular Demand on Wire

They've had it coming for a long time, and for lots of different reasons.

I know it's incredibly stupid of me to say this, but sometimes I figure that if there are a not of women involving themselves in something I don't like, it must be because they are generally more intelligent. There are a million problems with that logic, of course, the most important being that the problem is usually that women are underrepresented for things they actually do, which is discriminatory, as opposed to perhaps not doing that thing as often as men, which, if they are not dissuaded from doing such things (which they are in many cases), is at least a choice. The trap one can fall into when looking for parity is that the critique of whether the thing is worth doing in the first place vanishes.

But still. Whenever I go to a show and I see somebody with guitar pedals and no guitar I pray that I have a lot of money for alcohol. Does that make me conventional? Only if you believe that Wire music is not a genre at this point, a convention. What boundaries are being broken again? Western tonality? Conventions of song structure? Pre-WW1 bollocks. Ok I'm being too nasty. Certainly a few people born in the 1930s contributed, too. Also synthesizers and sampling. But whatever.

I generally think that whole point of rule-breaking in music is always missed. Go back to Coltrane, certainly a good, if obvious, reference for your average Wire reader. Why did Coltrane do away with so many conventions in Jazz in the 1960s? From what I can tell, as a listener, it is because those conventions did not allow him to fully communicate what he had to say. His records, regardless of what techniques or instrumentation is used, are fucking emotional, and unapologetic about it. I don't hear his records and imagine that he wants credit merely for not using a blues scale or kudos for having two drummers. It's all for a reason. And even if you don't like his music, his intentions are difficult to misinterpret.

Anyways, nowadays, since nobody has anything to say, they all just want credit for the lineage they attach themselves to. The references Wire music makes are more obscure and therefore the readers are more snobby. Fuck it. At least Pitchfork bands like Velocity Girl and Phil Collins and have choons.

Actually what am I saying? The Wire is AWESOME. I have 100 back issues here, dating back as far as the year 2000. Purely out of generosity, so that the clever insights contained within them can be shared widely, I will sell them all at $10/piece. You need education. If you don't own them, you are an idiot with reactionary taste in music. $20/piece. I am not worthy of them. I will be using the proceeds to replace scratched Lisa Lisa records.

Why bother?

Weekends. Leisure for some I'm sure. All I know is that I am $400 poorer, with that $400 constituting half of all the money I had access to before that $400 was spent. Results:

$220 spent on repairs to turntable. Still broken. More work necessary. And I may need a new cartridge too. Of course, they don't make the kind of cartridge I use anymore. So, because I have two turntables and the output needs to match so I can record mixes, two new cartridges. Add $160 plus further labor on turntable TBD.

$150 spent on a bookshelf from "our favorite" shitty modernist furniture non-profit. Pieces missing and all the threading too fucked to even assemble the remaining parts. Since I don't own a car I had to spend $30 to get the damn thing here. So now what? Spend another $30 to get it back? If they were to take the return, I would be short $60 for no fucking reason. Alternately, I can get a new one and spend another $30 to get that one back here for a total of $90 spent on transporting $150 worth of fiberboard that I expect to last a year. $90 not a lot it's true (lucky you). But my landlord, the same one who is not repairing the broken lights in our kitchen and our hallway and who doesn't seem bothered by the fact that the fucked up radiator in my room is pushing enough steam out of the regulator to wash clothing with and also making my room 90 degrees because it cannot be turned off, won't be happy that I will have to pay rent late. So add $25.

Now my weekend is over. Back to my job tomorrow. Total time spent making music, reading and writing: one and a half hours. Bohemia rules.


Late-breaking news

Williamsburg in gentrification shocker.

Wealthy white people who displaced upper-middle class slumming bohemians a decade ago who, previously, had displaced a community of working-class people are absolutely mortified that, after a decade of luxury condiminiums, a corporate pharmacy has arrived.
No wonder people get their news from comedians.



Keep Going

I know it means absolutely jack shit but I am really proud as in exultant. Keep on.

"Civility" is just another word...

... for "saying 'go fuck yourself' in a calmer manner".
To deal with "reality" is to forget how it came to be in the first place. To demand that the billionaires playing tiddlywinks with phantom mortgages pay for the destruction they caused is counterproductive. That happened yesterday. Which is to say not at all. "We" are in this mess and "we" need to all sacrifice.
"The most politically volatile suggestion may be to tackle military health care costs, which rose from $19 billion to an unsustainable $50 billion over the last decade."
Gee I fucking wonder how that happened? Unsustainable is a pretty fucking interesting word in this context given that it only refers to money and not why so much has been needed!


Lies To Keep Me Near

Direct Action

There has always been a disconnect in my mind between the grim portraits of the UK painted by UK Leftist writers (a few can be found at the right, and still many more from their links) and the fact that there are so many people painting those portraits. Not that, fashionable University alpha-students toting copies of the lastest Zizek notwithstanding, politics is a social club, or at least, not that it should be, but I always wonder how bad it could really be there when there are so many to at least allow for commiseration down at the local pub.
Well I think I get it now. Things are grim. But there are humans left there.



I am going to start saving now. I am going to see more than one show. One of the biggest regrets of my chilhood was not seeing them tour behind "Different Class". I was 14. I still remember the poster announcing the tour in Olsson's. I am still mad I didn't take it.
It wouldn't be me if I didn't say something negative. So here it is. Now that there is no counterculture, the majority of the people singing along to "Common People" will be hypocrites. Maybe British fans are already used to this. I will try and not let them bug me. It will be difficult unless I am towards the front row.
PIL - this year
Pulp - next year
Does anyone have Mark Hollis' address and whatever it is one would use to entice him to play?


A gift to late-night comedians

I wonder what kind of pie they will be serving?


Mid-terms is like walking into the wrong bar

...or any bar in Manhattan. Who are these people? Where did they come from? Where did they get their ideas? Vague discomfort and fascination mix and fight each other until one token too-expensive beer is consumed and out the door I go...
1. Imagine, difficult I know, some cracker declaiming Obama as a Socialist. What doesn't bug me (not really): that some cracker is not a socialist, that some cracker can't define socialism, that some cracker calling Obama a socialist is an insult to socialism, that some cracker is wrong, that some cracker will never be corrected, that some cracker can vote, that some cracker can organize, that some cracker can exist. What bugs me is that I don't know any crackers. I only know crackers declaim Obama's "socialism" because the media thinks it is worth reporting on. Liberal bias? Conservative bias? My record collection for a value judgement or at least some basic editing from the dull, earnest, pretty people on TV! In other news, the earth is apparently flat and since everyone drinks water and everyone dies, water is bad for you.
2. The media needs the two party system more than the politicians do. Enough parties would actually allow for the results of elections to broadcast the will of those who voted in them.
If only Brooks and Shields had Jamaican accents. Then their baseless speculations and pontifications and pronouncements, their hamhanded picking through tea leaves in the dark, would attain the excellence of late-night infomercials.

Sad News

RIP John Olsson (via here)

This store was so intertwined with the first 25 years of my life (as customer and employee) that it is really hard to imagine that it doesn't exist. John provided something valuable that nobody provides anymore: a truly generalist independent store that, through the diversity of its offerings, was able to ensure each and every person who walked in, regardless of their education and experience, their next favorite book or record.

Thanks, John.


Midterm midterms

The McCain/Feingold bill was one of the few bright spots of the time I spent thinking and acting within the confines of the American political system and it is really sad to see Senator Feingold ousted.

Dedicated to those Ds who remain:

Slowly Devolving

Into strident, self-righteous bullshit I know, but today I sure ain't the only one.

This is a bad

Not voting today.
It does feel weird.
The idea that it is the mature thing to do still affects my feelings even if I don't agree.
Adulthood is compromise, isn't it?
Part of the whole "just vote" thing seems to be that wanting war to end or nationalized health care or whatever is just unreasonable and that there is no reason to let the boat crash because you don't like who is steering. And I, being a bland, boring, nice guy who distrusts all his own anger and his desire for revenge and who still dumbly believes that reason could actually still work, even if he knows that the people who fuck things up are usually quite aware of what they are up to, don't want the crash. I don't call people "sheeple" and have no illusions about the chances that a slightly overweight, chain-smoking record collector could survive collapse.
But I still don't understand the mentality that seems to assume the inevitability of the present. That wakes up everyday in this world of cars and cell phones and buildings and language and says ok this is how it always was. Of course it wasn't.
War happens kiddo. It always has. But maybe it always has because last time someone said. War happens kiddo. It always has. And the last time someone said. War happens kiddo. It always has. Life is life because we define it as such.
Naive, I know, but I still think that the number of people who want to bad, who wake up with the words "fuck you" darting from their eyes, is actually pretty low. It's those of us who wake up weary, distracted, selfish or selfless, who groan "fuck it" while falling from our beds only to catch ourselves at the last minute, if only to ensure the toilet is reached before urination, who are busy, who have kids to pay and rent to feed, who let those people have their way.
I keep thinking of babies and bathwater. And this is about right. Babies shit and scream and vomit and cry and want and want and want and are only happy when you give. Exhausted, at best, you get the promise of nostalgia in return. Politicians too. But politicians never seem to turn 18. They keep playing war, cops and robbers, house, whatever, in the front yard and expect to be fed when they ask. Only their games are for real. And so we shouldn't assent. We shouldn't let their charm and promises and possibilities distract us, and we should't thank goodness that they are doing the playing for us so that we can, after long hours at work, fall onto the couch like a Muslim kissing the ground at Mecca.
They do what they want and when they break the neighbors window they cower behind us when those neighbors come over to call. Then they sneak out at night while we are asleep and run back to that neighbors house to cover it with toilet paper, all because the neighbor dared to complain about that window.
They change their thoughts, their beliefs, their principles, daily, hourly, whenever depending on whoever is around. The word compromise assumes fixity non-existent.
Why am I the kid for not indulging them?
I agree with Kohlberg. I am trying my best to be a number six. I don't want people to be blown up for no reason. Nobody I vote for will make this happen. So I will let all of those little ones and twos and threes and fours have their little party today. But I won't feed them.


At least some old bartender friends of mine made some money

DC rally writing and links below.
I wasn't there. I watched some online. Everything I wanted to say has been said better.
Having been a quiet Leftist for most of my life and an East Coast resident all of my life, I can't help but wonder why there is such a bad vision of the Left out there. Does Cold War rhetoric account for all of it? Or a complete misunderstanding of intentions? A lack of education? I guess it should be obvious. But this is one of those things I only know but don't understand, you know?
Something I forget sometimes and maybe we forget sometimes and it certainly becomes a very buried assumption when we are all together talking and especially when we are angry, which seems to be most of the time, but, for all the scope of Leftist discourse, from the little arguments about the ramifications of some footnote of some impenetrable tract to the vast, bloodlusty denunciations, aren't we in this this because we love people and want to improve the conditions under which they live, or better yet, assist in removing the impediments that prevent them from doing it themselves?
I hesitate to use the language of the enemy but maybe it's time to rebrand? Marxists: we aren't happy that your Mom has cancer because we don't want a new yacht! Marxists: we hate ATM fees too! Marxists: you'll be surprised at how much better hamburgers will taste!
At the very least, I hope that, before I die, even if we have accomplished nothing, can we just make it so that apologists for empire don't get to call us the killers?

Every Solution a Problem

My parents were urban planners, and I had a pretty strong interest in urban history and planning issues for most of the first two decades of my life. I don't think about it much anymore I guess because it seems that most of what gets built has to conform to what people with money think should be built. And, at the very least, nowadays, people with money mostly seem to be wrong. Anyways.
The main things that the typical liberal planner would have complained about for the majority of the 20th century are been 1) the anti-social nastiness of most Modern architecture, and b) suburbanization. While, even during the current recession, trees continue to be cut down to build ever more ludicrous strip malls, even while old malls languish because it seems to be cheaper to build new than to renovate, the other trend of the last decade has been, of course, the re-urbanization of cities.
I am sure that I wasn't the first person to note all of the problems inherent in New Urbanism, and I did, many years ago (basically, it's cool that beautiful old buildings get renovated but it sucks because mostly wealthy people and corporations benefit. Also, culture is only approved of in the new city as a consumer pastime, not a protest). But I am not aware if anyone has discussed the ramifications for political organization. At least on the East Coast, no matter how bad suburbanization gets, there are still cities that act as the center around which the morass is "organized". Between the move of numerous mostly white and mostly rich people back into these centers and the housing crisis that seems to exist mostly outside of them, poor people are being banished physically to the margins. The obvious consequence of this has been the closing down of public space, both to protest, and even to certain types of people, but what warrants further discussion is the difficulty of organizing those that are now being moved outside of the denser areas, away from the best transportation, and out of the spotlight (even if that spotlight was only shined by the local media as a consequence of their work to make suburbanites feel justified in their exile). How will we reach these people? How will they reach each other?