Can't be bothered to listen to anything from a year end poll. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah remember how the internet was supposed to solve everything hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah call me naive but even at the height of the mtv alt rock sell out era you felt that at least some people liked some of the songs before they were hits who knows where this shit comes from now

the storm before the calm

if i ever ever go to a show like this i promise to put away my cynicism and move and even be glad if the taller dude next to me spills beer on my head while pumping his fists

(and as an aside you have to realize maybe why the people suck so much - they've never actually seen it done have they, i mean, like every time i go out to see a dj spin and i look around i realize that everyone is wondering what it is they are supposed to do because who the fuck would tell them to let go you fucking idiots jesus birthday motherfucker you aren't actually somewhere if you have to take a picture)






not only do selfi motherfuckers not have any guts but those of us who don't start physically assaulting i mean look you brought a 600 dollar camera to the show

i have one too and i fucking hate myself for it
but they didn't have any non-fancy phones at the store anymore

i should get rid of it right now

there's nothing better than someone taking a video of someone singing a song about living in the moment unless they are being fucking paid to do it

i remember feeling sad for press photographers at shows

now its all of us

well not me at least

i can't pay my cell bills

so i downloaded a flashlight app

and now i use the phone to find my way in the dark

and even that i don't like about it

i WANT to be LOST










com ing down the mountaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n n  n n n n n n n n n n  n n n


Death to Death

I can be cynical. I am cynical. I tell people why. I tell them, look, if I assume the worst, it's only because I want to leave myself as much scope for being pleasantly surprised as possible. Or even elated.

But it also means that I have to be right sometimes.

I was sort of ready for that cop out in Ferguson to be exonerated, but, you know, after a lengthy trial. Not now. Actually, I totally expected this shit. I just hated myself for doing so.

I've always felt very uneasy about what unfolded in Ferguson. 

Of course, the primary cause of the unease is obvious. Just in case you are confused, I'll say it. Racism, institutional racism, the legacies of slavery and segregation (voluntary and in-), the overuse of force on the part of police, the distrust of young black men, who are incarcerated at an alarming rate because they are not needed, because they are not wanted, because racism, yes, but gentrification and capitalism too. There's probably more I'm forgetting right now, though not forever. There's too much wrong to forget it all.

But from here I'm going to be a bit more, I don't know.

I guess there's too things I want to talk about, without eloquence.

First off, I've been thinking a lot about white male privilege (mostly in the context of feminism, which is something I rarely write about, due to feeling unequipped to do so, but think about often). I think sometimes that those who don't have the benefit of privilege don't seem to understand its nature. It's not power. It's indifference. Yeah, white guys still run the world, but most of us aren't those guys. For most of us, our successes and, mostly, really, failures, are judged as being our own, instead of conditioned by or symbolic of larger social forces. That's the "freedom". 

Maybe I am not explaining myself well. Let's just say I get beat up in a bar tomorrow night. All I'm saying is that, assuming it's another white guy who did it, there will be no larger symbolic meaning to it. Even "better", I got harassed walking down the street today. I didn't do anything but bum a smoke to this person and found myself in a very uncomfortable situation. Ultimately, nothing happened. And it didn't mean anything. There's no recourse or complaint to be made unless I actually want to hate on poor people. Which I don't and I don't.

I guess what I am saying is that I don't know how to fix racism, but I know what the lack of it feels like. I've been told, and it has always made me sad, that I will never understand what it is to be black. Sad because I care. Because racism makes me sick. It's a waste of time and life. Which seems like a pretty underwhelming way of expressing anger until you actually really consider what those words mean. There are guys who are just going to be in jail and that's that. All the people before them. Parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents ad infinitum. All that effort, the suffering, not just the suffering borne of racism, but the suffering of life shared by all, endured only towards the hope of a better tomorrow, all ending in a guy maybe jumping a turnstile in New York and then maybe just "resisting arrest", which, in many cases, is just the body saying "ow, you are hurting me", and maybe a scuffle in a prison yard and suddenly it could be years instead of months and it's basically all over given the likelihood of recidivism 'cause what jobs are there for a convicted felon anyways.

I digressed there a bit. If I can never understand what it feels like to be black, then the converse is true. As I said, I know what the lack of racism feels like, and it is indifference. We're all, all of us caught in a trap. A sad one. The fact of the matter is, I think innocent people will die far into the future. Sometimes even by accident. The end of racism will be when racism isn't actually considered to be a factor.

Consider Ferguson in a "post-racial" society. No riots, everyone would wait patiently for the verdict. The biggest issue would be - why is that cop riding alone in his car? This would all go so much smoother with another witness (post-racism we might even actually trust two cops to tell the truth at the same time!). Should anyone really have been shot? Gee!

That the kid was black and the cop was white would mean just as much as much as eye color.

I bet there are actually some people out there who are genuinely not racist who genuinely wish that it could be this way right now (I understand, but that means asking a lot more of black people than white people. Are you really prepared to ask? Do you really think you can never mind should?).

But how? Seriously. How could one not assume race was a factor? Both the depressing legacy of racism, the way it conditions the minds of those against just as much as those for, but also, you know, a reasonable fucking inference. More than that.

Because there's something else that made me uneasy. The media. The anger of those in Ferguson, and those people all around the country, and, indeed, the world, who suffer or sympathize with their plight, was real, is real, is borne of direct, unmediated experience.

But I feel tempted. I can't quite, because I can't. But.

What tempts me? Well, nobody on the Left liked the Gulf War, so it's easy to get all excited about how daring Baudrillard was in saying that it never happened. But can we stand that kind of distance in this case?

Because sometimes it has felt to me that Ferguson didn't happen. I mean, of course it did. A young man is dead, and I don't believe it should be so.  And I am angry, just like you.

But here's that symbolism thing again. A black kid getting shot by the cops can never be just that. Which is all well and good, but look up towards the beginning and see that I listed racism and structural racism as two distinct phenomena. Why?

Racism in and of itself would speak to motive in regards to the specifics of the Ferguson killing. Whether the officer himself held any assumptions, beliefs, prejudices, etc., certainly has a bearing on his  actions and his guilt.

But this shit happens all the time. Black kids getting shot by the cops. Even if none of the participants involved themselves are racist in any way shape or form, they somehow end up placed in the roles they play, somehow manifest a deep societal desire (almost) inadvertently. I guess that's how I understand structural racism. I mean most people say they aren't racist and maybe they aren't and yet it keeps happening, doesn't it?

So where am I going with this? I'll know when you do.

I guess where my bother comes in is that each of these individual cases are meant to bear the symbolic weight of the whole, and so the whole comes to rest on the part.

A bad thing happens, and the op-eds come, and the pundits and the interviews and the concerned and agitated faces and the national and international exposure and everything is stirred up until it all becomes a referendum and identity and self-definition and the opinions and the opinions about the preceding opinions and suddenly the whole future of race relations is resting on the behavior and perception of this one 18 year old guy who is dead.

And that is when it starts to feel fake to me. It's not even really about the kid anymore, is it? When I see those clips of random protestors cities away with white skin holding up their hands and shouting "stop don't shoot", playing their roles, knowing that they know nothing and I know nothing and that everyone has their own facts and witnesses recant and which time were they lying and there are deadlines involved and the old media hates to be scooped by the new media and it's easy to make things appear and disappear and nobody reads the corrections anyways and people make careers and money and everyone has to have an opinion and jesus.

I mean, why this kid, anyways (not that it shouldn't be - who cares if he stole a fucking blunt)? Weren't there like three or four other guys who got shot that week? During the day? With more witnesses? Hell, even a video on Youtube that I can't even bring myself to link to because it's so painful to consider watching it again. I just feel the media cycle, the churn, taking over, taking the issue away from its context as one of many, which is where the deeper travesty lies (the many, the unbearable history of History), and into this realm whereby all possible defeat and victory, all possible solution and stagnation, rested in the hands of some random jury impanelled months ago who heard evidence we haven't.

It shouldn't take anyone getting shot for anyone to give a shit. And, honestly, a guilty verdict would have only satisfied an emotional need at the expense of the social (not that I didn't want it). The whole can't rest on the part. There is no movie, no credits to role after the bad guy is put in jail and we can all leave the theater thinking justice has been done. The killing of Michael Brown is a symptom, not a cause. He's dead. He can't be fixed. But what can be? And how?

Because what scares me? Who's next? And by then, which I'm sure has already happened, has happened many, many times, even if "nobody" has noticed, will it still be the same, the shaky evidence and the media churn and the us and them that never got us anywhere and never will?

What need does racism satisfy? What role does it play? Why is it necessary? Because, after all these years, certainly it is. Just as much to those against as those for. So easy to just say cracker and walk away or not but if everyone is racist and nobody is who are we protesting?

How do we get rid of ourselves?


Meekly Entering The Arca Fray

About Arca…
In order...
Energy Flash (including important quotes from The Wire's review, otherwise unavailable online)

And now ME. ! ?

As always, I don't know where to start so I will.

The music is ok. I do find the textures fairly entrancing but, like some others above, feel that there is no end towards which they reach.

I agree with Sherburne that it sounds as if we could be possibly theoretically on the cusp of something new, maybe. I wonder how many more qualifiers I could fit into the preceding sentence.

But I am not optimistic. I want to be. I figure at the very least that the lo-fi, gritty sound that has been popular for a few years now has gotten a bit boring and am glad others feel this way too (it was always a bit reactionary, wasn't it, though I'll keep my overdrive pedals just in case). Arca, along with some productions on Pinch's Cold label, certain DJ Mustard instrumentals, and the last Egyptrixx album, have had a certain "clean darkness" to their sound that I have generally found to be, well, laden with a potential, but a potential, that hasn't quite arrived. I don't think it will.

Here's why.

But not yet.

Almost a year ago I went to the then-new Rough Trade shop in Brooklyn and I had a fairly negative reaction. You don't need to bother (re-)reading what I had to say. The gist of it all: alternative culture is dead. Yup. A pretty big statement. Possibly wrong, though, you know, I'd love to be wrong. I'd love to go to a show or hear a record and start to believe that the world can change, or, more importantly, that people really, really want it to. Because I want that feeling again, and am sure that I am capable of feeling it. I want to believe. Because, otherwise, it's just this, and this sucks. 

Anyways, why dead? Well.

The alternative culture, in the broadest sense, gained much of its energy and tension from the competition between the desire to democratize the construction of social meaning and the desire to do away with social meaning altogether. The intrinsic desire of consumer capitalism is to do away with social meaning altogether. "Alternative" culture is over because that tension no longer exists. One side has already won. Guess which.

If I were really a great essayist, I would talk more about the following, but I'm not, so you'll have to infer more, and better, paragraphs than actually exist.

A quick note on architecture.

It's always been funny to me that architecture always seems to be a few steps ahead than other realms of culture. Or maybe I'm wrong. I just figure post-modernity happened there a long, long time ago. Robert Venturi built that house for his mother in the early 1960s, after all. That's like a decade before Autobahn-era Kraftwerk (who were, I guess Modernists and post-Moderns with a semi-ironic love for Modernism at the same time). Why funny? Well, building buildings, especially when public money and public oversight is taken into account, is harder than making a record or painting a painting, so you would figure…

Regardless, at least on an aesthetic level, we've been out of that phase for a long time. Gehry, Hadid, etc., seem a lot more Modern to me. The sanctity of the object, the use of technologically-advanced materials, etc. No corinthian columns deployed ironically, or any of that crap. But, putting aside the difference in rigor, for a lack of a better word (though maybe it's a perfect word) of their buildings (i.e. no boxes, rigid symmetries, etc.), there is another difference. 

There's this book I read a few years ago, From a Cause to a Style. A collection of essays. From what I can remember, not bad, but sort of predictable. Suburbs ruined cities. Ugly Modernist buildings did, too. OK true, somewhat, but sort of instantly dated. Because people have been moving back from the suburbs into the cities for a while now and sometimes I just wished they had all stayed there because that is where the problems come from now. Nobody is building tower blocks anymore, are they?

Anyways, that title, From a Cause to a Style, sums up the descent of Modernism from something political to something aesthetic. It's actually always been something that has depressed me a bit. What happened? Before WWII and after? That's beyond the scope of this increasingly-meandering discussion.

Let's look at the last part. Style. What distinguishes the old Modernism from the new Modernism in architecture, to me at least, is the lack of the desire to "reproduce". Modernism in the past wanted to take over (and many preceding historical styles actually did, for a time). Sure there was Lever House and the Seagram Building and all but there was an expectation that all buildings should be built like that, that everything should look like those. The style was meant to have an impact, to affect change, to change context. 

Even post-modernity, too. Amusingly enough. Yeah there was the AT&T building, but also your local mall.

What's new is that this is no longer the case. Gerhy's buildings. Well, they are only his, and nobody else's and there seems to be little desire to spin it out, to design neighborhoods, cities, anything, really, larger than the distinct and separate and distinct and separate building along his lines (or anyone else's). These buildings are not meant to accomplish anything besides standing alone being themselves and not affecting or being affected by anything. Man I wish I was eloquent today.

Here's a case.

Aesthetically speaking, I love some work by Herzog and de Meuron. Can't help it. I'm a Modern at heart. Brownstone Brooklyn is beautiful but I'm pissed we either haven't done better or don't believe we have. It's all a matter of faith. Save the Port Authority.

Two pictures. Both Herzog and De Meuron buildings.

The top one is nice. A bit gaudy, but definitely "future". Whether you like it or not, here's the thing. You are judging it all by itself. The site, the intrinsic attitude of the building and it's design: it all stands alone and is meant to. There is no context. The second building is on Bond Street in New York. Sort cool-looking, tech-forward, etc. But also, it stands alone, and this time, this matters. Because it doesn't stand alone. There's a building on the left and a building on the right and more buildings across the street and, you know, the rest of New York. And what is this building's attitude? Fuck you. And fuck context. Look at how the window lines don't match. Look at how squat it is. Taller than the buildings next to it, it still feels shorter. Had they kept the window lines going, had they broken up the facade to try and accentuate the vertical, well, it would look like the building gave a shit, and that the designers did.

But they don't. Action speaking louder than carefully-composed theoretical disquisitions and all of that.

As always, I write until I don't remember what it was I was trying to say.

Oh yeah.

I think what all of this leads to is let's call it anti-social Modernism. There's no desire to create or replace of replicate or push or prod or destroy. It's just indifferent. Self-expression. A building that looks cool (though honestly, I don't like it that much just in terms of my own taste). As if there was anything else for it to do. As if.

Back to Arca, then, before I embarrass myself on purpose as opposed to inadvertantly.

So yeah, I like the sound, but am not optimistic about the possibility. I think when Sherburne says this could be the beginning of something, well, I think the thing is is that that something is not desired. The "rock-ist" desire for "Meaning" being projected onto something or someone that don't want it.

But not quite.

Let's travel a bit more.

Simon quotes at length from Britt Brown. And let's get one thing straight. Mr. Brown is the husband of Amanda Brown with whom he runs the label Not Not Fun (and associated sub-labels). From what I can recall from Simon's profile of this label and its creators is that they are happy releasing music that consists mostly of sort of post-ironic pastiche and seem to revel in the fact that there are "no more Fugazis", i.e. bands all caught up in that Meaning shit. So it's funny, in that context, that Mr. Brown, in his review, seems to be taking Arca to task for not meaning anything, ultimately. And yeah, he's sort of right, but, you know, gee, there's not really a side to pick here.

(So I've gotten word that, actually, the whole "no Fugazis" thing was a bit more ambivalent than celebratory so you'll just have to read the above paragraph again with new knowledge. Still, pastiche.)

(As an aside, yes, Simon, there's lots of dance music that seems to revel in it's own wizardry but then again so many of those records [thinking specifically of UK hardcore, darkcore, early jungle, etc.] seemed to, I don't know, deploy those tricks towards some sort of end - the excitement of that trickery seemed to engender social cohesion amongst those that had just had their minds blown on the floor. Maybe that's more about the people who were listening though and why they were there.)

This all brings us to AdHoc's Mike Sugarman. The article that really frustrates. 

Remember I said alternative was dead because the desire to destroy meaning has won over the desire to create it. And that that desire to destroy was redolent of capitalism. Well it is. How to turn anything into something that people can buy? The process of commodification. Do I have to explain it all? I think if you are hear you've read what needs to be read. And this is obviously not a formal essay. No shit, huh?

Sugarman sees everyone on the Arca-meh to Arca-no side of the spectrum as perhaps nostalgic for the old values of rockism. He seems to enjoy the end of that totalizing desire. See his comments about Wagner vs. Satie. The real pertinent thing I'm gonna quote as opposed to assume you've read. Sugarman sez: my time with abstract music has taught me that music is nothing more than sound, ordered and presented to some end. Well, yes, true, fine (and fuck the rules, for real), barring, of course, the condescending tone of the whole piece. Like we don't get it, man, far out. I mean, is noise really a radical strategy at this point in time? Really?

Because. Right now, "music is nothing more than sound". Not in the rarified world of some noise dude's loft, but, like, in reality. Classical is dress-up for status-conscious adults, jazz caught in endless, repetitive repetitions of non-repetitions, house and techno and descendants emperors with clothes, yes, but no body, and rock and roll, hah! Hip-hop/rap even more fucked. Kanye is like that soccer stadium above. Gaudy or beautiful and alone and impotent, ultimately. For better and worse. Should I even bother mentioning pop?

I guess what I am saying is that noise, or rather the aforementioned attitude towards it, is redolent of the drive towards nihilism that is inherent in the marketization of everything. Can you really side with the mainstream of capitalism and consider yourself a radical (not that Sugarman describes himself as that, but... that attitude, what other word can I use?)? Can you really side with overwhelming tide of history, backed by popular demand, while feeling outnumbered?

I mean, yeah, I guess there is a certain radicalism in trying to demythologize, to undermine and reduce, and clear us all of our sentimental prejudices and predilections, and, if I were to quote Marx here, that whole thing about bourgeoisie (and noise dudes are mostly, you know, that, at least in my personal experience), the stripping of halos, I guess I would come off as the old, whiny, antiquated being that the article presumes I am. 

Fine. But the thing is, this attitude has been winning for decades now. Since when has music meant more than sound? How long as it been since new aesthetic and social formations have cohered towards creating a new way of life? How long has it been since culture has been galvanized and has galvanized? 1995?

How long has it been since we have wanted something different as opposed to merely being something different? How long has it been since anyone has said "no"? How long has it been since that "no" has sounded beyond the minds of those who already say "yes" to "no"? Can you piss anyone off now or only find a different fan club?

It's true, I am someone who wants that meaning thing, more Fugazis. But I could care less about the Sixties, man, or reliving some nostalgic version of a past that, more and more, feels to me as if it never existed, as if it no longer needs to.

I simply find today wanting. And I don't think more of the same will fill me up.

It's been said that power corrupts, but can one really now presume that it has ever been sought for any other reason? Music now seems to be made by the satisfied for the satisfied. Friends, Arca makes some nice music out of some nice textures and maybe he'll beat Satie at the game of melody, but if he wanted what you wanted him to want, you'd never even know he existed. It's because he doesn't want what you want him to want that you can even want him to want what you want.

(what a fucking whimper of an ending sorry - I should brought it back to - Arca architecture or something)

(the thing about atheists is that they are not against religion but belief itself, hiding, disingenuously, their own certainty in nothing by attacking the certainties of something)



I've travelled so far down the road of who I am that who I want to be is just as much a stranger to me now as the day I was born. As for what's next… ? Another 365 days, and me posting another song about regret. That's all I can promise. Peace, love, and the sense that identity is just another word for the mistakes we repeat.

I'll be ok. Unfortunately, that might be all I'll ever be. How are you doing?



Un-cool-est i.e. best-ish Garage classic

If you are here, you might know about the Paradise Garage. If you are like me, you've dug through old Levan playlists looking for gems. And found. Well. Just like everyone else, he played bad records, but he played them better than I could.

That being said, I love this one. I like to picture hearing it at noon on a Sunday after having danced for 10 hours. There are no windows in the club; outside, people are eating brunch and reading the Sunday Times. Inside, Saturday night has just ended; the dancing subsides and I am alone. As I see others walking, hands held, towards the door, I look back towards the booth. Larry understands.


Sorry… I'll be fine...

It's been a rough year, but it's almost over. Thanks for your patience.




I mean really,
it's amazing that,
after years, years,

I am still single and my parents are still paying for my education instead of grandchildren.

Let's be frank.
I am a genius.
I am.

And it is 5:20am
and I've seen the best minds of my generation…

well, there are none.


If I were Jesus, I wouldn't bother trying to work towards salvation; too many apps for iPhones. Instead, there is a gas station in
Upstate New York
where the cigarettes are cheap
and the badly-dyed hair can't distract me from your pregnancy.

I used to think that Jerry Bear had it all wrong. I mean, poverty exists so can you really spend a day doing acid? But I don't do acid, and still, poverty, so why not?

I want to lick the leaves of trees.

Smell pollen.

Or at least smell wet dog in August.




I can do nothing.

Mom, Dad,

you are still in debt and I am sorry. The nineties were different, really!
You were right, but too late.

It would have been this way regardless, but I know now why you didn't know that then.

And let's get some cookies from Vaccaro's on the way back from Little Italy.


Mom and I will eat most of them while you drive; not because we are hungry, but to spite you.

Almost 34 and still I wonder when the landlord will turn on the heat.

That it's a "privilege" still means that, for all of the billions spent on elections, on ads, on campaign flyers

and money spent on apps that might help me find my way home,


As if.

It could be 1890. I could be in St. Petersburg.

At least.

I could read Gogol in his native tongue.

The Overcoat.

My phone tells me it's cold.



Your fucking son who doesn't fuck.

Who else will?


I know this sounds ludicrous but...

… (and maybe I am a little drunk) it's time for the revolution. Seriously. Everyone I know is struggling. Everyone. The people who played by the rules, the people who didn't… everyone carries it like it's their own burden, as if it's all a chess game, as if there is some string of moves that hasn't been anticipated yet that might lead one to victory over their circumstances. Well, two things. First off, big business is, um, very wise, and they have already anticipated every strategy that you might employ to lift yourself out of the mire of personal debt, and they have already found a way to make money off of it, to enslave you to your own desire for freedom. And second, well, there's no getting out for you unless there is getting out for everyone. Your getting out won't happen, and, even if it does, your climb out has meant;
standing on a face
gasping for breath
buried in mud
in the pouring rain

just to make it happen. And that face is you or could be. And even if it isn't you today; tomorrow. So fuck you and love we. Because it's over.

The Democrats don't exist. The Republicans don't exist. There is no political system, there is no bureaucracy, there is no money. None of it exists independent of us, independent of our own credulity. It seems foolish, I know, as if it could all be wished away like a bad dream, and yet, really, look around, exactly what else is it?

EDIT: The fact that we're all waiting, complaining, doing nothing, only proves how far the ontology of consumer capitalism has stretched into the depths of our souls. We act as if this shitty life is a bad product we would return if only there was a store that we could bring it back to. As if it wasn't us all along.



I am hedging my bets with this title, very deliberately. This may also be one the most meandering and non-sensical posts I have ever made. Get excited. Forget the next paragraph. But read it if only to see how far my wandering leads me.

I had this idea tonight, about living in postmodernity, mediation, late capitalism, etc. And I hope it is only true for our epoch 'else I'm a secret Fascist. Democratization is infantilization. Democratization is the site of alienation. Crazy. I know. Let's see why I felt this way, not why it is true or not. Probably because not. Hence, hypothesis.

Tonight I worked in a restaurant. It could be described as a casual fine dining restaurant. For many reasons, stuff fine dining it unfashionable now. Sure, there are still places to take your lover for a special night out. The waiters might even wear tuxedos. Might. You'd certainly have to seek a place like that out nowadays (I wonder if it will ever be a category on Yelp). I digress.

I worked this evening at a casual fine dining restaurant. High-quality food, casual service and atmosphere. Spend $120 on dinner for two, just, you know, relax. Don't worry. We wear jeans so you are not really that rich, right?

I started to get nostalgic for real fine dining. And I think I know why.

There are a lot of rules in fine dining.

First off, the way that the front of house (i.e. everyone who actually meets customers, who is not stuck in the kitchen) is set up is very formalized. The roles are strict, and every need the customer may have is anticipated. You might find, upon entering such a restaurant, that you are greeted by a host, whose job is to provide a friendly, pleasant introduction to the restaurant (unless the restaurant thrives on being unfriendly; imagine the stereotype of a "hot" New York restaurant where one is greeted by a condescending aspiring model; I've never been to one of these places, have only seen them on fictional TV shows, which means that they must exist in reality, if only because other people have seen them on TV too), secure you a table (actually not that easy unless the restaurant is empty), and lead to said table. So far so good. You may next, upon being seated, be served water by a backserver/busser, whose responsibilities may include, besides bringing water, bringing bread, removing your dirty plates while you are still seated and also cleaning and resetting your table once you have left. Next is your server. The server's job is to tell you about the specials, answer any and all questions you may have about the food and beverages, to be aware of any possible issues that may arise when your allergies meet the reality of the particular restaurant at which you find yourself, and also to serve you at least your beverages. In most cases, a food runner will take care of bringing you your food. The amount of people you deal with, who are employed to assist you, varies not only by the level of formality of the restaurant (i.e. many, if not all of these jobs, are done solely by the server at more casual establishments) but also by the size of the restaurant itself (large places need more staff, and more types).  Regardless, the thing to keep in mind after this overlong paragraph: every person working in the front of house has a role.

While there are things to be said, possibly, about Taylorism, the division of labor, etc., that would be a digression (suffice it to say, for now, that there is something striking - Industrial era:formal fine dining::postindustrial era:casual fine dining - and the role of the server in the restaurant), let's talk about the customers for a moment in regard to a question: why so many people in the front of house, why so many roles? A simple example. Let's say you've gone out to dinner and you have a few questions about the menu. Whose time are you taking when you ask all of these questions? Immediately, of course, the answer is, the server's. Well, yes. True. In a nice establishment, especially. the answer is most definitely, the server. Why? Because he or she is just there to talk to you. Other people need water? Back server. Other people's food is ready? Food runner. Etc. All the server's needs are taken care of so that you can be taken care of. Now let's get rid of all the support staff. You have the same questions. Now whose time are you taking. Yes, the server's but also… hmm… who is going to run that food while she is talking to you? Who is going to go refill water? There is nobody else. So whose time are you taking? Another customer's. Ultimately. So whatever the motivation for (over-)staffing ye old French stuffed shirt kind of place, there was, in some respect, a social contract, even a democracy in effect. Everyone could get the same service because the desires of the customers were not placed in conflict with one another by their actions.

I think this whole post is a digression.

Let's talk about something else. 

The rigidity of the the staffing and the roles individual staff members play is based on the actual process of dining in the first place. You know it. Come in, talk to the host, get seated at a table, look at the menu, order drinks, receive drinks, order food, wait for food, eat, decide on dessert, eat it or ask for the check. Pay, leave. Or more drinks, etc. It's a process, and each member of staff has there place along that process. Yes, ultimately, it is you that is being processed. That's actually part of the social contract too. Other people want to eat, employees want to go home, you know.

So if this is all a process, where does that process begin? When you walk in the door of course. When you are asked "how many will you be?", it's not just a question of finding a table large enough to accommodate your party. A table with two chairs for two of you, etc. It's also about setting in motion your processing in the best way possible. I don't mean getting you in and getting you out. I mean you having a good meal.

One of the most annoying things that happens in restaurants is a lot of people coming in at the same time. At one place I used to work, simply arriving at 7:50pm on a Friday instead of 8:00pm would have netted you vastly better service. Vastly. Why?

Let's step back. What is the host doing when he or she seats you? Yes, again, the table with the right amount of chairs, and maybe near the window if that table is unoccupied (hosting 101 - putting everyone in the back makes the restaurant look empty and people are lemmings and you want them to come in and the way that they will is by sitting the existing people at the front so they are seen). But also: sections and covers. Without a long explanation: all servers need to get their chance to make some money. They aren't being paid by the hour (usually about $2/hr., all of which goes to the IRS). I mean, you knew that, right? RIGHT? So. Um. Part of the responsibility of the host is to try and divide, you, the money, the actual wage-payer, fairly amongst the servers so that they can all afford to get drunk and talk shit about you afterwards. Kidding! Or not. Separate checks? Not kidding. 

Fuck this is fun ignoring.

Everything I know; about legible prose.

Ok, so host divides you, the money, amongst the servers. Pretty simple. A restaurant with ten tables that seat four apiece on a Tuesday night. Probably two servers, each handling five tables. In some restaurants, some areas of the dining room are significantly less pleasant than others. People will ask to be moved when sat there. In this scenario, hopefully, in many cases, the servers will instead divide the money on a person-by-person basis. Whichever server is "first" will get that first group of three who will be sat at the nice table next to the window and then when a couple comes in after that, the next server will take care of them and they can sit at the next-nicest table without depriving the second server of money, which is what would happen if the second server was only, again, responsible for the area of the restaurant where nobody would want to sit; alternate while maintaining a rough parity...

OK phew. Too much information, though, if you've made it this far, you might be able to parlay some of this information into a more pleasant experience the next time you go out.

But back to the beginning. The host is not only dividing space and money, but also time. Again, when everyone comes in at the same time it sucks.

Let's say it's a Monday and I am the only server. I'll make this claim. I can wait on a restaurant that is infinite in size, PROVIDED that all tables are spaced evenly in time. Why? Ok, and here's where I start losing readers.

Table 1 comes in at 7:00. I go over to their table and take their drink order at 7:04. While I am retrieving their drinks, a new table, table 2, at 7:05. I bring the drinks for table 1 out at 7:08  take their food order and then head over to table 2 to greet them and take their drink order and then go back to the computer and put the food order in for table 1 and get the drinks for table 2 and take their food order. It would really take me having six theoretical tables and a lot more detail than I am willing to get into right now for you to really see the intricacy of it all, but maybe you already get the gist of it. I move you all along your process, and though each one starts at a different time, I, an efficient server, can handle multiple processes at once, can consolidate trips to and from the dining area, etc. Your food comes up, I talk to another table about drinks after I give you your food and then pick up a credit card, etc. Boring, yes? But you see it. Every task takes a certain amount of time, etc.

Now six couples walk in at the same time, they all sit down at the same time. I am the only server. If I space out my service in the same way, i.e. take a drink order from table 1 (of 6), bring out drinks, go to table 2 to take the drink order, go back to the bar, etc., by the time I get to table 6, well, they've been waiting quite a bit. Since everyone came at the same time, better to just take all the orders, no? Well, sorta, but not really. When the tables are spaced out, the orders are spaced out, which means that those people, it the bartenders and ESPECIALLY the chefs, also get their production tasks handed to them at a steady pace. I take six food orders at the same time, now the kitchen has gone from zero to six tickets immediately. Unless they are a big kitchen, they don't cook six tickets at the same time. For those who are really paying attention, they are starting to get this. Restaurants have a carrying capacity, a number of how many of you they can process at the same time. If I space my orders initially as a server when a lot of people come in at the same time, the last table, who may have only arrived thirty seconds behind the first, might be ten minutes behind in having their order taken. If I take all the food orders at the same time, that ten minutes gets transferred to a later point in the evening. In other words, just because all the food tickets come in at the same time, that doesn't mean that all food gets cooked immediately, which means you are still waiting ten minutes if you are table 6, only this time, it's not for me, but for your food. Tricky. Which is worse? I'd argue it's better to take your order and push the food back then to have you sitting their twiddling your thumbs. Because perception (not just keeping you in your seat and keeping your money). Kitchens can be slow. But if the food tastes good that gets forgotten quickly. But sitting around waiting for your server, especially at the beginning? No good. No fun. Because it's how you are taken care of, not whether you are at all or not. 

There's a catch, though. Six orders from six couples does not a kitchen sink (hah). If EVERYONECOMESINATTHESAMETIME and everyone is loads of people, shit starts getting hectic, exponential even. Throw in a few big tables and the kitchen will start dragging tickets (i.e. taking too long to cook food) AND some mistakes may be made. That's when even a good kitchen can start fudging the temperature on your beautiful steak.

So. Going way back again. The host. Apportioning tables. It's not just about the money. It's about time. And most of the time a server spends at the table is at the beginning of the process. No matter how much you like me, we'll be talking more before your food comes. Once it's there, it's fuck off. You said it, not me. I don't take it personal. Regardless. Apportioning tables.

Let's say there are two servers. One just got a new table. Never mind all the money stuff, never mind even fair. Who gets the next table? Server two. Because the process. Server two is ready, server one is busy. Also think about timing. Two servers, same scenario as above. Six couples walk in. Between two servers, there is more flexibility in pacing the tables. Yes the bartender is going to get six tickets, and possibly all at the same time, but also, well, each server can spend more time at the table without that worrisome specter of a couple waiting ten minutes to order. This should already make sense to you. Even as I embrace this slapdash style of writing. This sentence is comprised of seven words.

So now think. Those places. Please wait to be seated. We'll be able to seat you in just a few minutes. How many in your party? Are they all here? If not, you'll have to wait. Do you have a reservation?

Why all the fuss? I hope you get it. Yes, apportioning money, yes, controlling the process, but, also, ultimately, at the end of the day, REALLY, what we are all trying to do is to prevent you from fucking over other customers. That's it. If we seat you all the same time, if you break up the order of the Steps of Service (the proper name for "the process" described above), the drinks could take longer, the food could be worse, and, this is important to note, it's rarely, RARELY, those people who throw a wrench in the process who suffer the results. You take too much of my time when I am your server and there is no food runner and someone else's food is ready? That food's getting cold. I can either tell you to shut up and go grab it or… well I won't. If nobody else takes too much of my time after you already have, your food is piping hot and delicious. Douche.

I should also add. The space itself. The tables. The bar. Each server and bartender is a landlord who will trade you labor product for your use of their space and your payment of rent. Make sure you are paying the right person. Understand who you are renting from.

A restaurant is a complex ballet, isn't it?

Here's some more junk.

Ok. Let's talk about the shift from formal fine dining to casual. It's a process that is happening. There are still remnants of the old order. No doubt. And the difference between the two is not binary; there is definitely a gradation at work (in fact what I am complaining about can be completely foreign to you, and you could work in the same damn industry on the same block in the same town).

Here is why the customers like it, from what I can tell: anti-elitism, anti-formality, more "authentic", more "indie", "organic", etc. And also, most people aren't to the manor born. I've heard the complaint. One person brought me bread and another filled my water and another took my order and who am I supposed to be talking to? I am so confused/intimidated, etc. And I'm middle class and the world was made for me, and I shouldn't have to understand.

So that's one side.

Here's the other. Labor cost labor cost labor cost. You could read all of the above and get lost in technicalities, but, you know, Karl is there lurking in the shadows. There's a lot of money in restaurants. Food costs are high, and, as silly-expensive even your casual neighborhood Thai place is compared to a decade ago, the fact of the matter is, those costs are not being passed on to the consumer at the same rate that those costs have increased for the restaurant. Now servers, bartenders, etc., they do make that crappy $2/hr. And also tips, which can be good (truth, though only up to a point). But. Food runners, bussers, back servers, etc. They get a small portion of the tip pie, but also, wait for it, just a little longer, an actual "living wage". Like $8. But labor costs. That magical "fixed" cost that ownership can adjust. Food ain't cheaper (don't forget it goes bad too!). The rent? Hah? Casual fine dining is great because you just don't have to pay as many people. But where does the labor load get transferred to? The barely-waged, of course.

Casual fine dining feels like a collusion between the permanent and provisional owners of my labor to demand more work of me for less money. Sound familiar?


And I guess this is where I give up trying to explain my hypothesis, because I can feel the connection somehow, but am having a hard time articulating it. I guess my customers are starting to feel a lot more like consumers to me and the rule-driven, hierarchical structures that provided me insulation are going out of style. Ok that's totally not totally true. Restaurants are becoming postmodern, is all.

Maybe this is all just meaningless drivel, let's write some more!

Tonight a group of thirty came in. First it was a few people "oh we don't know how many we'll be". Bad news right from the start. Sometimes when you get bad service, which is not something I provided this evening, it's you. I mean, consider all of the above. You don't know how many you will be? Then where do I seat you? What do I tell the kitchen (mark of a good host btw is communication with the kitchen, either directly or through a manger)? Already the process is broken, and you've broken it.

We didn't have a table for thirty people. And those thirty didn't arrive at the same time. So the groups within the groups were not distributed between the multiple tables in the way they would have wanted had they all arrived at the same time. So they moved around, they wanted separate checks, they wanted to get some drinks from the bar and some drinks from the server, and it's up to us to keep track, to keep tabs, literally. Oh and they all ordered their food at different times. And continued to move around. The food would go to the right place but not the right person. Can you see how this doesn't work? It's not just slightly obnoxious and entitled; it's actually making a job impossible to do and harder at the same time. Let that one sink in for a minute because that particular piece of writing "impossible to do and harder at the same time" is only seemingly nonsense when translated into writing; it can be felt quite easily.

What of the other customers? Can you imagine? Try not. The other customers, they did alright. But I could see the frustration. We were distracted. We couldn't escape the vortex.

But the thing that bugged me - what recourse? The collapse of the social contract, the collapse of standards, the expectation of happiness without a preceding definition… There's nothing to say. ?nothing to do. Take it, take the money, have a few drinks, next day. You can just say nyah nyah nyah isn't your job hard. Well, what about yours? How much do the expectations change? How much do they contradict each other? A job can be hard because the thing you are meant to do is hard. What if what are you meant to do?

Let's try something simple. Plates.

You are a party of three. I have brought you your entrees. You are happy. So far, so good. Now one of you is done eating. Fine dining rule: wait until all guests are done eating before removing any plates lest you make anyone feel rushed. The contradictory expectation of many customers: if my plate is empty you should be taking it away regardless. Why aren't you? Aren't you paying attention? And also, what are the signals that a diner is done? Well, the plate being empty is the easy one. Nobody does that thing with the fork and the knife anymore unless they have some serious manners (sometimes I fantasize about working at a restaurant whose only patrons are old money; they would all know how to behave, not because they cared about me, but because they wouldn't want to embarrass themselves). What about how long since you last took a bite? A minute? Two minutes?  Do you push the plate away? Ok I can ask you. Are you done? No. Ok. I'll be back. And I am, but nothing has changed on your plate. Ask again? Annoying? I don't know. I don't want to, yet. I need to back off. All the while, you are done. You are wondering why your plate is still there, thinking I am not paying attention when I am attuned to every action you are taking from twenty feet away, counting the seconds since you have even looked at your food. I am trying to anticipate, you are providing no signal.

When you read a book review in the New York Times, you are mostly reading a book review. Sure, you have to be aware of the biases of the paper, and the reviewer, but that's nothing compared to reading reviews on Amazon. Your primary job is to review the reviewer first. More work.

It's the same thing with plates. There is no clear expectation held of me except to do the job you except me to do, but those expectations are always contextual, provisional. It's not, may I take your plate, it's trying to guess when you would expect me to take your plate based on my own ability to pick up clues about when you would expect me to take your plate without you providing any at all.

(Oh and also let's just say that management can be just as confused about all of this as I am. Only they get to be mad at me whichever decision I make. I could wait one day and be wrong, could wait another and be right. )

And 90% of the time, you don't even care, so this is all insane hyper-awareness and over-thinking, and yet, I don't even know if you don't even care until it's too late. And not caring is not my luxury. So, may I take your plate? All done? Yes. Thanks.


The explanation aka aspiring to grey pubic hair

The explanation for everything good and everything bad that has ever happened to me:
"There's got to be more to life than this."

Seeing my friend play 20-year-old house records to drunk students. Two contradictory impulses. Deeper underground. Suburbs. Same result.

I was on my way back from the above party to the bar I work at to get my allotted free beer when I walked by a piano bar inside of which a local musician was singing Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" and it was like, to use the most revealing and nonsensical phrase of my 1990s adolescence… "same difference".

Same difference. A nonsense. Phrase. That explains. (A) a lot. The "whatever" of the early 1990s, at least for me.

House music is Williamsburg, VA. House music is Salem, MA.

But there's worse.

(Indie is a luxury brand whose marketing strategy is an oppositional attitude towards the concept of luxury brands.)

House still gets props for being more advanced. As if the reality-dark 1980s still needed help defeating the denial-light 1970s. Sadly, it does. Bonnie and Delany? Not Sabbath? Check your Christgau.


I'm getting old. Old is not being too tired. Old is not being too ugly. Old is simply having something better to do.

I am not Old as in suburbs. I am not Old as in "curse ye kids". Old is not being subject to whatever the major broadcast networks deem to be "worthy" television at 9pm on a Saturday night. Old is simply. Again. I have something better to do. Getting old, as opposed to being old: simply: two colons in a sentence, better make that three: there is something better for me to be doing right now, only I'm not sure what it is. Old is knowing what that thing is.

Fuck the cult of the body beautiful. I can't wait until I can afford: blue blazer, brass buttons. Grey suit. Three-piece. Fuck, it, anachronism, yes, pocket(;) watch. I can't wait to be an embarrassment. Because embarrassment usually means unaware of meaningless social clues and hierarchies. Go back in time; ask Plato; IPA or Saison, Kendrick or Kanye. Instead of, you know, real questions.

Old is perspective. The little techno record of 200 copy-press only changes the world if your world consists of 300 people.

I want something better to do.

Old is not not keeping up with new music. Old is not winning or losing depending on the quality of that music. Old is not the kids today shaking fist. Old is the person whose letting those kids believe that shaking fist equals moving air. Capitalism is kid; I hate capitalism. I am olding. And proud. You can't sell my shit 'cause I've already got it.


An Earnest Question aka Unanticipated Nostalgia Part Two

What would be today's version of sophisticated, adult, urbane, "classy" pop music with high-level, contemporary production values and a slightly Europhile bent? Was this a purely 1980s phenomenon?

I guess, in all honesty,  and I hate to arming it, but Portishead sort of comes close in the 1990s, though only if you don't listen to the lyrics.

I'll take this stuff over folksy, rootsy, American-sounding adult music all day. Screw you and your microbrews; champagne.

"Eurotrash" is the weird x-factor in my personality. I many never own a condo on the classy side of town; may never find myself wondering what CD to put on to assist you in easing your Vuitton dress to the floor, but, on a purely aesthetic level, I'm attracted to the version of myself that could live a life enclosed in a fashionable suit that I'm not required to wear at work. It's just that I don't live my life on a purely aesthetic level, and don't have the means or the desire to do so even if I wanted to…

… that being said, this lifestyle seems somehow slightly unrecoverable on that purely aesthetic level… i.e. this is a particular vision of "classy" that can no longer be romanticized even if the suits and cars and dresses and champagne and Scotch and French cuisine are all still out there, of course...

"Smooth Operator"

"Everything She Wants" - (un)expectedly, a black music classic in NYC (play it to Garage heads and see)!

"Let's Go Out Tonight" admittedly a bit too good for the list, but sometimes I am in my suit driving my theoretical BMW home to an empty condo …

"Father Figure" - that's more like it

EDIT: Ok so I guess I missed the obvious answer - the lounge/downtempo scene of the 1990s. A bit of research reveals that there have been some relatively new entries in the Hotel Costes series of mix CDs, which is amazing to me. Has this music changed in the last two decades? I don't know if I care to spend the time to find out...



Jam with urgency...


Unanticipated Nostalgia

I can't even explain. These two sentences have replaced 1,000 other words that failed.

Decades of "progress" have actually somehow "un-cheesed" these.

This was always great:


Maybe I am almost finally ready to get old

I'm not there yet. But I'm less scared. Sure, there's the decrease in physical and mental capacities, the smell and spectre of death, but there is also the chance to one day completely and utterly bow out of the contemporary and any wish for a public, engaged, even prominent life (which I still haven't achieved so maybe I can't be old yet). Given the endless churn of everything at all times, I think, sadly, that the most subversive gesture available will be to retire to my study (which I still haven't built so maybe I can't be old yet) with a compilation of Beethoven's Late Quartets, a few cases of fine Scotch and a DVD set of some British TV series that is meant to take place before rock and roll came along and destroyed everything. It won't be hard to cultivate the sense of haughty disdain with which I will address others; all I will have to do, as I look up from my biography of some famous historical figure, peering over unfashionable reading glasses, is repeat my typical critiques of society, people, politics, and contemporary culture, with contempt and passionless incredulity instead of anger and thwarted hope. Who are we bombing this year, dear? Of course. Is the tea ready?

(I'm getting ready a bit too soon by watching episodes from the above series, but I figure, as long as England is bursting with self-serious theater majors who are unable or unwilling to work in Hollywood, there will always be some nearly-retired detective, wandering somewhere around the pastoral England of Morrissey's dreams, using his expressive eyebrows and understated wit to badger people into confessing their crimes.)


Going home

Not sure when yet, but it's certain at this point. Everything is bullshit, and everywhere is bullshit, but at least some places make good kabobs. At this point, that's the only standard by which I can judge anything. I can't depend on myself, I can't depend on others, but at least I can depend on the rice.

Why do I keep forgetting to lie?

If this post seems obtuse or inscrutable in any way, then I envy you your day job, and I envy you your friends and lovers.

i'm just wondering if I'll even like home without Pharmacy. Only one way to find out…

EDIT: waah, waah, waah, yeah, but these last few years… everything I know about life tells me that the only way to make good things happen in life is to leave the house, and yet, here, now, that's the only way to ensure that something bad will happen. I don't get it. I don't even talk politics with people; the only opinions I have that would alienate others are the ones I keep to myself, and yet I feel more alienated than I ever have. It's insane. It's like being 16 again but with fewer friends and less hope. This is the last time I bitch about this place online. I promise. And if you ever find me sharing a drink with you and you find me discussing this place, just remind me, gently, not to, and I will do so. Because discussing this place ever again will be a waste of our time. The only thing worse than a bad situation is a bad situation that provides no opportunity for insight. Unlike the vast majority of experiences I've had, music I've listened to, books I've read, people I have met, whet it comes to Providence, I've learned nothing and have no good stories from my time here. I just wish I had my time back. That's all.


Everything I Love Exists Only In My Mind...

...and not in reality. Whenever I think of going back to New York, I realize that the phantom image that reality has yet to completely disabuse me of still exists as a mediating force.

In other words: here's the dramatic reversal to Guliani and Bloomberg's policing policy wrought by the new "socialist" mayor. Or not.

I'll admit it... I wasn't always in the mood. Especially in the morning (though, really, it was only ever preachers in the morning). But even when I felt vaguely annoyed, when I had to pause my conversation or my numb staring at the floor after another day of exploitation, I always supported the dance.

Read the comments section. See the fear, the "freedom from", the outdated conceptions, the veiled classism and racism, the self-regarding aesthetic critiques, the denizens of what was once the most vibrant city in the world looking to lock all creativity into those mausoleums of "culture" from which no ideas escape. All that you take from others is all that you deny yourself. To hate the dancers is to admit you'll never dance yourself.


Part 1: Throwaway almost-genius bullshit Part 2: My headza Part 3: Po 'em


Part 1: 

Love me as if I were already the person I would be if you loved me.

Part 2:

It's been 32 hours since I have last slepta. The anxiety I have been feeling over the financial ramifications  of being almost completely unemployed have caused massive disruptions to my sleep schedule. Oh also not having a job to go to has played its parta.

I woke up just past midnight Sunday morning and patiently read meaningless Guardian commentary (that the Guardian knows it is a bit left of the Times somehow makes it both almost more correct and certainly more insufferable) for hours upon hours, or, to be precise, from around midnight until 2pm, before heading to the shower and then to work. After my eleven hour shift, I tested the old rule I posted here a millennia ago (pragmatism is the valuation of the body above the soul) and took the opportunity to head to the fucking beach. This was the first time I had gone to a beach in Rhode Island since I have moved here; I have actually gone to the beach in New York more times than I have gone to the beach in Rhode Island and all of the times I have gone to the beach in New York have occurred since leaving New York.

I think I like the world more when I am suffering from sleep deprivation. I am more the person I could be if I could be. 

Part 3:
My knees are bleeding and my feet are purple and black and I feel no pain.

The wounds of submerged rocks mark upon me a testament to the boundaries that prove my own existence, 

(as a feminist, I reject all notions of male entitlement,)

and yet the silence; 

of you removing your trousers against the silhouette of a cloudy sky not yet awoken to its radiant blue role of scenery, 
set against rocks so perfect they could almost be fake, of the 
little patches of redness
set against the creases of skin that could only be and will always be yours…

like those rocks

the boundaries imposed only prove that there is a body to set against them, a mind capable of overcoming them

I'll never kiss you. By (who's) design: immaterial.

I'm not in love, not even in lust, not even suffering, in any way, from the impossibility of a future I have never desired (and may never desire).

That there is a future not to be had, that the redness of your skin will never prove the result of my action, only shows: there is another future.

There is another life.

There are other beaches.

There are other trousers.


Let's Start A Band

Producer Seeks Collaborator

I've been a longtime lover of music who is serious about making it, but I feel like I have hit a wall. I guess I expected to go the regular route of house/techno producer: make mostly instrumental tracks, DJ out, etc., but I am sick of my scene. And every other one for that matter. There is only one solution left: to attack.

I can make good sounds, am almost decent at arrangement, can write words, and value ideas above all. You should be able to deploy your voice in a musical and distinct fashion, and should also have musical knowledge. You should also read books. Lots. If you are an ideal match for me, you should be just as infuriated with what's going on in politics (i.e. just more of the same bullshit) and, especially, culture, which has completely dropped its oppositional stance towards drowning itself in a miasma of inter-referentiality, complacency, haircuts, and tasteful consumption.

The goal: write and perform music that upends all existing systems and causes riots. Or die trying. What else is there to do? There are no good jobs. By definition.

Let's be clear: this is a pop group. I don't mean dance moves and fake tans. I mean that the underground is dead; there's no place to hide. I want to force our poison pill down the throat of Western Civilization so that it may finally perish in senile misery.

Influences: Anger, dread, existential angst, lust, fear, melancholy, Marx, Gramsci, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Charles Mingus, Curtis Mayfield, Public Image Limited, Soft Cell, Birthday Party, Associates, Cybotron,  Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Jaime Principle, Cupid and Psyche '85, A.R. Kane, Cocteau Twins, The KLF, Public Enemy, Insides, St. Etienne, Achtung Baby, UK Hardcore circa 1993, Pulp (please note I have no interest in actually sounding like any of the above).

Fuck: indie, punk, rap, techno, house, noise, country, "experimental", Pitchfork, The Wire, Resident Advisor, FACT, The Quietus, flannel, naiveté, ambiguity, guitarists, drummers, amateurism, technical proficiency, you, me.

Success would be defined as: everything that now exists is over.

Too ambitious. Yes. But, why not.



Fell off the World Cup wagon for a week - have seen a few games, but I've been pretty distracted by real life. I will get back to it. Watching World Cup games, at the very least, makes me feel connected to the world at large, relieves me, at least momentarily, from my perpetual alienation, and I really need that feeling, especially now.

I quit one of my jobs recently. It was the one that was causing me the most unhappiness, the most stress, and the one that was distracting me during my free time. This job was also the one that provided me with the bulk of my income. 

Over the last few weeks, I've been through a lot mentally. I've been hyperactive, jubilant, relieved, relaxed, complacent, lazy, worried, and consumed by despair. This job took up a huge amount of space in my mind, and leaving it has unleashed a lot of emotion, both positive and negative.

The process of self-discovery is ultimately the process of figuring out what can be changed and what will always be the same. It's not easy. Because, theoretically, everything could be different, but so could nothing. To what extent are characteristics truly fixed, and when does one choose to try and change oneself versus changing external circumstances?

I may never know all of the answers, both generally, and specifically, but I am starting to feel sure of one thing: I am not one who can keep work and life separate. I have to do something I would do for free for money. Doing something I don't like to pay the bills... it's always the same: I am unhappy, I push myself harder and harder to be more disciplined, to stick with it, etc., and the harder I push, with more and more pressure, the more I retreat, the more I dissociate, the less I am "there". Towards the end of my time at my previous job, I was so vanished that I didn't even recognize people I knew when they would come in to the restaurant to say hello.

Ultimately, I am better off. But now I have to face the consequences of my actions. Between what was my second job and existing money in the bank, I can at least eat in perpetuity. I have at least another month of rent. I will find another job soon. There is no need to be concerned about me eating, about me facing homelessness, etc.

While I can merely survive, and will eventually thrive (relatively speaking - I'm still single, in a city I don't like, working in an industry that doesn't pay that well, far from making a living doing work that enriches my life, and far from most of the people, places and things that I care about), it will take me a long time to catch up to the damage I have done to my discretionary income by quitting a job without having another one (yes, an impulsive decision, but: see above, see the last year's worth of bitter, angry posts).

Now, "discretionary" is a hard word to define. Well, not really, but the size of a residence, the quality of food eaten, the amount expended on goods and services; the line between essential and indulgent is defined differently by different people.

This is all a preamble to the following: I have placed a donation button on this page. I could use some help right now, but the help I need is very specific and it might seem, depending on where you see the aforementioned line, that what I am asking for is too much or too little.

I have a very small bedroom music studio. I have some nice equipment, and some cheap equipment. To  some, it would be seen as an excessive amount of gear simply because it is possible to compose and record music without using all of the equipment I have. To others, it would seem to be a pitifully small studio. To me, it is almost exactly the amount of gear I need to make the music I want to make. 

Because I have never made that much money, virtually everything I own was purchased used. In some cases, it was because a certain piece of gear was the only one that would make or process sounds in the way I wanted. In other cases, it was because purchasing used would provide me access to gear that could perform at a high level without compelling me to spend at a high level. Finally, in other cases, it was simply because I didn't have the money to buy something better.

Virtually every single piece of gear I have has been in for repairs. Maintaining my studio has been like a game of whack-a-mole - as soon as something has come back from the shop, something else has needed to go back in. This process, of constant research, of bargain-hunting, of searching for parts, of endless trips to repair shops, has been emotionally draining to say the least, and I've been going through it for five years now. For the most part, I have skipped vacations, avoided nights out, etc., just to try and realize my dream of making the music I hear in my head, and this process has almost convinced me not to bother making music anymore. It's only because I am finally, mercifully, almost done, that I can even continue to hold on.

I have placed the donate button on this page to obtain assistance in finally completing my studio because completion is almost in sight. Sort of. Ultimately, I will never be finished. There will always be another cool pedal to try out, another synth to play with, etc., and yet the list of essentials, the things I simply need to be there when reached for, is almost complete.

So… what do I need?

Well, there are two things:
1. Realistically, I don't expect a lot of donations, but it would be nice if I could pull off getting the three pieces I have in for repair out of the shop. I have a synthesizer, a sampler, and a delay unit waiting for me eight miles away, and I don't have the cash to retrieve them. I also have another sampler (soon to be sold, see below) and another effects unit that need to go in. Total cost is around $450, not including the repair of the second set of devices (just the deposit).

2. In the fantasy-land that exists in my head, a world in which I actually feel like I could matter to a lot of people, I imagine myself actually getting enough money to buy the drum machine I have my eye on. Drums have always been the weakest part of my studio, and, so far, none of the machines I have used have provided me with satisfactory results. My most recent solution was the purchase of a vintage sampler which has a great sound but, besides the fact that it is now broken, it is a hassle to use. If you ever find yourself romanticizing the days of floppy disks, well, don't. The drum machine I want will make sampling and the storing of samples much, much faster. It costs… wait for it… $1,550.

I don't expect to make $1,550. There are, also, many, many much-worthier causes out there. I guess I just mentioned option two out of ludicrous hope, and also the knowledge that at least a few people out there have gotten large amounts of money together with crowd-sourcing. I'd much rather get 100 donations of $15 than a small handful of large ones. The way my mind works, if someone were to actually give me $1,550, I would feel guilty. Towards that end, of conserving my sanity, and also because I can't promise that anyone will get anything in return at all beyond a thank-you email, I want to specifically request, on the off-chance that someone would actually consider making a larger donation, that no donation should exceed $77.50, or 5% of the larger total.

I feel weird even doing this, but I need to move forward with my life. It's unfortunate that that has meant leaving another job. I'd rather work and have the money. Beyond equipment, there's travel, there's clothing that fits, there's an apartment with enough space for a sofa, there's, well, the future, and it all has to wait.

As for the donation button, assuming everything works out for the best, well, it may stay up (there are always more books and records...), but I can't foresee ever asking for a large and specific donation again.

Thank you for your time.