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The Aelia Sum's Journal

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13th October 2008

1:53am: "Hell," he said. "That kind of a dame."
Well, it's fall again. Here I am with wet hair, clean sheets, and it's very late at night. Just like the old days in my apartment. I've decided to end the hibernation period for once and for all with the help of this cruise's social director, Casey Teeter, and hopefully a cast of thousands. This new dedication to going outside is in direct correlation to the disappointment I faced this summer when my car died and I had to sink my $2500 savings into a down payment for a (sort of) new car instead of the original plan for the money of going back and completing my degree in the spring. I won't lie to you, reader...it was fairly demoralizing, especially considering my job hasn't been going very well as of late and I'll never get the sort of job I want until I have my degree(s) in hand. I'm not sure I know anyone else my age who, through both tragic circumstance and their own self-destruction, has their name on a mortgage and their name on the three cars sitting in the driveway, and having NONE of it actually be yours. The life I am living today is not mine at all. It's hard to forge your own identity when you are so relentlessly financially tied to your bankrupt parents. I know I can't expect anyone to understand the situation, but I still sometimes wish I could explain the oddity of being twenty-six, very much an individual in many ways, and yet still having done nothing for myself. And so the dream will have to be deferred again until next summer or fall, but there is nothing I can do about that now. I CAN, however, choose to change my decrepit social life and whoa nelly, I DO CHOOSE.

Despite feeling stifled and lonely, I have to tell you a secret. I still feel quite hopeful about my prospects for achieving world domination and writing the Next Great American Novel(I only have about 10 or 15 credits left on my literature degree and one class on my journalism degree). Mostly, I do feel I have a good chance at turning the tides. Mostly. Mostly I do have an overwhelming belief in myself and my inherent worth, and contrary to popular opinion, I still have a very naive belief in other people. I just don't remember how to share that with others, or I don't think anyone would understand it, or most likely, I don't think that's what anyone wants from me. It's unfortunate that the unbreakable straight line of my spine is my favorite part of myself, and that's not what people want to see, they just want the good-time girl. People don't really want other people to believe in them because it frightens them terribly. Honesty, positivity, and trust are a lot harder to take than lies and emotional espionage because it's WHAT WE EXPECT. It's comfortable, it's complacent, it's dead. Is that what you call adulthood? And I don't really blame them for being terrified, it's much easier to live in a cocoon of bitterness, but in the meantime, what am I supposed to do? I think I need to fight against that complacence, I need to work on uncovering that bright shiny belief and wearing it like a goddamn badge and everyone who doesn't like it can jump off a bridge. Amen.

However, I do appreciate all 2.3 of my friends and look forward to spending time with them while wearing all of my various sexualized coats this fall and winter. Snazzy!

In other, totally unsurprising news, I've been reading more of my Raymond Chandler collected stories and listening to a lot of Robyn Hitchcock. Here's Robyn's video for 'Raymond Chandler Evening:'

6th July 2008

4:13pm: How They Love....Ohohhhh, the Sporting Life!


From the first scene, you know that This Sporting Life is going to be a physical film, and yet its themes actually have very little to do with the rugby field. It sets the bar for every sports film in its aftermath, as it uses the sport as just another example of the main character's inability to react to any situation in any way that is not purely derived from the physical, purely derived from the lust to be vibrantly alive. Rugby is just a symptom.





Frank Machin, played by a young and burly Richard Harris, is the miner-turned-rugby star with a burgeoning love for his widowed landlady at the center of this beautifully-shot black-and-white film, directed by Lindsey Anderson of If... fame. Anderson also directed some documentaries about the downtrodden northern England working classes in the 1950's, and as one of them had been about Wakefield, where the original novel takes place, he was a natural fit to direct. However, judging from the commentary on this Criterion DVD, not all was well on set.

It is common to hear of a possessive , maybe even obsessive and perverse relationship between the psyche of a director and a female star, a la Hitchcock. I find it fascinating that such a controlling relationship could also spring up between Lindsey Anderson and Richard Harris, and previously between Anderson and Albert Finney. Finney eventually felt so smothered that the severed all personal and professional ties with Anderson. Richard Harris did the same, and never made another film with Anderson despite initial plans to do so.





Harris was also said to be incredibly difficult on the set, which, if you know anything of his career, is not surprising, let alone the Brando eye make-up. However this film made me realize that Richard Harris was much more than A Man Called Horse, more than an alcoholic, "MacArthur Park"-singing Dumbledore from Harry Potter. He is clean-shaven in this role and as broad-shouldered, tall, and square of jaw as you could ever want a man to be. He is very reminiscent of his drinking buddy Richard Burton, but much more physically menacing rather than holding all of the poison in his eyes the way Burton did. As angry or passionate as Burton's characters could be, there was always a sense that the fury was ultimately controlled, that it was ultimately cerebral. Richard Harris is somehow able to cut the cable, cut the tension so it's a line from his animal impulses and passions straight to his arms, whether for love or for hate. There are not endless scenes waiting for tension to build between Frank and any of his costars - even the tamest scene crackles and there is danger or a masochistic undercurrent in even the happiest moments, such as the scene when Machin takes Mrs. Hammond and her two children out for a pleasant drive and she becomes afraid that he will drop one of the children into a river accidentally while they are playing.





All of Frank Machin's brutal behavior shows up starkly against the emotionally fragile yet secretly fiery mentality of his landlord and lady, Mrs. Hammond. The most striking symbol of Mrs. Hammond's emotional nature are the boots of her late husband that she keeps on the hearth and shines daily as though there was a solemn and regal purpose behind it. She is repressed, but we can see her feelings wash over her face in tidal waves and yet she is able to flatten them and and then put them away like laundry, and it is a mystery how her very head does not explode from the effort. Machin chips away at her icy facade dutifully throughout the movie, and as she gives way, there is a sense that the parts of herself she is giving away are only on loan and that she can put a stop to this game of cat and mouse at any moment. It becomes obvious as she breaks down more and more that she will never allow herself to be taken alive. Even when Machin finally makes a sexual advance, it is easy to see the disgust on her face as she allows her body to be taken, and it becomes clear at that point that even if Machin wins the war, she will never be able to look on him with a grateful and loving eye.





One of the ideas in the commentary of this film struck me as very true, and a key part of why the acting is so powerful. The lines that the two main actors speak are not what they are supposed to say, and those lines function as a careful way of tip-toeing around their true feelings. It would be pathetic to watch two people lie to themselves and each other for the length of an entire film, but the deceptions contained within the words themselves force the actors to emote much more using only their facial muscles and body movements. Then, in the scenes when the tension and frustration of repression have built to the boiling point, the explosion is that much more surprising and engaging. It's a rivetting sight to see, and worth watching on that basis alone.





Like most characters in British New Wave films, Frank Machin struggles against the working and living conditions of his class, against society's moral codes, and also against manipulative rugby team owners (even their wives), but ultimately these other frustrations are purposefully relegated to the background in the face of Machin's internal war and his war with Mrs. Hammond. The main theme of the film is the idea that if you allow yourself to break free from your own self-imposed iron bars regarding polite society that you've been creating since childhood, the shattering of that framework will open up unimaginable possibilities. If you allow yourself to break free from constantly strangling any emotions that may not be polite yet are quite honest, then you can finally escape from the prison of your conscience and live as much as you can on impulse; the truth of those feelings will also let you escape the prison of your surroundings.





The way that the plot ends does in fact give us an answer as to whether or not Frank Machin's scheme to break himself and Mrs. Hammond free is viable, and therefore the answer as to whether or not anyone can escape themselves and their surroundings through unabashed love for another person. I'm sure you can guess that answer, but I STRONGLY encourage you to watch this film and witness it for yourself.

And just a couple of interesting tidbits: Obviously, the Decemberists song takes its title from this film, and infinitely more awesome, i feel reasonably sure that the video for Morrissey's "Last of the Famous International Playboys" has a This Sporting Life reference when the serial killer boy in the video punches at his own face in the mirror, as Richard Harris does in the scene featured on the Criterion DVD cover. NEAT-O!

4th May 2008

5:04pm: Here I am, little lamb...Let all the bells in whoredom ring
There are lots of good-quality Nick Cave-related videos on Youtube. There are the songs he did in Wings of Desire, including 'From Her To Eternity,' which was actually his first Bad Seeds album that came out about four years before the movie. To illustrate the wide variety of influences that Nick has had over the years (it's not all Johnny Cash), there is a video of Sonny Boy Williamson doing his song 'Your Funeral and My Trial,' whose title Nick stole for a Bad Seeds album in 1986 (though he took the song's sassy original story of a man threatening to kill his wife and made it even darker with foreboding, Birthday Party-style poetic imagery). In fact, the songs of the early Bad Seeds, though more consciously musical than those of the Birthday Party, had much more in common lyrically with the BP than the later Cave story songs we are all familiar with, that is until the release of Tender Prey, which is the album that opens with his magnum opus 'The Mercy Seat,' in 1988. This album synthesized all of the influences Nick Cave had always worn on his sleeve into his own special style, like covering Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Roy Orbison, country songs, obscure artists, the Bible,and crazy German people, which made all of his Bad Seeds albums prior to Tender Prey incredibly choppy and inconsistent in quality. This is the album where Nick Cave finally broke free of his Birthday Party persona, cut his hair down a bit, kept the three-piece suits and created the Nick Cave we've been enjoying ever since. HOWEVER, that does not mean that his 80's output is a sorry mess and should be ignored completely, but it certainly takes the discerning ear of a real Nick Cave obsessive to listen through all the early tracks and pick out the hidden gems to share with the rest of society. Well, it's your lucky day, because I'm going to show you that you can indeed draw a straight line through Nick's career, from thirty years ago right up until today.

1. The Boys Next Door - Shivers
Many of you may not know that before the Bad Seeds, before even the Birthday Party, there were the Boys Next Door, an Australian punk band in the same scene as Radio Birdman. They put out one album of cheese-ridden pop-punk, added the insane Rowland Howard, then moved to London in 1980 to somehow morph into the legendarily drug-addled, legendarily violent, legendarily brilliant Birthday Party. After watching this video, it is hard to imagine how they could transform into such monsters, although I loooove the cravat and it's clear, despite his spastic self-hug dance movies, Nick has more than enough charm in his little pinkie to make a name for himself.



2. The Birthday Party - Junkyard
This fairly infamous appearance on Dutch TV is one of my favorite videos EVER in the history of EVER. The gyrations of Tracy Pew, the bassist, drug addict, and founder of the BP, are so disgustingly wrong I can't explain it in words, and Rowland Howard looking like his usual elfin/alien self, and Mick Harvey of future Bad Seeds fame is always the normal one just looking to survive the gig, and of course there's Nick's hair, which had mushroomed to even greater heights after the dissolution of the Boys Next Door and stayed at those dizzying heights well into his solo career with the Bad Seeds. And if you like these deeply intellectual('Yack yack yack goes junkface!) lyrics to 'Junkyard,' try 'Nick the Stripper' or 'Release the Bats' sometime. Even if you don't like angular music without much of a melody, you have to appreciate that no one else on earth was making post-apocalyptic music this original during this time period. And come on, he gets points for that hair, you know he does! And then there was the time he took his mic cable, went into the audience, wrapped it around a girl's neck and screamed "Express yourself!"...



3. NC and the Cavemen - I Put a Spell on You
This show was post-breakup of the BP but was basically the Bad Seeds line-up (you can see Blixa Bargeld, mad genius behind Einsturzende Neubauten). The Birthday Party-style guitars sound incredibly disjointed and metallic, with the very recognizable melody almost nowhere to be found. They're taking the blues to the utmost breaking point, until it becomes something uniquely their own, and I love it. Points for Nick's flower-ridden blouse!




4. NC and the Bad Seeds - In The Ghetto (Elvis cover, from the Kicking Against the Pricks cover album)
This album was essential in Nick's transition from the BP to his own more melody-driven songs. This is a phenomenal covers record, including Johnny Cash, The Velvet Underground, and Roy Orbison songs. He even does 'By The Time I Get to Phoenix'! I highly recommend it for even the most casual Nick fan. I think I've read he was fairly out of it during filming, if you couldn't tell.




5. NC and the BS - Your Funeral, My Trial
This gorgeous, haunting live version is obviously from well after the 1986 album of the same name, it looks like around maybe 1997 or so (but maybe much earlier? The background on stage looks like the one for the 'Straight to You' video from Henry's Dream). As previously mentioned, the theme of this song is obviously classic Cave, the images in it are stunning and it is a must-listen.




6. NC and the BS - The Mercy Seat
This is the official video, and i've also included a live version with about half the lyrics (the album version is over seven minutes long). This song sets the tone for Tender Prey and it sets the tone for the rest of Nick's musical career. It is THE one song every Nick Cave fan must listen to and listen to closely, it is THE one song that boils down every thing he was ever about and ever will be about into one single epic about a condemned man (plus it has a line about seeing Jesus' face in his soup). This is the bridge between The Birthday Party and The Boatman's Call, the midpoint between the uproar of heroin addiction/death-obsession and middle-aged quiet introspection about love. This is what you want, and he's given it to you in spades.



The Mercy Seat (Acoustic)




7. NC and the BS - Deanna
This song from Tender Prey is still frequently played live, and the shambolic, borderline 'fun' tempo is the reason why. Around the time the video was made in '88, Nick was arrested in London and made to go to court-ordered drug rehab after a heroin possession bust. He vaguely claims never to have done the drug again, but contradicts that claim himself, and it is also the supposed reason that PJ Harvey broke up with him in the mid-90s. He looks pretty damn scary in this video, which is appropriate considering the Bonnie and Clyde-themed lyrics.




8. NC and the BS - We Call Upon the Author to Explain
This song from the new album Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!that just came out reminds me very much of 80's Nick Cave, particularly the frenetic energy of songs like 'Deanna.' Also, he calls Bukowski a bastard and says that 'Berryman was best' as in JOHN BERRYMAN MY HERO, so now Nick is even MORE my hero (the album Henry's Dream is, of course, alluding to Berryman, but that album might be my least favorite of all, which is a sad waste, Mr. Cave, so this song makes up for it a bit). The weird little electronic interludes don't translate very well live, but on the album they add a strange little unexpected twist in the middle of the song, which is also very 80's Nick Cave. I hope he comes to America later this summer or fall, because I am completely prepared to pack away all of my prejudices against body hair and receding hairlines to go and rock out. This album is an exciting return to form, and while I didn't love Grinderman, I think the energy of that project has reinvigorated The Bad Seeds and whipped them into a frenzy in a way they haven't been since the 1980's.



'Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can't fix!'

Amen to that.

This entry is to educate, to explain that there was a Nick Cave before Murder Ballads and he was a worthwile Nick Cave, but in the next installment, I will show you some moments from the 90's that you may have missed, including the phenomenal Let Love In album, which is probably my favorite. This project was inspired by an email from Courtney, so she can remember what Nick was like before the Austrian ski instructor facial hair haha! It's taken me this long to finish the project because my computer started sputtering and died, and i've been sharing my cell phone, so I will get back to all of you in good time as my technological situation improves. I would say I was sorry for the length of this Nick Cave journey, but i'm not, so prepare for part deux.

31st March 2008

3:21am: I wrote elegiac stanzas for you...I hope and pray that they come true
This past Friday, March 28, Shiverdecker and myself took it upon ourselves to travel down to Louisville (which was part of the way I went down to Memphis, and I truly am working on an entry about that trip, christened "Elvis Presley/Jeff Buckley Death Tour 2008" by Shiv) to see British Sea Power, one of my favorite bands ever since I first heard 'Carrion' on 97x and had a conniption over it.

We had a quick and delicious Subway dinner and hit the road, arriving at about 8:45 and catching the last bit of the first band, who I didn't know. The second band was the 1900s, not to be confused with the 1990s, as I did, and they got on my nerves immensely at first and grew a bit on me over their very poppy, 60'sish set.

At some point, I think after the first band, I decided to visit the merch table, as I had rightly assumed that BSP would have some quirky, artistic t-shirts and I wanted to buy the new album on vinyl. I had to console myself with a set of pins that spell out the song title 'Lights Out For Darker Skies' and this t-shirt:
Photobucket

At the merch table I was surprised to find some of the ever-dapper BSP boys just sitting, very sleepily, in some sweatshirts. I would have thought they'd make a roadie or someone mess with the merch, as most American bands I've encountered usually do, but they were quite ready to chat and they both (Yan, the lead singer, and the keyboardist, Phil) tried valiantly to make me buy a CD after they learned I only wanted one of their sold-out vinyl copies. Yan was mostly quiet and very tired, like he'd just gotten up from a nap, but when I joked that I'd looked at their tour schedule and I was concerned they might never see their home again, he laughed really loudly and grinned from ear to precious little Brighton boy ear, and it was one of the sweetest things I've personally ever witnessed. It's so rewarding to use my not insignificant amount of personal charm to break through the ice of people who are extremely soft-spoken, especially when they're British and especially when they've written a lot of my Jamz.

However, it was not the adorable little Yan who became my fast friend. I talked mostly with Phil, the keyboard and cornet player who replaced Eamon, former keyboardist who left to form Brakes. Phil is evidently not from Cumbria or wherever Yan and the rest are from, because his accent was much thicker and I committed the social gaffe of saying something in an English accent at one point(my mother said it was some sort of psychotic break like Britney Spears). He talked to me forever, and when I had decided what I wanted and paid and we'd located the correct t-shirt, he said something about, oh, you can stay and chat! but I had already started walking away and was quite nervous I'd make some more social gaffes anyway. His smile was pretty constant and extremely warm, his hair was long-ish and messy and had dirty slight beard scruff on his face, and he told me about going back to Brighton (to visit his woman, I assume) on a three day break the band had after SXSW or sometime, and how expensive it is to do so but really quite necessary and lovely, and etc., etc., etc., his life story, just a very personal conversation as opposed to the usual generic conversation with members of rock bands (geez, i like your music...oh really? neat! etc.). I've never been one to take pictures with band members (ew...and let some strange band member touch me! rock fans are gross about that), i rarely attempt to speak to them, and the only autograph I've ever went for was Robyn Hitchcock's, but i'll be a monkey's uncle if BSP weren't some of the most natural and friendly rock 'n rollers I've ever encountered in all my years of drunken rock revelry.

My favourite foremost coastal antartic shelf

The venue in Louisville was the Phoenix Hill Tavern, and to quote Shiv from the WOXY boards, it was like a "ski lodge -- if a TGI Fridays exploded inside it." It was incredibly filled with tacky crap, and also creepy things like a headless dressmaker's dummy with a dress on it in a corner with evil dolls and doll heads on a ledge above it. There was also, bizarrely, a dancing cage with bars on it, which I initially threatened to dance it up in, but forgot about later. The stage was very tiny and very square, not a great shape for a band who play in a straight line in front of the drums, but they made the magic happen in any case.

The set list had about two songs less than most of the dates on the tour, so we missed out on "Apologies to Insect Life" and probably "Fear of Drowning" or "Remember Me" from what i can tell, but thank goodness we got "Oh, Larsen B," which Shiv and I absolutely DELIGHTED in and pretty much made the set for us. Shiv stated they they 'blew their wad' as they strangely opened the show with "Atom" and then "Waving Flags," two of the most rockin' songs from the new album, but somehow they were able to sustain a kind of momentum until they got to a b-side called "The Spirit of St. Louis" and things quite gradually devolved into chaos from there. They left "Carrion" to the end and then played an unreleased song generally known as "Rock in A" or "A Rock" (though they play it in different keys, and from what I can tell from my set list it was "D Rock" on our night)with which they end every show they've pretty much ever played. I think they waited to get really insane until this last rock-out mess of a jam, and the quite tall guitarist Noble started it off with a very shakey handstand onstage which was supported by his bandmates and the small group of people in the tiny pit area in front of the stage.

Don't you think it's strange, you know, the way it all works out
Brace yourself for storms and summer drought


I was in that small group, as earlier in the evening, Shiv and I had met up with two sisters and WOXY-listeners from Cincinnati, Amy and Allison, and bonded with them immediately. I'm sure I'll gush about them more in the coming months as I get to know them, but these two girls are really just the sort of people I wish to be around, as they are full of hope, productive AND messy and artistic and crazy. Shiv and I perched by the side of the stage at a tall table with stools, as the entire place had grouped tables and chairs in a large meandering half-circle around the stage, with the tiny pit area directly in front of the stage that oddly separated the people at the tables from the stage. I, as usual, was one of about five people in the place who were moving their bodies in any way, shape, or form to the music, and Allison and I saw each other from across the room and noticed we were both getting our groove on, so I left Shiv for a bit to round up the girls and go down to the pit area so we could get close and personal to have our socks rocked off.

Allison has apparently lived off and on in the UK for the past year or two and will move there permanently in June, so she had prior knowledge as to what to expect from a BSP show. In the past, they have employed such things as a tall bear suit nicknamed 'Ursine Ultra,' extreme amounts of foliage and bushes, live birds, and all sorts of naturalistic props. I knew this as well as Allison, being a total anglophile myself, and noticed that she had brought a large leafy branch of some sort with her to the show. Once down in the pit, after we'd danced a bit, she decided she was a tad too shy to give it to them on her own, but told me I could if I wanted, so OF COURSE i proceeded to dance the branch right up to Yan and lay it at his feet. He was only vaguely interested in our offering, but Noble, the guitarist, tried to put it in the strings of his guitar. He messed with that a while, but played most of the rest of the show with the branch hanging out the back of his pants, just like, yes you guessed it, MORRISSEY. He ended up using it in all sorts of interesting ways which made Allison and myself squeal with self-important glee, and apparently mystified everyone else in the room, as they were not familiar with BSP's foliage-laden past.

Noble continued to go off the deep end after he was returned to the stage, as at one particularly memorable point he and Phil decided to clash together, somehow flinging Phil's cornet completely off the stage, staggering around with Noble sitting on Phil's shoulders, smacking him in the head repeatedly as Phil played guitar, and they both then started to tip over and head for what appeared would be a brain-smashing cataclysm into the drum kit, but somehow managed to be just a gradual and gentle cataclysm into the drum kit. Somehow, the show ground to a halt, and I can tell you I felt well satisfied indeed.

I'll be the first to admit this is a bright but haunted age

After the boys exited the stage, one of their adorable dirty little English roadies hopped onstage, and I pointed toward the branch so he could give it back to me, because Allison said I could keep it. He thought I meant I wanted the set list, which he ripped from its tape on the stage and gave to me (my first set list!), and i said thanks, but then I pointed again and said can i have that back too? He laughed SO HARD, but fetched the foliage for me. We then decided to head over to Shiv, but on the way I encountered Phil again, who was rather mournfully inspecting his busted cornet, with the valves all completely blown out. I tried to cheer him and said it died in the name of entertainment, and we chatted about a few other little ditties and he smiled his little smile at me through the pain, but I could tell he was sorry their antics had killed off his poor horn (However, the next night in St. Louis would be the last before a two-week break before they come back over again for another two months of touring, so I'm sure he can locate another during his break, but still, I felt complicit in the crime as I enjoyed the insane antics very much).

I introduced Shiv to Phil, and then we let him go as we stayed to talk to Amy and Allison for another half-hour at least. The girls decided they wanted to go over to Noble and buy some t-shirts at the merch table, and poor Noble was ever so polite as we put him through the wringer trying to find a t-shirt in the limited stock they had left that was Allison's size AND wasn't the same as Amy's. One of us said he was good for being so patient, and he said no no, this interaction with people was the best part of the whole thing, but maybe he really just meant interacting with attractive ladies like Allison, as we left and Amy still hadn't been able to drag her away. I got all of their contact information, and fully intend on going to shows with them and enjoying their delightful company in the near future. So not only did Shivvy and myself witness a great rock show, we got to meet some people of a similar mind-set, which almost never happens anymore in my old crusty age. This show was unique especially in the way I felt we as an audience were allowed to interact with the band, as a sense of an exchange of energy at a show is so thrilling, that unseen but deeply-felt impact of feeding back and forth is really why I love rock shows in the first place. Having a good sense of fashion and taste in music is important in some ways, but at a rock show, everyone should throw their shame and self-consciousness under a bus and just move their body and feel as immersed in the power of music as a human being possibly can be, and that's what we did Friday night.

***Part of the miniature melee has photographic evidence, as WOXY boarder Daemon posted pictures which can be found here: http://home.fuse.net/brianh/pictures/BSP-PHT-2008/index.html

I'm in the first two, the girl in the dusty rose blouse with the absurd alabaster man-sized hands, a sprig of foliage behind my ear (that's Allison on the right), fearing desperately for Noble's personal safety, as you can see there were only about 8 people in the pit area to help him crowd surf/escape death. You can also witness the various ways Noble molested the foliage, including putting it in his mouth while he crowd-surfed and having to spit out a bunch of leaves after he was done. You can also see my boy Phil (pre-cornet disaster) on the left in some shots.

All in all, one of the best nights I've ever had. Wahey!

Thanks are also due to Shiv for driving and for his awesome hangover-cure pancakes! And I think I may go see British Sea Power again as they tour the south, maybe in Nashville, as who knows if they'll ever go on such an extensive American tour again, and also because I still need to talk with Yan about how he needs to watch "Operation Daybreak," this movie with Timothy Bottom and Anthony Andrews about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi Butcher of Prague, whom they wrote a b-side about called "A Lovely Day Tomorrow." If that's not a compelling reason to see a band again, I just don't know what is.

I say I will not take half the risk
I will not walk half-deceased
I believe bravery exists

7th January 2008

12:27am: And we eat Weetabix and sing about the joys that love can bring
...if they ever come.

let's talk, no, not about love, let's talk about Robyn Hitchcock. On New Year's Day Shiv and I went to Shake-It together and I collected my overdue Christmas haul, which i'll write about later as well as the movies my mom purchased for me. My main reason for the trip was the acquisition of I Wanna Go Backwards, the new Robyn compilation of his debut Black Snake Diamond Role, I Often Dream of Trains,and Eye. Also included was a two-cd set of odds and ends. Now, going into this, I expected to be put off by Black Snake Diamond Role because i'm not the biggest fan of the Soft Boys by any stretch, i expected to continue to love I Often Dream of Trains as my favorite as i always have, and to learn more about Eye than just "Cynthia Mask" and "Queen Elvis." HOWEVER, Black Snake is much more accessible than I had greatly feared it would be (and there are loads of extras on this disk and i'm 99 percent sure it's the exact tracklist from Invisible Hitchcock, though it doesn't say so). So i'm very happy and completely content to listen to these records over and over (or stare at my signed copies of Invisible Hitchcock and Globe of Frogs!)until the next batch of reissues/compilation comes out later this year.

They were selling I Wanna Go Backwards before it came out officially at the Robyn show I attended at the Southgate House in November, but I didn't have enough cashola and had to wait. I met Robyn and had him sign the two LPs after the show was over. I was second in line, and I was a little surprised at myself. I've never, in all the shows I've seen, had anyone sign one thing for me, but I brought a couple of my Robyn LPs and had Jenn get me a special gold-colored pen. When I came face-to-face with one of my musical gods, my brain turned to absolute, unadulterated mush. I've never been turned so mindless by any one human being in my life. I just remembering smiling and staring up at him blankly, in utter ecstasy. This is how it went down:
i walk up with the sleeves for Robyn Hitchcock's Invisible Hitchcock and Globe of Frogs albums so he can sign them:
Robyn: Oh WOW! (mumble mumble) this Relativity(referring to the fact that it was on his original american label and not a reissue)?
Me (clearly not understanding what the fuck he was talking about, very confused, although up until a minute before I fully realized these albums were originals and not reissues): ummm....it's Invisible Hitchcock.
Robyn: Yes...yes, i know. This was on Relativity though, this is the original.
Me: Oh, wow, really? (gazes up adoringly and dies, not even having enough sense to know i had to tried to tell Robyn Hitchcock which album of his it was).
p.s. oh well. he still smiled and said it was great that i had the original albums. i'm pretty sure i still fucking win. he also drew himself some jaundiced gold eyes and eyebrows on Invisible Hitchcock!



this is what Robyn looks like these days, though his hair is longer than that and even whiter. He wore a flowery shirt and gave one of his harmonicas away to a girl in the front row because he decided he didn't like it anymore. It was a solo show, just him on acoustic and electric guitar, with the mildly amusing singer from Harvey Danger opening the show and providing backup vocals on a few songs. I'm not sure how long it was exactly, but it seemed like a terribly long show for poor Robyn to have to carry the energy throughout with no help from a band, and at the end he was mopping his brow and very tired, but he was exceptionally charismatic and talkative for the entire show and musically never flagged either. I was incredibly impressed with the variety of his song choices, including Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan (i did have enough money to buy his double cd of Dylan covers, I was so taken by his cover of "Not Dark Yet"), and Beatles covers. He played loads of old songs, a couple newer songs, some of my favorites of all time, a couple I'd never heard, and in between each song he would rant about politics and sensing Bill Clinton's sexual magnetism when he'd been around him recently, and nonsensical essays about old loves and how people you love can become like rogue appliances, plugged in and tangled up with you and then they start getting up and moving away from you across the room, and anything, everything, of the sort only Robyn can create.

If you want to know what makes Robyn Hitchcock so very different, so very singular and lovely, I'll tell you. It's because he's the Marianne Moore of rock music. Marianne Moore was that poet you all had to study and thought was weird because her poems, on the surface, were about anteaters, fish, the ocean, nautilus, steeples. You thought, how can this be poetry? This harlot was clearly into hallucinogenics! And you make the same mistake about Robyn, and your assumptions make you miss out on layers and layers of profound emotional meaning just the way you missed out on Marianne Moore. Robyn explained in an interview i saw recently that his style of writing is based on the idea that if he wears a mask (i.e., stuff about birds and frogs and gnomes and Raymond Chandler and approx. 11,000 allusions to autumn leaves), you might learn more about him and the things he wants to express than if he just nakedly attempted to express his most personal thoughts and feelings in a more straightforward way. You see, he's still trying to get these intense emotional ideas about his life across to you, he's just trying to share these pieces of himself with bits of interesting and very descriptive camouflage in an intellectual way. There's more grace and less awkwardness in Robyn's deliberate emotional subterfuge approach, hiding things in plain sight, as emotional earnestness is just a bore in life and music (unless we're talking 60's or 80's pop). You still feel an emotional impact after listening to Robyn's music through the filter of his artistic ideas, and the more you listen, the more it means to you because you've effectively translated his work so that it applies to your own emotional compass. It's beautiful, it's the best, and I almost cried at his show.

I think these pictures from Groovy Decay are a good illustration of my point. The first is the somewhat pretentious and derisive of humanity, coolly emotional writer of lyrics that can stab you by surprise and burn your insides out. The second picture, where he has decided to munch on one of the apples used as a prop in the first, is the fantastical goofy little boy who has no concept of bitterness or reality. You mix the two, and get the whole picture of Monsieur Hitchcock's world.






I wish I knew more people who loved Robyn and had this same understanding of him, not just the lovely Miss Lu. Kyle only likes the Soft Boys, and only the Soft Boys songs that 'aren't too much like Robyn Hitchcock' and made fun of me when I made him read the great essay on the back of Globe of Frogs years ago. Shiv likes him somewhat, but I have a feeling he half-categorizes Robyn in the 'Circus Music' section of Shiv's mind that also includes The Decemberists, Beirut, and loads of others. This is a deep sadness for me. I want to bring Robyn home to the hearth of the masses. Jenn, who I recruited to go with me to the show, surprisingly loved it very much and I was so glad. BUT IT'S NOT ENOUGH! I wish I could point you all in Robyn's direction, away from the songs that are harder for beginners to discern and start you out with the easy to understand, very very icy cruel songs, and the four dozen beautifully descriptive songs about the autumn of the soul. BUT YOU WON'T LET ME! YOU WON'T DO THE INTELLECTUAL LIFTING! will you?

8th November 2007

12:29am: heart full of leaves
sometimes, lately, i wake up with, no, not my head in my arms, but my arms wrapped completely around my shoulders and my head in such a desperate way that it absolutely must be construed as entirely pathetic.

***

my birthday is on the 21st, the day before thanksgiving. That night, there will be a celebration at the Wussy/Viva la Foxx/other bands we don't care about show at the SGH. The saturday before, the 17th, will be reserved for dancing, though I know not where yet. Most likely the gypsy hut. Details forthcoming. p.s. alcohol-related gifts will be a waste on me - see Shiv's Halloween party rundown for information about the rather heated two-hour conference i had with his toilet. be creative, make me a teepee out of toothpicks or write a bad poem about my curly golden locks that i obviously don't have. something. remember all the things i have given you over the years, and give me something back. or i'll stab you with one of my extra-sharp paring knives and you'll curse the very day you were ripped from your mother's womb.

***

when i think about the musical taste of k and myself, i start to get incredibly riled up (shiv's taste is in on this too, at least to some extent). I want to know why, if you are under the age of thirty, and especially if you are younger than myself, it is nearly impossible to find people who are otherwise great fans of music who are just as interested in music that was released prior to 1980 as the music that came after (hell, the music that was released prior to the year 2000, if we really want to be nasty). Why is this? Why? You can't say it's because not everyone had a mother like me who had tons of records that were of good taste that I could play on my Fisher Price suitcase player, because k's parents didn't influence him at all. So not inheriting a genetic predisposition for incredibly discerning taste in musical delights is out the window as an excuse. What is it then?

Is it the general lack of curiosity and spiritual malaise that our country has been in for a decade now? Is it just that it has seeped into every area of consciously expressed opinion? Well, no, i don't think it's that either, because i know a great quantity of hipsters who dabble in 60's music, or sometimes 70's (never both), but never actually engage with the music of these periods except in the most superficial of manners, excising whole catalogues of music for a few records that anyone in their right mind would know about. The small fact that they make this laughable attempt to lend credibility to their taste is proof that people are aware that this music existed and it was important.

So the next obvious question is if this ignorance simply comes from pure indolence, because it is clearly a conscious choice being made to neglect these basic foundations of the music they find to be so neat-o today. Are they all just intellectual dilettantes of the sort who think The Crying of Lot 49 (insert any book ever written here) sounds familiar, so it must have been by palahniuk? Are they just barely willing to do enough work to mention some obvious staples of early rock 'n roll to get their foot in the door of musical snob superiority? The problem is this idea that a typical music snob is that of an absolutely rabid, nick hornby-style obsessive who eats/breathes/sleeps/sexes/works music from all genres and eras is largely a myth. Music snobbery is much more often about fashion rather than passion, and sometimes it's so difficult to separate the two to discover someone's true motives.

Most of the time, however, it's very clear, after minimal conversation, that these kids plainly have not done their homework and neither do they have the desire ever to do so, as long as they are invited to the right parties and other soulless fashionistas are impressed by their shallow facade of real knowledge. These people are the majority, and they are the same in every area a person can have an opinion, and all their thoughts are carefully planned out to seem as if they actually had read that book, seen that movie, heard that album, knew that painter's periods of work, etc., etc., etc. But, when you press them, their plans collapse and you go home utterly convinced in the damnation of all humanity. What to do?

These people refuse to be educated because they refused to admit that they lack some significant knowledge of essential import - thereby blocking the way to the bliss of discovery, that profoundly personal and tiny moment when you hear/read/see/watch a piece of art for the very first time and that piece is actually some piece of your jigsaw puzzle that has been set in place with a reverberation you can feel. It doesn't matter that your discovery was late, the point of surrounding yourself with people you admire is to LEARN, learn learn everything they can possibly teach you about the opinions you've had since childhood, constantly building yourself back up with the helpful knowledge of these people while you gain the courage to throw into the abyss the parts of your taste and ideas that you have outgrown and must discard in order to progress.

That's the point of art...it is a personal satisfaction of curiosity, not a social plan to impress. It is an educational endeavor, not a social ladder, and anyone who thinks otherwise lacks the personal magnetism to gain friends with their cleverness and life experience, the basic solidness of their essential personality, rather than the force of their opinions, which should be ever-changing and therefore transitory. Art fulfills something mysterious and unnameable, something that is almost spiritual inside that nothing else can ever satisfy. Pater was right...art has a very specific niche, in its purest form it is animalistic and unintellectual, totally untouched by sordid motivational frivolities like religion and love, and it's certainly not meant just for getting cute people to like you(though i will say...it never did hurt me in that department). L'art pour l'art! Never end a paragraph with parentheses. It lacks class.

One of my main missions in life, and certainly my priority at this point, is to find other people who feel the same way. Only I don't have a clue where to look. Next stop, wine and cheese parties? I'm not quite old enough, they won't let me in the door. Sigh. What to do?

25th October 2007

1:34am: Architectural Salvage
It's a Raymond Chandler evening
at the end of someone's day
and i'm standing in my pocket
and i'm slowly turning grey
i remember what i told you
but i can't remember why
and the yellow leaves are falling
in a spiral from the sky


I have warm cider, it's October, Robyn Hitchcock is coming to the Southgate, there's endless Louis Malle coming of age stories on the television. This is fall. I have a steady data entry job. Sometimes I visit artsy places or go shopping on Saturdays, and on Fridays I've just started going to a coffee joint. I have just recently begun to face all of the semesters of total failure (as in no credits) that marked the end of my Miami career, and I've started to think of small colleges in Cincinnati who will accept me and my sob story and also the credits I did manage to acquire. I'm almost excited at the prospect of literature-oriented debate, and of course endless Foucault and Butler and Said excerpts. I am reading large amounts of Samuel Beckett and French and American plays from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. I have the same friends I've always had. Leah is coming to visit. My 26th birthday is approaching.


It's all the same. I think men should wear abused leather bomber jackets in the 1940s style, but they never do. I hate most fiction from the last three decades (Cormac Mccarthy? Who decided this bastard could write? I've decided i might like Ian McEwan, though). Worst of all, there's still the eternal Arnoldian desire - And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know. The danger is that my life has turned from endless provocation and no rest to a point where I'd almost pay someone to disagree with me in an intellectual argument. If the 'Buried Life' gets buried too deep, what then? I don't want to go back to repression, not like after I got sick my freshman year. That sort of calm solution never lasts. It preceded a period of unending upheaval. But being out-of-control is no way to achieve the unearthing of your true personality either. Being 'reckless' is just as regimented and careful a lifestyle as any other, and has just as few moments of clarity. I have to tell you, the Eugene O'Neill dream is very glamorous on the outside because of the pretenses of the participants, but planning your hopes and dreams and weekly schedule around your alcohol intake is not as romantic as one might assume. The enticing bit is blocking out all other hungers temporarily by surfeiting just one. It didn't work for me, those moments of temporary satiety in return for my soul, and I just couldn't hack it despite my talented Irish liver of steel, and I had to start moving on toward something else. I'm jealous of the people who can live within the strict confines of that dream, though, as they don't encounter the eminently painful work one has to do to turn a ship around and pick up your childhood dreams again and put them in your back pocket. It's the pain of fighting back when life pulls the covers untucked from the edge of the bed, smacking it in the face instead of lying down in your silky nightgown to get run over by everyone and everything, and thanks for the memories, thanks all the same, but when I'm in my right mind and I'm myself, I'd rather feel the pain and do the work. I truly would. And knowing this life is what i prefer, that I am not doomed and that I am not terminally enamored with self-destruction, knowing that makes me feel grateful and safe. I try to forgive myself, try to be proud of the progress I've made, though I know we're all disappointed in me on some level at the end of the day. It would help if I wasn't so ashamed, if I could tell more people the true distance I've traveled, if more people were proud. It would help. Regardless, I try to forgive myself, i try to forgive.


I'm still in the process of reclaiming all the wonderful things I buried along with the distasteful messes in the last seven years. It's a tedious job, but I know I had no other choice. I was in an untenable emotional position, literally breaking down, and now there is once again momentum. Momentum, loneliness, and foreign films. Yes! in the sea of life enisled. At least here you can seek comfort by measuring the distances between you and the people who surround you, and the distances never change so much that you can't cope. Your house doesn't face the east, and you never have to move the furniture with the seasons in order to save it.

28th September 2007

1:28am: The National
from a few nights ago: so here we are, kick-starting this journal into motion again while eating chocolate pudding after falling asleep in the bath in the middle of the night. how appropriate to the history of this journal. some of you may have noticed, some of you might not have, but i haven't written an actual word in here since APRIL. i constructed a wordless entry consisting only of screen captures of the beautiful office daydream scene from Howards End, which I initially made private but is now up for you to enjoy. And now my words are back, but my inspiration is still missing, and so I am attempting to turn this into a music blog to get back into the habit of writing every other day. We are going to start with my favorite band in existence today, but afterward the entries will consist of older music in order to convert people into looking more closely at the music that influenced the white-belted hipster music of today. This insane amount of fine taste and knowledge shouldn't go to waste, i want to share it! And so we'll all profit in this venture. Let's begin.



Never tell the one you want that you do
Save it for the deathbed, when you know you kept her wanting you.


Those lines are from "Cardinal Song," the opening track on the National's second album Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers. That's the album with "Murder Me Rachael" on it, and that's the album they were touring around when I first saw them in 2004( http://jewelbox21.livejournal.com/2004/03/29/ ). The record came out the fall of 2003 and I listened to it obsessively along with The Decemberists' Castaways and Cutouts, but most people weren't delving any further than "Murder Me Rachael," which 97x played in fairly heavy rotation for a while. The album had strong flashes of brilliance with some lyrical awkwardness at times (and that awkwardness has only now just about disappeared completely on Boxer), but the orchestration and instrumentation is gorgeous(if a little overdone with too many backing female vocals and weird digital age effects) despite lacking a cohesiveness of style that would show up on their later albums. Most people who I tried to force to love this band at that time resisted mightily and I think the album largely passed by almost everyone, including...SHIV! I didn't remember that he thought Matt Berninger was just aping Nick Cave(as it says in that old journal entry!), but I do remember that Shiv was specifically there to see the Pernice Brothers and I've never let him live it down because when you can get the musical jump ahead of him, it's a rare rare treat. That show was like a baptism. I vividly remember Shiv and myself looking at each other in awe and saying only half-jokingly that we were afraid Matt was going to hurt himself. I don't think I danced much at all, we just kind of stood there stunned in the back of the room with the band's moms and dads (everyone else was there for Joe Pernice). It was the kind of show that is hard to say was enjoyable, as the word disturbing is more apt. Having someone rip out their lungs and serve their heart up on a platter right in front of your face isn't something you can just sit back and witness easily. I remember almost feeling a generalized sense of fear, as this was not what I was accustomed to in my safe little rock shows. The honesty of one Matt Berninger in particular was really uncomfortable, and of course I fell in love with that, such a strange kind of courage I know i'll never see again. I have never seen a rock show put on with more passion and energy before or since. Matt would croon in his low growl and the delicate music would flutter and then he'd start agitatedly jumping around the stage with the mic stand as he screamed bloody murder and the veins in his neck threatened to explode and kill us all. It was absolutely mesmerizing, and of course Shiv went on to name their third album Alligator as his album of 2005, going so far as buying copies as gifts for people.

So that brings us to Alligator.

I see water on the bridge
Well, you better hold my hand through this
Turn around, turn around, take me back
I can't calm down
Turn around, turn around, take me back
I can't calm down
My mind's not right, my mind's not right, my mind's not right


This album. Where can I start? Where does it end? It's just always been there. This is the magnum opus right here, kids. And what's great is that this album came out in the spring of 2005, and right along with The Decemberists' Picaresque I used it as a salve to heal my ailing brain from years of troubles. All the stresses that began with my diagnosis with hyperthyroidism and generalized anxiety disorder promptly upon entry into Miami University in Oxford when i was 18 years old and culminated in my family's troubles (my dad's strokes and the subsequent forclosure on my childhood home, my taking on of enormous school debt) and my increasingly fragile mental state and increasingly dependent attitude toward alcohol, all the years of no rest and constant emotional turmoil led the train to break down in the winter of 2005. I needed to remember what it was like to be good to myself, to enjoy my own company again, to believe that I was a worthwhile person again. I took about three months and stayed inside for most of it, listening to this album over and over and over and over. Why, you ask? Why this album? What did this album do that other new albums at the time or some of my old records couldn't do for me? This album really solidifies the National's aesthetic, and to me, that aesthetic is making music beautiful through the rule of paradox, hate/love, fear/confidence, chiming/screeching guitars, it's all jumbled up here together and there is a subsequent complexity to the National that nearly every rock band out there today lacks dearly. On the happy, hopeful, drunken love songs like "All the Wine" or "Lit Up," there is an undercurrent of doubt, as if this confidence is already discovered to be only a temporary moment of relief before it even begins to slip away. There are darker songs like "Daughters of the Soho Riots," "Abel," but songs like "Baby, We'll Be Fine" and "Mr. November" are made all the more hopeless because of their desperate pretense toward hope. The latter two both deal with being in denial about the true urgency of the worst times, as they are either wanting someone else to tell you that your failures don't matter and that it will all be fine, or using your own powers of belief to wash away your sins and promise someone else that you won't screw them or yourself over despite evidence to the contrary. And so the emotional themes are much more complex within each song, and there are far fewer moments of simple emotional clarity on this album than on Sad Songs. Confusion reigns on this record, which made me respond to it so strongly as i had absolutely no idea which way to turn at that point in my life.

Just prior to recording, the band members quit their graphic design/computer-y type jobs in order to go for their rock and roll dreams, so the heightened level of anxiety and confusion is understandable in both the moody lyrics and the at-times beautifully restrained/raucous-all-hell-breaks-loose music. This is the sound of a band losing their shit and reaching their stride at the same time. It was the perfect soundtrack to my own personal emotional dismantling and subsequent building up of my sanity.

Oh we’re so disarming darling, everything we did believe
is diving diving diving diving off the balcony
Tired and wired we ruin too easy
sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave


Everyone always says that Alligator was a grower of an album that took time to fully appreciate, but for me Boxer is the album that is much less immediate and which improves infinitely upon each listen (whereas Alligator is much more in your face and obviously genius from the get-go). The first time I listened to it, on headphones at work, I just felt a sort of 'hmmmm' reaction. I wasn't immediately disappointed but I certainly wasn't in love, either. Upon many many repeated listenings I have come to think that this album is by far the most sophisticated and most complete album in the National's catalogue(that is not to say it's necessarily the best). The emotional contents of this album are too removed, locked away in some safe space we can't touch as listeners, but we're allowed to observe the disappointments of adulthood and the conflicting needs to both run for cover from the desperate havoc-wreaking excesses of youth and bathe ourselves constantly in nostalgia for that 'squalor.'

This time, instead of each song featuring Matt singing as a different sort of character in the first person, there are many more songs where we have to observe Matt's observations, rather than what feels like his personal experience. Because of this separation, there are fewer moments of stream-of-consciousness, dreamy lyrical awkwardness and on the whole this is a much more graceful record than any of the band's previous efforts. The arrangements and instrumentation are not overly-produced (thanks Peter Katis) and just as gorgeous as ever (thanks Padma Newsome), but Matt's vocals on some songs seem to be coming to us from the far end of a ghostly abandoned train tunnel, which is a huge loss, as much of the immediacy and emotional wallop of the previous records was due to the naked honesty of Matt's gravelly, wavering croon (and the occasional lost-all-sanity screamfest). On most of these songs, Matt's lyrical emotional distance isn't helped by needless background vocals that are for the most part nondescript and serve no real purpose other than to further remove the listener from the boiled-down essence of these songs. Judging from what I heard out of Matt's own mouth for the reasons why they don't play songs like "Available" live anymore, I think the loss of urgency on this record was due to the loss of urgency in the lives of the band members. They are, quite simply, more comfortable, and there is less need to scream passionately while the guitars squeal like ancient car brakes. There is less need on this record, period, which makes for a more beautiful, more elegant but ultimately colder, less potent album. I think it comes down to personal taste whether or not you prefer Alligator to Boxer, but it doesn't matter because if you have any sense you'll listen to and love both of them like your own children. I know I do.

Before I start teaching you all how to acquire a sense of musical taste, look for my reviews of The National's concerts this summer in Cincinnati up next.

20th May 2007

1:05am: howards end
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28th April 2007

6:14pm: while three birds watch and the fourth flies
Despair and Hope are deceptive concepts. They are both linear, in the way we can never veer from the path of either, even when there's a sharp fork and we convince ourselves we've lost one of them, however temporary. The truth is that the trees and the power lines might change color, change shape, but the scenery of Despair never disappears. Hope is never so glaringly obvious, no actual landmarks, no concrete images for us to grasp except an endless horizon, which unlike Despair, we don't see in front of us stretching out, not looking toward it but constantly 'in' it, like a dot, like a circle, like a piece of shiny glass in the parking lot that you're constantly standing on, never lose it, but never really touch. Hope has no perspective, and Despair is the opposite, all gray box houses stretching as far as our little weepy eyes can see. We audaciously fool ourselves into believing at times that one or the other of those paths has left us alone for a while, but we can never truly escape these undercurrents.

People believe in a place to rest. People believe in punctuation marks. The comfort of patterns and the periodic structure of 'life goals' are the antithesis of my favorite ideas. The very notion of a place to reach and upon arrival to stay there in dreamy repose indefinitely is a laughable absurdity at best, and a goddamn sin against life itself at worst. The words, to paraphrase William James, of a sentence, whether unbearably hideous or achingly lovely, are the marrow, and the punctuation is what we cast away. Just think of a book you love - you remember the last two sentences of Chapter 5 because you deem them two of the best in the history of the written word, yet you cannot recall the question mark and the half-page of easy white space that come after those two sentences.

It is the same with your life. On your deathbed, you won't recall the easy white spaces that came between your moments of triumph and shame. Why then, pray tell, would any human structure their life around achieving pages (chapters! books!) of blank space, with nary a silverfish to remember? Why? Why do people think books or chemicals or Ipods or even Morrissey is enough to fill the pages of your life so they overflow with danger and vibrancy? Meaning only comes with the danger of loss, or risk, which only comes when you understand the complex vagaries of your own personality, your true self, enough to steel yourself against the complex vagaries of your fears.

like emptiness in harmony

Art is for pleasure and sometimes it can reflect our emotions to such a degree that it seems alive and just as solid and tangible as a cheap razor blade shredding my knee to pieces. That doesn't mean, however, that you're allowed to disregard Pater - at all times, an aesthete has to be aware that without the rolling turmoil of life experiences, of investment in people and in dreams, all art becomes a Rembrandt painting. It may have definition, but no imagination, no soul whatsoever, and the clarity is worthless to you. Sure, you may know that "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands"(and a thousand others, i have a lot of theme songs) is one of the best songs ever, you may know that Two For the Road is the best movie ever, you may even have read A Room With a View, your favorite painting might be the insanely sinister Van Gogh at the Cincinnati Art Museum, all of this and more, but it matters nothing if you have no reference points to tell you just why these works are so important. You can fill yourself up year after year with expertly chosen works of art, but it will never give you a soul. It will never be enough.

You can't be a worthwhile person and lead your life like one of those unfathomable people who go swimming without putting their head under the water, like putting your toes in the ocean when you could let the waves toss you this way and that way. You'll never find true freedom being careful, staring at your navel, leading a half-life. No, you've got to drown yourself in it all - the brittle regrets, the fears (the mirrors) you can barely look in the face, all the suicides and mentally ill people in your dad's wicked family (oh wait...that's me), the fact that I have yet to write the next Great American Novel, all of these things are to be reveled in, to roll around in and dirty your best dress, just the same way "Oh Cecilia" is to be reveled in and allowed to muss your hair.

If we experience horrors, then pretend the place they live in our memory doesn't exist, and try to fill that emptiness with art, or other people, or alcohol, or your pet monkey, then we lose ourselves. The worst times in my life were the ones when I couldn't find myself, denied I was lost, and tried to fill the space with Merchant Ivory films, poetry, alcohol, and Bob Dylan. It didn't work, needless to say, and I have to fight every day to stay out of the giant rut I dug for myself - and I know I always will. That's the whole point, the fight, the fighter still remains.

Art helps me remember who I am, like pinching yourself in a dream, like when I listen to "Ruby Tuesday," I remember being eleven and thinking 'Dear lord, the Rolling Stones wrote a song about ME!' and I wrote the lyrics to the entire song on a little card and put it in my desk drawer, where it still lives. Music and books and photographs and paintings and movies can do that, they can remind us of the dreams we had for ourselves and the life we wanted to lead, but they can never replace those dreams. They only spur us on toward the fight against the weight of this world, to protect the innocence of the dreams that I had as a girl and still have - I know this is all I can ever have, this is all I'll ever be able to hold and to keep. It is the only peace.

8th February 2007

4:58am: Parallel Synchronized Randomness(i'm only your neighbor, and a liar)
If you could feel and touch and taste this entry, it would be warm snickerdoodle cookies, tea or hot chocolate, this French song (dick annegarn - Coutances, http://www.yousendit.com/transfer.php?action=download&ufid=4CCC18D728834893), the winter sun, and the most passionate moments you have ever had in your little life. I don't necessarily mean sexually, more of a nondescript longing, or an appreciation, concentrated in one incredibly powerful, incredibly vague inarticulate moment, the sort of feeling that is so enormous that it steamrolls your intellect, you don't know if you're happy or sad or what, only conscious that this feeling is attached to some central part of you. Sometimes those rare moments of emotional concentration find expression, however imperfect, through gloriously free words devoid of shame, but more often they stay locked inside, beaming out through your eyes and the awkward way your teeth look when you smile, finding significance only through this sheer overwhelming quality. I wish I had more of those moments to look back upon, wish I could cherish them without the pollution of the moments before and after.

I wish I could tell you I had some strong feelings this winter. I have the desire to grab someone who would appreciate a little kernel of my personality so I could divulge some horribly heartfelt tale. I don't have any. The strongest feeling I have to share is my ongoing addiction to orange tea. Watching winter waste away whilst drinking tea is not a particularly worthwhile way to live.

Anyway, if that song doesn't make you want to watch The Science of Sleep, I don't know what will. I wrote about the movie when I saw it last summer, but it seems like the sort few people have seen or ever will see, and I don't understand why. I think the principle idea of the film is that love is a weight, and when you ask someone to care about you, you're actually asking them to carry that weight along with you. I'm not even sure it matters what sort of love it is, a relative, a friend, a lover, they all ask you to follow them wherever, to the most unpleasant depths and the more cinematic dizzy heights. The movie is about whether or not your love has the fortitude to really stand by a person who is under the water, and whether your own fortitude even matters if the other person isn't sure asking you to follow them was the right thing to do, or rather if from the time they first asked you, the other person doubted if you would truly share the burden of love. It's so easy to love someone at a distance, it's so easy to desire to share someone's happiness, triumphs, favorite records, bad jokes, but will you still be so ardent and sensitive when all their messes are splayed without grace across your own life? The siblings, friends, lovers, who can stand to still touch your hair lovingly at your most difficult moments, the movie is saying that those are the ones to hold close, to keep struggling with, keep loving. Shallowness, shallow affection can be so jaw-achingly beautiful, it can even last indeterminately, but it is always to be eyed with suspicion. When the bottom drops out, those people drop out with it. Only the people who love you enough to carry you around, in the background sometimes, but always carrying you, these are the people who bring those rare moments of undiluted emotion to the fore, these are the people who can really give you love. Movies that demonstrate the difficulties of carrying that shared burden of love (Two for the Road) are the best ones.

Meanwhile, the fact that my dad has my phone most of the time, the tea addiction, and the weather outside all conspire to cut me off from society, to make it difficult to see my loved ones. But I do love you, I'm still carrying you around albeit from my warm bathtub and my tea cup.

23rd January 2007

6:06am: so i've sat and i've watched an ice age thaw
I am absurdly excited for Wednesday and the continuation of Misfit Movie night in a most lovely old crooked (literally, the floor slopes) carriage house on Hamilton Avenue. I know Chuck and Lisa have flaws, of course i know, painful ones, just like i do. However, I have a kinship with them, that, no joke, makes tears come to my eyes as i write this.

To tell the truth, the past few months have been some of the loneliest of my life. I have approximately five or six good friends, and i see them rarely, and in any case it is not frequently enough to stave off this overwhelming black cloud of boredom. I suppose I have been struggling, but it is not the usual one of self-loathing and general hopelessness that i have given in to repeatedly in my twenties. No, this is an old, old struggle - one of understanding, or lack thereof. I have this curse, you see, that enables me to see the minute inner-workings of the brains and hearts of most anyone I come across, and this curse has won me many friends, even more than my sense of humor has won me. Now, to you, dear reader, that may sound like an incredible boon. How can it be bad to have the talent of human sensitivity, how can it be wrong to attract people from all walks of life with a magnetic emotional intellect? I will tell you just how wrong it can be. There is a joy in discovering the map of people's psyches, but it is a frail joy and often interrupted, and sometimes altogether broken, by the realization that most of my interactions are a two-way mirror. I have that joy of discovery, and consequently the more lasting warmth of sharing someone's most deeply hidden thoughts and bits of personality with them. That second feeling, however, is almost impossible for people to reciprocate where I am concerned (though more than one person has thought themselves to be clever when they deliver my flaws to me on a plate, as if i didn't realize i'm judgmental, impatient, moody, unforgiving, rigid in opinions, emotionally retarded beyond belief and all sorts of gems. it is, sorrowfully, the best things about me that people fail to wrap their brains around, not the ugly obvious ones). It is a very special torture to possess the ability to love and understand whomever I choose so completely, to ask again and again for the same, and then find people unequal to the task, through no fault of their own, and no matter how willing.

Throughout my life, I have tried to keep the small number of people who have come closest to giving me that sort of complete affection, or at least tried the hardest (Shiv, Stephanie, Karen, and Pat&Jenn are just a few of these people). They are to be commended, as I'm sure it is exceptionally difficult to give love to someone whose complete set of mysteries you have not cracked open, even after years and years. I am, of course, obviously publicly bombastic, but only those who I have asked to love me know what a trial my personal reticence can be. i find it absurdly difficult to explain my most important thoughts accurately, and those who love me the best let me try to explain when i feel (so rarely) free to do so, forgiving me for my repeated failures. The end result of all this is that I find it easy and fulfilling to place my diamond-hard belief in the few I deem worthy - it is my greatest happiness - while they valiantly try and frequently fail to envelope me with the same warmth of understanding. It is no fault of theirs, my mother has always reminded me, though I can't deny that those failures have been ohsovery painful at times, and I then attempt to assign blame. In the end, though, I realize it is just the fault of the way I was made - the curve of my finger nails, my long sparse eyelashes, the small purple mole on one of my thighs, my thick mess of hair, my deformed short legs, my boundless and certain faith in the worthiness of the few and the worthiness of life, and my singularity.

I cannot tell you how many people have uttered the phrase "I've never met anyone like you." I just couldn't tell you how many. To the people who so desperately want to stand out in crowds, all of this eccentricity sounds intoxicating, and what rubies, what pearls they would pay just to hear the phrase "I've never met anyone like you." I sometimes feel i would pay the same price to never hear it again. And yet, I have lost what little teenage desire I still had to 'fit in.' I know I can never rid myself of my strange faith and dim failures, I can scrape none of it off to reveal some grey matter of a dull sheen. Mostly, I accept this spectacular singular mess that i am, and mostly i am proud of it, wear my eccentricity as a badge of courage to let you know i've been through the wars. I do not care if people accept me, but i do passionately care, always have, whether or not they understand me. The question i increasingly ask myself is if anyone ever will. Will i always feel this partition from even my best peers? I have more doubt now, possibly, than i ever have...but you know that i secretly still carry that torch, hang on to that thread. I must hang on, as my twenties have taught me that denying yourself, denying your loves and your hates, denying your soul, is simply not an option - you can sink under the waves temporarily, but there is always a reckoning, self-ignorance is not a state that a person like me can live in, survive in. It is the horrifying risk of hope, or it is nothing for me, and i have made my choice because there simply was no choice.

'cause you
you are the only one left
and you've got to clean up this mess
you know you'll end up like the rest...
bitter and twisted,
unless
you stay strong
and you carry on
it's hard, but you know it's worth the fight


thank you, neil hannon. someday soon i'll write an entry explaining why you should love The Divine Comedy (the band), and why i still believe passion isn't an anachronism. but would you understand, dear reader?, then she laughed maniacally and went off into the night.

15th January 2007

5:32am: in my heart are the woes and the furies
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting this is a poor quality photo from the scene and is obviously the cover of a bootleg, but i could shockingly find no other pictures.

and so from Galaxie 500 i slide right into the funeral dirge music of 80's Berlin (mmm Nick Cave is my childhood hero). If you've seen Wings of Desire, you know the world-weary mood, the dreary landscape, the black clothes. In one scene, the camera pans across the lead singer of Crime and the City Solution. While his jet black hair stabs out from his head at jaunty angles, while he gyrates spasmodically to the heroin-slowness of "Six Bells Chime," while his shirt comes up to reveal lily-white belly, while his sharp wrist bends the microphone to his mouth, while his desperately thin and lanky body tries to seduce, the main character (an angel) dances with the woman who cannot see or feel him, grabs her hand to dance just as Simon Bonney moans the words "when I drew your body close to miiiiine" - the seduction is complete. It doesn't matter that the woman cannot feel her angel's hand - this music has converted her to an 80's Berlin religion, the religion of overly melodramatic passion as a weapon against the automaton urban life, the irony of syrupy romance against a backdrop of stark human hopelessness.

This song makes me want something, something like the feeling of a warm wash cloth against your eyes in the morning to help you wake up. I usually want an idea, to keep under my pillow at night, or similarly stow away, until it has rotted and is no longer of any use to me. This music, THIS MUSIC, it has always made me want a feeling, not an idea. Feelings are cheap, and their shelf life does not compare favorably with that of ideas, but isn't that why they evoke such sweet/bitter memories? Brief, bought at a moment's cost, and difficult to retain in the memory - the heft of an idea seems to win over at any juncture. But in this music, in this song, the tear ducts win in the war against the synapses. I keep listening to this song repeatedly, trying to savor the victory enough so that I can take it with me to work, anywhere, whenever I jump into the swim of life's trivialities. The song is an anchor, and reality is constantly pulling me, everyone, to the surface of all things. It stays with me only a short time after i'm away from it, brief, cheap, sweet and heavy, but I know I can always go back, I can read A Room With A View, I can beat reality about the head with a book, a song, a movie, with the weak power of a fading memory, with the dreams I remember from last night, I can win over impermanence, the inevitability of death, the human cowardice of myself and everyone, I can forgive and I can hate and I can love and I can beat it all back, back from the brink, rescued every time.

So take your collections of books and poetry and music and movies and stop being so passive-aggressive, join me, tell me all the weapons in your arsenal. Emotions need to spill over, memories aren't made to be tidy, feelings suffocate and disappear when kept in locked compartments, kept there waiting to be broken down into oblivion by the easy banality of society. I know I can't be the only one! I know i can't be the only one.

11th January 2007

6:54am: i don't want to stay at your party, i don't want to talk with your friends
Journalist: don't YOU want to be liked?

Morrissey: yes i do! but not at any price, not at any price.

***

There is no formula in which we may sum up decent people. So Ansell had preached, and had of course proceeded to offer a formula: "They must be serious, they must be truthful." Serious not in the sense of glum; but they must be convinced that our life is a state of some importance, and our earth not a place to beat time on. ~Forster, from The Longest Journey

***
a belly full of tea. sometimes i lick the orange pulp from the inside of the cup, which is not what i'd imagine the custom of the Edwardian era to be. these days, i have no time to myself, no time for my mind to settle, except very late at night, when no one i know is awake. there are some moments here and there when i am able to remind myself through other people that my imagination is still as clear as afternoon sunlight on wooden floorboards.

I'll tell you about just such an instance, on New Year's weekend (previously this journal has documented other memorable New Years). On New Year's Eve eve, Jenn and I went to Girls and Boys (without Patrick). We called it a girls' night out, and it was, truly. The kind of evening when you believe you have the magic touch, you accidentally move your hips a certain way and boys' eyelashes flutter in response. the sober reality was that i had my burnt ass grabbed more than once, a hillbilly who won't be named tried to pick us up pitifully, there were cat calls and 'hey ladies...', but the only actual physical affection were hugs from my best two incoherent alcoholic ne'er-do-wells. Kyle left early, but Mikey made up for it by telling me what a wonderful woman i am in his straight-jacket style of hugging until i almost couldn't bear to listen. Later he injected the evening with an absolutely epic moment. Jennifer and I were dancing, when suddenly a girl (on what had to be PCP) ascended an amp and tried repeatedly to swing from a bar holding heavy spotlights. Mikey, amazingly and suddenly coherent, and quite heroic to our drunken eyes, walked quickly over, grabbed the girl, and put her down, saving our spinning, dancing lives, and so i let him suffocate/hug me/tell me weird secrets a few more times on the way out. I failed to retrieve my birthday antics camera from Emily, but I might try to pick it up tomorrow night if I go to Chuck and Lisa's to revive our movie night.

On the whole, Saturday was very well spent. Sunday, the day of days, began with Mcdonald's breakfast in bed, courtesy of Patrick. After a brief interval at home to make myself over into Ingrid Bergman(I have absolutely no photographic evidence, but rest assured I was Ingrid. I had on an ivory satin blouse with a black satin suit, fishnets, and my father's Stetson fedora). The three of us (Jenn ahd on a gold satin and tulle frothy concoction) dined at the White House Inn, which was very edible but overpriced. After bloating ourselves enormously, we decided to shun the sweaty throngs at Alchemize so that we could, in true surreal fashion, attend a small gathering hosted by one of Jenn and Pat's gun buddies at his parents' historic bed and breakfast in Burlington, Kentucky. Another gun buddy and his moll were the only other attendees. The host, Dan, was fairly reticent, while Tom and Krista were effortlessly friendly and welcoming to me, the lone interloper. The situation could have been awkward, dreary, but they could see that my sass knows no bounds and that i was accepting of them as immediately as acceptance ever can be. Tom made us mixed drinks, we had a champagne toast at midnight, Pat and I stuffed ourselves again on Skyline dip, and all of us except Krista played Guitar Hero 2 until three in the morning (In case you are one of the ignorant hordes, Guitar Hero is a game with a fake guitar for a controller and it is ENDLESSLY fascinating).

Krista finally got Tom to stop playing, and they exited the scene. Pat and I woke up Jenn, as I was all for going back to their house to sleep, as i intensely dislike sleeping in unfamiliar places (i told you i wasn't a harlot). However, Dan must be secretly a night owl, as he became infinitely more animated and charming after the others had left. So the four of us sat there in his basement at four in the morning, talking utter nonsense, taking it as seriously as a heart attack. We decided to stay in the bed and breakfast's fancy bedrooms, but explaining that my aunt has a bed and breakfast in Germantown (Ohio) and that I know what a shameful bother it is to clean the rooms, Dan lead us back down the steepest, most ancient staircase in existence to the already-dirtied first floor suite. We changed the bedding, inflated the AeroBed for me, and our host left us. I made Pat and Jenn leave the bedroom door open as I tried to sleep in the sitting room beside a gaping fireplace. I am shamelessly afraid of the dark and I certainly kept my blanket up to my nose the entire night, so as not to see the two individual painted portraits of a dead couple leering down at me, or see what made a creaking sound in the front corner, or see what had tapped on the window, or why the ancient stairs creaked every time the heat kicked on.

It sounds like a monstrous night's sleep (not to mention the fact that all three of us froze to death the entire time, despite the blankets), but it wasn't. It felt like a reckless adventure, and I really only woke once in the night (Interestingly, and bizarrely, Dan's grandparents are from Germantown, and my father knows of them). It was The Haunted Suite, as Jenn said, and instead of loathing it in the morning, I found it absolutely charming. We squealed when we awoke and found there were tissues for wiping your makeup off in the Suite's bathroom. The entire house was decorated tastefully and expensively, but it lacked vulgarity. Perhaps because of the laughs we had while Dan was getting ready to tuck us in, perhaps it was the Blue Moons I'd had, perhaps it was the warmth of Krista and Tom, perhaps it was the hilariously endearing way the locals stared at us Deliverance-creepy style while eating at the Burlington Waffle House - but something made me inexorably sad when i shook Dan's hand, thanked him for the hospitality, and my two compatriots and myself returned to Ohio, when i returned to a life where I have no time for my own imagination and I can only make myself smile by licking the insides of tea cups. It was like Burlington, KY, existed in some postal code only for New Year's 2007, only to remind me there's a place i'd like to be, a place i'd be happy, where people tell embarrassing stories without reddening, where former inmates knock on your door for directions, when the joy is straightforward and the pain is fleeting because of the lovable inhabitants.

***
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in this nasty world, when we try to seek companionship, it becomes hard to believe that intellect and personal warmth can coexist. when i listen to Galaxie 500, i believe they can. more people should listen to Galaxie 500.

27th December 2006

7:31am: white noise and love will be my only drug
should it one day come to pass
that you sit down to your memoirs
where will this go?
the chapter in your life entitled
absurdly shallow and bland cincinnati intellectual and social life.

yeah, that chapter.

the chapter when all the crisp pages in your life are heavily smudged by someone's butter fingers, so that you can barely make out the text. but i cannot figure out how the smudges have slowly, insidiously overshadowed the subtle, calm moments of genuine interest, genuine comfort. someone has been eating a chocolate whilst reading my life, and now i can't see the plot for anything. i can't see how to move forward - the supreme idea, the supreme need, to enjoy the scenery even as you pass it by, on to some new little burg where odd people live that you'll never, ever understand. where are the people i'll never, never understand (see through)? where are the new sidewalks, concrete porches i have never sat upon with those little red bugs on them? where is the little patch of sunlight on the carpet that i have never stood in? is there no one in the world that looks at life in just this way?

"Did you see the dawn?"
"Yes. It suddenly got light."
"And was it wonderful?"
"No(laughsandlaughs). It was only grey."


one more thin gypsy thief

i wish i could meet a man, yes a MAN, a man with with an innocent face. i could not possibly be more tired of boys with guilty looks. i don't think anyone understands what i would give to just meet such a man. men who introduce their woman friends to other friends whilst holding a hand to the small of their back. a man who believes in the idea that life is enough when you sprinkle tiny things like leonard cohen talking about 'constant comment' tea and it made me buy some and drink it while i watched Samuel West as Leonard Bast become immortalized just by wading through the most vivid field of bluebells ever put to film during his "The Ordeal of Richard Feverel" dream in Howards End. In that scene, Samuel West is the man of passionate intellect, proving that the romance of recklessness is best perpetrated by men of intense ideas, not feeling. feeling is transitory, ideas are the only thing that even have a ghost of a chance of permanence, the chance of sweeping away everything in its path, and the passion that is produced from a collection of cold hard ideas can sweep through a person like no mere feeling ever could.
(i wish i had a picture for you of those bluebells, but here is Samuel West nonetheless)




is it really true that no one wants to talk about ideas because they don't actually have any? most people (and you should well know by now, if i count you as a true friend, that you are the exception to these dull rules and that is why i prize you) want to give off an air of intellect and culture, but what about IMAGINATION? what about injecting a little imagination into your staid brands of intellect and culture?everyone on EARTH has read The Corrections and chuck palahniuk or whoever else everyone i've ever met is always reading - what about Forster? have you ever read Forster? have you even HEARD of Edward Morgan Forster? The Crying of Lot 49? Berryman poems other than the Dream Songs? Graham Greene?no one even wants to talk about Foucault anymore. no one wants to clash with me over the absolute absurd placement of Henry James over Forster in the college english class canon. no one wants to CLASH, period. they just want to read what everyone else has read so they can all talk together about how great they think it is, and sure sure there is a place for that kind of conversation, but what about DEFINED PERSONAL IDEAS and THEORIES and so on? all of these people i've come across, they behave as if cincinnati is just oh so disgustingly conservative and oh isn't that an ugly shame and all of this liberal b.s., when in fact, in their own lives they could not possibly be more conservative! in their tastes, in their companions, in their IDEAS. i think it no less than abominable that the need to conform even stretches far past taste and dress to IDEAS, to IMAGINATION (the backbone of personality). the fear that one's concrete ideas might be looked down upon in casual conversation causes what could be at least marginally worthwhile people in my sphere to be just another face. and i find that hard to bear, i find it very hard to have more flimsy acquaintances, more and more i meet them, and i discard them, and i meet more and more, and they discard me, and it never ends. there are never any consequences, and i just wasn't made to live life without cradling at least a dozen consequences right up close to my spiritual bosom.

a basis rock-like of love & friendship
for all this world-wide madness seems to be needed.


courtney is right. i am in many things an unbelievable coward, in many things that other people tackle with incredible ease i whimper and pull the blankets over my head in the corner. but in all facets of personality, i DO have the absolutely no-less-than-bombastic courage and i DO have the nail-you-to-the-wall-with-the-sheer-force-of-it conviction and i will always always be utterly disgusted with those who choose to live any way the wind blows. i cannot help this, and obviously i do not want to help it: it is simply the way i was raised, it is instinctive in me. you have nothing if you do not have yourself. and what is yourself? DEFINED PERSONAL IDEAS. Imagination! these things are what your fibers are made of. to not investigate them, to completely negate the function of individual curiosity, it's a sin against humanity. it's a sin against everything i have every believed in. and there have to be other people like me, who would let their whole lives fall asunder before they let their personality, their soul, slip under the heavy waves of society's expectations, before they would ever annihilate the core of who they are just to make the waves ripple less. where are these other people, these compatriots, these partners in crime who stand against the torpor of personality? some i have met, and most have moved to other states while i hold the ones that are left very tightly and sing them lullabies like 'my bonnie lies over the ocean.' these are very few in numbers - where are the others? i say it again, i say it again, where are the people whose every machination cannot be seen through like cellophane? where is the surprise and where is the risk and when was the last time you really put yourself on the line? can you even remember? so many many people will never understand that even if their ideas are infinitely repulsive or juvenile or uninformed or misinformed or just fucking absurd - i would rather you share them with me honestly, tell me all the details of your absurd personal truth, one by one, and it means you'll have my respect my gratitude my friendship and that my dears, THAT is an idea that you can count upon.

the point of all this mess is that i want other people's confident personalities to make me relinquish control and not even realize it/let alone care, to make me drop coffee cups and not even blink when i cut myself while cleaning up the shards, putting it back together just for the fun of breaking it all up again, over and over, and calling the endless provocation my life, and not my rest. we've all enough time for that peace later, after strong people of certain brilliant technicolor shades stop forcing our hand with their brilliant technicolor ideas.

9th October 2006

4:16am: We've hung a sign on our lives...Do Not Disturb!
let's talk Bret Easton Ellis, shall we?

the function of superficialty in Bret Easton Ellis' writing is not to warn us how calloused we can become over time, but to warn us how calloused we ARE. Abortion, rape, the rough trade, soul-eating drug use, it's all set to 80's popular song lyrics! It all reads like an itemized list of what the main characters have consumed over several months, with precious little emotional exposition. And yet i love him. Why? What other writer do you know that has the power to make a reader say at first,' oh no, i've never been on any terms with horrid people such as these, and i would certainly never ever be that vapid myself, this is the stuff of nightmares!" - and then in bed at night with the covers pulled up to their chin they suddenly realize that they DO know people like Bret's characters and they themselves are two shades of grey away from joining the passionless zombie ranks. Bret's books are of the horror genre not because of unimaginable imagery and violence but because these people are so TRUE. When Bret brings the reality home to stay in your mind, it truly is a horror, and impossible to forget. Bret's fiction keeps us on our toes. Bret Easton Ellis is the substance police(he's a self-admitted moralist writer) and he will haunt you like an extra conscience and he makes no apologies for taking up permanent residence in your head. He has courage and conviction to serve the unflinching truth to us (disguised on coke-lined, MTV-generation plates) and what is more valuable in a novelist? If you've never read one of his books, you probably don't like the brutality of mirrors or you're just plain old inane and illiterate.

I have seen several films lately, mostly during Turner Classic Movie's weekly celebration in September of Janus Films, and one new one with Shiv at the Esquire:

The Science of Sleep-
This is not only the best film I have seen in 2006, but the best new film I have seen in a theater in years. If you do not see this in a theater, you are cheating yourself terribly. Don't be afraid that this is just another surreal movie about the subconscious from Michel Gondry like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind(whether you loved that movie or hated it doesn't matter). You don't even have to see it for a shamefully brief glimpse of a completely naked Gael Garcia Bernal, or even for the Cure and Smiths posters right beside his bed. You MUST see this film partly because of the somewhat precious, ultimately charming lo-fi visual style of Stephane(Bernal)'s dreams, and partly because of the incredibly intense emotions evinced in the film's second half. At first, you think to yourself, 'this is a darling film, darling effects, darling hilarious one-liners, Stephane's darling crush on Stephanie!' And then, as reality slowly becomes harder and harder to distinguish from dream, you as a viewer start to feel the creeping intensity of feeling just as Stephane and Stephanie do onscreen. This movie sucks you in with its charm and attractiveness, and at some point you realize there is a substance to this small and personal story, a substance that is entirely relatable, particularly at the point when Stephanie is in the stairwell screaming repeatedly "What did i ever do to you?" - you realize this is no flimsy business of fluff and stuffed horses. this is delicate emotional beauty, melancholy brute force, disappointment, lies, truth, ambiguity, and most especially one of the most fragile brands of vulnerability (in Stephane particularly) I have ever seen onscreen. Trust me, as you have never trusted before, my children, and go see this film.
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You Wish You Were as European Film Buff Nerdy as ThisCollapse )

Boredom is the chief symptom of the in-between stage of social association, employment, and mental state in which i currently drown. I am not yet done with school (though i am so close i can taste it), but all of my college-era associations have moved away or gone missing from the film credits entirely over the years. I have not encountered anyone of sufficient worth to take the places of old acquaintances, and consequently my social life has become a stagnant pool even while my mind has moved forward, which understandably causes discomfort and no small amount of loneliness.

Still, Shiv declares it all means I am an adult, particularly the casting aside unapologetically of the 'scene' in which i used to delight in order to focus on much more substantial aspirations of both career and mental constitution. This is not to say I have no confidants - I do, i cherish them even more dearly than before for my lack of distractions. I do however lack the variety of social choices that I have always enjoyed in the past, which especially pains me when movies like THEM! come on at 2 am like the other night and I have not a soul to call in the vicinity to come watch with me. And then i remember how vapid and nasty most of those choices were in the cold light of day, such as apartment break-ins and all variety of emotional fracas, and i cannot help myself but be grateful for the steady souls whom i do love and respect and return my affection tenfold.

However, as a social animal, I can't stop myself from wanting to be on intimate terms with even more worthwhile people. Despite the transitory highlights of self-destruction and the flimsy characters with whom i shared those faded yet rich-as-sepia memories, I cannot bring myself to miss the incredible self-hatred and moments of terrible elvis costello middle of the night train horn oxford cincinnati blue christmas-lighted depression. At times, especially when lacking in suitable work, i desperately try to miss that life and everything and everyone it entailed, and i always fall short of achieving regret. I am sober and content, and yet i can still feel everything that crosses my mind with the immense passions i've carried around since childhood. Borderline addiction and a fruitless years-long chase for a non-existent superficial peace in personal annihilation has not destroyed the most important and signature aspects of this girl's personality and character. And so i have myself intact, come through the fire of the usual common temporary twenty-something drunken melancholic period, and i feel as though I'm intact for a reason, a profession or a person or both, and this feels on the brink of something entirely new. Perhaps i can bring to this 'careful adulthood' the flair and style i brought to a whimsical childhood, typical adolescence, and troubled early-twenties. Twenty-five, you are on my doorstep, and I meet you with expectance and wonder.

14th September 2006

4:27am: i found hope in my backyard
summer rains do not have the quality they did when i was growing up. the half rotten/half fresh smell, the tension in the humid air as dark grey clouds take over a bright blue sky - they don't exist. I'm either inside, or on my way somewhere. There is no beloved swing set in the backyard, no eating fresh oranges on the concrete front steps as the air grows heavier and i foolishly pray for the excitement of a tornado. And later, driving in rural areas after just escaping the swimming pool in time, "Bastards of Young" blasting as i race for home before the deluge really begins. Now there is no artifice (except for an obnoxiously purple umbrella), and i just try not to get soaked. This has very little alcohol content, no whimsy, no messy 80's punk, this is watching the world through windows even when you're outside. This is a careful adulthood.

Except...I'm listening to the Replacements right now, and whimsy is what gets me through every day. I will never lose my innocence, no matter the scrapes and dead-end alleys and fists-through-walls frustration. The only thing that is important to me is the protection of my curiosity, wonder, whimsy, imagination, innocence, belief, whatever you want to call it (The Buried Life) that goes on underneath everyday brushings of teeth, superficial laughs, and even long bouts of depression. I will stand in the path of the shower head when first turning the water on, and i will scream bloody murder, and i will still have me all the while. i will stubbornly refuse to sink because that struggle IS LIFE DAMMIT, there is no pursuit as painful or as rewarding, nothing better than telling Satan to get behind thee! and sometimes he does, and sometimes he stays and lives under my bed, and it matters not at all if you never let go of who you were at the mooring of starting out. broken glass, again and again, sometimes you cut yourself when you aren't careful, but as long as you take the time and effort to put yourself together again even when the pieces don't fit exactly anymore, you can survive, you can get out of bed, you can love others, you can still look in the mirror, and if i can always do these things then life is worthwhile.

also, r.i.p. 97x/woxy.com/iloveshivvydon'tleaaaaaaveemwiththesecrazies!. i can still see the temporarily-uncovered blue-painted walls in my bedroom when i was twelve and we were tearing off the wallpaper, more and more blue paint underneath, every day after school i listened, then again for hours after dinner, over and over, day after day. what can i say? the idea that music is this secret prize that you can find 'on your own' via a radio station, and then you have the option of holding it to your figurative bosom or trying to condemn the whole neighborhood to your favorite song. the music is yours to keep, it has an almost sentimental value if you can find it in a way that is not presented for ignorant mass consumption,and 97x represented a way to discover intelligent music for intelligent people. 97x gave me the idea that eating up alternative music can be an education, that you can take pride in that education, and that music you have found can see you through all the roller coaster of your life. i will always carry that idea with me, as it is like so many other ideas pounded into my brain during my formative years that are impossible to forget (also, Bona Drag Morrissey on top of my bookcase and Echo and the Bunnymen at Millett Hall in 1988 on my wall will be reminders, kissesSHIV!).what i'm trying to say is that my point of view was permanently affected by a radio station, and i truly believe i am a better person than i would have been because i grew up with 97x, Bam! The Future of Rock 'n Roll echoing in my ears.

8th July 2006

3:55am: They do not understand the urgency of life
There are about a million things i haven't told livejournal as of late. I'm not sure just why, but i've been writing short little entries in notebooks instead of online. I will try to find most of them and post them when they have relevance.
***
Why is it that i never date anyone that has a body like Robert Mitchum? Is it because the menacing height, razor-sharp jawline, enormous barrel chest big enough to crush a girl's ribs just by accident, the lazy, good-humoured yet suddenly piercing gaze, the very low-priority habit of smoking out of the side of the mouth, practically letting it fall to the ground, as though there were actually better things in store for that particular day than sucking on a cigarette and staring off into the distance, have all of these qualities disappeared into the mists of history? is it not chic to have hands large enough to smash a woman's windpipe if the inclination ever strikes?

I never thought i'd say it, but a woman does sometimes wonder what dating a non-effete, non-anorexic, non-ghostly pale, non-giraffe man is like. I don't think making one of my anemics tattoo their fey little knuckles with LOVE and HATE "Night of the Hunter"-style is going to suffice.

I have to wonder what it's like to be held with conviction, a man's unabashed sense of rough, leaden grace, and Robert Mitchum's barrel chest.
***
In other news, there is a man in his early forties(no barrel chest, unfortunately) named Richard, probably sitting in his Queen's University office right now, that I would perhaps marry tomorrow. I'm allowed to call him Richard, he signs that way, to some random college student in Ohio that admires his delivery of history through words that could cut through the fog of a war that's been waged for nearly a hundred years. His temples are grey, he wears glasses and tweed suits and I would move to the trashy hell of Northern Ireland in one split second just to spend some time with such a fascinating and talented man. If you are interested in not being just another Midwestern dunce about Irish politics, I could tell you more about Richard and his last book and even tell you the name of his upcoming book.

There is a boy south of here that writes the all-around best blog entries I've possibly ever read. He is one of my effete giraffe types, and if I could string words together with such shimmering skill, I could make the whole world love me.


p.s. I got a farmer's tan hanging my left arm out of the Cadillac-ac-ac-ac (15 gold stars if one of you gets that musical reference!) yesterday while helping Leah move(more on that later). Also, The Smiths' first album generally deals with the subject of innocence bogged down and crushed by the oppressive weight of the world. Thoughts?

28th April 2006

1:26pm: The Story of Manchester
A few days ago i bought a Mojo Classics magazine all about the Manchester music scene. Now, i know you're asking yourself, why do you need such a magazine, stacey, when you could already write a novel on it yourself? Well, it was partly for The Stone Roses' articles (they're the one Manchester band i love but didn't know enough about), and because, well, I cannot resist magazines with Morrissey on the cover. The Buzzcocks are covered more than usual, mostly because they brought the Sex Pistols in and so created the modern Manchester scene. And while we're on the subject, why don't more people like the Buzzcocks? It's bizarre. You can overlook Ian's dirge vocals, Mark E. Smith's vocal spasmodics, but you can't take Pete Shelley with a grain of salt just to appreciate one of the best rhythm sections EVER? You freaks. I digress.My personal story of Manchester will be related to you in reverse of the bands' periods of popularity, and so Oasis is first and the Buzzcocks last.

1. Oasis- please, boys, don't look back in anger.

I was introduced this band when I saw the video for "Live Forever" in sixth grade. And thanks to 97x, i picked up on their second album, What's the Story Morning Glory, before Wonderwall came out and everyone knew about them, so a few of my fellow middle schoolers thought i was bitchin'. After that I lost interest, and they've never recaptured me, but those two albums had some really damn solid songs on them (and some stinkers). I think they just weren't cute or gay enough, and their lyrics left something to be desired, so i had to move on. I always liked Pulp much better (songs about panties!!).

2. The Stone Roses - she'll be the first, she'll be the last to describe the way i feel, the way i feel!



I knew of them, I had heard Fools Gold but it must have sounded too much like Step On or something, as I never bothered to delve in this band until i read a little piece in the miami Amusement my twentieth year about jumping around in one's pajamas on one's bed listening to "I Wanna Be Adored", and seeing as I enjoy the first two activities, i tried the last one as well. As soon as i heard that glittering, shimmering song I was convinced this was a great band. I was right, of course. They don't sound like anything else, and i think it was Ian Brown, or maybe Squire, in one of the articles that said the other bands (like the horrid happy mondays) didn't know how to synthesize their influences as well as the Stone Roses. they wear them on their sleeves, but whilst listening you'd never think to yourself, this is a bunch of beatles rip-off tunes. no, you think, this stuff is amazing, thoroughly british rock/dance/funk/pop tunes that i can sing along with and be deliriously happy. They'd belong in the canon just for "I Wanna Be Adored," anyway, as it is a fucking late 80's epic of a song.

My favorite bit from my favorite FUCKYOU song ever, I Am The Resurrection (also, my name means resurrection. neato, huh?)
Turn turn, i wish you'd burn
there's a time and place for everything
i got to get it through
cut loose, 'cause you're old news
i couldn't stand another second in your company

Don't waste your words
I don't need anything from you
I don't care where you've been
or what you plan to do

I AM THE RESURRECTION
and i am the light
i couldn't ever bring myself
to hate you as i'd liiiiiiiiiike.


unbelievable squire guitar work

repeat

john squire proceeds to go onto another planet with his guitar for the next three minutes.

3. The Happy Mondays- hey, let's take a lot of drugs and make hollow, soulless dance music!


i fucking hate them beyond all reckoning. Step On is one of the worst records on the face of this earth. They are shit, shit, nothing but shit and I've never come across anyone who loves them, but if i did i'd surely give them a righteous talking-to and then i'd tell them to listen to The Stone Roses instead. The less said about these fucktards, the better.

4.Morrissey/The Smiths- two lumps please, you're the bee's knees, but so am i!



this is pretty dangerous, as i could very likely go off on a tangent and not stop until i've written seven novels, so we'll keep this historical. i knew who the smiths were at quite an early age, not sure what year, due to my older cousin Mike loving them. when i was in sixth grade, Vauxhall and I came out, with "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get" playing nonstop on MTV, and i was done for. Before sixth grade, I mostly listened to WGRR, my mom's records, and MTV/120 Minutes, without actually owning any music. Sometime in sixth grade or the summer after, I went to my local Camelot Music store and purchased The Smiths' The Singles compilation, The English Beat's What is Beat? compilation, The Sex Pistols' Nevermind the Bullocks, and a singles compilation for the Specials. These were all on tape, mind you, 'cause we're talking 93/94 here. I think back then what drew me so to The Smiths was, first and foremost, the intelligence level of the lyrics. As a perennial 'smart kid,' from kindergarten until graduation (4.078 GPA, 31 ACT, thanks very much, let's not talk about college), I felt a real connection to the vocabulary and structure and general cleverness. This was pop music, the hooks were there, lovely delicate melodies with punk drums and intricate bass lines, but the singer is talking about Oscar WILDE!! I flipped my lid, haven't been right since. I think these days what keeps me so attached is partly remembering what it was like to discover the perfect band to match my temperament, reading habits, and sense of humour. When people say they don't like The Smiths, i just have to assume they aren't intelligent enough to realize that Morrissey loves 60's era girl singers and campy comedy, and a large amount of The Smiths output has to do with that (and, well, a generous dose of self-pity mixed in, admittedly;p).
You have to search pretty hard to find the bad Smiths songs, but there are plenty of rotten Morrissey ones, which initially, had a lot to do with who he was collaborating with to write the music for his words after he made Viva Hate with Vini Reilly and Stephen Street. Now...his lyrics just lack the snap of the old days. I recommend Viva Hate! and Vauxhall and I, though, as you can't go wrong with them at all. There are a couple odds and ends compilations for Moz that are ok, too.

5.New Order-and i'm not the kind who likes to tell you just what you want me to!

Of all the bands on this list, this is probably the first one i really loved. I remember watching the absofuckinglutely insane video for True Faith on MTV when i was a wee little one, and being fascinated. I'm still pretty fascinated. The lyrics, for the most part, aren't so emotionally obvious as their 80's counterparts, and I think that could be said for most of the bands on this list. The ambiguity is what makes songs so personally meaningful, I fill in the blanks, these songs mean what they mean only because i placed that meaning on them, otherwise they'd just be 80's dance tracks. Most 80's dance tracks are tinny, flimsy things that don't use the technology at their disposal to elicit any new kind of compelling sort of relationship for their listener, you just shake your rear and that's it. New Order is different, so different. I can't imagine loving this band as much as I do without their 2 minute synth intros. and well, peter hook is involved, how could you say no? people that don't love this band don't understand how to look for the emotional content, or they've never heard "Age of Consent," or something, because they're the second-best band of the 80's.

6.The Fall-i've never felt better in my life



I first heard this band late in high school. What can I say? Their output is so varied. At times, they sound like a more intelligent XTC, at other times they are more atonal and stark and humourless than anything you've ever heard. Hex Enduction Hour is my favorite by them, i'm not sure it's the best but i wholeheartedly recommend it. I came upon the mutant-looking Mark E. Smith and his ever-changing band late in my musical development, so there isn't as much of an emotional attachment, but there is still nothing like The Fall. absolutely nothing.

7.Joy Division-in the shadowplay



how can i start? how about with the fact that stephen morris is cute and no ever talks about it? how about peter hook being the best bassist to step foot on this planet? how about ian curtis's lyrics and how he could teach mark e. smith a thing or too about starkness? This band's influence reverberates like no other, but I did tell Jenn the other day that I'm afraid their influence is taking a backseat these days to other bands like Gang Of Four (which i love, too). No one wants to be influenced by the post-punk sound of the industrial revolution anymore, i guess. If you're a true fan, i recommend reading Touching From A Distance by Ian's widow, and even if you aren't a fan, the story is pretty mesmerizing, though you won't be able to listen to the music the same way again. I'm not sure when I first heard them, probably in middle school, and then I really got into them in my sophomore year of high school. at that point, i knew i loved the bass, so when i heard new dawn fades i nearly went bonkers. how could there be a band that showcased the BASS LINE??? and as a teenager, ian's overwhelming sense of alienation in his vivid lyrics was a perfect fit. but whether or not you love this band, you can't argue with their innovations, musically and also production-wise by Martin Hannett.

8.The Buzzcocks-i'm clearly an orgasm addict.

I first heard this band pretty early, in middle school. Seeing as i always pay attention to the sloppiness or tightness of a band's rhythm section, i immediately noticed how fucking great this band was. Pete Shelley could have been singing about unicorns and rainbows for all i cared, that BEAT, that beat is what made this band great. Sometimes the lyrics are great too, like on 'You Say You Don't Love Me,' but mostly it's a bunch of punk nonsense that doesn't intrude on my enjoyment of the BEAT. man, if you've ever heard 'ever fallen in love', you know what i'm talking about. saccharine lyrics on top of an incredibly fine rhythm section, combining to make a very pleasant punk experience.

the end. come to the wussy show tonight at the northside and girls and boys tomorrow. this will be the last g&b with Kyle in attendance, so you know there will an extra amount of 60s music circa 3 am provided by his secret husband, Mikey.

4th April 2006

2:22am: like the veil of things as they seem drawn back by an unseen hand
lately i have been deathly bored. it's the gradual warming of the weather - my mind is in such complete opposition. PBS recently aired an episode of American Experience about Eugene O'Neill. It was fairly glorious, minus the readings of Al Pacino (I don't favor The Iceman Cometh anyway). Robert Sean Leonard read one of the most brilliant passages ever put on paper or on stage, from my favorite play Long Day's Journey into Night. It's the purest bitter magic you'll ever read or hear. O'Neill writes like a small puncture wound that you don't notice until you're on the verge of bleeding to death. His words can be fiercely ugly or hopelessly bleak, and still they feel like satin gliding over your brain. His writing is deceptively easy and deceptively cynical. However ephemeral, transitory are the shining slivers of hope in his work, they are the moments that puncture you, even while you leave poor Eugene, while you leave with the impact of his horrifying honesty, the impact fades, and the horrors of reality are not in fact what makes him so important. The idea that lasts, that is branded without your knowledge or consent, is the idea that is so eloquently and clearly explained in that particular passage, the idea that the majority of life is a mockery of the true, alive moments filled not just with possibility but a sort of realization of the promise of all the disgusting moments that come before and after. It's the idea that true meaning, true life is found in the tiny, loveliest seconds, and the rest is the ugly dream, the unreality. O'Neill reveals meaning not by realism to its own end, but by achieving something entirely different and pure, clear, spectacular, vibrant with that drab realism.

Amidst the flat-lining days, there are some of those tiny moments, such as a couple weeks ago when i spontaneously burst into a rendition of Herman's Hermits Henry the Eighth, and my mother instantly joined me like it was the most normal thing in the world. Even so, the rain falls hard on a humdrum town...

27th February 2006

6:39pm: stay in bed all morning just to pass the time
so i had this entry planned out for weeks about how bored i am with, well, everything, feeling like i'm ready to roll and leave behind the person i used to be while certain things are keeping me stagnant even as i eke out progress. stagnant socially, mainly. well, forget it. saturday my social butterfly energies were recharged by hanging out with folks i never see or had never hung out with before at all. i had a really great time, especially the two or three pints i kept spilling on the same random scenester slut -- i've never encountered someone more deserving to take a bath. however, i did enjoy my own bath in blue moon, though you know i prefer my baths to be of the Harp variety, but alas alchemize was OUT OF EVERY IMPORTED BEER I'VE EVER DRANK. their monumental unpreparedness did not stop me from dancing my non-ass off, however. and i must say thanks to chris for letting our troupe in, and i didn't feel guilty as i always spend $40 there on alcohol. kyle was there, and that meant mikey repeatedly played 15 minute sets of sixties music and a few 70s ditties too (they're secretly in love with each other. mikey even admitted it to me. yep.). i took advantage by dancing as i've almost never danced before, with everyone in the joint(i danced with eric and mandy too, i'm not sure why but i like eric much better now that they're together, it shows he has discerning taste, and my eternally lovely emily was there, she is, in addition to being talented, always eminently kind to me), and by the end of the evening i was exhausted. I was an obnoxious drunk to steph in the backseat with hilly on the way home (casey and jason should count themselves lucky to be spared) and made up for it by having a really comforting bonding girl session with Stephanie when we got back to her apartment. I think i held everyone's hand in the place, even let a few kiss me on the cheek, and these are surefire signs i've imbibed quite a vat full of alcohol. it was just glorious, in general(though poor Steph hurt her arm and I missed seeing my best Shivvy and my childhood hero Rob Dickinson at the SGH), and i'm very glad i went.

here is another, still-relevant part of that scrapped journal:

I am most alive either when the weak winter late afternoon sun breaks through a dirty window pane in a bathroom (inside), or on the street very late at night, absurdly clear jet-black sky, dirty snow in the gutters, in transit quickly (but outside nonetheless).

***
A Room With A View quote section:

1. Possibly my favorite passage from any book on this planet:

We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won't do harm - yes, choose a place where you won't do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.

2. Also that men fall into two classes - those who forget views and those who remember them, even in small rooms.

3.Am I justified? Yes, for we fight for more than Love or Pleasure; there is Truth. Truth counts, Truth does count.


***

Few people realize that i feel, or have the capacity to feel, just as much as i think. I have often chided my mother and brother for being sappy over our old house (the one i grew up in, that went back to the bank), as i never drive past it or talk about it. the other night i decided suddenly to go back to that old neighborhood, Manchester Manor, and 4509 Manchester. I drove by my cousins' old house first, and was sad to see the new owners had added a bourgeois new door with an artfully-paned window, instead of the burgundy-painted metal door not unlike the olive-drab painted metal one at 4509. They had also taken down the shutters and added a needless wooden railing to the tiny stoop. As i drove from there to my old house, it was strange, as i'd taken about 40 million walks on those streets, but they weren't MINE anymore. I cried some of my slow teardrops when i drove ever-so-slowly by my house (See, my heart of stone isn't made of diamonds, it's made of the softest emerald, it is). Unlike my cousins', nothing has been changed, and that somehow was even sadder. And as I cried, I wondered, did i leave more behind at that house than my John Lennon White Album free picture? What does such an experience do to a person? I don't know, except that i'm not the same. I am not a little girl in dress-up clothes, and as i told kyle last night (on instant messenger, a week ago), i don't want to spend time with little kids in adult costumes. This is not to say I've devoted my life to my crossword and jigsaw puzzles or acquired twelve cats, or that I'm a joyless teetotaler - it just means I'm a different person and I'm bored to death and back with the current restrictions on my life and broken social scene. It seems harder and harder to find people who have a fervent, unwavering passion for SOMETHING, their cat, William James, their job, their sock collection, going to shows, Puccini, Hal Hartley movies, lawn tennis, ex-lovers, international travel, thrift shopping, black and white photography, claymation christmas movies, rare Jeff Buckley songs, just SOMETHING, and who aren't afraid to boldly share it.

the night has a thousand eyes, and my patent leather shoes shine upward.

31st January 2006

11:39am: We won the war after losing every battle
We can all die in our beds now, completely at peace, because JOHN O'BRYANT HAS WATCHED TWO FOR THE ROAD!!!!

As soon as the movie was over, after a 3-year wait, his life changed. Audrey Hepburn clearly saved his immortal soul. He also got to see the french empire lushness of my new bedroom set, my mom doing a jigsaw in her robe, my dad noisily doing the dishes at 3 am, and my adorable shih tzu Gizmo's slight aversion to males. My brother was asleep, so he was spared that freak. I threw in some Harp and Dominick Dunne's pinstripe suit for free. Also, I lent him the Elvis Costello dvd so he too can enjoy the wonders of synchronized dancing and a puce blouse. Really, he wanted to go out and frolic, but i was tired after class and antisocial and he surely knows none of his hissy fits could ever compare to my own. I wasn't so sure about being back in his apartment, too, though I eased up as soon as i heard "All My Loving" as i walked in the door. Throughout the years, John's lovely taste in music has never faltered. So i was playing around with the Beatles playlist while he was getting ready, and I laid back on the bed for a wee rest. I shot right up, though, as the ceiling reeked of deja vu and ghost smoke rings. I was glad, however, to note that he had finally put up his Almost Blue framed cover in my long absence.

It's 4 o'clock in the morning, DAMMIT, listen to me good!

I'm also happy to report that over the last few months John has slowly become addicted to Mystery! and Masterpiece Theatre, not just Frontline. At last, someone to be PBS nerdy with me! Sorry to all I've missed socially in the past week. It's pretty strange (albeit a nice change) to feel on the best terms of the week with a person from the deep dank past with a blue hat and a terminal case of consumption. If you don't have to rely on each other emotionally, it can be quite comforting instead of suffocating and frightening to have someone around who knows all the cobweb corners where you hide things from the world. I like where we are now very much, and if staying here means I keep my mouth shut and let him off the hook so i can keep from being left on it, if i never ask the questions, if we're never close again - it's worth it, to be here. besides, i already know the answers, i don't need a conversation peeling back new skin to hear the answers out loud. we've already offered our apologies and accepted them, we can hold hands again in the best way, and i need someone around who is devious with couch armrest covers and thinks no less of me when he helps me clean up spilled Rosemount Shiraz from my parents' new carpet. kisses to you, monsieur hoohoo.

19th January 2006

12:01am: everybody knows you can't break me with your gutter prose
Wednesday night was spent getting lost in every part of Hamilton County. Jenn and I had a lovely time at the Art Museum (everyone must see the Cat Chow exhibit. Dresses made with band-aids and glass vials!) after taking an exciting detour on 71. I bought metric tons of postcards and a subway size poster of my main man:



Then we proceeded to get lost in the downtown area before mercifully reaching Highlands coffee. Both of us gave the cozy little place a rave review. The turkey sandwich was out of sight (as was my chocolate-caramel-latte-thing), the clove cigarette being smoked next to us was divine, the clientele was mature and overall it was a relaxing and lovely experience. After that it was time for some Graeter's on Ludlow, but not before getting lost again. Eventually I had my scoop of black raspberry chip and we moved the party down the street to the Comet. Upon arrival, several people were milling about, but as the lazy hours passed in the strange and sleepy low lighting from the neon sign out front, the crowd thinned down to about fifteen people. No Harp (sacrilege!), but the delightful bartender made up for it by making sure my Stella and Jenn's whiskey sour were filled to the brim. As people left, so did a certain unwanted presence, thankfully. I swear, if you want in my pants, how do you propose to succeed by staring and then looking away? I don't have much respect for such shenanigans and tomfoolery.

Then the party moved down to the Northside, which was almost as empty and relaxed(who knew everyone stays home on cold Wednesday evenings?) I got my requisite Harp for the night, and then exhaustion took over, we could no longer accomplish revealing and sensitive conversation, and it was time to head back to Butler County to rest up for this non-stop social fest of a weekend:

Please join!

-Friday: Ambar, Take It To The Bridge Benefit, dancing on light boxes at Jacob's.

-Saturday: DV80's at Alchemize, when i fully expect Casey to teach me the true meaning of 'shake what yo' mama gave ya.'

16th January 2006

12:43pm: and there's a turbulent moon-ridden girl/dressed in opals and rags, feathers and torn taffeta
and though you have forgotten
all of our rubbish dreams


i search less and less through the ashes of our words. i'm too filthy, anyway, and i won't stay here. i've got some dreams that aren't rubbish.

These were moments, years,
solid with reality, faces, nameable events, kisses, heroic acts,
but like the friendly beginning of a geometrical progression
not too reassuring, as though meaning could be cast aside some day
when it had been outgrown.


Old crackpot hearts once more aswim with color

Now that I have regained my exuberance for living, what to do with it? I feel, even though it obviously isn't true, that no one wants to share their philosophies of life with me, grasp my hand very tightly, hold me close to their figurative bosom! The vitality in me wants to entangle itself with others, but a laugh and a drink is all that is required, easily met, and meanwhile most of my eccentricity falls uselessly (and unnoticed)onto bar floors and gets discarded out of car windows. I want to be excited, I want to ramble on senselessly until daybreak, I want a receptacle for this vivacity, passion, whatever this is that needs to escape, because unless it is utilised i'm terrified the will disappear altogether and leave me dry as a bone.

Idols and ambergris and rare inlays
These are your riches, your great store


At the violet hour

I want to live in Greenwich Village in the 20's and be in the Provincetown Players. That's the sort of life i want to live, surrounded by a vibrant inspiration and creativity that you can almost feel percolating in your own blood by sheer, strange osmosis. Harshly and truly, I have no respect for well-manicured lawns, pressed shirts, and made beds. It's not that I never want to be married, as i do, i want very much to lay all my wares out on a platter and have someone accept it all, to have that emotional release. It's not that I don't admire my mother, for example, who has worked full time 9-5 since she was 18, but I admire her for her mental fortitude in the face of insane Gunckle family dramas over the years, not because she does such an excellent job scrubbing the bathtub. I don't want a life full of non-stop excitement and drama, either, as I am much too fond of soft blue blankies, hot chocolate with whipped cream, tea, nightgowns, and poetry. My aim in life is to have it all - a true home, meaning, excitement, a writing job of some sort, poetry, art for art's sake (good ol' Pater), board games, fireplaces, passports, wood floors, window seats, passion, and all of that without ever giving up and turning bitter. Now i have the energy again to go about collecting these hard gems to add to my precious little cache of memories. All that's left is devising ways to build up these bricks of my life, mostly so i can have them to hold secretly in my hand, even while i know as long as i have a firm grip on myself i can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

and walk your memory's halls, austere, supreme,
a ghost in marble of a girl you knew



p.s. the melody of the guitar solo on 'jack the ripper'(live version, of course) is the melody of my SOUL. also, my old yann tiersen self-made cd is pretty sublime as well. courtney, holy crap, i have to find the link and leave it as a comment or an email or something - i remember a french site with all of his videos, including a ridiculously great one (incidentally, lesbians are involved! and heterosexual violence!) for "Rue des Cascades". and i'm glad you did wonderfully on your exam, and no one set their ass on fire at your party;p and i think i'm done editing your cd, we should get together soonlike.

p.p.s. i really like Voxtrot. and air supply. and have i ever talked about last.fm. on here before? it's fun. i'm friends with Don on there, do any of the rest of you have it, too? i share a computer with my brother, so remember, there will be a lot of ridiculous shit i've never even heard of. preposition.

p.p.s. my suggestion for this friday is to go to the Take It To The Bridge benefit, then dance at Jacob's. come on, pat, jenn, steph. you know you want to support a good cause and then dance on light boxes.
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