My book, "DJ Shadow's ... Endtroducing," part of Continuum's 33 1/3 series, can be found at your local book and music store, or purchase it via Amazon (click the link on the right). Also, an excerpt from my book is part of the new collection, 33 1/3 Greatest Hits Vol. 2.
For this record, I present to you a crash course on what I do and what I think. A few songs are older ones that I've re-recorded and remixed to slot in with the the new tunes, so it will all seem of a piece, because being "of a piece" is, I guess, what I struggle to create, both in my writing and in my life. Here is Eliot Wilder: 101.
Sometimes I think that I did die in that terrible traffic accident I was in on Highway 46 all those years ago, and that this, whatever this is has been one long and strange semiconscious afterlife in which the joke is not on me, but on a person I've never met. That may explain why I feel like such an outsider; I'm just a bit player in someone else's death.
More than a decade ago I left my job as a copy editor at the Los Angeles Times, where I had been working for over 18 years. Then, in a fit of mid-life crisis, I moved to Boston to attend an MFA program in creative writing at BU, which, despite high hopes, turned out to be a very negative experience. One of my instructors began the first day of class by saying, "I plan to cure you all of taking a creative writing course again." She did. In the years that followed, bit by bit, my life began to unravel; I lost both of my parents (my mom to Alzheimer's and my Dad to cancer), I became estranged from my two sisters and I could not seem to find steady work. Along the way, my daughter was born and I became a Mr. Mom. I also began, almost every day, to write songs, something I had once done when I was much younger but had long since abandoned. But I felt now I had something to say about myself and the world around me, and say it in a way I could not have said when I was in my early 20s. It started off slowly, but as I grew in confidence my work and inspiration rate increased, and I got to the point where I was going at it for about eight hours a day, coming up with ideas and material - toiling away for just about the same amount of time one might spend at a job. And now, I have finished my 100th album, Meet Eliot Wider. This one, like all the others, is for my daughter Astrid. It documents who I am, how I think, and the way I look at the world. Just so she will know, when she grows up, who her daddy was.
A message from my daughter Astrid about the Boston Marathon bombing.
Here is yet another album - originally recorded in 2011 - that I have completely remixed and rethought. I moved around the song order, took out an instrumental, rerecorded many of the vocals and, in one case, remade the basic track. I've always liked this album because of songs such as "Spooky Girl," "Lovesick Blues Boy," the title tune, and what is perhaps my most personal song, "Right Here." And now, hopefully, it is that much stronger. Thanks again to Helen, the gal on the cover. My Mona Lisa. Download "This Lonesome Road" here.
In the past I have rerecorded several of my albums, bringing to them fresh ideas and the kind of knowledge that comes with experience. But all the albums I redid were ones that I thought worthy, ones I believed had good songs that were in need of a fresh coat of paint. A week ago I listened to "The Friendship Ring," which I originally recorded in 2009, and, because it's not what I would consider one of my better efforts, I haven't given it much thought since. But there are some tracks, such as "Flypaper" and "In the Scheme of Things," that I believe could have been decent, sturdy tunes, if only I had executed them better. Then I thought, what if I remake and remodel an entire record that I don't care all that much for and see how much better it could be? If I failed, I could just let it go. But if I succeeded ... So, I set to work, and now I believe have an album I can feel good about, one I no longer have to cringe over when I look back on it. In fact, I think it's among the best things I've done. Download "The Friendship Ring" here.
When I started writing songs for this album I began to see a connection with the songs from my past three records, "Little Bastards," "Scoundrels" and "Primitive Man." All contained stories about people doing what they do without apology. So, in an aha! moment, it was decided that these albums formed a quartet. If you listen closely, and no doubt you will, you may detect a dialogue of sorts, where a character from one song is speaking or responding to a character in another. Some of these people are questionable in nature. Some are on their way up and some are on their way down. Are they good or bad? That's not for me to judge. I'll leave it up to you. Download the album "Social Studies" here.
Do we ever see ourselves as we really are? Do we ever see what it is we really do? Or are we so adept at self-deception that we can't know the primitive man that lurks beneath the surface? We may laugh or be disgusted by a man/child despot like Kim Jong Un, but aren't we all like him in some small way? An acquaintance of mine is a self-proclaimed minister for an evangelical church, and he has accumulated an ardent following of willing young believers, mostly college students. My sense is that he thinks he is doing God's work (i.e., good), but at the heart of it - at the heart of him - there lurks a dark fear and a feeble-minded ignorance. This album is for and about him - the lion inside the lamb. Download the album "Primitive Man" here.
I had three encounters with the Boston Phoenix over the years. The first was in the late '90s when I worked for them as a free-lance copy editor, and I tried to get them to hire me full-time. They didn't. The second came a few years later, when I had been laid off from my job as editor for WildWeb.com, and the Phoenix wanted me to be their new web editor (they somehow didn't remember me from before). After I passed through the silt and scum of that place during a barrage of agonizing interviews, I decided not to take the job. Frankly, the internal politics and palpable air of dysfunction scared the hell out of me. My third encounter came when I wrote music reviews for them. That lasted about six years (and along the way there were many peculiar snafus with my copy), but I finally ended it when one of my articles (which appeared as written) became a bone of contention between two warring editors. Turns out, nothing was wrong with my piece; it just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. All three of these situations involved the editor, Peter Kadzis. Turns out, one of his kids attends the same elementary school as my daughter, and I have seen him there many times in the past year or so (he's never once recognized me). So the other day I went up to him and said, "Looks like you're out of a job." He said yeah, and went on for a little bit about how hard it's been just to close down that place and blah, blah, blah. I told him I used to work for him, and he vaguely recalled my byline. The conversation didn't last long. Like me, he's not a young man. And not young men (and women) can find it quite difficult finding a new job in this day and age. Sometimes karma is a bitch.
You've heard of 15 minutes of fame? This morning I had my 1.5 seconds.
Most of the characters in these songs are people I know, have once known or, perhaps, imagined I knew. They are all rather slippery people, the kind you are not quite sure of, the kind that leave you guessing. When they tell you something personal, as they often do, you wonder how much of it is true and how much fabrication. The thing is, they don't know themselves - so how can you? And yet, because they are often good at sounding like they know what they are saying, and because they look and act completely convincing, you want to buy in. They are Lucy holding the football, and you are Charlie Brown. Do you not think she won't pull it away at the last second? Download the album "Scoundrels" here.
This music review site gave my album Mercy a 3.1. Does that means it gets a B minus? Better study harder next time.
I had a dream the other night, and in it a song was playing called "Where There Is Ovna, There Is Love." So, I got up, and this came out. Can someone tell me who or what Ovna is?
"Alphabet City" was my third album, and the last one to be recorded, for the most part, with Dave Westner at Woolly Mammoth Sound in Boston. At the time, I was dealing with my mom's death from Alzheimer's, and most of the songs are about memory and loss. Here are are 13 songs about warm rains, ghost towns and the bitter hereafter.
During the making of this album, which was originally recorded in 2009, I was having difficulty sleeping; my dreams were filled with dark and disturbing images that felt so completely real that they bled into my days, to the point where my waking life was totally preoccupied with coping with my wretched nightmares. I could find no relief or respite, except in the songs I was writing. I recall that despite initial difficulties with my creative process, I began to gather strength as the album went along. And by the time I got to the title track, which I considered to be one of my best songs, I knew I was onto something. I was really proud of what I had done with that song, at least until I played it for an old acquaintance, who proceeded to tell me what she thought was wrong with it. I think, like most people, she had good intentions. But it did me no good. Her suggestions were purely academic and technical, when all I sought was her emotional reaction. Basically, I simply wanted to know how the tune made her feel. I suppose, for her, an emotional reaction was not something she would have considered. My thought was that she wanted to impress me in some way by "teaching" me the correct vocal technique or how the drummer should "not play so samey." Whatever, it took the shine off the track at the time. At any rate, I've since completely re-recorded and remixed this album, and I do feel it's among the best things I've done. All I can suggest is, listen to it with your heart. Download the album here.
This one came pretty quickly, once I sorted out how I wanted it sound: a bit of flamenco, gypsy jazz, folk, rhythm and blues, and New Orleans funk. Overall, the album flows with a lightness of touch; a rare warm sunny day in the middle of winter. Just don't listen to the words too closely, I suppose. Here is Little Bastards, 13 songs about glad tidings, popinjays and whirlwind tours.
Creativity is done in a vacuum, and nature, as they say, abhors a vacuum. This must explain my incredible popularity. Here is Goodbye Tomorrow, 13 songs about sweet spots, poison trees and the doors of perception.
"Westphalia" was my fourth album, and even though several songs were done at least in part at Woolly Mammoth Studios in Boston, most of it was recorded on my own. In fact, the very first track I made for it, "Dime in My Pocket," was the first one I ever did solely at home. In the beginning I thought it would merely be a demo, but the more I worked on it and the more it started to come together, the more I thought, "Hey, I can do this." The song itself is a bit strange - nothing rhymes and I'm not sure exactly what it is about - but what it taught me was how to create a certain feel, and that was as important as just about anything else. As for the themes on this record, I was, like Candide, re-examining my personal philosophy of life in face of evil. Here are 12 songs about locusts, good intentions and the best (and worst) of all possible worlds.
Thanks to the movie Blood Jungle, I am officially an "actor" over at IMDB. Now I'm just gonna sit back and wait for all the offers to come pouring in.
It's a new year, and it's time to look forward to the promise that a new year brings. But it's difficult not to look back on the past one with all its tragedies - some natural, most of man's own doing - and not feel a sense of sadness, pain and grief. This album picks through a few of the events the year 2012; it is, in a way, a photo album of what happened by chance and what we chose to do to each other. Download "What I Found in the Remains" here.
Mock on, mock on; 'tis all in vain!
You throw the sand against the wind,
And the wind blows it back again.
Just in time for Christmas and/or the end of the world, here is a third collection of songs from the past year. It makes a handy compendium for those who can't be bothered to listen to the albums themselves. Thirty-three tunes for only seven bucks ... such a deal! Download "Golden Greats - Volume III" here.
Many of these tracks are what I have come to term "lesson" songs for my daughter Astrid; they are parables - little stories that illustrate instructive principles that she might find useful as she travels along her life's bumpy path. So you have tunes like "Up Shits Creek Without a Paddle," which retells the saga of the grasshopper and the ant, and "Down the Rabbit Hole," which recounts Alice's journey through a mad world. There is also "The Inspired Fake," about charlatans who are intent on convincing you of their worth but instead only peddle bad faith, and "This Might Sting a Bit," about sellers of false hope. By writing these, it has forced me to reconsider my own understanding of what is moral and true in a universe that is increasingly difficult to comprehend. We listen, we learn. Download "The Great Escape" here.
I worked at the Los Angeles Times for 18 years, first as a copy kid and later as a copy editor. My experience there began as exciting and somewhat fun, but as the years passed it turned dour and dark, and mostly I felt trapped. I kept trying to convince myself that what I was doing would lead me to better place somehow, and that I belonged there, even though, as I would later discover, it didn't matter to anyone if I were there or not. Along the way I did encounter many strange, difficult and downright painful situations, none of which had anything to do with the actual day to day production of the paper, which was, at the very least, extremely stressful. The strangeness, the difficulties and the pain had more to with the people, as is always the case at just about any job. Eventually, certain things happened that kind of broke me in a way. And even now, all these years after I finally did leave the place, I still feel very damaged by it. No doubt you've had something similar occur to you, where you feel stuck, either at work or in your town or in your school. And your brain accommodates your predicament, and you think, "You know, it could be worse. This isn't so bad. I can always leave." But then you don't leave. Or when you do leave, it's almost as if it's too late. Lesson: Don't wait too long. As the poet Rilke says, "You must change your life." Download the album here.
This, my 91st album, was arguably the most difficult experience I've had making a record. Many songs were reworked or outright rejected. Many ideas smacked into a dead end. Many tracks lacked that certain special something that would make me want to ever listen to them again. But I kept at it, and eventually this is what I came up with. Twelve songs about being low down. More than any other collection of tunes, this one cuts closest to the bone. Maybe it had a lot to do with the weather (I kept recording while Hurricane Sandy wailed away outside my window), but this is the best expression I could come up with for my particular form of depression. If you have ever suffered through dark nights (and days) of the soul, perhaps "Low Down" will resonate in some small way with you. Download the album here.
Some people can ignore you for years, and they have no problem with that. But what they don't like is when you ignore them.
For people who live unexamined lives, the world just happens, happening as it does beyond their will or ability to act upon it. Because, to them, there are always external forces - perhaps God, perhaps chance, perhaps circumstance - that they believe are outside their ability to understand and control. In most cases, they get away with so much because they think so little. But if they began a process of self-evaluation and -examination, they may come to discover that there is much they can do. Or, at the very least, they can stop deflecting blame for the pain they inflict. Coming to this place of discovery requires much work - more work than most people want to invest in. But the ultimate reward can be great, not only for the people who awaken to their lives, but also to the people in their orbit. They just need to start. But the question remains: How to begin? Download the album here.
Here's something I was not aware of ... my DJ Shadow book is an audio book, with narration by one L.J. Ganser. BTW, it's also available to download on iTunes.
A few weeks ago saw my 40th high school reunion, and although I did not attend, the event did cause me to reflect on the passage of time. A friend sent a link to a site with photos of my old classmates, and seeing those pictures really threw me. Who were all these old people? Who were these men in Hawaiian shirts with big bellies and bald heads? Who were these women with bleached-out hair, saggy skin and too much make-up? Who were these strangers? The one thing I've come to realize is, life is a great leveler. No matter how much you think you've got it going on, sooner or later life bites you on the ass. With that in mind, I began writing songs for what has become "Beautiful People."
When it gets down to it, we really are animals, a thin patina of civility the only thing that separates us from dogs. We may think well of our accomplishments, our religions, our art, our science, but despite all that - all those things that make us "human" - we are strange and irrational creatures at best. As William Golding put it: "Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill! You knew, didn?t you? I?m part of you? Close, close, close! I?m the reason why it?s no go? Why things are what they are?" Or as Woody Allen once said: "Show business is dog-eat-dog. It?s worse than dog-eat-dog; it?s dog-doesn?t-return-other-dog?s-phone-calls." Out of these considerations comes "Dry Season," 12 songs about buzzsaws, black riders and dumb animals.
When I got to this, my 17th album, I was feeling pretty secure with what I could come up with, despite the fact that nobody was actually buying my stuff (although thousands of people were downloading it for free) and that I was getting virtually no support or feedback. Still, I felt undeterred. What choice did I have? But looking back on it now, "Curious Inventions" bespeaks the isolation I was feeling, and continue to feel. They say the act of creating is a solitary pursuit. What they don't say is just how lonely loneliness can be. This album is very special to me for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it's the first record, I believe, where all the songs seemed consistently strong from the beginning to end.
9.17.2012 Where I Belong, a song for my 40th high school reunion, which I did not attend.
"Speak, Memory," originally recorded in 2010, has several of my favorite tracks on it, including "Crossing the Line," "Midnight Town" and "The Devil Ain't Got No Music," which was inspired by a line that Mavis Staples uttered on "The Colbert Report" when asked how she felt to be singing the devil's music. (Subsequently, in the past year, the blues singer Lurrie Bell has recorded a tune using the same title, but I got there first!). At any rate, after listening to this record recently, I thought it could be better - not only the mix, but the vocals as well. So I've given it a fresh coat of paint. The sound is brighter now, it pops more and the singing is (hopefully) a little more on the money. Download the album here.
This album, my 88th, is about movement from not just one place to another, but mental movement - how a mind can flit from one idea to the next like a moth in a lightbulb factory. It is also about the times we live in, in which people lack focus and depth of attention, finding it difficult to be consistent with choices and behaviors. Because, you know, there is always something else. You may be talking with someone and suddenly that person's eyes glaze over because a text has just come in and what you are saying is suddenly not as significant as the possibilities that have popped up on that device. A small thing, perhaps. But it says a lot about who we are, what we do and how far we have or have not come. You see, nowadays there are all forms of escape - some, I believe, quite insidious - but where have they taken us to? Download the album here.
After the thematic conceit of "Still As a Painting," I felt the need to make an album that was just a collection of tunes. It was the end of the summer in 2009, that sense of melancholia that comes with autumn was settling in around Boston, and with it arrived these very peculiar and moody songs. I was listening to a lot of My Bloody Valentine at the time, and I was being influenced by extreme distortion - not only distorted guitars and voices, but distorted thoughts and emotions as well. So what was going to be "just a collection of tunes" ultimately became these 13 tracks about hell in a skin's suit. The cover photo, by the way, is of my friend Jess, and I consider it one of my best images. She can also be seen in the video for "This Lonesome Road." Download the album here.
We went to Niagara Falls recently and we stayed with some friends who live in upper New York State, which is actually very rural, all fields and farms for as far as you can see. These friends live in a small college town called Seneca Falls, which is the very place that was fictionalized as Bedford Falls in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." Only now the town is pretty depressed - lots of these small towns were once factory towns, and now all the factories are gone. So you see a lot of people who look tired and careworn and blown apart. It was a sad place, and I couldn't help be feel that sadness. So when we came back I started writing songs that reflected that, songs about the displaced and the dispossessed. Songs about the separateness we feel. Songs about the other.
There comes a time when a certain relationship reaches an end, but one of the parties seems to be unaware that this has happened. Or maybe that person lives in a state of denial. Or is oblivious. Or just wants to pretend that what's has gone on for the last decade or two or three is hunky dory, even though no effort or energy whatsoever has been put into keeping the relationship alive. It's just this thing, this entity - but it is not true; it does not breathe, it does not move, it is not about anything at all. And what do you say to this person? How do you tell him or her that you are at the end of the road? Download "End of the Road" over on Bandcamp.
This was my second album, and it all came about because of Dave Westner, engineer and multitasking musician extraordinaire at Woolly Mammoth Studios. At this stage I was extremely unsure of what I could do both musically and lyrically, but slowly (the recording stretched on over 2007 and 2008) I began to find my legs, mostly because Dave was so proficient at translating my vague ideas into musical realities. Once we'd finished a track, he'd say, "Go write another one." And I would. And bit by bit, "The Bread of Dreams" came together. I like this record a lot, and I really love Dave's playing on it. He's an incredible "feel" musician, and most of what he did he laid down in the very first take. I can't thank him enough. Download it here.
The new millennium had begun, my dad had died of cancer, my mom would soon die of Alzheimer's, and I was out of work. I had just returned to making music after not composing a single tune for more than 20 years, but the woman I was collaborating with at the time turned out to be a nutcase, which nearly put the kibosh on my tentative re-entry. Following all this, I began, slowly and unsurely, to write songs. Over the course of several years came "The Sentimental Education of Eliot Wilder." It was made with the help of Dave Westner and Natalia Cooper at Woolly Mammoth Studios in Boston. It features 11 songs about turning invisible, losing track of this world and this wonderful life. Here then is my first real record.
New album, "From Eliot With Love," can be found over on Bandcamp. Thirteen little love songs. Buy it.
New album: "Da Bomb!," a new collection of instrumentals, has been posted over on Bandcamp. It has also been added to my Download My Albums page.
Amen, David Lowery. And just so you know, on any given day, several hundred people download my albums, and thousands listen to individual songs of mine. Guess how many of you pay me for it? Would it make any difference if you knew how much effort, love, passion and blood I put into what I do? What matters to anyone anymore? Dark days.
Once upon a time I once worked for the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. Let's just say it was not fun place to be. But one man, Robert Conot, made it a little bit better. Rest in peace, Bob.
After watching the final episode of NBC's excellent "Awake," I felt so inspired that I had to write a song: Turtles All the Way Down
New song: All Join In. Perhaps you've noticed fewer post of new material. I'm really trying to make money at this (rather than just giving it all away). So please visit my Bandcamp page and contribute.
Finally, we have a follow-up to 2010's best-selling "Golden Greats." Now available to download at Bandcamp is Golden Greats - Volume II. For a mere $7, you get 33 tracks and a fancy digital booklet. Grab it while it lasts!
Now, for a small price, you can download some of my songs over on Bandcamp.
New song: Get Up!. Featuring Astrid on lead vocals.
The other day while waiting on the subway platform, I was privy to a conversation between three college-age girls. They all spoke in loud, chirpy voices in which every statement sounded like a question, while employing the word "like" - I counted - 74 times in less than five minutes. Apparently, nothing ever is anymore. This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but with a simile.
People try to die in such operatic ways only when they are obsessed more by the means than by the end, just as a sexual fetishist gets more satisfaction from his rituals than from the orgasm to which they lead. The old man driving nails into his skull, the company director with his power drill and the lovelorn girl swallowing all the hardware seem to have acted wildly out of despair. Yet in order to behave precisely that way they must have brooded endlessly over the details, selecting, modifying, perfecting them like artists, until they produced that single, unrepeatable happening that expressed their madness in all its uniqueness. In the circumstances, death may come but it is superfluous.
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
-spoken by Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird"
For those of you who have downloaded my album Everything's Jake, here's a complete overhaul of Everybody's Happy Now. No doubt you'll want to swap this out for the version you have. No doubt.
O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of
movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.
"Girl of Mine" has been added to my Download My Albums page. It's a family album of my songs from past releases inspired by my daughter Astrid.
New song: There Is a Light. This one had a peculiar birth. I awoke from a fitful sleep around 4 am, and began working on it as if I were still dreaming, singing the first words that came into my foggy brain. Chance and circumstance.
"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a wide-spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."
Not feeling great physically or mentally. Wanted to see what I could come up with in such a state. A Guest Star in My Own Life is the result.
New song: Tomorrow, with thanks to Faulkner and Foote.
I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that it's a matter not of old forms and not of new forms, but that a man writes, not thinking at all of what forms to choose, writes because it comes pouring out from his soul. -Horton Foote
Album No. 15, "Estupido Cupido," has been added to my Download My Albums page. As always, it's free.
New song: The All-Knowing I. I've been having vivid dreams lately that seem to replay a part of my past in which I felt I was being judged. I remember that time and the way I felt hurt by certain people who passed judgment on me and I knew they did not know the facts, or care to know. The song is sort about that, and about how God is sort of a jerk-ass.
"Whenever your spirit wants to speak in images, pay heed; for that is when your virtue has its origin and beginning."
The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a wide-spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible. -Bertrand Russell
Heidegger describes phenomenology as "the process of letting things manifest themselves." Phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation.
If you live long enough, you'll discover that eventually everyone gets theirs.
A world without copy editors: "One of the many things great things about the album ... was the band's consummate story-telling, the burlesque universe, populated by sometimes outlandish characters, they created, their songs in this respect like short stories, by turns darkly chilling, sardonic, surreal, hilarious and haunting." (from Uncut magazine)
Dear Mrs. Jones,
I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer. I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot. From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.
Sincerely, Mrs. Smith
Apparently, I'm not performing in Omaha, either.
Who's in control - me or what I'm thinking?
"Facebook appeals to a kind of vanity and self-importance in us. If I put up a flattering picture of myself with a list of my favourite things, I can construct an artificial representation of who I am in order to get sex or approval. It also encourages a disturbing competitivness around friendship: it seems that with friends today, quality counts for nothing and quantity is king. The more friends you have, the better you are."
Booger + flick = blick
Women with strong jawlines have more affairs, research shows.
It was a great mistake my being born a man. I would have been much more successful as a seagull or a fish. As it is, I will always be a stranger who never feels at home, who is not really wanted, who can never belong, who must always be a little in love with death. -Edmund, the youngest Tyrone son and the Eugene O'Neill alter ego, in "Long Day's Journey Into Night."
"A crook is somebody who comes in with a gun and holds people up. A thief is someone who comes in the night and steals his way into someone's home. The thief is a more despicable person in the Jewish mentality, because he thinks he's fooling God."
Astrid: I have to tell you about Barack Obama - he's cute but not square.
Whenever you travel, always remember to yield to the right.
Astrid's science project: freezing dinosaurs and sporks.
Jerry: You prefer dumb and lazy to religious?
Elaine: Dumb and lazy I understand.
"I asked them to look into the Abyss, and both dutifully and gladly, they have looked into the Abyss, and the Abyss has greeted them with the grave courtesy of all objects of serious study, saying: 'Interesting am I not? And exciting, if you consider how deep I am and what dread beasts lie at my bottom. Have it well in mind that a knowledge of me contributes materially to your being whole, or well-rounded men.'"
Astrid: Daddy, I dreamed about when I was older.
Me: What were your doing?
Astrid: Older things.
How come belching in public is pretty funny but farting is not?
New song: Home. For all those looking for one.
There's only one instant, and it's right now, and it's eternity.
If the world that we are forced to accept is false and nothing is true, then everything is possible.
A parable: Once, a group of travellers were on a perilous journey, in the course of which they had to cross a river. Unluckily, their guide forgot the location of the bridge, so the party had to ford the river, which, at the place they then found themselves, was shallow but very wide. After several minutes of wading through the icy water, the travellers began to grumble, "This guide is worthless! Let us abandon him and find another!" Sensing the discontent of his charges, the guide cleverly led them into a deeper part of the river, where the current was stronger and the footing more treacherous. "Help us!" the travellers cried. "Esteemed guide, do not abandon us!"
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," Yossarian observed. "It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.
If Jesus was a Jew, how come he had a Mexican name?
Fred: Maybe you can clarify something for me. Since I've been, you know, waiting for the fleet to show up, I've read a lot, and ...
Fred: And one of the things that keeps popping up is about "subtext." Plays, novels, songs - they all have a subtext, which I take to mean a hidden message or import of some kind. So subtext we know. But what do you call the message or meaning that's right there on the surface, completely open and obvious? They never talk about that. What do you call what's above the subtext?
Ted: The text.
Fred: OK, that's right, but they never talk about that.
From love delayed, nothing less than music, painting, poetry, architecture and religion are born.
Here's the final mix of my new song, The Bitter Hereafter. Thanks to DW, who came up with some amazing orchestral parts.
My DJ Shadow book is hanging in there at No. 16 (out of 59 titles).
For the last few years, me and my buddy DW have recorded more than 30 songs together. Next week I'll be heading to the studio to lay down yet another, this one called "The Bitter Hereafter." I've demoed it at home, and here is a sneak peak of the basic track (sans vocals). I'll post the full deal upon completion.
Every addict is formed in the crucible of the memory of that first hit.
Is the truth the thing someone tells you when they say they are being honest with you?
"Experiencing like breathing is a rhythm of intakings and outgivings. Their succession is punctuated and made a rhythm by the existence of intervals, periods in which one phase is ceasing and the other is inchoate and preparing. We compare the course of a conscious experience to the alternate flights and perchings of a bird. The flights are intimately connected with one another; they are not so many unrelated lightings succeeded by a number of unrelated hoppings. Each resting place is experience is an undergoing in which is absorbed and taken home the consequences of prior doing, and unless the doing is that of utter caprice or sheer routine, each doing carries in itself meaning that has to be extracted and conserved. If we move too rapidly, we get away from the base of supplies - of accrued meaning - and the experience is flustered, thin and confused."
Astrid: TV is so boring.
Me: Then why does everyone want to be on it?
Astrid: Because they think they are outside.
There's no story. It's just people, gestures, moments, bits of rapture, fleeting emotions. In short, the greatest story ever told.
"It's called 'The American Dream' because you have to be asleep to believe it." -GC
"On this bridge, Lorca warns: life is not a dream. Beware, and beware, and beware! And so many think because then happened, now isn't. But didn't I mention, the ongoing WOW is happening, right now! We are all co-authors of this dancing exuberance, where even our inabilities are having a roast! We are the authors of ourselves, co-authoring a gigantic Dostoevsky novel starring clowns! This entire thing we're involved with called the world, is an opportunity to exhibit how exciting alienation can be. Life is a matter of a miracle that is collected over time by moments flabbergasted to be in each others' presence. The world is an exam, to see if we can rise into the direct experiences. Our eyesight is here as a test to see if we can see beyond it, matter is here as a test for our curiosity, doubt is here as an exam for our vitality. Thomas Mann wrote that he would rather participate in life than write a hundred stories. Giacometti was once run down by a car, and he recalled falling in to a lucid faint, a sudden exhilaration, as he realized at last, something was happening to him. An assumption develops that you cannot understand life and live life simultaneously. I do not agree entirely, which is to say I do not exactly disagree. I would say, that life understood is life lived. But the paradoxes bug me. And I can learn to love, and make love to the paradoxes that bug me. And on really romantic evenings of Self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion. Before you drift off, don't forget, which is to say remember. Because remembering is so much more a psychotic activity than forgetting. Lorca, in that same poem, said that the iguana will bite those who do not dream. And, as one realizes, that one is a dream-figure in another person's dream: that is self-awareness!"
"I bought me a brand new toy the other day / It's a two-way radio that only goes one way."
Ralph Wiggum: "Sleep! That's where I'm a Viking!"
New song: Sundowning. Big ups to DW and Natalia, who came 3,000 miles to sing on this.
For the longest time, I thought that perhaps I was losing my mind, that I was being paranoid, that something's happening like in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" where people appear human but you sense something's missing - a soul, perhaps? But then I thought, no, that's just crazy. But more and more, I've come to realize that there is something wrong in the world, that something is missing, that all those people you see consumed with mindless text messaging and yakking on cell phones while they walk blindly into oncoming traffic are all part of a not-so-cleverly disguised pod parade, and I should be paranoid. I should definitely be paranoid.
Of whom and of what indeed can I say: "I know that!" This heart within me can feel, and I judge that it exists. This world I can touch, and I likewise judge that it exists. There ends all my knowledge, and the rest is construction. For if I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if I try to define and summarize it, it is nothing but water slipping though my fingers. Between the certainty I have of my existence and the content I try to give that assurance, the gap will never be filled.
And the sign said "Long-haired freaky people need not apply / So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why / He said "You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do"/ So I took off my hat, I said "Imagine that. Huh! Me workin' for you!"
New song: The All Golden. It's about counting your tender mercies. Thank you, DW.
My review of the band Tori Pyne as it appears in the Noise (it's the fourth item down).
There's a William Burroughs story about a man who ventures into the rainforest in search of a tribal ritual with extraordinary powers of spirtual transformation. When he reaches the jungle clearing and meets the witch doctor, he discovers the experince involves "fucking the sacred crocodile."
Clov: I can't sit.
Hamm: True. And I can't stand.
Clov: So it is.
Hamm: Every man his specialty.
"I make papes off the shit I create, and then dictate / So get your motherfuckin' shit straight / I got skills and I'm hard to kill / So y'all bitch-ass rappers better chill and just guard your grill."
When you find yourself with these old, familiar feelings of anxiety because your world is falling apart and you're not measuring up to your image of yourself and everybody is irritating you beyond words because no one is doing what you want and everyone is wrecking everything and you feel terrible about yourself and you don't like anybody else and your whole life is fraught with misery and confusion and conflict - at that point just remember that you're going through all this emotional because your coziness has just been, in some small or large way, addressed.
"There ain't no answer. There ain't going to be an answer. There never has been an answer. That's the answer." Who are you going to put stock in, Gertrude Stein or Tom Cruise?
She sleeps by the edge of America.
Saw a guy stuff a woman's purse into his backpack. Then he tossed a soda bottle he'd been drinking from onto a hedge, despite there being two trash cans nearby. Then he cured cancer.
Love is like quicksand; the more you wiggle, the more you sink. -Isaac Hayes
We think we know the ones we love. Our husbands, our wives ... we think we love them. But what we love turns out to be a poor translation, a translation we ourselves have made, from a language we barely know. One morning we awaken. Beside us, that familiar sleeping body in the bed: a new kind of stranger.
Memoirs of an executioner: "I alternate kindness and violence. Psychologically, it's a good thing."
It's gotten to the point where I've lost the capacity to believe the stories people tell me. I listen, but it's as if the person I am listening to either has no idea what he or she is saying, or they do and they don't care because it's simply easier to lie. You know, people complain about what a terrible president that Bush is, and yet to me he is scarily appropriate for the times we live in. Here's a guy for whom talking out of both sides of his mouth is as natural as breathing - it's perhaps the single thing he is actually good at. What better person is there to symbolize what we've become? Sartre described the human condition in summary form: freedom entails total responsibility, in the face of which we experience anguish, forlornness and despair; genuine human dignity can be achieved only in our active acceptance of these emotions.
My "Endtroducing" book is hanging in there at No. 17 (out of the 55 in the series).
The cure: the transformation of hysterical misery into common unhappiness.
"Things lose their balance and totter from the small blows of memory."
Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
"We're all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions and moral choices. Some are on a grand scale, most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are, in fact, the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly. Human happiness does not seem to have been included in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love, that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even to find joy from simple things, like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more."
I see life as a dance. Does a dance have to have meaning? You're dancing because you enjoy it.
New song: The Warm Rain. I had the title kicking around for years, and a week ago the song came to me while at the playground with Astrid. Huge thanks, as always, to DW, and to his friend Lisa, who added just the right cloudy day backup vocals.
It is indeed true that we live in tragic times. But too many people confuse tragedy with despair. "Tragedy," D.H. Lawrence said, "ought to be a great kick at misery." This is a healthy and immediately applicable thought. There are so many things today deserving such a kick.
Do you think poop has ghosts? -Dale Gribble
Really digging Nick Caves's new "Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!" Here is an article I wrote about him a few years back. A very engaging fellow.
We all know what it is like to read whole paragraphs, and even pages of a book without assimilating a word. Few of us realize that we spend most of our lives in such a state: perceiving the present - present sounds, sights, tastes, and sensations - only dimly, through a veil of thought. We spend our lives telling ourselves the story of past and future, while the reality of the present goes largely unexplored.
The drawback to rediscovering home truths is that when the excitement fades the reaffirmations turn back into platitudes.
More past regained: Years ago, I sold a pile of my photos through a stock agency in Japan called Mega Press. I had long lost touch with them, until recently when I came across one of my pictures on the cover of this CD. I got a hold of Mega Press, and not only did they pay me what I'd been owed, but they also returned my photos, many of which were taken 15 to 20 years ago. I've posted a lot of them on my gallery page.
Apparently, I'm still not touring in Boston right now.
My friend Natalia, who has sung on many of my tunes, has just recorded some her own, which you can listen to here.
"Meet me after 7 at the Jack in the Box," trills Peggy with the golden locks in Mission Bay. Hard to believe that this is the same guy singing A Wonderful Life. Oh, I was so much older then.
It's been my experience that a person betrays his or her own darkest secret when making observations about your failings.
Astrid-logical: "How do you go to a picnic with no sandwiches? You just forget them."
Mission Impossible: Greg "Barney" Morris tears into his rendition of The Look of Love.
If Dracula can't see his reflection in a mirror, how come his hair is always so neatly combed?
Overheard on the subway:
Smart person: "Like, what's MIT?"
Smarter person: "Like, I think it's, like, a techie school."
Smartest person" "Yeah, you need to be, like, super smart to go there."
Man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.
"Art is not meant to rally the troops. A good political speech is meant to do that. Art speaks to our dream nature, our secret desires, our wordless understanding of the world."
This post on Josh Haden's blog got me to thinking of my bygone days in Los Angeles, and mostly of Yuca's, one of the best Mexican eateries in the city. The taquerias here in Boston are just no match.
For some reason, my song, Walk Away, is being downloaded at a rate of about 2,800 times a week. Who are you? Where are you?
I'll buy a gas station or open a small TV repair shop in Tampa. I'll move in with an attractive divorcee, a clerk who sells beauty products in a department store. She'll be tired of sleeping with people in motels that are so well lit outside you can never get the room dark enough. We'll sit in the backyard of our trailer in those chairs that have straps on them, next to a chipped birdbath. We'll grow old together. Then, one day, I'll get a hernia when I'm fishing in my small boat and hook a cinderblock. She'll turn to Jesus, who has snake hips, is quite lean, blond, a pretty fair surfer, has a beautiful tenor voice, plays pedal steel guitar and would be a fine dirt-bike scrambler except for his robes. She'll go to church wearing a shiny blue dress with frills around the neck, a hat with a little bunch of cherries, a purse, gloves and sensible shoes. And there will be no scroll on our doorway, only the totemic pink flamingo, made of plaster of Paris, on our front lawn.
A joke isn't a joke when you hurt someone. -Fat Albert
New song: The Milkman's Matinee. Me and DW get down in a cosmic hoedown with banjo and lap steel. Yee-haw.
Why I love religious dogma, Part 1: "The new theory that I would like to introduce here is that due to the incredibly large number of engrams on the whole track, the erasure of basic-basic does not always cause all later engrams to erase."
Is a cliche only authentic when it becomes habit?
With Astrid possibly starting kindergarten in the fall, we're looking into the schools she might attend. Here's how one Boston-area school describes how it is preparing its students for "educational success": "Children are directly involved in learning how to read and learning to become readers who enjoy the power of reading. Children are engaged in reader's and writer's workshop. Through these process-oriented strategies, children are which they share their reading and writing with a larger audience." Scary.
The other day I saw a young woman with a cellphone in her ear walk across the tracks directly in front of a moving subway train. The conductor rang his bell and blew his whistle, but the woman didn't even flinch - she just kept on walking and gabbing. The train missed her by just a few feet. I had to wonder what she would've thought had she survived being run over. "Couldn't the train see I was talking?!" An unjust war rages on, while back at home people are lost in iPod oblivion.
Girl on the subway: So he asked me, like, do I like to drink Diet Coke and I said, like, of course, and he said, like, well if you drink Diet Coke, like, it'll give you cellulite, and I said, like, whatever, like to each their own.
Guy on the subway: What does that mean?
Girl on the subway: Like what does what mean?
Guy on the subway: What does 'to each their own' mean?
With both my mother and father gone, I guess you could say I'm an orphan.
Things fall apart - that much we know. The question is what to do about it.
Sometimes you build a house from the foundation up, other times you renovate the one you have. Same goes with songs. Take something that's a bit of a shambles, re-record most of the parts, add new lyrics, a fresh coat of paint and presto: The Sum of All Fears. Thanks DW.
"You are perpetually spending your energy in the act of balancing yourself. You are seized with a sort of spiritual vertigo, you totter on the brink, your hair stands on end, you can't believe that beneath your feet lies an immeasurable abyss. It comes through a passionate desire to embrace people, to show them your love. The more you reach out toward the world the more the world retreats. Nobody wants real love, real hatred. Nobody wants you to put your hand in his sacred entrails -- that's only for the priest in the hour of sacrifice. While you live, while the blood's still warm, you are to pretend that there is no such thing as blood and no such thing as a skeleton beneath the covering of the flesh. Keep off the grass! That's the motto by which people live."
"Invasion," the latest "Body Snatchers" remake, has a reshot feel-good ending just like the '50s original. How far we have not come since the the terrifying feel-bad ending of the '70s version.
After 52 years, I am left with the melancholy sensation that my life has been spent in a perpetual state of parallel play, alongside, but distinctly apart from, the rest of humanity.
Where am I? Who am I? How did I come to be here? What is this thing called the world? How did I come into the world? Why was I not consulted? And if I am compelled to take part in it, where is the director? I want to see him.
All these appositions - communism versus capitalism, female versus male, poor versus rich, black versus white - maybe, in a way, they're red herrings, because they keep you searching for something: they keep you dissatisfied and hold out the hope that you will be satisfied, someday.
Here is a new one: Billy Take the Wheel. It's for my mom, who passed away last week after a long bout with Alzhiemer's.
Isn't it true that we continue to strive all our lives in order to find peace and fulfillment? It's like a journey on a pier that goes out endlessly into the ocean without ever reaching the opposite shore. We never seem able to realize that everything in life is ephemeral, that new problems will always arise to meet us, that frustration never ends, that all is in flux and that there is nothing solid to hold on to, not even the love you share with another person. But how did we get the idea that there were ultimate solutions in life in the first place? Most of us were brought up on fairy tales, books, TV programs and movies in which there was a linear progression. At the beginning, the characters were happy, then something terrible happened and they were unhappy. Then they set out to overcome the difficulty, finally succeeded, and everyone was happy again - and that was the end of the story. Our early education was based on the premise of problem solving: every problem posed a challenge that could be solved - mathematic, scientific, whatever. There was an answer to every question; all you had to do was find it. Adults and the established authorities are committed to convincing children that there are linear solutions to all problems, and nowhere are you taught the continuous incompleteness of life. Oh, we talk about it, but inwardly we believe there is an answer, an end, a conclusion. I have a theory that all the modern books and movies that allude to absurd character of life and suggest the ultimate meaninglessness of human activity are fashionable only because people like to pay lip service to ideas of nihilism and senselessness. They like to pretend that they no longer believe in the old myths we were taught as children. That is, they effect an existential attitude but they don't really believe it. It's a kind of a vicarious appreciation of meaninglessness. Soap operas offer a perfect example of life's inconclusiveness. In them, people lead lives filled with striving. Every scene raises a problem and suggests that its solution is imminent. But if you follow any of these programs for more than a week or two, it becomes evident that not only will these people's problems never be solved but that they will never be completely stated. They will continue to exist and accrue, and the solutions are actually, or inevitably become, new problems. And further, these programs are among the most steady and lucrative on the air today, which means that there is an enormous audience who, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, still hope and believe these characters will solve their problems soon. The same idea is communicated in commercials. They give you the impression that you can unravel the knots of life simply, and they fail to confront - as a matter of fact they completely ignore - the human condition. It's like what Hamlet said about the undiscovered country: to look into the lie of progress, to understand that life may have no meaning, to contemplate the inconclusiveness of each person's struggle for fulfillment is simply too terrifying; that there is no answer, no end, that you'll always be on your way, that life is not a game you can win, but a game that has no end - and all you do is die somewhere in the middle of it.
They told each other the story at length, each one supplementing the memory of the other, and, when they had finished: "That was the best time we ever had!" said Frederic. "Yes, you may be right. That was our best time!" said Deslauriers. -Flaubert, "The Sentimental Education"
"You must be like me / you must suffer in rhythm.
Some of these days you'll miss me, honey."
Rest in peace, Mom.
I very much hope that the world will become a better place. And if it does, our grandchildren may look at us the way young people today regard the generation who collaborated with the Nazis. They'll say, 'I do not understand you.' We will explain that life simply was the way it was. 'Famines came and went and nobody did anything about it. People died of hunger to provide us with cheaper coffee.' We'll have to admit that we knew but chose to do nothing about it.
With each passing day, the body count rises in Iraq. Elsewhere, grief counsellors are standing by to assist those traumatized by the death of a major character in the new Harry Potter book.
My DJ Shadow book moves up a notch again to No. 12 (out of 49 titles). Thanks to all who've picked it up. Come November, an excerpt will be featured in 33 1/3's "Greatest Hits, Vol. 2."
7.17.2007 Here is a sequel of sorts to "My Dinner With Andre," entitled "Astrid's Afternoon With Scott."
"The essential thing is contingency. I mean that one cannot define existence as a necessity. To exist is simply to be there; those who exist let themselves be encountered, but you can never deduce anything from them. I believe that there are people who have understood this. Only they tried to overcome this contingency by inventing a necessary, causal being. But no necessary being can explain existence: contingency is not a delusion, a probability, which can be dissipated; it is the absolute, consequently, the perfect free gift. All is free, this park, this city, and myself."
People hang on to these images of father, mother, husband, wife because they seem to provide some firm ground. But there's no wife there. What does that mean - a wife? A husband? A son? A baby holds your hand and then suddenly there's this huge man lifting you off the ground, and then he's gone. Where's that son?
We have witnessed lying, humiliation, killing, deportation and torture, and it each instance it was impossible to persuade the people who were doing these things not to do them, because they were sure of themselves and because there is no way of persuading an abstraction, or, to put it another way, the representative of an ideology. -Camus
The world of explanations and reasons is not the world of existence.
"Objects should not touch because they are not alive. You use them, put them back in place, you live among them. They are useful nothing more. But they touch me, it is unbearable. I am afraid of being in contact with them as though they were living beasts."
"Today's high will be 70 degrees. Currently it's 74."
Twenty years of "The Sopranos" and in the end the cat did it? Wha?
A few weeks back (see entry for 5.20), Dave and I recorded a new song called Goodbye Richmond. Last night, Natalia added some amazing background vocals and here is the result, another song about memory and loss.
Their tastes and opinions were identical. Often whichever of them was listening would cry, "So do I!" And the other in his turn would chime in, "So do I!" Then their interminable laments against Fate: "Why were the heavens against us! If we had met ..." "Oh! If I had been younger!" he sighed. "No! If I had been older." And they imagined a life of nothing but love, fecund enough to fill the vastest solitude, exceeding all joys, defying all sorrows, whose hours would have melted away in the a perpetual exchange of confidences and which have become something shining and lofty, like the shimmering of stars. -Flaubert, "The Sentimental Education"
Me: Where did we ever get you?
Astrid: The clock.
"We live with those retrievals from childhood that coalesce and echo throughout our lives, the way shattered pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope reappear in new forms and are songlike in their refrains and rhymes, making up a single monologue. We live permanently in the recurrence of our own stories, whatever story we tell."
Now you see that only dreams can send you where you want to be. -Nico
I spent the day in the studio yesterday with my buddy Dave and we put together a new song called Goodbye Richmond. This is a rough mix, with Natalia's background vocals to be added when she comes to town in a few weeks.
Recent words Astrid has coined: montreen, astramoke, kathernon, mary mashup.
Every day is a comedy, every meal is a feast.
"With more and more music fans turning to online media for information and product every day, it should come as no great shock that Amplifier magazine has opted to forge headfirst into the future with the expansion of our website and to discontinue our print edition." Finally ... at least now I no longer have to cringe when I visit my local newsstand.
"At least two major publications - the New York Post and People - digitally obscured a portion of a photo from the Virginia Tech shootings. In the photo, emergency personnel are seen carrying injured student Kevin Sterne out of the Norris Hall classroom building, his clothes soaked with blood. Standards being what they are, the concern about the photograph was not the shocking amount of blood, but whether the student's penis was visible."
Any honest neurotic could probably tell you: the emotional payoff of an obsession is not obtaining some longed-for goal - it's the obsession itself, which fulfills certain needs. If it didn't it wouldn't be an obsession.
Categories of knowledge, according to Donald Rumsfeld: known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.
When extreme acts of violence occur, the question is: Why does this happen? Perhaps it should be: Why doesn't this happen more often? Our culture has a rapacious fascination with and indifference toward violence; ever wonder why movies with sex scenes are rated R but that ones where thousands of faceless characters are senselessly blown away are rated PG-13? Ever wonder why unjust war rages on while back at home college students are lost in iPod oblivion? We act as if we mourn our losses, yet what will change?
The world according to Garelick Farms: "The key to life is what you add to it. Add something."
The best part of wanting something is not having it. Or is it, the best part of having something is not wanting it?
Farewell Kurt ... who will carry on with the Children's Crusade?
Nerds and geeks are so often romanticized in pop culture as being somehow heroic that it's easy to forget that they are ... nerds and geeks. Like the geeky nerd on the subway yesterday who shouted, "Will you get that thing to shut up!" at me when Astrid was crying, something that 2-year-olds do from time to time. Fortunately, because he was a nerd and a geek - with his bad haircut, ugly glasses and stupid mustache - it felt good to watch him tremble when I shouted back at him, "This is a human being, not a thing, you fucking asshole!"
No one's better than anyone else and everyone's the best at everything.
I'm standing in an overcrowded, overheated subway train, Astrid in one arm, glomming on to the poll with the other while just beneath us two pretty BU girls stare vacantly at a cellphone, unaware of our presence. And I think, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang or a whimper but with indifference. An unjust war rages on, while back at home college students are lost in iPod oblivion.
Ism: Expect nothing and you won't be disappointed.
"I often feel lost in the essence of the day, the mild wind and easy clouds, the graceful easy white ass of the day, that I want nothing more than to become a leaf, not to write about it, but to be taken in and bathed."
"My name is Jeff Albertson, but everybody calls me Comic Book Guy."
Lloyd Dobler-ism: I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.
Sound advice from Harvard Management Update: Prepare your elevator speech so you can produce a crisp answer when another executive asks what you're working on. Example:
Executive A: What are you planning to do next?
Executive B: Shit myself.
Turn off the dark and make it sunny. -Astrid
In 2001, after my dad died of cancer, a song came to me that seemed to reflect my overwhelming feelings of loss and despair. I was able to record it at the time, and even though I liked the tune, it never felt quite right. Yesterday, with the help of my buddy DW, I took another crack at it. We stripped away everything but the vocal and tremolo guitar, and then added drums, bass, guitars and organ. Here is "My Story" redux. It could be your story, too.
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.
Generation Now: turn on (cell phone), tune in (iPod), drop out (disaffect). "But there's an unjust war raging." "We're not being drafted. We don't care."
A belief like a guillotine - as heavy, as light.
"At the heart of the Shambhala society is a commitment to experiencing the world as it is, since all aspects of life are seen as fundamentally and unconditionally good" ... except for the those aspects that you hide under the bed like old letters. Not everyone, apparently, is fundamentally and unconditionally good.
Q: What is soul? A: A hamhock in your cornflakes.
More than a year ago I was at a cafe and a young woman who was closely observing Astrid came up to us and offered to knit her a wool hat. I thought it was rather extraordinary that a total stranger would be so generous. She told me to meet her at the cafe in a week, and she would have the hat. I didn't see her again, until about a year later. I asked her what happened to the hat. She said she got busy, and then she forgot. But I didn't let it go. "Why promise something and then not deliver?" She had no response, and her face soured. I'm sure she had good intentions, but as the saying goes, you can't live in good intentions.
"In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; / And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring. / Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity ... / Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. / And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. / And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance."
Ring in the new year with a rare, unreleased Beatles track called India.
Yesterday, Dave Westner and I finished recording a new song of mine called The Third Rail. Natalia added just the right amount of icing on top. I kind of like this one. It gets to the heart of where I'm at right now.
If I meet someone I don't know, someone slightly naive, and they ask me what I do, I say I'm a painter, and if they ask me what kind of painter, I say an abstract painter. It's a way to get out of saying anything else. Or I just say I'm a modern artist. But I don't know what kind of artist I am. -Jasper Johns
My "Endtroducing" book is holding steady at No. 14 (out of the 37 in the series).
The old hop-smoking rod-riding underworld had a name for it: "a member of the Johnson family." Wouldn't rush to the law if he smelled hop in the hall, doesn't care what the fags in the back room are doing, stands by his word. ... Yes, this world would be a pretty easy and pleasant place to live in if everybody could just mind his own business and let others do the same. But a wise old black faggot said to me years ago: "Some people are shits, darling." I was never able to forget it. ... Most of the trouble in the world has been caused by folks who can't mind their own business, because they have no business of their own to mind, any more than a smallpox virus has. ... M.O.B. [minding one's own business] opponents cling to the victimless crime concept, equating drug-taking or private sexual behaviour with robbery and murder. If the right to mind one's own business is recognized, the whole shit position is untenable, and Hell hath no more vociferous fury than an endangered parasite's.
-W.S. Burroughs, from "My Own Business"
Me: Do you have a DVD of "Duck Soup" by the Marx Brothers?
Record store girl: Are they a band or what?
In tribute to John Lennon, here's an unreleased Beatles tune called Watching Rainbows.
By the way, Rosebud is a sled. Vader is Luke's father. It's Laura Palmer's dad. And that chick in "The Crying Game"? Not really a chick.
Gladstone said to Disraeli, "I predict, Sir, that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease." Disraeli replied, "That all depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
"Death is a dialogue between the spirit and the dust."
"I am puzzled as the newborn child / I am troubled at the tide: / Should I stand amid the breakers? / Should I lie with Death my bride? / Hear me sing, "Swim to me, Swim to me, Let me enfold you: / Here I am, Here I am, Waiting to hold you."
Beware of those who say, "I know this too well to be able to express it." For if they cannot do so, this is because they don't know it or because out of laziness they stopped at the outer crust.
We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real? -Ray Bradbury
What velocity does yogurt need to achieve to qualify as Gogurt?
That's me on the right on the set of the Rock's upcoming movie "The Gameplan." Director Dave is telling me where I can find the Porta Potty.
I have always been a sucker for false sincerity.
Mucho thanks to Josef, Egbert and James!
Goodbye 117 Park Drive. I hope that some day someone will dig out what I'm sure is a dead body buried under the back stairwell. The putrid odor is fairly overwhelming (as are the flies). Clue to the cops: talk to Tony, the slimey old geezer in apartment 22. He's been boasting to me about his Mafia connections for years.
Spot the pattern: Adolf Hitler, failed painter; Fidel Castro, failed baseball player; Charles Manson, failed pop star; Kim Jong-il, failed movie producer.
It's amazing what we do, as people, to run away from the past. God, the swamplands we're willing to wade through to get around the truth.
Lisa: It's Latin, Dad. The language of Plutarch.
Homer: Mickey Mouse's dog?
One must love life before loving its meaning, Dostoevsky says. Yes, and when the love of life disappears, no meaning consoles us for it.
My father passed away five years ago to the day.
I do not believe that evil exists as an abstract force, exacting itself upon us, seducing us into committing heinous acts. Undoubtably, human beings are quite capable of being cruel, narcissistic and megalomanical. Indeed, people lie, steal, cheat, commit murder, blow up shit - but I do not believe they do these things because an outside force of evil is acting upon them. Rather, it is something from within that prevents them from seeing the ramifications of their actions, thus disallowing them from personal responsibility. Watch any of these so-called reality shows and it quickly becomes evident that most of these "characters" have no idea what they are saying or doing. They are just behaving. They have no apparent self-awareness. If they did, they would not be on these programs. It's as if they are asleep and refuse to wake up, because waking up would mean facing the consequences of their own actions. One has to wonder how different the world would be if we were all fully awake, if we all fully understood what our brain is telling us. It is not the devil that encourages us to behave abhorrently, just as it is not the devil that caused terrorists to crash jets into the World Trade Center. Just as it is not God that told us to go to war against Iraq. It is what's inside of us; it is in how much clarity we have about what we think - and what we choose to do. "Nothing is at last sacred," Emerson wrote, "but the integrity of your own mind."
Last night I remixed Invisible. You can buy my album here. All proceeds go to the Put Astrid Through College Fund.
Maybe heaven is a place where everything that has happened has happened, a place where people sleep with the peace of knowing how everthing turns out.
Is there much of a difference between a liar and a fabulist who wants you to believe because she wants to believe?
Twenty years ago I covered a bass-fishing tournament for True magazine. The winner of the tournament was a laconic fishing guide from Arkansas. I spent a day with him picking up tips on how to catch fish - the conditions of structure, season, sun, etc. I asked him at least if there were things to watch out for in all this finding the right spot to fish. "Nostalgia," he said. I figured out what he meant. I'd spent hours plugging away at a stretch of water where I remembered with great pleasure catching a beauty. But if the fish aren't there now, all you catch is nostalgia. Moonbeams of your peculiar unrelatable memory. -John Casey
'Heart' Attack: Passengers on a flight from France to Mauritius have filed suit against Air France after musician Bonnie Tyler performed a song at the request of the co-pilot. The passengers, believed to be Belgian, complained to the airline after the Welsh singer performed part of her 1983 hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" at the request of the co-pilot, who retired after the flight, The Mail reported. The complaining passengers reportedly claimed they were traumatized by the experience and had feared for their safety during the celebration. The complaint eventually escalated into a legal dispute.
Is a memory something you have or something you've lost?
9.1.2006 No. 14 with a bullet - my DJ Shadow book, that is.
Life is cluttered with events that make us long to grow older.
I'm on it: "Assalamu Alaikum, My name is Musa Kabir, a business man in Iran. I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer. It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts. I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone (not even myself) but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focused on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe when Allah gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that Allah has called me, I have willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as few close friends. I want Allah to be merciful to me and accept my soul, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I will do on earth. I need help from a reliable and honest person I can trust in the name of Allah the merciful. Considering my present predicament and the political situation in Iran, I now seek your assistance to help me clear $25 million that I have with a recognize bank in Europe and I will want you to help me collect this deposited fund and dispatched it to charity organizations as I will instruct you to do. I don't need any telephone communication in this regards because of my health and some of my relatives around me. I don't want them to know about this new development and with Allah the merciful, all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of my lawyer in Europe and I will also issue you a letter of recognition through my lawyer that will prove you as the next of kin to this fund base on my instructions. I want you to always pray for me and I have set aside 18% for you for your time. Please send a reply through my below email address with your full contact information for more private and confidential communication and note that any delay in your reply will give me room in searching for another person for this same purpose because you are the only person I have contacted for now. Please, inform me that you will act according to what I told you. May great Allah be with you, Mr. Musa Kabir."
The freedom to act includes the freedom to do evil, and the murderer within us is no further away than a walk on the beach in a bad mood. People kill because they vaguely imagine, like a moral haze like the one overhanging the sun-scorched sand, that on the other side of murder lies some kind of expiation, or the thrill of rising above the mundate, or a way of pushing past alienation, or a shotcut to significance. People kill because they can.
The way we look at the world is the way things really are. I stopped trying to figure things out a long time ago.
Good rock 'n' roll ... I don't know. I guess it's just something that makes you feel alive .... To me, good rock 'n' roll also encompasses other things, like Hank Williams and Charlie Mingus and a lot of things that aren't strictly defined as rock and roll. Rock 'n' roll is like an attitude, it's not a musical form of a strict sort. It's a way of doing things, of approaching things. Like anything can be rock 'n' roll. -Lester Bangs
New song: I Need You. Recorded the whole thing in one marathon session on Saturday with Dave W, who is some kinda genius.
"... for here there is no place that does not see you."
I loved the graciousness of heroin, the way everything externalized and obvious in the daylight opened its shirt and revealed its soft pale breasts. The world slept curled in its own foolhardiness. And my wife came carefully over the blankets to me and seemed not to mind who I was. We inserted words into spaces in the rain. For years I remembered the words and whispered them to myself, half thinking I might conjure her back into the world. They never caught us. -Charlie Smith, "Heroin"
First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.
The fly has found its way out of the fly bottle.
"At the heart of the Shambhala society is a commitment to experiencing the world as it is, since all aspects of life are seen as fundamentally and unconditionally good." Too bad we don't practice what we preach.
Lisa: That's specious logic. By that same reasoning I could say this rock prevents tiger attacks.
Homer: How do you mean?
Lisa: Well, you don't see any tigers around, do you?
Homer: I'd like to buy that rock.
"Don't be afraid to ask for credit as our ways of refusing are very polite."
When two elephants fight, only the grass dies.
Usually, strange music is most efficently conveyed by strangers.
A fanatical, fundamentalist sect hijacks a nation and sets about invading other countries ... how is the Bush Administration any different than Hezbollah?
The first requirement for having a relatively smooth relationship with a narcissist is physical distance. Given distance you can get along with narcissists by treating them as infants: you give them whatever they want or need whenever they ask and do not expect any reciprocation at all, do not expect them to show the slightest interest in you or your life, do not expect them to be able to do anything that you need or want, do not expect them to apologize or make amends or show any consideration for your feelings, do not expect them to take ordinary responsibility in any way. But note: they are not infants; infants require this kind of care for only a brief period, after which they are on the road to autonomy, whereas narcissists never outgrow their demands for dedicated attention to their infantile needs 168 hours a week. Adult narcissists can be as demanding of your time and energy as little babies but without the gratification of their growing or learning anything from what they suck from you. Babies love you back, but adult narcissists are like vampires: they will take all you can give while giving nothing back, then curse you for running dry and discard you as a waste of their precious time. It is also essential that you keep emotional distance from narcissists. They're pretty good at maintaining a conventional persona in superficial associations with people who mean absolutely nothing to them, and they'll flatter the hell out of you if you have something they can use or if, for some reason, they perceive you as an authority figure. But, as soon as you try to get close to them, they'll say that you are too demanding. The abrupt change from decent treatment to outright abuse is very shocking and bewildering. Once they know you are emotionally attached to them, they expect to be able to shove you around like a piece of furniture. If you object, then they'll say that you obviously don't understand or care about them. If you should be so uppity as to express a mind and heart of your own, then they will cut you off, trashing you on the way out the door. If you fail respond to their outbursts, they will find all manner of devious and hurtful ways to attack you. Yes, it's possible to get along with narcissists, but it's probably not worth bothering with. Narcissists are threatened and enraged by trivial disagreements, mistakes and misunderstandings, plus they twist the truth to serve their ends and they have evil mouths and will say anything. So, if you continue to have a relationship with narcissists, expect big trouble sooner or later.
"This is my usual writing problem: I come up with a beginning of a story that I am excited about, but then I get stuck and move on to something else."
There's this idea, if we can prove that the ark existed then we can prove that the story existed, and more importantly, we can prove that God existed. -Bruce Feiler, author of "Where God Was Born"
Mankind is a rope fastened between animal and superman - a rope over an abyss. -Neitzsche
Judge a pig competition? But I'm no genius ... or are I? -Homer Simpson
I think this reviewer missed the point of what I was trying to accomplish with the DJ Shadow book. I wanted it to be about Shadow's life, and the experiences he had that led to make the album. I thought him talking about what samples he used and how he constructed the "orchestral ideas behind this groundbreaking sonic collage" would be academic and sort of boring.
The death of a parent, despite our preparation, indeed, despite our age, dislodges things deep within us, sets off reactions that surprise us and that may cut free memories and feelings that we thought had gone to ground long ago. We might, in that indeterminate period they call mourning, be in a submarine, silent on the ocean's bed, aware of the depth charges, now near and now far, buffering us with recollections.
Don't forget the real business of the War is buying and selling. The murdering and the violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals. The mass nature of wartime death is useful in many ways. It serves as spectacle, as diversion from the real movements of the War. It provides raw material to be recorded by History, so that children may be taught History as a sequence of violence, battle after battle, and be more prepared for the adult world. Best of all, mass death's a stimulus to just ordinary folks, to try 'n' grab a piece of that Pie while they're still here to gobble it up. The true war is a celebration of markets. Organic markets, carefully styled "black" by the professionals, spring up everywhere. Scrip, Sterling, Reichsmarks continue to move, severe as classical ballet, inside their antiseptic marble chambers. But out there, down here among the people the truer currencies come into being. -Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"
The old man down the hall has maintained his delusion that "that dame" I live with rebuffed him at the pharmacy last summer because she thought he might be contagious to Astrid. This did not happen. Nor did he succumb to the end-stage prostate cancer he told me he had early last year ("The doctor laughed at me when he said I'd die soon!"). Nor did I take the pencils he accused me of stealing from his apartment. Nor do I believe his many tales of woe, which always seemed far-fetched. Despite the joy he once derived from interacting with Astrid, he prefers to cling to his delusion, and now when he sees me coming, he deliberately turns the other way and acts like I don't exist. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.
The medium, or process, of our time - electronic technology - is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution taken for granted. Everything is changing - you, your family, your neighborhood, your education, your job, your government, and your relation to "the others." -Marshall McLuhan
An article on Prince's "3121" as it appears in today's Boston Phoenix.
Friday's report: "Astrid had a great day. She like singing song and reading book with her friend. Outside she like holding Yin's hand to walking very nice. She said, 'Liam, clean up, clean up' and singing 'row row row the boat.' So happy. I love Astrid too much. If Astrid not coming I miss her."
I knew a woman once who so desperately wanted to believe she was a writer. She did produce an article for her college magazine, and she framed the piece and put it on her wall. And that's where her writing remained, frozen in time.
The old hop-smoking rod-riding underworld had a name for it: "a member of the Johnson family." Wouldn't rush to the law if he smelled hop in the hall, doesn't care what the fags in the back room are doing, stands by his word. ... Yes, this world would be a pretty easy and pleasant place to live in if everybody could just mind his own business and let others do the same. But a wise old black faggot said to me years ago: "Some people are shits, darling." I was never able to forget it. ... Most of the trouble in the world has been caused by folks who can't mind their own business, because they have no business of their own to mind, any more than a smallpox virus has. ... M.O.B. [minding one's own business] opponents cling to the victimless crime concept, equating drug-taking or private sexual behaviour with robbery and murder. If the right to mind one's own business is recognized, the whole shit position is untenable, and Hell hath no more vociferous fury than an endangered parasite's. -W.S. Burroughs, from "My Own Business"
Sisyphus for tots: The itsy, bitsy spider, climbed up the water spout. / Down came the rain and washed the spider out. / Out came the sun and dried up all the rain, / So the itsy, bitsy spider went up the spout again.
But you'll be hearing from me, baby, long after I'm gone / I'll be speaking to you sweetly from a window in the Tower of Song. -LC
A fight in which there is no way, at any stage, of getting protection for one's back. And in spite of knowing this, one keeps on forgetting it. And even when one does not forget it, one seeks such protection all the same, solely in order to rest while seeking it, and in spite of the fact that one knows one will pay for doing so.
Hey, isn't that my photo of Ambulance LTD that's turning up in ads and on the Web, and that will also be on the back cover of the band's new EP? Uh, it'd be nice if someone would pay me for it. No kidding.
For some reason my song Gone has been downloaded more than 300 times in the last week. The wind is whistling like sweeping swords in the air.
"The hands of time often misplace lucky coins. That's why I keep a silver dollar beneath my mast and hide my speed inside my shoes."
She was sitting in her mammoth Lexus SUV with the engine running, talking on her hands-free and gesturing wildly, wearing a designer suede leather jacket, oblivious to the fact that she was taking up the only available parking spot, and I thought, "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang or a whimper but with a someone sitting in their mammoth Lexus SUV with the engine running, talking on their hands-free and gesturing wildly, wearing a designer suede leather jacket, oblivious to the fact that they are taking up the only available parking spot."
"George W. Bush is, simply put, the stupidest man ever to lead this country. Bush's lobotomized Will Rogers routine is a satirist's dream, a European intellectual's caricature of the dipshit cowboy American, all balls and no brains. Often responds to questions by attempting to define the word he finds the most challenging in them. Thinks press reports of his various crimes are responsible for his waning popularity, rather than the deeds themselves. Interprets the constitution like a Unitarian interprets the bible; for maximum convenience and with no regard to the actual text. Foreign policy vision is less serious and more simplistic than an issue of Captain America."
My life is completely meaningless. When I consider its various epochs, then my life goes like the word Schnur in the dictionary, which means first a string, and secondly a daughter-in-law. The only thing missing is that the word Schnur in the third place should mean a camel, and fourthly, a dust brush.
The old man in the apartment down the hall told me that the reason he'd been deliberately ignoring me lately was because the "dame" that I "hang out with" yelled at him at the pharmacy - she saw him buying medicine and thought he might might be contagious to Astrid. "It was medicine for my heart," he said. "She was so rude, I could've socked her." I asked him to describe the woman, but he couldn't: "Most dames, I don't look at them." Last summer he informed me that he'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer and that his doctor laughed when he told him he'd die soon. I asked him if he had any family, and he said he has a nephew ("who's on the Who's Who list!"). I asked him if I could call his nephew to let him know what was happening. The old man gave me pencil to write down the number. Later, he came by my apartment twice, accusing me of stealing his pencil. He still thinks I stole that fucking pencil. I wish I had.
Mel Gibson on evolution: "I think it's bullshit. If it isn't, why are they [monkeys and apes] still around? How come apes aren't people yet?"
Overheard: "When someone yells in your face, slaps you on the wrist, waves in front of you a pair of scissors that were used to cut out the fat - with the fat still on them - well, that's really inappropriate."
"The theme [of 'Lord of the Flies'] is an attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature. The moral is that the shape of a society must depend on the ethical nature of the individual and not on any political system however apparently logical or respectable. The whole book is symbolic in nature except the rescue in the end where adult life appears, dignified and capable, but in reality enmeshed in the same evil as the symbolic life of the children on the island. The officer, having interrupted a man-hunt, prepares to take the children off the island in a cruiser which will presently be hunting its enemy in the same implacable way. And who will rescue the adult and his cruiser?"
Overheard: "When I delay my fart, I sometimes like to think that there's a police officer in my butt that tells it to turn around and come back later."
I recorded this song a few years ago, and then it sort of got binned. I listened again to it this morning, and it's a little better than I remember it, especially when the mandolins kick in at the end.
Looks like this photo I took of Ambulance LTD is going to be the cover of their next release.
First, I'll finish off that half-dug vegetable patch I saw. Then I'll sit and let the rain fall on me. I shall feel wonderfully cool. And I'll breakfast on one of those sour apples down by the gate. After that, I shall go back to hell.
I made tea with honey and lemon, and plopped down in the easy chair staring for a while at Dad's framed photo of him holding a tremendous marlin he caught. It's the only picture in which Dad has ever smiled, a crooked smear of a smile that reached all the way up to his eyes, and he looked happy in a way I've never seen him since. I was about to go to bed myself when I caught a second wind. I swept up and collected all the nutshells we had cracked open that night. I fluffed up the pillows and straightened the books and magazines, carefully moving the Playboys to the bottom of the stack. I went into the kitchen and did the dishes. Then I made tea with honey and lemon and returned to the living room. Dad suddenly woke up with a snort, and he switched off the radio, whose signal had started to drift in and out like so many annoying ghostly whispers. "I think we can do without this," he said. I said, "I think so, too."
"Time has told me / you're a rare find / a troubled cure / for a troubled mind."
"You never know someone," says Atticus Finch, "until you step inside their skin and walk around a little." But no matter how empathetic we are, we can never truly get inside the head of another. Ask yourself, who do you really know?
New year, new song: Walk Away. With thanks to DW and Natalia.
Those of you with even a passing interest in blaxploitation soundtracks should strut right on over to Record Brother and score the "Willie Dynamite" album. While you're there, check out "Cool Breeze" and "Solomon King," all very rare, very smooth and very free.
A review of John Lennon's "Walls and Bridges" as it appears in today's Boston Phoenix.
"My friends, we are all interested in the future, because that is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, future events like these will affect you in the future." -TV Psychic Criswell, "Plan 9 From Outer Space"
C'mon, let's go back to Peoria where we belong. -Oliver Hardy
When one person kills another, there is immediate revulsion at the nature of the crime. But in a time so short as to seem indecent to the members of the personal family, the dead person ceases to exist as an identifiable figure. To those individuals in the community of good will and empathy, warmth and compassion, only one of the key actors in the drama remains with whom to commiserate - and that is always the criminal. The dead person ceases to be a part of everyday reality, ceases to exist. She is only a figure in a historic event. We inevitably turn away from the past, toward the ongoing reality. And the ongoing reality is the criminal ... He usurps the compassion that is justly his victim's due. He will steal his victim's moral constituency along with her life. -Excerpt from "The Murder of Bonnie Garland," by Willard Gaylin
Idea: She rejects everything offered her, every happiness proposed because of a deeper exigence. She ruins her marriage, gets involved in only half-satisfactory liasons, waits and hopes. "I couldn't really define it, but I feel it." Thus it is to the end of her life. "No, I'll never be able to define it."
Man wants his physical fulfilment first and foremost, since now, once and once only, he is in the flesh and potent. For man, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive. Whatever the unborn and the dead may know, they cannot know the beauty, the marvel of being alive in the flesh. The dead may look after the afterwards. But the magnificent here and now of life in the flesh is ours, and ours alone, and ours only for a time. We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos. -D.H. Lawrence
Nostalgia for the life of others. This is because, seen from the outside, another's life forms a unit. Whereas ours, seen from the inside, seems broken up. We are still chasing after an illusion of unity.
"Don't go into show business. It's dog eat dog. It's worse than dog eat dog. It's dog doesn't return other dog's phone calls." -Woody Allen, "Crimes And Misdemeanors"
I just discovered yet another version (this one recorded by Ed Rambeau) of a tune my grandad Jack Mahoney wrote called "When You Wore a Tulip." Sure wish I could collect the royalites, seeing as no one else is.
As I walked toward the building, I saw a van. She was packing up her belongings. I did not know her well, except that every so often I'd seen her talking on her cell and chain-smoking at the front door. "Well, good luck," I said, "I hope you have a good life." "Oh, I'll drop by to see how you and Astrid are doing." But she won't. Why don't people just say, "I hope you have a good life, too" and leave it at that?
There is nothing more that shows the strength of a horse than to come to a sharp, clear stop.
"C'mon, we're not garbage ... we're people!" -Dennis Quaid, "Flight of the Phoenix"
I get the willies when I see closed doors. Even at work, where I am doing so well now, the sight of a closed door is sometimes enough to make me dread that something horrible is happening behind it, something that is going to affect me adversely. I can almost smell the disaster mounting invisibly and flooding out toward me through the frosted panes. My hands may perspire, and my voice may come out strange. I wonder why. -Joseph Heller, "Something Happened"
When you first become friends with a person, you tend to overlook some of the disturbing things they say because, like when most relationships begin, you want to believe that this is basically a decent person and that things will work out. So when this person says something like, "I wish my mother would hurry up and die so I can collect my inheritance," you want to believe that she is joking. But as you come to know this person a bit better and you discover what her sensibilities are - and you find out she is not joking - it makes it more and more difficult to have faith. And then when you find out that all those things she initially represented herself as - intelligent, literate, sensitive - and the things she claims she is - a writer, an editor, an artist - are also not completely true, you lose faith. And then, in this particular instance, when you pull away from this person because her dissembling and superficiality make you feel anxious and uncomfortable, she thinks you are "mad" at her, because being mad is perhaps how she felt her parents were with her; mad is what she understands. But you are not mad. She strikes out at you, calling you all sorts of terrible things, ascribing psychological terms to what she perceives as your behavior, terms whose meaning she does not fully know. But what she does fully know is that she wants to hurt you, the way she wants to hurt what she sees as her unloving parents. It's all so awful and sad, especially because you wanted to believe that this was basically a decent person and that things will work out. "Bad faith is not a state of consciousness that is imposed from without," Sartre writes, "but a willing act of accepting a situation as fact on what the person knows is objectively faulty evidence."
If someone has his own respect, it can be seen on his posture, his voice, the integrity of his opinions. But it can't be strategy. And it has nothing to do with formality and restraint, because if one loves himself he can also abandon himself; he can throw himself on the wind because he is safe.
This odd character talks and says nothing. But she is the opposite of frivolous. She speaks, and then contradicts herself or admits without discussion that she is wrong. All this because she considers it unimportant. She doesn't really think of what she is saying, concerned as she is with another wound, inifinitely more serious, that she will drag around with her, unknown, until death.
There may be some people who should be removed from my life the instant they enter it. However, there is a difference between my dismissing a person because I am being controlled by some mindless, reflexive bias, and ridding my life of an individual whom I can see - because I am looking at her - bears me no good will.
"We still don't know who's in charge, and until we do, people will hesitate to act. The assumption is that someone else is in charge."
"If a woman has false ideas," Beauvoir writes, "if she is not very intelligent, clear-sighted or courageous, a man does not hold her responsible: she is a victim, he thinks - and often with reason - of her situation. He dreams of what she might have been, of perhaps what she will be: she can be credited with any possibilities because she is nothing in particular. This vacancy is what makes the lover weary of her quickly; but it is the source of mystery, the charm, that seduces him and makes him inclined to feel an easy affection in the first place."
What is born does not tend toward perfection and yet never stops. -Montaigne
Just read this ad: "Dianetics contains discoveries heralded as greater than the wheel or fire." Couldn't they have settled for something a little less grandiose to be greater than like the light bulb or peat moss or ice cubes?
Moral: One can't live with people when knowing their ulterior motives.
As the pattern gets swept along, being subtle is no longer enough.
I've started noticing former Massachusetts governor and Democratc presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he strolls past our building to his home in Brookline from his job at Northeastern University. He'll say hi to you if you recognize him (I did) and he did shake hands with Astrid. And he picks up small bits of garbage as he walks along. He seems just a little bit ... kooky.
The bad end unhappily, the good unluckily. That is what tragedy means. -Tom Stoppard
When you cut into the past, the future pours out.
For years one has to put up with the feeling that people do not care, really care, about one; then one day with growing alarm, one realizes that it is God that does not care: and not merely that he does not care, he does not care one way or the other.
To live is to engage in experience at least partly on the terms of the experience itself. One has to stick his neck out in the action without any guarantees about satisfaction or safety. One never knows how it will come out or how silly he will look, but the neurotic type wants these guarantees. He doesn't want to risk his self-image. Otto Rank calls this very aptly the "self-willed over-valuation of self" whereby the neurotic tries to cheat nature. He won't pay the price that nature wants of him: to age, to fall ill or be injured, and die. Instead of living experience, he ideates it; instead of arranging it in action he works it all out in his head.
Depression presents itself as a realism regarding the rottenness of the world in general and the rottenness of your life in particular. But the realism is merely a mask for depression's actual essence, which is an overwhelming estrangement from humanity. The more persuaded you are of your unique access to the rottenness, the more afraid you become of engaging in the world; and the less you engage with the world, the more perfidiously happy-faced the rest of humanity seems for continuing to engage with it.
Better not to leave than to have to come back.
More news on my "Endtroducing" book. I just got my copies in the mail.
How often can you open your bedroom window on a late summer night and hear sound of the Rolling Stones echo off the buildings in the Fenway?
Lenny: "There's nothing like revenge for getting back at people."
The other night I saw a PBS report on Wal-Mart, which tracks each and every item purchased at its registers, so it can determine specifically what products its stores need. One thing that Wal-Mart determined was that every time a natural disaster occurs, there's a run on junk food. Wal-Mart HQ has its very own weather center, and when a hurricane is heading for, say, South Carolina, huge shipments of strawberry Pop-Tarts are immediately dispatched to the soon-to-be-afflicted areas. That's Wal-Mart: looking out for America's junk-food jones during times of crisis.
The emptiness is endless.
8.12.2005 Farewell, farewell to you who would hear, / You lonely travellers all. / The cold north winds again does blow, / The winding road does call.
Today would've been my father's 84th birthday.
Please don't wake me
no, don't shake me
Leave me where I am I'm only sleeping
"You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use - silence, exile, and cunning."
Here's an odd little video of "the Monkees" with my old buddies Tom, Dan and Bob. I'm, um, Davey. What year was this?
Paste magazine gives my liner notes a mention in their review of DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing."
What is irritating about love is that it is a crime that requires an accomplice. -Baudelaire
"When the child was a child, it was the time of these questions. Why am I me, and why not you? Why am I here, and why not there? When did time begin, and where does space end? Isn't life under the sun just a dream? Isn't what I see, hear, and smell just the mirage of a world before the world? Does evil actually exist, and are there people who are really evil? How can it be that I, who am I, wasn't before I was, and that sometime I, the one I am, no longer will be the one I am?"
"If you don't live it, it won't come out your horn." -Charlie Parker
"Adios, Esposito. Say a prayer for surf boy, wherever he is. Semper fi, soldier, semper fi. Sic transit gloria. Maybe we'll meet again someday ... when the fighting stops. Tag 'em and bag 'em, cherries! We're movin' out!"
In grad school you get the same point of view that you do in elementary school, only with footnotes. -Howard Zinn
One can fool life for a long time, but in the end it always makes us what we were intended to be. Every old man is a confession, and if old age is usually so empty it is because the men were themselves empty and had managed to conceal it.
If I feel "no," if my entire being is telling me "no," then the only thing I can lose by saying "no" out loud is clutter - just one less person who isn't really a friend.
"It seemed like [Amnesty] based some of their decisions on the word and allegations by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people had been trained in some instances to disassemble - that means not tell the truth, and so it was an absurd report. It just is." -Dubya
Only he who is a party can really judge, but as a party he cannot judge. It follows that there is no possibility of judgment in the world, only a glimmer of it.
It is the old joke. We hold the world fast and complain it is holding us.
My beloved spake, and said unto me, / Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. / For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; / the flowers appear on the earth; / the time of the singing of birds is come, / and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. -Song of Solomon
It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.
Immersion in the oceanic experience of universal consciousness is a life-changing experience. It is experience of the web of life, the biological life flow, an ineffable current of bliss. Once we experience that larger world and self - the rhythmic pulse of all life - we are never the same again, so long as we remember.
Deru kugiwa utareru ("the nail that protrudes will be hammered down").
Longing. Longing for a wave of love that would stir in me. That's what makes me clumsy. The absence of pleasure. Desire for love. Desire to love.
Nice to see someone has included one of my songs in his Top 10 list.
Evil is not an abstract force. It persists merely because people persist in doing evil.
You know how Dylan said, "I'd rather feel bad than feel nothing at all"? Well, I'd rather feel nothing at all.
5.19.2005 Here is an article I wrote on Aimee Mann for the Boston Phoenix. Also, from the same issue, here is a review of the Doves' "Some Cities."
The difference between a liar and a bullshitter: a liar knows she is lying; a bullshitter believes in her bullshit.
Miles: What can I do for you, Michael? What do you want from me?
Michael: Something you're not going to give me.
Miles: And what's that?
Michael: An invitation. I want you to ask us if we'd like to come to work for you.
Miles: Instead of what?
Michael: Instead of our begging for it.
Miles: You ask me, I ask you, either way you end up here. What difference does it make?
Michael: I took your advice; read Nashiru on the art of management. He tells the story of two samurai warriors standing in the rain, swords out, each ready to strike. But neither of them moves. They just stand there in the storm, poised.
Michael: You tell me.
Miles: Because whoever moves first loses the advantage.
Michael: So they stand there getting soaked, accomplishing nothing. Stupid way to make a living, isn't it?
New law: Death penalty for people who move in across the hall who smoke and wear vomit-inducing perfume/cologne.
5.12.2005 Here is an article I wrote on singer Judee Sill for the Boston Phoenix.
The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one's own. -Willa Cather
With a new Weezer album upon us, here is a feature I wrote when "Maladroit" was released.
I tell myself that there is no persistent evil, though we are each alone. I know it's just the level of serotonin put out by the brain. I know that light helps, and that you have to wait it out. I have so many reasons to be happy. Though vast featureless plains of sadness reach out endlessly, so that you seem to drown in its space, beneath them are innumerable lakes and streams, the cold pure force of water; and if you can tap that water, however fierce the land above, you can live.
The life I lived in Los Angeles seems increasingly far-off, the people I knew like distant planets. Occasionally, the orbit of one of those planets swings close to mine, the way that Venus is closer to Earth at certain times of the year. During that time there is a chance for brief communication ... but just when contact is made, on comes the static and the signal is lost. Until the next time.
The Nausea is not inside me: I feel it out there in the wall, in the suspenders, everywhere around me. It makes itself one with the cafe, I am the one who is within it. -Sartre
Imagination is not to be divorced from the facts: It is a way of illuminating the facts. The tragedy of the world is that those who are imaginative have but slight experience, and those who are experienced have feeble imaginations. -Alfred North Whitehead
A sure sign of spring: the pot-bellied sapsucker (joejoycean imbicilicus) has arrived in the neighborhood (Boston's Fenway). Identifying characteristics: puffy, pasty face with distinctive red veins on its beak; spiky mullet hair covered by cap with the letter "B" on it; golf shirt tucked into tightly belted too tight shorts (or acid-wash jeans on cooler days); white sneakers with socks pulled up to knee; cell phone in cell-phone holster; wrap-around sunglasses covering eyes; cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee in hand. Usually seen cavorting with others of its ilk and offspring of similar description. Beware: This species believes it is entitled to what few parking spots are available (without regard to clearly posted ordinances). It also consumes copious amounts of alcohol and, when agitated, can become loud, violent and insufferable. April, you cruel month.
Have you ever noticed that when you're feeling pretty good / there's always some pigeon come to shit on your hood. -John Prine
Wait a minute, there's a snag somewhere; something disagreeable. Why, now, should it be disagreeable? Ah, I see; it's life without a break.
As soon as you begin to believe in something, then you can no longer see anything else.
Life only makes sense when we look at it backward; too bad we have to live it forward.
"That's been my problem. I miss what I already have and I surround myself with things that are missing."
We can't look at things directly. They escape us. When you're thinking and now you start to think about your thinking - you're not thinking about the original object anymore. I'm thinking about baseball, now I'm thinking about how I'm thinking about baseball, so now I'm not thinking about baseball. You have to have an oblique approach. As C.S. Lewis put it, you have to sneak past the watchful dragons of self-consciousness.
I long ago abandoned the notion of life without storms, or a world without dry or killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to exert too much control over essentially uncontrollable forces. There will always be propelling, disturbing elements, and they will be there until, as Lowell put it, the watch is taken from the wrist. It is, at the end of the day, the individual moments of restlessness, of bleakness, of strong persuasions and maddened ethusiasms, that inform one's life, change the nature and direction of one's work, and give final meaning and color to one's loves and friendships.
I have a back yard that makes my front yard look like an idiot. -Homer Simpson
There is no vocabulary for love within a family, love that's lived in but not looked at, love within the light of which all else is seen, the love within which all other love finds speech. This love is silent. -T.S. Eliot
Something always takes the place of missing pieces you can take and put together even though you know there's something missing.
People who can't pull themselves together don't rise to the level of tragedy. Nuerosis isn't tragic; it's energy wasted.
I dreamt I woke up dreaming again, or was I still awake dreaming I was asleep?
"Life begins and spirits rise, / and they become memories that vaporize, / and the vapor becomes the dreams we devise, / and while we are dreaming, time flies."
If love is not the cure, it certainly can act as a very strong medicine. As John Donne has written, it is not so pure and abstract as one might once have thought and wished, but it does endure, and it does grow.
The other day I got a call from a person saying he represented a nondenominational, nonpolitical, nonprofit organization called DOVE, whose mission is to clean up the entertainment industry. The peculiar thing was, the more questions I asked, the more disembodied the voice on the other end of the line sounded. When I asked him to name a specific program the organization considered not worthy of family viewing, he went silent for a second, and then came back with, "Yes, I'm still here," sounding a little like the creepy placating Jesus voice from "THX-1138." So I laughed and said, "C'mon, you're not really a human being, now are you?" And he said, "OK, bye, then." I asked, "Hold on, who are you?" And he said, again, "Yes, I'm still here." "You're a computer, right?" One more time he said, "OK, bye, then," and hung up. So I star sixty-nined him, and I got a real human. After grinding her down, I found out that, yes, it was a computer I was talking to and, yes, they are a Christian organization - information she was very reticent to divulge. These people want to instill their "values," and yet they are cleverly deceptive. In other words, they lie. What sort of value is that?
He didn't paint anymore. Then he got in the habit of going out in the morning. He would give himself the assigment of sketching a detail, a tree, a lopsided house, a profile as it went by. At the end of the day, he had done nothing. The least temptation - the newspapers, an encounter, shopwindows, the warmth of a cafe - would lead him astray. Each evening he would keep providing good excuses to a bad conscience that never left him. He was going to paint, that was certain, and paint better, after this period of apparent waste. It was all just working within him, and the star would come out newly washed and sparkling from behind these black clouds. Meanwhile he never left the cafes. -Camus, "The Artist at Work"
There is no limit to new territory. The gate is open. Whether or not we go through is up to us, but to stand mockingly at the threshold, claiming that nothing lies beyond, is something of a flat earth theory.
Due to the covergence of forces beyond his comprehension, Salvatore Quanucci was suddenly squirted out of the universe like a watermelon seed, and never heard from again.
The true artist is interested in the art object as an art process, the thing in being, the being of the thing, the struggle, the excitement, the energy, that have found expression in a particular way. The true artist is after the problem. The false artist wants it solved by somebody else.
2.4.2005 Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. -Picasso
If everything is connected to everything else, what's connecting everything else together?
With Astrid sitting right here (mostly screaming) in my lap, I finally completed writing the DJ Shadow book for Continuum as well as the liner notes for the "Endtroducing" reissue. Both will be released this summer. Feeling a little less anxious ...
I took another pass at this picture and this picture. I've always liked them, I just needed to find the best way to render them.
Sometimes, words have consequences you don't intend them to mean. -Dubya
Can you see that I am serious? -Mr. Sparkle
Nothing like a little snow. Yep, that's our car. Likely it'll remain there until spring.
In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream / Lingering in the golden gleam / Life, what is it but a dream? -Lewis Carroll
Bottle of Claret for you if I had realized ... Well, do it next time ... I forgot about it, George, I'm sorry. Will you forgive me? Yes. Then there's this Welsh rarebit wearing some brown underpants ... About the shortage of grain in Hertfordshire. Every one of them knew that as time went by they'd get a little bit older and a litter slower but ... It's all the same thing, in this case manufactured by someone who's always umpteen ... Your father's giving it diddly-i-dee ... district was leaving ... intended to die ... Ottoman ... long gone through ... I've got to say, irritably and ... floors, hard enough to put on ... per day's MD in our district ... There was not really enough light to get down ... And ultimately ... slumped down ... Suddenly ... They may stop the funding... Place your bets ... The original ... Afraid she'll die ... Great colors for the season ... Who's to know? Who was to know? I sustained nothing worse than ... Also, for example ... Whatever you're doing ... A business deal falls through ... I informed him on the third night, when fortune gives ... People ride, people ride ... I've missed all of that ... It makes me a few days late ... Compared with, like, wow! And weird stuff like that ... taking our sides sometimes ... floral bark ... Rouge doctors have brought this specimen ... I have nobody's short cuts, aha ... with the situation ... They are standing still ... The plan, the telegram ... A man without terrors from beard to false ... As the headmaster reported to my son ... He really can try, as they do, to find function ... Tell what he was saying, and his voice was low and his hive high ... And his eyes were low ... Alright! It was on fire and his glasses were the same ... This thing knows if it was tinted ... But you know it isn't ... To me it is ... So the wife called me and we'd better go to see a surgeon to price it ... Yellow underclothes ... So, any road, we went to see the dentist instead ... Who gave her a pair of teeth which wasn't any good at all ... So I said I'd marry, join the fucking navy and went to sea ... In my broken chair, my wings are broken and so is my hair ... I'm not in the mood for whirling ... How? Dogs for dogging, hands for clapping ... Birds for birding and fish for fishing ... Them for themming and when for whimming ... only to find the night watchman unaware of his presence in the building ... industry allows financial imbalance ... Thrusting it between his shoulder blades ... The Watusi, the twist ... Eldorado ... Take this, brother, may it serve you well ... Maybe it's nothing ... What? What? Oh ... Maybe, even then, impervious in London ... could be difficult thing ... It's quick like rush for peace is because it's so much ... Like being naked ... It's alright, it's alright ... If, you became naked ...
"When I abandoned my doomed ship, thus did I free myself into oblivion." (Remembering NS)
We make our lives what they are. "I am exhausted" or "I have too many other things to do" or "There's not enough time." But we somehow manage to do the things we want to do, even when we are exhausted or have too many other things to do or don't have enough time. It's all about choice.
Does it mean something when a hawk lands again on your fire escape?
11.29.2004 She was sitting along the high road; I did not see her, I only noticed how she swung along as she ran, how her veil flew, how her feet lifted. I was sitting along the edge of the field, gazing into the water of the little stream. She ran through the villages; children standing in doorways watched her coming and watched her going.
It is never too late to be what you might have been. -George Eliot (with thanks to Natalia).
Boris Grushenko: "Wheat. I'm dead. They're talking about wheat."
The movement you need is on your shoulder.
If it's your decision to be open about yourself / Be careful or else. -Elliott Smith, "Memory Lane"
Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face.
Things Astrid has said thus far: "Hi," "Elioagggh," "8:30" and, curiously, "Life is not a game you can win, but a game that has no end - and all you do is die somewhere in the middle of it." Scary.
I am old enough. I have been given the lessons. More than needed. More than I have ever used. The time has come for me to put an end to this busy stocking of supplies. I don't require one thing beyond my own counsel. Why should I keep filling myself with new reminders and techniques - it's nothing other than procrastination. I can trust myself. I know what to do. As the poet Pavese said in parting: "No more words. An act."