Monthly Archives: May 2012

september deviant

5/9/12

As you read this, I’ll be entering the mental state my daughter has decided to call “torpor” after reading about hummingbirds at night. The rest of the medical community calls it “general anesthesia”. I’m getting surgery for a deviated septum, and I find myself vaguely freaked out by the kind of recovery time these things can have.

I probably wouldn’t be so torqued and off-put by the surgery if it weren’t for the various medical nightmares some of our close friends are going through. This kind of operation happens a thousand times a day, and I’ve always tolerated anesthesia well (except for the time I woke up and thought I was a frog) but a few drops of misplaced adrenaline have me a little bummed out about the whole thing.

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my deviated septum looking an awful lot like the various phases of Uranus

One nice perk: I get to go to a schmancy “recovery hotel” for a night or two after this, the kind of place that caters to celebrities after they get chin jobs and butt lifts – but like the womb, it’s one of those awesome places you go during the one time you’ll never remember it.

As I’ve said before, I got this deviated septum the worst way possible: not from any cocaine benders, but from pushing a trashcan up my driveway during some very dark years in LA circa 1999. The wheels of the trash bin slipped forward, sending the lip of the fucker right across the bridge of my nose.

In a way, fixing my septum will be finally taking care of one of the last horrible remnants of my former life. It will be a small redemption, a loose end tied up, far inside my head. Not long after, I started hanging out with this rad chick named Tessa, whose birthday was Thursday.

They say you replace every cell in your body every seven years, which means I should be remade twice over by now. Somehow this flaw has survived each translation, a false conjugation from the days before everything finally began to make sense – so I have to say, a few frayed nerves is a small price for never having to speak of it again.

hated for loving

5/8/12

Wow, North Carolina, you sure know a historic anticlimax when you see one. Just when you were poised to become the progressive leader of the New South, entering the future with 10 million eyes focused on things that matter, you went and told homosexuals they were lesser humans. I’m finding it hard to conjure the words of how this makes me feel… Nauseous? Disgusted? Furious? I’ve always been a proud Tar Heel, with two words mind you, but now I’m seeing the benefit of just staying in parts of the country that treat people fairly.

As a white, middle-class heterosexual person with a blonde wife, cutiepants little daughter, and a newfound love of golf and hot pepper jelly, it is incumbent upon me to take a stand on this issue. In times when the downtrodden are trod down, it’s up to the blessed to take on their misery. And so I can say this, loud and clear: I stand with the geeks, the nerds, the chess club, the filmstrip operators. I stand with Hispanics, African Americans, Koreans, Indians, and anyone else who doesn’t look like you.

I stand with the twee, the fey, the queens, the fruits, the prissy, the mincing, with Green Day’s faggot America. I stand with the godless, the agnostics, the flaky, the unsure, and the morally fluctuating. I stand with them because they have the awesomeness borne of exclusion, and because they are the music makers, and they are the dreamers of dreams.

Fuck your opinions. Aren’t you tired of them yet? Your lazy bigotry would be criminal if it weren’t SO BORING. You’re goddamn hopeless. You react to facts by doubling down on your bullshit, and apparently the only way things will change is for you to die off. Thank god that’s happening:

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If you voted for Amendment One for religious reasons, seriously, you can go fuck yourself. I’m past sugarcoating this for the fence-straddlers: if your church believes that certain people should be denied basic human rights, Jesus himself would have wept.

Your pastor, or bishop, or priest or imam say otherwise? They’re wrong. If you still believe it because you’re relying on some sort of “gut instinct”, you should stick your hand down the garbage disposal so you can’t vote anymore. Seriously.

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See the states where it’s all pink, bright red or dark red? From now on, when Tessa and I visit or pass through those states, I will not say we are married. Because our “marriage” doesn’t mean shit in those places. I will love her just as much in New York as I do in North Carolina, but we want no part of an institution that is doled out unfairly.

The day will come when they will wonder why Americans were such assholes to gay people. Those of us living in this era will have the stink of that bigotry whether we agreed with it or not, the way we lump together everyone from the Middle Ages. If you voted for the amendment, you’re either diabolically cynical, or painfully unenlightened – and either way, you leave a stain that is murder to remove.

you’ll know this blackboard lacks a piece of chalk

5/7/12

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all hail Nik Kershaw

Inspired by my brother Kent’s list from yesterday and caveman’s Sugarcubes link, today’s question is deceptively simple:

Can you name two or three songs that you loved from the past, that are forever locked away on an otherwise-popular album? Last year, we did the secret crush songs entry, but those songs had to have been on the radio. Today’s question asks you to name a few songs from a band, artist or album that most of us might know, but the song itself is a little secret gem. Perhaps a song from a record famous for other songs, or a song from an artist known for other work.

I’ll do four right now:

1. Motorcrash – The Sugarcubes (1988)

Before Björk was truly Björked to 11, she was in this Icelandic band that threatened to save pop music with equal parts silliness, art and dance. But her voice, oh my god. (thanks for reminding me, caveman)

2. On a Sunday – Nick Heyward (1983) – Having just split off from Haircut 100 (who gave you the luscious Brit ska-ish hits Love Plus One and Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) Nick Heyward made this insatiably delicious pop record with hook after hook of high-harmony perfection. Should have sold billions, but like most of my heroes, labors in obscurity until someone finds them.

3. Don’t Box Me In – Stan Ridgway & Stewart Copeland (1983)

What do you get when The Police break up, and the drummer has the “Mexican Radio” singer to do a song for Coppola’s disastrous Rumble Fish movie? 3 and a half minutes of off-kilter genius.

4. Troubled Mind – Everything But the Girl (1994) – Although we loved them in the Carolina dorms as “sophisti-pop” crooners from early on, when they released “Amplified Heart”, EBTG achieved that perfect sliver-thin sweet spot of acoustic jazz and electronica. The song Missing became the international hit, but this one perfectly captures the moment… analog strings + house-flavored beat + Tracy Thorn’s voice = bliss.

have your friends collect your records

5/6/12

There’s no doubt my generation has been responsible for buying a lot of shitty music – god knows the pop charts between 1988 and 1992 would embarrass even farm animals – but overall, I think our batting average was pretty good. There was always one detail that gave me pleasure: we made the song Who Can It Be Now the Number 1 song in the country.

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Men at Work’s first single was a weird, sparse little tune that barely squeaks into a key signature. I didn’t even like it that much. It’s so hard to pin down that it didn’t make it into the 80s Revival™, nor will you hear it on many ’80s stations (that honor went to their next song, “Down Under”). But in 1982, we sent that little ditty to the top of the charts, and in a way, I’ve always been proud of that.

When suffering through “My Humps”, Ke$ha or another Rihanna brain-flogging, I’d think to myself – with infinite smugness – “could this generation possibly throw another ‘Who Can It Be Now’ up the charts?” By god if they didn’t do something twenty times better:

Unless you’re on diaper duty or keep the car windows rolled up in case somebody else is listening to the radio, you’ll have heard Gotye’s fucking classic “Somebody That I Used to Know”. Built around a classical guitar loop and a clinkety xylophone riff, it’s the best breakup song our culture has had in 30 years.

The song itself, with the second verse delivered by New Zealand singer Kimbra, is a spiritual descendent of another song that got a lot of airplay at Club 510 in 1990: Kingdom of Rain by The The. In the The The song (god how I loved writing that) it was Sinead O’Connor going nuts in the 2nd chorus, with the Smiths’ Johnny Marr providing the gorgeous guitars, but the sentiment is the same. I swear, there’s nothing like a good “he said she said” song, all the way from Don’t You Want Me to Gotye.

Pop music of the Hot 100 variety is a very young person’s game, not because the songs are all stupid, but because you’ve heard most of the chord changes by the time you’re 35. The first time I heard Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, I thought “why is she covering Express Yourself?” When Alanis Morissette put out You Learn, all I could hear was Cyndi Lauper’s All Through the Night. Sometimes it’s just the feeling… I liked that We Are Young song this winter, but it kept reminding me of Closing Time.

And so it’s been a long, long time since a #1 song has hidden in the brush and jumped out to bite me in the ass, so I give thanks to Gotye, Kimbra, and the 14-year-olds of America for giving me faith that weird, emotional little pop songs – sung by a whole country – are not a thing of the past.

pull the choke, start it up

5/3/12

It’s been an especially emotional early spring, as neither Tessa nor I have been in the same spot for more than a few days… she had just returned from helping one of her oldest friends, just recently bereaved, when we got the news that another of our oldest friends has a girl, Lucy’s age, with an enormous, complicated tumor in her belly.

Thank god both th’ wife and I were in a position to travel and see both of them (albeit briefly), with promises for more. The Lulubeans, in our various absences, got a high fever and hasn’t been in school all week – beginning on Monday, when an errant text message reported her fever as 108° (when it was really 100.8°). All of this has contributed to an air of heightened alert, which has left both of us with too much – and occasionally nothing – to say.

Let’s try this, then: put out a few positive impulses to get this spring going for real.

• call one or both of your parents.

• leave 2% extra tip for your servers.

• take off your sunglasses for 10 seconds in full sun.

• drive 3 mph slower for 3 days.

• get some chocolate (Ghirardelli’s new Sea Salt Soirée is especially good).

• for god’s sake, tell that person you love them.

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my peach tree in Venice is trying its damndest

that’s one way to lose these walking blues

5/2/12

After thinking about those videos last week and the various objet d’art one uncovers when one is at one’s homestead, I’ve been in a 1986 frame of mind the last two days of planting, which means various songs from Skylarking, So, and Level 42 are being mixed with the liquid fish fertilizer, if you know what I mean.

1986 tends to be my favorite year, pray tell, do you have one? A favorite year of the relatively distant past, that is?

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