October 15th, 2011
Since Letty was born three weeks ago, I’ve been listening incessantly to Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight. It’s the first album they made together and for the time being, I’m convinced it’s their best. In college, I felt the same way about Shoot Out the Lights (their break-up record). The two are mirror images. One is warts-and-all community, its narrators at once loving and implicated. Eight years later, Richard and Linda are the main story, their marriage in shambles, their partnership straining against the outside world. In its own way, each is about affirmation through irony. Lights start to blaze, lights go out; if you squint just right, a drunken 19 year-old full of self-ruin isn’t that different from a new parent. I haven’t listened to a new Sonic Youth album in a while, so if the Kim Gordon-Thurston Moore divorce means the end of an institution, I’ll be able to look back without hurting myself in the process. But I certainly feel something: disoriented, if not a little sad, devastated in a way that contains neither action nor definite consequences. It’s just odd that two people who made so much music together—even if their characters were at their strongest when they ran parallel—would dissolve this way: mute, privately, and with nothing left behind to make sense of what they meant to us. No shit, they owe us absolutely nothing; these are people, not dancing seals. Still, having spent the last couple of weeks with Bright Lights, and seeing Shoot out the Lights inevitably on its horizon, it’s hard to accept that there will be no closing document. A band, not a couple, made all those classics. That band, though, was always unusually personable, way more easy to love than they ever had any business being. Especially early on, Sonic Youth made ugly music, and yet somehow welcomed the listener. That’s always been their genius, and much like Bright Lights, it depends on finding warmth in the strangest places, and comfort in that. It’s always been near-impossible to not locate some of that in Kim and Thurston (first-namers as much out of affection as fame). “Kotton Krown”, maybe the most extreme example of SY’s winning formula, also happens to be a courtly duet between the two of them. I want to hear that turned inside out, to understand not why their marriage failed, but how art so dependent on empathy could one day wake up cold. 

Since Letty was born three weeks ago, I’ve been listening incessantly to Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight. It’s the first album they made together and for the time being, I’m convinced it’s their best. In college, I felt the same way about Shoot Out the Lights (their break-up record). The two are mirror images. One is warts-and-all community, its narrators at once loving and implicated. Eight years later, Richard and Linda are the main story, their marriage in shambles, their partnership straining against the outside world. In its own way, each is about affirmation through irony. Lights start to blaze, lights go out; if you squint just right, a drunken 19 year-old full of self-ruin isn’t that different from a new parent. 

I haven’t listened to a new Sonic Youth album in a while, so if the Kim Gordon-Thurston Moore divorce means the end of an institution, I’ll be able to look back without hurting myself in the process. But I certainly feel something: disoriented, if not a little sad, devastated in a way that contains neither action nor definite consequences. It’s just odd that two people who made so much music together—even if their characters were at their strongest when they ran parallel—would dissolve this way: mute, privately, and with nothing left behind to make sense of what they meant to us. No shit, they owe us absolutely nothing; these are people, not dancing seals. Still, having spent the last couple of weeks with Bright Lights, and seeing Shoot out the Lights inevitably on its horizon, it’s hard to accept that there will be no closing document. A band, not a couple, made all those classics. That band, though, was always unusually personable, way more easy to love than they ever had any business being. Especially early on, Sonic Youth made ugly music, and yet somehow welcomed the listener. That’s always been their genius, and much like Bright Lights, it depends on finding warmth in the strangest places, and comfort in that. It’s always been near-impossible to not locate some of that in Kim and Thurston (first-namers as much out of affection as fame). “Kotton Krown”, maybe the most extreme example of SY’s winning formula, also happens to be a courtly duet between the two of them. I want to hear that turned inside out, to understand not why their marriage failed, but how art so dependent on empathy could one day wake up cold. 

April 21st, 2011

Every time I hit the ground, I bounce up like roundball

iancohen:

8.3

Caprese Style Chicken

South Beach Living (Kraft)

I’ll just put this in the most blunt terms possible: I succumbed to an irresistible urge to listen to Snow Patrol’s Final Straw.  Was I looking to put the finishing touches on the seduction of the sort of traditionally attractive woman who attended a large state university and is entry-level alt enough for my tastes?  If it was, you’d be the first to know.  Likewise, I succumbed to an irresistible urge to listen to Death From Above 1979’s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine.  Did I get dumped by that woman and feel the need to nurse my heartbreak while still being a coked-out asshole?  If it was, you’d be the first to know.

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One of the masters. I’m reblogging this in spite of the fact that it says nice things about me in the middle.

Reblogged from Icy On Purpose
April 18th, 2011

When Ryland Knight and I met for the second time, we were wearing almost exactly the same thing: green t-shirt, dark jeans, some sort of brown leather shoes. I joked about this being the “I used to be interesting and then it stopped” uniform. It also reminded me of a conversation a friend and I had in a Dallas thrift store like four years ago. It wasn’t the usual “this shit is picked over” bitch-fest, but real, material fear—a sense of powerlessness that came with the understanding that one day, all the good old shirts would be gone. Ours would fall apart, there wouldn’t be any left to replace them, and thrift stores would be filled with stuff that still felt recent to us (nostalgia slackens and distance shrinks from college on). We resolved that, when that day came, we would just go to well-made jeans and plain tees. And here Ryland and I were, livin’ the dream.

Writing this now, though, I’m realized that we’re still trying to have it both ways. Old clothes, ironic tees, and pearl snap shirts were always, on some level, supposed to be about not giving a fuck. Being overly clever, or too creative, was never really the point. Trying too hard was always out of bounds. At the same time, as relatively grown-up as we looked, we also weren’t dressed like 1996—it was entirely possible that style was on our side. I’m not so sure that anyone wants to look all that interesting anymore, at least not across a certain demographic. Call it backlash, or aging out, but I think it’s just as likely a re-packaging of pretending not to give a fuck. Incidentally, Ryland and I went shopping. I bought the J-Crew khakis, pictured above, to wear to court. 

April 6th, 2011

After Dave Bry’s J Mascis post on The Awl today, I felt even better about my new life-choice to blast You’re Living All Over Me in the car, over and over again. It also got me thinking about a list I’ve wanted to make for a long time: The Most Totally Awesome Whammy Bar Dives Ever. Off the top, I’ve only got three: the one that leads into the first verse of Dinosaur, Jr.’s “Little Fury Things”; those in My Bloody Valentine’s “Only Shallow”, and pretty much all of Neil Young’s “Cortez The Killer”. “Eruption” is automatically disqualified. Anyway, I had wanted to find an old live version of “Little Fury Things,” but the only available clip was an unpleasant reminder of how quickly, and painfully, Dinosaur, Jr. went totally nineties on us. Instead, here’s the originally line-up absolutely murdering “The Lung”, with some tremolo action that’s as good as anything on my list-in-progress. I welcome suggestions and submissions.