Thursday, January 19, 2017

My Year With Proust - Day 349

But already, from the last words that had reached me over the telephone, I was beginning to understand that Albertine's life was situated (not in a physical sense, of course) at so great a distance from mine that I should always have to make exhausting explorations in order to seize hold of it, and moreover was organised like a system of earthworks which, for greater security, were of the kind that at a later period we learned to call "camouflaged." Albertine, in fact, belonged, although at a slightly higher social level, to that type of person to whom the concierge promises your messenger that she will deliver your letter when she comes in - until the day when you realise that it is precisely she, the person you have met in a public place and to whom you have ventured to write, who is the concierge.  So that she does indeed live - (which moreover is a private brothel of which the concierge is the madame).  Lives entrenched behind five or six lines of defence, so that when you try to see this woman, or to find out about her, you invariably aim too far to the right, or to the left, or too far in front, or too far behind, and can remain in total ignorance for months, even years.  In the case of Albertine, I felt that I should never discover anything, that, out of that tangled mass of details of fact and falsehood, I should never unravel the truth: and that it would always be so, unless I were to shut her up in prison (but prisoners escape) until the end.  That evening, this conviction gave me only a vague anxiety, in which however I could detect a shuddering anticipation of prolonged suffering to come.
Marcel Proust, Cities of the Plain, pp. 759-760

I've always had this theory that when my father realized that I was an actual, independent, free-standing (at the time) young man - and not simply a reflection of him (like the moon to the sun) - he lost interest in me.  In a middling way I was interesting as long as I mimicked a developing and deeply flawed version of him, but much less so when I started to become my own person with my own ideas and pursuing my own dreams.  My guess is that I've made this point before, but I think it relates to the passage above.  It seems to me that we all repeat the same experience with the loves of our lives.  Marcel learns - or is reminded - that Albertine is, in fact, a separate person, and one so far removed from him and his control that she may never truly be his, which can be viewed as being under his control.  Proust tells us, "I was beginning to understand that Albertine's life was situated (not in a physical sense, of course) at so great a distance from mine that I should always have to make exhausting explorations in order to seize hold of it, and moreover was organised like a system of earthworks which, for greater security, were of the kind that at a later period we learned to call 'camouflaged.'"  He begins to understand that he will "never unravel the truth."  This seems especially true and compelling in regards to Albertine, but it is doubtless true of over woman we ever love; and, truthfully, shouldn't that be the way of things?  For all the protestations of poets and anniversary cards, who would ever really want to completely "know" the other person?  It would be nice to be able to depend upon them, but they'd be pretty uninteresting if you could know them completely.  Who has that little to share?  It's something akin to an emotional uncertainty principle.  Going back to yesterday's post, and turning the lens back on me, maybe I am most fascinated by the ones I know the least, who are most immune to my efforts to know them, even if that just means controlling them.  Sadly, I think my own experience has mirrored Proust's: "That evening, this conviction gave me only a vague anxiety, in which however I could detect a shuddering anticipation of prolonged suffering to come."  That said, if you've made the decisions yourself, and you are free to unmake them, then you have sacrificed the right to complain about it.  I'm paraphrasing, per usual, but I think Marcus Aurelius (I really need to devote myself to my Year With Marcus Aurelius next) proposed that we either leave our fellows alone or we help make them better, that is our only two choices; essentially, stop whining about them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My Year With Proust - Day 348

   Part of me, which the other part sought to join, was in Albertine.  It was essential that she should come, but I not tell her so at first; now that we were in communication, I said to myself that I could always oblige her at the last moment either to come to me or to let me rush round to her.  "Yes, I'm near home," she said, "and miles away from you.  I hadn't read your note properly.  I've just found it again and was afraid you might be waiting up for me."  I felt sure she was lying, and now, in my fury, it was from a desire not so much to see her as to inconvenience her that I was determined to make her come.
Marcel Proust, Cities of the Plain, p. 758

Marcel continues to have trouble with Albertine, which, of course, I'm beginning to think is more than half of his fascination with her.  It seems that I've been involved with a lot of "difficult" women over the years.  Now, we can read this several different ways: 1) all women are "difficult"; 2) being with me would make any woman "difficult" (and, truthfully, what could be a more daunting, if not utterly Sisyphean, task than living with me); or 3) I'm fatally attracted (for some reason that doubtless needs exploring) to "difficult" women.  If number three is correct then let me take the opportunity, quite publicly, to apologize to every non-"difficult" woman who had the misfortune to hook up with me.

Beyond that admission and apology, I'm amused by Proust's admission that "now, in my fury, it was from a desire not so much to see her as to inconvenience her that I was determined to make her come."  It is amazing how much of the driving energy of any relationship is based on spite.  Maybe we hang on to dying relationships not out of love or fear or jealousy, but rather our insistence that we remain the person who makes her unhappy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My Year With Proust - Day 347

   Since, whenever the outer gate opened, the concierge pressed an electric button which lighted the stairs, and since all the occupants of the building had already come in, I left the kitchen immediately and went to sit down in the hall, keeping my eyes fastened on the point where the slightly too n arrow curtain did not completely cover the glass panel of our front door, leaving visible a vertical strip of semi-darkness from the stairs.  If, suddenly, this strip turned a golden yellow, that would mean that Albertine had just entered the building and would be with me in a minute; nobody else could be coming at that time of night.  And I sat there, unable to take my eyes from the strip which persisted in remaining dark; I bent my whole body forward to make certain of noticing any change; but, gaze as I might, the vertical black band, despite my impassioned longing, did not give me the intoxicating delight that I should have felt had I seen it changed by a stroke of sudden and significant magic to a luminous bar of gold.  This was indeed a great fuss to make about Albertine, to whom I had not given three minutes' thought during the Guermantes reception!  But, reviving the feelings of anxiety expectancy I had had in the past over other girls, Gilberte especially when she was late in coming, the prospects of having to forgo a simple physical pleasure caused me an intense mental suffering.
Marcel Proust, Cities of the Plain, p. 755

Once again we see the peculiarity of desire.  Proust, waiting for Albertine, admits that he had given her precious little thought when he was at the Guermantes reception, but now that he is actually, actively, waiting for her he is consumed by desire and anxiety.  As always, he paints a lovely picture, in this case the anticipated arrival of the golden light which will chase away the darkness.  A "luminous bar of gold" will reward him, and while at that moment he seems more concerned with being paid of in orgasmic coin, it seems quite likely that he'll end up short-changed emotionally.

At the end his waiting is rewarded when the phone rings, but, as is the case with Albertine, it is never as simple as it seems. "I was tortured by the incessant recurrence of my longing, ever more anxious and never gratified, for the sound of a call; having arrived at the culminating point of a tortuous ascent through the coils of my lonely anguish, from the depths of a populous, nocturnal Paris brought miraculously close to me, there beside my bookcase, I suddenly heard, mechanical and sublime, like the fluttering scarf of the shepherd's pipe in Tristan, the top-like whirr of the telephone.  I sprang to the instrument; it was Albertine." (p. 757) I think it's impossible to read the phrase "a populous, nocturnal Paris" without reflecting upon Proust's later days, slowly dying, cutting himself off from that very Paris, only leaving his room in the middle of the night, as he desperately worked to finish this work.  He was a ghost, a part from that "populous, nocturnal Paris."

Monday, January 16, 2017

My Year With Proust - Day 346

In the whole universe I now desired only two women, of whose faces I could not, it is true, form any picture, but whose names Saint-Loup had given me and whose compliance he had guaranteed.  So that if, by what he had said this evening, he had set my imagination a heavy task, he had at the same time procured an appreciable relaxation, a prolonged rest for my will.
Marcel Proust, Cities of the Plain, p. 750

Marcel's friend Robert Saint-Loup describes two women to him and he is suddenly and overpowering aflame with desire, even though he's never seen them.  To me this brings us back to one of the essential truths about desire - it's all about anticipation, about what the imagination promises, which is inevitably far greater than what is delivered; or, maybe more accurately, what you deliver when you discover that your imagination has once again far out-paced reality.  How often have you driven two hours in the middle of the night based on the promise of a once in a lifetime assignation (as expressed nicely in the Sara Evans song Four-Thirty, which falls into that unique musical category of Even Nice Christian Girls Get the Urge; I know that there are a dozen Lucinda Williams songs that handle this better, but I think the Evans song fits in better with our theme) only to discover that the person waiting for you is, well, a person, you need to rekindle your imagination, essentially removing yourself from the reality you just drove two hours to consummate, to find inspiration.

Proust provides more information about the two women:

Ever since Saint-Loup had spoken to me of a young girl of good family who frequented a house of ill-fame, and of the Baroness Pubtus's chambermaid, it was in these two persons that now become coalesced and embodied the desires inspired in me day by day by countless beauties of two classes, on the one hand the vulgar and magnificent, and majestic lady's maids of great houses, swollen with pride and saying "we" in speaking of duchesses, and on the other hand those girls of whom it was enough for me sometimes, without even having seen them go past in carriages or on foot, to have read the names in the account of a ball for me to fall in love with them and, having conscientiously searched the social directory for the country houses in which they spent the summer (as often as not letting myself bed led astray by a similarity of names), to dream alternately of going to live amid the plains of the West, the dunes of the North, the pine-woods of the South. But in vain did I fuse together all the most exquisite fleshly matter to compose, after the ideal outline traced for me by Saint-Loup, the young girl of easy virtue and Mme Putbus's maid, my two possessible beauties still lacked what I should never know until I had seen them: individual character. (p. 749)

Somewhere in my dissolute youth, although I suspect probably just in a movie, I remember someone giving the sage advise that you should treat queens like whores and whores like queens (truthfully, I don't remember where I heard it).  The advise is, as Woody Allen would opine, pithy yet degenerate, and I bring it up because it has this peculiar truth: that you should not let your treatment of someone be determined solely by your perception of what or who they are.  I know that any reader of this blog will, quite naturally and appropriately, bring up the fact that I often will quote (well, paraphrase) Confucius's admonition that clean water is used to wash the face and dirty water is used to wash the feet, and thus your nature determines your treatment, but we'll leave that alone for the moment.  In this section, from the previous page in Cities of the Plain, Proust describes the two women who are dominating his desire, and how they provide a duality, on the one hand the "vulgar and magnificent" and on the other society women "without even having seen them go past in carriages." Clearly part of their charm is that they fall into lovely categories, and men, as Swann related a couple posts ago, are collectors.  Even Proust has to admit that, "my two possessible beauties still lacked what I should have never known until I had seen them: individual character."  Which, in the end, I would propose, brings us back to the question of anticipation, which is seldom sullied by individual character, that is, reality.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My Year With Proust - Day 345

In any case he would not have been entirely wrong in seeking to hush it up, for there is no vice that does not find ready tolerance in the best society, and one has seen a country house turned upside down in order that two sisters might sleep in adjoining rooms as soon as their hostess learned that theirs was a more than sisterly affection.
Marcel Proust, Cities of the Plain, p. 742

I've included this brief section for two reasons.  First off, it's another example how big a role sex, and especially homoerotic sex, plays in Cities of the Plain.  Secondly, it speaks to the, at best, moral flexibility of the "best society," where surface level appearance is more important than any deeper moral/ethical structure.  I've proposed before that I truthfully wonder if the brain of someone like Donald Trump is actually wired differently than actual real - read that as good and productive and beneficial - people.  Essentially, that he acts the way he does not simply because of nurture, but also because of nature - that the cause and effect section of the brain just never quite finishes being soldered together.  Here in Bleak House we find ourselves watching Downton Abbey quite a bit, which is a show I thoroughly loath, for just that reason.  The adventures of the privileged class doesn't interest me (other than spending time ruminating, quietly, on what level of Dante's hell they would populate) and we're past the age where we learn anything from turning light on their imperfections.  In my darkest moments I view it as part of the grand conspiracy on the part of the wealthy to convince the poorer folks - again, read as good and productive and beneficial - to have some patience with them: they're trying, but it's hard to have no real problems - and where your biggest challenge is take make certain that your life remains as untroubled as possible, even if in the process you cause innumerable problems for the rest of society.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Discography - Week 39

And we've reached the dawn of the Trump years (actually, as I've proposed repeatedly on Twitter, my theory is that it will be the Trump months as the GOP will move fairly quickly to impeach him, which will leave us with President Pence, which shouldn't fill any of us with glee, but at least I suspect he is sane; but I digress).  These are uncertain times, and the general sense of sturm und drang has certainly been apparent in our little Discography discussion over the last several months.

I want to call attention to the excellent post from the esteemed Jack Schultz and point out that he is in fact correct - we have to get serious about the Lucinda Williams "Side of the Road" trip.  Mike Kelly sent me along the cities (again) the other day - and I know that we had worked out a rough itinerary - so now all we need is a hole in the schedule.  Let's do it!

Oh, and we are also only two weeks away from our penultimate thematic week, the theme of which was reached through high level secret negotiations with the excellent Bob Craigmile.  The theme will be announced next week.

Jack Schultz

Otis Gibbs, Great American Roadside

I am so thankful to all of you for sharing your musical knowledge and insightful musings.  This group has certainly enriched me in multiple ways.  The great respect I have for you underscores that it is no small compliment when I dare to say that Otis Gibbs may be a kindred spirit of ours.  He is a native of Indianapolis’ south side.  He resides in East Nashville, TN where he immerses himself in everything music. 

My first exposure to Mr. Gibbs was on satellite radio a few years ago, when about the third time I heard his song Big Whiskers, it dawned on me that he was singing about Indy.  This led me to do a little research online, which confirmed he was a fellow Hoosier native.  I began following him on Twitter (@OtisGibbs) where he quickly became one of my favorite tweeters.  The man loves music.  He is also a great storyteller, with a wry, self-deprecating sense of humor. He recently attended Tom T. Hall’s estate sale, where he was disappointed to be outbid for a pool table that George Jones had once passed out on.  His twitter feed is so entertaining, that I recommend scrolling back through its history.  He also does a podcast called Thanks for Giving a Damn on sometimes obscure, but always interesting musical topics.  They are the absolute greatest podcasts I have ever heard (OK, they are also the only podcasts I’ve ever heard—these run-on sentences are the only time I have ever conveyed the word podcast).  He also does a show called Country Built for Pandora.  On a recent episode, he visited The Drive by Truckers in Athens, GA. 

The song Great American Roadside provides even more inspiration for our long-discussed Lucinda Williams road-trip.  The video reminds me of Gary Scudder’s road trip to Tulsa a few years back.  Last year, Otis tweeted from the cemetery in Macon, GA where Elizabeth Reed, Berry Oakley, and Duane Allman are all buried.  Otis emits a vibe that makes me believe if we invited him on the road-trip, he might say “Sure, let’s go!” 

For once, I’m not blogging about music that is decades old.  Otis’ new album, Mount Renraw, was officially released yesterday.  There is a song (Sputnik Monroe) on the album that reminds me of Gary Scudder because it includes two things that he holds dear-- 1) Wrestling and 2) Prominent use of the word “chicanery”. The album’s release date coincides with the 56-year anniversary of Sputnik’s arrest on Beale Street in Memphis. 

Here’s to people who enjoy music, like Otis….like us. 

Gary Beatrice

Patty Smith, Piss Factory

Is there a better and more influential musician than Patti Smith who is not in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame? I can't think of any.

"Piss Factory" is nothing less than brilliant social commentary skewering the left (it isn't exactly pro-Union) and the right (Patti has no idea what her employer manufactures, piss she supposes).

The brilliance of the song extends beyond the lyrics, which angrily captures the discontent and hopelessness of the working poor, into the musical and vocal presentation. Smith uses a style that is closer to spoken word than singing, but it is hypnotically beautiful, and forces you to listen.

Now that she is an acclaimed writer and Bob Dylan selected her to accept his Nobel Prize her music will get the attention it deserves.

Dave Wallace

Sloan is a terrific Canadian band, who've made a series of great albums.  One of my favorite Sloan songs, Ill Placed Trust seems an appropriate warning for the minority of the American electorate that voted for Trump.  The chunky guitar riff, catchy chorus, and awesome backing vocals belie the bitterness of the lyrics.  While it's probably about the end of a relationship, it feels appropriate for our current political climate:

Can you feel it, all around you
The paranoia that's been brought on by the sad truth

Ill placed trust, promises rust.

Dave Mills

Another perpetually late entry from Mills...

"DLZ" by TV on the Radio

TV on the Radio are an incredibly diverse band, in terms of their influences, their styles, even their instrumentation -- brass and strings regularly feature along with synths, guitars, and a diverse array of global percussion. They put it all together in a combination that evokes the Pixies, Bowie, Prince, you name it. I think I first tuned in to them with their Return to Cookie Mountain album in 2006, but this song is from their 2008 album, Dear Science. I haven't listened to it in a while, but I was reminded of it earlier this week. I'm rewatching the Breaking Bad series, watching with my wife, who hadn't yet seen it. (We lived a cable-less life for years. My first opportunity to watch Breaking Bad was during the year I moved to Burlington while she stayed in Ohio so our daughter could finish her final year of high school there. Not a fun year, but at least I had Walter White to keep me company.) Anyway, this song shows up toward the end of episode 10 of season 2, when Walter decides to return to the meth cooking game after having initially made the decision to quit. He's in a Home Depot-type store, sees an inept meth cook getting supplies, and suddenly realizes that he likes the feeling of being good at something, being in control of something, being recognized as powerful within a domain. So he threatens the other cook, telling him to get out of his territory. You can see the dark sense of purpose flood over him in that encounter, as this song builds in intensity in the background. Like so many other aspects of the Breaking Bad series, this song is perfectly chosen for that moment. The tone fits musically, and the lyrics speak of a lust for power and control coupled with increasing destruction, ending with the repeated refrain: "This is beginning to feel like the dawn of a loser forever." I'll allow you to insert your own contemporary political reference points here. ​The lyrics are worth a read in their entirety, as they're not always perfectly clear in the delivery.

With that, I'm off to compete in the illustrious Winter Four-Sport Triathlon. Follow on twitter:  #w4st17

Bob Craigmile

I'm going to now veer off and describe a youtube music channel you might find fun.

In 2008 or so I threw down for the Rock Band video game.  I'd seen some videos of a guy playing it on the wee plastic drum set the game provided and thought, "music and video games! Finally!"

8 years and $1000 of drum equipment and software later little Bobby got his drum set (electronic).  I am a complete hack, but sometimes it's fun to plug in my phone and jam along ham-handedly with Led Zeppelin or ZZ Top.  

Whilst looking for instruction on how to play said Led Zeppelin a while back I stumbled on Bonzoleum 

And it is enteraining as hell.  He is Terry Keating and lives in Chicago (note the accent) and has been in bands for years, even, I believe, a LZ tribute band.  The videos are raucous and silly and not always super technical.  Sure you can watch the video about how to play Bonham Triplets

but you (or at least *I*) can't play it anyway, so why not watch a video about his vasectomy instead?

In any case, if you really want to get your tendonitis to flare, buy some edrums; then when you're waiting for your elbows to heal, watch some funny videos by a drummer in Chicago.

Cyndi Brandenburg

Here is another late entry, cobbled together in between sporting events....

Amanda Palmer, In My Mind 

A couple of months ago, I turned 50, and I made a commitment to make the most of this milestone year. Totally self-indulgent and thoughtlessly mindless, yet a testament to the fact that I am self-aware enough to realize that as my life plays out already so fully and far beyond anything previously expected for reasonable life expectancies a century or two ago, simply being alive is probably worth paying attention to.  As many of you know, I plan to do 50 things this year that I have never done before. I've  already checked 13 or so items off my list, and I am on track to knock off at least 37 more prior to when my 51st birthday appears on the horizon.

So in honor of Project 50, I offer up this.  I came across Amanda Palmer relatively recently, and I was immediately drawn to this song despite its arguably boring and repetitive loops.  That seemed weird, until I figured out why.  The negative stories we tell ourselves--about ourselves--over and over and over, won't stop until we reach a certain level of maturity that compels us to put an end to those narratives once and for all.  And when we do, we can finally move forward and own what we are and who we are and how we inevitably change over time, although we can still dream big, and find wonder in where we one day might be.  I relish in the uncertainty of it all.

So here's to this:
I can be trusted to drink a glass of Chardonnay on more days than not.
I never wore a corset until I was fifty, when in the name of theater, I wore one hour after hour, night after night, for a week.
I still have a tattoo to get.
I will never again bother to imagine what it might be like to weigh 120 pounds.
I actually appreciate the fact that I haven't grown out of occasionally feeling hungover the next morning.
I only enjoy being in control some of the time.
I rarely (if ever) lose my wallet.
I have adventurous friends who I can count on to go with me wherever.
I hate gardening.
I have no idea what it means to be old, or where to delineate the line between what is beautiful and what is not.
I imagine so many things that aren't actually happening, and I find great solace in my made-up alternative worlds.
I'm also living in the moment.
I will always try to be living in the moment.

So, fuck, yes.....

Time to go dominate the competition

Dave Kelley

"Rape, Murder, it's just a shot away"

The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter

The Stones are obviously one of the greatest bands in the history of Rock and Roll and have released countless classic songs.  That being said, I think "Gimme Shelter" is infinitely better than whatever their second best song might be.  I have mentioned before Bruce's stated goal of achieving "apocalyptic grandeur" on Darkness.  Job well done Boss, but sorry Bruce but to my ear no artist has ever achieved the kind of apocalyptic grandeur that the Stones did on "Gimme Shelter".  The lyrics are simple but devastating.  Everything combines to make this arguably the greatest song of the rock era.  Everyone plays and sings as if their life depended on it.  Major props to Merry Clayton for contributing the female vocals which are just fucking amazing.

The conventional wisdom is that the inspiration for the song was the nightmare the band experienced at Altamont.  Whether it was that or Vietnam or the violence that dominated the late sixties, does not really matter to me.  This is a song that will never sound dated, and of course the subject matter will always be relevant.

My timing for choosing this song is no accident.  While I do not think that DT will bring about the apocalypse, he and his band of orcs will certainly cause great harm to many people and to the reputation of the great experiment in self government called the United States of America.  Sadly we do know what "rough hewn beast" is slouching towards Washington.    

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, This Land is Your Land

Of all the fantastic live music I was fortunate enough to see in 2016, the image that will stick with me the longest is watching Sharon Jones at Riverbend literally facing down and dancing on top of the cancer that was in the process of killing her.  She died a few months later, but cancer did not win.  I was reminded of a line in a Truckers' song written in the voice of a friend who died of AIDS.  "I'll dance on my own grave, thank you."  That is certainly what Sharon Jones did that night in July.

Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Our Land" really needs no explanation by me.  It is at or near the top of the list of the most iconic songs in the history of our country.  It was written at a time when those at the bottom of our socio-economic system were literally struggling to stay alive.  I recommend reading "The Worst Hard Times" for a glimpse into the lives of people in the Dust Bowl in the 1930's.  The next four years will almost be certainly be very difficult for those at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder.  Especially those of color.

Now Woody Guthrie was obviously white, and "this Land is My Land" draws upon primarily white Appalachian roots.  In this glorious cover, Sharon Jones and the mighty mighty Dap Kings infuse R&B and soul music into the song and make it even more inclusive.  The Dap Kings are tighter than my jeans after the holidays, and I just love the horns in this song.  Horns, like dogs and good beer, just make everything better.

On Inauguration Day, I will most certainly be avoiding the festivities themselves as well as all commentary on the event.  I will be listening to this song at least once.  I mean a Trump Administration is scarier, but both personally and as a nation we have faced worse.  Shit man, remembering Sharon Jones from last Summer, I would be ashamed to give in to fear.

[Editor's note: The Sharon Jones posting is also featured on Week 38 so that Dave Kelley can keep his Cal Ripken-esque streak alive of posting every week]

Kathy Seiler

The Neville Brothers, Way Down in theHole 

I discovered this song while binge watching "The Wire". They used this song as the introductory music for each season, changing the artist singing it in each season, but keeping the song the same, which I loved. The Wire was a great series, and since I grew up just outside of Baltimore, its Baltimore-based references reminded me of home all the time. This made the show even more  addictive than it would have been otherwise. 

As I've said in previous posts, I no longer accept Christianity, which this song heavily references, but having grown up as a Methodist, it still has a place in my psyche. This song is about keeping the Devil "down in the hole." And in light of the impending inauguration, every time I hear this song, I visualize Donald Trump in a hole and people literally stepping on his head to keep him down. I try to practice Buddhist-based non-violence, compassion and peacefulness. But this man challenges my practice on a daily basis. I don't believe in inherent evil but Trump comes close, and the thought of him being not only our country's leader but the world's most powerful leader is horrifying and terrifying to me. As a woman AND a scientist, he's got my hackles up so badly I think I might be turning into a porcupine.
I hope we can keep this devil down in his hole.

Phillip Seiler

The question is not do you need sci-fi surf punk in your life but how much sci-fi surf punk do you need to live your best life.

Man or Astro-Man's "Invasion of the Dragonmen" should be as good a start as any. With a MST3000 worthy sample to begin, the song kicks in and never lets up. I appreciate artists that grow, evolve and take risks. I also appreciate artists that boldly state "this is what we do and we are going to keep doing it and nothing else forever." Man or Astro-Man firmly plants themselves in the latter camp. And they do it prolifically. 

There is nothing deep to be said about this song, band or their music. It's fun. It's camp. Let's enjoy the simple pleasures while we may.

Greatest Halloween outfit EVER: Phillip's homage to MST3000's Manos: Hands of Fate.

Gary Scudder

The Cure, Plainsong

Following along in the well-documented, if not well-considered, Tavares/Scudder approach of writing up the songs that have been running through my mind, I'll promote the Cure's Plainsong.  I guess it's not that surprising that any song which repeats ethereal phrases about cold and being at the end of the world would find it's way onto my mind's turntable on my recent trip to Iceland.  Doubtless it also relates to getting to spend so much time with my son, who, like his parents, always shared an affinity for the Cure. Over the years one of the few albums he ever specifically asked for from me was Disintegration, from which this song is drawn.  I also find it odd that once again I'm drawn to an album that reflects the artist's tortured relationship with popularity.  The story is that after the popularity of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me (another album I like a lot) Smith decided to revert back to the moody often bleak feel of their early albums, and, after he self-medicated with an ungodly amount of psychedelic drugs, the band produced Disintegration.  And, of course, following the logic of life, it became their best selling album.  If nothing else, we can all appreciate how Robert Smith saved the world from Mecha-Streisand.

Friday, January 13, 2017

My Year With Proust - Day 344

   Swann left me without shaking hands so as not to be forced into a general leave-taking in this room which swarmed with his friends, but said to me" "You ought to come and see your friend Gilberte.  She has really grown up now and altered, you wouldn't know her.  She would be so pleased!" I no longer loved Gilberte.  She was for me like a dead person for whom one has long mourned, and then forgetfulness has come, and if she were to be resuscitated would no longer fit into a life which has ceased to be fashioned for her.  I no longer had any desire to see her, not even that desire to show her that I not wish to see her which, every day, when I was in love with her, I vowed to myself that I would flaunt before when I loved her no longer.
Marcel Proust, Cities of the Plain, p. 739

This touching scene between the dying Swann and Marcel concludes, with the former encouraging the latter to visit his daughter Gilberte.  I proposed before that if you were truly in love with someone then you are probably still in love with them, but that you've just reached a sense of distance and understanding and, well, peace with the fact that your future does not include them, and that I don't know if it's truly a case of not being in love anymore.  Or maybe it's better to say that you're no longer in the white hot flame of love with them anymore.  Proust, when writing about Gilberte, proposes, "She was for me like a dead person for whom one has long mourned, and then forgetfulness has come, and if she were to be resuscitated would no longer fit into a life which has ceased to be fashioned for her."  I think I would spin off of the "a life which has ceased to be fashioned for her" line to propose that we change so dramatically over time (I think the me at 57 is almost unrecognizable from the person I was at 50, and by now we should have locked into a pattern and the variations should be minor) that a person you madly loved in one age just doesn't "fit" into the changing environment, or, more importantly, the changing self - but that doesn't mean that you're not still in love with them.  As I've opined before, I think for each relationship there is a "sweet spot", both geographically and temporally, where that love still exists, and if you could go back to that place and time, and version of yourself, you would slide back into an active love affair quite easily.

Marcel is almost sad that, in not loving Gilberte anymore, he is robbed of the opportunity to show her that he doesn't love her anymore.  I suppose we've all felt that one time or another, but to me that is either an expression of extreme vanity or folly, wherein you are in the end only showing time that it exists.