Sunday, March 28, 2004

Fiction deemed "too un-fiction-y" by Royal Geniuses at the Academy of Art College

Wow. Well, I go to the Academy of Art College, but I never took any of the writing classes. This is why.

The school fucked up, for sure. The Liberal Art department and their classes aren't exactly what you might call "genius". And apparently stupidity is in the water over there. Senior Vice President of Public Relations Sallie Huntting said, "When there is a questionable or disturbing issue, we contact the proper authorities.'' Um. Not true in every other department in the school. From the Film department to my Computer Art department to the Photography people; there is no "creative ceiling." You create what you want, safe in the knowledge, till now, that the teacher won't call the cops.

Still, there are some amazing teachers in that Liberal Arts department. My brilliant Pop Culture teacher. One of my mentors and one of the most amazing people I've ever met: an old Public Speaking teacher. But that's a handful within a truckload.

Thanks to Nick Mamatas for making me aware of the article. I'm officially offended by his comments, but.. he's not wrong.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Zwrk has a provocative article up about the "Fetus Protection" Act.

These scary times just got a little bit scarier.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I've got my grubby, thieving paws on the new Wilco album and am really enjoying it. I built up many "expectations" for this one, too, and I am not disappointed. A Ghost is Born is a worthy followup to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, further maturing their sound. I can overlook some of the overindulgence because when it's not "too much" or "too long," it's brilliant Wilco-rock.

One of my favorite tracks. Dedicated to Alan.


Monday, March 22, 2004

Another friend joins the blog revolution, Hilary. Looks like she'll be posting her poetry, which is really cool. Go visit the newest corner of the web and continue to support the arts and literature, please.


Sunday, March 21, 2004

Sorry for the lacks of updates lately. Would hate for "them" to be right about me.

Went to a wonderful show last night. Franz Ferdinand at Slim's, with support from The Tyde, who also happened to kick ass last night.

Slim's is a pretty little room; not extravagantly designed (The Filmore) or really cozy (Bimbo's 365) or huge (The Warfield); nope, just a room. Big-ass dance-floor, a bar that stretches from the stage to the bathroom, a small second-floor balcony for rich-people, and a great sound system. Or maybe it was just the bands.

First up, The Tyde. California-style-indie-surf-rock done right. I have one of their albums, their latest, Twice, and its definitely some-kinds-of-fun. Look, I can't dislike a band with three guitarists. I just can't. Let's call it "The Radiohead Rule." They played some of their standards, the stoner/homebody-anthem of "A Loner," the wild "Crystal Canyons," and the interesting, if vapid, "Henry VIII." They were good, a great warmup band, but just like their album, got sick of them after five songs.

Then, after a long but obviously important break, Franz Ferdinand take the stage. Four skinny unassuming Scottish kids wearing plaid, hairdos from the 50's, 60's, and 70's respectively, and with so much energy, I kept wondering what drugs they were on (and where I can get some.) Listing the songs would be kinda pointless; they played their entire catalogue plus one new song. That's eleven from the album, two from a previous EP, and one new one. That's fourteen songs, some of them stretched a little, so that, more so than the Decemberists show I went to recently, this "concert" became a "party."

Let me try and explain this next point, a very rare occurrence. They sounded better live than the album. That's pretty damn amazing. The album itself is not the most brilliantly produced album ever, yet it has a simple, crisp, sound. Live, the sound morphed into more of an emotional ruckus. The rhythm guitarist had this slap-happy way of playing that gave a subtle weight to the infectious riffs that Franz Ferdinand will be remembered for. Their big single, "Take Me Out," which moved the audience to finally move, had some real breath to it. Their songs, though straightforward-indie-rock, have very interesting breaks and pauses. And since it seemed that a lot of people in the audience were real fans, those pauses took on a dramatic weight. Songs like "40ft", "Come On Home", and "Auf Asche" were exhilaratingly gorgeous.

Really. I don't understand how they sounded so crisp, so clean, so fresh. (sorry outkast.) i've been to a million shows in my life, most disappoint, some are fun, but i have to admit, the band usually doesn't sound as good as the album. And, for me, a production-quality-whore, that's almost unforgivable. Interpol, months ago, while they definitely "rocked the house," they did it with similar sounding songs and a little too calm and collected up there. Franz Ferdinand rocked out like they were being broadcast live on MTV; dancing around, the two guitarists jumping and swaying in rhythm; long interlude passages where the audience clapped or waited patiently, while the band gathered around the drumset, their backs to us, and then jumped up like ZZ Top out of a cake.

Ended their set with "Darts of Pleasure," their first single I believe. That song contained one of the aforementioned awesome interludes that roused the audience. We all knew it was coming to close and there was a tangible air of "We don't want this to end!!"

Another bonus point for this great band; their break between set and encore was, I kid you not, about 3 to 4 minutes long. that's ridiculous. That's not enough time for a pee-break. I've seen bands take ten to fifteen minutes to come back and "fulfill their requirements." But these guys were back before we knew it, jumped right into "This Fire," one of my favorite songs by them; the kind song that will end up as a central piece in a movie one day (I know it). And then, Fin.

Don't miss them if you have the chance. Tour schedule here for your convenience.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Crossroads. Intersections. Detours.

(Why do we assign life decisions, nodal points so to speak, to driving metaphors? Fuck that. I don't drive. )

But, still, when I look around at my life at this point, I see the word Crossroads appear in my mind in the brightest, cleanest, freshest, light. True light. I see paths, and choices, and futures.

Like that Many Universes theory of time travel, within every second, a infinite number of possible divergent futures branch from a single point in time. Coming up for me is going to be a moment when my whole future might be decided.

I'm 24. I'm about to graduate from art school and then I have to make a decision. I can stay in San Francisco, find a job in the field I studied or at McDonalds if that fails, and live. I've settled here in this gorgeous city of blues and greens and hills and diversity and freedom. I can see myself spending the rest of my life, basically, chillin' in San Francisco. It's a relaxed, comfortable, place, where the pace of life is a snail's pace compared to that of NYC (my hometown.) I love it. I love the weather. I love the way streetsigns have little glowing images instead of WALK and DON'T WALK. I love the underground MUNI system, a small subway network that pales in comparison to the labyrinthine NYC subway (i can't help compare everything to New York. I'll never, ever, stop being a New Yorker, no matter where i love or how old i get. that's what that city is like). I love the people of San Francisco, the friendly, peaceful, mostly democratic citizens. And I love California, even though I wouldn't live anywhere else in the state but the Bay Area.

Or. I could leave. I could go to New York City. Always a possibility. I sometimes say that city runs through my blood like subway cars underneath Manhattan. I know I'll be back at some point. But, I'm thinking: not this time.

I could, and very well might, leave San Francisco and go hang out with my mom for awhile in Florida. She's kinda lonely and in a not-so-great-place. I know me being down there, just being around her, would bring her out of this funk. I love my independence, wouldn't trade it for the world, but there are some things, actually many things, that are more important than what I want. It would be great for me, too. I would probably do the lazy-bum-just-finished-college-thing. Write a book or something. That could be fun.

Or, one of the most intriguing possibilities, is go spend some time with my family in Israel. I haven't seen any of them in six years, since I last spent a great couple weeks in Israel when I was eighteen. So, I may, and do want, to do this. I have, literally, a herd of relatives over there. A room, for sure, for me, in Haifa with my aunt and a dozen others places I could spend some time all over the country. Yes. I know what you're thinking. The terrorism scares me too. I'd probably be taking a lot of buses or trains and those are #1 targets. My worries, and my american family's concerns for the same reason, may block me from doing this. But hopefully not. Once in Israel, not only do I expect a barrage of inspiration from the land of my people and my parents (like I experienced on previous trips), but Europe and Asia are a hop-and-a-skip-and-a-jet away. I want to explore! I want to take a backpack and a journal and GO. Go to strange places, do new things, meet people; see the world.

I have a choice to make. An intersection is on the horizon and I'm going to have to wait till I get there to see what color the lights are.


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Printed lyrics, yeah! And some great lyrics, to boot.

Some highlights,

from the first track, "The Wrong Way," a very personal rant,

"I don't want cast pearls to swin,
I don't wanna march peacefully,
no no no no no no no no no,
new negro politican
is stirring
is stirring
is stirring inside me
no there's nothing inside me
but an angry heart beat
can you feel this heart beat?"

from the fucking brilliant "Dreams," which i think is about a relationship and about power and about goals/dreams (obviously),

"oh warfarin' terrapin
unconfined undersigned
undersigned bantering
bartering bellowing
barracking blundering
pillaging plundering
living and lavishing
hammerings harrowing
flourishing flattening
levelling reveling
wrecking and ravaging
savoring savaging.
all your dreams are over now
and all your wings have fallen down
all your dreams are over now."

from "King Eternal," which i think is about the hopeless nature of men and power..

"afraid of thunder children, so hide your ears
hope your fortress holds up for many many many years
shudder, it's a shame
lightning, call the game
send us up a baby boy
let the smoke carry his name

if it's a girl let her shine"

And from the only-from-New-York-love-story category, "Ambulance," with it's mesmerzing chorus,

"because i will be your accident if you will be my ambulance and i will be your screech and crash and you will be my crutch and cast and i will be your one more time if you will be my one last chance"

I could go on (and on), but, I won't.

Got a lot of work done today. Thankfully.


Monday, March 08, 2004

I've been waiting for an occasion to link one of my favorite sites on the web. Today seems like the perfect time. Tracey's shutterbug photoblog is just amazing. I've been using her photos as my desktop background for a year now; always something new and fresh and colorful. Scroll through her archives and have a blast! The recent donuts were great and the Chinese New Year Parade and, probably a while back now, the beach stuff she was doing. I try to go every few days so I have a few pictures to scroll through. Keep up the good work, Tracey. Good luck with the store!

Also, Pitchfork reviewed TV on the Radio's debut album today. It's a good read, but I think the album deserves more praise than they gave it. True, it fails in terms of "expectations," but what are expectations anyway? Who are we, the public and the critics, the "audience", to say what a musician should do with their music? I loved the Young Liars EP a lot and built up all kinds of expectations about what the album would be like. So, obviously, I was putoff by the dirtier, grungier (as in the substance now the style), sound of Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes. (A wonderful title, by the way.) But, after insistence by Caitlin over at sh1ft, I gave the album a fresh second listen. And then a third, and then a fourth, and then...I stopped counting. I'm loving it, now. It's a fresh, nuanced, viewpoint they have and it takes some listens to acclimate. It's also a brilliantly produced record and is gorgeous on headphones. I can also understand why the band chose their first album to be a little bit more accessible than the barrage of distortion that characterized the EP. So, the emotion is not overt, but it's there. Trust me. This album is breathtaking, in the true sense of the word, the "I just ran a race and my emotions are all over the floor"-way. The strength of the vocalists, the Jonny Greenwood-like guitarist, the hypnotic beats; it's almost too much, even at nine tracks! Still, I find it difficult to even close the album before it's done. I disagree completely with the Pitchfork writer and think the last three tracks are near perfect. You expect an eruption on "Don't Love You" but it doesn't come till the angry political rant of "Bomb Yourself" and it ends with the exhausted-on-the-world's-bullshit-vibe of "Wear You Out."

Another important thing to remember is this band is from Brooklyn. They're New Yorkers and, well, that should mean something. You should give them more slack to be who they want to be. You have to stand out in New York otherwise you get lost. If that means crafting a whole new kind of sound, the kind of sound that could only come out of New York City, that melting pot of everything, especially music, then that's what TV on the Radio have done. This is a very New York album in that it not only bends the line between genres but grabs the line by the throat, strangles it, and chucks it in the East River.

The album should be out in stores tomorrow and I plan on buying it, early. I just hope there's printed lyrics.

PS. AMG comes a lot closer to what the album deserves. The writer was as passionate about the music as the band were when recording it.

Friday, March 05, 2004

New addition to the family, my roomate Chris Gugisberg joins the blog revolution. Though I don't agree with his first post at all, he should have some more interesting things to say.

(I love reruns.)

From the horse's mouth, i.e. my Popular Culture teacher, in a recent thread on our class board,

The techniques and methods for dominating the field of power are sometimes very clear, and sometimes they can be quite subtle and hard to pinpoint. Our personal psychologies are complex and as we live and work together these complexities come to the forefront. Primarily I am interested in the creation of identity. Identity is a manifestation of a social existence. As a human develops within the layers and envelopes of culture (family, school, community, the culture at large), it is via relationships that identity begins to form. Each of these relationships are manifestations within the field of power. Primarily these relationships deal with establishing limits. Parental control, home rules and regulations... "While you are living in my house you abide by my rules..." kind of things. Eventually, in school... its a new set of rules and regulations and eventually at work... in the office. The process of 'normalization' is all about becoming a functioning member of society. The form of society in the West... and particularly in the U.S. is curious. When I think about my 'social' identity I run into trouble. Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, said that there is no such thing as 'society' in the West... there are only individuals and their families. Society implies some kind of shared communal space... a shared ideological terrain... a place where one feels literally a part of the larger group. Thatcher is correct in that 90+ percent of my identity is constructed to be radically individualized. I really don't have a social identity, or a group identity. There is a kind of language that talks about a kind of social identity, but most of my identity arises from personal desire and individual involvement. Foucault's ideas about the Limit Experience helps me understand that I can actually become actively engaged in the process of becoming who and what I am. If I want to establish a more social identity I can push toward that kind of activity. "When Foucault spoke of making our lives into works of art, however, I don't think he had the paintings in art museums in mind. In fact, I'm willing to bet that he, like me, had his most intense encounters with art outside quiet, well-guarded museums; I bet he had his most intense encounters with art, as I have, in the company of raucous and irreverent friends, backstage or in messy studios or claustrophobic rehearsal booths or evil smelling darkrooms, in the midst of nothing that was yet complete. And that's what we need to recall when we read his musings about making life into art. Art, in its living and working out, is not about accomplishment. It is about energy and time and discipline and self-criticism and pursuit and letting go. Art is not about being. It is about becoming. So too, life... and philosophy... and ethics... and politics... and... who we are. (Ladelle McWhorter from Bodies and Pleasures)

It's like he's talking directly to me. I love thinking about identity, reality (or "society") and how my little ant's perspective fits into this much much larger world around me. I'd say I, like my teacher, can't pinpoint a social identity. I could paste some labels on my forehead and they'd come close, but unless I put two or three (or seven) up there, they wouldn't define who I am. Am I an American or a Jew? A writer or an artist? A man or a Young-Man? Alsocietalocietial classifcations can be alienating, but I don't feel cut off from society, I don't feel "lost". I create; in the form of writings or artworks, and that is my discourse with society at large. Right now, my work doesn't get assimilated by many people, but, hopefully, in time it will. And my social identity will not be a static thing, but a dynamic perspective; something for others to decide, while I "do my thing."

Thursday, March 04, 2004

I am becoming the Procrastination King. Crown me.

Next week is Midterms and I have a lot of work that I haven't started, that needs to be done, that needs to be completed. Yet I never fail to come up with reasons to delay. I could write. I could work on something else. I could watch Stargate: SG1. I could listen to music.

My friends are right; they see my comfortable room/office with my computer-slash-work-machine-slash-enterainment-center and are not shocked that I have trouble getting work done. I'm learning, though. I have a lot of discipline when it comes to some things (like writing stories), I just need to transplant that discipline in other directions.

The main class I'm in at the moment is a Portfolio class, getting us ready for graduation and work and interviewing jobs, etc. God, that scares me. Terrifies and freezes. We're working on resumes and websites and I can not get motivated. I know it's all for my benefit, getting a job is good, right? Right? I'm not so sure.

Obviously, working, making money, eating, all good things that ensure survival. But I'm resistant to using whatever minor skills I've gathered in Art School to "make money." Honestly, I'd rather work in Starbucks (or a small coffeshop) than being a corporate lackey, or a creative-field-hand. I'm pretty much renouncing my four (or five) years of education. But I don't regret the education at all. it's been creatively fulfilling and a fascinating (often difficult) ride. But, I've decided: I will do, as I always do, what makes me happy. Damn the consequences.

Now, I should get working on that website.

"Damn all the angles that oppress my sight." - The Decemberists.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Tell me, is this good or bad? I don't know. I should read more.

You're Ulysses!

by James Joyce

Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared
to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do
understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once
brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in
the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you
additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

thanks to Chris for the cool test.

Much thanks to Skye for the on-air birthday wish last night. And for another great show.