10 Songs.

Oct. 20th, 2014 10:14 pm
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Hopefully, there's a big thing there that embeds the player into this page. If not? Here's the link, below are the notes on my ten songs. At twenty three minutes total, it's short as I like. You don't have to sit through much.

Obviously, this whole list could change tomorrow and is by no means definitive, etc etc.



Statues by The Steal.

"Don't wait to be found!"

I remember the first time I heard this song, and it well, cleared away all the silt and residue around my heart, veins and arteries. Seriously. When I got to the "DON'T WASTE YOUR YOUTH" moment, I felt that gunk slowly be obliterated. To this day, it remains a charm or a ward. 40 odd seconds of rejuvenation.


Warbrain by Alkaline Trio.

"kiss you one last time/before you brought the horses in/before the storm of '59."

Ignoring the Hot Water Music and Bouncing Souls references "I need that song / those trusty chords will pull me through" "I need that song / a night on earth will pull me through," I remember Warbrain being a thing where I could say I wanted to kiss a girl and it didn't sound trite. I remember the woman in combat boots and a dress and a wicked smile.


...But You Are Vast by Crime In Stereo.

"you are no good for me/you are the bent and blackened spoon/you are the butane/you are the bedroom"

One of my curse songs. I can't be the same person I was when I heard it, when my relationship was disintegrating in front of my eyes and I couldn't hold it together and all these feelings were goddamned new, but maybe I can tell you that it's one of Crime In Stereo's best songs and it'll hurt you in the ways that the best music knows how to do effortlessly.


Sadie Hawkins by Dessa.

"A little bit of melancholy/never really did hurt anybody/even if it's a sickness/I'm oddly convinced/at least it's honest."

A rap song! A song about feeling like bad news. I loved Dessa's music when I heard her verse on Low Light, Low Life, but this lyric cemented it. The chorus is gold, too. Technically, it's on the Doomtree crew record in which the artist credit is Doomtree, but Dessa's the only rapper on it and she does it live, so it's a Dessa song.


Come Out 2Nite by Kenickie.

"it's dark and it's savage/but it's only neon/so come out and grab it"

Another female voice! This can't last. I like Phonogram and so I believe I am required by law to like this song. Put here mostly as a reminder of 2010 when it was exciting and Phonogram girded me for what was coming and told me to dance. Phonogram of course is the comic that the Young Avengers team would do before Young Avengers about Britpop and how music is magic. If I was to do my favorite Britpop song, I'd do Stutter by Elastica.


The Disaster March by The Lawrence Arms.

"Scrape your voices on the stars"

It doesn't last! Here we come to a Lawrence Arms song, sung by Brendan. I went from a high school graduation party in the far south suburbs to go see this band release their b-sides record. This song isn't on that record, but it does close out The Greatest Story Ever Told in a properly epic manner, Hot Shots and Down Periscope references included. I ended up talking with this same Brendan (it was his birthday and he was staggeringly drunk) about Roberto Bolano and The Savage Detectives. That conversation still makes me smile. You listen to a band, seeing something you recognize or admire in their music, and hardly ever do you get to discover and adore the same things with them. Put differently, the Lawrence Arms, no matter where I am, make me feel at home.


Instinct by Strike Anywhere.

"We may never sing this one/it's just here/as a light to help you"

I can't imagine not hearing this band, I can't imagine not being affected by (vocalist/lyricist) Thomas' almost superhuman kindness, I can't imagine hearing this song and not caring. I won't say why it's here, but you'll figure it out. I did an interview with Thomas about this record, which isn't called My Solidarity, but Dead FM, and you can find it here. It remains one the absolute favorite things I've ever had my name on. There are bands that are like compass points to me, and on that piece of machinery, Strike Anywhere is one of the cardinal directions.


Cooper Fields by Blacklisted.

"more like suicide king/less like ace of hearts"

George Hirsch (vocalist/lyricist) does something that's hard. He writes songs about his failing relationship (maybe marriage) in a way that's dramatic but never accusatory. If there is a finger pointed at someone else, give it a couple moments, George will point one at himself, too. I was thinking of just leaving that lyric there, without comment. Of the many bands that play hardcore, Blacklisted is one of the few bands who'se every release commands my immediate attention.


Life Caught In The Rain by Envy.

no idea.

ENVY IS THE ILLEST but no, really, the first time I ever thought a guitar riff was beautiful was this song's chorus. Band's Japanese, so even I could cite the lyrics, something irreducible would be lost.


Year Of The Hex by Frodus.

"nothing burns like a hurt for money/trade love for dividends/in the end inherit nothing"

I call this song YEAR OF THE FUCKING HEX because, well, listen to it. It's nasty. It's loud. It's heavy. Of all the songs here, this one feels like a weapon. It ought to be brandished like one. A fun story: This record (And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea) sat in limbo for a year or so, back in 1999 or 2000. Anyway. What Frodus did, was back when people had Napster and Limewire and those services, if they saw you had Frodus records in your library, they would put one of the And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea songs into your library without telling you. You'd wake up, look at your computer and go, "huh, I don't remember this" and voila, you were listening to The Earth Isn't Humming or Belgian Congo or Red Bull of Juarez, or perhaps even this one.

Love this band.

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I remember within the first quarter second having someone bull rush me to the ground. I was angry and after picking up the person that got pushed by my body, I remember smiling. I remember thinking there was no way I'd chance the ravenous circles of people in front of the small stage for the microphone. The arms and arms and mouths. It was too nutty. I'd get hit on the head by a crowd surfer for sure.

I remember grabbing the guitarist's microphone for the end of closer D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S. (It was the D-E-A-D-R-A-M-O-N-E-S part) I remember the look of absolute delight on Jeff's face when some kid from the crowd grabbed the microphone for D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S. and wouldn't let go. He let it go and watched the onstage pandemonium happily. Maybe even with glee. He could watch his own band and be a part of the celebration. He did.

I remember it raining lightly after the concert, nothing meaningful, but enough to make the post-show air magical and moist. If there is another genre of music where the aim, after making enough money to survive on, is to have the stage assaulted and the instruments ripped from the players, I don't know it.

The sense of joy, celebration and communal catharsis is in every genre of music, in every live performance, and pretending otherwise is a hack's game. There is something special here, though. There is a sense of power, that no matter how pedestrian and how unremarkable a punk show with "energy" is, even beyond that, last night there was a celebration.

We missed you, Modern Life Is War. Thank you..

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15 months ago, Pomona and I did a book club over the summer. It got precisely zero responses once we started it. There was an email chain that went nowhere. Despite our efforts, the club was more or less a secret.

Analytically, the experiment was a miserable failure.

Despite that, I look back at what we wanted to read and what I ended up reading and I think of it as a wonderful success.

The idea was to spend the summer getting back into books or taking a good hard look at the stuff we knew we had blinders for, mostly fantasy and science fiction. Those were holes and in the fifteen months since, I think I filled some of those gaps. The plan was to read more Pratchett, Gaiman, Faulkner, Hammett, Gibson and everything else.

Today, I own at least eight books by Terry Pratchett, three by Gaiman, five by Faulkner, five by Hammett and four by Gibson. Many of the books I "wanted to get to," I got to, likely by the momentum of the idea. I'd wanted to get to Distant Star, How I Became A Nun, The Prince Of Mist and C: A Novel. I did. Each of them had an effect on me that I can delineate. I'm now hugely enthusiastic for Pratchett and now proudly familiar with Hammett, Gibson, Faulkner and Gaiman. I even went to see Gaiman on his final signing tour this year.

I forgot about this failed attempt and reviewing it makes me smile. We came in with an idea and even if it didn't succeed in building or maintaining any kind of a community, the goal of reading more, at least on my end was an unqualified success.

I read the books I wanted to and now I'm still reading more. I'll count that as a win for me. I want to do this more often. But maybe this time with a smaller scope and two books tops. Say, Moby-Dick and Dune. This time, I'll do it on Twitter and see if I can get any bites. Maybe, maybe not. But I'm reading lots and lots again and looking back, I realize I have this abject failure to thank.

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There was self-loathing here. It's not here anymore.

Instead, have Shoddy Workmanship by Captain, We're Sinking. This part of a verse is delicious.

I know I said I wouldn't drink/ but someone mentioned / that an an ounce of wine / would absolve me of all my sins / I took one shot for Mary / I took two for your Son / I had a few for my self-pity / and I felt innocent again


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with drawn out wars on several fronts / you might find one worth winning

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I can fall back in love when I'm older...



Play loud.

Jan. 16th, 2013 06:26 pm
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We don't cry for those nights to arrive / we yell like hell to the heavens


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Hey Pomona. We talked about comic artists and it occurs to me showing you said comics artists work would be quicker than trying to explain it in an email or over the phone. Here we go.
Very pretty pictures. )
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I'd like to see the flashy, well-dressed muggs like Eddie Mars spoiling their manicures in the rock quarry at Folsom, alongside of the poor little slum-bred hard guys that got knocked over on their first caper and never had a break since. That's what I'd like. You and me both lived too long to think I'm likely to see it happen. (from The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler.)

HSBC, one of the two largest financial institutions in the world, were fined on December 12th, 1.9 billion dollars for among other things, laundering money for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels as well as from Saudi terrorists, the North Koreans and the Cubans. The United States government is very proud of this number. It's the biggest number in the government's history. I find that number disappointing.

Now, out of context, that's a big number. 1.9 billion's a lot of money. To anyone.

But here's why I think it's sad: According to its 2011 statements, HSBC's net profits were 16.22 billion. Its total assets, 2.55 trillion. To make the rounding easy, HSBC got fined 1/8th of its net profits for 2011 for at least a decade of laundering money in service of a murderer's row of the world's least responsible citizens. Or, compared to its total assets, not even 1/1000th. I'd say it's a fraction of their assets, but that's being disingenuous with the word fraction. On $2.5+ trillion, $1.9 billion is almost too small to be considered a rounding error.

And this is a civil case, too. Not a criminal one. Why? Our government found HSBC too big to indict. The words of our Justice Department was that "criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world's largest financial institutions." Well, yes. They were employed by evil men to launder their ill-gotten gains. If this behavior comes to light it is going to be harder to get work from supposedly more honest citizens. That's what the law is for.

Here's the part that I'm saddened, but armored to: None of the people at the top, who gave the order, will go to prison. That's part of the deal.

Here's the part that I'm not armored to: You know what's also counting towards that 1.9 billion number? Partially deferred compensation. Meaning, as part of the United States' most stringent, toughest effort to root out financial corruption they levied the harsh penalty of executives not having access to their cut of blood money for five years.

To bring this back to the epigraph, anyone reading this with fifteen minutes on the New York Times website can find a sob story about a kid who smoked a little and got busted, beaten and thrown in prison for a couple days to serve the law of the land. But, if you are a blue chip financial institution and you are employed by criminal manufacturers, and you get caught, you will not even spend an hour in prison. Hell, you may only have to wait a couple years to use your sticky money.

Tabbai's angrier than I am. And he writes it better. So, go read what he wrote. I was angry for 24 hours straight when I first read that. Now? I'm just tired and I feel older and weaker and sadder than I've felt in years.

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I am happy. I'm writing this down somewhere I will remember when I look in the future.

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I returned from Vegas with an overwhelming urge to write. That doesn't, on its own, make the trip successful, but waking up after it I felt energized.

And then Tony Sly died and I nearly cried for a man I never met in a band I hardly ever listened to. I have no experience with No Use For A Name, but seeing the stories about him on punknews almost made me cry.


Apr. 28th, 2012 08:43 pm
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These People Ought To Know Who We Are And That We Are Here: An FAQ.

Welcome. I'm Jim.

What is this thing?
It's basically a book club. We're doing it in the summer because we have time then. This isn't even a week old, so bear with us.

Is there more than one book?

Wait, like multiple books?
Yes! There are two lists of books!

What is this about two lists of books to choose from?
There's The List Of Books We're Actually Doing and The Other List. There's four books on The List Of Books We're Actually Doing and there's nine million on The Other List.

In short, The Other List is aspirational.

Do I have to do all of the books?

Can I just do one book?

Does it have to be from The List Of Books We're Actually Doing?
No, but the more people reading one book, the more interesting the main discussion is. The aim is to have a main discussion and then multiple discussions of other texts coiling or swirling around it.

When will it start?
We don't know, but were I forced to answer, I'd say after Larky's classes are finished and she's settled into summer break. May? June?

When will it end?

NEVER. (Well, probably September.)

How will this take place?
Over email, I think. Larky and I haven't talked about this much, but I'm guessing an email chain in which everyone uses the REPLY ALL button. If this thing goes according to plan, if you have a smartphone hooked up to your email, it should be buzzing all the time this summer. If we're vague about the timing, it's because we're figuring this out.

What are the lists?

As befits the title, The List Of Books We're Actually Doing isn't final yet, but most currently it looks like this:

The List Of Books We're Actually Reading:
Guards, Guards by Terry Pratchett
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers: A Novel by Xiaolu Guo
Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner
The A Man Mistook His Wife For A Hat And Other Stories by Oliver Sacks OR Another Non-Fiction Book To Be Named Later

The Other List:

Small Gods, Good Omens and American Gods, but Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, generally.
The Man In The High Castle, but Philip K. Dick generally.
Galapagos, but Kurt Vonnegut, generally.
Snow Crash, but Neal Stephenson, generally.
Neuromancer, but William Gibson, generally.
The Maltese Falcon, but Daschell Hammett, generally.
The Long Goodbye, but Raymond Chandler, generally.
Murakami, generally.
The Autumn Of the Patriarch and Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
The Turn Of The Screw and The Portrait Of A Lady by Henry James
The Idiot and the Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Feast Of the Goat, Death In the Andes and The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa
Labyrinths and Complete Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges
The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas
Dune-Frank Herbert
Journey To The West by Wu Cheng'en
Eats, Shoots And Leaves by Lynn Truss
Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima
Essays On Modern Music by Theodor Adorno
Distant Star by Roberto Bolano
How I Became A Nun by Cesar Aira
The Prince Of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
C: A Novel by Tom McCarthy
The Book Of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley

What if the book I like is on The Other List? Can I still participate?

Yes! Please do. Announce over email "I have Snow Crash/Death In The Andes/Labyrinths! Does anyone else want to read Snow Crash/Death In The Andes/Labyrinths?" and hopefully, someone else will say yes. If so, you two/three/four/five/etc will be off to the races. Just hit reply all to keep the rest of the group in the email chain.

Can I read books on both lists?
Yes! If you want to do one or all of the main books and one of the other books at the same time, totally cool. Just make sure to keep your human being schedule balanced with your inner library hermit.

What if the book I like isn't on either list? Can I still participate?
Yes! Please do! We obviously can't guarantee someone else has it, but if it's one of the classics, it's worth playing the odds. More to the point, you lose nothing by asking. The Other List leans real heavy into literature and science fiction, not entirely by design. It's what we buy or hear about, but never find the time to read. We tried to be more varied in The List Of Books We're Actually Going To Read, so if you can only carve out time and money for one book, you're gonna get something out of any of the four books on The List Of Books We're Actually Going To Read.

This whole thing sounds like an excuse to read a lot in the summer.
It is. The aim is for this to be fun. The internet has made us all alone together. I like the idea of a shared social experience over the summer. Also, I have three shelves with books I haven't read yet. HELP ME.

Who are you?
I'm Jim. Larky and I have known each other for six years now. Soon, seven. Hardcore punk (by which I mean Bane, Crime In Stereo, Minor Threat, Paint It Black, etc) changed my life.  My interests in this life are, like most people here, videogames, books and music. I'm currently enraptured by China Mieville and Roberto Bolano. To give you an idea of my personality, I've written this.

Any further questions? Comment away.
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This laptop has ten minutes of power. Let's go.

I'm working, slowly and trying not to get my hopes up. Talking to two artists about two VERY different comic projects. Artists are flaky. But here I am reading manga, reading more noir, more of everything.

I've always been a voracious reader, but now I'm specifically looking for things to lift and add to whatever my story is. I mean, I'm terrified to take time off of work for my projects. I like the people I'm working with, but I don't know if push comes to shove whether I'm willing to say, "Look, I'm taking off a week for my project. I'm not asking. You'll know months in advance, but I'm not here. I'm somewhere else."

The most addictive feeling is the feeling of working on my projects. Hopefully, it's the most nurturing one, too.
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I accidentally bought and then subsequently drank a coffee based drink at 6:20 pm. This means I will be READING AND WRITING tonight. I will make something good of this.

See also:

Jan. 2nd, 2012 12:08 pm
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This was going to be called husk, but that name's taken. Alas.
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