Thursday, July 30, 2009

Best sports headline that would also make a compelling title to a memoir...

Meaningless Game Settled by Penalties

See it here.

"Our relationship was marked by that habitual exchange of homespun nonsense, comically garbled words, proposed imitations of supposed intonations, and all those private jokes which is the secret code of happy families."

--Vladimir Nabokov on his father in Speak, Memory

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When robots attack. Now this is food for thought.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jimi Hendrix Reference No. 112

"Fuck it, hell, I don't give a damn!"

Come on people! Do you remember? We were young, we were listening to Live at Winterland on our walkmans as we mowed the lawn! The smell of cut grass in the setting sun, the crunch of sticks and dog toys shredded by rotating blades! How we'd cringe! And the thought of deer ticks and the dim hope of Rolling Rocks in the dark nights of our teenage years! It was hot in the summer back then, and our headphones would be damp with sweat.

Not unrelatedly, Hendricks Gin is truly superb. Buy a bottle of it and make your gin and tonics not with lime like some sort of everyman, but with cucumber like some sort of superman.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Time Out! Time Out I said!

Any of the following would, I think, be better names for twitter;







fucking wasting your life

Friday, July 24, 2009

"When a butterfly has to look like a leaf, not only are all the details of a leaf beautifully rendered but markings mimicking grub-bored holes are generously thrown in. 'Natural Selection,' in the Darwinian sense, could not explain the miraculous coincidence of imitative behavior, nor could one appeal to the theory of 'the struggle for life' when a protective device was carried to a point of mimetic subtlety, exuberance, and luxury far in excess of a predator's power of appreciation. I discovered in nature the nonutilitarian delights that I sought in art. Both were a form of magic, both were a game of intricate enchantment and deception."
--Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Now wait a minute...

Is power the ultimate aphrodisiac?

Or is it oysters?

Come on already! Decide! This makes a difference to me. If the former, I'm stuck, powerless, a mere spectator at the great arena of passion. But if the latter, why...any old fool can ply a gal with shellfish!

The award for the least erotic passage about the arrival of a hefty, middle aged tutor that contains the most amount of strangely erotic language...

...goes to my boy - and yours - Vlady Nabokov for the following:

"...she settles down with a grunt and thrusts her fists into her skimpy plush muff. At the juicy smack of their driver's lips the two black horses, Zoyka and Zinka, strain their quarters, shift hooves, strain again; and then Mademoiselle gives a backward jerk of her torso as the heavy sleigh is wrenched out of its world of steel, fur, flesh, to enter a frictionless medium where it skims along a spectral road that it seems barely to touch."

from Speak, Memory


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Last night I watched For All Mankind, the documentary on the Apollo missions which combines footage from all of the exploratory voyages along with astronauts' reflections and original music by Brian Eno. There's no narration, no timeline and my initial angst over details - Who's talking now and what mission is he from? How long was the rover on the moon? Did they sleep on the moon? How did they get from the shuttle into the rover and out again? While the moonwalkers were moonwalking, was the third astronaut in the shuttle orbiting the moon, slowly rotating from the light of the earth into the darkness of the far side? How come there is no footage of the sun? - soon gave way to a more sensory experience. I'm glad it's not a detailed documentary and I'm glad the astronauts' voices are unassigned, disembodied, and that the footage from all of the missions is woven together. It becomes disorienting in a good way, and you simply marvel at the exploration of space. The focus is on the missions themselves without the historical, cultural, and political import.

A not unrelated aside - Did that shit actually happen? The fantastical footage, including a lengthy space walk that looked like my brother claymated it, has nudged me one step closer to the camp of conspirators.

It was the disaster of the Challenger mission that my age recalls. I was 10 years old at the time. But do I remember it? I have a dim recollection of watching it in a classroom, even a library, but I'm no longer sure. The image in my mind - of kids in a room, rugby shirts and rolled up jeans, braces and braids, the desks filled, supernumaries (I am among them) linger in the back having been shepherded in from other classes by our teachers who now lean against the windows and radiators - I can't claim as mine with any confidence. I have seen versions of this scene from the moment of the tragic event itself. At the school where astronaut Christa McAuliffe taught the students and teachers gathered in an assembly hall, but classrooms around the nation watched the teacher go into space and the cameras were there, watching them. And they looked like we did.

I think I did watch it, and I think I remember the gasps and I think I remember tears that were not my own.

Another distinctly indistinct memory. Learning of my grandfather's death - I am in the front family room of our first house, my mother is off in the corner of the room with her arms folded. I am across the room from her. The perspective is dizzying, I'm looking up and but the effect is though I'm falling back, the room has an almost fisheye quality to it, and the focus is fuzzy and the colors are browns and beiges. But I don't know how the news was revealed to me, or if it even happened like this.

I don't remember the funeral, or if I attended.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Q: Do you know whose life has virtually nothing in common with my own, and whose telling of that life is like nothing I could ever hope to do?

A: Vladimir Nabokov

So far in his autobiography Speak, Memory, the only thing we share in common is that we both had a mother and father. Other than that, differences abound! As a child his family had over 50 servants. Do you know how many the Dupre family had? None. Do you know how many governesses he had? At least two thus far. How many did I have? Not a one.

"As far back as I remember myself (with interest, with amusement, seldom with admiration or disgust)..."

That's how Nabokov writes about himself, and I love the tone, and his memories from his early life are remarkably distinct. I don't think my memory begins until I was like 5 or 6, and much of what I can recall makes me physically cringe.

But could Nabokov contribute to a music blog? Probably not. And he probably knew that back then. Probably what motivated him.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mix CD done

For those of you waiting, wait no more! My Hamlet mix is finished! Now I violated a house rule in making it - there is more than 60 minutes of music on it (as everyone knows, a good mix cd should have about 45 minutes of music). But I tried something new - the songs are mixed together in small chunks in order to convey the mood of that section of the CD. That means each track contains 3 songs, which should really be listened to at once in order to get the most out of this mix.

They will be shipped out soon.

To whet your appetite, here's the cover:

1969, Another summer, sound of the funky drummer...

I've been fairly immersed in the 60s recently, you know, The Most Important Decade Ever...ever...ever [this should be echoing and fading out simultaneously]. For me, that decade combines a couple of things I've always been interested in - first, music; and second, California.

A couple nights ago I watched Zabriskie Point by Michelango Antonioni. I was rather hoping that this Italian director's take on the counterculture was going to be IN Italian, where hippies greet each other with 'ciao' and the whole movement seems somehow more urbane. It would have been even better if it was shot in Italy but set in LA. But that wasn't the case - it is set in LA and was done in English with a largely amateur cast [the lead actor subsequently robbed a bank and was killed in prison when he was in his 20s]. Though it was a bomb when released - this, mind you, despite a highly stylized orgy scene in the California desert with a noodling guitar accompaniment by Jerry Garcia; I know what you're thinking, How could it bomb?! - it's one of these movies that becomes more interesting with every passing year. I liked the way it was shot - Antonioni had a good eye for the ads of 60s LA - the billboards, commercials, cans, everything. The landscape has an Eggleston quality to it. The characters are less interesting, as is the story, but what this movie prompts is the question whether there has ever been a larger generation gap than during the 1960s? It's a 60s trope, and every generation sees changes social, cultural, material from the preceding generation and all children butt heads with their parents, but the 60s really seemed to have a more radical break. Antonioni's film feels like a late 50s early 60s movie, a style almost like the show Mad Men, where the hippies really seem on the fringes, and very different indeed from the older generation of advertising executives, night watchmen, and cops.

There's another interesting thing here, which is the way Antonioni tackles the utopiansim of the 60s. It's kind of amazing to see movies like this, and Easy Rider, made during the 60s that take such a dark look at the prospects of the counterculture, especially when the 60s are often depicted ss an optimistic decade, when change was seen as at hand. Antonioni's movie was started in '67 and it is not exactly a rosy picture of community. Violence hovers around both the anti-authoritarians and the authoritarians. But Antonioni hints that the 60s were a confrontation of utopianisms - on one hand you have hippy freedom, racial, social, sexual, but on the other you have the material utopianism of the 50s - a dishwasher in every home, a yard of one's own, a safe, racially divided neighborhood. So this clash is secular utopia against secular utopia. The orgy scene is like a Shakespearean nightmare, in which bodies dissolve into bodies and people lose hold of themselves and of reality. To some this may have promised liberation, but Antonioni's vision is distorted and seems disturbing.

Jerry Garcia did the music for that scene, and I just finished reading a biography of him. He notes that the scene in California had changed by 1967. That the heady days of the 60s were from about '64 or so until '66. Then it was still a very local scene, confined to San Francisco and Palo Alto. Here the musical events were the famous Acid Tests in which the Grateful Dead would or would not play. I think this local aspect is so interesting about the Grateful Dead and led to their unique success - they were part of a scene in which the lines between performer and audience were blurred. Garcia was an amazing guitarist, but you didn't go to the Acid Test to see him. You went, well, to take acid, but also to be with a lot of like minded people and for the psychedelic carnivalesque quality to it. It occurs to me that what should have happened for a counterculture to succeed is that people should not have started going to San Francisco in 1967 for the summer of love and should not have started following the Grateful Dead, but rather other Grateful Deads - of course they would have been completely different - should have developed in other cities, and that the movement should have been local rather then national. The problem was that hippies, as sons and daughters of the middle class, were as separated from a sense of place as their parents who had fled to the suburbs. But I think that this truly local association with a scene is what gave the Dead their longevity, because they were part of it and lived it, and even when they were touring nationally maintained this now traveling carnival quality, and as Garcia noted, it appealed to some people's sense of adventure.

I wish The Grateful Dead Movie, which I also just watched, got at that a bit more. I don't think you can get at the Grateful Dead with just one show. That was the most disappointing thing about that film, is it didn't really represent what was unique about the band.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jobs Are Just Not That Into Me

Oh my God, so I was like surfing the net the other night and I saw this job -- I know, I’m like blushing -- that was so perfect for me. I don’t know, it’s hard to say, but I just read the posting, and we just...clicked. I mean, it both seemed easy, you know - not like, easy to do – but, like an easy fit, something that would definitely be fun to try but also, and here’s the crazy part, I could totally see myself doing it in like – what, 5? – I don’t know, 10? – years. You know? Crazy.

So of course, you know me, impetuous me, I wrote to it right away and I just found myself being really honest in my letter. I felt like there was less of the usual bullshit, and I’m *so tired* of the usual bullshit. So I just said, you know, why I thought we should get together and, without being too much, why I just thought it would work out. I wrote the letter in like an hour. I was smiling to myself as I wrote. I couldn’t wait to send it. And I did. I pressed send. And for a moment I was happy. My future spread out before me like a great dawn. It was because of the job, and I was going to share my future with the job. And it made sense. Out of nowhere, things made sense.

That night I went out with some friends, you know, friends who are sensitive to my ‘situation’, friends who have jobs and who want me, too, to have a job. And they’re cool and kind, but sometimes I think they think I can’t relate to their lives. So anyway they were asking me how things were going and, you know, I wasn’t going to say anything, I’m just tired of talking about it. But I had had a drink or two and I felt good, I felt excited about it, and the next thing I knew I was just talking, like, all about it. For like an hour. And my friends were like, that’s really cool, I hope you get it. But one of my friends was like – you really like this job, don’t you? I’m pulling for you. And I smiled and had a couple more drinks.

That night, when I got home, I couldn’t help but check my email. Nothing. But what did I expect, really? That the job was going to write back to me right away? That the job felt the same way about me that I did immediately? Come on, Cinda-fella, get some shut eye.

Over the next three days I tried to keep busy, to not get too put out when my in box was empty, and when the only phone call was from my dentist setting up oral surgery. I looked halfheartedly for other jobs, and I went running, and I told myself to not get too wrapped up in it. I didn’t want to obsess and seem, well, too needy. But on the fourth day, and still nothing, I don’t know, I just felt...hurt. I re-read my email. What a mistake! Why didn’t I take more time with it, I yelled to my brain. Why didn’t I sleep on it at least! Oh, I left so much out, so much about myself and who I am, and the bits that I had thought were subtle, understated, even slyly witty, now seemed elusive, deprecatory, facile. I’m just an idiot! And of course this job had others! Others vying for its attention, affection. God, if I were this job I wouldn’t write back to me either, I thought in disgust. I did nothing to distinguish myself. What a loser. What would a job want with me, anyway?

Now I began to think that not only would this job never write me back, but that it was sharing my letter of interest with its friends. Passing me on to other vacancies as a cancer to be avoided. Look at this, it would say, behind closed doors or over drinks at a cigar bar. Look at this, it would repeat, more loudly, drunkenly, viciously. Can you believe this person ever thought there was anything between us? What an idiot!

I soon stopped checking email. I stayed in my pj’s for a couple days and ate Haagen-Dazs like an overweight, lazy, Danish princess. I didn’t answer my phone. I stopped exercising. I stopped looking for other jobs. What other jobs are there!? Huh!? Answer me that! I had my chance with my dream job and I blew it. And I deserved to blow it.

Today, though, I browsed the internet for jobs again. It’s a step I know I have to take. Tentatively, I clicked on some announcements. I’m vulnerable, I know. And I know what it is to be hurt. I hope I’m tougher, but I definitely think I’m a better friend, a better person. I can relate when others come to me saying that their jobs didn’t work out, or that they didn’t get something, or that they’re pained. And I know there’s a job out there for me, one that I won’t have to settle for. And I can’t help it if they don’t know that I’m their one.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Queens, NY

Queens, NY