Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Lush and The Ridiculous: My Recent iTunes History

As I downloaded yet more music today, I noticed that my taste in music could be called either eclectic or schizophrenic. You make the call. Here are some recent downloads.

Washed Out - Life of Leisure.

I learned about Washed Out from the wise Young Americans at The Sound of Young America. It's big and lush and small and intimate. Synth-y and homemade-y and soft and loud. Listen.

Don Edwards - Goin' Back to Texas.

I learned about Don Edwards in a boutique shop in Sunriver, Oregon in the early nineties. I heard yodel-y coyotes and needed to hear more, so I bought the cassette (yes! cassette!) that the shop was playing and put it into the cassette player in the car. I was disappointed at first to learn that I had to wade through a lot of cowboy music to get to the coyote part (no one-song purchase iTunes option - prehistoric!), but soon we were all singing about the sleepy Rio Grand, and those line shack blues. That cassette is long gone and Don Edwards became a Bend memory like the smell of sage and juniper.

Where did I hear those coyotes again recently? I don't remember, but it sent me straight to iTunes. I now carry Don Edwards around in my hip pocket, and can hear that wooo-yip, wooo-yip woo coyote song any time I want. I can also hear musical screeds to barbed wire, asphalt and bankers (a favorite line: "while progress toots her greedy horn/and makes her motor buzz/I thanks the Lord I wasn't born no later than I was") Technology is bizarre and wonderful in that it brings me music about the evils of technology.

Regina Spektor - Far.

I find that Regina Spektor is best loved and understood by women. Men tend to find her music a little twee. Yes, her lyrics can be a little, um, adorable, but her voice is so easy and slippery, and her tunes allow it to slide up and down the scale with such carefree pleasure, it practically makes me skip down the street.

Moby - Wait For Me.

I have a lot of Moby in my library, but nothing since 18, which was released in 2002. But his new one, Wait For Me, was getting much better reviews than his last few, so I gambled on it. It's nice. Like Play and 18. Very much so. I put it in the playlist labeled "chill," but I don't find myself seeking it out for album-long listens.

Ting Tings - We Started Nothing

I should listen to this more. I just don't dance enough.

Franz Ferdinand - Tonight

Franz Ferdinand makes great music for your running playlist. I need to run more.

Juana Molina - Una Dia

Do yourself a favor and listen to the title song (you can listen at her MySpace page at the link above). I learned about her from WNYC's Radio Lab, which I listen to via podcast. They are nothing less than obsessed by her, which is easy to understand for a geek, as her music is woven with layers and layers of sound that she creates single-handedly. The result is both high-energy and hypnotic at once.

Van Morrison - Astral Weeks and Moondance.

I don't know why I felt I needed to have these in my library after all these years. He was really before my time, and has been a radio station given all my life, but after hearing a story about the band that was put together for his Astral Weeks recording sessions, I needed to be able to listen with more than a car radio attention span. Worth it. No wonder everybody who won Grammys in the late 70's and 80's thanked him along with their families. He was new. And different.

I recommend listening to music. Pretty much anything, as long as it has not been featured on the MTV Music Video Awards, or, for that matter, the Grammys.

But The Decemberists are still my favorites.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Dean brought this to my attention. I wasn't going to watch it to the end, because I didn't think I had it in me to watch 9:30 of hate. But it is actually fascinating and enlightening. I don't think there is a cure for this kind of Fox misinformation being gobbled up whole. Is there? I don't see any laws banning Fox News anywhere on the horizon. And there certainly won't be any efforts to tone such hate mongering down, because it sells too well. It sure is disturbing. And disappointing.

In Which I Put Baby In A Category

So Drew and I were talking about drivers who put us in danger in small, everyday ways. This was on the way back from the beach, and we had just been bullied back in a merge situation by a dude who promptly slowed down and turned off the road, and then, not too much later, we slowed to let a swerving map reader decide which exit to take without taking us out in the process.

We came to the conclusion that there are two categories of dangerous drivers: those who drive with a chip on their shoulder, willfully putting others at risk, and those who are oblivious to the danger they pose to those around them, and in fact, are often oblivious that there even is anyone around them. My opinion was that we often miscategorize the oblivious by assuming that they are aware of the havoc they leave in their wake.

And then.

And then.

I was driving south in the left lane of a four-lane road when a gold colored Taurus-style sedan swerved into my lane from the right lane, giving me just enough time to slam on my brakes to avoid rear-ending her, who then slammed on HER brakes to wait for a car to go by in the opposite direction, and then pulled a U-turn right there in the middle of the road.

I was understandably shocked at such reckless behavior and wanted to know who just risked my life and my insurance rating to save seconds off her drive time. I craned my neck out the window as she hit the accelerator heading north to see (with my icy glare of doom) a twenty-something blonde in a pair of those hilariously enormous designer sunglasses.

And the look on her face was one of such serenity and composure, it has left me puzzled. Did those sunglasses not allow her to even see me, making her Category O for oblivious? Was she out to scare me, making her a Category R for road rager? Or did my alarm, and her back bumper, just not register in her list of things to be concerned about today? Should we add another category - a Category A for self-centered assholes? And why wasn't she driving a black SUV, so we could all anticipate her douchebaggery?

Not sure, but I'd rather not do the research to find out.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day Rabble Rousing

Working Class Hero by John Lennon

John Lennon was post-Beatles and rich by the time he published this song, but he obviously still had a chip on his shoulder about his early years.

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
by giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for 20 odd years
then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religon, sex and T.V.
and you think you're so clever and classless and free
but you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see
Working Class Hero is something to be
Working Class Hero is something to be

There's room at the top I'm telling you still
but first you must learn how to smile as you kill
if you want to be like the folks on the hill
Working Class Hero is something to be

Yes , A Working Class Hero is something to be
If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Friday, September 04, 2009

Inch = Mile

So I come home from a walk and confess to The Captain that I was daydreaming about traveling the country with a trailer. Seeing New Orleans and Savannah and Taos.

This, as I suspected, got him excited. This is something that he has been talking about since he got his first trailer hitch. In the womb.

However, I did not suspect that this comment would morph into a shopping mission for a touring motorcycle. No, I did NOT say I wanted a touring motorcycle, or that I wanted to tour the US from the back of one. When asked, I said I would try to ride on the back of a borrowed motorcycle one more time if he thought it might change my mind about motorcycles.

The Captain seems to think that since I might enjoy touring the country in the comfort of a four-wheeled, enclosed, air conditioned vehicle with snacks, music, books and iPhone at the ready, that I wouldn't mind taking it one step further. Outdoors. Keeping my balance on a stool going 70 miles an hour, wearing ten pounds of leather and fiberglass for protection, looking at a helmet in front of me.

Yes, I have ridden on the back of a motorcycle. The Captain has had motorcycles before. I have even ridden my own motorcycle or two. I did not enjoy those experiences. But he seems sure that given a soft enough back seat that my opinion of holding on to someone else who is holding on to some handlebars will be (a) exciting, (b) comfortable, and (c) interesting enough to pacify someone who squirms on a car ride of more than one hour and must have a book either in her face or in her ears to keep her brain soothed enough for continued earthly existence.

Stay tuned. Someone is going to learn something. But who? And what?