Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Marie Calloway Rocks!


Marie Calloway rocks. No two ways about it, she rocks the Casbah. Since the release of ‘Adrien Brody’ she’s become popular. A few people (who am I kidding) a lot of people have criticized her in ways that I find particularly unflattering, dishonest, and downright mean. Originally I wasn’t going to write about Marie, she’s an internet friend of mine and a supporter of mine. I figured ‘Oh, people will get around to her point of view; the internet shit-storm (caused mostly by double standards, sexism, etc.) will subside’. I thought of people’s initial reaction to Megan Boyle’s work “Everyone I’ve Had Sex With” as a similar comparison and the ‘shit-storm’ that came immediately after it. What came of that was Megan’s book, which ended up doing really well, with haters either silenced or outvoted. I wanted that to happen with Marie as I left on hiatus. I figured by the time I came back from the most remote corner of Earth people would gain some common sense and decency.  

                That hasn’t happened. That’s why I’m writing this piece. I support Marie Calloway’s writing and am offended that people use thinly veiled criticism of her life as a way to insult her work. Really they shouldn’t be criticizing Marie at all, at least not in such vicious and counterproductive ways. When I initially read the comments on HTML Giant, I said aloud to myself ‘I wonder how many of these people bothered reading Marie’s story, or do they just dislike the idea behind the story’. I don’t know the answer to this question, I hope everyone who criticizes her has at the very least read her work, but that’s probably not the case. 15,000 words is a lot to read and I know to criticize takes less effort than to create. But to do this justice to some degree requires starting at the beginning, to her Thought Catalog articles. 

                Thought Catalog is a wonderful, lovely place where people contribute stellar material. There are some commenters who fight amongst themselves. It is a place kind enough to have hosted my writing before (see here). It gave Marie her first outlet for writing starting in April of last year. I’ll summarize them briefly here:

                ‘Losing Your Virginity’ is the best summary for the article. It is also the title. It is an extremely descriptive version of the experience, told from a female point of view, a refreshing take from ‘then we boned and it was hot.’  This should have alerted people to Marie’s writing abilities, particularly the ending of the piece. Going through the comments gives only an inkling of what kind of Puritan Rage Marie would later encounter with ‘Adrien Brody’. A few of them are point out her refusal to capitalize words. Others penned such lazy comments as ‘she just wants attention, blah blah blah’ and other extraordinarily useful critiques. The comments were swipes at her age, gender, and socio-economic status.

                ‘How to Make Money in London’ is the second piece. It deals with the sex economy and the power dynamic between Marie and a London Banker. At least that’s what I got from it. People got pissed off by the ‘banker listens to the Smiths’ line. I mean, I’m a music nerd. No doubt about it. But I can’t understand why people got infuriated by the Smiths line so much. A few of them even suggested ‘do the math’ since they are unable to do basic addition and subtraction. Weirdly, even though this was about sex work, people seemed less upset than they did about Marie losing her virginity. Guess since it was prostitution and not outright ‘I must enjoy this sex’ people relax. Commenters feel threatened when faced with a different story from what TV, literature, culture, etc. has told them about sex. Prostitution though is treated in a darker light, hence why people did not berate her as much for this article. A simpler explanation exists: people read her first piece and already had some idea what to expect from her re: subject material, style and tone. 

                ‘Adrien Brody’: this is the big one, the one that tore bored, apathetic bloggers apart, no mean feat. Read it here. Much of the criticism was pathetic. One critic penned something with the truly Earth shattering, brilliant fucking insight of ‘What would your Father say?’ which somehow became an entire blog post with likes and stuff. Honestly, who cares what her father says? In what way does that change the content of the story, what the story covered, the relationship dynamic between Adrien and Marie, or really anything? Then there are the ‘when you’re older you will realize how stupid you are’ critics. They claim she’ll regret everything she did as a young writer. I’m kind of shocked that so-called ‘smart people’ people who went into an MFA program, paid for the education, and write full time could be so emotionally stupid. I don’t get it. Why are so many alt lit readers such prudes? The ‘Marie’ character in the story is not the exact same person who wrote it, there are differences and changes that Marie has explained over and over again, only to hear people use the same critiques over and over again. The mean-spirited destructive criticism Marie Calloway has received makes me sad. I told a close friend of mine about it and they suggested we go together to see Marie read live when she comes to New York in February. 

                What is ‘Adrien Brody’ about though? It is about a young woman (our heroine Marie) going to New York and sleeping with an older (smarter?) man. I liked a lot of parts of this story. I liked how he uses parts of her conversation in his actual IRL articles (hence evidence that she’s a good writer). See the Forever 21 conversation for evidence. Hearing how he is a bit of a phony when it comes to reading is pretty funny. Books he never read are just one of many details. By the end of the story I felt for the character Marie. Parts of the dialogue were quite charming, touching my slothy heart. 


"So why did you break up?"

"Because I didn't love him."

"I guess that is important..."


                I enjoyed that snippet and other pieces. If I was to cut and paste every part I enjoyed it would be enormous. I liked the Hipster Runoff discussion, the Tao Lin discussion, and a lot of other little details. Every little piece is brought together right down to Adrien’s borough of residence Queens. To that I say ‘Hell Yeah’ because Queens never gets any love in any story. 

                Since the story came out Marie has been busy. She’s interview Momus, a musician she’s fond of, and she’ll be doing some fantastic readings in the Big Apple, New York City. Hopefully I can make those given time, space, buses, money, and so many other variables. 

                Marie also runs probably one of the most kickass Tumblrs I’ve seen in quite some time. Go here to witness pure joy, pure happiness, and pure Mountain Mew. <3 Mew Marie Cattoway.

Monday, January 30, 2012

In a sleeping mood – Draft 7.2


                In a sleeping mood offers two albums in one. The first album (the bookends of the album) is quiet meditations. But the second has a darker, more beat-driven approach and makes up the ‘core’ of the album. Mixing these two together creates a disorienting experience, one where is it hard to decipher what is about to happen at any given moment. This unpredictability keeps the listener on edge. 

                The beginning is gentle, sweet, and almost a little sad. It is mostly acoustic, save for the lone guitar. Next up is the core of the album, a quiet, spacious electronic track which employs a bit of threat by the end. Around the third track, things feel less rock-based. Rather they appear to be more interested in Raster Noton’s approach of slowly building and tearing apart. The fifth track shares this aggression, unrelenting in its many noises and rhythms. 

                On the third track in a sleeping mood keeps everything silent for the first minute. Only after an entire minute of this does the track emerge from slumber. It slowly rises up, a piano, small electronic effect, and barely emits a pulse. It is better off that way, for offering a perfectly stable way to end what is an often dark, dramatic record. 

                Some of the people involved in this project have previous experience with post-rock. That makes sense given the slow builds, often jarring moments, and completely wordless tracks. The goal is not to offer a hummable melody but rather to show a logical progression. ‘Draft’ succeeds wonderfully in providing the unexpected.

Choose Your Own Alt-Lit Adventure by Guillaume Morissette


                A picture says a thousand words. In this particular image’s case, it says much more. Guillaume takes on the ‘choose your own adventure’ theme and applies it to our beloved alt lit culture. Do I love this image and its simplicity? Yes, yes I do more than I can say. ‘Choose Your Own Alt-Lit Adventure’ may the finest image I’ve seen the whole year, and this includes the ‘Please Tell My Wife I’m an Orangutan’ a brilliant piece of work. Let me guide you through the narrative Guillaume creates. 


                 Start at your computer. Good. Move down the line to open a web browser. You’re already here reading this so good job. Check email and social networks. This is sad. You are now sad. Three options exist for your social network: Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter. Break down the paths. 


1.       Facebook – Jackson Nieuwland likes the fuck out of you. Guillaume calls the amount of likes ‘distressing’ I call them ‘highly arousing’. Steve Roggenbuck pokes you, the poke master blaster of disaster. A link to M. Kitchell’s reading list depresses you: he just finished going through another library’s worth of material. Jimmy Chen photoshops himself as Jack Fucking Nicholson or something. Frank Hinton is still a mysterious woman yet somehow a total babe.
2.       Gmail – You get a banal family email that can be used for flarf purposes, due to gross misspellings and general boredom. You receive an email from an anonymous alt lit stalker whose material provides multiple Tumblrs with relevant material, more relevant than your own.
3.       Twitter – Jordan Castro tries in earnest to rip his peen off, only this time, it’s for reals. Spencer Madsen tweets and creates new material for his next book ’50 Cent Re-Tweets’. Blake Butler tweets some esoteric thing that’s far smarter than anything you can possibly comprehend, like ‘Tom Cruise wearing a Parisian jumpsuit eating spiced toiletpaper while dry-humping Yves Klein’. 


All of these lead to your realization that content creation and micro fame on the internet is a good thing. You pick a brand to use for your online identity, which typically is far more interesting than reality since on the internet the party never stops. 


Two options exist:


1.       Image Macro– positive (humorous) negative (Hazel Cummings re: you are shit).
2.       Produce a poem or short story or something truly grand – from here you can go five different ways
a.       Some Lit Journal – a rejection. Lit journals are shit. Just don’t do it.
b.      Muumuu House – seems chic. Create an internet shit storm, get a dozen or so people angry on HTML Giant, a site that barely counts for anything besides a total time suck, and learn to resolve contentious conflicts.
c.       Metazen, Pop Serial, and NewWaveVomit – solid choices. This ends up perfectly for you. You come out with an ebook on Pangur Ban Party. 


I psychoanalyze you in a review about your ebook. That’s how it works. Let’s just say I have a ‘close relationship’ with Pangur Ban Party ;). 


You achieve wonderful, intoxicating micro-fame. But then there’s that whole reality stuff you’ve got to deal with, how do you do it now that you’ve tasted the sweet, sweet nectar of online micro fame? Four wonderful and enlightening options exist:


1.       You devolve into a larval state (or become a sloth like me! Join me in the trees busy doing nothing)
2.       You experience life like a Tao Lin character 10% more (uh, this sort of happens to me already. I can vouch for the authenticity of this statement).
3.       You date an equally struggling writer hoping one of you comes out with a novel to write - This happens a lot.
4.       You self-medicate as part of a weird coping mechanism – see ‘Drug Related Photoshop Art’. Look what that effing cat did. You can be that cat. 


Guillaume is fantastic. I love this piece. I love actually seeing my name somewhere else (via ‘boost’). Thank you Guillaume! I heart you my fellow French Canadian! 

See the high res version here.

The Widest Smiling Faces – Rituals 8.0


                If vulnerability ever needs a soundtrack, The Widest Smiling Faces should suffice. ‘Rituals’ is a whispered from far away. Aviv never raises his voice, not once. This works to his benefit. By keeping the whole thing at a hushed whisper, he’s able to basically tug at the heartstrings. The Widest Smiling Faces is a tender, touching work, dealing with the morbid curiosity of childhood.

                Maybe it is Aviv’s voice, but the vocal style is reminiscent of a morbid child. It is hard to completely explain. Even the instrumentation behind these songs is sparse. Nothing is particularly ornate. Yes, the work is informed heavily by post-rock (you can hear Explosions in the Sky influencing the opener ‘Green (for Piet)’ and the dreamy, mellow closer ‘Sponge’.

                Benoit Pioulard would be another close comparison. Unlike Benoit’s work though, The Widest Smiling Faces isn’t particularly experimental. Instead, the music benefits from Aviv’s straightforward approach to songwriting. The best two songs are the simplest in execution: ‘Water Underneath’ which is tragically beautiful and ‘Strange Animals’. ‘Strange Animals’ is as low-key as a song can possibly get. This is probably what so many Emo artists tried doing years ago and failed. Everything is so simple and low-volume’ the vocals whisper and mumble, the guitar goes at the pace of molasses. It is the most touching piece on the whole EP.

                ‘Rituals’ is a delightfully low-key affair. The Widest Smiling Faces seems to be a strange name for the group, especially with the tragic mood going on in most of the pieces. This reflects the hope after sadness, the release after crying.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

RARE BROOKLYN POETRY READING


                Rare gets thrown around a lot these days. Sometimes the word fits. For this ustream reading the word ‘rare’ doesn’t even begin to describe the epic quality of this ustream, the greatest ustream 2012 has seen. While the year has only just begun, I’m already amazed by the quality of the ustreams thus far. And this can only be described as ‘rare’. 

                Everybody was there, including people I’ve never seen before, including the famous alt lit writer Peterbd, one of my favorite email artists. Multiple people were reading: the happy version of Spencer Madsen, Marshall Mallicoat, Elaine Sun, Steve Roggenbuck, Poncho Peligroso, and the superstar Megan Boyle. Marshall Mallicoat talked about his hobby of holding his breath at work. Marshall Mallicoat clearly enjoys his life. 

I learned Megan Boyle is really Megan Assboyle, a transgressive artist of the ass. They waited for Megan to come from Brooklyn to get to Brooklyn to perform at this alt literary event of the freaking century. Spencer Madsen advertised for the bar to raise some serious cash. Megan went to the bathroom for an inordinate amount of time. 

Steve Roggenbuck started the night on a high note. Out of nowhere he began reading poems he emailed himself. The first one was about true love that he felt when he was in love. Did I cry a little bit when I heard it? You better believe it. Man, I was balling my eyes out as I heard it. Sometimes love is a crazy thing. Boy, I forget how love can be like a Raccoon, sleeping. Steve was loaded off life during the reading. 

Poncho Peligroso made his first appearance in months. This was the solemn part of the evening. In case you didn’t know, tree_bro (Jackson Lusk) was an excellent tweeter. Unfortunately he died recently of a heroin overdose. But his twitter account was quite honestly, amazing. You can go here to learn more about tree_bro. Besides reading tree_bro’s account, he also read some of the tweets from the fake Barack Obama twitter account (now deleted). People in the room laughed and gasped at them in unequal doses. Actually, I enjoy Poncho’s voice quite a bit and I was happy to hear it once again. I felt really sad about tree_bro. The last few tweets sort of cemented what happened to the poor person. 

Marshall Mallicoat came up with a gleam in his eye. I liked how insane the poems were how everything should cost one dollar and every one should be paid the same amount. The simplicity made the poems pretty funny. “My bedroom is a time machine moving into the future 1 second per 1 second.” I loved that line. ‘I think when I can’t talk shit on the internet it will be time to die’ may be the best title for any poem anywhere. 

                Elaine Sun started after being announced by the Happy Spencer Madsen. She wore a sweater jacket similar to that of Shaun Gannon fame. Her first poem talked about a breakup from the morning. It hurt. The character in the poem wanted to touch Michael’s lung. They slept together. Background information for the next poem was Texas is hot in the summer. What Elaine does is avoid putting on clothes for most of the day, or taking many showers. Out of nowhere Elaine Sun busted out her tweets from many blog years ago. 

                Megan Assboyle came up. She read ‘Notes from my IPhone’. Instead of reading from her book she presented new stuff. These were all great things. Part of Megan’s reading ability comes from the audience’s reaction. I enjoyed hearing the audience groan, laugh and stay with her. Somehow Megan just worked the audience, being warm and friendly with them. Listening to her pretend curse was pretty excellent, as was her reading of her fantastic, best-selling alt lit book. An additional bonus was watching some Jesus Bro sitting the corner eye-fucking Ms. Boyle. 

                Noah started reading. I don’t know who this guy was but he got Megan to read with him. Perhaps this means I should read with someone, to further boost my personal brand. There needed to be a female reader for some reason. Personally I would have liked to have had the reader to be a male in drag. That would have been exciting to me. 

                Mario went after next. This was another friend of Spencer Madsen’s. Actually even though he didn’t go to the front of the room, he read well. Behind him was a red brick wall as a backdrop to his excited, energetic performance. 

                Spencer Madsen followed his friends. While he began he talked to people about how to have to great wonderful lives, lives he will never know. ‘A Million Bears’ was his main focus. He told us about how hard life is when you want to do stuff like waking up. Seagulls are assholes. Spiritual people piss him off. High School is a lot of people going through puberty at the same time. To be honest, it was a passionate reading. There is an art to reading sounding absolutely crazed. Crispin Best had the best line in the chat with ‘You Mad Sen?’ Most of the ‘pining love poems’ were skipped in favor for 50 Cent retweets and his own original tweets. Also Spencer has a difficult relationship with his cat, which is a totally pussy allegedly. 

                Marshall Mallicoat ended it. We missed him and for a while called out to the blackness of the ustream. But there was no response. It was a fitting end to a star-studded celebration.

Clark’s New Album Iradelphic


                Three years is a long time in musical terms. In three years, entire genres can be born. Old ones die off. Artists who fail to release on a somewhat regular basis may fall victim to this problem. Suddenly no one gives a shit about the sound; it receives scorn from the music critic establishment.

                Clark isn’t a stranger to following an unusual muse: a lot of his work is considered IDM-based, a genre that’s fallen out of favor for a long, long time. Some of his first releases came out during that genre’s twilight, as the sun set on such classics as Confield. Warp began signing dance-rock acts around the same time Clark was warming up. 

                Iradelphic offers a new approach for Clark. Judging from the new track ‘Com Touch’ it appears Clark might have reached a conclusion: as joyous as his hall-of-mirror beat machines were, they just aren’t popular anymore. Instead, with this track we hear a different, considerably mellower Clark. Melodies act like melodies rather than window dressing for mind-fucked beats and sudden shifts. Actually this is the most straightforward Clark has ever been, with the beats fairly simple. Instead of relying on his usual bag of tricks this is nearly pop for him, with melodies layered on top of each other in an enjoyable, laid-back fashion. Yet it still sounds like him, distinctly happy with his certain sense of humor quite present. 

                Enough time has passed to make this transition seem logical, even necessary. Beats aren’t so much a thing anymore. People appear to be more interested in leisurely, pop-ish work. To that Clark appears to deliver, at least on this small offering. It’s a rather nice way of showing how Warp Records continues to possess at least some echoes of its origins with Clark’s take on electronica. 

                Let’s hope the full Iradelphic album follows Com Touch’s approach.

Friday, January 27, 2012

These Animals, This Saturday


                I really enjoy the bands I cover on here. Some of them are happy, cheerful beings, full of life. While there are so many, it might seem that I am unable to ‘follow-up’ with all of them. I do try. I don’t always succeed. I succeed with some bands, bands that show a certain sense of care and interest in growing organically, slowly, rather than simply ‘exploding’ one day and fizzling out. I like slow-building bands that gradually rise up. These Animals are one of those bands. I covered them this summer. Well, it seems they are about to do something big, something great, something I can’t be there for, but I hope you can. 

                This Saturday they don the red, white and blue (posters) and will give it their all at the Bowery Electric, a perfectly fine place in Manhattan. I actually like that particular part of Manhattan a lot. I hope some people make the trek out to see them. They are nice people. They even offer their music for free right here. I suggest listening to their music before you go. Determine if it is your ‘cup of tea’. It’s mine. I like any band that’s smart enough to offer their music for free, though that’s a whole other blog post in itself. 

                Support these Animals. Hug these Animals. Adopt these Animals this Saturday at Bowery Electric.

Spooky Cheddar – I’m Not My Body and neither are you 7.0


                Spooky Cheddar is a strange band indeed. If you aren’t convinced by the band name, there’s also the utterly bizarre cover art, some hand. Most of the songs on here possess that same level of whimsical charm. The melodies are fun, infectious. A few times Spooky Cheddar even samples some rather goofy clips, most notably Seinfeld on ‘More Music for Airports (What's the Deal w/Airplane Food? Mix)’. The double joke (first on Eno’s famous album, the second with Seinfeld’s monologue) is representative of the album as a whole. For the music stays uniformly bright and shiny through the nearly 80 odd minutes. 

                A few different styles are present on the album. First, there is homage to the komische music sound, a la OPN or Spectrum Spools on the opener ‘Toothsome Fancy’. On other tracks, Spooky Cheddar employs a slow funk, reminiscent of Com Truise. These slower tracks are some of the standouts, particularly ‘Mountains Felt’ and the woozy ‘Weave/Unweave’ which veers from sampled ragtime to an infectious groove. ‘Weave/Unweave’ is one of best tracks on the entire album; it just references so many other genres and combines them into such a delightful whole. Even the melody is a beautiful cut-up of that ragtime piece. IDM rears its head too, in a Luke Vibert silliness sort of way. 

                This is a fun, sprawling album. It reminds me of early 90s IDM and electronica, before it became too serious. Spooky Cheddar injects these genres with a sense of fun. Plus, they appear to have a good sense of humor with the many, many puns all over the album. ‘I’m Not My Body and neither are you’ is a breeze of an album.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Neon Glittery Update!


                Neon Glittery puts the ‘art’ in Arkansas (the T is silent and invisible). Yep, she does a lot, photography, music, T-shirt design, ustream readings, speaks German for some reason and more. I am a fan of what she creates. To me Neon Glittery is one of those genuine ‘American Originals’ someone with few peers. I have yet to find art as startling unique as her output. 

                2012 is off to a big start. First Neon is older. Getting older doesn’t really require much work, that is sort of a natural thing, but still, I salute her ability to exist on Earth for yet another year. It seems impressive. Not everybody can bring art to Arkansas but I’m glad she brings it each and every day that she gets out of bed, jumps on her two feet, and sings some sort of song. 

                Some of those ‘morning wake up’ songs are for sale. Bandcamp sells them, specifically modus operandi. Now there is an additional joy: you can get a cassette. I love cassette culture and Neon’s designs are excellent. Combining art and music into a single delicious piece of art sounds positively fantastic to me. I mean some of Neon’s photos are pretty gosh darn trippy. Just look at the cover. She is crying. How can you make her not cry? How about you buy the cassette, bring neon into her glitter. Turn the photographic frown upside down. 

                Photography is a big part of Neon’s life. It was in Neonli, Italy, a small village on Sardinia where she first met Holga, her camera. There was little to do in Neonli so she moved to the bustling metropolis of Conway, Arkansas. While in Arkansas she has developed a devoted following to her unusual images. Before now you could only see them on the internet or on computer paper if you bothered to print them out. She’s dabbled in T-shirt technology before, but nothing like this sheer brilliance radiating from her mind place. 

                For mere dollars ($15 to be precise) you can support the greatest artist ever born in Conway, Arkansas. Normally I can’t say this sort of thing. But I think with Neon Glittery and her dominance of the local arts scene, I think I can say this with absolute certainty. You can pick the shirt, pick the photo, and she does everything through her ‘Neon Swag’ merchandising subsidiary. It seems sweet that Neon now has T-shirts of her photography as well as her drawings. I am happy to see Holga getting some swag loving. 

                I am happy to see Neon Glittery rising up and shaking the right hand of destiny. Art your Kansas!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

OFFICAL STEVE ROGGENBUCK BROADCAST from NEW YORK


                Steve Roggenbuck took a serious bite out of the big Apple. Oh my golly I thought Steve wouldn’t be able to eat it, but he did. New York is an apple. You eat it to become a true New Yorker. I am happy to report that Steve has become a true New Yorker. I’m happy to see him move down the East Coast, planting seeds of knowledge, improving the minds of our young people. 

                Evan played a song. Lyrics came from the chat room. People suggested lyrics such as astronauts, cats,Horse_Ebooks, etc. But of course we came there for the brass tacks. We wanted to know, and Steve wanted to tell us. A few people asked him to strip but this was a secondary concern. Steve began discussing shirt design ideas. Most people in the room had some extremely constructive ideas for the shirt sayings. 

                We asked Evan about his life. He liked the Arcade Fire. Plus he enjoyed Tao Lin’s poetry. I want to let you know he’s single. To be honest, he is a real catch. He goes to college, plays the guitar, and is an accomplished ustream artist. Why not date him? As an added bonus, Pancho Espinosa is also single. This is one of those ‘buy one, get one free’ deals. Pancho stated he would pay me money to blog about him but did not specify how much. Well, he’s a handsome young man from the West Coast. He has a blog you can find right here. Plus, it doesn’t matter which one you buy first. Either way, it is two for the price of one. 

                 Antler dance continued the presentation. Steve taught all of us how to dance like deer. Reindeer dance quite often, out of love for Christmas and Santa Claus. The happy college students surrounded Steve, ready to learn. Deer-dancing involves a mixture of many dancing traditions; it is a genius dance, the dance of a madman super-genius. Of course an instructor on how to live your life would know all about it. Never before had ustream hosted so much deer-dancing. 

                Then it turned to flirting. People continued to flirt with one another. Networking commenced. I gained many new friends and fans. Making connections over the internet helped me expand my brand. Brands mixed into a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors. 

                Vulnerability came into the room. Steve explained how he suffered from sadness in Upstate New York. Honestly most of Upstate New York is pretty damn sad so it doesn’t surprise me. Glad people were around to improve Steve’s mood.

                In Steve’s hand was a fortune cookie. This determined the rest of Steve’s life. What did it say you might ask “Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right or better.” Then there was a series of lucky numbers. I’d love to tell you what they were, but that money belongs to Steve. If Steve wins it, he’ll tour the entire United States. Imagine that. Bet if you won the lottery you wouldn’t go around the United States, you’d probably sit on your ass and write long blog posts. 

                Steve stole food from Sarah Lawrence. He got boosted from Izzy Waxman throughout the ustream. In fact, she offered everyone the ability to get food for free, just for arriving there. After a while she told me about how to see other people’s place by merely jumping out the window. Liza Paradise also advised me how to say her name, so I said it properly to myself in my super-secret location. 

                Finally we saw Evan once more before they went outside. People asked him questions about his life. Law-breaking was captured on the ustream. Steve began to worry about the journey but those around him told him not to worry. Izzy went into Sasha’s room. After so much writing Steve moved into illegal activity. Liza held a camera while Steve walked on his hands. We wondered whether or not the battery would die as he danced outside to dubstep. 

                Eleven minutes of laptop power was left. Nobody knew what was going to happen. All of us realized it needed to end. Steve walked around the Sarah Lawrence campus waiting for the battery to die. While Steve waited to climb a tree he read his favorite poem ever, a deeply lovely poem to send us off in the best way possible. It mentioned a tree, where Steve currently resided. They sat in the tree until the battery died. 

                Much like life itself, the ustream had to end.

In Praise of Paranoia by Peter Schwartz


                Paranoia is a great emotion. I celebrate it each and every day while hiding underneath my covers. It explains why I post anonymously. What if someone from my real life read this each and every day? That idea scares me. So I put on the blogger mask late at night while the city sleeps. The blogger mask is of course a face of an over-educated, nervous twenty something with no major problems. I write feverishly, paranoid that someday people will know, will find me, and will plaster my face everywhere. Thankfully alternative literature is quite small. I put the likelihood of such a ‘nightmare scenario’ around 4 to 5 percent. 

                Some people know the power of paranoia. Peter Schwartz is one of those people. Going through Peter’s published work makes me feel like the laziest of fucks. Here he’s done all this cool stuff, photography, writing, interviews, poems, and so forth. It is an impressive list. I’m a bit in awe of it. Shocked I never read anything by Peter Schwartz. By the looks of his long history I should have encountered his work years ago. At the very least I should have encountered the photography when I was more interested in it, before my eyes became totally shot. The pictures look colorful and oddly cheerful. 

                ‘In Praise of Paranoia’ is my first encounter with his writing style. It is terse. Every line is efficient, a short shout of words. I like the arrows pointing to things that don’t exist. With each new line comes another piece to check off. If paranoia ever wants a checklist, it could certainly do worse than this collection. Poor department store, it never stood a chance. Neither did the cannibals or saints. My favorite line has to be ‘your anxieties bloom like cheesecakes’. Love that line. I am anxious. I can barely comprehend how much cheesecake that would be. More than enough to feed a small state like North Dakota or Maine. Feel bad about ruining more of this poem. I enjoy it on an extremely personal level; some of the pieces are lodged in my mind, like pieces of dialogue. 

                Reading this makes me happy. I feel better. I’m glad Pangur Ban Party has a new member of the party. By this point, Pangur Ban Party has more writers than a bumping party at AWP. Glad that Pangur Ban Party has another excellent poet. DJ Berndt uses Pangur Ban Party as a pseudopod, slowly eating up writers wherever they lurk. The poetry tastes good.

Good Amount – Opening Eye 7.5


                Ah yes,Opening Eye is a strange record indeed. It goes through several different moods, from pensive to outright joy. The journey is a circuitous one; it is made trickier through Good Amount’s many unusual twists and turns. Not sure how to categorize it, it looms larger than a normal drone piece, yet is too active to be called outright ambient. 

                ‘Closed’ begins the trip. It is actually the darkest piece on here. When I listen to it I feel nearly threatened by a dark force. Unlike the other pieces, this one appears to dwell on itself. It is an uneasy trip, diametrically opposed to ‘Matter’. ‘Matter’ is an easier piece, quieter, more hopeful than the previous work. It reminds me of James Ferraro’s early work, before he became more interested in pop structures. While it is extremely long, it engulfs you with a huge sound. 

                The rest of the album is considerably more distorted. The sound becomes much louder yet happier. For the latter half of the album Good Amount becomes a bit more hopeful. By the end of the album things get very messy. ‘Opening’ is sort of letting all sounds flood through, it is a joyous chaos. And it is also the perfect way to end the album. 

                ‘Opening Eye’ is a comforting journey of sound. It relaxes me enormously. As someone who can sometimes have a bit of anxiety, this is a good thing. Good Amount creates a calming wave of sound with this release.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

POP SERIAL/AWP CHICAGO HOUSE PARTY


                OMG stop the freaking Blogspots and Tumblrs. This is bloggable news. Yeah, you know the Titanic? How it crashed into an ice burg in the Atlantic in 1912? That is a mere blurb compared to the knowledge I’m about to impart on your unknowing ass. 


                PhiLOLZophy are coming to the Pop Serial AWP Chicago House Party. 


                Now you might be thinking “Who the eff are they?” To which I’d respond “Sit down. I’m about to teach you the ways of the Midwestern Philosophers.”

                Right hand PhiLOL, left hand Zophy, they are the duo of Chrissy Stockton and Sarah Heuer. Together they change lives by blending a love of philosophy with a love of cheap, trashy pop culture. Many people have changed for the better thanks to their pearls of wisdom, dispensed via their website, Facebook fan page, and twitter. Fans love them. I’m okay having fewer fans on my Facebook fan page, but if you want to join, be my guest.

                I’m thankful, so thankful for these two. When nobody read my blog, when I was just a pimple on the ass of blogspot, they read and cared. Both of them reached out to me. Starting out as a little confused blogger in a big sea, I didn’t know who I could trust. Blogging is an extremely competitive, poorly paid job. Just looking into their web-based eyes, hugging them, and reading them, I knew they would help me. Each of them gave me advice, told me to start a Tumblr, to tweet, and eventually to care greatly about whatever I blogged about. 

                To see these two cool cats come to such a prestigious party, to imbibe alcohol in all its forms, makes me wonder: should I go? I like PhiLOLZophy, I like Stephen Tully Dierks, and I like so many people there. Rarely do I make the journey out to any readings in real life; it is even rarer for me to introduce myself to such great, remarkable people. Megan Boyle, someday I’ll introduce myself to her. I already introduced myself to Mr. Roggenbuck, but Dierks, that cheese-eating Wisconsin native, no, I’ve never met the bro, but I feel a real connection to him via his insanely well-updated Pop Serial Tumblr

                Now I need to know: should I stay or should I go? If I stay there will be trouble, but if I go it will be double. If I stay I save money, precious money I need for things like food, shelter, clothing, etc. Plus I don’t live in the Midwest; I live on the East Coast of the United States. Going there is easy for Midwestern based bloggers, but little old me, who barely has a dime to his slothy name? Man that would be a dilly of a pickle indeed. But going would be following my dreams. Already Sarah has advised me to go ‘IRL’ as the parlance goes. So has the famous Cassandra Nguyen. Even Stephen has created a mantra ‘Beachy IRL 2k12’ which I’m assuming refers to me and not another beach-based blog form. 

                So I’m conflicted. Stay tuned as I continue to cover more guests to this infinitely prestigious event. Plus, I’ll continue to debate aloud whether or not I’ll be going. To go, simply click here to see all the wonderful people awaiting you on March 3rd, 2012. As a further boost, it is a Saturday. You’re not working. Just go. It will be ustreamed as well.

Songs for the Sleepwalkers - Our Rehearsed Spontaneous Reactions 7.3


                Songs for the Sleepwalkers is aptly named. The songs are delicate, twee pop gems. Each one is on the edge of collapsing. Andrea Cassese’s vocals stand out of the mix, rising above the quiet. I happen to enjoy the mix. It has a good mix between the electronic and acoustic. ‘Folktronica’ may be a good description but it is somewhat limiting. For these songs generally have little in the way of conventional percussion, relying more on natural rhythm instead of a large percussive element. Some of these even veer out further, such as ‘Awake’ which takes an Oval-like approach to development. 

                ‘We are still here’ is by far the best song on here. On this one, Andrea nails a perfect, love-mix CD vibe. It grows slowly. I think of early 90s Britpop with this track along with all the hope that particular strain possessed. This is the only track where Songs for the Sleepwalkers takes a more ‘rock’ approach. Even while this one is the most active song on the whole album, it doesn’t grow particularly gargantuan. It stops right around the point the song hugs you all around. 

                Most of this album takes a bare approach. Nowhere is this starker than on the closer ‘What if I do’. On that track Andrea is alone with a guitar. The sound is naked. It is an appropriate end to a relatively quiet album; an album focused more mood than outright anthems, though ‘We are still here’ is a lovable exception. 

                ‘Our Rehearsed Spontaneous Reactions’ is bonding music.