Forever Avril 14th: A Friend to the Sleepless

Sticking to what I like and know….x21.

On May 30, 2016, I couldn’t sleep. That evening, I proceeded to make a playlist I called “Forever Avril 14th” because– surprise– it consisted of Aphex Twin’sAvril 14th”  all of 21 times in a row. So the playlist didn’t last “forever”, but it was long enough that it would play through until I– usually– fell asleep.

The song is warm and peaceful. Tender and vulnerable. Bittersweet, just like the time period when I first heard the song.

I’ve added to the list over time and will continue to do so with songs that have the same feel.

foreveravril14

I have developed a fear or dread of getting in bed/going to bed lately. It’s a fresh hell that I can’t explain. Sometimes the small, familiar comforts, like an old teddy or blanket, are the solution.

Goodnight? Yes, goodnight.

Closure with Circles: Mac Miller

My only familiarity with Mac Miller comes from when I worked a show of his back in 2013. The crowd was made up of many young teenagers wearing incredibly short shorts and their parent(s) who looked like they might prefer sticking their finger in a socket. So, I wouldn’t have really called myself a “fan”.

However, when one of my friends posted a note praising his latest album, dropped posthumously, I was curious.

It’s beautiful. And haunting. Maybe I am a fan now.

R.I.P.

Chris Thile’s Midas Touch & The Unassuming Genius of Bluegrass

Mandolinist, singer, songwriter, and composer Chris Thile is a busy man. Here is a list of only some of his more popular projects:

  • Punch Brothers (mandolinist, singer, songwriter, composer)
  • Nickel Creek (mandolinist, singer, songwriter, composer)
  • The Goat Rodeo Sessions: Stuart Duncan, Yo Yo Ma, and Edgar Meyer (mandolinist, singer, songwriter, composer)
  • Host of “Live from Here” (formerly the famous and famously boring “Prairie Home Companion”)
  • MacArthur Fellow

and so many other projects.

Continue reading “Chris Thile’s Midas Touch & The Unassuming Genius of Bluegrass”

A Brief, Strange, and Semi-Erotic History of David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”

The original horror movie about cat people that’s not the CATS remake.

EDIT: Happy 73rd Birthday, David Bowie!

In 1942, French director Jacques Tourneur directed a film using by DeWitt Boden with the eponymous name Cat People.

Would you believe me if I told you that a movie made in 1942 called Cat People had some deleterious portrayals of women and human sexuality?: “The plot focuses on a Serbian fashion illustrator in New York City who believes herself to be descended from a race of people who shape shift into panthers when sexually aroused or angered.” Oh dear.

Nonetheless, the film is considered pioneer of the horror genre and cinematography.

40 years later, legendary American film writer and director Paul Schrader directed an early 80s update of Cat People with some huge 70s and 80s players: Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, and John Heard. The 1982 version of Cat People is described as an “erotic horror” on Wikipedia (if the appearance of Malcolm McDowell didn’t tip you off to the kind of party this is).
Continue reading “A Brief, Strange, and Semi-Erotic History of David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)””

Are You There?: Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files

Nick Cave soothes the masses with a cosmic wisdom and tenderness in The Red Hand Files.

“It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal.” -Nick Cave

Grief is an isolating experience. Even if one has experienced grief, it is a state that is challenging to wholly fathom unless you are in the midst of it. The pull of grief is hypnotic and suffocating. So much that even when experience grief collectively, we are like an archipelago: we see each other and share a similar existence, but we are, until the passage of time and acceptance, our own island.

felix_gonzales_torres_untitled_empy_bed
Felix Gonzales-Torres, Untitled. 1991. Source: https://artmuseum.princeton.edu/art/exhibitions/1576

While grief and isolation are a part of the human experience at times, we are not meant to live in isolation or permanent grief.  This is one reason why John Donne’s “No Man is an Island” is still so relevant over 400 years later:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

As we continue our hurtle towards singularity and secularism, it can be difficult to remain anchored, let alone find an anchor that supports us in our grief or times of isolation. No wonder we are, at times, so hungry for some type of opiate.

We seek out anchors in our family, friends, community, religion, activities, and idols. Myself, I find great solace in physical activity and sage wisdom (a la Mr. Roger’s “helpers” but for adults). I find much respite from isolation and grief in someone who has publicly wrestled with their own grief: Nick Cave.

Continue reading “Are You There?: Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files”

Intersectionality in Country Music

2020 is here, and country and honky tonk music is queer and colorful.

As I mentioned in my Raw Yee-Haw post, country and honky-tonk has always had a variety of rebels. I use the term “variety” because the type of rebellion is really up-for-grabs. For example:

  •  David Allan Coe: He really deserves his own post: spent a large part of his life in prison, lived in a hearse, says the “n-word” quite a bit (yikes), and made a country-metal album with Pantera. Many of his songs cover issues of class-consciousness.
  • Dixie Chicks: America’s sweethearts until they pissed off much of the conservative country fandom when they were critical– rightfully so– of George W. Bush and the Iraq War. The Dixie Chicks held their ground, never apologized, and, honestly, it was awesome. “Not Ready to Make Nice” was a song that was a result of the incident. It’s also a song that has gotten me through some of my most pissed off times.

These are two different presentations of rebellion with quite different motivations. I could discuss so many other examples, but these are two that come to my mind more immediately.

Continue reading “Intersectionality in Country Music”