Category Archives: Appreciation

“Motion Sickness” by Phoebe Bridgers

I have made a Spotify playlist over the past few months called “Dignity”.  You can probably guess a few reasons someone might need to make themselves a physical manifestation of dignity, and one of those reasons is probably the reason for the creation of this playlist.

It is a playlist that has evolved over the past two months to the point where the tracks have evolved into other feelings (you can see the mood evolve as the numbers in the date column ascend). I still listen to it, and it comes in handy to process thoughts.

I like all of the songs on the playlist, as I did make the playlist. However one of the stand outs is this one that Tommy, who recently shared a guest post with me, recommended.

This track will sound super peaceful upon first listen, but it is a gentle veil over a burn. As Tommy informed me, this a diss track about the gross and abusive Ryan Adams.

I have emotional motion sickness,
Somebody roll the windows down,
There are no words in the English language,
I could scream to drown you out.
While the dignity returns, I spin this one as a reminder to keep it.

Isolated with “Delete Forever” by Grimes

Here is a comprehensive list of things I know about Grimes:

  1. Elon Musk
  2. Elon Musks’s baby
  3. She’s way beautiful and strange.
  4. This is the one song I know, and I like it:

This song is about the opioid epidemic. However, as it was released around when the Covids were gettin’ hot hot hot, I think this song will become or already is the theme of isolation.

For me, this song plays in the background when I think about all of the unfinished things waiting to be picked back up when there is a return to a new normal. These pages beg me to finish them, but I would rather shut that book and walk away as I used to be able to easily do.

“Whistle & Fish” by John Prine: Choosing Lightness in Time of Crisis

29 March 2020 EDITOR’S NOTE: Just heard today that John Prine is in critical condition with COVID-19, and I don’t even know what to say.


It seems that things, while still absurd, have gotten a bit too heavy lately. And, it is good to step away from the heaviness, no matter how serious it is.

Even legends like John Prine stepped away from heavier songs about social commentary to record songs like “Whistle & Fish”, a song that’s most simple message is about gratitude and not taking anything too seriously.

Fish and whistle, whistle and fish,
Eat everything that they put on your dish,
When we get through we’ll make a big wish,
That we never have to do this again, again? again?

When we’re used to going so fast, how do we lighten up?

During these times, I’ve appreciated the funny or simple things I notice on my runs more because, well, I ain’t got nothin’ but time. I’ve enjoyed “hanging out” with my South Side Hit Pen mates a lot. There are more home-cooked meals. More reading. More music. Less ruminating. It is a cliche, but it has made me want a different kind of life and have the time flesh out what kind of life that might be.

While the world seems like it might be coming apart, it is a quiet time and there is much to behold, and I am in awe of how quickly things that societal paragons and powerhouses crumble without us all to keep it afloat. The phrase “tiny but mighty” is more true now than ever. I am reveling in my smallness and appreciating the small delights.

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We cannot control much right now, and it is important to maintain a lightness of being and sense of humor in this time like our dear friend John Prine. Stay well, friends.

“Fistful of Love” by Antony and The Johnsons

I am easily moved by music, but I do not think I have been moved by a song in this way in some time:

Most individuals interpret this song as a song about abuse (specifically domestic abuse), but I saw one theory saying it might be about BDSM and relationships, which seems less likely but is also less sad. The BDSM theory spin reminds me of one of my favorite movies, The Secretary.

I saw The Secretary when I was in high school, and I did not really understand BDSM and thought it was pretty fucked up. How times change.

Another great song by Antony and the Johnsons that might make you misty is this one (“Hope There’s Someone”):

The isolation continues!

Desert Sessions: Songs for Personal and Public Apocalypse Survival

While the Bitchfork readership is measly in quantity, it is international (or all of you use VPNs or a combo of both). Usually it is the music that brings us together, but today, please join me as we socially distance ourselves.

Before the virus, I’ve contemplated a self-imposed social distancing. The idea came from a plane ride and some fungi. For a long-enough-to-be-annoying-frame-of-time, I have felt like I was standing at the edge of the world. The Earth and all its contents at my back, looking out at infinite– overwhelmingly lonely and in awe of the how, despite being filled with stars and planets, space is so stark.

The fact a virus that requires distancing ourselves from humans is an ironic and somewhat cathartic event to (maybe?) wrap up these last few weeks. However, just as I am in awe of the starkness of the universe, I am equally thankful for the solitude.

The Desert Sessions Vol. 11 & 12 is the perfect soundtrack for everything I am seeing and feeling at this time. It offers an apocalyptic feel without much of the seriousness but much of the absurdness and loneliness mixed with elements of survival.

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From Wiki:

The Desert Sessions are a musical collective series, founded by Josh Homme in 1997. Artists such as Brant BjorkPJ HarveyJeordie White (a.k.a. Twiggy Ramirez)Dave CatchingNick OliveriMark LaneganJohn McBainBen ShepherdJosh FreeseChris GossAlain JohannesTroy Van LeeuwenDean Ween, and many others from the Palm Desert Scene have contributed as songwriters and musicians.

I am a big/huge/large/massive/fluffy fan of Josh Homme’s talents, work, and collaborative efforts. Like members of The Mars Volta as well as Mike Patton, I don’t know how the dude sleeps: Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Eagles of Death Metal, KYUSS, Iggy Pop; and extensive work with Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys.

Example 1:

It’s not often you see a very large, ginger man with such moves. Also, please never tell me masculinity and flamboyance are an oxymoron or mutually exclusive (and have you seen him roller skate?).

Josh Homme has been doing wonderful things for decades. He began the Desert Sessions in 1997. Since that time, he has produced 12 volumes, the latest being Vol. 11: Arriverderci Despair and  Volume 12: Tightwads & Nitwits & Critics & Heels. These volumes features greats like Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Les Claypool of Primus, Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, Jakes Shears of Scissor Sisters, Matt Berry of everything, Matt Sweeney, Carla Azar of Autolux and Jack White, and Mike Kerr of Royal Blood (all seen in the featured photo of this post).

Here are some of my favorites from the latest volumes.

Continue reading Desert Sessions: Songs for Personal and Public Apocalypse Survival

Nashville: A Messy Love Story

Tonight, I am taking a step away from my usual content to share some love for Nashville, which experienced the wrath of a pretty destructive tornado today.

Where do I begin? I first fell in love with Nashville about 15 years ago when my brother moved there. It was only 2.5 hours from my hometown, but when I visited for the first few times, it was, for me, a revelation. It became the first place I really fell in love with live music which opened the door to a broader world of music in general.

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Any good love story has conflict, right? As those of you who know me are aware, I used to have really terrible commitment issues. When I finally moved to Nashville in 2013, I fell very quickly out of love with the city. It was, and is, going through a period of really rapid gentrification. I was going through some pretty life changing personal things. Like any worthwhile love I’ve had, I couldn’t take it and was gone in a year and a half (haha sorry, sorry, couldn’t help myself!).

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Only recently have I made some peace and been back for some really wonderful times. Some of my memories have been removed by gentrification, and unfortunately, some more remain in photos but were physically taken by the tornado. I’m still in disbelief, but I’m thankful all of my family and friends are accounted for.

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I was last in Nashville 8 days ago. I got to go to and show off some of my favorite places that were still there. I only regret not going to some that may very well not be there when I go again. 3 Crow. Drifters. Red Bicycle. And so on.

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I hope all of the local businesses return and people can recover or rebuild. I hope Tall and Skinnies don’t replace the historic architecture. And I hope a bunch of people from New York don’t move in.

Most of all, I hope all of the missing make it home, and for those who don’t, I hope their families find peace.

Today, #IBelieveinNashville.

 

 

 

The “L’Via L’Viaquez”/Mars Volta Appreciation Post That Became A John Frusciante Appreciation Post Too

I was going to write a long post about one of my favorite songs “L’Via L’Viaquez” by The Mars Volta (it’s off the Frances the Mute album, which my then fetal archnemesis-that-doesn’t-know-I-exist Pitchfork gave only a 2 out of 10 [this is really criminal, PF]).

I don’t have a vast knowledge of The Mars Volta catalog and was doing some digging. They have been on my mind lately because of Juan Alderete’s TBI and the beautiful Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s run in with Scientologists. I revisited the song after needing a taste of something different, and when that guitar hits, it makes the hairs on my arms and neck stand up.

I’ve posted the short version with awkward mid-aughts video above, but the entire version can be found here.

My post came to a screeching halt when I found out, for the first time in the 14 years I have been listening to this song, that John Frusciante performed the guitar solo in the song. I find myself constantly circling John Frusciante’s solo work. It’s annoying because at some point years ago, I heard he was a huge asshole (though as I write this now, I cannot remember why). I went out of my way to avoid his works, but I am kind of an asshole magnet anyway. Here we are now.

On the same day I had a taste for “L’via”, I heard a John Frusciante song I had never heard before that gave my heart a little tug.

Maybe he’s an asshole (this is not confirmed), but I appreciate the tenderness of this song.

Anyway, there will be a Pt. 2 (or retroactive Pt. 1) to this post dedicated solely to The Mars Volta and parent/sibling bands and members. Stay tuned.

“Never Is A Promise” by Fiona Apple

The nice thing about writing as a hobby is that the strangers you inevitably connect with online have similar interests. So when a writer follows you and vice versa, it’s a bit of a cosmic head nod.

When William posted a Fiona Apple song over on A Thousand Mistakes, I felt inspired to share one of my favorite Fiona Apple songs, “Never Is a Promise”.

It’s an incredible song about finding self-worth and courage underneath an element of control and self-absorption. It’s even more incredible she wrote this when she was only 16 or 17. And there is a whole album (Tidal) ready to break your heart.

You’ll never see the courage I know,
Its colors’ richness won’t appear within your view,
I’ll never glow – the way that you glow,
Your presence dominates the judgments made on you.

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

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)”