Another Rotation Around The Sun

A positive tune to close out 2019 for you, me, friends, family, and the loved ones I haven’t met yet. I am very much looking forward to it.

Uncle Nef: Love Songs

New Orleans blues artists Uncle Nef get you through your “I-am-heartbroken-and-betrayed-and-want-drink-so-I-don’t-feel” state.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I did it again. I wrote a lot. See the review of Uncle Nef’s Love Songs album far after the jump. Catch the whole album here.

It’s been over 13 years since I first moved from Alabama to New Orleans to attend college. Most people ask “Loyola?” No. “Tulane?” Helllllll no. I landed in New Orleans at the University of New Orleans (UNO) one week before the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

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Yours truly, wearing low rise jeans. Probably making bad decisions. Mardi Gras, 2009

It would be remiss for me to not mention that New Orleans was, as many of you who weren’t there have forgotten or didn’t know, very much still a mess a year after Katrina (and several years following that). Military Police regularly patrolled the campus and the city. There was still a curfew. The piles of debris stood 15+ feet high on the neutral grounds. Groves of trees stood, bent at disturbing angles (imagine an entire forest that’s been mowed down by a Godzilla-size monster truck). Many of my friends lost their homes, schools, churches, cars, contents of their homes, and general memories. Many friends lost family members, pets, and friends. Many lived in FEMA trailers for months. Many got sick from the chemicals in the FEMA trailers. A guy got murdered in our dorm building the first semester, and, I believe, his murder was never solved. New Orleans was ranked #1 on the FBI’s list of cities with the most murders per capita in the U.S. for 3/4 of the years I lived there. Beyond these very real problems, I was a general wreck– homesick, in a doomed long-distance relationship, a bit rudderless, and having many, what I now call, “youthful indiscretions”.

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New Orleans (August 30, 2005) – U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Shawn Beaty of Long Island, N.Y., looks for survivors in the path of Hurricane Katrina as he flies in an HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter over New Orleans. Petty Officer Beaty is a member of an HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew sent from Clearwater, Florida, to assist in search and rescue efforts. Katrina, a Category 4 hurricane, came ashore at approximately 6:10 a.m. CDT near the Louisiana bayou town of Buras. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nyxo Lyno Cangemi (Source: https://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=27531)

It was a Very Bad Time™, but is there a more poetic city and time to be a wreck in? Absolutely not in the U.S., but I think Detroit was a close second. If you would like to more fully understand the events leading up to and occurring after Hurricane Katrina, I highly recommend Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke .

While home on my first winter break from college, I remember finding a Word document that was a letter my mother wrote and presumably sent to my grandma with words I’ll never forget: “I still don’t understand why she wanted to go down there.” It was a fair question that she never ended up asking me aloud.

And why did I want to go “down there”?

Continue reading “Uncle Nef: Love Songs”

The Raw Yee-Haw Collection

I swear I’ve never used this many fried chicken analogies in my life.

EDIT: Oops…I rambled again, but I promise I talk about music towards the end. The full Raw Yee-Haw playlist featuring more songs is available here.

Being born and raised in the Southern U.S. (for simplicity’s sake, Texas is included in this post; although, I do agree Texas is “its own thing” that I cannot begin to cover in one post; y’all sit tight for that) comes with an interesting set of characteristics. You can leave them, but they never truly leave you. A gremlin. While largely undetectable (when sober and calm) to Midwestern ears, my gremlin shows itself in my pin-pen merger.

Continue reading “The Raw Yee-Haw Collection”

Spotify Wrapped 2019 + Decade

While I’ve avoided the crippling seasonal depression of 2018 thus far, I have experienced crippling writer’s block at the end of 2019. I will hopefully be back at it mid to late month.

My Spotify Wrapped 2019 + Decade is after the jump.

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Death Was Here

Before there was punk, there were three black brothers in Detroit making noise in a band called Death.

It’s a tenuous time for white privilege in the United States. Black people in the U.S., quite frankly, busted ass over the course of hundreds of years to go from being literal property to owning property and being able to (kind of?) vote and use the same public and private buildings, services, and- Lord have mercy- water fountains as white people (among a host of other things that will take up roughly 30 posts if not more; don’t get me going on environmental justice and food deserts). In 2014, bleeding heart liberal white people like myself were reminded by the police perpetrated murder of black teenager Michel Brown of just how far we hadn’t and haven’t come. Two years  after the murder of Michael Brown, white liberals and many, if not most, people of color and poor people were all delivered another swift kick to the balls when reality star and really shit businessman Donald Trump was elected “democratically” to lead the U.S.

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Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy + Bryce Dressner, “One With the Birds”

A new twist on a song I needed most right now.

I originally wrote this on Friday, August 9, but I wanted some time to pass before I published it. It rambles a bit, but I promise, this is music related.

Following David Berman’s death and some personal events, I have been reflective about loss, grief, and death.

This time of reflection coincides with a time I am actively journaling (for the first time in years) with meditations from philosophers and practitioners of Stoicism serving as my guide. Maybe older white men are not contemporary society’s version of wisdom or a friend at this time, but I have found a great amount of general wisdom from the Stoics. The best answer to our problems is often the most simple. The tricky part of Stoicism for many (myself included) is accepting our past and exerting some control on our lizard brain.

Continue reading “Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy + Bryce Dressner, “One With the Birds””

RIP David Berman

Saying “goodbye” to the Rebel Jew of the Silver Jews who instilled a sense of wabi-sabi in many.

The earth has not completed a full rotation since the news that David Berman left this mortal coil reached the general population.

Yesterday evening, I found out the news via my friend Stu. For roughly 30 seconds, I thought it was a cruel joke but genius PR ploy by Drag City on the heels of the Purple Mountains tour.  David’s date of death had not been added to his Wikipedia page, which gave me hope despite the Google news panel confirming over and over again– like a grotesque carousel– that he was, and is, dead at 52.

Sam and I were in a bit of a spat at the time, and I could not tell him this news in the middle of a fight. I waited for him to get home to break the news.

Continue reading “RIP David Berman”