Category: Music


Abandoned Storage Unit: “The roots of trees curled up”

May 25th, 2017

 
 
 
     Open up.

     It’s May 24th. Some people are dying. Some people are smiling. Some people are sitting in uncomfortable chairs in sparse rooms and unsure if they are smiling or dying. Lift up. Open up. Whirl up. Cough it up. Size it up. Crumple it up. Twist it up. Throw it up. Open up. Open up. Open up.
 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
     Let’s start this party proper. I present the Minutemen, 1985, Public Access TV:
 
 

 
       Minutemen, 1985, Public Access TV

 
 
     Feel the hiss and twang and earthy goodness. George Hurley’s bongos, the twin acoustic attack of Boon and Watt’s strumming. D.Boon’s singing voice, unadorned and kind and honest and impassioned, like a sturdy, beat-up & well-used hammer, covered in nicks and its handle worn to comforting smoothness. It’s a voice others have sung through over time. It’s a voice others have used, like a strong coat passed down and patched up. Wherever there are people who want the good and are willing to call out injustice, this voice is there to sing through. God bless D. Boon and may he rest in peace. And God bless the Hurley and Watt and Boon together for uniting and making music of great energy, fun, poetry and righteousness.
 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
GENESIS
  by Mary Ruefle 
 
Oh, I said, this is going to be.
And it was.
Oh, I said, this will never happen.
But it did.
And a purple fog descended upon the land.
The roots of trees curled up.
The world was divided into two countries.
Every photograph taken in the first was of people.
Every photograph taken in the second showed none.
All of the girl children were named And.
All of the boy children named Then.
 
(2017)
 
 
 
     I love this poem. I am drawn to much of Ruefle’s work, which I find playful, coy, rooted in the real but simultaneously belonging to the streams that flow under reason & logic. At times there’s a questing, mystical quality to her verse as well that is all the more beguiling because it’s counterbalanced by cryptic wit. Sometimes the work is too clever for me, the twinkle in the eye of the verse is a bit too shiny-gaudy, and I find it distanced emotionally as a consequence. Even at these times, her work is noteworthy, even remarkable, despite its coldness (or perhaps because of it).    (Read More . . .)

[posted by: C Way at 5:28 PM]

[file under: ABANDONED STORAGE UNITS ||| LAUDS ||| Music ||| paintings/drawings ||| poetry ||| video/film]
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Abandoned Storage Unit: Whirling Around

April 9th, 2017

 
 
 
 
ALT 
 
      (Some serving plate I found online on Polish shopping site)

 
 
 
     Hello snailers & crowers. Time for another whirled-up blend of crap, such is thee fun of the Abandoned Storage Unit.

     It’s a beautiful Sunday and the sill-cactus flowers are beginning to push up their sweet buds of lemon & fuchsia. People are blowing themselves up in two beautiful Coptic churches in Egypt. I just cooked two beautiful sweet potatoes until the peels began to sweet sugar. The depraved Brian Williams is yoking badly-understood Leonard Cohen lyrics to the “beautiful” sight of Tomahawk missiles launched toward Syria. I just steamed two beautiful heads of broccoli until they turned that delicious rich green.
 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
        The Fat Old Couple Whirling Around
        BY ROBERT BLY 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     What a poem, written in 2005, by the great Robert Bly. It encompasses all of life, it is stuck in the mud around your feet and it is up on a mountaintop watching the world burn and cool, green and die, burn and cool, green and die. Become a soul and go. But before you do: whirl, dance, sigh, rise, reach.
 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
 
 
ALT 
 
      C.W.L.
       UNTITLED, 2017

 
 
 
 
     Here is something my daughter made to celebrate Spring. I love how she draws faces. Our red front door is festooned with her bright flowery paintings and drawings and it makes me happy whenever I see it.
 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
 
 

 
 
     Here’s “meditations after shock therapy” by worm girl; discovered this lil gemstone on SoundCloud. I like the eroded ghost-reverbed vocals, the synth pads, the recessed drum machine beat. And the lyrics are strong, & exactly what they should be given the song’s title. The piece feels rough-hewn and tossed-off, but the attention to detail, the melody, the understated vocal delivery and pacing are anything but. This is a combination that always works for me in art, that feeling of casual paired with the obvious fruits of discipline, talent and skill. 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
 
     “A great work of art is like a dream. For all its apparent obviousness it does not explain itself and is never unequivocal. A dream never says: ‘You ought,’ or ‘This is the truth.’ It presents an image in much the same way as nature allows a plant to grow, and we must draw our own conclusions.” This is from Jung in his Modern Man in Search of a Soul (1933).

     This is not universal and simply reflects the Jung’s personal tastes. Any work of art can be mute and ambiguous; an art object’s ambiguity is no assurance of its worth. And there are great works of art that are unequivocal — say, “Guernica”, or Dylan’s “Masters of War” (war on the mind today folks, for good reason). They are blunt in their message and motive and that informs their power. Humans just can’t refrain from trying to sum up a phenomenon as complex and variable as art (across all its manifestations and media) in a pithy saying. We’re just addicted to trying to shortcut around the universe and tie it up quickly in language. We’re just wired to do it. We all do it. Geniuses down to fools, we all want to sum up our lives in a tidy bow. Why? It makes us feel we’re in control, we’ve mastered a Thing with an aphorism. We’ve learned it, known it, owned it. Can stuff it in a drawer and mothball it away; no further discussion needed. Such silliness, such transparent folly. But so fucking irresistible.
 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
 
     (click to zoom)
ALT 
 
      Pablo Picasso
       Le Crapaud, 1949
       Lithograph on Arches wove paper, 19.5 x 25.75 in.

 
 
 
 
     Be sure to zoom in on this friend, so many diablos deliciosos in the details. The frog’s little circly warts, its wee grumpy eyes, the Cubistic intersects of the hind legs and face, the flowing linework tying together its body and limbs, the effect of decorative little Christmas lights along its body, the impression of smudge and mud combined with modest, reluctant ornament. 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 
 
    I just finished Cordelia Fine’s excellent book Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science and Society (2017, Norton). Before reading this book, I would have considered myself something of an essentialist when it comes to the sexes. I believed in sex differences in the brain and in the body, changes both prenatal and post-birth. And I believed these differences were permanent and inherent to humans and were directly responsible for different behavior in men and women everywhere, past present future.
    After Testosterone Rex, I still believe physiological sex differences exist. The science is clear. But I believe now they are just the starting point, and not an excuse for the gender gap. They are merely one factor among many in explaining why men and women do what they do, believe what they do, and think how they do. As Fine demonstrates, physiological differences between the sexes may or may not become amplified or nullified or nudged into being altogether depending on a whole galaxy of factors, not least of which are cultural, environmental, parental, marketing (especially marketing!) and institutional forces.
    In other words, there’s room for adjustment. There’s nothing hardwired in mens’ brains forcing them to forever be universally aggressive risk-tasking non-parenting and promiscuous. There’s nothing hardwired in women’s brains forcing them to forever be universally passive, cautious, caretaking and monogamy-seeking. There is astonishing variability in the animal and insect kingdom, as Fine exhaustively details, in how males and females of species behave sexually, and this can exist with humans too (and in many cases, as the research shows, already does). We’ve just grown accustomed, over the millenia, to a certain way for men and women to be, and we like it that way — that is to say, those in control, older white men, have always liked it that way (whether they realize it or not).
    The research seems to support the theses of Fine and so many other writers: it doesn’t have to be the way it’s always been. Men and womens’ physiological differences, says the research Fine exhaustively brings to bear, do not strongly correlate with massive differences in behavior and attitudes both sexual and non-sexual. In citation after citation, Fine shows compelling research that suggests the gender gap exists for far more complex reasons than the presence or absence of testosterone. This passage of Fine’s is crucial in understanding this point: “It’s true that we don’t, as a rule, tend to think that the scientific facts of nature dictate how things should be. Just because a scientist says that something is “natural” — like male aggression or rape — obviously doesn’t mean we have to condone, support or prescribe it. But that doesn’t mean that science has nothing to contribute to societal debates or aspirations. Although scientific claims don’t tell us how our society ought to be, that being the job of our values, they can give us strong hints as to how to fulfill those values, and what kind of arrangements are feasible. [...] rejecting the [view that gender gap problems are solely due to evolved sex differences, such as testosterone in men] doesn’t require denial of evolution, difference, or biology.”
    I also really like this passage by Dalhousie University philosopher Letitia Meynell, which Fine quotes in her book: “Biologically speaking, our actions and dispositions are developed and could have bee otherwise, given the right mix of developmental inputs at various points in our lives. If one wants to change the distribution of a given trait in a population, the task is not to overcome nature but to rearrange the developmental system.”
     If we want to address gender inequality, we have to abandon essentialism insofar as we lean on it to explain and justify and excuse perceived differences in how men and women think and act in and out of the bedroom. We have to accept malleability in terms of how the sexes develop. We have to stop framing issues in terms of “boys will be boys and girls will be girls.” We have to realize as a species we’re in control, not the hormones, the gametes, the glands, the gonads. Culture, society, developmental input from parents, media, religion, schooling, marketing those are the forces that take those inherent and verifiable biological differences that do exist between the sexes, and truly activate them and transform them into vast gaps and gulfs. Gulfs that become, over generations, seemingly impossible to cross. Seemingly. 
 
                                                                           [* * * *] 
 
 

MORE INFO:

For more information about Cordelia Fine’s Testosterone Rex, please check out The Guardian’s great review.

For more Robert Bly stuff, please check out his entry at the Poetry Foundation.

For more worm girl stuff, please check out Her Soundcloud page.

For more Picasso, please check out the Musée National Picasso (Paris).

[posted by: C Way at 1:04 PM]

[file under: ABANDONED STORAGE UNITS ||| Music ||| paintings/drawings ||| poetry]
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‘Thank you, Kathleen Hanna’ – by Jess Barnett

November 20th, 2016

 
 
 
(Following is an excerpt from a great piece on Hanna by artist Jess Barnett, please click-through to her site to read the rest!)
 
 
 
I woke up the other day thinking about Kathleen Hanna, who, for those not in the know, was/is the main force behind Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin, and Le Tigre, in that order (although since 2010 she’s been working on her project The Julie Ruin). Having not yet seen The Punk Singer, I don’t proclaim to know the intimate details of her life — in fact, most of what I know outside of her music comes from Wikipedia and articles I’ve read about her (she grew up with a strict father but loving mother who supported and even joined forces in her interest in feminism at any early age; she has Lyme disease; she’s married to Ad Rock; she had an abortion at age 15 and obtained the money for it through working at McDonald’s; she was a stripper for a while years back; oh, and she might as well be Superwoman, as far as I’m concerned).
 
 
kh 
                                         Vintage Kathleen; image courtesy of Austin Chronicle
 
 
But as any rock fan knows in their hearts, all of these facts are moot points when it comes to the passion such a person can generate thanks to their music. Here are a couple of background facts about me: When I entered my sophomore year of high school, I was having an identity crisis. I didn’t want to be the cute, shy, somewhat dorky blond girl I’d been known as up until then; I didn’t want to be just “pretty” (hell, I no longer wanted to be pretty at all); I didn’t even — at least at certain points — want to be female. (To be clear: I did not harbor thoughts that I should never have been female — I just didn’t want all the baggage that came with being as such.) I surrounded myself with friends who shared similar confusions, mostly girls but with the occasional confused dude thrown into the mix. We snuck out of our houses at night (well, I did) to drink alcohol and cough syrup and listen to moody music such as Underworld’s “Dirty Epic,” Depeche Mode, and, of course, Bikini Kill. 
 
 
(Read the rest of Jess’ piece here.)

[posted by: C Way at 4:49 PM]

[file under: Music ||| non-fiction & essays]
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“Mar dos barcos” by Allison Carvalho & Cristina Nascimento (2016)

October 20th, 2016

 
 
 

     I’d like to share with you Brazilian duo Allison Carvalho and Cristina Nascimento playing the song “Mar dos barcos” by Cristina Nascimento:
 
 

 
       Allison Carvalho & Cristina Nascimento, “Mar dos barcos”, 2016

 
 
     I have a hard time counting all the ways this song enchants me. I also have a hard time parsing out its many merits — but only because its virtues all cohere and intermingle so gracefully in this composition and its presentation, become an unparsable unity: the effortless fusion of the vocals, the inter-braiding guitar harmonies, the way in which the supple instrumental passages flow into and out of the sung sections, the breathy close and its trickling, uncertain trail-out guitar figure. Four minutes of such sweet repose. Four minutes that feel like they could go on without rest, without shore, track of time happily lost.
     Perhaps I love this song most of all for how it mixes mourning and gentle sorrow with that sway of waves befitting its title (“Mar dos barcos” = “Sea, two boats”). I am so enamored of this mixture of emotions characteristic of certain Brazilian music — especially Bossa Nova. I’ve always found in this a great spiritual-emotional reconciliation. 
 
 
 

MORE INFO:

For more music by Carvalho and Nascimento, please check out Carvalho’s youtube channel here.

[posted by: C Way at 2:21 PM]

[file under: ABOUT ART ||| Music]
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Song: C. Way – “Lagrimas Negras” (Trio Matamoros Cover, 1929)

April 24th, 2016

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     Here’s my take on a beautiful, legendary tune, “Lágrimas Negras,” composed in 1929 by Miguel Matamoros of the Cuban group Trío Matamoros. The Trío Matamoros composed and performed Cuban Son and Boleros (two Cuban styles of music & dance) from 1925-1969, achieving international fame, touring not only in their native Cuba, but also Europe, and eventually recording in New York. I love their rhythms and compositions, and hold them in high regard; they remind me of another famous Latin American trio, Los Panchos
     My grandmother loves this song, she turned 92 recently. For her birthday, I presented her with this tune. My interpretation is directly copied from this 1931 recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-HNOcWWzLg. It’s rough & lo-fi, but the spirit and urgency are there. Enjoy!:
 
 

 
 
 
Also, check out this alternate version, which I liked some, and is cleaner, but which doesn’t seem to have as much soul as the rougher version presented above:
 

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Also, check out my records “Needle Out” and “Some Songs, Vol.1″ on iTunes

And as always, buy CDs direct from me here

My main music page is here

[posted by: C Way at 7:15 PM]

[file under: Music ||| Music]
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