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My days as a writer of this blog have come to an end. No longer will I (or do I have the energy to) write about my personal life, and “feelings.”

Rather, I will continue writing on Audiocred. Here’s the shpiel.

AudioCred is your source for insightful, intelligent commentary about music, past and present. We celebrate (and denigrate) music from all corners: hip-hop, funk, R&B, soul, indie, Brazil, Latin, rock, blues, old-time… Anything that’s legitimately good. We offer:

1) Reviews

2) Essentials: music you don’t know about but should

3) Videos: music videos you don’t know about but should

4) Beef

5) Playlists and mixes, with links to Grooveshark

…and, of course

6) Good conversation

Check it out!

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Most people do not consider me to be shy or solitary. I’d say overall I’m not. I’m capable of striking up a conversation, generally, at a party with a woman if she looks at me interestedly, and capable of calling up a friend, male or female, to hang out, even if I don’t know them that well. That is, only if I really want to. These skills do not come naturally. There came a time in my life, after college and before my second, more successful lease, when I realized that I would probably, not at least before grad school, never be able to just walk over to friends’ domiciles and hang out, a l’Amherst.

I generally considered this to be a good thing: though comforting, the nest held too man y abstract restrictions in my mind to be satisfactory. Hence my departure from Vermont and Massachusetts, whose environments I still admittedly prefer to New York’s concrete. My original point of view that New York offers two things, and two things only that genuinely appeal to me – jobs and people – still generally stands. What has changed is my appreciation for how valuable and rare these two qualities are. When I moved to New York, I wanted to leave, by still knew that I would have to leave New England at some point, even – no, especially – if I wanted to return. Despite my visceral dislike, New York in fall 2007 seemed to be, at least temporarily, “the place for me to be.”

Still, I was lonely. What to do? I had experimented with brief flights of parambulatory fancy in Amherst, naturally, and in Europe, when I had leave to wander by myself for days at a time in the streets of Milan and Paris. Those were more like test runs, though. My meanderings through the Duomo and Montmartre were bookended by sure returns to family within days or at most a week, and no matter where I went in the Pioneer Valley, on foot or in vehicle, I knew I would return to someone at the end of the night, be it Zu, friend, or female.

When I moved to New York there really was little more to do than wander. My job facilitated this: I work in all three outer boroughs, always alone, sometimes traveling through three in the course of a workday, and so I would learn parts of the city whether I wanted to or not. Done with work? Take the train to Brighton. Nothing to do on a Saturday? What’s in Prospect Park? And on and on.

I’ve been pleasantly, I think, surprised by my constant need for these walks, and when I have a car, drives by myself. Though more friends have moved to New York, I will still get out two hours before having to meet them and wander parts of, say, Brooklyn I’ve never seen.

I continue to reinforce my conclusion that most people I am good friends with, and most people I went to college with, do not like to do this, alone or accompanied. “Abandoned” and “directionless” are not as comforting – or necessary  – to most, I think. Sometimes I think my closest friends are those who appreciate the good wander, not as a break from the action, but as the action itself. I find pre-planning to mostly take away from the ramble’s fulfillment.

A particularly good friend of mine – one who I think became especially close because he appreciated the Sunday morning call to “go to the Far Rockaways” – just left for grad school, and all the others I can think of are sleeping, lazy, occupied, or out of the city. I’ll take a shower, take my ipod and my book, and go to Brooklyn somewhere by myself, to photograph cemetaries or sit in a cheap Bay Ridge diner. I think that’s what I really wanted to do anyway.

ze gulls

I fell half-asleep, half-naked a few minutes ago on our couch without intending to do so. It is warm enough – and the smell unmistakably spring enough – to pass out without heed to temperature or obligation. The year’s first viscerally lazy afternoon.

I dreamed that semi-conscious, part-commentated-upon half-dream you get during a summer afternoon nap. Your mind goes in the direction it will go, and you are just aware enough to reflect on the images, events, and people – fictional and already passed – that float in and out of consciousness. Sometimes I find I can direct the dream just enough so that it happens to come onto memories of particular cache, twisted just enough to seem safely foreign.

There was a grey cobblestone wall and street; I knew it to be Paris. A girl, nameless. I knew her, though. I watched myself and her walk down the stone stair to the Seine. There was only 19th century smoke and an occasional urban shout or whinny. I knew we were saying goodbye. I accepted this and walked in the Jardin du Luxembourg.

I found myself in Amherst, in the summer of 2008. Even if I were blind, the smell was unmistakable. There was the lazy, uncertain calm of unemployment and the weekend. We swam, we barbecued, we drank, we smoke, we cooked, and we walked everywhere. I laid in the sand and took off my shoes. I laid on the roof and looked up at the sky.

All the summers, past and imagined, blur together. I am on a beach in Manuel Antonio, we are driving in Cape Cod, I am swimming in Puffer’s Pond, we are celebrating the summer solstice. I am fourteen and twenty and twenty-three, dreaming of dacha and August and past loves and the smell of pine. We are slaves to the seasons, doomed and blessed to relive each inescapable monthly memory.

me-watching-cathy-in-the-water-in-june1

Lollycocks

Dear Emile,

My girlfriend really likes receiving fancy gifts on Valentine’s Day, but I’m super-duper poor. What should I do? – Rob

Dear Rob,

You should break up with her. She sounds annoying. If you love her and don’t want to break up, get a henna tattoo on your penis. Those are very fancy.

———

I’ve always found Valentine’s Day to be a silly, useless holiday. If someone’s going to give me something or do something really nice – or the reverse – it should be because they want to, when they want to, not because Hallmark set an alarm for them. If you’re not doing nice things to and for the people you love anyway, then there’s a problem already. The thing stinks to high hell of the flower, restaurant, and greeting card businesses colluding in order to force people to collectively spend money – a sort of minor capitalist high holy day.

The matter can be clarified by comparing it to oral sex: just not fulfilling unless you feel the person giving it to you wanted to do it right then and there. Why bother, otherwise? Is the concept of a Coordinated Oral Sex Hour not ridiculous? (but, I would argue, still a better idea than Valentine’s Day) Love should not be in the business of charity.

Still, it’s important to remember that we can all find common ground with petit cadeaux such as the Candy Penis Bouquet ($4.00):

“If you want to give your sugarplum a more traditional sweet, but don’t want to lose that phallic edge—and you want it to be edible, of course—the Candy Penis Bouquet is a perfect choice. Not only will you be celebrating the time-honored tradition of giving flowers on Valentine’s Day, you’ll be saying, “How about a nice batch of tasty, multi-flavored penises, my dear?” If that doesn’t send the baby-making dance into a full-on boogie, nothing will.”

Sound the war drums!

Forgive me, Papi, for I have sinned. I stopped watching the Red Sox game during the top of the 7th inning, when we were down 7-0. It… it was eleven, and the Daily Show had just come on. My friends had gathered, and I was the only one that wanted to watch the Sox, and, and…

There’s no excuse. To the ignorant or tragically uninformed, the Red Sox just completed the greatest single-game comeback in playoff history by a team facing elimination. Down 7-0 in the bottom of the eighth with two outs, David Ortiz decided to summon the rabid wolverine deep inside his psyche that every New Englander was baffled to not see during the first four games of this series: cranking a three-run home run after Dusty’s RBI single in the seventh, Big Papi proceeded to jump-start an eight run barrage of offense to walk off with a victory against the previously unstoppable Rays. God, apparently tired of fucking with the world’s most devoted and caring baseball fans, stopped the nonsense and decided to remind the world that it is the Red Sox fans who truly would give their souls for their team and profoundly care about their performance. Not the cowbell-waving proctologist imposters filling Tropicana Field. The Rays’ purpose this season has been fulfilled. We should all stand up, applaud their success, and wish them the (second) best next year. This is the Red Sox’ year, motherfuckers. This is their sport. Josh Beckett going game six? Smells like redemption to me. Smells like another bloody sock. Smells like the Rays have long since tasted their last 2008 victory.

Note to self

Yahweh,
Jehovah,
Zeus, Thor, Athena
or whatever the fuck your name is
This seventy-degree, Indian summer afternoon
Reminds me that you have at least temporarily emerged from your hole in the rock
To clear the clouds from this slow sun-setting sky
And fade the leaves on the tree in front of me just enough
To see her skeleton
And remember just how much longer this fairest of the seasons will go on

As an offering to your erratic eminence
I will go for a run
Follow through on that job offering
Make another grilled cheese sandwich
Or perhaps a quiche
And try to remember this day when I am surrounded by pavement and dystopia in Brooklyn

Thank you for this evening
Thank you for yesterday evening
And last Saturday, for that matter
Thank you also for that one afternoon in Mississippi
Thank you for Tom Waits thank you for Caetano Veloso thank you for Milton Nascimento
Thank you most of all for Milton Nascimento
And choral music
And garlic
Thank you for this breeze, which raises a brief, yet lasting reminder of your presence
In a life as small and beautiful as mine

“I’ve seen half-a-dozen guys in my unit get bitten by those things. None of them lasted more than… three days”

Dawn of the Dead

The zombie in film is a seemingly simple concept: some bored writer was probably sitting around and asked, “I wonder what would happen if the dead were to rise again?” A few maggots later, *boom*. There’s Night of the Living Dead. Obviously out of this world, right? Wrong. Turns out the late-stage symptoms of rabies are eerily similar to traditional zombie behavior:

1. Uncharacteristic, exceptional aggression.
2. Unprovoked physical attacks.
3. Mania
4. Brain disfunction
5. Delirium
6. Panic
7. Foaming at the mouth
8. Halluncinations
9. Terror

Most telling of its similarity to the undead, rabies is usually transmitted through an infected bite. After a brief period of normalcy (Dawn of the Dead portrays this and its subsequent transition particularly accurately), one becomes delusional, unnaturally aggressive, and ultimately foams at the mouth and goes insane.

Stephen King seems to be the first to catch on to the similarities between the two. In Cujo, a rabid bat causes previously cuddly Cujo to go apeshit and attack his innocent Maine family. Why use the supernatural when there’s a perfectly fine agent of zombification in the real world? Movies have started to get it, too. The upcoming movie Quarantine, for example, features a “rare strain of rabies” as the cause of its characters’ insanity and demise. And when you think about it, is rapid-onset rabies really that different from the effects portrayed in zombie flicks? They’re almost interchangeable, really.

28 Days Later
featured a human-developed virus transmitted from gorilla to man that ultimately consumed most of Britain’s population and set them insane. The virus’ name? Rage. And from what do we derive the word “rabies?” From the Latin: rabies, “madness, rage, fury.” Coincidence? I think not.

On a final note, all this talk about zombies and rabies has had the unexpected effect of making me feel slightly better about the current economic crisis.  Just think: the undead could be rising from the earth to feast on human flesh – or, alternately, we could get bitten by rabid bats and go insane and die. If that makes you feel any better.