Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dream Song 29

Well, let the youtube links begin. Sometimes I get excited because I realize that things I was jazzed about 7 or 8 years ago have a Whole New Life, thanks to the internet. Ok, mainly just thanks to youtube and wikipedia.Parenthetically, did you guys realize that the Wilco album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out seven years ago? It's pretty hard for me to fathom. I was working at a book/music store then and I remember it was originally supposed to have been released on September 11th of 2001 and got pushed back and when it did finally come out there some passages of lyrics that seemed eerily prescient at the time. A few days ago, I moved my passenger seat in my car back and found the cd wedged under the rear floor mat. I've been listening to it again for days. It holds up.

About the same time as the release of that album was also the height of my John Berryman love. The love continues to this day, but boy was I into him back then. I was trying to remember part of one of his poems a few minutes ago and found this clip of him reading one of my favorite of his Dream Songs. Prior to ten minutes ago, I had never heard one of my favorite poets speak, so this is pretty damn exciting for me! He is also clearly smashed -- BONUS!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

5 More Minutes

My approach to exercise classes and parties is strikingly similar: Just keep telling myself I can leave in 5 more minutes if I want to. And then I usually end up staying until the end for both and not regretting it.

I'm such a recovering quitter that if I don't let myself have a mental escape hatch, I'd never do anything at all. I'm thinking it was Johnny Cash I heard say "You put the screws on me, I'll screw right out from underneath you." I feel you, Johnny.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Is Just To Say

One of the ways I used to pass the time in high school, aside from hanging out with my gay boyfriend (Hi Ryan!), reading Edie Sedgwick biographies or eating lunch alone next to the ceramics kiln in the art room, was to memorize poems out of our English class textbooks. One of my favorite poets for memorization was William Carlos Williams. He was a figure, much like Chaka Khan, John Fogerty, or Lindsey Buckingham, who I intuitively understood was famous to adults for once having been someone important, but whose significance mostly escaped me.

Despite this, one of my favorite poems of his to memorize was his This Is Just To Say. If you can't remember it, it'll probably trigger your memory if I tell you it's the short one about the plums and the icebox. Yeah, you know it. Despite my affection for the old guy, when it came time for our class to analyze his dreaded red wheelbarrow poem (memorized that one, too), I didn't just act like I wasn't interested. No, I had to take it a step further. Pejorative usage of the word 'gay' might have been involved. I'm not proud. And you know what the worst part was? Not that I chose to not be brave and not that I chose to sell out something for which I actually had deep affection. No, the worst part was that the classmate I had chosen to act cool for, that I had mocked this poem and poet to in poor taste, was actually fucking related to William Carlos Williams. He was her great-great uncle or something. Hell, her last name was even Williams. Out of a school of 2,000, out of a nation of millions, this was my luck. I completely deserved her disgusted side eye that day.

This is for her:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
The words
That came out of my mouth
That day

And which
You had probably
Long ago

Forgive me
I was so young
Foolish and

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Heart My Knock Knees

....but this is not a post about them. At least, not exactly. I spent some time thinking about my knock knees today in yoga class. I've been doing yoga now pretty regularly for about 5 years and I've gotten pretty good. What has been humbling though are there are certain simple poses I just cannot do, regardless of how long I practice. For this, I blame my knock knees.

I used to position myself in classes to ensure I could never see myself in the mirror because the image I saw was different than what I felt I must look like. My anger with myself and the dissonance between how good I felt and how different I looked would ruin my mood and invariably break my concentration. I went for meditation and got hyped up on self-hatred instead.

But then things began to shift in all kinds of ways. I can't attribute the shift to a fixed moment in time or even anything conscious on my part. I just fucking mellowed out. About nearly everything; the way I looked, how other people perceived me, the course my life was taking.It didn't exactly happen when I turned 30, but damn if it wasn't close.

For a while after my mom's diagnosis with Alzheimer's, I went to counseling. It felt good to articulate my anger and voice my worries. My counselor was great and invariably pretty adept at seeing through my bullshit and calling me on it, but I do remember arguing with her somewhat over her insistence that I'm hard on myself. Having a counselor tell a woman she's hard on herself is kind of like a psychic telling you you'll have some decisions to make. Duh. Just generic enough to make you feel like someone understands you. But the thing is, I still think I'm not too hard on myself. In fact, I kind of pride myself on my resilience and my ability to laugh and say 'Man, I really fucked that up. I'll try harder next time.' And I do. And this works for me.

But it wasn't always that way. I wasted many, many years hating who I was and getting sidelined by self-consciousness. I missed out on a lot, but thankfully those times seem to be passing. I've got another birthday coming and I'm grateful that I feel the self-consciousness slipping away. A little vanity is good, but it goes a long way. I'd just rather be happy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Backyard Boogie

I've been staring at this screen for twenty minutes hoping that something to write about will come to me and instead, all I have are the lyrics to Backyard Boogie going through my head over and over:

"Straight from Inglewood and you know that it's all good/
You can put that on your hood everyday"

While I'm ok with this, I also sense the mounting frustration that's coming with my self-imposed challenge to outblog myself this month and, in the process, sometimes sacrificing quality for quantity. Ahem. Time's up for today in an hour and a half and I know myself. If I walk away, I will sit down on the couch and watch my favorite show, I Survived, until I fall asleep with a half-drunk glass of wine in a plastic tumbler beside me and wake up just in time in the morning to go to yoga.

I Survived is great because it tells first person accounts of people's brushes with death and invariably gives me a leg up on all others who chose not to watch. When the tanker truck collides with the oncoming train, when the hostage-takers are assessing potential hostages for the taking or when an abusive ex-husband invites you into his house to ostensibly sign some paperwork, that shit is ON. I (will) Survived.

Yoga class is great because people fart and other people try not to laugh.

I know that many times throughout this week I've thought of surefire blog topics and, I'm telling you, if I could thing of a single one of those gems right now, I'd be killing it. Instead, I will leave you tonight with some sage words from Mitch Hedberg:

"Sometimes in the middle of the night, I think of something that's funny, then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or if the pen's too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain't funny"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


And of course, what I remember are the things I can't take back. How, as a petulant teenager, I would tell her to stop chewing so loud. And other things that shame me and more than I care to write about. And then the helplessness that I am starting to lose hold of the threads that bind my memory to the sound of her voice. What did a sentence sound like? How would she ask me a question? Did she always call me by my middle name?

And once, on a whim, I went to a psychic and she told me not to wait around for love anytime soon but that a move may be in my future. And then she asked if there was anything else I wanted to ask about and I paused and then I said, maybe this one thing. It's not important but I carry it around with me at all times; it hangs here, suspended. And when I do something callous or foolish, I reach inside my chest, right below my sternum and I tug on it until it can be seen, point to it and say, hey, blame this thing.

I can't remember everything that came next, but it had something to do with doorways and a man with a black dog and I'm a loved child.I'm a loved child. And somehow this punctures the thing then and there inside the close room and I feel release. I had thought its pendulous weight corporal, but it was made of something different.

That night I dream of a man with my ears. His back to a darkening sky, in front of a house I've never visited. He is, as always, caught leaning on his Ford. He whistles and a black dog shakes off the road dust and trots toward him, tail wagging. The motion of his head says, she's inside;go home.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Random Memory, Pt. 2

At a Sonics game when there were Sonics games.Remote-controlled blimp hovers overhead. I see it drop something that begins to flutter down towards me.I climb on my seat to reach it and am rewarded with a $50 Safeway Gift Card.

A toddler is next to me, in her mother's arms. She turns to me and asks,"When da pwane fwies by next time, can I catch it?"

"No," I say and recline in my seat to daydream of my spoils and watch Luke Ridnour botch something easy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Random Memory

Working late at the bookstore on Singles Night. Being approached by a nervous man in the Art/Architecture section while shelving.

"So....." he begins.

I thought to myself.

"What do you do for fu-"

"I'm working!"

Dropping books behind me, I flee.

And, scene.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tacoma Scene

Both couples were dining al fresco on the Tacoma waterfront at low tide, which didn't bode well. From my table, I could see the two couples sitting opposite one another at adjacent tables. I started to eat my meal and saw a commotion on the deck. One of the men from one of the couples was frantically waving his arms at a passing boat, gesturing wildly. The people around him seemed confused. The boat moved out of view. He sat down but looked distracted. His girlfriend had her back to me and I couldn't read her face. The other couple moved closer together, heads almost touching as they talked. A few minutes passed. Another boat came into view and again the same man ran to the edge of the deck, but this time his pleading worked. I saw the boat move closer to us. The man jumped up from his table and tried to exit the restaurant through a floor-to-ceiling window. The waitress directed him to the exit.

The crowd on the deck had started to move. Diners got up from their tables and moved to the railing. From my left, I could see the man gingerly stepping over rocks, steadily making his way down to the water and toward the boat. Someone yelled that he was stripping naked, but he only stripped down to his boxer shorts. He walked until the water reached his neck, still gesturing to the boat which intermittently gunned its engine or turned in circles, making waves. I saw something tiny and white float towards him and saw him grasp at it, catching it but throwing him off balance. I heard the people on the deck cheer.

For a few minutes, he was lost and I couldn't spot him from my vantage point. When he came within view of my window, he was carrying something in his mouth and scrambling up the rocks wearing the wet boxer shorts and holding his dry jeans. At some point, between my view and the restaurant's entrance, he must have put his jeans back on.

I asked a passing waitress what he was doing out there. She said someone had dropped an i.d. and it fell between the slats of the deck and drifted out into the Sound. When the man came back, most all of the other diners cheered for him. Though the other couple hadn't cheered, he walked right up to them. From out of a soggy pocket, he pulled out an i.d. and handed it to the girl. She gave him a stiff hug, her boyfriend just gave him a nod.

The wet man walked back to his table. Someone else on the deck had bought him a beer. His girlfriend ruffled, then smoothed the hair at the nape of his neck. Across from them, the other couple turned their chairs to the water so all the rest of us could see were their backs. The boyfriend put a meaty arm around the girl. I ate the rest of my food ruminating on which of the two of them was the bigger asshole.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

That's What I'm Talkin' About!!

A few weeks ago, a request was made on here for an awesome play list and I knew just the person to go to: my ex-boyfriend! I am pretty fortunate to have two pretty awesome ex-boyfriends I still get to talk to and Joe is one of the best human beings out there. Additionally, he is freakishly knowledgeable about music. Hence, my first ever, GUEST COLUMN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Presenting, ahem....Joe Kuth!

I got a pretty vague theme from Sam to go on here, so I just went with what I want to hear right now and what's fun to share: mostly short songs, the summery and exuberant, a good mix for driving. I do love a good weepy song, but you'll find none here. I was surprised Sam asked me to put together a playlist, because her post gave me the impression she was talking about current rap and R&B, which is not really my area, although I do like a few songs from that last Lil' Wayne quite a bit, and that Clipse album from a couple years ago made me feel like I was missing out on a bunch of other great stuff. Sharon Jones and Black Joe Lewis are pretty great too.I didn't stretch to be inclusive, and it's tough to squeeze jazz or afrobeat jams on a mix anyhow let alone summarize the entire history of black music, so these are just my own choice cuts of 60's -70's R&B/Funk, chestnuts from rap's golden age, and a few other oddball things.

1. Audio Two - Top Billin' You know your rapper is good when the song sounds perfect and fully realized over barely more than a sparse 808 Beat Box. I can think of a few others like this by Run DMC, BDP, LL Cool J, Special Ed, but Audio Two's classic debut might be the best of all.

2. Shuggie Otis - Aut Uh Mi HedMy favorite Shuggie song, well, right this second at least. He's a wizard. There's a great Sharon Jones cover of Otis' "Inspiration Information" on that new, mostly dull Dark Was the Night benefit compilation.

3. ESG - Erase YouIf they could retool that sitcom Sista Sista so that it was about the Scroggins sisters growing up in the 70's, I would be really into that.

4. Jungle Brothers - What U Waitin' 4?Back then these guys were not known for dance songs, they went off the rails with it later.I think that's a Kool and the Gang sample...maybe?

5. Bootsy's Rubber Band - I'd Rather Be With YouThere's a commercial for Cincinnati's Hard Ta Knock Shop ("Urban Street Wear") that is Bootsy Collins' most memorable performance ("On the ONE baby!"), but this song is pretty close. Eazy-E did an even more ridiculous and much pervier cover of this on EFIL4ZAGGIN.

6. MC Lyte - Cha Cha ChaI had nearly forgotten about this one until I heard it on that great new Fly Girls! collection of otherwise obscure lady rappers (Dimples D?! the Cookie Crew?!?).MC Lyte sounds just like Audio Two's Milk (see 1.) because they are cousins, or so the legend goes. I could look it up but then, so could you.

7. Lee Perry and the Upsetters - Black PantaThe first song off Perry's first dub album is hypnotic and impossible to resist.Gotta love the way that melodica(?) winds and unwinds.8. Betty Davis - Shoo-B-Doop and Cop HimMiles' ex. I almost put "He Was A Big Freak" here, but that one is just a degree too sleazy. Just the right amount of sleaze on this one. Allegedly tattooed on Davis' bottom: "This Ass Invented Fusion".

9. Curtis Mayfield - the Makings of YouCurtis' voice is so good that even lyrics like these, he can sell it.

10. Vanity 6 - Make Up Awesome and slutty Prince proteges. On a later album sleeve, one of these girls is wearing lacy lingerie and holding a teddy bear. It's weird.

11. K.M.D. - Peach FuzzZevLoveX downs downright amiable here, back then we never knew he would emerge after a decade of seclusion as MF DOOM, the bleakest sounding rapper ever. This was their first single (I watched the video debut on Yo! MTV Raps, sigh), years before brother and K.M.D. member Sub-roc's sudden death haunted Doom's every rhyme.

12. Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band - SunshowerOften sampled, the original is still the best way to hear it.

13. De La Soul with Q-Tip - A Rollerskating Jam Named SaturdaysPretty self explanatory, and a tough one to argue with.

14. the Cookies - I Never DreamedOne of the best of all girl group songs. I have to admit this guy sounds pretty fantastic.

16. Big Daddy Kane with Biz Markie - Just Rhymin' With BizThis has some of the braindead but brilliant lyrics I've ever endless source of Kane and Biz wisdom really, but my favorite line:steppin' on roachesi get ferocioussupercalifragilisticexpialidocious

15. Zapp - Be AlrightMy hometown hero Roger Troutman and company, here pretty light on the vocoder for once. 2Pac sampled this one.Who do you hate worse, Troutman's brother or Marvin Gaye's dad?"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I Even Have a Column in Ebony Called 'Musings'

The other night, as I was drifting off to sleep and, for some reason I can't explain, I thought to myself, "Wow. It is REALLY weird that Marilyn Monroe was married to both Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller." Now I don't claim to know much about any of them, but isn't this bizarre, if you think about it? Had she just married one of those men, I wouldn't think anything of it, but to compare the two of them, I can't help but feel someone in that whole situation was much more complex than one would expect.

I'm going to go with Joe. I bet Marilyn Monroe was exactly as you would expect her to be; sweet but clingy, lovely but damaged, kind but self-involved. Miller? He was a writer, for Pete's sake. Of Marilyn, he said, "She was a whirling light to me then, all paradox and enticing mystery, street-tough one moment, then lifted by a lyrical and poetic sensitivity that few retain past early adolescence." Thanks Wikipedia! So Miller loved the paradox and....ugh...all that mystery.

But Joe? I think he was the keeper. And who couldn't fall in love with a mug like that? I am hesitant to venture over to his Wikipedia page to find out if he found love after her. I'm just going to hope he did and call it a night.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bear With Me Here

I think I'm probably in danger of making a really simple point with this post, but bear with me. Much like that one kid in your freshman philosophy survey course in college who raises his hand and asks rhetorically, as it is just occurring to him at that self-same second 'What if I just made all of you guys up in my head?', I'm gonna need to think this one through out loud. Parenthetically, the philosophical counter punch to that question would be 'If you did make me up in your head, wouldn't I think you were a lot cooler than I actually do?'

I think others have likely made this point better than I could, but don't you think summer is the seasonal equivalent to the present? If spring evokes the future and all its possibilities and fall evokes the past and all its memories,and assuming that winter is just dormancy and a needed placeholder, that would have to make summer all about the present, right?

WHICH IS WHY SUMMER STRESSES ME OUT. I am constantly trying to appreciate each moment to the point that it becomes a distraction. Yes, this corn on the cob is good, very good. I appreciate this sunshine, I do. No, I do! I think everyone has experienced some kind of miserable sickness that has made them want to make promises to the God of his or her choice that if they could just feel ok again they would make note of every moment they felt healthy. Each laugh that didn't turn into a coughing fit or each restful night of sleep. This is a good intention, but I don't think it's possible in reality.

In order to fully appreciate a moment (or a season), is it necessary to consciously note the enjoyment? And how many moments are even sweeter in retrospect anyway? Maybe that's the key to summer. Maybe the consciousness of it needs to be divorced from the self-conciousness of it. Maybe it's not about telling yourself how much you appreciate a moment, but instead letting go of words and just scrunching sand between your toes.

Maybe all you guys already figured this out. Probably.