03.07.06 sticky thwap

NP: "Step Into The Light" Archers Of Loaf. See below.
NP: "Lowest Part Is Free!" Archers Of Loaf. Ibid.
NP: "37 Push-Ups" Smog. I forgot how much I like this song, from the "Julius Ceasar" album that I don't really like.
NP: "You Threw A Spark" Crooked Fingers. Had picked this song the other night, before the little Archers Of Loaf moment.
NP: "It's All Too Much" Senator Flux. A lovely George Harrison cover.
NP: "Self Portrait With Thing (Tonight Is Not Your Night)" Destroyer. I think I've only listened to the new Destroyer once. Whoops.
NP: "You Come And I Go" Hotel Lights. I want to hate the band featuring my ex's current. But this record is just too fucking good. Dammit.
NP: "Salt The Stings" The Duke Spirit. I have a feeling I'm going to get sick of this band quickly, but for now I'm really enjoying it.
NP: "One" Mary J. Blige Featuring U2. My friend Whitney says that Mary goes for it on this song like no other woman since Tina Turner. She might be right.
NP: "Crabwalk" American Music Club. Was just walking home and say "Crabwalk" by Gunter Grass in the window at St. Marks Bookstore. Thought about this song. Then came home, hit shuffle on the "random songs with play count = 0 playlist" on Itunes, and it was the second song on. Creepy.
NR: Working on a Paris Review from 2004 that I had never read. Finished the Granta that I had never read. Ignoring this week's New Yorker thus far. Going to read "Waterfalls Of Slunj" by Heimito von Doderer again next. Must finish this fucking "Baphomet" by Pierre Klossowski. Worst book I've ever read.



Smith And 9th at 5 A.M.

Outside and on top of the world, or at least Brooklyn.

I spit onto the tracks and surprise myself with the loudness of the launch and again by the sticky thwap.

It's cold and clear and as beautiful as a cliff view or a work of nature. It feels natural, carved. The upward arc and curve. G then F then F. Not my F's but the inverse. I wait.

I feel like I'm rooting for the sun to rise, but I know it's too early for that.

The train is more crowded that I ever would have imagined. I thought I would have my own car. Instead I am passenger #20. But except for two we all have our own bench. Jay Street will change that.

And then something I don't believe I've ever seen. That guy just took a piss in the corner. The back corner. The train is travelling downhill to Bergen. Twin streams of piss are running down the right side of the car, already underneath one pair of sleeping legs and now through one pair of awake sneakers.

I change cars.

I find myself wishing Leonard Cohen was playing. But middle-era Archers Of Loaf comes on instead, and I think it might be even better. I wish it was "Vs. The Greatest Of All Time", but "Step Into The Light" is going to be amazing when it hits the breakdown right when I exit at Houston and 1st.

And it is.

I walk home.



03.05.06 excerpted

NP: nothing.
NR: my own web pages? does that even count?



From "Feathers" by Raymond Carver:

She didn't say anything. She drew in her lower lip and let it go. She turned off the radio as we got close to the house.

A baby's swing-set stood in the front yard and some toys lay on the porch. I pulled up in front and stopped the car. It was then that we heard this awful squall. There was a baby in the house, right, but this cry was too loud for a baby.

"What's that sound?" Fran said.

Then something as big as a vulture flapped heavily down from one of the trees and landed just in front of the car. It shook itself. It turned its long neck toward the car, raised its head, and regarded us.

"Goddamn it," I said. I sat there with my hands on the wheel and stared at the thing.

"Can you believe it?" Fran said. "I never saw a real one before."

We both knew it was a peacock, sure, but we didn't say the word out loud. We just watched it. The bird turned its head up in the air and made this harsh cry again. It had fluffed itself out and looked about twice the size it'd been when it landed.

"Goddamn," I said again. We stayed where we were in the front seat.

The bird moved forward a little. Then it turned its head to the side and braced istself. It kept its bright, wild eye right on us. Its tail was raised, and it was like a big fan folding in and out. There was every color in the rainbow shining from that tail.

"My God," Fran said quietly. She moved her hand over to my knee.

"Goddamn," I said. There was nothing else to say.



From "Tricks" by Alice Munro: (abridged)

Robin thanks her and folds it and takes it to the closet, to put it into her purse. She wants to be alone when she reads it. But she can't wait till she gets home. She goes down to the Quiet Room, which used to be the Prayer Room. Nobody was in there being quiet at the moment.

Robin wants to set this piece of paper in front of someone, some authority.

This is ridiculous. This I do not accept.

Nevertheless.

Shakespeare should have prepared her... A means to an end, those tricks are supposed to be. And in the end the mysteries are solved, the pranks are forgiven, true love or something like it is rekindled, and those who were fooled have the good grace not to complain.

If she had come a little later. A little earlier. If she had stayed till the play was over or skipped the play altogether. If she had not bothered with her hair.

It was all spoiled in one day, in a couple of minutes, not by fits and starts, struggles, hopes and losses, in the long-drawn-out way that such things are more often spoiled. And if it's true that things are usually spoiled, isn't the quick way the easier way to bear?

But you don't really take that view, not for yourself. Robin doesn't. Even now she can yearn for her chance. She is not going to spare a moment's gratitude for the trick that has been played. But she'll come round to being grateful for the discovery of it. That, at least--the discovery which leaves everything whole, right up to the moment of frivolous intervention. Leaves you outraged, but warmed from a distance, clear of shame.

She wished she could tell somebody. Him.



03.04.06 barefoot in the park

NP: Megan Brown CD #18. Been listening to the Megan Brown mixes a lot.
NP: Megan Brown CD #19. I love the first half of this one. It flows together so well it's scary, and it's so absolutely INESSENTIAL that it's just purely enjoyable.
NP: Megan Brown CD #20. Going to send this one early next week.
NP: "Shopping Trolley" Beth Orton. I had 24 hours the other day where I just left the ipod on shuffle. It laid down the most amazing playlist I've ever heard. It was seamless. What follows is a slightly abridged version of it. It started with my favorite song from the new Beth Orton record.
NP: "D. D. And E." This Mortal Coil. I didn't even remember this This Mortal Coil song.
NP: "Angeles" Elliott Smith. And it went so smoothly into this Elliott song that I didn't know where one ended and the other began, even after playing them three times in a row.
NP: "Promises Of Eternity" The Magnetic Fields. Always a lovely song. One of the highpoints of disc #2 of "69 Love Songs" (there are only a few).
NP: "Oh Happy Gabe (Sometimes Blue)" Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. Always puts me in a good mood. Holy shit I can't even imagine what seeing them live would have been like.
NP: "Car Radio" Spoon. A big rocker with horns.
NP: "Sister, Do You Know My Name?" The White Stripes. Still their best album, no matter what anybody else says.
NP: "California One Youth And Beauty Brigade" The Decemberists. Epic and beautiful.
NP: "Sangre de Stephanie" Lifter Puller. "And I'm glad you invited him. Like to know what I'm up against."
NP: "What's Your Business Here Elijah?" Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Can a song be any more pleasant?
NP: "Chump Change" The New Pornographers. Probably the only song from this record I really like.
NP: "Hip Hug-Her" Booker T. & The MG's. A nice transition. A trick I would do on one of the Megan Brown cds.
NP: "Janie Jones" The Clash. And then some rock. This came on right when a subway train approached. Speed and momentum took over.
NP: "So Begins Our Alabee" Of Montreal. And I was going to see Of Montreal a couple of days later (this was before last night's show, which was quite enjoyable). And it's also probably my favorite song from this album.
NP: "Pulsar Radio" Love As Laughter. And another nice transition.
NP: "In A Persian Market" John Fahey. This started a long walk from BBBB to the subway. I love the way it reminds me of the overture in The Last Waltz.
NP: "Blues Run The Game (Outtake)" Simon & Garfunkel. It was cold. This was lovely. Didn't even know I had their version of this song at all.
NP: "Cohesion" Minutemen. I had JUST put this album onto the ipod, and I haven't listened to it in YEARS. My favorite instrumental from "Double Nickels On The Dime". When I first heard this when I was 14 and was like "This is a punk rock record?" I didn't know what the fuck to think. But I knew this song was masterful and lovely. And I still love it.
NP: "To Be Alone With You" Sufjan Stevens. I rarely listen to an entire Sufjan record, but when it comes on shuffle it's always a pleasant surprise. This is another one of those surprises..
NP: "Sunflower River Blues" John Fahey, Peter Lang, Leo Kottke. And then more Fahey, just as I got off the subway and was walking home.
NP: "2006_03_04 playlist" All 20 of the songs above, in streaming format. So you can listen to them all in order, easily, if you so desire.
NR: Finished last week's New Yorker in three days. Sitting around in court gives you plenty of time to catch up on your reading.



It has been a very stressful and bad couple of days. I guess it's been two weeks since I actually uploaded anything. Been writing weird little notes to myself, some on the "add_to_stealth.txt" file, some in the stupid ugly notebook I carry around. None of them profound or interesting.

One was: "blowing my nose with the napkin provided in take-out food bags. the one in the little plastic bag with the fork and the knife that smells like the pepper packet also contained within."

Fascinating.

And then I stumbled upon this, this, and this and I was appalled. I love Pink's. I really do. It's not ironic. It's not cool. I really love that fucking chili dog. And I understand that people need to do cool photo shoots, but... this just made me sad. It's so ingenuous. I know it's the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and I shouldn't be expecting much (I don't think I've actually seen one since I was 12 and had a Paulina Porizkova poster hidden in my closet), but... yeah. Disheartening. AND it makes me hungry.

I may or may not be getting kicked out of my apartment in a month (or less). Been fighting to try to pay rent and stay in there. Lost way too much playing poker in December and January, so I kinda fucked myself, but the biggest thing is that I need to decide whether it's even worth it or not. Should I fight to pay for something that I probably can't afford, when I could move to another city or throw my stuff into my parent's house and live nomadically / or stay on the tour as much as possible?

It hasn't been fun.

So... I'm trying to swear off poker for a while. We'll see if I can pull it off. I need to find some low limit games to play. Ideally home games or something of the sort. I just don't have the cash to play any real stakes, but I also know I won't have the willpower to not play at all. So, yeah... I need some home games. Some 1/2 or 2/4 limit. Some Newmyer's Seven Nuts, dammit! Somebody email me about a game. Please. Or let me win the lottery (missed the Mega Millions bigtime the other night. not even close.).

It also turns out that I'm going to be heading to Austin for SXSW. Got a job on short notice, so I'm going to go for it. Always good to be there. Looking forward to some warm weather. Need to go swimming. Now.



Here's something I've been playing with. That "piece" I wrote on The Go-Betweens' "16 Lovers Lane" a couple of weeks ago: I had an idea. Maybe not a novel one, but one I wanted to play around with. If I'm going to write something about an entire record, isn't there some way to synchronize what I'm writing with the music? I could do it easily as a flash file, but one thing I know about flash files is that they can speed up or slow down based on CPU speed. So, I tried something pretty basic. If you have a Windows Media Player (and is the default player for .m3u files), this link should launch a browser page and a your windows media player. And if it works properly, maybe it'll, ummm... work? Try it out.



I want to do another one about the self-titled Gerald Collier album. His second solo album after Best Kissers In The World, it's just breathtaking and heartbreaking and amazing. I haven't written anything about it, but when "Truth Or Dare" turns into "Fearless", and then ninety seconds into "Fearless" Gerald sings "I'll climb to hell in my own way. Just wait awhile for the right day. And as I rise above the treeline and the clouds, I look down and hear the sound of the things you've said today." i get goosebumps. Here's a stream of the entire record. I look forward to writing more about it this week. I must have listened to it a dozen times last week. It's nice to take a little break from it. I'll come back to it shortly.



02.16.06 staring at the sea

NP: "I'm From Further North Than You" The Wedding Present. I bought this album a year ago. I think I listened twice. This is a great song. I might have to go to the Maxwell's show if I don't work that night. That last Cinerama show was better than the last couple of times I saw Wedding Present.
NP: "One Life Away" M. Ward. This came on shuffle the other day. Lovely.
NP: "Starlight Motel" Ride. I never really gave "Tarantula" the time of day, but in retrospect, now that the disappointment has faded, it's actually not that bad of a record.
NP: "Only With You" Teenage Fanclub.
NP: "Fearless" Gerald Collier. Listened to this after the session described below. Like fifteen times.
NP: "Rumpled Up" Gerald Collier. Ditto.
NP: "Barbriallen (demo)" Simon & Garfunkle. I'll take this over Iron & Wine any day.
NP: "I Want To Talk About You" John Coltrane.
NP: "Future Women" The M's. Funny when you listen to a record, pick out the best song, and then look up the title and see that your favorite song is the one the band named the album after. A good feeling. It re-affirms that I'm not completely insane and can identify a good song when I hear it.
NR: Re-read "Feathers" by Raymond Carver and "Tricks" by Alice Munro. Breathtaking.



Hemingway writes of the cold, hard clarity with which a man views the world after making love to a woman he is not in love with. Camus writes of killing a man and can only mention shattering the calm of the day and nothing else. But nobody, that I know of, has written of the miserable, earth-shattering rock-bottom experienced after four or five consecutive losing sessions at the poker table.

I've had those couple of sessions in the last week. Wednesday night's session was the worst. The previous sessions were bad 5-10 limit sessions or 10-20 sessions, and I can chalk them up to bad luck / statistics / whatever. But this last 1-2 NL session. Everytime I got good cards I was in bad position and got bad flops and got outplayed. Everytime I had decent cards in position, somebody had a better hand, and I bluffed when I should have folded and checked when I should have bluffed. I just made the wrong decision every time it was an important decision. You do that five times in a session, and you never get lucky on any of those wrong decisions... You do that, and it's painful. You do that when you're playing with money that you shouldn't be, and it leads to an existential crisis.

That's the critical difference, in that second-to-last sentence: "you never get lucky on any of those wrong decisions". Every player needs to get lucky every now and then. Usually it happens when you are behind and you know it and you hit your magic card. But sometimes it needs to happen when you think you are ahead and you're actually not. But you were the raiser pre-flop, people are checking to you, and you are betting thinking you have the best hand, they are calling thinking they might have the worst hand, and then their better hand stays best on the river. This is, of course, how it is supposed to happen. But every now and then you're supposed to step in shit and come out smelling like roses.

This has not been my experience of late. I've only gotten the cards that screw me.

Especially when playing omaha hi low. I was playing a lot of short-handed 5 10 omaha hi low. Raising on the button with a suited Ace and a deuce or a trey in my hand. Flop will come with two low cards, it'll check to me, I'll bet and get a caller. The turn will come the 2 or 3, and I'm sitting there now with no low draw and a pair of threes. I'll check, the river will come no help, the other guy will bet, and I'll have to fold. Or something similar along that theme. Or I'll hit a pair on the turn, and then the river will fuck up my low, and my small two pair will lose to a higher two pair. I can't really explain it, but wow... It actually only added up to a $1150 loss online (over 43 table hours), but it felt much much worse. And it was only what I had won online the previous week, so theoretically my online play for the year has broken even. So I shouldn't even worry about it, except for the fact that it put me so on tilt last Friday that I couldn't even see straight. I played over 2000 hands, and it just felt bad bad bad. I still regret it.

I'm actually at work right now. I want to play so badly. I cannot play, as I have $3 in my pocket. Yep. $3. Wow.

Oops. Now I have $0. I just bought a milkshake. It was, fortunately, the best milkshake Logan ever made me at BBBB. I guess when you buy a shake with your last penny, this is what you can expect from fate.

This is what makes me an optimist.



Just overheard from one of the born-and-bred Brooklynites that plays at BBBB: "When i grew up in park slope everyone was illiterate. Now everyone's a fucking novelist."



02.13.06 a bird pooped on his cock

NP: "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" Robyn Hitchcock. I need to track down a digital copy of "Eye." I was obsessed with that album for a year at one point. I need to track it down. Or fix my damn stereo so I can listen to vinyl.
NP: "Gold Lion" The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
NP: "16 Lovers Lane" The Go-Betweens. Been obsessed with this album lately. Presented here as a stream of the entire album (not a download.) More info below.
NP: "Fun And Games" The Connells.
NP: "With Or Without You" U2.
NP: "Valentine Heart" Tanita Tikaram.
NP: "Loretta" Townes Van Zandt.
NP: "The Fallen" Franz Ferdinand.
NP: "This Song" Badly Drawn Boy.
NP: "Back To The Old House" The Smiths.
NR: Granta 25th Anniversary Issue, Fall 2004 I bought this a year ago and never opened it. Took it around the country on the HOOD tour and never once cracked the cover, I don't believe. I'm three pieces into it, and every one of them is excellent thus far. Pretty stupid.



"You're a strange person, Robert. I mean, what will you come to? If a person has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love of his friends, family, work, something - how can he ask for love in return? I mean, why should he ask for it?" - From "Five Easy Pieces"

Just watched Five Easy Pieces. What a frighteningly good movie. Wow. Hadn't seen it for years. Funny how little things are forgotten or changed with time. The diner scene isn't really that funny, but a couple of other scenes are just grander and more savage and more elegant than I remembered. A classic.



"It was all so peculiar, I could hardly believe it myself, because I knew I was living in 1945 and that the biggest war of all time was just coming to an end, a war in which millions of people had been killed and millions more had been horribly wounded and had lived through hell in the mud and the hospitals and millions more had been tortured and killed by the Germans in the concentration camps - I thought of all those deaths and wondered what life was about, what the point was, and it seemed to me it didn't have any, unless maybe just thinking about girls and music, and I wondered if that was enough to live for, but nothing else came to mind so I left it at that and quickly started thinking about Irena again, about one walk we'd taken through the woods one night and how afwully inferior I'd felt when she started talking about Victor Hugo and Byron and I got Byron mixed up with Balzac and Balzac with Barbusse and I hadn't read anything by any of then, and it seemed to me I was as dumb as ever and that what was really important was inventing new things and new medications - obviously very important - but that even without them you could still get along but that without girls and music life wouldn't be worth living, and so my thoughts cruised through my head until I fell asleep and when I woke up I saw it was already evening." - from "The Cowards" by Josef Skvorecky.



I can't stop listening to "16 Lovers Lane" by The Go-Betweens. It's not considered to be one of their more important works (enthusiasts probably consider it in the lower half of their canon, even including the modern-era recordings; hardcore Go-Betweens fans probably prefer to stick with making jokes about "Tallulah" and pretending "16 Lovers Lane" simply doesn't exist), but I'm willing to argue it's actually possibly their finest work.

Here's the track listing:

The Go-Betweens - "16 Lovers Lane"
1. Love Goes On!
2. Quiet Heart
3. Love Is A Sign
4. You Can't Say No Forever
5. The Devil's Eye
6. Streets Of Your Town
7. Clouds
8. Was There Anything I Could Do?
9. I'm Allright
10. Dive For Your Memory

It opens with a couple of chords that sound like the opening of "Fun And Games" by The Connells (it was probably being written at the same time). "Love Goes On!". Not just spoken, it's shouted. And what's goes better with a shout of "Love Goes On!" than a "Ba Da Ba Ba, Ba Da Da BAW!". Nothing. Nothing is better. Although the pause and lovely arpeggio ARE a nice touch. Oops, nope, wait... the big chord, pause, and plucked circular violin run are even better.

"Quiet Heart" has a swooning violin and could have been on "The Joshua Tree". "Doesn't matter how far you come, You've always got further to go." And then the end of the chorus gets me every time. I am positive my heart pauses 1/8th of a beat at the end of every chorus. The guitar and violin swell, the rhythm section ups the attack, and Grant McLennan breaks my heart at precisely the 4'12" mark. The outro reminds me of Tanita Tikaram and U2 and makes me want to be at home under the covers.

"Love Is A Sign" opens with a couple of non-descript acoustic guitars, feels like it's going nowhere, and then just when you are getting ready to renounce the track as filler, three big notes on the violin usher you into the song. Eventually the drums come in and a hurried chorus reminds you that maybe there isn't enough time to say everything that needs to be said. The guitars stop being repetitive and start sounding urgent. A harmonica lament takes it home.

Maybe I've just been listening to too much Townes Van Zandt of late, but "You Can't Say No Forever" sounds like some sort of hybrid between Townes and Franz Ferdinand. A staccato vocal delivery and rhythmic sense seems to be shared with both. In particular I'm talking about "The Fallen" by Franz Ferdinand and "Loretta" by Townes Van Zandt.

Next is a pretty little vignette, used as a bridge to the poppier half of the record. But "The Devil's Eye" isn' a throwaway - it's a sweet and almost brashly romantic song. "I took this chance to write a message. It's just to say that I'll miss you." It toys with one ending, instead decides to do another chorus, and then fades out with great melancholy. And Badly Drawn Boy would never have existed if this song wasn't written.

And if "Streets Of Your Town" is the first song on the pop side of the record, this is DEFINITELY my kind of pop. The verses are full of big slow acoustic strums, distant backing vocals, lyrics about rain, the butcher's knives, and battered wives, and ultimately it's just about doing nothing and not knowing what you are supposed to be doing. It's about repetition and the lack of inspiration. In other words, it's a pop song about living a life which basically follows a pop-song structure. How meta can it get? And, to top it off, they refused to write an ending... It's just a good twenty-five second fade of the chorus over and over. Exactly what it should be. And did I mention the woodblock?

"Clouds" is a tough one to pin down. On one hand it is absolutely the nadir of the album. It doesn't really go anywhere. On the other hand, it's the ultimate foil for that which follows. "Was There Anything I Could Do?" has all the angst of a classic punk song, including the bad rhymes (the guru/voodoo couplet has always made me cringe) and the sing-along chorus in the form of a question. Confused? Why, ask a question! Still confused? Ask the question in the form of a song. How Low Can A Punk Get? Break his heart, and find out. Not that this is a punk song. But transcribe that violin solo for electric guitar and it would be fucking blistering.

And that's all it took. You write "Was There Anything I Could Do?", you play it a couple of hundred times, and suddenly... catharsis. And least if my interpretation of "I'm Allright" is correct. Lessee... "She knows that I'm not ready when my nerves are steady. When my eyes are free of tears someday. She doesn't want to hurt me, it's OK. I'm allright." Well, so... actually I'm wrong. He's not OK. He will be. He tries to lie about it, but he's just not ready yet. He's met this this new girl, but she knows he's not all there. It's not going to happen, but I guess there's a least some happiness in knowing that there will be a someday. It's better than where he was. Halfway through the guitar is bright and shimmering and as good as anything Johnny Marr did on "Hatful Of Hollow", the drums go from rimshots to strong snare hits, he admits that he's angry, and suddenly he slips in an extra "Will it be" in the last "Will it be Allright?" THIS is catharsis.

Catharsis is emotional, not the stuff of the mind. The mind is willful and logical and has a completely different perspective. Defiance is the word of the day in "Dive For Your Memory". Not petty stubbornness, but actually strength. The memories are good, goddammit, and nobody will take them away. There's no fade out here. A nice chord and it's time to pick up the trash from the floor. There's no fade out here. A nice chord and it's time to pick up the trash from the floor. Sit in the car with the engine running if the song's not over yet, but we've reached our destination: 16 Lovers Lane.



I put up the digital photos of Kendel and I's trip to Paris. I still have to get the 35mm film developed. Should have taken snow photos yesterday to finish up the rolls. Here's the Paris Gallery:

paris photos






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