We didn’t know it then, but at least we still had the glinty white sunlight of the 90’s to fall back on. I was 22, and it had been a while, a bit more than a year since I’d dropped out of college. I’d left to work at a stock footage archive. It was a cool job. Interesting. Fun. And my desk was tucked in amongst the rows of ¾ video cassettes and old timey film canisters. It was all mine too. I didn’t have to share it with anyone. But now I was quitting that gig. Quitting to move back in with my mother. I was leaving NYC, going to rural Massachusetts to get off drugs. Going to the tiny house I’d grown up in, in a small town north of Boston, because I could no longer keep it together. It was January and I was about to go cold turkey. I was about to try and kick my first real dope habit.
You should listen to Viagra Boys. They use saxophones and synthesizers in an un-ironic way, and it sounds refreshingly punk rock. I’m gonna venture to say that the saxophone hasn’t been cool like this since the Stooges (don’t even talk to me about Morphine, for all the benefits of their music, that shit was not punk rock). Even better than reading this blog post though, you should just watch this video. Then when people ask you how you found out about your new favorite band – you can say you found out about them from me.
If you must, I write a bit more about them after the jump.
Before it came out, I read a blurb about, “Night Boat to Tangier,” something like, “two past their prime Irish drug smugglers ponder their life and times while stuck waiting in a Spanish ferry terminal.” I was sold. Humbled gangsters? Tough guys out of their element? I’m in. I pre-ordered the book. I’d never read Kevin Barry before.
A few months later the book came. After a chapter or two, I put it down and said to myself, “this is one of those smart Irish guy books.”
Let Us Now Praise Sexist Critics: A Completely Uncalled for Appraisal of the Fucking Excellent Band Bleached
I’m in my 40’s but I still get obsessed. With bands. I’ll cycle through a newfound artists’ catalog on repeat or dig up some semi-ignored old favorite and listen to nothing else for weeks on end. It’s what I do. And I feel a little silly about it, but whatever, who are you to criticize? I’m speaking my truth here. Isn’t that what this era of woke-ness is all about?
The band I’m about to write about though – this one is tough to cop to, because I’m scared I’ll come off like a perv. Fact is I’m not a perv though. It’s not my fault that the band members are females that are like half my age. More so it’s not the reason I listen to them. The short answer is that Bleached fucking rocks. And I’ve been listening to them for years – I don’t know exactly how many, I’ll guess 5 maybe – and the fact that they’re cute, that shit is irrelevant. So get your mind out of the gutter you sick ill-thinking motherfucker. Shit’s legit and so isn’t my appreciation of them – so if you think it’s weird for a middle-aged dude to be a fan, then that’s on you.
It’s been a week since news of the Paradise Papers broke and there’s been very little reaction, nothing beyond a few op-ed pieces calling for change in the usual places (the Guardian, NY Times). No calls for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to step down. No outrage from… well, from anyone as far as I can tell. Nothing resembling the Occupy’s “We are the 99%” outrage. Crickets. I’ve not even seen anything in the liberal circle jerk that is my Facebook feed. No mention of the papers or taxes in conjunction with my many friend’s regular anti-Trump screeds.
Which is ironic, because as repulsive as Trump is, he and his ilk are but symptoms of the larger problem: unchecked, unaccountable wealth that co-opts laws, political systems and governments into working solely on the behalf of the rich, to the detriment of the greater good a.k.a. the rest of us. The difference with Trump being that he adds a hypocritical, racist, nationalist dogma to his brand of rich person advocacy. Anti-Trump people should be all over the Paradise papers.
I was reading an article about the Stooges, specifically about the wonderful Stooges documentary, “Gimmie Danger” by Jim Jarmusch. As you are reading this blog, you probably know the Stooges – in their first incarnation – made two amazing records in the years from 1968 to 1971 where they basically invented punk. That statement is simplistic and only partly true, but whatever, it sounds cool. Three of the four members also became junkies. Those albums didn’t sell all that well and by the end of 1971 the band broke up. In the article there’s a quote from Stooges drummer Scott Asheton who says, “I guess I realize the band’s over when I’m sleeping on the floor of some people’s house, and I had no money and I sold my drum set to get bus tickets home to my mom.”
It got me thinking about how tough it is to be young, particularly so when you’re young and hooked on drugs. And how thankful I am for my own mother, who stood by me when I was behaving like a complete shithead. Mom was always there to pick up the pieces. Or at least she tried to.
How the fuck did Vietnam War happen? How were we (America) that fucking stupid? The whole thing – why we fought, who we fought, how we fought – all of it just makes no kind of fucking sense! It’s only that much more incredible when you consider how recent it all was. How insane is it that a whole segment of our population – a huge percentage of our working class youth – just went off and did their “duty?” Why didn’t they riot in the streets instead? Oh wait, they did, it just took a while and the war was basically over by the time they did. It’s important to remember media was slow back then; it was also exclusive, controlled by the forces sympathetic to the government. The people had no way to question authority, to demand an explanation for what was being asked of them. “God and country,” our leaders said, “it’s up to you (young person) to stop communism. Off you go.” Continue reading “The Vietnam War In My Head”
It actually feels like a year has gone by – maybe even longer – but I figure that’s what you are supposed to write in year in review posts right? Time flies, it’s crazy!
I’ll try and keep this short and sweet. I mostly gave up reading the New Yorker so fastidiously, which really upped my book learning this year. I also got pretty hardcore about listening to books as opposed to podcasts (for the most part) when I’m in the car and at the gym. The result was I was able to complete 44 books this year. That’s versus 24 last year. Yay. I have not, however, managed to cut out the newspaper reading and I’m not sure if I want to. I hope to get at least 52 books next year (on account of that’s how many weeks in a year there are!).
I’ve also kept pretty rigorous account of what I thought of all those books. Here I’ll list a few of my favorites. The ones I gave a 10 out of 10 rating.
My favorite book of the year, bar none, was “Eilleen” by Ottessa Moshfegh.
Have you heard of Hypernormalisation? This is the question I ask everyone I come across these days. I’m a bit obsessed.
Also, like a lot of Americans (almost 66 million of us) I’ve been pretty depressed since the election. I’d tell you why, but listing the things I personally find abhorrent about Trump would take too long. The list grows longer by the minute. Trump is a disgusting human being.
All of this is just a long-winded wind-up to the idea that I’ve been in a cynical mind-set of late…
Apparently, if you are lucky enough to attain a certain age, things that existed in your youth come to appear absurd in the cold light of the present. Such is the case with me, and the phenomenon of skinheads in the Boston hardcore “scene.” It sounds strange to say, but in the mid 80’s, for those of us of a certain temperament, skinheads were a problem, like a real personal safety-style problem. Back in those days in Boston (and New York and D.C.) there was a very real danger of getting your ass kicked by skinheads for myriad offenses, things like having “stupid hair.”