For no real reason that I can ascertain, I dreamt about Mitch Ivey, a friend and a talented painter that I knew from back in the pre-digital age; when I was an employee and fellow-traveller at Magnolia Cafe South. Not even one dream, but two nights in row. I lost touch with Mitch when I moved away, and I don’t know that he has any online presence, at least that I could locate.
I hope he’s ok, and is just having a gallery show soon or something.
Other people’s dreams are notoriously difficult to parse, but I’m noting a dream I had a couple nights ago because I remembered it a moment ago, and it made me giggle.
In my dream, I was writing a long blog post about the new trend of naming apartment complexes and high-rise condominiums after the titles of Smiths songs. In my dream, I had a print out of two sheets of paper worth of new dwellings named this way.
If you are at all familiar with The Smiths oeuvre, you’ll know that is utterly ridiculous.
For instance, can you imagine living in a place called:
The Headmaster Ritual
or in a condo called
That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore
Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours
Your guess is as good as mine as to what my subconscious was attempting to convey to my conscious brain. I haven’t even been listening to The Smiths recently (though I periodically do queue up Smiths LPs; if I made a list of my top 100 bands, they would probably make the cut, or just miss it.)
I’d be honored if you attended, but I realize many people have other things to do, like washing their individual hairs in a custom built sink, or alphabetizing their sock drawer. So I forgive you in advance if you don’t make the opening. Or the 30 or so other days in April when the gallery will have my images on display without strangers gawking and pushing each other to gain a better view.
If you actually cannot make it to Texas on such short notice, the prints I’ve chosen to display are also available to view at Flickr, or at a dedicated photoblog I created for the occasion – UrbanSeens.com (still a work in progress at this time)
Hope to see you there, or there, or there…
As an aside, deciding what images to display and print was a crazily complicated process. I’ve been taking photographs for a long time, decades in fact, and while I consider myself more adept these days, photos taken when I was first seriously exploring the photographic medium have a certain nostalgic gravity. Also as I scrolled through the nearly 13,000 photos processed and uploaded to Flickr (12,903 at this moment not to mention the nearly 100,000 total photos in my Lightroom catalog), I kept finding images I liked or wanted to include, but could not. Maybe in the next show? Or I could print them just for you?
I may have mentioned this before, but maybe not publicly (including automatically posting to Facebook, etal), but my Christmas wish list is this: donate something to someone who needs it more than you do. Whether you give your change from the coffee shop plus a banana to a street beggar, or whether you send a few dollars to a food bank like Feeding America, ((sending $50 to Feeding America will help provide 550 meals)) whatever you feel is appropriate for your situation. I’d suggest to avoid donating to The Salvation Army as I think they are an anti-gay rights organization, but if you want to, that’s your decision, I’m sure the Salvation Army does some good for some people. Planned Parenthood always needs money, or if you are low on cash, maybe just volunteer to ladle glop at a local soup kitchen for an hour or two. You get the idea.
Recently, I was alone for an afternoon, without any pressing tasks to complete, so I decided to pull out my turntable1 and listen to a few records. I listen to music all the time, and have a vast, horder-esque iTunes library, but I’m often too lazy to play records. I sat in a room I call The Lounge, and spun a half dozen LPs. Some I only wanted to hear a song or two from, some I listened to in their entirety, both sides.
Such a different experience, as I’m sure you’d concur. I won’t go into the debate here over sound fidelity, and warmth, and all that. In honesty, I don’t want to give up the convenience of being able to walk around with hundreds of my favorite albums in my pocket, or the ability to instantly play a song in my car. Vinyl does wear out, and there is that crackling, popping sound that does not exist in digital versions.
The vinyl experience is different in other ways. I didn’t realize when I purchased my turntable, but it doesn’t have an automatic shut-off feature. In other words, I need to be actively listening or else the album will continue to spin for hours, wearing out the turntable’s needle. I’ve incorporated this negative feature into my ritual of listening to records. I put the needle down on the song I want to hear2, sit down holding the album jacket, study the cover art, read the liner notes, and listen with my full attention. I have the option of listening via3 desk top speakers, or a4 headphone amplifier with comfortable over-the-ear headphones.5
Curating playlists on my Mac is one of my hobbies, creating mixes of songs and albums based on topics and phrases, or genres, or concepts, or years, or events; but that means the music never stops playing. In contrast, when a record is finished, there is silence. Silence until the next LP is selected, or until the current record gets flipped over. I guess one could say listening to a CD would be similar, but my first (and only!) CD player was a six disc shuffler – again, when music was on, it kept going and going, filling up the nooks and crannies of available aural space.
I was surprised at how significant the empty spaces were, especially on a quiet afternoon.
This morning’s edition of Earworm Theatre is Blue from the Jayhawks 1995 album, Tomorrow the Green Grass.1
On a semi-regular basis, I wake up with a song or piece of music playing in my head, echoing in my brain. The song won’t leave until I play it, which depending on how my morning goes, could be an hour or so. The earworm occurs not nightly, not weekly, but several times a year. Frequently, but not always, a song I haven’t heard in a while, often with lyrics that have some resonance to something that happened recently. My subconscious trying to be helpful, in other words. This morning’s edition, Blue, was more about melody however, since I couldn’t even remember the lyrics unaided. I love how the chorus and bridge are harmonized. My voice cracks when I try to hit those kind of high notes…
Here are the lyrics, for reference, since I looked them up…
Where have all my friends gone They’ve all disappeared Turned around maybe one day You’re all that was there Stood by on believing Stood by on my own Always thought I was someone Turned out I was wrong
And you brought me through And you made me feel so blue Why don’t you stay behind So blue Why don’t you stop And look at what’s going down
If I had an old woman She’d never sell me a lie It’s hard to sing with someone Who won’t sing with you Give all of my mercy Give all of my heart Never thought that i’d miss you That i’d miss you so much
And you brought me through And you made me feel so blue Why don’t you stay behind So blue Why don’t you stop And look at what’s going down
All my life (staying while) I’m waiting for (staying while) Someone I could (waiting around) Show the door (now that I’m blue) But nothing seems to change (That I’m blue from now on) You come back that month
So blue Why don’t you stay behind So blue Why don’t you Why don’t you stay behind So blue Why don’t you Why don’t you stay behind So blue Why don’t you stop And look at what’s down
but my subconscious wasn’t trying to send me a coded message, I don’t think, but rather a way of harmonizing. Or something, lines of communication between conscious brain and subconscious brain are notoriously fickle.
I did hear Blue recently; I was singing it to one of my cats, who wouldn’t harmonize with me:
It’s Hard To Sing With Someone Who Won’t Sing With You
There has to be a word, in some language, maybe Dutch or Swedish, for a coffee related snafu I encounter on a regular basis. I’m probably not the only coffee drinker who when bleary-eyed in the morning, grinds too many coffee beans into the grinder, but then decides to use it all anyway, making the coffee stronger than humanly possible. Or nearly. If I was a more cautious person, I’d only use the correct number of teaspoons to match the amount of water I’m boiling, but I’m not that person, instead I shrug, and dump it all in my coffee cone.
Pour Over Coffee
A day without coffee is not a day, is it?
On a related note, I’ve been drinking coffee every morning for at least 30 years, thus I’ve tried all sorts of methods and machines for the process of making coffee. I am happy with my current, rather low-tech setup – a ceramic cone, unbleached Number 6 paper filter, a hot water boiling machine, and a thermos to hold the brewing coffee in. I have invested in a nice burr grinder (KitchenAid I believe), purchase coffee beans as needed in small quantities so they stay fresh, grind, boil and pour. I have enough high-tech devices in my life, having a low-tech coffee making procedure suits me just fine. I enjoy the ritual, as it requires multiple steps, I can’t walk away too far while in the process, and I must remain “in the moment”. Perfect.
Morning Coffee Ritual
Coffee from El Mirador – Cauca, Columbia
Papua New Guinea Namugo Smallholder coffee bean – Bridgeport Coffee
A few moments ago, the Cowboy Junkies best album1 came on my stereo, The Trinity Session, and I listened to it intently for the first time in a long time. Such a timeless LP, and of course, hearing the album triggered a bit of reverie down my own memory lanes and paths. I recall many late nights putting this album on my turntable, and being enveloped by its mood, as I drank red wine with some people who have since faded from my life.
Per Wikipedia, The Trinity Session was released in 1988, but I don’t think I purchased a copy2 until 1989 or even 1990. I’ve never been enthusiastic towards opiate-induced dream stupors, but I’ve been around enough people who were, and the slow-placed, languorous tempo of the Trinity Session evokes a similar state of blissful melancholy.
Thom Jurek writes:
The Trinity Session was recorded in one night using one microphone, a DAT recorder, and the wonderful acoustics of the Holy Trinity in Toronto. Interestingly, it’s the album that broke the Cowboy Junkies in the United States for their version of “Sweet Jane,” which included the lost verse. It’s far from the best cut here, though. There are other covers, such as Margo Timmins’ a cappella read of the traditional “Mining for Gold,” a heroin-slow version of Hank Williams’ classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Dreaming My Dreams With You” (canonized by Waylon Jennings), and a radical take of the Patsy Cline classic “Walkin’ After Midnight” that closes the disc. Those few who had heard the band’s previous album, Whites Off Earth Now!!, were aware that, along with Low, the Cowboy Junkies were the only band at the time capable of playing slower than Neil Young and Crazy Horse — and without the ear-threatening volume. The Timmins family — Margo, guitarist and songwriter Michael, drummer Peter, and backing vocalist and guitarist John — along with bassist Alan Anton and a few pals playing pedal steel, accordion, and harmonica, paced everything to crawl.
The lyrics and instrumentation of the album were lifted from the classic country groups the band was exposed to, and the song “200 More Miles” was written in reference to their life on the road.
As they had on Whites, the band wanted to record live with one stereo microphone direct to tape—it is stated on the album cover that the recording was made on 2-track RDAT using one single Calrec Ambisonic Microphone.
Peter Moore was enlisted and suggested the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto for its natural reverb. To better persuade the officials of the historic church, the band claimed to be The Timmins Family Singers and said they were recording a Christmas special for radio. The session began on the morning of 27 November 1987. The group first recorded the songs with the fewest instruments and then the songs with gradually more complex arrangements. In this way Moore and the band were able to solve acoustic problems one by one. To better balance Margo Timmins’s vocals against the electric guitars and drums, she was recorded through a PA system that had been left behind by a previous group. By making subtle changes in volume and placement relative to the microphone over six hours, Moore and the band had finally reached the distinctive sound of the album by the time the last of the guest musicians arrived at the church.
The band was unable to rehearse with most of the guest musicians before the day of the session. Considering the method of recording and time constraints, this could have been disastrous for the numbers which required seven or more musicians, but after paying a security guard twenty-five dollars for an extra two hours, the band was able to finish, and even recorded the final song of the session, “Misguided Angel”, in a single take.
Contrary to popular myth, the album was not entirely recorded in one day. In the hustle of the first recording session, the band forgot to record “Mining for Gold”. Margo and Moore recorded the song a few days later during the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s lunch break.
Sleeve notes state that the recording was not mixed, overdubbed or edited in any way.
Michael Timmins adds more detail of the album’s genesis:
We had spent the past year touring Whites Off Earth Now!! around Canada and the United States, grabbing gigs wherever and whenever they were offered. We had sold an incredible (by the Canadian indy standards of the time) 3,000 copies of Whites and had taken the little money that we had made from touring and placed it all back in the band. With a pocketful of change and the inspiration from our travels we began to conceptualize our next recording.
While touring Whites we had spent a lot of time in the Southern States, especially Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas. For some reason the club owners down there took a liking to what we were doing so we spent a lot of time crossing the kudzu choked highways that ran through the heart of the old Confederacy. Those were the days when having to spend a night in a hotel room would mean the difference between eating the next day or paying for the gas to get us to the next town, so we spent a lot of our time sleeping on the floors of friendly promoters, fans, waitresses and bartenders. One of the best part about being “billeted” was that each night we were exposed to a new record collection and each night we’d discover a new album or a new band or a whole new type of music that was springing up in some buried underground scene somewhere in America.
I went to Austin last weekend for the occasion of my mom’s retirement party from Seton – she had worked there 30 years, give or take. She didn’t know I was going to show up, the look on her face when I walked into the conference room was wondrous. The rest of the weekend was mostly filled with eating good food and drinking just enough wine, coffee and other beverages at various locations around town, including my cousin’s S.P. building in Lockhart. There was a birthday celebration at Barton Springs, I hadn’t been there in many, many years. A good time was had, I really should visit more frequently.
My folks are on a declutter kick, trying to keep only things that are important, space permitting. The top image above (Untitled Abstraction) was hanging on the guest bedroom wall, and so I claimed it. Allegedly, I drew this cubist-inspired image when I was seven or eight years old. I don’t actually remember doing so, especially since I’ve never been much of a sketch artist or painter, but I trust the drawing as being something I created, despite a lack of a letter of authenticity extant. Now it hangs in my house. [Edit] Doh! False information, my brother actually is the artists! Ha.
The Shadow Investigates Barton Springs
Torchy’s Future Location on South Congress, former home of Dan’s Hamburgers, then Fran’s Hamburgers
The Next Whole Earth Catalog
Never Handle Grounded Bats
Zoey at Kreuz Market Texas BBQ
No Sauce. No Fork. Kreuz Market, Lockhart
Slicing Brisket – Kreuz Market – Lockhart
Variations On An Unstated Theme
Under the Interstate
Semi wild Italian Arugula in Lower Yurtistan
letter jacket – Travis High School Academic Achievement Letter Jacket including a now-defunct mascot.
Entire companies are being built on the backs of a neurosis that makes us believe that the process of shedding is complicated to the point of paralyzing.
It is all pointless and misguided, and it is time to liberate ourselves from the propaganda of divestment.
I would like to submit an entirely different agenda, one that is built on love, cherishing and timelessness. One that acknowledges that in living, we accumulate. We admire. We desire. We love. We collect. We display.
And over the course of a lifetime, we forage, root and rummage around in our stuff, because that is part of what it means to be human. We treasure.
Why on earth would we get rid of our wonderful things?
It is time to celebrate the gentle art of clutter. We live, and we pick up things along the way: the detritus of adventure; the vessels of mealtimes; the books and music of a life of the mind; the pleasures of our daily romps through the senses.
If you’ve ever been in my house, you’ll know that I have things everywhere: piles of books, magazines, newspapers, stacks of compact discs and DVDs, artwork in process of being hung, not to mention the more permanent items already displayed, plus cat toys, file folders for the projects de jure, notebooks full of scribbles and diagrams, shelves of vitamins and herbs, bottles of wine and spirits, both empty and partially full, electronic flotsam and jetsam, and all the little snippets and objects of a life lived. Some might consider it clutter, but we’re ok with it, mostly. We vacuum, dust, and clean at least once a week, so it isn’t that it is dirty and disgusting in here, just not spartan. We are not minimalists, we are maximalists. Sorry, Leo! I love you, cuz, but I’m on the other side of the spectrum…
“Oh, You wanted to *work* at your desk?”
When fashion icons like Iris Apfel agree with me, I’m even more ok with not following the de-clutter trend.
Similarly, people seem to be obsessed with decluttering their homes these days, but you’re known for keeping your house filled with all sorts of treasures. Why? I love clutter. I think being totally minimal shows a lack of history and soul, and I find it sort of pitiful. I think it’s wonderful to have stuff and live with memories and things you enjoy.
That is not to say I don’t need to throw out things, and in fact, I do get rid of things on a semi-regular basis. I rarely save magazines after I’ve finished reading them, (digital excerpts an exception of course, as anyone who is on my email list can attest) I donate clothes to Goodwill or elsewhere whenever I stop wearing them. I don’t have problem discarding objects just because I once used them, I only keep a small portion of talismans of my history. I’m only saying I don’t need your advice on what I should keep. And my house will never look like a yoga studio, sleek, spartan and empty.
Onward Thru The Fog! Oat Willie’s
There is a reason we talk about nesting. Next time you are out walking, take a close look at a nest.
Nests are full of twigs, bits of fluff, string, moss and bark. Stuff birds take home, and fit to a shape that accommodates their lives.
Some birds even press their warm bodies against their stuff as they are making their nests, molding them to the shape of their breasts, so that they feel like … home.
A home that is uniquely theirs, and uniquely beloved.
Funny how memory works.1 A song by The Cars came on the iTunes shuffler, and I remembered the first time I heard that band when I was 13 or 14, traveling with my uncle Phil up to Frostpocket. We stopped in Atlanta because there was some Amnesty International exhibit on the death penalty and/or the Cambodian Killing Fields (as far as I can remember). We stayed with my aunt Megan, and her boyfriend at the time, Mark (whose last name I forget)2 for three days, one of those I was alone in their apartment, looking at their records, and found the Cars album, put it on the turntable…
Looking at the cover, I’m pretty sure it was the album, Panorama.
Greg Prato writes:
For their third album, 1980’s Panorama, the Cars decided to challenge their fans with an album unlike its predecessors. Whereas The Cars and Candy-O were both comprised of instantly catchy and distinctly tuneful songs, Panorama was much darker and not as obvious — an attempt at breaking away from the expected winning formula
I’m old enough that I don’t want presents from people, unless they are genuine surprises, I find it much better to buy my own presents. I’m torn between purchasing myself a NAS drive to replace a Drobo that I don’t really like, or a quality, direct-drive USB-enabled vinyl turntable. I also considered getting a zoom lens, but I wouldn’t use it that often, so it’s lower on my list.
I’ve heard good things about Synology, such as this machine or similar:
and this Audio-Technica turntable looks pretty nice:
My quick thought is that the NAS drive is a more practical purchase – I do need a better storage device for backups; the turntable would mean I’d have to have space for some vinyl records in an already bursting-to-the-gills office.