Category Archives: music

the undertow.

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being someplace else can be incredibly healthy.
you walk different streets, you eat at different bistros, you drink different beer, you meet different people.
the skies different. it’s all just … not what you know. it’s something else.

kate lives two doors down from modest mouse. it’s a bigger corner house with a mannequin looking out of the top window. it overlooks a park and she can hear them jamming all the time. i stood in front of it and thought, 

“hey, you’re famous. i love your porch.”

seeing where they live made them normal. they make rad music, but they’re no different than anyone else, really. these dudes drink beers and pay their rent and call their friends and have a deer lawn ornament. 

but as most of my thoughts do, the boat caught the undercurrent and i found myself wondering about all the decisions they made to have their lives be this, right here, on this street, at this house. what did they decide that culminated into this?

and that, that undercurrent of thought, is why being someplace else can also just irritate the shit out of settled dust.

it’s kind of annoying. here you think you have a few things figured out and suddenly you stand in front of modest mouse’s house, cock your head to the side, and you feel it, feel something shift. and the dust does a giant, unified grab for the ceiling. f.

rely on their lyrics to articulate it better than i can:

“i like songs about drifters – books about the same. 
they both seem to make me feel a little less insane. 
walked on off to another spot. 
i still haven’t gotten anywhere that I want. 
did I want love? did I need to know? 
why does it always feel like I’m caught in an undertow?”
– world at large. 

holy shit. i don’t know.

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the porch across the street.

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kiedis.

a lot of people wish that they read more. i am one of them.

so i’m making my own valiant effort to get a book under my belt every month.

last month was the new donald miller.
and what an amateur thrill to get to the afterword and be that excited that i finished it. i have an enormous habit of reading a quarter of a book and then losing interest. i have stacks of “i only read to chapter 3” books.

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octobers was another book that almost fell victim to the same habit. i had picked up “scar tissue” by anthony kiedis back in cape town sometime in june. i started reading it, got distracted, and it felt no love for a couple months.
then i strictly implemented this goal and since i didn’t want it to be yet another book i sort of read, i picked it up again.

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the lead singer of the red hot chili peppers has lived an insane life. an insane life.
it took 465 pages for his life to unravel so i can’t exactly sum it up well, but he has done and felt and been everything under the sun.
he has gone full tilt since infancy and its this awesome, awesome story. and it wasn’t even the typical he-did-a-lot-of-drugs-and-bed-a-lot-of-women story (even though he did those things in excess). he did it with this huge, real-life pumping and beating heart, just like everyone else has, and the emotion and awareness behind his story speak higher than just the typical rock-and-roll lifestyle.

he had a wild father who was lord of the sunset strip. he started smoking dope at 11, was quietly schooled by george clinton and mentored by sonny bono. he went out dancing in a frock dress with no underwear and black combat boots and faxed love poems to his girl, sinéad o’connor. he spent new years with kurt cobain and helped put a then unknown pearl jam on the map by giving them an opening gig. 

here are some of my highlighted lines:

“go get out of yourself and do something for someone else, voila, you don’t feel like shit anymore.”

“i’ve wanted to feel pleasure to the point of insanity. they call it getting high, because it’s wanting to know that higher level, that godlike level. you want to touch the heavens, you want to feel glory and euphoria, but the trick is that it takes work. you can’t buy it, you can’t get it on a street corner, you can’t steal it or inject it or shove it up your ass, you have to earn it.”

“to me, my life was what was in front of me.”

i love that he articulated this, because it is so, so true: “a lot of times people will judge you on their perceived idea of how you’re acting. if you’re in a room and you’re feeling shy and you don’t want a certain amount of attention, you’re not going out of your way to make friends with everybody. then someone’s going to walk away going, “that arrogant motherf*cker, he didn’t even try to talk to me.” you’re trying to lay low and not make a big deal about yourself, but they’re seeing you as this guy who’s all that and a bag of f*cking chips.”

“time and distance have a way of playing tricks with your best intentions.”

talking about drug addiction, you’re not creating the ripple of love; you’re creating the vacuum of shit.”

and the clutch quote:

“i had a distinct feeling, even though i didn’t have a concrete means of achieving it, that whatever i ended up doing with my life, i wanted to make people feel the way this music was making me feel. the only problem was that i wasn’t a guitar player and i wasn’t a bass player and i wasn’t a drummer and i wasn’t a singer, i was a dancer and a party maniac, and i didn’t quite know how to parlay that into a job.”

he turns 47 today. so hey, happy birthday mr. kiedis.

what can be felt squashed between strangers.

wednesday was a really, really good day.

i shoved my acid wash jeans into my tall wooly worker socks and off i went:
to the station to pick up my train tickets (even for the tiny trip i’m taking next week, my heart was skipping through the big front doors).
to the art supply store stocked with canvases and paints and envelopes and easels.
to finch’s on west pender, most likely the cutest cafe ever invented. i had potato soup.
to the letter shop to get some prototypes printed on the hot, hot press (more on that in a few weeks!)
to videomatica down the street. a video store with thick sections for the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. i glanced over copies of butch cassidy, bonnie and clyde, goldfinger, alfie, the graduate…
to the stationary store. came out with a stack of cardboard related to said project, and a purchase i’m sure only exciting to me.

and once the rain hit i barreled through the door, arms full, and very happy. emily announced that i had to call hailey immediately. i hadn’t even taken off my shoes and was still huffing from the uphill walk, when i get her on the phone.

“i have a friend who is really sick and is selling her floor-seat ticket tonight to U2 for 50 bucks. do you want to go!?”

never say no to these things. just don’t…ever.

i scarfed down some food, went back into the rain, piled on the bus and followed the masses to b.c. place.

and man, i really don’t mind going to concerts alone. it’s just you and the band and no fuss. just music.

so there i was, squashed into thousands of strangers a couple dozen rows of people back from the stage, when the huge circle screen starts counting down.
people went nuts.
i went nuts.
i, without a doubt, dulled the hearing of the dude to my left. this is a band that’s been around since the 70s, that produced the epic-likes of rattle and hum, that are in the rock company of the beatles and the stones. 

It’s U2. 

anything less than nuts is disrespectful. right? right.

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mr. adam clayton

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sunday bloody sunday.

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where the streets have no name. as soon as those first few notes warm the air, something else fills the room. it feels a lot like heightened hope, that there is something more than this. U2 lengthened the intro and as soon as that guitar note drops and the drum catches its stride, everyone starts jumping. i had my arms in the air, jumping, jumping, jumping, and singing.

and at every other concert, you’re singing to the air, to the band. but at this concert, o you know who you’re singing to. it’s just arms stretched to the heavens and a cry out to God, “i want to reach out and touch the flame, where the streets have no name…”

one. this song is so emblematic of my times in africa. it was always on the soundtrack. they played it as an encore with an opening video of desmond tutu explaining how the freedom fighters in the civil rights are the same freedom fighters of apartheid are the same freedom fighters of…we are those same freedom fighters.
this south african leader, this world leader, gushing about peace and then bono sits on a stool and starts “one”. it brought me back to my african family in uganda and the townships in cape town and that school in the mountains of lesotho. it went straight through the chest. and i so deeply missed africa.

feeling all that is U2 was euphoric and beautiful and felt like something that can only be felt in another world.

wednesday was a really, really good day.

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be here now.

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good music burrows itself somewhere deep, somewhere it pays rent. and it never leaves.
mason jennings found a crack somewhere in the thick.

in the spring, i was chugging along on a train ride to paris listening to jennings. the song switched over and “if you ain’t got love” came on. the lyrics start off, “on the train ride to paris…” and i smiled with all my teeth. 
his song and my life, for six words and one moment, were the same.

and i don’t know what else to say about him. a person’s relationship with music is entirely their own. he is just, he’s kept me company the past two years.
the feeling of being front row at his show and hearing him play is something i’ll hold in my hands until i’m really, really old.

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his song title “be here now” has a permanent home on my arm. i listen to it and everything just shifts into place and grins.

be here now
no other place to be
or just sit there dreaming
of how life would be
if we were somewhere better
somewhere far
away from all our worries
well here we are.

be here now
no other place to be
all the doubts that linger
just set them free
and let good things happen
let the future come
into each moment
like a rising sun.

 

be here now 
no other place to be
this whole world keeps changing
come change with me
everything that’s happened
all that’s yet to come
is here inside this moment 
it’s the only one.

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