Lonnie Holley - All Rendered Truth
I’m glad I trust every recommendation Casey Dienel’s ever given me. Holy holy holy.
One of the greatest songs I’ve heard in 10 years, no joke. Thanks Eric. Lonnie Holley, everyone.
From Dust to Digital:
Holley has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity. His art and music, born out of struggle, hardship, but perhaps more importantly, out of furious curiosity and biological necessity, has manifested itself in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and sound… [He] did not start making and performing music in a studio nor does his creative process mirror that of the typical musician. His music and lyrics are improvised on the spot and morph and evolve with every event, concert, and recording. In Holley’s original art environment, he would construct and deconstruct his visual works, repurposing their elements for new pieces.
Dude forth from left is smiling. He loves his job. “I’ll never be to old for this shit,” he says.
Nat Baldwin - Weights
My pal Nat’s music is beautiful and powerful in this vaguely creepy, austere way. It especially shines in a live context - -so quiet and simple, yet somehow accomplishing the difficult task of bringing chatty crowds to a full stop. Furthermore, this video [directed by Willy Berliner] is really fucking great.
NAT IS A BOSS.
Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal — Oscarine (from Chamber Music)
I have very good reason to believe that in the months before my birth my Uncle Phil plotted in earnest to kill my father — probably by rigging his car so that it would explode upon its ignition. At the time of this suspected death plot, Uncle Phil was a special operations marine, which would have given him not only the necessary skill set to successfully pull off such a scheme, but also the necessary warped and bloated confidence to believe he might go unpunished for blowing up an American civilian —or maybe just plain get away with murder. That long ago year, my biological father, having admitted to a string of infidelities, had left my mother — and therein left soon-to-be-born me— in her early pregnancy. So, my mother’s older brother, my Uncle Phil, would not have been acting without motive. Little unborn me would never have known the man with whose DNA he was half-wound. Nor would teenage me have known —and in later years long for— the nights this never-never-father allowed high school girlfriends and he to drink wine coolers in a lakeside jacuzzi, as those wonderful reputation-making nights would have never been. Nor would present tense me be in position to inherit a black-and-green, tricked-out Harley-Davidson Fatboy upon the real-life death of my biological father, as the delayed midlife crisis and broken marriage, a comeuppance for his long-ago infidelities (?), that led him deep, deep into motorcycle culture would never have unfolded. This impotent death plot may be as close as I’ve ever come to real world intrigue. And while, yes, ultimately impotent, I’m quite sure Phil considered — and continues to consider— the non-act infinitely noble. The would-be death plot was subtly alluded to by Phil himself while visiting my grandparents from Yuma one summer following my college graduation.
That spring, Phil had come a knuckle-hair away from caving in Aunt Melinda’s face whilst sleep-fighting the Iraqi soldier he once killed in hand-to-hand combat during Operation Desert Storm. Now, he was seeing a therapist weekly and Melinda was sleeping in a spare room to leave my uncle Phil with his dream attackers and barked orders. The therapist encouraged Phil to detail the gruesome complexities of war through storytelling and writing. And since spring, Phil had only been able to produce a half-page of a now-crumpled yellow legal paper, his twenty-plus years of specialized military service — which supposedly included acting with Oliver North at the top of the Iran Contra Affair and the surrounding daring, but ultimately FUBAR’ed, hostage rescue mission, a helicopter crash that left two men dead and the survivors, Phil included, embedded across enemy lines in the Iranian desert for two days — whittled down to ten crude but hyper-technical sentences. Solely based on the fact that my first job out of the university was writing the education beat for a southern Indiana newspaper, Phil saw in me the much-needed ghost writer for his war memoirs. I was called north to my grandparents’ house that summer weekend to listen to Phil, his once taut and lean face now bullfrogged and steakhoused, relay in great detail the many highlights of his special-ops exploits, many of which had been, up until that very year, “government classified.” Phil envisioned I would transform this one-time-through, clunky telling in my grandparents sitting room into something Clancy-esque in its sure-shot combination of cinematic thrills and technical prowess only a military lifer would be privy to. Of course, I would never write a word that mooed from Phil’s mouth that day for the purposes he intended. Not only did I care little for war stories, albeit fairly convincing near-death accounts of an officer on the inside of the inside of American war games in the Middle East from the late 70s through the early 90s, I cared less for Phil as a member of the family. His visits visibly distressed both my mother and grandfather, and he aggressively sought to emasculate my step-father at every turn. And to be honest, his presence always furthered my suspicions that I had actually been adopted into this brood of simple folk to begin with, regardless of the deathplot for my biological father.
“And there was another thing that almost happened in Summer 1981. But I can’t tell you because it involves you, and it involves your mother,” Phil said at the end of his diatribe. “Luckily, your aunt here talked me out of it.”
Melinda, in the rocker across the room, gave a weird smile. Phil left it at that, and I’m glad.
Colin Stetson — Home (New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges)
You go to a city for the first time. Its smells and pallet strike you as natural, as second nature, preternatural. You’ve been there or belong there. Each corridor and storefront more welcoming than the last, and your ass fits perfectly into every barstool. The bone structures in the faces that pass stir a gut recognition, and even the voices of bartenders and waitresses sound like family. You were shot out into the world three decades ago, 2,000 miles away and you keep finding places that feel like home.
Linda Lewis — Red Light Ladies (Fathoms Deep)
You’ve been chewing the black pen cap for a solid minute before you realize it’s the office pen at Planned Parenthood. Just lovely. Now you can already foresee the likely return trip for the unknowable milky growth just inside your lip, you think. There is absolutely no monitoring of the tiny radio hidden just behind the fake greenery on the windowsill. Prince’s “Kiss” is followed by a swinging rockabilly tune in which the male lead sings: “She’s sexy and seventeen” (The Stray Cats’ “Sexy and Seventeen”). There is nothing sexy about the two 17 years olds (if that) in the waiting room with you. Or their mothers (Or maybe their open-minded aunts). Or the one other dude, with a Widespread Panic shirt on, that trotted through the room earlier. But it is sort of intriguing how chipper they all seem. They’re just hanging out. Damn near jubilant. Is this the resigned contentment of going all in on bad news? Yes, this is one place in the world where you can expect the worst of everyone and not feel like a cynic or a curmudgeon. Everyone except you of course, you magnificent bastard. You’re fine — aside from having chewed on that public use pen that is. Do you put the brochures back in the rack or toss them in the trash can on your way out? Which is the better indication that you’ll not be needing them?
Dirty Projectors — Two Brown Finches (The Glad Fact)
I read a short story once in college. I suppose it could have been considered science fiction writing. In the story, which takes place in a suburban or midsize town, residents notice a tiny black square far up in the sky, teeny tiny. They go on with their everyday lives, the ennui and malaise and rickety relationships. And every day this giant black square inches closer and closer. Of course, the impending doom of the black square doesn’t stop anyone from taking cheap shots at one another, or generally wasting each and every day. Eventually, this massive Death Star-sized black object is just over their houses. Then, one day, it’s so close the people have to lay on their backs in their lawns. The black rectangle is so close they can see their breath on it. It’s barely reflective. And all this one couple, who throughout the story have been at the precipice of their own collapse, can do is reach out for the other’s hand and wait on this object to probably crush them. I’m fairly certain this nameless short story was post-9/11 commentary, and I guess this is magical-realism — left field, but matter-of-fact in its telling. “Two Brown Finches” is the song we sing the day before we see that far off black square. It’s so small out their out in space, the size of a bean. Then, the size of a raspberry. Then, it’s as big as us. Then, it’s bigger than us. Then, it’s as big as our house. Dave Longstreth’s voice does all its faux-jazz dips and doodles. It’s breezy, but it’s an ominous breeze. And when he says “And we drank a two-liter of Orange Crush,” it crushes in the most literal sense — your big fat far-off plans, your hard little chestnut heart, your old bullshit habits.
Caribou Vibration Ensemble — Every Time She Turns Round It’s Her Birthday (Caribou Vibration Ensemble)
When I was in 4th Grade, my teacher Mrs. Hiatt had a calendar made out of a long, thin piece of cardboard, hung from the ceiling and running the perimeter of our desks, a big rectangle above our heads. We faced Autumn. Spring was to our backs. Winter (and more importantly Christmas break) directly to my right, almost just above my head, as I sat on the far right hand side, second or third row back. Summer (and more importantly Summer vacation) across the other students’ desks to my far left. She would clip a little paper with our names to our respective birthdays. And Mrs. Hiatt’s classroom calendar is how I’ve subconsciously tracked the years of my life ever since 4th Grade. It’s how I see time. When I think of a day, I see it up above my 4th Grade classroom. Right now, my mind’s eye knows just where we’re at on this day, Jan. 14, just above and behind me. And just a few space beyond that, it’s someone’s birthday. And her name is clipped to it.
Mor Thiam — Sindiely Song for the Black Beauty (Dini Safarrar)
To drink to excess a little less, at least less beer. Or at least stick to the good shit when possible. And dude, at least start stocking that liquor cabinet at home with the good stuff and stop guzzling it all in that first night. There’s no need.
To lay off the weed too, except when it would be impolite not to partake. Because nobody likes a staunch no-weed policy shit-ass around all the time. Again, we’re not talking about peer pressure. You’re nearly 30. This is about politeness.
To cut out the rationalizations as a means of back-peddling on your decisions. Say something, then just do that thing. Rationalizations don’t allow for bending room, they stifle your original intent.
To dedicate an hour or two each day, each morning (!), to write (not counting this “blog” or time spent “writing songs”), maybe even finish something you’d be proud to submit for publication somewhere (not counting the NC/SC indie-rock rag you “write” for at the moment for drinking money [see Resolution No. 1]).
To hug everyone goodbye when you leave, tell them how much you appreciated whatever, appreciated everything, appreciate them. I think this “Frenchman’s Exit” deal is starting to frustrate some people.
To use your gifted Starbucks cards to only buy a New York Times Sunday edition, and maybe one of those delicious cranberry KIND bars. Or hey, maybe a scone. But NO coffee, dammit. Think globally, buy locally.
To call your granddad more often, once every other day sounds about right.
To find that sweet spot you seemed to be riding in not but two years ago. Life, work, art, etc. Excellent balance. What happened, dude? You can do it. Ride the lightning.
To keep a journal on your person for to jot down those great ideas you think you’re going to retain for your next creative session but then, never do. You have three empty Moleskins just sitting that top drawer of your desk. You don’t only have Moleskins around just to say you have them, do you? Just as a hip artifact? I hope not. That would be lame. The writing in said journal will not apply to Resolution No. 3.
To get to really know more people in this city. Get interested in what the fuck makes them tick. Ask them where they’re from, how they got here, where they’re going. Ask them about their life plans, both plotted and spoiled. Crack the surface of the creme brulee that is this city and its people. You’re surrounded by awesome. Invest.
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