Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meeting Friends

A few weeks ago when I was visiting Benny in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, some heavy weather afforded the opportunity to cruise around on the internet and look for entertaining videos. I happened across this video, which is an episode of MTV's "Weird Vibes" featuring the band Holy Ghost! as hosts. There are a few reasons this video succeeds: the whole funky 90s aesthetic is actually executed pretty well here, hitting a nice balance between the use and abuse of nostalgia; Holy Ghost!, in addition to being an awesome band, they are genuinely funny; their dads are pretty cool too; oh yeah and the music and music videos are rad. One song and video that caught both my and Ben's immediate interest was "I'm His Girl" by the band Friends. Neither of us had heard of Friends before, but we were both immediately hooked by the sauntering bass line and the empowered percussion. (Percussion should never be marginalized.) The video is as catchy as the song - roughly speaking, it is about being young and cool and living in New York City. Also, it's about being young. And hip. In New York. Sounds sweet, right? No, not really, but it actually is somewhat satisfying to watch - it is clearly part of the ~~~NYC Scene~~~ without shoving that scene too far down your throat.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Use Your Head(phones)

Some songs just require headphones. Sometimes certain sonic intricacies reveal themselves only when given immediate access to the eardrum. Deeply layered tracks suddenly appear; harmonies emerge, seemingly from no where; the interplay between instruments that sounds flat on speakers becomes compelling through headphones. And the neat thing is that upon finding those little bits of music that are buried in the mix, which could only be discovered with a good pair of headphones and perhaps even a darkened room, they remain ever audible thereafter, even through variously imperfect speakers -- a laptop, for instance, or a car stereo with plenty of noise bleed from the highway rushing by. However, there is also another kind of discovery that can be made -- rather than finding something new occupying some heretofore unheard part of the overall soundstage, you find a certain lack. An absence or a void. It's the recognition of some sort of intangible space in a song. A property of there being something more contained in the song than just sound. It's the air in which instruments and voices can both mix together and still retain their isolated individuality. I'm sure there is some technical process, some cut-and-dry way to engineer this vague, ethereal property, but I feel no need to attempt to demystify the space. Regardless of how it's done, it's very difficult to describe an absence, so instead of going any further down this increasingly abstruse path, I will just share some songs.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Last Sunday afternoon L. Turino, NVN, and I were sitting at a raised table at a Boylston St. bar eating buffalo sliders, waffle fries, and cheese pizza, and discussing the Occupy movement. We tried for quite a bit to distill what was really going on down into a few points. At the risk of lumping them in with my ideas unfairly, you should ask them personally their uptake from the conversation. Here’s mine though. Attached with each is a poster I believe sums up the point I’m making. All the posters are distributed freely from “occupy together” the website.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I know this has happened to you. You’re walking down the street, a path, a hallway, and someone else is walking toward you. You can see for a good distance in front of you so the both of you know that you are walking toward one another and there aren’t really any other people around, so you will soon be passing right by each other. If you know this person well, at this point you have probably already waved or said hi or started thinking about what you will talk about when you both inevitably stop and chat. If I were walking across Colby for example, and saw a good friend walking toward me, I would be psyched. I would probably wave, and smile, and she probably would too, and then when we met we might hug, and chat for a few minutes. I might even turn around and start walking with her instead of reaching my original destination.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I’ll start off with a good quote:

"Archaelogy is a thing of the past." – P. Johnson circa last night in reference to the age of data and literacy potentially eliminating the need for future archaelogists.

You know what else is a thing of the past? Me blogging. Maybe it’s because I’ve been busy, but mostly I think it’s because I’ve been using all my creative brain time on other things. For some reason today I felt inspired to play a bunch of guitar and now write about music.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Swept Away

If it's one thing I know, it's that I am happiest when I'm playing tennis. Despite an often frustrated exterior after missing shots or having flaws in my game, it is my form of mediation, my sanctuary to leave the outside world behind and focus on the now. It is this feeling of selfless absorption -- learned that in Philosophy and Art, bitches -- that I've actually been looking for a lot lately. Earlier in the year I actually tried "sitting" to meditate, and believe it or not I think it was my lack of hip mobility that deterred any further pursuit. Indian-style (sorry, Karth, Native-American style) simply doesn't work for me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Factoids Aren’t Facts

A Defense of Prescriptive Lexicography

I was reading a New York Times blog today – the Diner’s Journal – which features a column called “What We’re Reading”. A few times a week they'll post a variety of links to food-related fare on the web. One of the showcased links was to a list of 20 pieces of trivia about sausages, and the text accompanying the link reads “A few fascinating factoids about sausage.” I couldn’t help but think of a recent conversation I’d had that skirted the intersection of commonly misused words, words that sound as if they should mean something other than what they do, and wordy pet peeves. No, “travesty” does not mean the same thing as “tragedy” and should not be used in its place; “disinterested” is close to but distinct from “uninterested”; an acronym must be pronounced as a word of its own, otherwise it is a mere abbreviation (e.g., NATO vs. FBI).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Learning to Remember

I was in a study hall period in 8th grade when I first heard that a plane had collided with one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The room was in a sort of remote part of the school, tucked away, budding off of a lone hallway that comprised the third or maybe even fourth floor of Cape Elizabeth Middle School. I remember a teacher coming into the classroom with a grave, deadly-serious face, taking aside the study hall monitor and exchanging some urgent, hushed news. I can't even remember who the study hall monitor was -- I remember what she looked like: tall with a boyishly cut crop of brown hair that fell just above her shoulders. She was young and taught Spanish, so I never actually had her for a class because I studied French. Her youth translated to an automatic air of almost being "cool", but as I remember she was meanly sarcastic and kind of a hard-ass. But I cannot for the life of me remember what her name is. I guess I haven't thought about her much over the past few years, but now, looking back, every forgotten detail carries a small but significant guilty weight. I know it's unrealistic to expect perfect recall in such a situation, but still, I can't even remember the name of the teacher whose classroom I was in? I can't remember how she broke the news -- it was still in the morning, and I think at that point most of the details were unknown, or at least kept from the students, for our own benefit of course.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Arrested Development

No, contrary to what some of you may be assuming (or hoping), I will not be writing about our beloved, yet short-lived TV show. (Although, if/when it strikes me, I just may find myself writing about The Big Yellow Joint or George Sr.’s love of ice cream sandwiches.) This time, however, the phrase will be used to describe what it means to work under the tightly regulated realm of government.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

If You Could See What I See...


Whenever I begin these little climbing posts, I feel tempted to recycle the bromidic phrase, If You Could See What I See.  With this expression--I think to myself--the reader will have undergone some prescribed Gestalt Shift which lends itself to my, not-so-unique-after-all, obsession.  The duck will become the rabbit, and the reader ought to now share my enthusiasm for clawing at these big pebbles.  Admittedly, it's a token best reserved for rousing speeches to a sleeping nation or to con a friend into some self-serving machination.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Feed Your Eyes

It was 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon, and I had just traveled for an hour along windy coastal roads to get to Quattro Passi a restaurant in Massalubrense, Italy. I was with two chefs who were friends with the family who owns the restaurant (this turned out to be a key factor in the experience), and when we arrived we were taken first to see the kitchen, and then to the dining room where we were the only guests for lunch.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Love. Hate.

How can one place change so much from day to day?

Fresno is a place of extremes: Highest level of concentrated poverty, 80 miles from the tallest peak in the lower 48, a few hour’s drive to the lowest point in North America, the drunkest city in America , #1 in US auto thefts. Living in this place of extremes has shaped my feelings towards it in the same fashion. I love Fresno. I hate Fresno.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Every once in a while you read a quote from a famous musician that isn’t garbage drug speak. I like these moments and I like feeling the people who I follow sometimes obsessively actually are articulate and meaningful. While Phish is obviously known for their stupid lyrics (except for backwards down the number line) Trey did say something in an interview with Guitarworld (yea I know…) that I will never forget. He described driving a long distance and suddenly having a song come on which instantly awakens him to his surroundings, as if all of a sudden the clouds evaporate and more is observed while still concentrating on another thought entirely. This is a strange neurological phenomenon not worth understanding, but I have felt my brain, when stimulated by one thing, seems to brighten/enhance/focus perception in general. I listen to a ton of music when I drive, but I had never felt this feeling. Sure when I was sleepy and I put on Appetite for Destruction it woke me up but not in this elusive fasion Big Red was insinuating.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Next Food Network Star

Hi everyone, I’m Chef Daustin and tonight I’m going to share with you a style of cooking that often gets overlooked, but with the right recipes and the right tools, is guaranteed to make some knockout meals! A lot of people think that to be a great chef they have to be able to perfectly chiffonade fresh herbs, brunoise leeks, simmer a mirepoix, create a silky béchamel and somehow combine these techniques to produce a meal that sounds more French than any of its parts. But no, ce n’est pas necessaire. Sure, if you’re running the kitchen of a Michelin-starred restaurant, you’re going to need to know how to parler la langue de la cuisine. And if you’re having a dinner party and cooking for 10 other people, you might want to at least see what Julia Child videos YouTube has to offer. But for most of us, these fancy-shmancy recipes are just plain out of touch. Let’s be realistic – you’re not cooking for 10 people very often. Maybe you cook for 5 people once every couple of months. Maybe. But you – and don’t take this the wrong way, I’m in the same boat – cook and eat most if not all of your meals alone. Sometimes with the refrigerator door still open.

Cooking for one gets almost no attention from today’s cookbook publishers and celebrity chefs. People assume that real cooking entails elaborate preparations for multiple diners whereas cooking alone entails eating halfway thawed hot dogs over the sink; but in reality, cooking for one can be just as elegant, refined and delicious as any multi-serving meals – and I’ve got the recipes to prove it! Read more for a few of my favorites. Bon appétit!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ode to Francis the Bus Lady

Oh Francis, sweet Francis
Why have you left me?

How can I take one more step onto that gum-stained floor without hearing your angelic song:
“Good morning, King David!”
Huzzah! Music to my ears!

And your smile? Where hath it went? Your nourishing smirk which gave life to my sleepy morning disposition is now replaced by a rigid half-toothed grin of an ogre!

Somehow the sweaty passengers are just not as repulsive
The cord not as fulfilling to pull and listen for that ding
The baby not as cute for me to give a cheery wave

But alas, sweet Francis!
You have moved on.
On to the great unknown of the 41.
All I wish, all I want in this world
Is for you to remember your King David
For I will never forget my Francis the Bus Lady

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dark Clouds, Fading Lights

 I was drunk.

Drunk on romance, drunk on manifesto, drunk on that vainglorious philosophy, which, if scrutinized by the lucid, would sooner be tossed than a graduate's copy of Meditations.  Mostly I was drunk on that bottom of the barrel brew, bistro's soft-pedal as 'house wine'. It's that filthy red shit that conforms your cogitations to its own murky character.  It's a conduit for ersatz genius and desultory conviction.  In most probability, it had a hand in the deluge of many once-great empires.  And then there was the ouzo and single malt.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Writing About Writing

In the interest of keeping my brain functioning for more than a few weeks past graduation, recently I've been looking back at some of my writing from the past four years.  As most of you know, I was an English major, and in my senior year decided to express my desire to write by declaring a Creative Writing Concentration.  What does that mean exactly?  Not much.  I'd already taken more writing classes than are needed (4) for this classification, and it was as simple as filling in about 3 lines on a form in the Registrar's office.  In trying to further this effort, though, I took a class called Advanced Prose in the spring of my senior year.  This was a small workshop style class--only nine members and one meeting each week.  Our projects could be whatever we desired.  Most people wrote fiction (short stories and two attempts at a novel), there were a couple of deeply personal memoirs, and one collection of travel writing stories.  Those were mine if you couldn't guess.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"The Screening Period" - Infinite Rest

Previous Entry: Infinite Rest
For something that seems so obscure, so unlikely, so remote it was remarkably easy to find the closest sleep studies to me. A quick google of “sleep study portland maine” didn’t turn up anything promising, so I tried “sleep study boston” and the first hit was to the Research Study Subject Recruitment page for the Harvard Division of Sleep Medicine. For some reason the success of a simple Google search is still able to instill some sense of pride, of self-sufficient (search-sufficient?) DIY know-how. There was a list of about 20 active studies, each with its own tagline and then a short summary of what the study would entail. The taglines offered some paltry information about the studies they were representing, but I think their main function was not to inform, but to lure in potential subjects. One study’s tagline was “Need some light in your life?” Only in the context of sleep studies can such a seemingly innocuous question feel so sinister. And of course there was no indication in that study’s summary that light would play a role in the study, leaving one no choice but to conclude that they would be locked in a room with the lights on for God knows how long.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Reentering the Earth's Blogosphere: or How a Cartoon Has Kept Me From Writing

I'm heating up, flying down through the blogosphere, cruising past space dust and satellites broadcasting the Bruins game and sharing my personal information with anyone who wants it.  Damn cloud computing.  Much has happened in the time since last posting, and covering all of it would be exhausting and an exercise in banality.  So, in brief, since late April I have: written several papers, crammed for an Art History exam, passed my classes, graduated, moved down to the coast, watched a couple games of Ultimate Frisbee, climbed some damp rock, gotten approximately 12,594 blackfly bites, spread some mulch, planted a garden, walked on the beach, gone swimming in the frigid waves, eaten mussels, hosed out moldy trash cans, walked Lucy, and read most of a book called Anthill (it's not good).  I did some other stuff too, but that's the gist of it.  It's been an interesting month and a half.  In the all the hubbub, though, there's been an activity that has grounded me and reminded me fondly of my youth.  Most days I indulge in it, and it is the focus of the rest of this post.  So read on if you like cartoons...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Watching the Corn Grow

If you drive into the city of Fresno from any direction, you will see the same repetition of scenery in slightly different forms. Highway 99 from the northwest takes you through vistas resembling Napa Valley, with curtains of grape vines stretching for miles-cultivated for any of the fruit's 3 forms of consumption: wine, grape or raisin. Coming in from the West follows a straight, flat highway 180 bisecting the most abundantly fertile land in our country, home to blinding amounts of cotton, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and cantaloupe. Highway 41 stretching into town from the South acts as almost a mirror image of its northern counterpart, Highway 99. Grapes are truly King in Fresno County; so much so, in fact, that there's a little town south of the city aptly named Raisin City. And to the East, slowly crawling up into the Sierra Nevada foothills along Highway 180, are the county's true poster-child: the stone fruits. Now, I have not tried any yet, for 'tis not the season, but I have heard that Fresno county's apricots, plums and peaches are the greatest in the world. "Like taking a bite into a juicy sphere of pure sugar," they say. After having already tasted the strawberries grown here, I trust every word any Fresnan tells me about the quality of fruits. They know their produce.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Infinite Rest

Blogger's note: As most of you probably know, I participated in a sleep study at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston from November 12th to 25th, 2010. Over the next few months I'll periodically be posting the journal entries I wrote while in the hospital. Except for minor spelling and grammatical revisions, I've refrained from editing the journal entries and will be posting them exactly as they were originally, sloppily penned. However, I might end up omitting some of the boring stuff, for your sake and mine. I might even end up scrapping the entries altogether and just start making stuff up. But for now, integrity. And a few posts, such as the following prologue, have been written ex-hospital, to serve as contextual bookends. Hope you enjoy, or at least that you don't fall asleep.


Sometime in the late summer or early fall of 2010 I found myself en route to Rumney, New Hampshire for a week, or maybe it was an extended weekend, of rock climbing. I was making the two and a half hour drive from Maine with Tucker, a friend who'd graduated from college a couple years before me and had been drifting between temporary jobs ever since. He wasn't the type to settle into an office job right after school, and as far as I know, he's still floating around somewhere, I think up in the Pacific Northwest now. A couple years earlier I'd driven cross-country with Tucker and a couple other friends. For us it had been an excuse to camp and climb across America and even earn a little college credit for it; for Tucker, it was a rather impromptu relocation, as he ended up staying in Crested Butte, Colorado to try his hand as a ski bum while the rest of us continued the road trip for another week or so before returning home to finish school.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Mark Twain Is The Man

I've been out of commission in the writing words game, solely subsisting on greek letters and special functions (here's a new friend). But I try to read a little whenever I can. I was scouring a Smithsonian for any semblance of enjoyable material when I stumbled upon an article about Samuel Johnson, an esteemed biographer of social commentator James Boswell. That seemed like so many literary levels removed from real life, until I found out that "Writing the Life of Samuel Johnson", a chronology of said biographer, had taken it a step further, yet still won very prestigious critics awards. Who reads this stuff anyway? This is two hops and a skip away from a rumor mill, except that I guess it's fastidiously researched to the point of obsession. I want to get back to the roots of American Literature and celebrate a man who wouldn't dare get caught on a hype track for some other writer essaying on the story of another writers writing. I just realized I'm writing about this.

Here's a few reasons why Mark Twain is the MAN, some are outright lies. He:

Invented the huckleberry.

Inspired the song Cripple Creek Ferry. Neil Young is his grandson.

Vilified and mocked the British and their snooty accents. Still got a degree from Oxford.

Bathed in rivers. Made money.

Had a real name, but didn't use it.

Spoke out against slavery, imperialism, and civil injustices around the world. Also, was born with fluffy moustaches.

Is the reason we know the period of Halley's comet.

Fell in love with a picture. Then married the woman in it. Talk about self aware.

Chilled with Nik Tesla, physics badboy and understood wizard.

Became depressed when his daughter died -- a proper and forthright reaction.

Wrote books that are still banned for being naughty. TEE HEE

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Screen The Modern Family

Surfing the internet is good for so many things, and worse for so many others that I can't even begin to start rationalizing my own addicted behavior, or judging others for their ipadding or conversely their holier than thou alternative choices like running or reading or Rastafarianism. I read an article in the times not too long ago about the modern family and its development(?) under the influence of technology. As I did, I felt weird inside.

I grew up in a house where watching television was demarcated as a waste of time. It was stupid and poisonous, and even though I found ways to watch some of the drivel around, and certainly spent my fair share of Saturday mornings doing a weird vaudeville version of karate in tandem with the power rangers, I was always aware that this was merely permitted as a direct consequence of “picking your battles”, not condoned. TV on weekdays was as forbidden as soda, except for the half hour of Wishbone which went down like warm raspberry seltzer – picture my face.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Goy Meets World

Ever since I can remember, my mother has insisted that I’m Jewish. Technically speaking she’s right; she is Jewish herself, and according to halakha this makes me Jewish by default, despite my father’s blond hair and blue eyes. But her insistence was in the face of no particular resistance, which always made it seem kind of odd to me. Age 12, I’d be playing Nintendo, totally engrossed in the pixelated-yet-bucolic fantasy world of The Legend of Zelda, and out of nowhere my mother’s saying, “Danny, you do know you’re Jewish, right?” Uh, sure, whatever, Mom. Could you stop standing in front of the TV? Age 15, making myself a snack in the kitchen, or more likely cycling between desperate searches of the effectively-empty fridge and the nothing-here-but-raisins-and-Ovaltine pantry, when all of a sudden: “This is really important to me: never, ever, ever forget that you’re Jewish, OK hun?” Mom, stop being weird, and why don’t we have anything to eat? Age 17, returning home after a night of clandestine drinking, hoping that no one is still awake, tip-toeing upstairs, almost safe in my room, until I hear a muffled, tired voice reaching out from her bedroom, escaping along with a sliver of lamplight from the crack between door and floor. “Dan, could you come here for a second?” Shit. “Hi honey, just wanted to remind you to always remember that you are Jewish!Mom, not now, can’t you see that I’m drunk?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lynn Woods: The Discovery

When you bring up Lynn Woods to local climbers, you receive a varied reaction.  It's a choss pile to some.  A land scattered with lowballs of piercing granite.  They look to their hands dejectedly and impel the conversation towards the wonders of Lincoln Woods and Pawtuckaway. Others get a wistful glaze over their eyes.  They zone out for a moment, then rouse telling fantastical tales of gourd-like blocs, rained in the forest like a skittle commercial of yore.

Lynn woods was, in my experience, a farrago of mystery, potential, and confusion.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Memoirs of a Fresno Bus Patron

While most wake up groggy, dreading even the thought of sitting in an office all day.......I also wake up groggy, dreading even the thought of sitting in an office all day, BUT...there is some silver lining, some glimmer of hope that I will enjoy at least 30 minutes of my morning. I am proud to say I ride the bus to work every day (unless I have a very important responsibility that requires my immediate presence right after work; like my woodworking class). It is in this small time-frame, between the hours of 7 and 8, from the corners of Van Ness and Floradora to Shaw and Willow, that I find endless amounts of enjoyment.

The FAX bus system is not for the faint of heart. US city buses carry with them the stigma of being forced to ride mass transit because you are too poor to afford a car (excluding the large metropoleis like San Francisco or New York). This stigma is even more severe in Fresno because everyone has a car and it is almost impossible to get anywhere without one. Thus, FAX is left to service the homeless, meth-heads, crack-heads, destitute, indigent, mentally disabled, and the downright dirty. Throw a whole lot of crazy in the mix and you've got yourself a complete picture of Fresno mass transit. I have quickly learned to throw all assumptions of human behavior out the window while on the bus. It is because of this unexpectancy of the homo sapien that I get excited about my 30 minutes with these people every morning. The people I encounter on the bus embody the complete opposite of what we would view as a "normal." The following story is just one account of the typical FAX passenger.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CurrentTunes: or What I've Been Listening To Lately

I don't know about everyone else, but I was quite taken with the recent "Live Love" post.  The idea of sharing a playlist with several people at once like that had never occurred to me.  So here I present the first installment of "CurrentTunes."  I'm not going to say this will be weekly (or even monthly), but it's definitely a very intriguing idea.  I don't want to make this a really long post, raving about every song and why I like them.  But I'll say this much: these are several (mostly) mellow tracks that I've been enjoying over the last couple weeks.  Why these?  Various reasons--I downloaded some Traveling Wilburys after watching a particularly awesome episode of Community and remembering my love for this classic song; the Dusty Brown track is featured on King Lines (or was it Progression?) and is just really cool; Milkman's Union is my friend's band from Portland that I saw at One Longfellow Square last Saturday (stay tuned for some new songs from them).  And as for the XX and the Gil Scott-Heron remix, well, I just really love the guitar licks that the XX lays down.  So, check these out (you've surely heard some before), and if anything is new and exciting for you, comment and let me know, and send some cool tracks back my way.  Enjoy.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

the tip of the iceberg

The tip of an iceberg is a metaphorical sign of a relatively small symptom or problem that’s belying something far more troubling. Some fairly straightforward calculations involving the different densities of water and ice and the volume of the former displaced by the latter reveal that the tip of an iceberg is only about 10% of its mass. The rest of the iceberg, 90% of its mass, stays submerged – unseen, but its presence not unfelt. No, icebergs have been unable to successfully hide their true mass from us ever since that unforgettable historical event that has left such an impression on humankind. Am I referring to the actual sinking of the passenger liner Titanic or the cinematic depiction thereof? Well, I’m actually not sure which event has been of greater import to raising overall iceberg-awareness. But regardless of its origin, the awareness is here. Sink a reportedly unsinkable ship once, shame on you; sink a reportedly unsinkable ship twice, shame on me. (And in both cases, shame on the reporters.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Live Love

Most of you know that I have a special place in my heart for the city of brotherly love. The reasons are many: It was a short cruise down there on 95 in highschool, and we knew kids at Drexel. It was a real city with lots of life and history, but didn't feel intimidating, or expensive like New York. It was scary and exciting too, but not altogether that dangerous. Most importantly though, it was a place to see live music and had a great community of smaller to medium sized venues capable of housing known, but still undergroundy bands - and of course the Tweeter center was right across the river in Camden for the bigger shows like DMB, Allman Brothers, Phish, etc. I have no memory of feeling safe there though. Philly also had a large live electronic community, and I'm not sure how or when this started, but bands like the New Deal, Particle, Lotus, EOTO, Eliot Lipp and Sound Tribe always made stops at places like the Tower theater, the Trocadero, the Keswick, the Theater of Living Arts and of course the Electric Factory.

It might have been 3 years ago now the last time I saw Lotus at the TLA, but things were still the same. It was their "christmas party" and the crowd was filled with people I was "sure" I had seen before, and apparently all the families and friends of the band were in attendance. They played an amazing show of classic songs also tossing in some really silly/crazy covers including a tease of Killing in the Name, and a jammed out version of Hyrule Castle. I got thrown out for underage double fisting, but walked back in the front door with no problem. Nice. When we left we were greeted with the loving hiss of the mafia, just like old times.

It seems like these days I hardly have time to see live music. I could have seen a master class on monday night from the guitarist and drummer from Wilco, but I even missed that. As a result I have more and more drifted into listening to albums, and falling for the blogosphere. But, one thing I always like is to listen to live music anyway. I love listening to artists reinterpreting their own music live, and the energy that comes from a crowd/musician interaction. Truly the most magical recordings I have in my library are often improvisations, and will never happen again. I give you a playlist of 10 incredible live versions of songs you may or may not have heard.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

one from the vaults

This is something I recorded back in the summer of 2010, which feels so recent when I think of it, but sounds so distant when I say it. I recorded it in my basement when I had access to an electric guitar and amp, but I have neither now so I can't really do a whole lot of revising -- instead I'll just share it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In Defense Of A Great Band

I know this might bother a few of my coauthors, but for all their commercial success, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a great band. They have certainly had their set-backs, mostly centered around their longtime compatriot, the horse. Nevertheless they’re likeable, strange, funky, emotional, psychedelic, talented and have been enjoyably morphing and transcending popular styles through their almost 30 year career. It has made them in my opinion the best band of our generation (save for maybe Radiohead if hearing someone whine makes you feel better about your own depression).

Rumney Classics or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Moderates

There are a lot of reasons to climb at Rumney.  Having spent innumerable days there in the fall of my senior year at Holderness, I tend to have a sort of protective, loving feeling toward this schist paradise.  During those crisp fall days, my small group often found solitude at the popular cliffs that feature short approaches and lots of 5.7-5.10 routes.  We frequented Meadows, Parking Lot Wall, and 5.8 Crag.  When we had more time, we ventured to Darth Vader, Jimmy Cliff and Triple Corners.  Those cliffs are special to me, and house several Rumney classics.

Lootpack - Soundpieces: Da Antidote (1999)

Long before Stones Throw veteran Madlib was, well, a Stones Throw veteran, he ran with an outfit known as Lootpack.  Comprised of Wildchild, DJ Romes, and Madlib, the crew met up in high school and began producing and rapping as if with genetic benevolence.

Ode On A Spanish Onion

It is a late and closeted hour in Hanover. The once verdigris sky has contracted into a nebulous hole of steamy depth. I come home desultory and slavering. My key clicks and I wander into my kitchen, craving a disparate flavor. Dear God. Give me something new. I need novelty. I need something more than the pomegranates of the malevolent earth. My mind is drenched in trivialities, my temples beating like a sodden shrew's boiling heart. Were it not for my cell phone ringing out in desperation, I would fall on the floor like a oven grate, burning and jangling and hissing its final miseries in a sweaty linoleum coffin. But here we have a surprise. Pete has been shopping and has called to inform me he will be home soon -- oh make it soon -- with the bounty of the co-op, pretentious and predictable ingredients from euphemistic and charming aisles, fresh and supple delectables to nourish and sustain my woefully empty soul.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Freeport Fun

I open my eyes to see Karthik, standing in my doorway, geared up, nervously peaking in to see if I am in the "ready to be woken up state" or not. Big risk to take, knowing what I am capable of doing to those who attempt to prematurely jump-start my day. Annoyed, I tell him to go away, but my pathetic attempt at a sentence dissolves way too rapidly into a collection of clogged noises, resembling something between a wet series of coughs and a futile attempt to start a lawn mower after a long winter of neglect. I check the clock, 9:30 AM, holy crap. "Karthik I am going to kill you!"

Two hours, three cups of coffee, several arguments, and 21 miles later, we pull up the boulders at South Freeport. My intentions for the day were explicitly voiced, "I will come to hang out, but not to climb."

Please Don't Judge Me

Okay, so this is what I did today instead of studying for the GRE's. Enjoy.

"You Never Know"


I’ve been thinking about all the things that got me where I am
Breaking it down to pieces just to help you understand
How I got my flow to grow and blossom from the dark
Flipping this thing around, let me back up to the start

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Promised Land

I have been to the Promised Land

and it is good.

The skeptic in me has always put aside Yosemite as "just another tourist trap" where the idea of going to Yosemite is what draws people, rather than the actual place. And assured myself, "I've seen an alpine landscape before, Yosemite is just another scene from the same book..."

Oh, was I mistaken.....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

From My Stomach to Yours

Many of you might not know this, but the day I wanted to start cooking was freshman year winter break at Caroline’s house in Vermont. Let me set the scene: In our delirious states of intoxication, Caroline whipped out a Segway and started riding it rodeo-style. Then we got hungry. Nick quickly proposed a bomb chicken dish of mass proportions, accompanied by bruschetta and a monster salad. Nick jumps on preparing the meat, Meg and the girls start cutting bread for the bruschetta, Karthik leaning over their shoulders asking for tastes and likely making jokes that end in throw-up noises. This is where I come in. I’m cutting the fucking tomatoes and carrots for the salad. Like fuck me. I simply didn’t have the confidence or know how to help in any other way. I told myself then and there that I would learn to cook.

"musical ideas about musical ideas"

Just over a week ago I saw LCD Soundsystem play what they've called their last show ever, The Long Goodbye. Maybe not as good of a name as The Last Waltz, but at least Neil Diamond wasn't involved. I'm reluctant to say that it was the best show I've ever seen, even if I believe that this might be the case, because I think I said that after I saw the Flaming Lips in 2002, Moe. in 2004, Modest Mouse in 2006, STS9 in 2007, David Byrne in 2008, STS9 again in 2008 and Phish in 2009. Maybe the actual quality of the show is secondary to the experience of being at a show, and this is why almost every show I see seems better than the last. Maybe just seeing live music is more important, more impressive, more memorable than the music itself. Maybe being drunk, being high, rolling or tripping potentiates this effect -- there are certainly shows where I can't remember specifically what songs were played or in what order, but I distinctly remember how I was having so much fun. And then after a few nights of solid sleep you forget how much fun so much fun is until the next show.

But every show isn't as much fun as the last. Some shows are just OK, and some shows suck and some shows are a fucking blast but for whatever reason they aren't a fucking blast. And if you think too hard about what makes a show so enjoyable, you're going to dilute just how enjoyable it is. After all, I think we can agree that a big part of any show that's even slightly enjoyable is dancing like an idiot, and the more you think about dancing, the less you actually dance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Video VVednesday: Footsteps in the Dark, FA?

As I mentioned before, we were able to get a bit of film from the crevasse climbing at Castle Rock last weekend.  Because the area is adjacent to the water and hidden from sunlight, we were only able to attempt one dry problem.  It seemed clear --though appearances often belie fact-- that the climb hadn't seen much, if any, traffic.  The problem began by ascending a few slopey crimpers on polished, frictionless feet.  These moves were somewhat difficult and required much more attention and balance than I had originally expected.  The precision required to remain static made it feel as though I was climbing a slab problem.  After the introductory sequence, I had to match on a sloping orb, about the size of a cue ball, and make a long throw for a sloping ledge.   I first attempted the move static, but the core tension required proved too tough for this lovehandled simian.  Second try, I pulled a Sharma and went for the Dyno.  To finish the problem, one has to mantle the sloping ledge and climb a pocketed exit through a chossy dihedral.  I was too knackered on my second burn to fully sequence the finish, but with the pump-factor getting to me and the tide coming in, I knew I'd only have a few more attempts for the day.  I rested hard, figured out the beta with Bennie and AB, rehearsed the footwork in my head, and it went on the 3rd go!  Sickk...

This one isn't a classic, though I remain optimistic that the cave holds a few gems.  It was burly, pumpy, and thuggy on the send go (which the battery was too low to film).  Anyhow, here it is, and also my maiden foray into cinema/editing:

Footsteps in the Dark, FA?

Thanks to Aaron for filming and Bennie for the spot.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Stuff to Read and Look At

As I mentioned, I spend lots of time (probably way too much) reading articles about multi-pitch climbing, and while I haven’t lately, I used to sit around playing with a lenght of rope or cord and practicing knots and hitches.  A few times this fall I went to Devil’s Chair, fixed a rope, and used my grigri and some cord to ascend and descend.  It was sort of fun, sort of muddy.  But I learned some stuff (namely that when ascending, the grigri has to be below whatever else you are using (i.e. prussik, tibloc, etc.).  So, in the interest of expanding our collective knowledge base, as well making things safer for ourselves, here’s some stuff I’ve read in the last few months/years:

Livin' Local: Lynn Woods & Castle Rock

Despite ambivalent New England weather and Ben's cookies, we got to make it outdoors a couple times this weekend.  Bennie's in town and he brought the LEGENDARY psyche (albeit with a certain acridness).  We got beaten up by the Gulu Gulu on Friday, so Saturday started slow.  Woke up dehydrated from buff chick pizza, with the previous night's jazz cover of SpottieOttieDopalicious ringing in my ears.


In some ways, there’s the risk of this turning into a climbing blog. I guess that’s not truly a risk, though, since all of us would dig it. So in furthering that possibility, consider this: a) my ode to climbing in all its forms, b) a to do list, and c) something to maybe to get the psyche up.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A gallon of wine

Best saved for peaks and valleys,
the soaring highs and the sullen lows.
The effect remains the same:
Bubbles form and pop in your blood,
a rush of warmth lifts you, two inches off the ground.

Floating and sinking,
descending into the clouds.
Wrapped in a blanket -- no,
constricted, head in a vice.
Throbbing clarity found under heavy lids
in a gallon of Paisano.