Eleven thirty-eight on September 11th, 2003. I’…

Eleven thirty-eight on September 11th, 2003.

I’d thought about posting something today, and have spent a good amount of time trying to figure out exactly what that would/should be.

It’s not quite coming.

Last year, I worked a normal day, and made my way to Carroll Gardens after work, where I met some friends, including these two, for drinks. It was a good night; a crisp, bittersweet night in the early autumn. It felt reassuring to be sitting in a garden with people dear to me.

Today, I feel mostly numb.

It’s entirely possible that this numbness is hiding a deeper sense of disquiet; I can’t honestly say. But one year ago, there was still that sense of regeneration, of hope in the face of loss. This year, it seems as though the tragedy of two years ago has been co-opted by groups on both the right and left, for less-than-altruistic ends. The international goodwill that moved me so much is, seemingly, gone. My belief in an event that could transcend politics – which gave me a fragment of hope after everything had happened – is lost.

Two years later, it’s all sunk in, and I’m left uncertain how to feel. If my lack of feeling is somehow wrong. If my numbness is, ultimately, burying something deeper.

If you’re at all paying attention to the music com…

If you’re at all paying attention to the music coming out of the Vancouver area these days – and you really should be – you really should visit The Hive. What you’ve got here is a plethora of information, including MP3s, on numerous current and defunct bands, including Jerk With a Bomb, Radio Berlin, Frog Eyes, Destroyer, and others (including an obscure band called Hot Hot Heat. Maybe you’ve heard of them).

JWAB’s “To the Grave” is very much worth a download, as is just about anything by the bands mentioned above.

Went to the gym for the first time in a while this…

Went to the gym for the first time in a while this morning, trudging over there in a steady downpour of rain. Manhattan Avenue at 7:15 is a fine sight; while I loathe waking up early, there is something enjoyable about the city rousing itself awake.

Sometime in the last few weeks, my fear of flying has minimized itself; the intense need for travel that I felt in the first months of 2001 is back, and it’s an encouraging thing.

****

There’s more writing to be done tonight. That, too, is encouraging.

Three forty-eight A.M. An irrational fear of ra…

Three forty-eight A.M.

An irrational fear of rats is keeping me awake.

There are, as far as I can tell, no rats in my apartment. Save a few days three years ago, there have never been any, running free. But hey, at three forty-eight, any fear’s irrational, and even irrational fears are enough to keep me awake, poking away at Friendster with nothing better to do, bits and pieces of the new Radiohead shimmering through my brain.

At around 4 PM today, I realized that I was lettin…

At around 4 PM today, I realized that I was letting a fine late-summer day go to waste. I got out of my apartment and began walking, ultimately making my way over the Williamsburg Bridge. My trek home due to the blackout (over the 59th Street Bridge, from Manhattan to Queens, and through Queens to my neighborhood in northern Brooklyn) earlier in the month got me over my weird disinclination to walk over East River crossings. The view from the Williamsburg’s walkway is a stunning one – miles and miles of Brooklyn and Queens are visible; Manhattan fringed by the newly green East River Park.

Made for a nice way to spend a couple of hours, I’ll have to admit. Afterwards came subway trouble, comic books, and helping with the last stages of a move…but those are, as they say, stories for another time. My feet are, unsurprisingly, sore, and sleep seems like a fine idea.

There’s a certain difficulty that stems from tryin…

There’s a certain difficulty that stems from trying to find an engagement card for someone. Engagement parties appear to be the norm in one branch of my family, but other folks who I’ve mentioned this phenomenon to are more surprised at their existence…which may explain why Hallmark makes one to two designs for “engagement” and dozens in the vein of “happy birthday to my cat”. Engagement cards share much of their DNA with wedding cards – it’s the same general sentiment, with a slight caveat of “well, you haven’t quite made it official yet”.

I’m thinking out loud about all of this now because, well, the local Hallmark store managed to have their wedding and engagement cards mixed up. (There were a couple of “with sympathy” ones in there as well, which were pretty easy to filter out…unless that’s Hallmark’s rather sly way of letting you be a bitter, sarcastic bastard at someone’s wedding. “You’re getting married….my condolences.”) I chose one that appears to be an engagement card as opposed to a wedding card – but from looking at some of their other lines, the two are virtually interchangeable.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself for the time being.

Back in NJ right now to see my grandmother and to …

Back in NJ right now to see my grandmother and to – tomorrow evening – head out to Long Island to an engagement party for my cousin. I’m not the sort of person who eagerly anticipates large family gatherings, and my levels of stress have spent the past week and change rocketing to near spastic levels. (Literally – I keep finding my shoulders twitching inadvertently. It’s not fun).

Spent last night working late – very late – in order to be able to take today off. Didn’t get out of the office until close to one a.m., and boarded the next-to-last NJ Transit train to leave Penn Station at 1:37. The last time I’d been on that late a train was, I believe, four summers earlier, when I’d been at Tramps for a show – possibly Looper, at a time when “Who’s Afraid of Y2K” was a brand-spankin’-new track and the concept of “Y2K” was still a few months from reaching full fruition.

It’s around twenty-four hours later now; I’d hoped to whiz past still-lit streetlamps and increments of passing cars as I made my way south, but most of my view showed nothing but darkness.

At yesterday’s ERMP, got to see a set from the ama…

At yesterday’s ERMP, got to see a set from the amazing parts & labor. Spent a grand total of around 12 hours at the show; made my way home (and was inexplicably given a can of soda as I got off the bus at the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza) and proceeded to crash on my couch for the next 12 hours, waking only once to turn the a/c down, as my feet were cold.

(Somehow, I was convinced that it was 3 in the afternoon at this point; that I’d slept for 17 hours. Thankfully, this was not the case.)

three shows, two days I don’t normally lead the…

three shows, two days

I don’t normally lead the fast-paced, show-every-night lifestyle. The stars were in the proper settings lately, though, and it’s through some strange twist of fate that I found myself in motion from boro to boro earlier tonight, multiple destinations in mind.

First, though: last night. Mum, Stars As Eyes, and Animal Collective at the Bowery Ballroom, accompanying these two. I’d downloaded an Animal Collective MP3 not that long before, and had dug it in an eccentric kind of way. I suspected that I would have similar mixed feelings to their music as I did towards the Avey Tare & Panda Bear (members in common, etc) disc that I own. The Animal Collective stage setup for this show involved two fellows on assorted guitars and percussion, and….how best to put this…making noises. Shrieks, grunts, that sort of thing. Animal noises, basically. Lots of cycling and looping throughout; at times it came together, and at times it sounded like two guys on stage messing around with gear.

Stars As Eyes were next; I’d never heard them before, but – with one slight reservation – was quite impressed with what I heard. Beats and layers and layers of white noise and distortion; I’d seen at least one MBV citation in a review of something of theirs, and that’s not too far off the mark. The latter half of the set veered into slightly more beat-dominated territory, which didn’t interest me quite as much. (That would be the “slight reservation” listed above). Still, a fine showing; I’ll probably end up picking up a record of theirs before too long.

I’d seen Mum the previous summer at the Brooklyn Lycaeum, performing music while Battleship Potemkin was projected next to them. It was a hell of a show. The Bowery show focused more on newer (i.e. as yet unreleased) songs – though a couple of older ones made their way into the mix, to much applause. In some ways, the amount of applause seemed almost improper for the band – this is a group that makes deeply layered yet extremely delicate music; cheering and yelling encouraging words seems somehow too threatening. I don’t know.

Mind you, though, the audience was generally pretty quiet, which was understandable. Standing in front of me as Mum’s set began were three dudes, all with digital cameras, all practically giddy as the band began to play. The Lone Gunmen of Icelandic indie rock fandom? Maybe. They kept leaning in and chattering until one came to his senses and shushed the others. This happened more than once. One of the Gunmen was inexplicably sporting a hat, which he kept putting on, realizing subsequently that he was blocking the view of the people behind him, and removing. This, also, happened more than once.

The real kicker in the crowd, though, were two ladies at the bar at the back of the room, having themselves a nice sit-down conversation.

Had the band playing been, I don’t know, Hot Snakes, or Superdrag, or someone else with, well, loud guitars, this might not have been as glaring. But when you’re in the back of the room talking and you’re THE LOUDEST THING IN AN 800-PERSON VENUE, we have something of a problem.

I think someone said it best many years ago when they developed the word “Oy”.

***

Tonight. Stop one: Kilowatthours at the Mercury Lounge. Said venue is a nice, comfortable place to see a band, and I spend little to no time there. If memory serves, tonight was my first time seeing a show there in well over a year – though I’ll be back in a week for Dalek. Fine show, lots of guitars, keyboards more audible in the mix than previous kwh shows in NYC….an overall good time.

Left the show just before eleven. Went to a deli to get some cash from an ATM, and to buy some batteries for my camera, which had inexplicably (well, not that inexplicably – the last batteries I’d purchased for it were bought in the summer of ’01) run out of power. Spent the next twenty minutes trying to hail a cab; I’d mostly given up hope when one pulled up to me.

Arrived at Northsix just in time to see Frog Eyes. I’m still at a loss as to how to describe this band; the main points of comparison that I find myself coming up with are to idiosyncratic, unclassifiable musicians: Nick Cave circa From Her to Eternity, various points in Mike Patton’s musical history, Tom Waits – with a dark, almost carnivalesque quality running throughout. (The link above features two MP3s, which are well worth a listen). Their live incarnation has a slightly different feel than their recorded material, but that’s hardly a complaint. There’s a sense of immediacy throughout, a grandiose reach that few bands have….

Suffice it to say, the news that they’d be back in the city for CMJ was a fine piece of information to learn.