song – dear abby

July 31, 2007

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dear abby

a thing i am really enjoying is the paula abdul show. i think it’s genius because it is really awful PR (paula abdul and her antics while she is so damn high) cast as really good PR (she is an overworked human being who can’t sleep well and has health problems, which is something a lot of good american people can identify with).

i enjoy it because constantly, every episode, multiple times, always, the subject is paula’s hunger. and it’s great because even me, who thinks about celebrities as much as anything, i don’t think about celebrities eating and sleeping. i think about them going out to dinner but that’s about scandal and intrigue and making connections, not about eating. and certainly, at night celebrities party and do drugs and have crazy wild sex and then in the morning they get up but i don’t think about them sleeping, why would celebrities sleep when they could be doing celebrity things?? and i think this shows how much of our (of my) consciousness is mediated by movies, where you never see people sleep for extended periods of time except in that warhol film of course.

but in the paula abdul show, the whole plot is this deep, existential struggle to just eat some cheeze-its and hot wings and to get a couple solid hours of sleep that aren’t in the backseat of a car or in a hard chain hotel bed and it is so absurd but at the same time it is so true.

i also enjoy it because she is so damn high all the time and it’s fun to watch her be so damn high, it’s fun to watch her munch on stolen popcorn while prancing down a concrete walkway like a meerkat, scrunching her face so it shows the wrinkles she is trying to hide, it’s fun to watch her when she is in a perfume factory being a perfume designer (!!) which involves her wearing a labcoat and sticking these little pencil sized pieces of paper up to her nose and each little piece of paper has a scent on it like rose and violet and et cetera and she just starts jamming like five or six of them together and walking around with them pressed up to her nose and she’s slurring her words and hanging off of perfume technicians and kissing them on the cheek and it’s so rare on television that you can see someone enjoying being intoxicated. and don’t give me that sleep deprivation crap, because if you could get that high off of just not sleeping there would be a hell of a lot more insomniacs in this world, and it’s fun to watch. and that’s really all i need from television, is something that’s fun to watch. that’s why i don’t think ugly people should be allowed on television, unless they’re fun to watch. paula is fun to watch.

this is a song i wrote called “dear abby”. it is about advice, which i never ask for or take from nearly anybody. actually it’s not really about advice, none of my songs are about anything. i would really like to invent a language like that guy in sigur ros because i hate writing song lyrics and then i could just sing bullshit and people would think it meant something. but then that is not that different from what i do now.

when i am at home i don’t really listen to a lot of music. really all i have listened to lately is the song “strange magic” by ELO and songs in TV commercials and i guess while i clean the bathroom i listen to cody chesnutt and queen on my brother’s ipod. i wanted to make a song like “strange magic”, which i think is a really incredible song, but i don’t properly understand synthesizers or falsetto vocals yet, so this is more of a chamber pop kind of thing.

song – candy, darling

July 31, 2007

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candy, darling

i really like candy.  a lot.  junior year i lived in a house that was about a hundred feet away from a gas station (also hip hop fish and chicken) and this, combined with the atmospheric conditions within my house, lead to me eating a lot of candy.  luckily this was also the year i discovered the joys of tanning and exercise, and i’ve never really had bad acne, so the effect of all the sugar on my physical appearance was hopefully minimal.

i am not really much a chocolate eater, although for the last two years i didn’t eat a proper lunch and instead subsisted very nicely on a king sized snickers bar and a gallon of water.

my favorite candies:
1. nerds (i like the green and watermelon ones the best but also the other flavors and especially the special giant rainbow box you get at the supermarket.  ((i find nerds rope disgusting and wasteful of nerds in most cases except freshman year i smoked with this girl who i was obsessed with and she had nerds rope and i thought that it looked just like giant, edible d.n.a.)))
2. snickers (which i don’t even see as candy but a meal as noted above)
3. ferrero rocher (not the ones in the gold wrapper, but the white coconut ones in the clear wrapper)
4. starburst (not the regular kind but the extra tropical one.  when i was in elementary school and middle school i used to use starburst as a way to pull my teeth when they got lose,  i would just bite down deep into say a strawberry one and then yank the mother right out)
5. peach buds (i am against boutiquey shit in terms of food and candy but hot damn they are good.  i love fruit and peach are like if you could distill and cook fruit down into these little crack rocks of flavor)

honorable mention: almond joy (but mounds is gross)

this is a song called “candy, darling .”  it is written from the perspective of someone who is someone who is desiring candy and he is singing it to a wealthy and beautiful young candy baroness who holds a key to  a giant room filled with every kind of candy conceivable and in the first verse he is trying, in kind of an aggressive way, to get her to give him the key to the candy room.  in the second verse, he is fantasizing aloud to her about the various escapades that they would get up to in the candy room.

song – WMD LUV

July 31, 2007

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so if you haven’t been keeping up with the hard news lately, today this american guy won the hot dog eating championship of the world. he beat this japanese guy, who had been the champion for a long time. i saw a clip on the news and he had wrapped his swollen frame with a large american flag kind of like some competitive eating echo of the statue of those soldiers planting the flag at iwo jima and it is the fourth of july and it is all very heartwarming.

what i am really hoping is that our president will invite the hot dog eating champion to the white house for a tour or maybe even to stay the night. actually maybe it would be better if he brought him up to kennebunkport for a summit, like with putin. then george will be able to really let his hair down and maybe even the first evening as they sit on the veranda at a picnic table which probably cost thousands of dollars because it is made of a very rare wood, george, in a plaid shirt with his sleeves rolled up and his chest bared, will unveil a platter full of finely grilled dogs in fluffy white buns and he willchallenge mr. joey chestnut, the champion, to a hot dog eating contest, he will say “hey chesty, i mean, hey nuts, ha ha, lets do this thing, boy” and drop the platter on the table so it lands with a thud and the dogs shake and roll.

and of course joey chestnut must oblige, he’s the guest. and so laura stands over them and counts them down, 1, 2, 3, and joey and george tear into their first dogs. and joey is going as slow as possible because he knows he’s facing an amateur, that he’ll have no problem winning, but george is using the water like a real pro and is already on his second dog and now his third and so joey steps up the pace, but it’s no big deal. and they go, and george is looking joey straight in the eyes as he crams the dogs down his gullet, and joey is thinking these eyes declared war, these eyes have killed legions, and now the dogs are dwindling and joey and george are neck and neck and now what joey is thinking is do i get moving and win this thing or do i take the fall. and at first he thinks, i gotta win this, he’s expecting me to win, i’m the champion of the world here, he’ll be disappointed if i don’t win, i’ll be an embarassment to the U S of A. and so he speed up and passes george by a frank, no sweat. but then he sees the secret service guys off by the windows of the house, eating dogs of their own, and their eyes are locked on the president or him, it looks like they’re watching him too, and he sees the bulges of their sidearms under their black suits, and there are just three dogs left and it’s a dead heat and george, george is still staring into him and there’s spit running down his chin and what joey is thinking is, what happens if he doesn’t win? what’s he going to do if he doesn’t win this hot dog eating contest? and joey picks up a dog and george is on one and there’s just one left on the plate, and it’s all mushed from being under the other ones and joey looks down at the dog and he looks up at the eyes and back and forth and back and forth and then he throws up all his hot dogs from the anxiety and is very quietly escorted to his room by the secret service men and later laura brings him weak tea and dry toast to eat in bed and she reads to him from her well worn paperback copy of “the brothers karmazov” and tiptoes out of the room when he falls asleep.

or maybe in the middle of the contest george chokes like he did on that pretzel a few years back and joey tries to give him the heimlich, being well practiced in the maneuver as a veteran competitive eater, but the secret service guys misinterpret this and tackle joey and administer pressure to a certain point at the base of his skull, killing him instantly. the president has a press conference the next day explaining that joey choked to death and that he was a great american and an example for many and the loss is tragic and they bury him at arlington and instead of a twenty one gun salute they have twenty one shaken-up bottles of diet coke that they drop mentos in so that the foam rises into thick fountains and then evaporates like brown, caffeinated tears in the nicely manicured grass.

this is the second song i ever wrote and the first that i recorded (which you can tell by the myriad errors in production and playing). it is called “WMD LUV” and it is a love song sung by an atom bomb.

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take care

today at the pool i was luckily all by my lonesome doing some swimming and reading and basking and so forth.  it was a sunny day and nice.  i was taking pool breaks every half hour or so.  so as i am doing some water treading as a lazy way of aerobic exercise since i don’t feel like going running, this blonde office girl comes out of the clubhouse and says “hey” and i think, ” ok, this is it, finally, after i have used this pool nearly every day for two months, finally on one of the last days i use it they are going to catch me and kick me out because i do not live here and even though i do not want to leave the pool, the pool being so wonderful and all, it feels almost appropriate to get kicked out, like every time i go in there i have this little bug in my stomach that says,  ‘you do not belong here, you are going to get caught, etc.’ (i would not make it as a criminal if you hadn’t guessed), it gives it a sense of finality, an end to the narrative of my summer at the pool.

but instead the girl said that they had just shocked the pool and i might want to get out.  “shocked,” i said, images of electric eels swimming through my periphery, “what does that mean”.  but she said it just means that they put bleach and a lot of chemicals in the pool and that i might not want to spend too much time in the water or accidentally drink out of it or something.  i thank her and paddle around lazily for a few more minutes before getting out.  if i have learned anything in college it is that i do not fear chemicals.

anyway so over the next couple hours i get in and out a couple more times, not spending long in the pool.  fast forward to later when there are a few girls laying out in various states around the pool.  i decide that it is time, that i can’t take the heat anymore.  so i start down the ladder on the side of the pool and i don’t even think my chin has hit the water when i hear a door swing open and two guys yell “stop, get out of the pool”  and i do and turn around immediately and for some reason i put my hands up because the whole thing feels like i have been told to put down a gun or something and anyway behind them is the blonde girl from earlier who was apparently mistaken and the chemicals are a bit more toxic and i am not allowed to be in them, wonderfully cool as they are.  and so as much as i hate illness i wonder if maybe something will happen to me now like i’ll turn green and then i can file a giant class action lawsuit which is the american dream or at least mine and then i will make it rain, i will have a machine in my house to make it rain 24/7, like those glass chambers they used to trot out in middle school for kids who sold a lot of things out of shitty catalogs.

anyway i had hoped to do a song a day this week as a way of saying “goodbye, tallahassee” but actually spending time in tallahassee as opposed to at my computer seemed like a better use of my time.  tommorow i’m going to have to pack up the studio so this will be the last recording until i can get things set up at home, if i can get things set up at home.  it is a very crude, rushed cover of my first favorite big star song, which if you want to simplify you could just say my favorite big star song, which is called “take care.”   i am not a sentimental person at least in public so in order to leaven the honeydripping sentiment in the song i will say “fuck you tallahassee, i don’t like you, not a bit, and i am happy to leave.”   but that’s not a very catchy song so instead i sang the other one.

song – mr. sandman

July 31, 2007

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mr sandman

most weekday evenings my sophomore year were spent on a balcony at boardwalk with j.m.b. and s.k. watching the sun set and the rent-a-cop do laps in his golf cart, and then, sitting on the floor playing guitar.  i played rhythm guitar, hammering out this or that four chord sequence with cut-time and variations in dynamics and alternations between picking and strumming and so forth, all until my left hand felt like it was going to fall off.

nothing much came out of those sessions except a lot of smoke and this song.  one night i was playing C Am F G (my favorite chord progression and the basis of thousands of pop songs, including elvis’s “blue moon” which is where i learned it) and j.m.b. just started to pluck out this odd, syncopated melody on the electric guitar.  then he sang, in unison with the guitar line, “mr. sandman, sing your song for me” and that’s basically the whole song, right there.  out of all those hours and memories, this is what still exists.

this is a cover of that song recorded on a cheap 15 dollar computer mic before i got my recording gear.  note that this is very different from the original, which was way spacier and tranced, whereas this is in my alterna-soul whatsit style.  if the original was played on the moon, this version was recorded on a hill looking up at the moon.

song – pie

July 31, 2007

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one time very late at night i tried to make an apple pie from scratch.  the filling was a lot of fun to make because of all the apple peeling and slicing and mixing them with lots of cinnamon and sugar.  but the crust did not go so well.  i have never been good at dough and pie crust was no exception especially cause it’s so thin.  i got the bottom crust in basically fine and then put the filling in, but the top crust was such a nightmare because you’re trying to lift this big thin sheet of dough up and lay it down perfectly over an irregular apple chunked surface and i am not good at arts and crafts, ok, i can barely use scissors, so this is a difficult task for my level of manual dexterity.  so anyway i just made it fit as well as i could and then did the fork thing around the edges.

really though the thing i thought i’d fucked up was actually not what i fucked up the worst, although it was still pretty fucked up too.  but no, i didn’t do something right with the filling and it came out more liquidy than gooey (i think not enough corn starch or
something).  i think almost all of it got eaten, though.  if you put ice cream on almost anything it can be tolerable to eat, especially if that anything is a mound of sugar and cinnamon and apples and butter.

my favorite kind of pie is actually cheesecake, which according to wikipedia and common sense is actually a pie and not a cake.  but cheesecake is a much more difficult word to make the focus of a song.

this is a song i wrote called “pie”.  it is about pie and the desiring of it and the eating of it.

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this is a little cover i glued together of “thirteen,” which is my second favorite big star song (my first favorite big star song is “take care” but not their version, the version that yo la tengo plays). my favorite part of the song to sing is the ooh ooh ooh.

one time i was at a party and this was just after i had learned to play this song and we were all around a bonfire and this guy i knew was playing this song on acoustic guitar.  and this guy was and is a much better musician than i am, a million times better, but he was strumming the song instead of picking it.  and it just made me angry because it was wrong.  listen, covers don’t have to be slavish, but it’s just wrong to strum this song. it should be against the law.

but of course if he had passed me the guitar, there’s no way i would have played it then because i was such a wuss.  i am a person who lives inside their head a lot of the time and i used to (and occasionally still do) have these fantasies that i would be tested, that in the middle of some humdrum day a teacher or a girl i was in love with or just a random person on the street would pull out a guitar and say, “play, now” as if it’s a life and death matter and in the fantasy the light of the world would dim down to a spot on me and cars and bugs and people would be silent  and wind cut and rain cut and the climate would be temperate if a bit warm and basically if you want a visual reference, something like the album cover of “time fades away” by neil young but in real life and in the fantasy, i would tear it apart, i would own the moment and this would prove to the world that i was worthy of love and success and attention. but you know what, in real life that doesn’t happen, people don’t walk up to you while you’re waiting for the bus and ask you very seriously to play a cover of “i found a reason,” so here’s this right here.

i also watched the movie almost famous like twenty times between high school and freshman year, which is really disturbing in retrospect.  i am trying to have a more respectable fantasy life nowadays, promise.

song – tigerbeat

July 31, 2007

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tiger beat

this song is called tiger beat.  it is an attempt to describe moments of ephemeral happiness, the kind where even if your life is in a place that is kind of complicated and not exactly how you planned it you can still be happy for a moment for no reason and that happiness is less a mental state than a physical feeling, like me, i’ll suddenly just feel like my chest has gone hollow and the negative things have been replaced by cotton candy or  clouds or some other kind of sweet, thick padding around my organs and bones.  and usually it’s gone in a moment, like when you’re laying out and and you feel like you’re going to die it’s so hot and then for some reason your eyes don’t have to squint anymore because there’s a little cloud over you, for probably just a moment, not long at all, but it’s enough that you don’t feel like you’re going to die anymore, and what else can you really ask for in life but that?

it also kind of makes me think of the lion king.

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utopian turtletop

at the pool today i was reading this book about women in the twenties (although i should really read a book about women in their twenties) and anyway i was reading about marianne moore who i don’t like poetry much but seemed like an interesting person so like anyone who wants to know a bite sized candy bar amount of something about someone without doing any work i went to wikipedia and:

Edsel consulting

In 1955, Moore was informally invited by David Wallace, manager of marketing research for Ford’s “E-car” project, and his co-worker Bob Young to provide input with regard to the naming of the car. Wallace’s rationale was “Who better to understand the nature of words than a poet?”

Moore, a loyal Ford owner, submitted numerous lists, which included such names as “Silver Sword”, “Thundercrest” (and “Thundercrester”), “Resilient Bullit”, “Intelligent Whale”, “Pastelogram”, “Andante con Moto”, “Varsity Stroke”, and “Mongoose Civique”. (One name she suggested, “Chaparral”, later coincidentally was used for a racing car.) Against the strong objection of her brother, Moore also submitted the name “Turcotinga”, which was a play on cotinga (the name of various South American birds) and the color turquoise; however, she noted in her letter to Wallace that it was simply a suggestion, that if he wanted to go in the direction of nature she had several volumes of works that she could review. In a letter dated December 8, 1955, Moore wrote the following:

Mr Young,
May I submit UTOPIAN TURTLETOP? Do not trouble to answer unless you like it. Marianne Moore

All Moore’s ideas were rejected, although she received two dozen roses and a thank-you note affectionately addressed to the “Top Turtletop”, which she found amusing. In her reply to Young she regretted that she could not have been more help and noted that she was looking forward to trying out the vehicle when it was introduced. History has greatly exaggerated Moore’s relationship to the project: her contributions were meant to stir creative thought and were not officially authorized or contractual in nature. The car was finally christened the Edsel.”

that whole thing is great on a lot of levels (“intelligent whale”?!) but my favorite part is this

“In a letter dated December 8, 1955, Moore wrote the following:

Mr Young,
May I submit UTOPIAN TURTLETOP? Do not trouble to answer unless you like it. Marianne Moore”

like how adorable is that! like she’s written and submitted all these names and everything and i guess maybe one morning she’s having tea with her mother (she wrote radical poetry but lived a very prim life) in the garden and maybe she sees this turtle or something and she just goes “yes, utopian turtletop, that’s it” and she knows that this is the one, that in a few years everyone is going to be driving around in these utopian turtletops, like fucking imagine the alternate history if nick carraway’s car from ‘the great gatsby’ is a utopian turtletop if kerouac hitches rides from ladies in utopian turtletops and so forth, and so anyway she’s so excited she has to send this little letter and “do not trouble to answer if you don’t like it,” is such a dear way of trying to block the pain of rejection.

anyway, that’s why i like marianne moore. i would trouble to answer her any day.

this is a song i wrote called “u”. it is about the letter u. it is partially inspired by a novel by george perec called (in english) “an omission” which is a whole novel written without the letter e. i am way too lazy to do something like that, though. but this is kind of a similar idea. about the letter u. u.

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one of the things i have come to notice spending a lot of time  at the villa dylano pool, where loudspeakers constantly pump out a horribly bad top 40 radio station, where many of the songs are painful to listen to, actually give pain to my ears and brain and heart, one of the things i have come to notice is that i am able to receive intense pleasure from certain artists who i would never listen to on my own time, one of those artists being sugar ray.

all of sugar ray’s popular songs  (“fly”, “every morning”,  “someday”, “when it’s over” ) sound almost exactly the same and by exactly the same i mean uniformly great.   they all feature a simple acoustic guitar loop, glassy and smooth as the surface of a swimming pool, under which thumps a simple drum beat, over which is laid some kind of intermittent hazy vocal sample or reggae toast, which is then spread over with the buttery, sweet harmonies of one mark mccgrath, arrayed around a major key melody, the kind which a child might create by arraying notes of orange pez on a musical staff made of grape fun dip.

in other words i think sugar ray is great and what is great about them is that there is nothing particularly remarkable about them.  they are a stone from a garden polished until they are very shiny and nice to look at.  i think i wish that mark mccgrath had been on the surreal life instead of that loser from smashmouth, but i know it wouldn’t have made good television because mark mccgrath would have just been a nice ordinary guy who you would like to hang out with and maybe watch tv.  that’s what sugar ray is – they are nice and ordinary and average and that’s what makes us feel comfortable and good and people might think i am being sarcastic or cynical but i don’t think there’s anything wrong with that at all, with being average.  i think sugar ray are the aural equivalent of very nice pool water, clean and not too chlorinated and just cool enough that it makes your heart beat a little faster when you jump into it.  and someone could read that image as bland and sterile and not flattering, i guess, but i don’t think that’s true.  very nice pool water is a wonderful thing, really, one of my favorite things in the world.  so that’s why i like sugar ray.

this is a cover i did of “someday” by sugar ray, which i heard at the pool today.  i redid it in a way kind of ripping off late period yo la tengo.   it is nowhere near the genius of messrs. sugar ray, but it’s what i got.  (“what i got”, even though sublime has been ruined for me since tenth grade, is also a song that at the pool makes me happy.)

right when we were about to leave the pool today this incredibly hot girl showed up.  i could tell she was rich because the pants she was wearing over her swimsuit like they were made out of a very fine and rare kind of crepe paper.  then she took her clothes off and she had perhaps the finest tan i have ever seen in person.  it was a great tone and perfectly even.  she was several leagues out of my league, but as i was towelling off my head with my t-shirt i saw her looking at me (she was probably seeing my subpar side-tan) and we made eye contact and i just wanted to lock gazes and to say to her, in a very serious, john hughes movie sort of way,  “you have a really nice tan,” say it so direct and clear that it could boil water, and then break the gaze like a stalk and walk away.

instead i went home and bought an oreo ice cream bar from the ice cream man, who really is as gruff and strange and kind of nice as you would expect someone driving an ice cream truck through a college neighborhood to be.  it was childish but tasty.