Day 52

Well…

I was looking for this quote:

“And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.
So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.” -Vonnegut

Which I love…but then I found this one:

“It is this temperamental failure to understand Sodom in its own context, as an ancient metropolis of the Near East, as a site of sophisticated, even decadent delights and hyper-civilized beauties, that results in the commentator’s inability to see the true meaning of the two crucial elements of this story: the angel’s command to Lot’s family not to turn and look back at the city they are fleeing, and the transformation of Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. For if you see Sodom as beautiful -which it will seem to be all the more so, no doubt, for having to be abandoned and lost forever, precisely the way in which, say, relatives who are dead are always somehow more beautiful and good than those who still live- then it seems clear that Lot and his family are commanded not to look back at it not as a punishment, but for a practical reason: because regret for what we have lost, for the pasts we have to abandon, often poisons any attempts to make a new life, which is what Lot and his family now must do, as Noah and his family once had to do, as indeed all those who survive awful annihilations must somehow do. This explanation, in turn, helps explain the form that the punishment of Lot’s wife took- if indeed it was a punishment to begin with, which I personally do not believe it was, since to me it seems far more like a natural process, the inevitable outcome of her character. For those who are compelled by their natures always to be looking back at what has been, rather than forward into the future, the great danger is tears, the unstoppable weeping that the Greeks, if not the author of Genesis, knew was not only a pain but a narcotic pleasure, too: a mournful contemplation so flawless, so crystalline, that it can, in the end, immobilize you.” -Daniel Mendelsohn

Thoughts?

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Day 51

Sunday at noon was the exact mid-point of the 101 Days. Meh…

Waking up on Sunday morning was a challenge. I’m not really sure what time I finally staggered out of bed. I do know that I couldn’t get the damn paint off me. We left at about 11:30.

Sunday was hot and it seemed like it would be an excellent day to not drink. For a while I kept that up. They reduced the price of water to one dollar which was very nice. And I ate a BUNCH of food. Then I listened to Fresh and Onlys from the shade. They were ok. So was Yuck, even though they have a terrible band name and horrid cover art. Did I go see someone over at the side stage? The hell if I remember…

One of Sunday’s most anticipated sets was Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. There was a pretty big deal made about the supposed protesters who planned on showing up to make it known they didn’t agree with much hyped rap collective’s extreme lyrics. I never saw any protesters. They must have realized how stupid protesting OFWGKTA would be….seeing them live really drives it home just how over-the-top absurd their lyrics truly are. I’m amazed that anyone could possibly take them seriously enough to go out of their way to protest. I completely understand people not wanting to subject themselves to it…I prefer not to listen to them for too long, not because I think they are contributing to violent behavior, but because I can only take that level of nihilism for so long. I’ve been meaning to write a little more about OFWGKTA – since, you know, that’s what everyone is doing these days – but that will be a different day. The show was pretty fun…not quite as bonkers as I was expecting, partially because Tyler the Creator was in a cast and actually sat down for much of the set. Then he crowd surfed in his cast and lost part of it. Kill people. Burn shit. Fuck school. The end. SWAG!

After Odd Future I went and checked out a little of Shabazz Palaces. They sounded pretty good but after standing in the sun for well over an hour at Odd Future I really couldn’t take the heat anymore so I did the very last thing I’d planned on doing…put myself in a place where I could hear Ariel Pink. Ariel Pink is fucking awful. But back at camp I was far enough away that it wasn’t TOO bad. I sat in a chair. I think I may have slept a little…mostly I just spaced out (thanks to some generous friends for that…hehehe.)

Then we went over to the side stage for Kylesa. The break time reenergized me a bit and I decided it was a good time to start drinking. Then Kylesa completely wrecked shit on stage. Easily the best set of the weekend to that point. I don’t listen to a ton of metal but it’s always fun at a festival and Kylesa is probably the best live metal band I have seen. And what better time for a DANCE OFF!!! Cause that’s how we do.

Went back and sat in the shade. Listened to Deerhunter from afar. Drank. Then moved up and got a great spot for Cut Copy. They didn’t disappoint at all. Complete dance party, particularly “Lights and Music”. The only disappointing thing was the lack of “Out There On The Ice”, which is pretty much my favorite song, but they ran out of time.

TV on the Radio was the headliner. I like TV on the Radio a lot but I still just stayed and watched from camp. I was done with the crowd. And more than that I decided I’d rather take the final ninety minutes of the fest to spend with people I like and don’t get to see very often.

Then…home. Laura and Phil came over and watched My Morning Jacket “Storytellers”. Then I was tired and drunk and done being social for a while so I went to bed.

I like Pitchfork. Sunday was a real good day of music but overall I definitely saw fewer “good” sets than I ever have…but it was still lots of fun.


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Day 50

Saturday of Pitchfork. I got up earlyish but didn’t go to church. But I did read my Sabbath School lesson. It was really boring. For Day 52 I will write a catch-all blog about some of the non-Pitchfork related things this weekend and I’ll talk more about this AND more about “Friday Night Lights”, which I watched during breakfast. I also watched some of the T.I. “Storytellers”.

On Friday I drove to Pitchfork and on Saturday I didn’t have to cause I rode with my friend Laura who picked me up a little after 12:30. We ended up getting there around 1:45 when Woods was just getting started. We headed to camp to find everyone who was already there and it was VERY quickly a party. Listened to Woods and Cold Cave from camp. They each sounded pretty decent. I’m just sorta beyond the point of going to stand in the sun and get a good spot for bands I’m not that familiar with. I would rather just hang out in the shade and drink and chat.

When I did get up and move it was to see G-Side on the side stage. There was hardly anyone there so we walked right up front. They were good but not entirely exciting. I can’t think of any interesting anecdotes from the show.

And then there was lots of down time for laughter and eating and drinking and other things. At some point I decided face paint would be a good idea. That got a little messy. No Age and Dismemberment Plan were the bands playing at this point that we could hear. I went close for DJ Shadow for a little while and he was disappointing. He performed inside an egg which was kind of weird…probably would have been cooler if it had been darker. Also I started feeling sorta shitty at this time and I went back to camp. Then I felt better.

Fleet Foxes had an enormous crowd. Apparently they are extremely popular now…I had no idea. They were kind of ok…kind of boring…would probably prefer them if they weren’t a headliner.

So went Saturday…the music was mostly meh, the company was fun.

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Day 49

Day One of Pitchfork Music Festival (AKA the middle of summer.)

I worked on Friday morning. It wasn’t TOO bad. After I finished I dropped the kiddo off at Airtastic and headed straight to the city. Airtastic is right off Ogden and so is Pitchfork so I just decided to take Ogden all the way into the city. That took quite a while but I drank some pop and listened to Bright Eyes and was alone. So it was nice. Except the traffic was shit. I found my usual parking spot a little after 1:00 and I walked 0.9 miles to the Twisted Spoke for lunch and drinks. It was nice to see lots of people.

So then we walked the 0.9 miles back to the park. There was a massive line to get in but my friend Jasun and me are not idiots so we broke away from everyone and found that there was one MASSIVE line wrapped around the corner feeding in from the left and one from the right that was the same length. And then in the middle were two lines with eight people each in them. Because mob mentality is so silly people just see a long line and assume they are supposed to stand in it. So we called some other people and they figured it out too.

I kept it pretty easy most of the day at Pitchfork. Started the day mostly drinking beer and chatting with people I haven’t seen in a while under the trees. I watched EMA from afar. I guess she was ok. Same for Battles though I did go up a little closer for “Atlas” cause I love that song. Then a bunch of us went over to the side stage to scope out a spot for Currensy. Tune-Yards was still finishing up. They are kinda goofy but people seemed to like them. Then Currensy came on and he was great. I’m actually not a HUGE fan of his albums…stoner rap takes me a little while to get into. But he was super entertaining. The best part was his stage banter which was pretty much everything exactly the opposite of typical rapper banter. The best part was probably when he made fun of a crowd surfer: “Oh look at that guy. He must be having fun.” All nonchalant. Only disappointment….no Gangsta Gibbs appearance.

Well it was about this time that I realized what a clusterfuck the side stage truly was. I’m sure that’s only going to get worse as the weekend progresses, but it really got crazy for Das Racist. For as much as everyone talked about how awful Das Racist is live, I didn’t think it was so bad. It was a mess, but not much worse than a regular low budget rap show. When they were done there was an oppressive influx of James Blake fans so we got the fuck out of there.

I watched Neko Case from way back. Felt no need to be closer. She looks old and beautiful. Her band is even older. She sounded great. She played a lot of newer stuff that I’m not familiar with but she also did “Hold On, Hold On” which is one of my favorites.

And then there was Animal Collective and of course they were just fucking terrible. Listened to them from FAR away. They did have pretty lights and dancing was fun and silly. But God….what a stupid band.

And then I went home.

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Day 48

Thursday was ok. I woke up. Went to work with one kid who was silly. Obsessed with things being empty and gum stuck to trash cans. Had to stop working early cause it was so ridiculous. Went to work with another kid who wanted Taco Bell for lunch…really? But then we went to the water park and that was pretty fun. Floated in the lazy river forever. Then after I took him home I was like SHIT I haven’t played trivia in a minute. So I went to BWW where it was…Thur$3ay! Woo. Made the leader board but just barely. I’m out of practice. Came home and drank. Read. Listened to Q101, which was pretty emotional actually.

I woke up at 7:30 for some reason. Since then it has been a struggle for motivation. Really regretting my decision to work and I can’t decide what I want to wear today because I haven’t done laundry in a while. ugh.

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Day 47

Tonight is the end of Q101. I haven’t listened to Q101 in years. In my mind it was rendered fairly irrelevant around the time its format changed to playing mostly 90s music. I love listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam but I don’t need a radio station for that. The only thing I need a radio station for is to let me know what is new…and the new stuff on Q101 has been horrid for years. But such is the state of modern rock radio…and the reason that Chicago’s most prominent rock station for as long as I’ve been listening to music is just going away.

I do have a lot of sentimentality attached to Q101 and the hours spent with my high school friends – JR and Jason and Adam and Lubben – driving around and singing along. And throwing eggs and doughnuts out the window cause we thought it was funny. And chipping parking lots. And lots of other pointless destruction that we probably should have felt bad enough, but never to the extent that we should feel too bad looking back. And we sang. And talked about songs. Everyone loved the Smashing Pumpkins of course. They were from Chicago. And we all loved Rage Against the Machine because we thought we hated the government…even though we all had different views and all thought Rage was in our corner. Nirvana goes without saying, but Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, STP, all had varying levels of acceptance within our group. Sometimes we were into punk.

There was bad stuff too…stuff that I look back on and can’t believe I would ever willingly listen to. There was always some new band that one of us (usually Lubben) would inexplicably reason was pretty good (Bloodhound Gang, Eve 6, Sugar Ray, Fuel, and on and on.) All of us would kind of quietly enjoy Blink 182…though in retrospect I’m not really sure what was so bad about that. We all sort of flirted with the whole rap/rock phenomenon. I pray to God I never thought Fred Durst spoke for me but I can’t guarantee it.

And of course we all liked Creed. Lots. If you’ve ever listened to Creed you know that they are, obviously, awful. I guess you could call them ground breaking in the sense that they pioneered that derp rock style that soon took over the radio and ruined Q101 and every other modern rock station that was about to be invaded by Nickelback, Three Doors Down, and whatever has come since I stopped paying attention. But to us they were beyond groundbreaking…they changed the way we listened to music. You see, when we weren’t driving around with slurpees and Dr. Pepper listening to grunge and punk, we were usually at some church or school event or someone’s house and pretending to like DC Talk and Jars of Clay. Or maybe we actually weren’t pretending all that much. Either way, when “My Own Prison” first came on the radio we ALL loved it. And then when we heard “What’s This Life For” we thought music would never be the same. Here was a band that was singing about God and all those things we thought we understood, but these weren’t sing-songy praise songs. Scott Stapp’s lyrics were full of loneliness and uncertainty even as he maintained faith in God…it was a more holistic view of religion than we had heard from a singer at that point. I mean, for fuck sake, this guy said “goddamn” in reference to us all living under the reign of one King. In short, he talked the way we talked with each other at 3 in the morning when we were the only ones listening, and we loved him for that.

I grew out of Creed when I went to college and found out about the Pixies and The Roots. But Creed gave me my first glimpse that secular music was capable of touching my thoughts on God. Every now and then I hear them on the radio and I can’t help turning it up and singing along and thinking about JR and Jason. Then I pop in My Morning Jacket or Johnny Cash and get that feeling back.

RIP Q101

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Day 46

Simplify, simplify.

Self-analysis in one question. The driving force behind my entire 31-year-old persona – the self-imposed rules and principles that guide my life, the beliefs I live by and the shameful fear of discussing them with others, the inability to acknowledge feelings without filtering them through books and music and quotes by other people, my fear of death and meeting God face to face (or worse yet not), the rote bedtime prayers, the fact that I am comfortable making a sentence like this available to anyone with an Internet connection but I can’t even read it out loud to myself – to what do I most owe the credit for who I am? Autism or Adventism? Or are they the same thing?

Does God punish the autistic mind for lack of faith?

My least favorite thing about being a vegetarian is telling people I am a vegetarian. This inevitably leads to a series of questioning that gets too personal and puts me on the defensive. My favorite part of being a vegetarian is how easy it makes dining out. Nearly everyone pities the vegetarian for his lack of options in this situation. I delight in it. Options are sensory overload. Scan the menu….apply personal standards…I know what I want. And so goes life.

You should read Blink. Malcolm Gladwell didn’t really teach me that much…he just showed me the research that confirmed what I’ve believed all along. “Extra information is more than useless. It’s harmful. It confuses the issues. What screws up doctors when they are trying to predict heart attacks is that they take too much information into account.”

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