I have to keep a journal for this class I'm in right now. And by have to keep, I I mean I falsified a few weeks of entries not too long ago, late at night, pounding out words meditating on art. I came up with a lot, thought about posting it here, but thought that would be too self-indulgent. This stuff here is written with at least some awareness of an audience, and an audience consisting of people I like. The other journal, done for class, is being kicked like scraps into the void of a teacher whose opinion I don't really care about, and so I can write in these self-reflexive curlicues. I came up with a glossary explaining the shorthand I use when talking about art by way of reference to work that already exists, in the way I like about it, to make it clear when I talk about wanting my work to be like rapping I mean that I want it to be really expressive of how awesome I am and where I'm from, not a reflection of hip-hop culture. I don't talk about how I get what I like about rapping out of The Hold Steady's Separation Sunday. Although I do, even though I like elements of rap music that aren't present there. Again, Separation Sunday is pretty great. Although the more that I think about it, their new record, not so good.
I have other writings to do for that class, all with varying degrees of formality. The journal being the least formal, and the most formal being critical analysis essays about art shows that leave me completely unmoved. I'm avoiding writing one of those now, as I listen to Califone.
Califone are one of those bands with a cool aesthetic and sound but not really the type of melodies that stick and bring me back leaving aside a few moments. They're a good band and I own none of their records. Their best songs are covers, I think: The cover of Slayer's South Of Heaven they did with Modest Mouse that was the first thing I heard is really great, as is their cover of Psychic TV's The Orchids that's the highlight/centerpiece of their new record, Roots And Crowns. If you haven't heard them, I should point out that they don't sound like any of those bands. They're really into the Harry Smith Anthology Of American Folk Music but there's electronics at work, creating their own kind of buzzing textures to replace antiquated recording technologies for stuff done on computers. There's the stuff of clay and mud but also wires. The lyrics mostly seem like cut-up, which is why The Orchids comes through so strong- The refrain of the chorus is strong enough to stick in the mind as an idea, which cut-up doesn't do so well.
I saw the Borat movie. Some people like the skits more for adhering closer to their idea of what smart satire is but this is much better-paced and has a lot of fat trimmed that would've been left on for the TV show. Momentum! And sight gags. Cinema! Arguably dumbed-down but if you're making points about stupidity - Hey I don't know how to finish that sentence. I was going to say that "too much intelligence seems elitist" for like a second there but that's not actually true. How about if you're making the argument that it's too dumbed-down, you're coming off elitist and superior to a movie that's actually pretty damn funny and pretty smart. Anyway yes it's funny but I imagine that the hype will destroy it, especially once the hype starts to turn into spoilers. So see it as soon as you can with as low expectations as possible. Your expectations should probably just be "I bet this will be funnier than all those movies that I refuse to see because they look god-awful, like Employee Of The Month."
I borrowed a copy of George Saunders' In Persuasion Nation from my friend Graham. I think it's good, funnier than Pastoralia, but I still wish that he could work all his tones into something all-consuming, balancing the haha with the affect a bit more strongly, the satire with the humanity. He gets at it sometimes with some stuff in this, but that's so different from the pieces that are closer to the traditional short story. I guess I'm wishing for him to become a novelist, but if he were I'm imagining he'd probably just write Catch-22 which maybe isn't necessary in this "Catch-22 has already been written" era. Hopefully that bit of criticism should hint to you all that George Saunders is pretty fucking good.
I also read Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation. I tell of the history I learned to my friends who seem largely ambivalent. And I'm being selective from what she talks about, narrowing it down mostly to talk of sex cults and anarchists. It's a fun goddamn book.
I imagine that if I write more here I will write more elsewhere also, in those books I'm writing, that I lent excerpts to friends, who didn't read said excerpts. I haven't been doing a lot of writing lately.
Goddamn, Califone. Quicksand And Cradlesnakes is pretty good, even though I don't often listen to it. I don't listen to the sound of rain too often either, but that says nothing about it's quality.