Thursday, June 28, 2007

My internet is no longer at my house. Here's a blog I wrote last night around 1:30 AM.

Oh, how I hate this.

I'm sitting around a half-empty and one-quarter-boxed-up house. I spent all day waiting on a call from these people who I met with yesterday, for them to tell me whether or not I could move in to their house. I called them up, talked to a nice person, and was told that another roommate just came in and they had to talk it over with him. Then that roommate called me back, and in his (torturously, not charmingly, not in this situation) awkward and roundabout way told me that they're probably going to go with a closer friend.

This is the reoccurring pattern, of meeting with people, and thinking it's going well, and envisioning living with them and how charming that would be, because I got along with them in the meeting, and then finding out that they have other friends who take priority. I understand putting friends before strangers. But this time- I think the call fell just after my birthday ended, after it ticked past midnight onto the twenty-eighth, and I need to be out of here completely on the thirtieth- I just started to think "Well, sorry I'm not cool enough for you" and then getting really mad, feeling really negative, depression and rage and panic and dread. Sitting paralyzed in a comfortable chair that I actually probably need to get rid of, waiting for that awkward-as-shit guy to call back and say "hey dude I'm kidding, you're golden." Knowing that won't actually happen, but feeling like it should, because of the sheer bullshit nature of the call itself.

That's what I hate, just feeling all that hatred, and how easily and arbitrarily it could've been love and praises to God had he said "oh yeah, you got the room, you can start moving in your boxes tomorrow." And it's because I'm not friends with these people, because I don't have preexisting relationships.

I feel right now like I either want to be held tightly, or to be struck by lightning, but with both of those being the same thing- this larger thing that could engulf me as I'm caught up in all this small petty bullshit.

The other day I ran into a friend of mine on the street as she was going into a store to look at dresses. I went with her and as she combed through the racks I occasionally offered my opinions, which ended up just being one opinion, that I really like geometric patterns, as a thing to engulf a body.

I'm listening to Kites' Peace Trials- The record that vacillates between noise tracks that grow more brutal and songs that become prettier and prettier. CF of Kites also draws comics, one of which I linked to on the Highwater site awhile back, and is in the SPX 2001 anthology, where the finale is a person drawing lines on the ground and being consumed by them as a form of escape from the drudgery of jobs.

I'm typing words on this screen, on Wordpad, and I'll post it to Blogger tomorrow, at school, as the internet is turned off here. I'm writing past the hatred, which is nigh-all-consuming- It's aimed at my not being cool enough, and at those that don't think I'm cool enough- so that maybe by one AM the only emotion left to deal with will be the trembling panic. Would that I could try to transcend it all the more by turning away from it and producing something beautiful, but I'm at the point in my book-writing where I don't really know what to do next, besides a general idea of there being something amazing and maybe holy, and I'm just really not in the space to produce that right now.

When I was thinking about geometric patterns the other day, I was thinking of them partly as this thing that suggests the infinite, partly as this thing which looks interesting in the way it folds on an actual moving frame, and partly as a way to visually depict music- Repetition with variation and patterns and math. What I want is for the speakers to push more than just the air, to actually push against my body that converts me into it, that I would dissolve and cascade through the room in zigzagging lines, and that when the music stops my body would just be multiple colors staining the
carpet and the walls.

God, OK, wait- can I just let that stand as the emotional climax, but keep on writing, because I want to go to sleep soon, and before I do that, I want to get out these other thoughts, that came after I was done listening to Kites, and was listening to The Mountain Goats instead. I feel bad whenever I say something that comes off suicidal, because I'm not suicidal. But the other day I gave someone my pitch for the meaning of life- That the idea behind life is that you make enough of an impression of the world so that when you die, you transcend that, and people remember you, even if only for a little while. Part of the imagery that I just tried to deliver is- something of your consciousness persisting even as you stop being something making conscious decisions all the time and having existence be something you have to work at. Pretty much if there was a book with all my thoughts in it and my name on it I wouldn't really matter if I was still walking around with my name on me. Likewise if you were to make some kind of scientific advancement or build some kind of shelter, there's nothing wrong with that being around instead of your actual presence. This kind of also reflects on the artist Ray Johnson, subject of the movie How To Draw A Bunny, and how I feel about what he did.

I also wanted to write more about CF's comics, and I could talk more about them, and how they relate to Ben Jones' comics, but I think it should suffice to say that they point towards transcendence, and I will single out as another example of this the two page comic in the Paper Rad, BJ And Da Dogs book about the guard.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I seem to have wandered down a rabbit hole of esoterica as of late. It feels like the thing that began in high school, of liking things that were "indie" as opposed to "mainstream", when I watched Wes Anderson movies and listened to Pavement records, slowly gave way to more history in college- I think the first record I bought in Olympia was a reissue of Television's Marquee Moon, and one of the first DVDs I borrowed was Taxi Driver. That's just filling in gaps in the canon. And then I started watching movies like Little Murders and liking them a lot more Taxi Driver. You know, it's this thing that develops. It's become a cause for anxiety, because my best friend, who watched these movies with me, is moving out. And today I went to look at an apartment and found a guy who is, in general, similar to me- The same basic type of person, probably, but who I would probably be more psyched on three and a half years ago.

I shouldn't be harsh on this guy. If I moved in, I'm sure we'd get along, and I'm really hoping I can move in, so I won't be homeless.

My former roommate Evan Hashi has probably done the same thing as I have. We have different personalities and temperaments, but- I think he's done the same thing. The only thing is, he's specifically into music. I love music as well, but- It's like his thing particularly- He plays instruments, mixes recordings, has a radio show. For me, I write prose, I don't play music, but I like music a lot more probably because of that failing. I also like comics a lot, and maybe that's because I can't draw? I don't know. Maybe it's not because, so much as in spite of. Anyway. Because Evan specifically likes music, he's further down that particular rabbit hole, but not in a way that I see as my future, although I could certainly be wrong about this. Evan pretty much stopped listening to new music a little over a year ago, and when LCD Soundsystem came on at a party he made kind of disparaging remarks comparing it to Liquid Liquid. This is basically fine, although that new LCD Soundsystem is pretty fucking good, and maybe a party is better for dancing than dictating music criticism to no one. I haven't listened to his radio show, but I've heard him talk about it. And the other night I went to a party at his house, where I got really mad at him playing records- Stupidly mad. The party was kind of lame in general, being 95% dudes, so that contributed. But anyway- Evan's at that point that Quentin Tarantino's at- Not in terms of the quality of the work he makes, but at that level of nerdy specialization. And not the point of Quentin Tarantino's soundtracks, which are great. But the point of Quentin Tarantino's movie screening nights and presentation of DVD releases, where he's putting out really bad grindhouse movies that have one or two appealing shots or character actors or lines of dialogue. So at the party, there was a time when Evan was playing records that were annoying and bad that were either canonized (Bryan Ferry) or just had one or two good things per song, that a well-tuned ear could appreciate. I described it afterwards as novelty records- like Dr. Demento, if he had a show on WFMU. And I think that WFMU is amazing.

I'm kind of hoping that the fact that I don't just like music or movies with an all-consuming enthusiasm will stop me from getting to that point, but if it doesn't, I guess that's fine- I'm sure it will bring me joy to be that nerdy. But right now, I like the things that I stumble across and get obsessed with to be the opposite of the small character role. I like pieces of art that are completely overwhelming, almost monolithic. You might recall me talking about how great Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain was. The newest thing to find my favor is Gary Panter's Jimbo: Adventures In Paradise.

Gary Panter is a cartoonist, whose life story reminds me vaguely of Daniel Johnston's- Love of Jack Kirby, religious upbringing, acid trip- Except that Panter only took acid once, kind of hated it, although attributes importance to it, and followed through with his rejection of his parent's beliefs. Which I guess makes it completely different. Matt Groening likes them both, also. But Panter and Groening actually became friends, and Panter wrote a manifesto, The Rozz-Tox Manifesto, urging artists to infiltrate the mainstream themselves, because if you don't, you'll just be co-opted. This was probably one part influential to Matt Groening to one part articulating things he already knew. At the time of The Simpsons starting up, Panter was designing the sets on Pee-Wee's Playhouse. He also apparently wrote a Pee-Wee movie with Paul Reubens that wasn't made.

Panter also kind of draws like Daniel Johnston, but moreso it's true that he kind of draws like Brian Chippendale. And if you trace one strand of current alternative comics, like Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes, the people who do magazine illustrations, back up to Robert Crumb, or the Hernandez Brothers, it's safe to associate the people who do gallery shows, like the Fort Thunder dudes and Paper Rad, back to Gary Panter. This is kind of a paraphrase from a review I read today of the comic Cold Heat, that I loved, and meant to eulogize, but didn't. This is maybe bullshit because who knows if Panter would've drawn comics without the whole underground thing that Crumb helped to get going, and Charles Burns is but one of many people whose approach is a little of column A and a little of column B. In the awful comics issue of the awful Vice, I think, someone describes Panter as the first non-hippie to drawn an underground comic book. He is kind of a hippie though. But he's also described as the father of punk art. He might be the first not-a-misogynist man to draw an underground comic book.

God, this is all so much preamble. Before drawing these comics, he made comics in the early seventies that he threw at Marc Bolan at a T. Rex show. I imagine the people reading this blog will be coming at it with a music context.

Anyway. A lot of the contents of Jimbo: Adventures In Paradise are taken from the pages of Art Spiegelman's 1980 anthology RAW. Maus ran it that same anthology, as an insert, because it's smaller. This book is big, which showcases the art really well. I imagine it's the size of the actual magazine RAW, but I've never seen those. It's the size of the Charles Burns' El Borbah/Big Baby/Skin Deep reprints, or issue 23 of Eightball, or the Krazy Kat Fantagraphics softcovers- It's a really good size for presenting art at just the right size where it starts to bowl you over, you could hide your whole face behind one, which I don't think you can do with a normal size comic. Well, you kind of can- but after a lifetime, I'm really acclimated to that size. Art tends to look better bigger. Anyway, Art, as an editor, really encouraged Gary to go crazy with the art, drawing different styles with every panel, which is pretty much what happens in this book. There's also one-page comics from this late seventies punk magazine, Slash, that is rougher in its drawing style. This isn't to say it's bad, just that it's not as impressive. But it all coheres together as a book.

Anyway, it's all pretty much the opposite of Robert Crumb. There are no painstaking drawn images of women's asses here- For one thing, the artist has admitted he doesn't know how to draw attractive women. But more importantly, the art is drawn furiously, energetically. For another thing- I don't sense satire here, or irony, or the neuroticism that's in Crumb. There's anxiety, and it's palpable, but it's about the state of the world, the fear of a nuclear apocalypse. Note: These were comics drawn during the 1980s. There's a sense of humor to it, but- Okay, how can I best express the point of view in this comic, in words? One one-page strip drawn in 1978 contains a caption that reads "Can't stand a little emotion? Go read Nancy!" This is kind of a joke, but it's followed up a month later, a page later, in 1979, by Nancy appearing in the comic to reprimand the title character, Jimbo- "OK MAN! What's this I hear... about your calling my strip devoid of sentiment? I mean right on the surface it functions as a nostalgic buffer against future shock for a tired and technology-torn species." Hopefully you can read in the prose, there's a certain velocity there, even when it becomes more poetic, as well as my description of the drawing as, this work is kind of the screaming in terror as it runs towards the future, fleeing from nostalgia, which is maybe a good way to establish it as having the same point of view as punk. Only it remains really empathetic. The final sequence in the book is about a fear of nuclear bombs, as Jimbo tries to stop a bomb from going off, but can't- It ravages everything. The last bit is a sequence about a horse on fire, and Jimbo trying to kill it to end it's suffering, but unaware of whether or not what he does actually creates more suffering? It's kind of an amazing summary of what it feels like to be human, especially coming at the end of a collection, rather than as a piece in an anthology. It's also the moment that's more sustained in its drawing style than anything else in the book. Oh wait, looking at it again, that's not really true, it switches up a lot still.

Anyway, I think it's amazing. It's also out of print. There are other Gary Panter books in print, but they're not as good- one's a sketchbook, one's a reprint of a comic that he drew that Matt Groening published in the nineties and sold for three-dollars blown up and packaged as a hardcover- That's a version of Dante's Inferno with each canto done as a six-panel comics page, loosely translated, with burning hell replaced with a shopping mall. You might be able to read that for free in a good bookstore, but it's not anywhere as mindblowing as this thing. It's sad that a lot of his stuff is either out of print, and scattered to the winds, and that he's not really that prolific as a comics artist. He does some short work, that'll show up in an anthology or somewhere, like he was in McSweeney's 13, but those tend to not be so good. He's also a painter, but you know- those aren't reproduced so much. He does prints, and they go for fine-art prices. Picturebox is doing a monograph of his work next year, which will be good, but- I think he's really great at comics, and only so-so at painting. It's possible that book will prove me wrong. But this book that I have is a masterpiece. I would offer you come by my house and read it if you're in town, but I'm moving soon, and need to pack it up.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Note to self: I should make a movie about how honesty in a positive sense can be just as overwhelming and terrifying as honesty in a negative sense.
I guess I'm a huge nerd, but the most recent thing I've added to my list of regrets is that I never went to Seattle to debate Christopher Hitchens. He's doing a book tour for his book "God Isn't Great: Why Religion Ruins Everything," which I put in quotes instead of italics because I'm mostly paraphrasing. I read in The Stranger that Seattle was the only city where no one arose to meet his challenge to debate all comers. The debate would revolve around the existence of God, which is something I believe in.

I think that had I showed up, my discussion would've taken a different tack than others. I wouldn't have discussed the Iraq war- I've seen him on Bill Maher's and he seemed really well-informed. I might've had a few zingers at the ready in regards to his Vanity Fair piece "Why Women Aren't Funny," which is just as wrong-headed and uninformed as you'd expect a piece with that title to be.

But my argument would've been based partly on my experience on LSD. Partly I would do this because it's funny, and easy to dismiss. Partly- you know, I already believe in God. But having a drug that triggers connections in different parts of the brain and leads to colossal feelings of there being things in the universe that are larger than you- I don't know, I think it's interesting. To some extent, it's dismissable. To another extent- you know, I tried to eat pizza, and couldn't, because it was intensified to the point where I felt like I was tasting the mold in the cheese and the yeast in the dough- I could sense all the bacteria reactions. These are real things. Other people become hyper-aware of blood rushing through their veins. One of the things I felt was the feeling that reality was much larger than anyone could comprehend. And I felt this all throughout my brain, in parts that I don't normally access. I don't know, I think that's interesting. I think that's worth contributing to a debate, even with someone who would probably shut me down harder than I've ever been shut down in my life.

But oh my God, have you read that "Why Women Aren't Funny" article? What a load of horseshit. Why would anyone agree with that guy about anything? He's not good at logic.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Two books I've read somewhat recently and liked a lot were Ian Svenonius' The Psychic Soviet and David Berman's Actual Air. The two are probably connected by clicks of recommendations, and their author's affiliation with the Drag City record label. Somehow my indie rock bias overcame my biases against political tracts and poetry. Both are really good, and honestly, calling Svenonius' book a political tract is probably a little dishonest.

Either way.

What's important about both of them is their clarity- Svenonius' book is insane with the stuff, in its ability to draw parallels amongst so many things, and multiple parallels found for the same thing, that it ends up cutting its subject matter into the shape of a diamond. It ends up being really cohesive as a set of essays.

Berman's book is poetry, and so it does the same thing. It's not metaphor, the parallels drawn. It's this way of seeing patterns emerge which is much larger than a single sentence could ever contain. It needs the tangents of thought shooting from strand to strand to map out the shape of the brain.

Does every book do this? Yes, a little bit, but there's something about fiction- that thing I love, that I read much more of than I read poetry and political tracts- with its narrative that forsakes this, in favor of the finality of a point that comes with a third act's resolution.

It emerges in a collection of Borges. It probably has more to do with the form of these books as collections of disparate works than their lack of narrative thrust, actually- It shows a set of thoughts all at once, rather than in progression.

I'm writing this book, and I can almost feel it approaching that, the size of thoughts accumulating. The thoughts are crazy thoughts that come in random bursts of typing. The shape that emerges isn't the shape of a plot. If you'll recall, I wanted that when I was reading Anthony Burgess' Tremor Of Intent, which I read between these two books, if memory serves.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I was talking about a friend of mine being crazy and gave as an example of something he would say at an inappropriate time, the Funkadelic line "I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe, I was not offended by them" and then I really felt that that line isn't crazy at all, and is in fact pretty much what it's all about.
I had my meeting with my professor where my work for the quarter was discussed. The thing she wrote seemed kind of laden with grammatical errors. The thought patterns are discernible, but it's the type of thing where I wish she wrote about what I learned rather than what I learnt.

I also went to the screening for people who were in SOS Media, the class I wanted to get into. I thought the thing I made was better than most of it. It's funny to see recurring themes- There's a lot of animals. Also, a lot of drones, which don't seem based on any real atmospheric consideration or aesthetic so much as it's a way to show work went into sound design. It happened at this animation screening last year- It's just this veneer of unpleasantness. Weird ripping off the surface elements of David Lynch. People also do like a "is this a dream/whoa what's happening" that's kind of taken from later David Lynch. Or people rip off the processing of voices from Twin Peaks. It just strikes me that it would be a lot more impressive to remind of something like David Lynch's student work, like The Grandmother. Granted, that stuff is really unpleasant and dark. But because it hasn't been cited so much- I don't know, I don't feel like there's surface elements there that could be ripped off. It's just so much the feeling of being set on fire and thrown in a river.

Friday, June 08, 2007

So, at this point, almost all of my friends are graduating from college. I'm not, there were two quarters when I didn't have any money for tuition, and so I've got some more time. But my good friend and current roommate Alex Tripp is graduating and moving away. It's going to be weird. Melancholic times are up ahead, looming in the future. We're out of this house at the end of June. He's going back to Alaska. My birthday is June 27th. I kind of want there to be some kind of party, something to take away from all the moving and attendant exhaustion. I imagine a backyard BBQ, fish tacos being grilled up to be seasoned with lime, and watermelon and lemonade on hand, Animal Collective on the stereo, drifting outdoors.

But next Thursday, my good friend and former roommate John Samson is coming to town. It's going to be great. Certainly there will be big parties. Or I should hope. He lived with Alex and I, along with Loren Thor, who is staying around Olympia at least for a while, and Evan Hashi (future unknown) in J208 on campus in what was an ongoing exercise in the best times ever. Hopefully there will be some photos taken of these weird and final moments. I hope I'm able to keep in better touch with these kids than the people I went to high school with. They're definitely a part of my imagined geodesic dome future.

I love these dudes. Deep friendships. I lived with these people, I shared a certain domestic intimacy. All of us are heterosexual, but I think there's something to be said for this intimacy that arises when for large periods of time, no one has a girlfriend. This is not to imply Fortress-Of-Solitude (the Lethem novel) moments, but just to say that it's not like there were women to share intimacy with. If we were female, our menstrual cycles would've synchronized. Our conversations were mostly jokes- but they were constant jokes, the type of thing that emerges from minds working automatically, saying whatever comes to mind. Everyone walked in everyone else's stream of consciousness, the waters got muddied.

I hope that none of them ever commit a murder because I would be obligated to lend them my bathtub to carve up the body and a couch for them to sleep on while they hide out waiting for the heat to cool down. But that probably won't happen, they're good dudes.

But you all know the difference I'm sure between keeping in touch with someone by telephone and walking around with them and responding to the same stimuli. The difference between AIM chats and face to face contact. And the difference as well between sharing current friends and meeting up with people and having the old times dominate the conversation, horribly. I'm not very good at the talk about the old times, and talking about what the old gang is up to, because of how horrible I am with keeping in touch with the old gang.

I'm listening to Elf Power. The winter is coming, and you have no time to waste.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What the fuck is up with these animated advertisments online now?

The worst are the ones for iTunes/iPods. Not just because they jump out of their frames with dancing, but the irony is that because they are such huge drains on computer's processors, they cause the product they're advertising (iTunes) to stutter, making it so I can't listen to music.

Friday, June 01, 2007

So I did my performance/video bit. There were technical problems, it was weird and baffling, but I don't think people hated it. At least one person really liked it.

Moving on from that, though, I just spent the last ten minutes looking at this record sleeve, that we somehow got for free of Mr. Rogers' album "Won't You Be My Neighbor." It's all songs for children meant to reassure them that they're special and loved. I haven't listened to it yet, I'm not sure I want to- Looking at the lyrics and explanatory notes is enough for me, in some ways. It's trying to communicate things that are so simple, in a simple manner, and there's these word choices to aid in that task that are kind of odd. I found the straightforwardness really pleasing and moving.