Friday, September 19, 2008

I have spent the last three days living in Baltimore, Maryland. I've moved into a house where a few nice people live, and find myself immersed in their set of friends incidentally. They are all art/music people who you might have heard about from the internet or print publications if that is something you are invested in. I bought a cat from the pound.

I also just received a press release for this Tollbooth Gallery show where a lot of the things I wrote about myself, some of which were jokes.

All of these are kind of weird interesting things that might lead to insights in the future, but at this point in time I have none. If you were thinking about getting into music from Baltimore, you can have my endorsement that the people involved are probably nice. I haven't met any of the Closed Caption Comics folks, but maybe I will if I go to SPX in Bethesda.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The latest figure to go from me not knowing who they are to hearing a bunch of things about them in a short period of time would be Tiffany Anders. She sings "Heartbeat" on Mike Watt's album Ball-Hog Or Tugboat, put out two records on Up, one of which was produced by PJ Harvey, and is the sister of director Allison Anders, who she now runs a festival of music films with. I share this with you in the thought that you didn't know who she was either, but now, in contemplating all that, are surprised that you didn't.

On a similar note: Do people know who Etger Keret is? This Israeli short story writer, whose book comes with Miranda July blurbs, who directed a film called Jellyfish, as well as being involved with Wristcutters: A Love Story, a film based on a short story that he also adapted into a graphic novel called Pizzeria Kamikaze, in collaboration with Asaf Hanuka, that was originally serialized in the comic book Bipolar? I've known about him since those issues of Bipolar came out, but I only read the first two of those, but it seems like I should pursue him further on the basis of his investigation of so many different mediums.

That Mike Watt album is kind of crazy, by the way. He mostly just plays bass for a group of alternative rock superstars. He wrote most of the songs, but the covers that are present are pretty notable- Sonic Youth's "Tuff Gnarl" featuring Carla Bozulich's vocals with most of Sonic Youth backing her up, Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain" with J. Mascis doing the guitar solo. Until a week ago, this is a record I only knew for the humorous inclusion of a Kathleen Hanna answering machine message where she talks about how she doesn't want to be on the record with a bunch of alternative rock superstar dudes.

Isn't it weird the way you can stack the deck to try to generate some noise for yourself and still be under the radar, while some Youtube celebrity can become a ubiquitous point of reference? Not like any of these things are totally transcendent and amazing (to the best of my knowledge thus far), but they're all interesting enough- maybe they're a little generic, but there's plenty of generic things that have made a blip on the collective consciousness with less effort.
I am leaving Olympia, Washington in three days. This is a short enough period of time that I can be relatively assured of the fact that every time I see someone, it will probably be the last time, and I can then tell them that this is then their last chance to either jump my bones or tell me that they hope my plane crashes. I have lived in Olympia for five years, which is long enough to predict with utter certainty what everyone will choose: To look stunned, and then walk away.

What I will miss most about Olympia is the Grocery Outlet. This is a store that only exists because the town is economically depressed, with a great many people on food stamps. But because of Olympia's large hippie population, organic foods and granola sometimes find their way to the shelves at a discounted price, where they are sure to be consumed. It is only through this that I ever ended up eating Seeds Of Change pasta sauce, which is delicious. There's also varieties of utter garbage for sale, sometimes with amusing things about the packaging: A drink called Ayds, a cereal called Crispy Hexagons. With its inconsistent stock, it pretty much stopped me from getting any sort of brand loyalty or keeping an eating habit up for an extended period of time: I've stopped making pancakes now that they've stopped selling pure maple syrup in glass bottles. It dictated my free will, the same way Olympia as a whole did during the time I lived there.

It was the kind of awful place that seemed to highlight the magic of Olympia even more. Seeing music being performed by the person who sells you your frozen consumables is a hell of a thing. Even if the music isn't that good, it is at least something going on in their lives, and so you don't have to be depressed every time you go into the grocery store, like I did once I saw that guy who was in my first class at college working at Safeway after he received his B.A.

The place where most people of the people I still know in Olympia congregate, the Capitol Theater, home of the Olympia Film Society, is pretty much the opposite of that. It's a volunteer-run organization, and the few paid positions don't offer that high of a wage. Everyone that is there is so for the love of it, for the thing they think it could be but almost never is. It's too financially struggling to show independent and foreign films all the time, and so shows a lot of second-run Hollywood movies, that the volunteer staff appreciates the chance to see for free even as they lament the downturn. There's not the same surprise when you see the people who volunteer there doing interesting things, it's half-expected, and if no one did anything you would maybe suspect them of being a kind of hipster hanger-on, a creature of habit with no real ambition besides being where the cool kids congregate. (At least of the twenty-and-thirty-somethings: The children and senior citizens are one of the few things that make you feel like you are actually, thank god, in a wider community, where there are people not your immediate peers that nonetheless share interests with you, which is nice in a sometimes oppressively small town.)

Obviously there is a handful of people that I will actually miss, but I take it for granted that they'll move on to bigger and better things: That one day, using Grocery Outlet as a metonym for Olympia, they'll go down the street and a bunch of the things that they knew would never last will be gone, and the few things they can get there will no longer seem appealing- can't be used in a recipe without the missing ingredients- and their habits will change and everyone will be scattered to the wind. All of these people- and even the ones that I will not actually miss except as symbols of Olympia are free to take refuge in my home, wherever that will be, if our lives cross paths on travels. That is actually a thing I am really excited about, maybe moreso than I am about the general idea and act of moving.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This new version of Firefox is bullshit. I am particularly mad at the way it organizes my browsing history, and then displays it in a pop-up menu rather than a sidebar. This is made worse by the way URLs are saved: These are things that I use instead of bookmarks, people, and when thinking "Okay maybe I'll add bookmarks" I end up dealing with another pop-up menu, as opposed to a sidebar and just becoming disgusted. I would never have updated except for the fact that some sites pretty much stopped working in terms of showing content: For example, pages on the Village Voice were all sidebar links and no articles. That is still less inconvenient than what I now have to put up with.