reading watching listening

reading

Vermilion – Molly Tanzer
Late Wife – Claudia Emerson
The Love Bunglers – Jamie Hernandez
Marabou – Jane Yeh
The New Prophets of Capital – Nicole Aschoff
Girl in a Band – Kim Gordon
Uprooted – Naomi Novik
God’s War – Kameron Hurley
Fra Keeler – Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
The Autobiography of Red – Anne Carson
Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood – Tomas Moniz and Jeremy Adam Smith, editors
Sex Coven – Jillian Tamaki
Mythago Wood – Robert Holdstock
Violence Girl – Alice Bag
Lavondyss – Robert Holdstock
Memoria del Fuego I. Los Nacimientos – Eduardo Galeano

watching

What Happened, Miss Simone?
You Weren’t There: A History of Chicago Punk
The Lego Movie
Drunk History
Documentary Now
The Incredibles
Big Hero 6
Arrested Development
30 Rock
Hotel Transylvania

listening

Weirdo Shrine – La Luz
Orphaned Deejay Selek 2006-2008 – AFX
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane (always helps when the world is awful)
The Golden Echo – Kimbra
The Best Day – Thurston Moore
Borders and Matahdatah Scroll 01 “Broader Than A Border” – M.I.A.
Aquarius – Nicole Mitchell’s Ice Crystals
Paragon – Sam Rivers
Offering: Live at Temple University – John Coltrane
Akira – Geinoh Yamashirogumi
But You Cain’t Use My Phone – Erykah Badu

how’d you get into jazz anyways?

What opened my ears to jazz? Funny you should ask. Hard to pin down exactly. But in an effort to oversimplify the unquantifiable, I think having the Minutemen and Sonic Youth in heavy rotation for years and then getting into the chord changes in drum and bass songs and then hearing Squarepusher’s Music is Rotted One Note when it came out helped.

Bonus Squarepusher cuz it’s so good –

akira, geinoh yamashirogumi

I loved Akira the movie as a kid and the comic when I was finally able to read it, I loved even more. But really. The soundtrack to the movie has been the biggest part of my life. In high school a friend let me borrow a worn out vhs tape of the movie to watch and I must’ve told him that I liked the music. Because I remember a dubbed tape of the soundtrack showing up in my life. And I remember laying there in my room as a fifteen year old listening to the tape straight through. And just being so engrossed. Completely absorbed. It sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. Ever. It wasn’t rock, it wasn’t dancey, it wasn’t western classical. To me it sounded like it came from out of space and time or something. From the future of another world. It was a completely mind expanding experience to listen to it.

I had no words to look it up with, no context. There was no info with that tape. There was no internet to look any of this up. This music just existed in this suspended bubble in my brain. Unconnected to anything else I had experienced.

Objectively speaking. It was the first time that I heard gamelan and gagaku music . But it took five or six more years for me to learn what that even was. This music by the collective, Geinoh Yamashirogumi, laid some massive groundwork for what I considered to be music.

At the time I was mostly listening to punk rock of the 80’s, Nirvana, early 90s indy rock, hip hop and industrial music. I was starting to get  kind of “weird” with my music taste and exploration, but it was still all very within the realm of kind of the established rock canon. But this soundtrack blew that up for me. Opened the doors for free jazz, drum and bass, noise,  contemporary classical, avant-garde 20th century music, etc.

Last night while I was getting my son ready for bed, Kaneda, popped into my head and I started singing it. So I had to listen to the whole thing today. The first time I have in years. So I’m listening to the soundtrack as I write this. And while all the songs are amazing and I remember being enamored of all of them, I particularly remember having a massive emotional response to Illusion. The sound of it was so heartbreaking and massive. And it was just a shakuhachi, chanting, and a few pieces of percussion. But it felt so raw. I remember feeling like it was so wild and chaotic. It disturbed me and made me feel sad and intense. Part of that was being a teenager for sure. But it’s also kind of an intense song.

Since we now live in the future, here’s the whole soundtrack so you can listen to it.

The correct track order is:

Kaneda
Battle Against the Clowns
Winds over Neo-Tokyo
Tetsuo
Dolls’ Polyphony
Shohmyoh
Mutation
Exodus from the Underground Fortress
Illusion
Requiem

For further reading, here is an article from Perfect Sound Forever about the soundtrack. 

Get their out of print albums here.

Also, a bonus. Here is, I think, Geinoh Yamashirogumi performing Battle Against the Clown live.

 

 

 

the year in poetry 2015

1/8/15

Pavement
mirrored with water
slick
gleaming white
bone
frozen salt

1/12/15

In dream
a music festival
and I walked searching for a bathroom
an old friend
had a baby girl with him
I touched her head
she smiled

Contemplate returning home
before returning to music
lost in the crowds
sun evening
on either side of the street

1/14/15

Washing dishes
while they play hide and seek
I hear his footsteps
the vibrations in the floor
my hands are wet

soapsuds
night out the window

He thinks about hiding next to the stove
then the pantry
settles on squatting
next to the portable dishwasher

plain sight
with his hands covering his eyes

1/26/15

Instinct takes over
clutch toilet seat sides
heave chest and stomach convulse
vomit all
vomit all

It’s okay soothe
rub back and shoulders

It’s okay
pause and repeat
then hug and clean up

1/27/15

Early early
6am finds us
cutting paper on the couch
shapes and scraps and snowflakes
while Jack Skellington on the tv
we are paper cutters
working in a factory
he says

1/28/15

Ride music waves through time
what you were
and what you are
past and future
in general sense
but specific moment
time hops
even to a second
a fragment
and twinge of specific
emotion
felt again after thirty years
just as it was ago
notes and tone
the quality of reverb
transportation to and from

what do you feel?
possibility, bitter and sweet?
what do you feel?

2/19/15

Cold morning
ice air that cracks cement
burns face
while snow marbles over
dark ice
as walk by park
foot foot
I feel the temperature drop
when I walk over the ice

2/19/15

What did you do?
how did you live?
tolerate so long ago
these frigid winters?
in Illinois
by the lake
pre Chicago
no heat
but community
wanting inside
bundled together
breath frozen
hanging in heaps
in the air above you
your family
through long nights
strength in numbers

What was your day to day
routine?
when the weather
could kill?

2/25/15

Small nerves in the small place
beneath my chest
is it my stomach
a small knot of empty
that is there
more often than not
small nerves
faint and persistent
letting me know I’m alive
hello
hello
tiny fear and worry
both hollow
hello
let it in
give it space to move around
make itself at home
it’s already here
it knows its way about
it might as well
make itself comfortable

2/26/15

Shuffle puzzle pieces
with pictures and letters
we put them together
he active
me suggesting
he saying the letters
sounding them out
as the pictures assemble

Waking up still
laying on the floor on my side
the hardwood the track lighting
pointing
his small bed

The smell of wet
earth and stone
in the subway tunnel
rising to work day
morning
under new snow
gray buildings
hide clouds
soot slush puddles
run trickle rivers
down stairs
and water seeps
through subway gaps

3/3/15

Miniature block towers
monuments to play built without thought
primary color brick houses and cities
plastic
wood
stuffed couch cushion monoliths
spaceships with windows
bridges
jump platforms
and zombie traps

The floor strewn with crumbs
uncountable snacks
crackers, cheese, cheerios, pretzels, popcorn
embedded in the pile of old carpet

3/11/15

The first mist morning
of the year
chill with warmth on the breeze
mudflows and black pack ice thaw
the black wings of that crushed pigeon reappear
having been under snow since January

3/23/15

Wake to pain in my neck
and my son who whispers
dad, can we wake up?
and gray light from the window

Snow

My feet crunch quiet and soft
one in front of the other
three dogs, a man on skis
sirens weave in and out
and the woodpecker at intervals
knocking rapid succession

It sticks to my jacket and eyes

5/4/15

This morning he yells at me
voice rising to screech
then runs at me
fist and hands pummel my legs
my knees
voice rage and disgust

I had refused to help him when he yelled
a command at me
I asked him to ask politely
and he yelled stop it and I walked away

now facing this condensed anger
he grabs my shirt between his teeth
and tears a hole

5/4/15

Over the weekend
at the botanic garden
eating our lunch of

peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, greek yogurt
with caramelized bananas, vegetable chips, potato chips,
chocolate chip cookie, chocolate milk and water

we sit on the outdoor patio overlooking the lagoon
sunny and bright
and cool with mist from the fountain in the air
and you ask me to take your picture
while you pose like a strong man, flexing arm
in front of face
and chocolate stains around your mouth

5/8/15

Irving Park blue line
the secret exit

The stairs descend
then branch before us
to the left to the right

Holding hands as the smell of pigeons and pee
he with Swedish fish in a bag

the wall spanning mural
bright with alebrijes
from one side of the underpass to the other
the giant bird at its center

it’s a bat bird he says

5/8/15

Taking him to school
on the train
the first humid day of the year
our hair is thick
piled on top of each other
in curls

Carrying him on my shoulders
as he mashes my hair into my eyes
and sings and touches the
tree branches as we pass

5/11/15

A glass bong with Bob Marley engraved
on the phone with his mom in Puerto Rico
sí tú sabe ma, tú sabe

a tv expands the living room
on the walls – unstretched canvases
music electronics, instruments, accumulate on floor

he eats an egg and ham sandwich toasted

books – the sexual politics of meat, Chomsky latin America
Jodorosky El Dedo Y La Luna. Cuentos Zen, Haikus, Koans

he tells me about his new job, how it came about
his liminal relationship
the woman who lives in Wisconsin
the woman who comes into his bed every morning at three
a rape victim advocate
an unsustainable situation

His hair is cut short and responsible
his shoes are black vision streetwear high tops
his pants are black jeans
his shirt is black with the Chicago bulls logo on it, smoking
the band name twin peaks above it

We are to play music today

5/12/15

Two women on the train
one sits reading
a purple dress
her eyes painted dramatic like a queen

One stands holding a thermos of coffee
she leans
head pressed into the chest of her partner
her feet flat on the floor Achilles tendons stretched
her body a straight line
forming a triangle

5/14/15

While doing dishes
I hear laughter upstairs
he laughs loud

I lay down on the bed to
watch them play charades
they take turns drawing cards
and acting for the other to guess

She hangs a picture on the wall
he flies a kite
she drinks through a straw
he is a chair

They laugh and I laugh
the track lights on
through the window
the last glow of day
behind rooftops
tired from riding my bike
home from work

5/19/15

The death star flowers in bloom
purple spindles radiate
from impenetrable core
on single green stalks
thick with length

How long will they last?
weeks. A month. No more.
they rise from ground covered
with green leafed
plants abundant with humidity

They surprise as I walk
to the train in the morning
every year I forget they exist
and every year they return

5/28/15

Allowing myself to feel sad
even when I don’t know why I feel sad
allow myself to feel how sad
makes the rest of my body feel

He dances
naked on the coffee table
after his bath
wet hair already curled against his head
a butt shimmy
his two hands up shaking raised pointer fingers
he turns himself around
a huge wide open mouth smile
laughs hysterically
and we laugh too
then stops.

Face serious and calm
arms clamped to sides
he straight falls onto the couch cushions
lands board rigid

Then rolls over laughing again
body stretched long and pressed into cushion

Diffused light
through window
sun set behind clouds
part of his face is lit
part of his face is shadows

INXS – What You Need

9/9/2015

In the midst of summer
wild heat blooming off black pavement
waiting for the light to change
at California and Milwaukee
the car door opens
a woman leans her head out
over the gutter
and vomits
gags and vomits into the street
then coughing
slams the door shut
the light turns green
the car drives off

Walking to yoga after work

9/14/15

Earth

Music in the cemetery
again as evening falls
and sun disappears
glow behind trees
the band in lights
projected at a distance
long notes held longer

she raises her hands
slow then slower
high above her head
the cymbals tower
in this way she keeps time

Hair in eyes
guitar neck
angled high towards his face

He greets the crowd
a soft voice
thanks us
a song for his wife

Damp air
from earlier rain
blankets us
keeps us warm

With their backs to us
bass and guitar faced into amps
feedback perfection wall
the show ends

9/15/15

Two things he says

1 – enchanted of meatballs

Instead of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

2 – I want two sandwiches
one will have
ham cheese and mayonnaise

The other will have
cheese ham and mayonnaise

For breakfast usually

10/22/15

On the train
reading morning
while seated

a young woman standing
in front of me
reading Slaughterhouse Five
short dark hair in curls
gold bulb earrings dangle long from lobes
jean jacket cuffed with sleeves
crop top black with midriff bared
a flow ankle skirt with swarm of rainbow
and leather ankle boots

for her
it is 1992 come again

10/29/15

Today

The foam from my pee in the toilet formed a map of the Atlantic

Hand drawn fifteenth century cartography

The continents pulling apart as water tectonics ruined their structure

What sign this?

What portents?