Friday, December 30, 2016

Modern Act

This is one of the few bands in a long time that I've been kind of excited about (or "about which I've been excited...")

You can disregard the video, if you'd like, although it does have that certain 90s low-budget quality that's just great.  Like an old Superchunk music video (that one with David Cross and Janeane Garofalo) or something we'd expect to see made fun of on Beavis and Butthead.

The music, though - these guys are on to something.  I'm excited about them because it's one of the first times in perhaps 10 years where I've been excited about a new band in the "post-hardcore" genre (read: bands that sound like Jawbreaker.)  We lost a bunch of them to that ridiculous fucking "screamo" sound - you know, the one where suburban white guys, drunk on their need for self-actualization, nonsensically scream their minor disappointments.  

For being as young as they are, Cloud Nothings find a way to tap into the nonsensical angst of MY youth.  Since I'm not longer in that "youth" demographic by a decade-plus, it's particularly impressive feat for a bunch of early-20s guys.  There's something energetic and uplifting to their music, which of course is part of the appeal, but there's something deeper and intangible about the way they're able to tap into my nostalgia.  It's not the lyrics, it's not the singer, it's most definitely the guitars.  The whole thing sounds like some vaguely punk beach party.  And all my old dogs are there.

Monday, December 19, 2016

How we have ranged

This fucker.  I was a fan for the 12 years before his death and it hasn't even been 4 years since.  Perhaps in 10 years I'll have made peace with it.  Perhaps by then I'll have seen and heard everything there is to see and hear.  Right now, though, I keep finding little gems like this.

15 years and a week prior to his death, this kid seems almost hopeful.  Almost.

is there any room for death even to try
the movement, were it granted,
is only going to go
you are not, as day follows day
to be forgot
you I have not, forgot
at least, we are touched upon
our last days at this place
this time you will not talk of risk
only of certain consequence
oh, you and Napoleon all of that ambition
you are not, as day follows day
to be forgot
you I have not, forgot

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Was it the end? Was it the boy?

To continue staving off my impending existential crisis (I'm a vegetarian social justice-oriented academic in the Trump/Carl's Jr. white house cabinet era) I've been listening to stuff that brings out the 20 year old in me (ironically, a time when I would have eaten at Carl's Jr.)

Quite often, I allow Google's music app to pick my music for me, based around some song that fits my mood.  More often than not, it picks the perfect songs.  Throw on the Jets to Brazil station, get Jawbreaker, Knapsack, Samiam.  Somehow, it knows just when I want to hear the punkier side of the band more than the folksy/classic rock side.  I wonder how much info on me Google uses to put that together ( I write on my Google-blog.)

Anyhow, this one came up yesterday and I remembered how much I loved it:

Yeah, it's completely ridiculous, but it's also a perfect song.  You can sing to it, it has a great melody, great harmony among all its parts.  It's catchy as fuck and it has guitars.  It has keyboard bleep bloops and some echoey moments.  It rocks hard when cranked up in the car.  Perfect song.

I try not to divest too much of my time to the past, but like most people, I like the emotionality of nostalgia when it relates to music.  Like a lot of music, this song isn't actually tied to some event or some emotional state, but more of a generic time in my life.  I think about listening to this album in my little Nissan, driving home at night from school or some show or some thing, music blaring.  Being 20, 22, 26, and having every song hit me in the guts, typically the impetus for dreaming about the future to escape the present.   I wish I'd been able to spend more of my 20s being happy, so my nostalgia would be more joyous.  If there's anything lost in getting older, it's that little seems "new" anymore, even the melancholy, so I'm happy to rediscover these songs now and again, to remind myself of bitter times.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

"The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”

I haven't posted since the election, because I keep waiting for some profound idea to come to my head, but I'm still just stumbling about and trying to evolve coherent thoughts.  Clearly, I'm enraged and saddened.  I'm confused and scared to a point that it has truly impacted my mental health.  That's pretty incredible, right?  From an election?  I'm an anxious, avoidant guy, there's no doubt about that, but this has impacted my perception of reality.  I'm terrified for all my friends and for billions I don't know.  Are my friends going to find themselves un-married one day?  Did Trump just reignite the ire of India about Pakistan?  And China about Taiwan?  Is my Taiwanese friend now stuck in a mess because Teflon Don can't help but middle finger China?  Are we going to have a bathroom bill nationwide?  Is California's smog coming back?  Are we going to fuck public schools up forever because rich people like rich schools but don't want to pay for them?

I'm terrified for myself, too, since I'm some sort of scientist and I rely on federal research dollars to figure out ways to stop locking up minorities and poor children.  Gee, I wonder how that'll work in a "law and order" society.  Not well, I imagine.

I think the end result from all of this is that I am again reminded of why I'm in social work.  Social work is about resistance.  It's about ethical fortitude and social justice.  Community-building and unification.  It's a values-based discipline that represents and supports the underrepresented and the disenfranchised.  And since that's going to be a solid 40% of the country in 6 weeks, it's important that social workers unite to start and lead movements and to prop up those who are most affected.

As a kid, I was rebellious and angry and I wanted to "fight the system," although, you know, I was 14 and couldn't clearly explicate what "the system" was or why it made me angry.  But, I knew some people were not treated fairly.  Some people had it harder than others, some were not treated as people at all, and that there were structural reasons for this was inherently wrong..  I had it ok in some ways, hard in others, but I knew I had to help people with whatever privilege I was given or earned.  What good is being human if not to help other humans?  To leave the world in a better place than it was provided?  It's what brought me to social work, which I'm now convinced is the progenitor of punk rock.  Exposing power structures, DIYing the hell out of everything, breaking down barriers and forming a community of inclusion. On top of it, we will kick in your door and save your children from whatever horrific shit you're doing to them.  We will save you from yourself.

This new leadership feels like it's going to bleed into every aspect of life I've ever taken for granted as "normal."  We became complacent, assuming the world was progressing slowly, but surely.  That's now in jeopardy.  We will see new barriers, new oppression, new dangers to people's lives, in addition to a resurgence of the old ones.

It's time that we Jane Addams the fuck out of this country.  It's time we kick complacency in the shins, unite, and undo the wrongs we see around us.

We can laugh about 2016 being a dumpster fire or whatever, but I'm putting it out here now that 2017 is on notice.  It's time we secure the good for all of us.  And if 2017 pulls any of the bullshit we've seen this year, we're going to have to fuck it up.