From the Seattle archives. See also the making of squidmaster 2043.
These were my shoes around this time last year. They were unearthed by the move, so I photographed them for posterity's sake...knowing that I'd probably get sentimental about them at some point, as with all shoes I've developed an emotional connection to.
Very breathable. In just a short period of time, most of my socks had developed holes to match. I found you can wear them to the tune of CCR's "Run Through the Jungle" if you want to channel that whole thing.
"Do unicorns engage in unisex? Or do people with unisex haircuts eat unicorn?"
Trust me, if you just stop getting reasonable amounts of sleep it will make a lot more sense.
I think I know why, at first blush, I didn't really get Built to Spill. It's because I kept wondering: "Are these sad songs or happy songs?" I just never knew what I was supposed to feel.
But if you survive the initial put-off, you get hung up on a couple fantastic phrases ("and god is whoever you're performing for") and then you just keep listening. You learn all the songs and sing along, because somehow in spite of their detachment they're really fun to sing along to. If you're like me though you may never "get it." Seeing Doug Martsch and his happy summer camp counselor approach to performing ("thanks so much for letting us play for you, we've just got a few more") only adds to the confusion.
This brings us to hair care products. This morning I dredged up some expensive hair stuff that I bought a long time ago, more out of desperation than anything else--I'm living out of a suitcase at the moment. Two peach-colored bottles with orange caps. Now, which one was shampoo, and which conditioner? Because you know just like the next man I've been trained to always use one before the other. I certainly wouldn't want to make a crucial ordering mistake and RUIN MY HAIR FOREVER.
It was surprisingly hard to figure out. These were high-end hair care products, and by that I mean they did not advertise themselves as one or the other in vulgar fashion. The word "shampoo" finally appeared, small and italicized, in a paragraph surrounded above and below by similar paragraphs in French and Spanish. French was first.
The intent was clear: downplay the fact that this is just shampoo. Once you've eradicated the idea of shampoo from the consumer's brain, and he views this squat peach bottle with an orange cap simply as another "hair care product" in a long litany of hair care products that he must ritualistically apply each morning, you've got him. The oh-so-confining 2 step process--which no doubt took some serious fanagling to foist over on us in the beginning, during a time when there was maybe just "hair soap"--will be eradicated in favor of an N step process. We all become Patrick Bateman. Exfoliating gel followed by mint facial mask followed by...
Ok, so where's the connection? It is this: we're moving towards an era of ambiguity, where the hegemony of discreteness gets smeared out onto the continuum. It's both good and bad. Good because the music you're listening to is getting more interesting. You'll be able to listen to it for the next 5 years and not get bored. Bad because you have to deal with more complexity now. Bad because you don't know how you should feel about it really. And bad because you're probably going to waste a lot of time in the shower squinting at strange runes inscribed on "hair care products."
A rather detailed street map of a place I ended up not going to.
"Man is evil to the extent that he is a social animal." Please note that I don't necessarily buy this. Or rather: I buy it--somehow it became my distorted takehome message from all that Rand--but I don't want to buy it. I don't know why I buy it. So something worth figuring out. Goes onto the hand.
"Regal Lager." This must have been a brand name idea. However, we're all done for the day palindromage enters the marketing playbook, because that means they've tried absolutely everything else. Hell, on that note, I still maintain the introduction of cuticle cream already implies the apocalypse. Honestly, what's left?
Stop me if you've seen this one already. Try "I'm feeling lucky" on the phrase "french military victories."
To the curious: yes, I am moving to New York.
Come visit me! Well, let's wait until I find an apartment that isn't a broomcloset where I will have to sublet a corner behind the cleaning agents from 5 Romanians and their extended families.
Actually it's not going to be that bad. I've already done some apartment shopping this past weekend, and while it's pretty expensive, it's not as bad as you've probably heard.
See the thing is, when you're not living in NYC you get all this hype qualified with an even bigger dose of FUD from the people who already live there, because they want to convince you that (1) they live in the coolest place on the planet, and yet (2) you wouldn't be able to hack it there, so stay away and keep down the density. Too expensive, too dangerous, no room, unfriendly people, hostile people in business suits copping monster attitudes blah blah blah. Yet it's the coolest place, it's got everything, center of the universe blah blah blah. They're just protecting their territory I think. But they're right about one thing: it's damn cool territory. Worth protecting.
I've been ping-ponging back and forth between the coasts for the last two weeks and here are, in no particular order, several observations I made this past weekend in NYC:
People are friendly. They are actually friendly! Now I'm sure there's a lot of variation on the friendly axis--there are unfriendly places no doubt--but almost everywhere I've been in New York it has been easier to talk to people than here in Seattle. There really is no ignoring your fellow man like we manage to do so well here in Seattle.
It's dirty. There are rats in the subways and huge mounds of garbage bags on the streets (well, at least they're in bags). My first NYC subway experience was getting on the E line in a car where a bum had--I think, it's almost too unbelievable to be true--pissed all over himself. The urine was trickling down into the rest of the car. Some people sniffed, made a face, and headed for the other end, but most just plopped down without giving the urine rivulets curling around their shoes a second thought.
Honking your horn can mean any number of things. There's a lot of honking. The majority seems to convey your impatience to other drivers, but there's also little honks the taxi drivers give you to get your attention. "Hey, aren't you tired of walking?" The strangest use of a honk I witnessed was from an elderly couple in a car who were watching a young couple cross the street with their little kid. The honk was brief and light-hearted. In this case, the honk meant "We think your kid is cute."
The degree of diversity makes racism...impractical. It's just not much of a thing. I was talking with a pianist in a Cuban music group about this. Incidentally the guy looked whiter than me if that's possible. Picture the nicest band geek you knew in high school. Yet this dude plays in Latino clubs and spends most of his time surrounded by Latin Americans. "Back in Texas, I grew up in fear," he said. "I don't feel that here. Yeah, there's been a couple of times over the last ten years that I've realized I was in a dangerous situation, but that's generally because I was in actual danger. It was a rational thing--that's the difference. And both times I got out of there okay."
The panhandler headcount is surprisingly low. Again, maybe I haven't seen the right districts in New York, though I find that hard to believe since I walked all over the place. The whole weekend I had to ignore maybe 3 of them. Last night, when I got back into Seattle, I went up to Broadway to get something to eat and was hit up 3 times in the span of a single block. And one of them was sketchy...two guys who looked like they would jump me if only there were fewer people around. Of all the places I've been to--with the exception of Amsterdam perhaps--Seattle still takes the cake for me when it comes to unpleasant street encounters.
There are microscenes. Walking around, I suddenly found myself in Little Italy, where I got some amazing pizza from a motherly Italian woman. Everyone was speaking Italian. I left and was in a Chinese district in less than a block. I went to a jazz joint no larger than our living room at 8th and G, where a jazz trio played literally right under my nose. If I had leaned too far one way I would have gotten a drumstick in the face. In addition to some original stuff, they covered Bill Evans, Bartok, Bjork's "Come to Me"...man that is a great upright bass line if ever there was one.
On a completely unrelated note, this is what happens when grandpa turns into a squirrel. In case you were wondering.
...is fully operational. Or, at least it was fully operational, until I knocked it down in my attempts to manually spin it. For this I was chewed out by a local hipster who we will refer to here as "Darth." I thought he was going to choke me from across the room.
Note the large hole in one side, which, I would like to point out, I was not responsible for. That apparently happened the first time it was knocked down. But like any well-behaved deathstar it rose from its ashes for a sequel. And was eventually defeated by the good guys: namely, me and several plastic cups of Glenlivet.
This man is obviously quite amused.
(FYI this was Saturday night at Sub-Tonic in the East Village. It was an afterhours scene similar to the Eggroom in Seattle, only I am told populated by jazz afficianados.)
Another one in the spirit of "Hackerhaus."
Eric was a real champ and showed me all around the city Saturday. He even introduced me to the fabled Susannah--the thief who stole him from this year's Christmas party at Jeff L.'s. :)
The three of us ate Korean and were then lured into a Japanese restaurant by a sign advertising cheap sake samplers. By feigning a deep interest in sake, we were able to score some high end stuff at no additional charge. Extremely tasty...now if I could only remember what it was called...
A human is an animal whose mind can wander.
Presence is not strictly enforced
By hunger or fear,
Us bumping into tables,
Forgetting the keys to the car,
And proving theorems while we miss the exit.
This may seem like a lame celebrity sighting, but tonight Mastodon was up at the Cha Cha Lounge. They're recording in the area I think. I was struck by how young they all were for such a technically awesome band, none of them could have been over 25.
As a representative of Squidmaster 2043, I am here to confirm the rumors that he made an appearance in a large, famous office building in mid-town Manhattan while I was interviewing there.
As a result of this, an unfortunate young man who apparently did not believe in Giant Squids anymore lost a $100 bet. There are pictures to prove it, which I hope to obtain and post here soon. Remember: Giant Squids are not at all like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, they are very real people with feelings (and sometimes crazy mullets) just like you and me.
I'm flying to NY today for an interview tomorrow...tell you more about it after the fact.
Besides I am too tired atm, having been basically evicted from my apt. last night by a power outage. I relocated to a hotel downtown where I caught 4 hours of sleep but, by golly, got my cellphone charged and received the call this morning telling me my itinerary. I didn't even know what time I'd be leaving until then. I leave in a few hours. Crazy eh.
If you don't think this is the most flagrantly awesome shirt ever, you don't belong here. Please leave now. Go worship the 80s some more with your mistaken hipster friends.
A man walks into a Barnes and Noble. No this isn't the beginning of a joke. Well...maybe. You decide.
After wandering around for a bit I'm approached by a helpful employee. "Where's the Classics section?" I ask her.
"Classics?" she asks. She honestly doesn't know. I'm dumbfounded by this; how can you work in a store selling literature and not know what is meant by that term?
"Plutarch" I tell her, by way of clarifying.
"You mean like philosophy?" she asks me. No, I say, more like...Classics. You know. Ancient Greek stuff.
She deposits me in the Mythology section and says, "the Philosophy section is over there, if you're looking for, like, Pluto."
(If I hadn't been so blown away by this, I would have said: "Yeah, Pluto, like, you know, the illegitimate offspring of Plato and Plutarch, because, like, the Greeks were gay like that and shit. Thanks so much for your help.")
I can tell this is going to be hard. "Hey," I say, and it pretty much ends there. Ok, start over. Think of something to talk about. Come on.
"So this is my first time here," I tell her, somewhat of a lie, "and I was just hoping someone could explain this place to me, cause I don't really get it."
"What?" Now she thinks I'm retarded.
"You know," I continue, "like this back here." I gesture to a room behind us cordoned off from the rest of the club by velvet ropes and big guys with black dress shirts that say "Agent" on the back. Inside there are couches, arranged around a small central bar. Windows with metal-link curtains allow the patrons of this room to look out on the rest of the club. "What is this?"
"Oh, that's the VIP room."
"I see. Tell me, if you were in a room with green lighting and chain mail curtains on the windows, would that make you feel special?"
"Uh, I don't know." Giggles.
"Because," I add, acting very serious all of a sudden, "they sure would make me feel pretty damn special."
This time I really killed it. It's so, so dead. She looks off in the distance, pretending now that I don't exist. It's definitely a suggestion. I take it, but not before dragging out that wonderful moment of total awkwardness for far longer than politeness proscribes. I walk off. Sorry dudes, it's 3 on 2 now.
I hate this particular club so much that at certain moments I almost love it. It's hard to explain. The only metaphor I can think of for it is a circus peanut. They look tasty, and in fact are tasty, but there's actually nothing in them. It's a disturbing sensation: the wave functions collapse to nothing in your mouth, and you wonder what, if anything, you just ate.
You might feel ripped off at first. "Hey, I paid for substance, and you gave me the absence of it." But then you start to wonder how the hell they did it. Zero point zero calories. How can something so content-free even be brought into existence? In the end, like me, you might come away slightly impressed.