Be Sweet

Japanese Breakfast – Be Sweet

Japanese Breakfast played at this new outdoor venue back in the summer and I had wanted to go but I’d been up in Boston for the day and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pull off all that driving. Based on how tired I was this morning and how lethargic I was throughout the day, I think that was the right call.

I also read Michelle Zauner’s book Crying in H Mart, which I think is a good read even if you know next to nothing about Korean food or her band (like me).

Anyway, off to a slow start here on the old NaBloPoMo.

No Time for Love Like Now

Michael Stipe & Big Red Machine – No Time for Love Like Now

When this song came out back in the spring, there were a couple of different performances, varying only slightly by where did Michael seem to be? What was he wearing? Glasses or no glasses? There were interviews where he said, yes, it fits this moment really well but I actually wrote it back in the fall before we had an inkling of the pandemic to come.

The couple of songs he had released prior to this one didn’t really do it for me. I listened/watched the videos, but they weren’t going to be songs I put in my regular rotation. No Time for Love Like Now was different. I’m sure being cooped up in our houses, working from home, doing school from home, afraid to go anywhere, definitely contributed to my feelings about it. Here was Michael, just Michael, singing directly to me. Like a private little concert from his home to my living room. In the middle of a pandemic, in lockdown, in the midst of political turmoil, he was reaching out with a song that felt like a steady hand. Calm reassurance. And yet, at the same time, the power to completely destroy me. We were so fragile. I was trying so hard to hold it together, be strong for the kids and try not to let the worry show (I don’t think I succeeded well at that at all, btw). When his voice has that particular Michaelness about it, which not all the songs do, he still has the ability to just cut right to the very center of my being, exposing all those things I normally keep buried deep beneath the surface.

So now it’s November. We’re heading into winter, which you all know is my hardest season in the best of circumstances. Though we know more about the virus now, it’s still just as random who suffers greatly from it, who dies, and who doesn’t even know they have it. My worry about the pandemic is less panicky but my concerns about our ability to get through this winter, in round two (or whatever number it is) of COVID-19, are weighing on me. I don’t want a repeat of those first couple months from the spring. Everyone is weary after nearly 9 months of just holding on and nerves are frayed, tempers are short. I think this song will be even more important to me for the next few months than it was when it first came out.

Everything in Its Right Place

Radiohead – Everything in Its Right Place

Sometime during this never-ending quarantine life we find ourselves in, my son got really into music. He had been expanding what he listened to over the past year, as one tends to do when you enter high school, but something about not being able to go out and do other things, or maybe it was burnout from too much screen time, kicked it up a level. One day he told me that he’d begun listening to whole albums, start to finish. Previously he’d just listen to songs in a playlist on shuffle.

While he certainly knew that I would go to see bands fairly often, I didn’t play a lot of music around the house. I would usually listen to my music during my commute because once I got home there was dinner to fix and eat, things to oversee that the kids were doing, picking kids up from this or that activity, etc. Generally not the kind of atmosphere that I like for listening to music. I do like having music on in the background while I’m doing things, but what I don’t like, really don’t like, is having my listening be interrupted. I don’t want to be asked a lot of questions, I don’t want to miss a chunk of a song because I have to use some noisy appliance, I want to listen (and maybe dance/sing along).

So I think it came as a real surprise to my son one day when he proudly announced, “I found an album that’s an hour and a half long and it’s only got four songs!” and I replied, “oh, is it by Godspeed You! Black Emperor?” His mouth fell open and he got a look on his face of shock and confusion. It was, in fact, their album, “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven” and he sure did not expect that his mother would know anything about it. It was a door creaking open in his mind to a view of his mother that he hadn’t really seen before.

We got him a Walkman for his birthday in the summer, something he’d been asking about since he came across a box of my cassettes when helping his sister look for some things she wanted to take back to college with her. The Guardians of the Galaxy movie had put the idea in his head, though he had expressed an interest in making tapes all the way back when I first got a used car that had a tape deck. I took him down to our local record store and he bought his first album. He found my stereo setup to be too uncomfortable so he took the money he received from his grandparents for his birthday and got a turntable he could have in his bedroom. Now he has about eight or nine records, plus I dug out my old CD Walkman and let him have that as well so he can listen to music in any format.

We get into the chats about bands he is excited about. I suggest some others he might like to check out, he gets jealous when I say, yeah, I saw them last year. He now understands that I am someone who will get this newly found importance of music in his life. The other day he asked me about Radiohead. He’d heard of them, knew they had this reputation for being a hugely influential band, but wasn’t sure where to start. Ah, my son, I have just the thing for you. Remember when I did that make-a-CD-of-this-band-like-your-house-was-on-fire challenge from a friend? I did one for Radiohead and I thought this would be the perfect introduction for him, rather than just listening to one of the Spotify playlists with all the big hits. It took me a few days to find it and today he got to listen to it. Here’s the playlist:

Radiohead – House on Fire CD

Stop Whispering – Pablo Honey
High and Dry – The Bends
Street Spirit (Fade Out) – The Bends
Airbag – OK Computer
Paranoid Android – OK Computer
Subterranean Homesick Alien – OK Computer
Let Down – OK Computer
Everything in Its Right Place – Kid A
The National Anthem – Kid A
Pyramid Song – Amnesiac
Knives Out – Amnesiac
2+2=5 – Hail to the Thief
Where I End and You – Begin Hail to the Thief
Bodysnatchers In Rainbows
Reckoner – In Rainbows
Morning Mr. Magpie – King of Limbs
Codex – King of Limbs

(this was made before Moon Shaped Pool came out)

He’s definitely going to do a deep dive into their discography now, like binge-watching a show on Netflix. Based on the CD I made, he thinks Kid A is going to be his favorite but I said, you can’t start with Kid A! You have to have some base knowledge of the band first. I allowed as how he could circle back to Pablo Honey some other time, so he started in on The Bends. He’s really looking forward to Kid A though, and I have to say, this is a great first track to get it started.

Politicians in My Eyes

Death – Politicians in My Eyes

My dad called on Sunday to catch up and generally share his relief that Biden had won. We both said how great it will be to have scientists back in various government agencies, how nice it is to have people who respect experts and experience, who won’t foment violence amongst white supremacists, etc. It’s such a low bar at this point that just having people who speak coherently seems like a dream.

Where I parted from my dad’s assessment was his hope, or maybe even expectation, that Mitch McConnell would see that he needs to work with Biden to get things done. What possible motivation would he have for doing that, I said. He just won reelection so he’s safe for six whole years and, given his age and blue hands, he’s unlikely to run again. His entire reason for living is to obstruct anything the Democrats try to do. Dad figured that now that McConnell had gotten (stolen) his SCOTUS seats and passed tax cuts for the wealthy, he didn’t need to keep stonewalling. Pshaw, I said, the man is the single worst politician in Washington and he will stop at nothing to poison the well.

So today I read that old Turtleface is backing the lame duck’s attempts to find fraud with the results and generally stall and sow chaos. Because of course he is. He’s Moscow Mitch. I really believe he’s just as dirty with Russian money as Trump is and, quite simply, a traitor. He has no charm or knack for inspiring a following so he has decided that his current seat is the most powerful to which he can ascend and he’s going to wield it ruthlessly. I have already made donations to the two Democrats in the Georgia Senate runoff elections but I’m not holding my breath for those.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

R.E.M. – It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Oh. My. GOD. You guys. I didn’t want to be cheesy, or premature, in playing this song, but there was a LITERAL FUCKING EARTHQUAKE AT MY HOUSE THIS MORNING!!!!!!!

AN. EARTHQUAKE. Epicenter in southeastern Massachusetts. 4.0 on the Richter scale.

I am sorry, but I can NOT get over that. It was loud and rumbly, like a truck dropped a dumpster right outside our house, lasting a few seconds. It’s not like I live in California and can just overlook the symbolism here because this kind of thing happens every day. An earthquake at a place called Bliss Corner. I mean get the fuck out of here!!! There is some karma coming and I am here for it!!

I can’t wait. A woman whose parents were immigrants from India and Jamaica is going to be the Vice President after the virulently racist administration we’ve had to endure these past four years. What a giant slap in the face to Stephen Miller and all the other ghouls infecting the White House. I can’t wait to see the string of scientists and experts that are allowed to flood back into our government. A First Lady who is an educator with a PhD (and a master’s from my alma mater – we were there at the same time!). Kick that fucking Betsy DeVos to the curb, Jill! I can’t wait to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, to undo everything Cheeto has done by executive order or departmental guidelines. To return to treating our allies like allies. I read that they rang the bells in Paris and had fireworks in London (handy leftovers from Guy Fawkes Day). The bully is on his way out and the world is relieved.

It is the end of the world as we know it, and I really do feel fine.

The best version of this song is from the show I went to in Providence, RI (where they most definitely felt the earthquake today) on Black Monday, October 19, 1987, and no one can ever change my mind. I got a usb cassette player for my birthday so I can digitize my bootlegs and had intended to do that before I would post this song but was pre-empted by an actual earthquake and my need to post this song immediately!


The Brothers Johnson – Stomp!

How much do I love the videos of people celebrating and dancing in the streets? SOOO MUCH!! It’s times like this I really miss living in a big city. That collective feeling of relief and joy and just wanting to share that with people.

I spent a couple of hours this morning helping to clean out the headquarters for our local Democrats and taking all of the stuff back to people’s houses. The numbers hadn’t changed from where they were the night before and we were all fairly quiet, but calm. It felt like things were headed our way. I dropped some stuff off at one place and headed to the store. While I was in the store my phone started buzzing and my kids and husband had all texted me the news that Biden had won Pennsylvania. I thought about all of those Election Defenders and people partying outside of the Convention Center in Philadelphia to bolster the poll workers inside and drown out the Trumpsters. They brought spirit and fun and movement, while the MAGA idiots just stood there trying to look menacing and failing in the face of people just expressing happiness.

I made one more stop to drop off some signs, then headed home, got cleaned up, and changed into the most Philly t-shirt I have. I got it at a bike shop back in the 80s when I was going into the city as often as I could from my college campus out on the Main Line. It’s bright yellow and has Ben Franklin riding a bike and a Liberty Bell. I proudly put it on as a thank you to Philadelphia and those out there guarding the vote count, for getting us over the all important electoral college tipping point. As a nice little wink to them, the address of the former bike shop (now a ramen bar) is about a block away from where they were holding the outdoor dance party.

I harbor no illusions about Joe Biden being a visionary president, and we still have to fight for the two Georgia Senate seats and deal with the hated trio of McConnell, Collins, and Graham for six whole more years. We lost seats in the House. But we grabbed our nation by the scruff of its neck and yanked it back from the fascists and their ignorant, racist, bigoted supporters. We are not in the clear, those people are not going anywhere, plus there’s still the lame duck to get through. And let us not breeze past the significance of Kamala Harris. A woman, a woman of color, a daughter of immigrants, an HBCU graduate, is going to be the Vice President. This is a major slap in the face to the white supremacists that have been roaming the halls of the White House these last few years. Take that Stephen Miller!


Pylon – Cool

Ok! November 6th, three days post-election, still counting. Cool.

Obviously, yes, count every vote. Every vote counts. I am just impatient. And every minute that passes without Biden being declared the winner is another minute that Trumpsters can try and fuck it all up. Runoffs and recounts and lawsuits, oh my!

I was awakened this morning by a text from my daughter that just read, “BLUE GEORGIA!!!” 💙 I would dearly love for Georgia to go to Biden, and even better if we can pick up those Senate seats.

It seems fortuitous that today is the official release date for the Pylon box set. I pre-ordered mine and received it early so I have already pored over the book filled with pictures and details I hadn’t seen before. The four albums, two reissues and two records of singles, b-sides, and previously unreleased songs, are beautiful. My stereo is not very high end so I can’t say that I really notice a difference between my originals and the new copies of Gyrate and Chomp but I am delighted to have them and I am really excited about the two other records, Extra, and Razz Tape. Now I have the song Cool on vinyl. I had it on the CD compilation called Hits that came out in 1989 (which is when I saw Pylon play at City Gardens and got my beloved t-shirt), but it’s great to have it included on these records. I was so happy about all this that I even posted an unflattering picture of myself in the t-shirt on Instagram. 31 years ago and today. Some things never go out of style.

If the box set is out of your price range (this was a combo birthday/Christmas present for me) you can buy Chomp and Gyrate separately and you can stream Extra and Razz Tape. Something to do while we wait for Georgia to be called. Come on!

Let’s Groove

Earth, Wind, and Fire – Let’s Groove

We got the internet back today so I had a busy day at work, which kept me from checking the election results every five minutes.

One thing I did see was the Joy to the Polls group along with Election Defenders bringing the party to the streets of Philadelphia. I love this so much. I’m not sure if they got there first or if they came to keep Trump supporters in check but they are having a disco block party outside of the place where they’re counting the mail in ballots in Philadelphia. It started yesterday with a small group of people and by this evening it was a big crowd of people, literally dancing in the streets. There were people dressed in mailbox costumes, the White House, Independence Hall (it is Philly after all) and I spied a couple of Gritty masks for good measure. It improved my mood a hundred fold.

Waiting for these results is exhausting. But watching the Joy to the Polls videos in the days of early voting just roll that party on to the places where they’re still counting, is, well, a joy! I started following them on Instagram but I think they’re probably on other platforms too. Go check it out, you’ll feel better.