24.2.11

LIFE MISTAKES: THE ANTHOLOGY



EPISODE 02
LIBRARY JUSTICE





numbering among the institutions from which i am banned is chicago’s Harold Washington Public Library. as far as i’m concerned, Harold Washington Public Library can suck it. Harold Washington Public Library is not an asset to Chicago’s outstanding architectural history. the structure sullies an entire city block in its grotesquely inflated neoclassical splendor. i might describe the library as aesthetically and functionally retarded. the exterior features bronze ornamentation of stylized americana such as corn and indians. the perimeter is lined with dozens of false entrances only one of which is ever open, and so a person must stalk the perimeter until a functional handle is found. once the entry is discovered and breached, one must navigate a labyrinthine corridor to access a cavernous vestibule which serves no function other than being cavernous and aesthetically retarded. from here one must ascend two escalators to a second floor which houses computers shiny with germs for public use, a perpetually empty gallery, and book check-out. riding this escalator involves passing a large piece of laminated wall art comprised of words drawn in crayon that are ‘representative of chicago’ in pairs of two i.e. STRONG LEARNING or LOVE CITY. in what is perhaps an unfortunate oversight, one set of words is CRACK ROCK. once you ascend to the second floor you have the option of using elevators to access your bookfloor of choice or you may continue to ride escalators in a staggeringly ineffective fashion. either way you will pass security -- two sentries at the neck of the check-out floor.
i spent nearly every day at Harold Washington Public Library in the month preceding submission of my Fulbright application in early fall 2008. the week before the application was due, i did not sleep or do much of anything aside from sit in the library photocopying endless pages of shit which seemed pertinent to my country of intended scholarship. on the morning two days prior to the Fulbright application deadline, i photocopied quickly and gathered my things to leave because i needed to pack for my flight to san diego the next day; my ‘gathered things’ included two books i intended to check out because they contained too much pertinent shit to photocopy. i used the bathroom. while in the bathroom i put the books in my handbag so as to not dirty them with library bathroom filth. i was very tired. i forgot to remove the books from my bag. i forgot the books were in my bag. i forgot. i proceeded to exit as usual and passed through security. problems developed rapidly.
i set off the security alarm. as an ostensibly innocent person who feels they are being accused of something unsavory i immediately affected an expression of annoyance and surprise when the guards approached and asked to search my things. i grudgingly complied and opened my bag still not realizing that i had books therein. the guard pulled the books out, and looked at me, and i was kind of aghast. OH THOSE ARE MINE i said and immediately realized that this was the fucking stupidest thing i could possibly say. really said the guard. these look like library books to me. these are yours? he inspected the books. they have Harold Washington Public Library stamped on the inside he pointed. i’m sorry i said i forgot to check out. please let me go through the line. the guard ignored me and summoned a second guard and they examined the books and spoke to each other in hushed tones. i began to sense that i was imminently fucked. the guards summoned more guards with their electronic summoning devices, and these new guards escorted me to Library Security Headquarters, which apparently is a place that exists. i was led into a locker room and seated in a wooden chair in the center of the room beneath a cinematically placed spotlight. i politely answered several questions and appended my answers with yes ma’am and yes sir and proffered my driver’s license and library card. a female guard frisked me. a large, imposing man entered. he was wearing a black suit and a red tie. like satan i thought. he was head of library security. how did you get this library card he demanded. i applied for it SIR i said. but your driver’s license is in california, he hissed. i’m a student sir i said i aquired the library card using verification of my current address in the city here. this doesn’t add up he said. he handcuffed me to the chair and informed me that they were waiting for the police to arrive. it is likely that my eyes were really big and maybe kind of red at this point. the handcuffs were sort of painful, which was something i had not anticipated. i remember thinking ‘the man’ has me in a kind of frantic way.
while waiting for the police to arrive i sat in the chair and listened to the guards in the next room talk about chipotle. I NEED ME SOME CHIPOTLE, the female guard said. I LIKE THAT SALSA THEY GOT THERE.
two police officers arrived, a male and a female, and asked me more questions. they said they were not getting radio reception and would need to take me to another location for further questioning. this other location turned out to be jail, which was another thing that i had not anticipated.
i was led back up the basement stairs flanked by 8 people in uniform with my hands cuffed behind my back. we conducted the ten minute journey through the library’s causeways and library-goers stopped to watch, agape. i felt kind of important, i thought this is how Lindsay Lohan must feel sometimes. i was led to a waiting police vehicle and the female police officer conducted a spread eagle patdown before instructing me get into the back of the car. WHERE ARE WE GOING MA’AM i asked. she didn’t answer.
about twenty minutes later we pulled into Cook County jail. the police officers exited and left me with the driver, who seemed kind of friendly, and who asked how my day was. i said i had probably seen better days, and he replied: IF THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT YOU HAVE TO DO TODAY THEN YOU’RE HAVING A GOOD DAY. i thought about asking him for some sort of context, and then i thought about what Chicago police officers contend with on a daily basis i.e. getting shot in the face, or stabbed, or gang-raped, or being set on fire, and i said YEAH I GUESS YOU’RE RIGHT.
the female police officer and the male police officer, aka ‘my people’, took me into a booth room thing and handcuffed me to a wall. is that really necessary i thought. they had my handbag and removed all of my possessions from my handbag and noted all of my things in a computer database. for some reason this process took two and a half hours, during which i mostly thought about what i would eat when i got home, and acknowledged that i was thirsty and that it was time for me to take my xanax. i felt lonely. i tried to ingratiate myself with the female police officer because i was sure there was humanity in the chicago criminal justice system, and that the good people of law enforcement would take pity on an anorexic college student in a cardigan and pink high heels who had accidentally taken two books from a library in preparation for a scholarship application. i complimented the officer on her eye glasses. she looked at me and did not smile. she asked me a lot of questions that i had already answered several times. she asked me why i had taken the books. i said that i was very tired and had forgotten to remove them from my bag. i said that i had not really slept in several days, i was preparing my fulbright application, did she know what that was, it was a very prestigious scholarship to a foreign country. the male police officer approached and asked about the motive for theft. the female police officer responded TEMPORARY LOSS OF SANITY.
eventually i was placed in a large cell with other detainees. i was never exactly sure what i was waiting for, but i accepted the process as part of american justice. i was handcuffed to a metal bench, and waited another two hours while people filtered in and out. at one point i was completely alone in the cell and i began to hum Amazing Grace to myself. i began to feel increasingly distanced from my body. i began to feel very patriotic. after an hour or two they moved me to a hallway directly outside the cell and i was seated in a chair next to a latino man in his late 20s with several tattoos on his face. he said he liked my shoes. i said thank you. he observed me suspiciously and asked ‘what i was in for.’ LIBRARY THEFT i said WHAT ABOUT YOU. GRAND THEFT AUTO AND POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE he said. OH i said THAT SUCKS.
they called my name and took me into a weird and tiny space that looked like a doctor’s examination room. i was asked to take my hair down. i was frisked again. a woman took my shoes and gave me plastic booties. she snapped my mugshot. in my mugshot i appear to be extremely non-plussed, and this mostly because i was upset about taking my hair down. it had been nicely pulled into a tight chignon, which, when taken down, requires a lot of ‘zhooshing’ to look fluffy and pert, and i was not allowed to ‘zhoosh.’
my prints were taken on a strange machine with an led screen. PROCESSING YOUR PRINTS WILL TAKE BETWEEN 12 AND 24 HOURS the prints processing woman said. WOULD YOU LIKE TO MAKE A COLLECT CALL TO NOTIFY SOMEONE OF WHERE YOU WILL BE. i felt something very bad happen to my heart rate. WAIT i said WHAT i said. YOU WILL HAVE TO STAY HERE UNTIL YOUR PRINTS ARE PROCESSED, she replied. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, i said, and maybe my voice became kind of stern and rose an octave or two. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. I NEED TO FINISH MY FULBRIGHT APPLICATION. I HAVE A PLANE TO CATCH. WELL she said YOU ARE GOING TO MISS YOUR FLIGHT. she led me to a cell. ARE YOU THIRSTY she asked. i nodded. she gave me a three ounce dixie cup of jail water. she closed the door of the cell. she left. to this day it remains a complete mystery why i was placed in a room i later found out was an isolation cell, a part of jail typically reserved for highly violent detainees. perhaps regular jail was full. when my eyes acclimated to the darkness i observed that there was blood and what looked like fecal matter spattered across the walls. scrawlings were carved into all surfaces of the room, reading FUCK U or HELP or ALFREDO RUIZ RIP. there was no place to sit. there was a hole in the floor which seemed to have the dedicated purpose of toilet. a sliver of light shone in through a slot in the door at eye level. in the cell next to mine i could hear officers struggling with another prisoner who may have been getting a chrome rod shoved into his rectum judging from the pitch of his screams. i heard one of the officers say YOU WON’T STOP BLEEDING IF YOU DON’T STOP MOVING.
i ceased to feel patriotic and began to feel very anxious and certain that i would die. i sat down on the floor and rocked back and forth, as per the filmic response to being held in isolation which seemed like the appropriate thing to do but was not particularly comforting in retrospect. after a few hours in the isolation cell my very high prescription dosage of xanax had worn off, and i had a panic attack. i began to pace the room sobbing and hyperventilating in a very uncharacteristic fashion. i started to pound on the door. I NEED XANAX i shrieked. I NEED XANAX AND I WANT TO GO HOOOOOOOOME.
i think i must have been really obnoxious, because pretty soon after that they gave me my pink high heels in a plastic sack, and my handbag and its contents in another plastic sack. they gave me some papers, and they showed me the door. i didn’t know where i was. i thought about taking a cab. FUCK CABS i thought. i thought about taking the el. FUCK THE EL i thought. i walked home. it was maybe four or five miles. it was raining. it was dark.
it seemed like a really good idea to stop at the Loehmann’s on State Street on the way back. they were nearing closing. I NEED A TRAVEL MAKEUP BAG FOR SAN DIEGO. i thought, LOEHMANN’S WILL HAVE A CUUUTE ONE BY BETSEY JOHNSONNNNNN. when i stumbled into the store (and by ‘stumbled’ i mean ‘limped heavily in an utterly delirious PTSD way’) the Loehmann’s security officer’s eyes became very large and his mouth became very small. he stared at the ID numbers that had been scribbled all over my hands and arms with thick black sharpie at various junctures during the day, which i had totally forgotten about, and which were kind of dripping blue from the rain. he nodded toward my arms and asked what the numbers were. I JUST CAME FROM A CONCERT i kind of whispered and this made perfect sense to me at the time. the security guard shadowed me in the store to the extent that i said FUCK BETSEY JOHNSON and continued home. when i finally arrived back at my apartment i looked at myself in the mirror and saw a creature that looked a lot like Mary-Kate Olson after a five day coke bender and forty-five minutes in a washing machine. i drank a bottle of water very quickly. i called my mom and we laughed together, afterwards i sat on my window seat overlooking the city and thought about america and felt very wise.

18.2.11

LIFE MISTAKES: THE ANTHOLOGY



EPISODE O1
ROMANCE IN THE ERA OF GOTH







high school freshman year was all about listening to skinny puppy/debussy playlists on my discman during PE while adding safety pins to the thumbholes i had cut into my mesh undershirt. i would concentrate intently on this somewhat hidden from view by a shrubbery near the baseball diamond. sometimes a group of popular, lithe girls would pass and tell me to kill myself, and i would add their names to my hit-list and draw ‘angry hands’ in art class where i occasionally used my own blood as pigment. things continued in this way in a seemingly interminable fashion.
and then there was charlie brown.
charlie brown seemed to be the antidote to my young malaise and existential placelessness. he was four years older - a senior to my freshman, and he was everything i wanted to be. he was The Big Goth On Campus. he held the respect and admiration of jocks, skater kids, and feckless, roaming abercrombie&fitch drones. WHAT’S UP CHARLIE BROWN they would say, quivering under forest green jansport backpacks. HEY charlie brown would say NOT A LOT. charlie brown did not carry a backpack. if he did, it was probably black, survivor-bike style, and had a bunch of Fear Factory cds in it and a big black sketchbook full of GOOD IDEAS.
charlie brown’s goth image was perfectly executed. he had long hair knotted into semi-formed, half-bleached dreadlocks. he wore red-tinted sunglasses. knee-high combat boots ascended to busted corduroy cut-off shorts and a distressed NIN or bauhaus t-shirt. his pale limbs were festooned with glittering, spiky jewelry.
i loved him.
and so i did what i do best: i stalked him mercilessly. i sleuthed until i knew where his classes were and at what time, i wore my best electrical tape accessories and conducted brazen Goth Walks near where he and his raver friends formed their circle in front of the drama room. i wore my trench coat often and in the heat at the cost of bodily comfort, i took greater risks with the texture, color, and material of my pants.
and it worked. it worked because i always get what i want whether or not it is good for me. because if there is a god he seems to employ the same modality whenever i come up on the radar. which is: oh fine, you fucking idiot.
the day that charlie and his friend geoff approached our crew during a morning break we were all aghast and nervous and honored to be graced with his presence. i felt myself sweating and trying to appear nonchalant and congenial. he walked me to my english honors class and we made small talk about trent reznor. he asked if i was seeing anybody. i paused for a moment as though surveying a vast mental catalog of men begging for my attention and then responded NO. he said OK THEN MAYBE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE MY GIRLFRIEND. and as Vonnegut would say: so it goes.
he was two hours late to our first date. i had agreed to meet him in front of the high school gym, where i told my mom i would be attending a basketball game with my friend kate. as a person who wore a mesh undershirt beneath my phys ed uniform, this was obviously a lie. i waited and charles finally showed up, breathing laboriously under the weight of many pentagram necklaces, and panted SORRY I FELL ASLEEP. i payed for his ticket at the movie theater because he had no cash, i recall him actually emptying his pockets inside out in a comedic manner and grinning with yellow teeth. we saw a horror film, and afterwards we walked to the nearby middle school playground and sat on a bench for a while and talked about subjects that were probably middle school and middle school. after that he fell down a flight of stairs. after that we met his sister at burger king. charlie wore his fingernails very long and they were always kind of clogged with grime and debris. observing his fingernails digging into the deflated bun of his cheeseburger and imagining his discolored teeth commingling with grey cowflesh i felt an urge to drink clorox and scream in an empty field of wheat. instead i made a kind of impressive house of cards out of sugar packets.
over the next four months i ‘lamed up’ exponentially. i started listening to nu-metal. i stopped caring about my grades (prior to meeting charlie brown it had been my sort of inexplicable goal to get into Cornell, and i held all honors courses and got straight As). i stopped reading russian literature. but i began to cultivate a certain cred and people seemed to stop throwing stuff at me for a while. i became charlie’s unflagging support system. charlie was mostly invested in practicing metal vocalizing and smoking weed and occasionally doing e. the only time he was verbally affectionate was when he called me on the telephone whilst rolling. charlie was also an illustrator and a poet, and he drew me pictures occasionally; stylized ink drawings of, for example, a butterfly grinning maliciously. and a valentine depicting my mangled body in a trashcan and himself with a bloody axe, which i retain in a folder of forgotten, nostalgic documents till this day.
we spent our time together wrapped in a silent, somber embrace. one of charlie’s more formal sartorial items was a cape. when i say charlie brown had a cape, i am saying that charlie brown had a cape. this was a cape that did not play any games about being a cape. his mother had made it for him. it fell in mournful black swathes to the floor, the lining was red satin, i want to say there was some sort of bodice-like lacing on it somewhere, and voluminous renaissance sleeves with fine french cuffs. we would stand in the center of the quad and he would enfold me in his cape, and i would rest my face on his chest and usually leave a pale makeup stain thereon after we would peel apart at the toll of the final 2nd period bell.
at lunch we would sit with our backs to a stony column and i would pick at a peanut butter sandwich while he ate a school-heated slice of pizza. we would discuss tool’s latest album lateralus. we would discuss the next time i could come to his house and hang out.
charlie’s family was a very curious unit. his father was an extremely wealthy computer software entrepeneur who divorced charlie’s mom and married a batshit crazy trophy woman who shat rhinestones, and they lived with three hopelessly spoiled alternative kids in a rancho santa fe hillside spanish villa. charlie’s dad had a hobby being a dad in a Dad Band, like many dads who have money and time and a modicum of musical inclination resuscitated after twenty years. there was an enormous grand piano in the foyer flanked by expensive bass cabs and fine marshall amps, formal sofas were upholstered in ‘rockstar’ gold. he seemed like a laid-back dude.
the first time i went to charlie’s house we watched bladerunner on a gigantic television framed by a custom maple entertainment unit with surround speakers. charlie’s stepmother fumbled around in the liquor cabinet and pulled out two bottles of empty absolut. THERE IS A SECRET ALCOHOLIC IN THIS HOUSE she glared at us suspiciously and then teetered off in platform sandals. after we finished the movie we ascended the graceful curves of a marble staircase and charlie brown showed me the most interesting room in his parent’s house, this being The Bong Room. this was a large sort of vestibule off the mezzanine which led to the parent’s bedchamber, it was furnished with sofas, chaise lounges, and a circular ottoman all in matching red velvet. i suppose the most interesting aspect of The Bong Room was the presence of many bongs, surely several dozen of all sizes and colors, and the bongs appeared to be the source from which The Bong Room got its name. The floor of The Bong Room seemed to be covered in expensive persian rugs. WE SMOKE A LOT charlie explained.
the color of charlie’s room was a mystery to me because heavy blackout curtains were always drawn over the double pane windows and french doors of his balcony overlooking Jenny Craig’s horse stables. i do remember that the room had a very high ceiling, because i spent most of my time there staring at it while charlie and i lay in a fully-clothed spooning position on his California King-sized bed. i don’t remember a damned thing we talked about, but i do remember being locked in passionless, lethargic make-out sessions during which my level of arousal was so low i thought mostly about homework and began to question whether i was gay. after kissing him i would return to stroking his goatee and picking at his dreadlocks with ape-like fascination. here i shall proffer a note about people with naturally straight hair who are in the process of growing dreadlocks: they do not bathe. they wax their dreads and abstain from showering for as long as possible to facilitate the ‘natting’ process. and thus: charles smelled. he smelled. he smelled very strongly of patchouli, weed, high school sweat, and dolorous body odor. i never saw charlie unclothed, and i never moved beyond his mouth, and i think that in this way i am very very lucky in love.
i remained assiduously dedicated to his causes, committed to convincing myself that the physical revulsion i felt toward him was an intrinsic character flaw that must be purged. yet i started to see him less and less. he would pass me in the hall and pretend not to notice. there was talk. at chili’s one night with my best friends darren and emilio the topic was brought up whether charlie brown and i were even dating anymore. OF COURSE WE ARE STILL DATING i retorted, and darren wiggled a spoonful of crispy thai rice noodles in front of my face and we all laughed, but internally i began to dread the inevitable.
i checked his geocities page religiously. his page had a brief bio stating, in red typeface on black background, verbatim: IF I DO NOT ATTAIN FAME AS A MUSICIAN, I WILL CERTAINLY ACHIEVE PRESTIGE AS A PRODUCER. one day, appended to this bio was something like I’M GOING TO BREAK UP WITH MY GIRLFRIEND THIS WEEK which was very alarming because it seemed to directly pertain to me. within a few days he approached my crew on the quad, pulled me sort-of aside and said we should be friends. i kind of reciprocated his flaccid embrace and watched tearfully as with a great flourish of his cape he stalked off in the morning glare to biology class.
i was devastated and wallowed for a few months but soon found an even better boyfriend who’s complete lack of social expediency and tendency to eat paper and/or curl into the fetal position at inappropriate moments was outweighed by his excellent taste in music and literature and his proclivity for writing me pretty-decent-for-a-15-yr-old beat poems with a vernacular prominently featuring the words ‘mountain’ ‘sun’ and ‘gysm.’
i am fairly certain i saw charlie brown at a jamba juice near my parent’s house a few years ago. his dreadlocks seemed finally to have achieved a consistency which bespoke success. he ordered a razzmatazz.


13.2.11

SOUNDAGE


so if you like Goblin's italo-disco giallo Dario Argento madness...


(does that sound familiar? JUSTICE, anyone?)

...you will love this bit of analog deathscore doom funk from Matt Hill, aka UMBERTO, who you might also know as part of the ultra stellar EXPO '70. expect a lot of vintage KORG magnificence and sincere, brilliant executions of pure and unadulterated camp.

Temple Room, Widow of the Web, and Night Stalking are particularly quality tracks.

DO. IT.





12.2.11

DON'T LOOK AT ME IN THAT TONE OF VOICE



things of the lately.

TYLER THE CREATOR: YONKERS
i have not seen/heard hip hop this abrasive and stunning in a very long time. reminds me of the rawness and urgency of some of my favorite tracks... cage’s manic horrorcore anthem AGENT ORANGE ('divorce ya head and neck and scalp it / rip off all ya flesh and make an outfit') or the campiness of gravediggaz 1-800-SUICIDE or immortal technique’s incomparably brutal DANCE WITH THE DEVIL. this kid's demented swagger is chilling.
he talks a lot of shit. in the video he eats a cockroach, vomits, removes his shirt, and hangs himself. awesome.



lyrics:
I’m a fuckin’ walkin’ paradox, no I’m not
 Threesomes with a fuckin’ triceratops, Reptar 
Rappin’ as I’m mockin’ deaf rock stars 
Wearin’ synthetic wigs made of Anwar’s dreadlocks 
Bedrock, harder than a muthafuckin’ Flintstone
 Makin’ crack rocks outta pissy nigga fishbone
 This nigga Jasper tryna get grown 
About five-seven of his bitches in my bedroom
 Swallow the cinnamon, I’mma scribble this sin and shit
 While Syd is tellin’ me that she’s been gettin’ intimate with men
 Syd, shut the fuck up
 Here’s the number to my therapist
 Tell him all your problems, he’s fuckin’ awesome with listenin’.
Jesus called, he said he’s sick of the disses 
I told him to quit bitchin’, this isn’t a fuckin’ hotline
 For a fuckin’ shrink, sheesh I already got mine 
And he’s not fuckin’ workin’, I think I’m wastin’ my damn time
 I’m clockin’ three past six and goin’ postal
 This the revenge of the dicks, that’s nine cocks that cock nines 
This ain’t no V Tech shit or Columbine 
But after bowlin’, I went home to some damn Adventure Time 
(What’d you do?) I slipped myself some pink Xanies
 And danced around the house in all-over print panties 
My mom’s gone, that fuckin’ broad will never understand me
 I’m not gay, I just wanna boogie to some Marvin 
(What you think of Hayley Williams?)
 Fuck her, Wolf Haley robbin’ ‘em
 I’ll crash that fuckin’ airplane at that faggot nigga B.o.B is in 
And stab Bruno Mars in his goddamn esophagus 
And won’t stop until the cops come in 
I’m an over achiever, so how ’bout I start a team of leaders
 And pick up Stevie Wonder to be the wide receiver
 Green paper, gold teeth and pregnant gold retrievers 
All I want, fuck money, diamonds and bitches, don’t need ‘em
 But where the fat ones at, I got somethin’ to feed ‘em 
In some cookin’ books the black kids never wanted to read ‘em
 Snap back, green ch-ch-chia fuckin’ leaves
. It’s been a couple months, and Tina still ain’t permed her fuckin’ weave, damn


FRANCESCA WOODMAN

Francesca Woodman's work is often characterized by long exposures where women move through the shot or are suspended like apparitions. reminiscent of the paintings of gerhard richter. i think particularly of callas descending the staircase. ghosts. memory. silence.
she committed suicide in her early twenties. she jumped out a window.
















JAMES BLAKE

james blake’s new record was just released; a collection of broken, naked soundscapes. his voice quietly devours everything around it. not a thing out of place.
this is my favorite track, for some reason abridged.





RAPEVAN MURALS
i have been scouring the internet for images of elaborate rapevan murals. as though owning a rapevan were not enough to call one’s character into question, the mural seems to say: i celebrate my questionable taste and dubious repute, and i celebrate with abandon.

popular subject matter includes: wizards, desert landscapes, proud horses/unicorns, splayed women, star wars.










TIM HECKER
read a really lovely review of hecker's new album/listen at coke machine glow. CMG continues to do justice to music criticism, they are my favorite source for intelligent, astute reviews in spite of their Kanye Hype Bandwagon Jumping.


ALED JONES
british miracle boy soprano from back in the day, here performing Handel. makes me a little weepy.





OAKLAND TURFIN’
elegantly-shot videos from YAKFILMS = beautiful oakland cultural documents. the dance style turfin’ combines traditional breaking/poppin’ elements with krump and balletic pirouettes. mesmerizing, and, when danced in tribute; heartbreaking.






ciao bella.