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week #3, Severed Crossed Fingers

January 19, 2020

If a friend said, “GNA there’s this band that sounds like if Kate Bush, Jack White, and the Talking Heads had a love child.” I’d be all, “That sounds awesome!” St. Vincent is that artist. I enjoyed her album “St. Vincent.” Especially the tune “Severed Crossed Fingers” (which doesn’t sound like the rest of the album). It’s my kind of love song and I’m grateful to have heard it as I’ve been missing a good love song in my life. A good love song without a love in my life, but stupid girl will send it to a love not in my life and say I’m lastingly grateful for the bitter sweetness of severed, crossed fingers. 

Back with the family in Crescent City this week and I’ve experienced moments of joy with them like having a kitchen dance party, chasing the baby around the house, and deep conversations with my brother. This week I turned Isaiah onto “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” and he loved it (of course), and was particularly stoked to find his YouTube recommendations positively impacted and now recommending him ’90s bootleg videos from UK raves.

I am daily grateful for an abundance of resources. Food I made for the family this week: scones, cookies, calzones, meatballs, and soup(s), and the new house favorite, smash burgers (doubles with cheese). Also time. And mostly time, unburdened and unencumbered. Time to write, think, listen, and play. Read and learn. Watch Creep, cat and bedfellow, sit on a post watching the birds.

Week #3, the week ahead in music, spun the wheel and landed on Modest Mouse, then Van Morrison, then Arcade Fire. All bands I know.

Remember that one time at the Black Cat in D.C.where I almost got in a fist fight with Isaac Brock because he crowd-bumped me and didn’t apologize. Trucker hats man, remember that ridiculousness? And those wide-leg pants. And smoking inside hashtag nostalgiamoment

Then I landed on #511: Beach House “7” (2018).

Also landed my head on experiencing gratitude comes much easier to me than experiencing joy.

I need to reread May Sarton’s “Journal of Solitude” (1973) my copy currently sequestered in Chicagoland and the Library here a portable trailer. From what I recall, she expresses joy in simple acts as she explores solitude, aging, and nature. She wrote,

For any writer who wants to keep a journal, be alive to everything, not just to what you’re feeling, but also to your pets, to flowers, to what you’re reading.

Homework is be alive to everything.

week #2 of 2020, gratitude and joy through music, St. Vincent

January 13, 2020

Week #1: I enjoyed Jungle’s “Jungle” (2014) and thought of Jason Flom, who I told so. And, also believe Jason Toal aka @djdrjones would dig this band, especially if he’s still DJing. It’s got a perky grown house party kinda vibe. Especially dig the tune: “Time”

This year I’m going to enjoy with more intention and attention new (and old music), and  do this while sharing it with friends and family around the world. Read about that public-facing goal in last week’s post.

During Week #1 I also (re) joyed (in) Duran Duran’s “Duran Duran” (1981)–the first tape I owned. And two of Björk’s albums, “Homogenic” (1997) and “Post” (1993). That Duran Duran album took me back to a weird place, not so joyful at all. Pretty much the opposite of joy which is a great reason to focus on new-to-me music.

Cooking for Mae while listening to KEXP gave me joy this week… Or, said owning it, I felt joy this week while cooking for Mae and I, especially the frijoles borachos and tomatillo chicken Friends Fiesta meal on Thursday.

I’d not made the tomatillo with chicken-cook (absolutely not a recipe) in quite some time, like years and years maybe since Bavastock Fall ’12?

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Bavastock, a Thursday before said party, 11.4.11-ish

(On that occasion I faced a major challenge, a quest for a decent knife because I was trying to butcher a huge pork shoulder. Of all the knives within a 20-mile radius, Alan came up with a super sharp pocket knife. Not my best moment as a home chef ((and, for the record, Tim and I weren’t as chefsties as we are now. Because had we been then, my man would’ve PURCHASED a knife to assist with that grand party cook like the #champion that he is.)) and we had an audio scenario where I provided verbal instructions to all the guests on the property on how to eat the food I had prepared–fuck me that was obnoxious…the knife….the announcement. Matame. En serio.).

I also enjoyed trying out some new scone and cookie recipes from an angel of baking math at dessertfortwo.com. 

Week #2

Random number generator: 420, R.E.M’s “Reckoning” (1984). I don’t know this album well, but the band, yes. Adore. Re-spin. 224,  The Clash’s “Sandinista” (1980). I was a baby then and The Clash were part of my coming out. Revere. Re-spin: 124, John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme” (1964). I know Coltrane, the album not so much.

This challenge is new-to-me bands and an album by that band. Duh.

Week #2: 558, St. Vincent’s “St. Vincent” (2014)

Alright, interesting to me because St. Vincent is (was?) quite popular on the indie radios. I couldn’t identify her voice in a lineup. I’ve seen stories about her on SM variously about relationships and such, but not music.

That’s settled then.

Also this past week: I read my first book of the year, “Year of the Monkey” Patti Smith (2019). Her treatment of Sam Shepard’s death was delicate, which didn’t surprise me. It soothed me. I’m grateful for her–a wise woman, wanderer, wonderer in my tribe. Watched “The Circle” on NF with Mae. We both loved it. That was fun. We were both happy, relaxing after a nice meal, and all felt right in the world. That’s joy, right?

 

 

 

2020 is a year of gratitude and joy, for me

January 5, 2020

This year one of my public-facing goals is to revisit favorite music that brought me joy and to find new music to help me realize new joy(s), and as a part of that effort, I will attempt to listen to one new-to-me artist and one of their albums (taken from the KEXP.org Top 666 list). To select this artist and album, I will use a web-based random number generator and randomly generate a new option until I find one that is indeed new-to-me.

This week took four spins of the dial to shuffle past three other great albums: “Elephant” by the White Stripes, “Rubber Soul” by the Beatles, and Public Enemy’s, “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”

WEEK 1: Artist and Album #520

Jungle, “Jungle” 

This is a band I’ve never heard of AT ALL and I’m a dedicated KEXP listener (along w many other public/indie radio stations). I’ve missed out because they are super cool, fun, and most definitely bringing me joy right now.

The second part of my 2020 gratitude and joy practice, the gratitude part, is going to come in the form of pings to my people with a recommendation to give Jungle, in this case, a listen as part of a note of gratitude, simple or complex, whatever feels right at the time. Those moments might be public via Twitter, or private via text message, letter, postcard, email, phone call etc. The gratitude part may be intimate and deeply personal, and private. Or silly.  “You all know me… You know how I make a living…” 

 

I’ve not done a public showing of any regular practice since one of those ye ole 365 photos just about 10 years ago (HT D’Arcy and Alan). I’m confident that this practice of gratitude and joy focused on music and friendship/kinship/love will help me mark the 52 weeks (which really get slippery when you’re running about with a one year old, and several other beasts full-time,) and more importantly help me hold close-in all of me-the supreme importance and inseparable-ness of gratitude and joy past, present, and future.

And that’s all I have to say about that beside

https://erniebarnes.com/

stay tuned.

 

Snapshot from Tarifa, Spain

April 3, 2018

Last week, on one of the six sunny, windless days out of the last 75 maddening-weather days, I went to the beach. I enjoyed the company of a new friend and The Sun. We laughed and talked about nothing in particular. I saw a universe on my elbow. We captured it. The Sun approved. Enough.

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Stargazing me
In a tumbling sea
Up in the galaxy
Staring down on me
Stargazer reach out to touch
With your mind that frees you so much
Stargazer kissing your kismet
With bright jewel encrusted scars
Stargazing me
In tranquility
Up in the galaxy
Staring down on me

“Stargazer,” Siouxsie and The Banshees, 1995

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communion, a little story for Jonah

January 29, 2018

Once upon a time there was a very large woman and a very small man. The woman, known as Zola, covered close to the entire earth. She was restless. The man, known as Bul, existed in the space between Zola’s collarbone and right earlobe. He didn’t know any better. When Zola laughed, Bul slid around her smooth skin as if on a children’s amusement.

One night as Zola dreamt of a very large man, tiny Bul made his way from his comfy place toward Zola’s ear. Bul has something to say. Crispy dark hair covers his entire body. Bul’s movement creates a certain friction that doesn’t hurt and neither is it pleasant. Zola, purring and half-asleep, hears Bul’s voice in her neck, just below her ear. His vocal scale is her only alarm.

Zola whispers, “Do you want to fuck?” She wants him. Size doesn’t matter. But poor little Bul, he froze. His tiny hands and feet clinched into little balls making him even smaller.

Laughing herself awake, Zola stretched her neck and long limbs. She reaches across three continents. She’s hungry. So Bul, the very small man, lazily and to his own disappointment becomes a very small sheet cake, a bit yellow and without frosting. No bother. Bul tasted of sea voyages and condensed milk, and essentially was large enough to savor under her tongue. Zola did just that and remained well-fed for many days.

Little red feet with big blue toes, let me put my hand inside your clothes.

Sandman (1952-1999)

My First Pair of Combat Boots (draft and partial Introduction)

December 31, 2017

The breezeway closet of my grandparent’s house was cool and dark like a cellar. Even in the heat of a Midwest summer it preserved seasonal fruit at the perfect temperature. In the deepest place, where the closet got smaller under the slanted ceiling decades-old shirt boxes, reused each Christmas, took up the majority of space. Their fragile tissue paper never refolded to fit perfectly, lapped out the sides of the boxes like brittle hangover tongues. That side of the closet smelled faintly of “Evening in Paris,” my grandmother’s favorite perfume. My grandfather’s precious WWII souvenirs were stored in a small metal box on their own shelf to be easily accessed for an impromptu show and tell. His wool Army trench coat camouflaged itself against the wood paneling of the closet where it remained invisible unless you knew what to look for it. This coat was so heavy that it took until I was well into my teens to be big enough to try it on. Old winter coats and a box of miscellaneous hats, scarves, and mittens occupied the space directly inside the door. Shoes and boots of various sizes, materials, and styles stood smartly along the baseboard of the breezeway closet as if waiting to get picked for a team or called into battle.

The night I heard Depeche Mode’s song “Blasphemous Rumors” for the first time I was sitting alone in my grandparent’s kitchen doing homework and having a snack of Saltine’s with Blue Bonnet Margarine and sugar. A live performance from Depeche Mode’s 1984-5 tour broadcast via Westwood One Radio into our tiny kitchen counter top radio. The song was the first I heard that I fully and completely related to, which is perfectly tragic given the lyrics and that I was about 16 at the time. I knew nothing of the band or other New Wave bands like it. Prior to that fateful night I was making mixtapes from U93.3 FM with tunes by easy listening bands like Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, and Tears for Fears. I also knew Big Band and Jazz Standards from the Lawrence Welk Show and the few records my grandmother occasionally played on the portable record player. Music Video Television, John Hughes movies, and puberty came together to form a perfect pyramid with Depeche Mode,  specifically “Blasphemous Rumors,” as the apex.  Soon after that night I found my way into my grandparent’s breezeway closet and back out again with my first pair of combat boots.

The boots I found, the ones that only fit if I wore two pairs of socks, belonged to my grandmother. A pair of gently used snow boots made fake black leather; eight-eyelet lace-ups with a black and white knit lining that stuck out the top, like slouchy socks. I began wearing them immediately, along with my grandfather’s houndstooth suit coat and a broken pocket watch. I didn’t consider my boots “combat boots” at the time, but simply part of my new New Wave wardrobe. I had no inkling that wearing those boots would instantly mark me as an outsider even within my own family. Neither could I have anticipated that they would be the first pair of dozens that I’ve worn since, including those issued to me in 1988 by the United States Air Force during Basic Military Training.

Two Months, Two Weeks, Two Days, and Two Hours 

December 17, 2017

“Don’t turn on that light!” Tiki screamed. “There’s a snail resting on the bulb.” 

“No need to yell. I see her.”