"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Friday, November 30, 2007

dropping the writ

photo from Cass McCombs's website. read on...

it's been a lo-oh-ong week! there is much to do in a very short expanse of time, i'm going to have to rip the fabric of space & time and find a hole to sleep in...

which is much too unfortunate, b/c i just learnt that Cass McCombs is coming to Louisville to play a concert with José González this saturday. as in, i'm gonna have to build a time machine real quick if i'm gonna find time to get away from my work to bask in the ecstasy of such sparkling live performances.

here's how the weekend could potentially "break down" (as in gimme the break down, what's the shake down? things are gonna break. as in brake. as in drop everything, stop the presses, this news is fit to print, fit to sprint, stop and go go gooooo!!):

there are two (2!) enticing concerts this weekend, back-to-back: Cass and José on Saturday in Louisville, then Peter Bjorn and John on Sunday in Cincinnati.

let's do the math, shall we? that's 2 tantalizing guitar talents + 4 delicious Swedes (José shares a hometown with my favorite Swede), in just 48 hours.

+ i have 30 pages of an undergraduate thesis, a final paper (5 pages), a Teach for America final interview, a 6 essay question final exam, a multi-genre research paper, and a final inquiry project proposal and presentation to be done by Wednesday of next week...

but with such chances at happiness before me, i'm tempted to just drop all the work and elope with my records...

so, while i debate my decision, download these tunes, and commiserate with me.

dropping the writ,

how can you not love Cass McCombs??! he must be one of the most un-deservingly under-the-radar musicians i know. and i'm totally digging - like hand me a shovel, i'll dig my way to China, where it's still yesterday - the album artwork:

listen: "That's That" (from his album Dropping the Writ)

and of course, José Gonzalez's cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats" is one of my faves.
listen: "Heartbeats" (from Veneer)

Monday, November 26, 2007

the present is a mystic trance...

it's 4:20 in the anti meridiem and i am still awake, typing furiously, obsessively, at my senior thesis. 

it seems i finally stumbled across a burst of inspiration, and despite my overwhelming sense of tire, i decided that if i went to sleep i'd waste this precious moment(um).

the problem now tho is i'm not sure how to actually begin the thesis. i have some strong points that need introduction, and i'm not sure how best to accomplish it. i want it to be urgent, but not too abrupt. i suppose i want to ease the reader into an energized discussion of the failings of our educational system and my scathing critique of capitalist society in large, but how...?

these things are delicate, first impressions make a big difference. and it really sets the pace and tone for the rest of my work...

but some of what i have written so far is somewhat exciting. such as:

America isn't at the polls; America is at the mall. A generation of pseudo-citizens, their brains doped up on reality TV, atrophied from instant access and instant gratification, tricked into thinking their children's happiness is a McDonald's Happy Meal and duped into believing democracy is texting a vote for their next American Idol. This isn't real life; this is reel life. 

and i find myself worrying about this crick in my neck that seems to be attendant with lack of sleep and long hours in front of my laptop in awkward sitting positions.

perhaps to bed?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

senior project nuggets

hi all -

making a tiny bit of progress on the lofty project. since i've found myself incapacitated by the lit review and unable to generate anything new or original of my own (figures... when u waste time regurgitating other ppl's thots u soon forget yr own...), i began compiling useful fragments from some sources i'm reading, as i try to rediscover my ability for original thought.

so here they are, some inspiring nuggets:

from Jane Addams's Twenty Years at Hull House

...I had been sharply and painfully reminded of "The Vision of Sudden Death" which had confronted De Quincey one summer's night as he was being driven through rural England on a high mail coach. Two absorbed lovers suddenly appear between the narrow, blossoming hedgerows in the direct path of the huge vehicle which is sure to crush them to their death. De Quincey tries to send them a warning shout, but finds himself unable to make a sound because his mind is hopelessly entangled in an endeavor to recall the exact lines from the Iliad which describe the great cry with which Achilles alarmed all Asia militant. Only after his memory responds is his will released from its momentary paralysis, and he rides on through the fragrant night with the horror of the escaped calamity thick upon him, but he also bears with him the consciousness that he had given himself over so many years to classic learning--that when suddenly called upon for a quick decision in the world of life and death, he had been able to act only through a literary suggestion.

This is what we were all doing, lumbering our minds with literature that only served to cloud the really vital situation spread before our eyes.


from Ivan Illich's Deschooling Society

...the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.

The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring.


from Situationist International's "On The Poverty of Student Life"

Modern capitalism and its spectacle allot everyone a specific role in a general passivity. The student is no exception to the rule. He has a provisional part to play, a rehearsal for his final role as an element in market society as conservative as the rest. Being a student is a form of initiation. An initiation which echoes the rites of more primitive societies with bizarre precision. It goes on outside of history, cut off from social reality. The student leads a double life, poised between his present status and his future role. The two are absolutely separate, and the journey from one to the other is a mechanical event "in the future." Meanwhile, he basks in a schizophrenic consciousness, withdrawing into his initiation group to hide from that future. Protected from history, the present is a mystic trance.



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

something to be thankful for...


as the whole world (except for the descendants of the Native Americans, for whom Thanksgiving - is probably one big F*** YOU in the face of their heritage and culture) enjoys the break to be with their families and friends, i am freaking the hell out about all manner of things future and looming.

I AM LOSING MY MIND. if hair were the physical extension of the mind, it's coming out in handfuls. i swear i am hallucinating, i don't feel alive most of the time, and even occasionally believe i am dead. (surely being the living dead counts...?) i've been having out-of-body experiences while riding my bike, when i had several close calls with cars that would certainly have killed me if dumb luck didn't intervene. example: i am riding my bike to the rec for my usual workout. i stop in the driveway of the arts center and look both ways for cars. seeing nothing, i prepare to cross the street. for some reason, i decide to hesitate for the briefest of moments, just as a white car comes zooming out from behind a row of parked cars. i feel the wake of its passing, the wind sweeping across my face. i can imagine its impact, as i ride into its negative space, imagining myself rolling out in front of it just as it was gaining speed, my neck breaking upon impact, my body broken as it's airborne to land in a lifeless thud on the pavement. i imagine blood and spit coming out of my mouth and eyes even while i ride my bike up to the rec and park it.

another time in the last week, i was almost side-swiped by a car on my way home from class, and as it passed by me, i imagined leaving my body behind in the spot where the impact would have occurred, and i imagined my self, the one still riding the bike, to be a ghost, or my imagination, disembodied, floating on in spite of death. (for about half an hour i wondered if perhaps i really was dead, and my existence was the result of brain flickers, a parallel existence that suddenly came awake to fill the void left by my bodied life...)

i'm losing what little self-assurance i had to begin with: i came home for the break to find out i got horrible GRE scores. even the analytical writing section, which i had hoped would be fine, turned out to be less than mediocre. there's no way i'm getting into grad school like this... and what's worse, i actually think grad school may be a better fit for me than Teach for America. how can i teach kids in poverty-stricken communities when i've never even lived in the real world myself? i'm still just a kid myself. and i'm not qualified to teach anything...

and they won't want me anyway, not given my recent failures in life in general and school in particular. even though senior project seems to be under way, it's just one thing in a slew of other things that are oppressing my life and freedoms. what's worse, this confluence of things has me paralyzed with fear, stunned with the inertia of having to begin against such weight, such sheer volume of things...

all this fear, this utter paralysis, of course gets me no where. and worse, it has me doing stupid things, such as sending this utterly pathetic email to my professor:

(the IAP referenced above is a project i was supposed to have already completed by now, but which i have yet to start, b/c it seems completely irrelevant and worse, time-consuming!)

all i want is to bind books and write things that make me (and others) happy. instead i feel half-alive but mostly dead...

blah blah blah enjoy your thanks giving

Monday, November 19, 2007

200th post + updates


i'd like to commemorate my 200th post by first apologizing to you loyal readers whose interest in my life and happenings amuses me so much. thanks for caring, yo.

and now, sadly, back to the egocentricity: a lot has happened lately...
-i thought i was going to drop out of school when my lit review still wasn't done last Tuesday and my seminar instructor told me i was not going to graduate if it wasn't done by the Monday preceding (that was a dark time in my life that i'd rather not commit to the ethernet, if that's ok with you...)
-i finally got it done on Wednesday night, only to have my computer crash in the moments before i could email it to my instructor ... this resulted in some profanity better left censored, if that's ok with you...
-i recovered the document, minus some minor spelling changes, and submitted it no less than 3 weeks late.
-in the end, the 4 weeks of frantic reading, regurgitation, and misguided typing, the overwhelming feelings of existential confusion, utter exhaustion and raw frustration, the hours of endless shaking and eye-twitching, hallucinations and hopeless tears finally amounted to a 15 page document that signifies the worst experience of my undergraduate career. i was so excited to finally have it done, i think i sat and stared at my computer screen for another half hour, not knowing whether to cry from relief or to go to sleep for the sake of my sanity.
-on track to graduate again. the lit review = A.
-interviewed for Teach for America.
-heard back, was invited to a full day interview... (which i am preparing for now and am v. v. nervous and stressed... again!)
-rode in a small bike protest which i'm hoping grows into a Mass.
-organized an SFS training retreat. the feedback was positive. it seems i'm pretty dece at organizing...
-got a call today from Campus Progress. they want me to organize an alternative spring break on labor organizing and living wage activism. 'tsa good thing i'm pretty dece at organizing...
-got a lovely book from Brian over at hummingbunny in the mail today! thanks for the gift, friend. it's always nice getting labors of love from friends in the mail.

speaking of which...

i'm on my way to getting some book-binding materials as part of my senior project! i'm terribly excited, i can't stand myself! i finally tracked down the book-binding guru in the english department and now have a list of materials that will make this dream of binding my senior thesis a reality.

the idea i'm currently playing with: printing my thesis on the pages of these blue books

then, binding the individual books together, each one a "signature", and possibly using an exposed binding as seen here in the work of Slack Buddha Press:

i plan on making at least 2 individual books en masse for my project:
1) the thesis itself, an artist's statement of sorts, the theory informing my praxis; and
2) a volume of essays and creative works done by students in my class, which we will assemble and bind as a class under the collective name FREE RAD!CALS - this being a manifestation of praxis, an actualization of everything i believe - bound and sewn with the careful precision of my own hands...!!

i've been keeping a list of friends and mentors - people who have helped me and who have inspired me throughout the process of writing and creating this project - to gift copies of my thesis to in the spring. if you're reading this now, i probably have your name down somewhere, but i need yr address.

things are EXPLODING!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

tonight, tonight, we'll crucify the insincere, tonight.

before i went to bed tonight, i awoke to a memory of Jens saying this at his concert in Chicago:

last night i went to bed in a bad mood. the show in Cleveland had some technical difficulties, and i got a little upset, and i went to hide in the bathroom, and some hipster kid came and said some horrible things to me.

but today, i woke up with Billy Corgan's voice in my head and he was telling me 'tonight, tonight... we'll crucify the insincere, tonight.'

and we'll start the crucifixion with "The Opposite of Hallelujah."

i liked that quote a lot. i am struggling to get through some technical difficulties of my own that have me somewhat upset. the man in charge of my senior seminar told me last week that "i'm flirting with disaster," that i "should decide if [i'm] going through with this" and that if i don't turn in my lit review (a task i've found pointless, tortuous, and disempowering) by Monday (TOMORROW!) i am not going to graduate in May.

well, sir, let's begin the crucifixion...

Tonight, Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins [yousendit]
The Opposite of Hallelujah by Jens Lekman [right click save as (from Secretly Canadian)]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Jens Lekman concert videos

from my dreamy trip to chicago. oh how i wish i could travel back in time, to this night, rather than live the sad present (i was told i wasn't going to graduate...)

sipping on the sweet nectar of my memories,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

strange times in my life

i don't have time to write a review of the show in chicago that would give Jens full justice, as i was told today for the second time this semester i may not graduate. so, as i try to focus on lit review, lit review, lit review, please read this review i found, which is more or less an accurate recounting of the glorious night that was the Jens Lekman concert in Logan Square Chicago. [the only major point i must contest: the "Pocketful of Money" encore was one of my favorite moments of the whole night. it's one of the first songs i ever heard of Jens' and i remember going "whoa. this is good. what is this?" it sent chills down my spine to hear it performed live!]

video and more fotos soon, i hope!


Oh, Jens. Only you could pull me out of my enclave on a cold, cold night after I’ve spent the entire day on an airplane. And you can scold me for doubting how your intimacy would translate to a venue the shape of a high school gymnasium. You pulled it off and, dare I say, it was the most glorious show I’ve ever seen you do.

I was to the left side of the stage when a burly bouncer told us all to back up as the band were coming through. And they did so in a perfect line of heavenly white and smiles. My excitement woke me up.

Taking the stage in matching white patent lace-up shoes, various white smock tops and dresses and button down shirts, and appliquéd birds, it was Jens and the girls (ok, and Viktor Sjöberg fiddling on a laptop occasionally over there in the corner) here to slay us all. Even though I miss those cozy shows with Jens and two or three others singing softly to us, with the addition of strings and brass, his songs are given the glorious treatment they deserve live.

He played many songs off the new “album” (I hesitate to call it an album as his full-lengths are always compilations of songs, and with “…Kortedala” I had heard a number of the songs in different incarnations previously). “The Opposite of Hallelujah” sounded magnificent. His rambling intro to “Nina, I Can be Your Boyfriend” made everyone collapse in giggles. The way “It Was a Strange Time in My Life” bled into “ PlayBlack Cab” caused us all to jump in glee. He didn’t kill the party this time, oh no.

There was a funny moment after the second or third song where Jens told us about the bad ending he’d had to the night before in Cleveland. Apparently some hipster dude had hurt his feelings with misplaced words! Poor Jens had a fitful night’s sleep, but woke up with the sound of Billy Corgan’s voice in his head, “We’ll crucify the insincere tonight…” And with that, Jens didslay the insincere with his songs this night.

In addition to a crisp, uniformed front, the band treated us to a few choreographed moves. It was early in the set that a soul breakdown came on through the laptop in the middle of a song, and Jens and the band beckoned at the audience in a come hither fashion. Ooh. Then during “Sipping on the sweet nectar", the music stopped, a programmed beat came in, and the entire band put their instruments down to flail about onstage as if they were airplanes. How wonderfully appropriate! How I wanted to join them!

PlayThe Cold Swedish Winter” made the sold out crowd go utterly quiet. I struggled to keep my eyes from spilling over. Who doesn’t want someone to hold through the cold winter nights? And in “ PlayMaple Leaves,” you’ve got to wonder just who is denying Jens.

I think the band played two encores. It finally came down to just Jens and his guitar (reminiscent of the edge-of-the-stage serenades of yore by him and his ukulele). The last song he played was “ PlayPocketful of Money;” certainly not one of my favorite songs. But the audience sang the deep voice sampled on the song’s record, and it became a call-and-response between us and him, going on and on. When it finished, Jens told us that he’d said to Washington, DC that their rendition was the best, but he confirmed that we had now ousted them!

Viktor took to his laptop after Jens left, and a few people stayed around to dance and see what our darling Swede was up to. He graciously signed loads of posters and took even more pictures, newly bedecked in a grey suit and black scarf. Apparently he even capped off the night with some more strumming and singing at somebody’s house which, of course, I am sorry to have missed, but I am grateful for every experience I have with Mr. Lekman.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

jag älskar dig, Jens Lekman

(i love you, Jens Lekman.)

so the show was aMAZing, of course, and Jens was delightful and charming, as i knew he would be. i have tons of videos to share and pictures galore to blow up and plaster walls with, just let me know if you have blank canvases.

oh, and afterward i met him and we talked and he signed a poster for me and asked me how i spell my name and then he said "Stephanie" in a delightful Swedish accent, and i thought i was gonna die or tell him over and over again how much i love him, but instead only managed to say "your set was wonderful" and then i practically floated all the way home on the train, and i wasn't even mugged walking back in the dark!

if dreams were delicious food, i'm in a food coma right now.