16 August 2018

Memories of music (8)

Here's one from left field: John Giorno, "Scum & slime". I can't actually find a copy of this on Youtube, so here's the full lyrics:
Optimism,
trust,
fearless
authority,
and disaster

eating filth
and transforming it,
with white
intentions,
into black
compassion,

I want to be
filthy
and anonymous
I want to be filthy
and anonymous
I want to be filthy
    and anonymous

Open your eye lids
and see it looks good,
drinking poison
and in each sip
on your lip
is wisdom
mind.

I like warm air
going over
my skin,

billions
of world
systems,

your body is
crawling
and crashing
into the surf.

Pouring
money
down
another
hole
pouring money
down another hole
pouring money down
another hole,
and keep it
hidden.

When Adam
and Eve
were in the Garden of Eden,
God asked Eve
not to do
two things,
not to eat
the fruit
and not to go swimming,
so she ate
and went for a swim,
that’s why
the ocean smells
of fish.

You and I are
sleeping on
a cement
and linoleum
kitchen floor,

you look like
a television set
sitting on
a refrigerator,

I would crawl
through a mile of shit
to suck off
the last guy
who fucked her.

We don’t take
drugs no more,
we sit around
praying for money,
don’t do anything drastic,

when you’re with
a lover
you have no
control
when you’re with a lover
you have no control
when you’re with a lover
     you have
no control,

I want to be
filthy
and anonymous,
scum
and slime.

What’s going on
in here,
it looks like
everyone is
underwater,
give me
a break,
I’m dead
and I’m asleep.
It's like a collection of deranged poetic bon mots. There are so many memorable lines. "Optimism, trust, fearless authority, and disaster." "I want to be filthy and anonymous." "We don't take drugs no more; we just sit around praying for money." Some of the imagery is just... rancid and impossible to forget.

As far as I know John Giorno was one of those perpetual Beats. He hung out in New York through the weird years and the bad years. He was friends with William Burroughs and Anne Waldman and he got them and a whole bunch of indie rockers to contribute tracks to a few great compilation albums in the 1980s.

When I listen to those compilations, and especially this track, it makes me think about some of the strange and horrible directions my life could have taken if I'd been a bit more adventurous, a bit less bougily conventional. Perhaps instead of living out the half-gallon quarter-acre pavlova paradise in New Zealand I could have gone somewhere with cheap rent and cheap drugs and more catastrophic parties. Or perhaps that was always a romantic fiction.

No running today, but I did get a dissertation done through final edits and submitted.

13 August 2018

Whiteness

Talia Lavin:
in case anyone who follows me somehow doesn't get this: it's perfectly fine to be into your irish, or scottish, or italian or danish or swedish or english english heritage, find out about your family tree etc. totally cool! eat haggis or lutefisk. visit castles. love religion. 1/

but to be proud of "being white" is to be proud of a category that includes all these heritages at once, just because of skin color. there's no specificity to it, no depth. there's nothing affirmative to love about it. 2/

there is a history to it, of course, but it's a history of pure and unvarnished violence. "whiteness" qua whiteness is the history of exclusion; the history of groups that have assimilated into whiteness; and the terrible violence inflicted on those who could not. 3/

pride in whiteness is pride in slavery. pride in racial terrorism. pride in subjugation. pride in lynching and legal frameworks of discrimination. pride in domination carried out by the sword and the gun. pride in genocide. above all it is celebration of violence. 4/

there is no national poet of whiteness, no cuisine, no god, no homeland, no hope. there's no joy, no kindness, no solidarity untainted by fear. whiteness qua whiteness is an empty thing, built from the blood and bones of those it subjugates and detests. 5/

be proud of who you are -- love your hometown, your faith, your ancestors. you have so much more to be proud of than just being white. "white pride" is always a synonym for violence. be more than a clenched fist. open your palm instead, and reach for what is good. /fin
Herman Melville:
It was the whiteness of the whale that above all things appalled me.
[...]
This elusive quality it is, which causes the thought of whiteness, when divorced from more kindly associations, and coupled with any object terrible in itself, to heighten that terror to the furthest bounds. Witness the white bear of the poles, and the white shark of the tropics; what but their smooth, flaky whiteness makes them the transcendent horrors they are? That ghastly whiteness it is which imparts such an abhorrent mildness, even more loathsome than terrific, to the dumb gloating of their aspect.
Garth Ennis:


12 August 2018

Memories of music (7)

Here's a more recent one: Morrissey's "Speedway":

All of the rumors / Keeping me grounded / I never said, I never said that they were / Completely unfounded

Here's the video:



I own two Morrissey t-shirts, both gifts. Back in late 2007, I was originally booked to go to see a Morrissey show with Anne in New York. I had to cancel and she took another friend instead, but she brought me back a shirt. Five years later (only five?) Julie's brother Sean brought me an even older concert t as a gift. He was moving to NZ, I had just started dating Julie.

A couple years ago (2016?) I finally saw Morrissey play a show in San Jose, with Julie and my brothers. It was a pretty good show on the whole. "Meat is Murder" had its (apparently customary?) animal-death video montage; more like a necromantic invocation than political activism.

Anyway, all that is to say that I've been a fan for a while. I remember listening to a lot of Smiths at university and after. The last year I've been playing some of Morrissey's solo records on repeat, including Vauxhall and I, which concludes with "Speedway".

And I've slowly come to the realisation that Morrissey is, rather than being a self-absorbed sensitive soul, in fact a self-absorbed asshole. He's backed Brexit, sympathised with UKIP, opposed immigration and multiculturalism, and flirted with various forms of far-right arguments. He's always been combative and vain, but his music seemed to elicit sympathy for the underdog. Now he's gone a bit... ubermenschy.

I'm not burning my old records or deleting tracks off iTunes. Sometimes it's worth separating the art from the artist. But it's disquieting to watch what's become of the man.

He's not the only one. I've noticed a lot of men in the Morrissey age range are getting weirdly reactionary and over-the-top hostile when confronted with social change. This doesn't seem to be a right/left phenomenon, particularly. And it's not a matter of losing actual status, economic or otherwise, in society. Perhaps it's just a failure mode for well-off white men approaching the middle and end of their life. I'm treating it as something to keep a wary eye out for...

Ran 4km.

11 August 2018

Local manufacturing

I had a mildly frustrating experience today. I like to wear jeans but I am continually annoyed by fit and durability: the jeans I like seem to wear out too quickly. Over the summer I bought a pair that fits well, looks good, and seems pretty durable. Today, while hanging out the washing, I noticed that it was actually made by an NZ company.

So I looked up the website and discovered that the company went under a year or two ago. I must have bought the jeans on remainder or something. And now they don't exist any more and I'm frustrated by the fact that I can't get more pairs of the same!

Ran 11.5 km today.

10 August 2018

The waiting continues

Seriously, this baby is far too comfortable inside the womb. We're going to have to start charging him rent.



Ran 5km.

08 August 2018

Efficiency and inefficiency

This is a good article on Curbed SF illustrating opportunities and problems with housing construction:
Berkeleyside reports that a 22-unit housing complex at 2711 Shattuck went up at a rate of one story per day in July and will soon lease to UC Berkeley to use as student housing.

It turns out that this is the first building created with SF-based prefab developer Patrick Kennedy’s trademark MicroPADs, tiny modular apartments modeled on shipping containers, which Kennedy manufactures in China and ships to building sites.

In a past interview with Curbed SF, Kennedy testified that the MicroPADs are designed to snap together like Lego bricks as construction crews haul them into place via crane, but this was the first time the technology was tested in a real, soon-to-lease development.
Four days to build! Wow!

I heard somebody in Auckland - can't recall who - remark that we don't build cars out in fields, so why are we still building homes in fields? Prefab, done well, could solve a lot of problems for both cost and quality control.

However, here's the punchline:
A 2016 report by Berkeley’s Design Review Committee notes that the application for 2711 Shattuck dates to 2009; the city initially approved it as a hotel before switching the permits over to residential uses.
Nine years to get a building permit approved seems like a really, really bad situation. Part of the delay was probably due to project financing and other non-zoning-related things, but surely it would be possible to optimise a bit on this front...

Ran 3km today. Still no baby!

07 August 2018

10 years

Last week a milestone quietly passed: 10 years since I moved to New Zealand. It's been a good decade. Not everything has been perfect, but I'm living in a beautiful and interesting place surrounded by friendly and generally reasonable people. I've made some of my best friends here (while gently regretting the distance from other close friends) and enjoyed a lot of professional and personal opportunities.

So thanks New Zealand!

Ran 5km tonight. Still on baby watch.