Cool like lemonade: MCA

 

I discovered the Beastie Boys in a way that characterizes their reach: a white kid in surburbia*, I experienced the culture and mayhem of NYC via the music of three punks who decided to make hip hop. Although I still hear their first record as (kind of) a prank on many levels (Licensed to Ill is mostly a rap record for the sake of making a rap record), their following work has brought me much joy, insight, and solace.

While Paul’s Boutique is my favorite record of theirs (and one of the most important moments in hip hop†), I thought of Hello Nasty when I heard of Adam Yauch’s death. Hello Nasty came out in 1998, the summer my best friend (and fellow b boy) committed suicide. I was 15 and I was devastated; it’s a moment that I would not come to terms with (at least better terms with) for years. In those early days, Hello Nasty was my go-to CD. My friend and I had both loved “Intergalactic” when it came out – and Hello Nasty is full of other great hip hop tracks. (In short, Hello Nasty is Paul’s Boutique 2000.) But the last half of the record was introspective and songs like “I Don’t Know” and “Instant Death” brought me peace when I was confused about life and what to do “when your man kills himself.” It’s hard to fully explain how much it – and the Boys – offered me help when I was scared to ask for it.

The tributes, the tweets, the shout outs – all have been touching and comforting in mourning a musician that impacted my life so deeply. And a lot of them have been dedicated to the entire group – which is fitting: I can’t think of a group more integrated than the Beastie Boys – most notably their “three man weave.”‡ Honestly, it’s just hard to imagine the group without all three of them.

Forming in their late teens, the Beastie Boys’ career has been non-stop and remarkable: the different albums and countless videos they’ve made; the charitable concerts (for which MCA was a key figure) and tours they’ve produced; and all that has happened since MCA’s diagnosis in 2009 – coming to terms with their frat fool past with “Right to Fight Revisited,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – all is a testament to their work ethic and incredible drive.

I’ve been digging through their career these past few weeks. Now, more than ever, is a good time for me to remember that life – love, family, work, death – is full of transitions.

 

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*if “surburbia” still means outside the urban landscape… and is extended to a small town in the middle of the desert.

†at an odd time: by 1989, hip hop was equally accepted and disregarded as a genre that depended on sampling. Paul’s Boutique, roughly 10 years after hip hop’s birth, promoted sampling as an innovation – something that was long overdue, and something that would be grossly abused in the decade to come.

‡shameless plug: see December’s 12th’s “Top 12 Hip Hop Collaborations” (#7)…. or just listen to them.

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Top 12 Hip Hop Collaborations of All Time

12.          “Sterns to Western” – People Under the Stairs ft. Cap’n Kidd Lexus (2000)

          “Sterns to Western” swings, allowing the three MCs to build up a stream of consciousness: there’s Kidd Lexus’ champ intro (“It’s like fabulous, we all-out kings, blessed and talented/ So who’s here to handle this? I’m the prime candidate”), digressing with Double K self promoting that they’re “kinda clever, like old Jewish dudes,” and ending with Thes One pulling out all the Paul’s Boutique stops: comparing fake MCs to “Alf pogs,” his style to a BART turnstile, and referencing the war between Springfield and Shelbyville. Between it all is a chorus of an old man la la la-ing like their jazz grandfather enjoying the show.

 

11.          “Flipmode Squad Meets Def Squad” – Busta Rhymes ft. Jamal, Redman, Keith Murray, Rampage, and Lord Have Mercy (1996)

          Erik Sermon (not on this track) formed Def Squad after the split of EPMD; Busta Rhymes formed Flipmode Squad after the breakup of Leaders of the New School. Both collaborations debuted on Busta’s first solo album, The Coming. “Flipmode Squad Meets Def Squad,” an 8-minute track split in half, has some of the hardest gems out there: Redman’s psychotic but poetically sharp “Manslaughter in alphabetical order for four quarters/ Raw water turns sons to granddaughters,” and Keith Murray (“You stupid niggas always got something smart to say/ And probably can’t even spell TWA”) and Lord Have Mercy (“My maneuvers drop like lugers/ Illegal, maybe Lethal, like Gibson’s/ Spitting blessings with three Weapons”) both in classic form.

 

10.          “Black Trump” – Cocoa Brovaz ft. Raekwon (1998)

          Wu-Tang Clan’s chef cooks up his East Coast Mafioso style with label mates Cocoa Brovaz (aka Smif-N-Wessun) over an obvious West Coast beat, trading rhymes about street craps, gun clapping, and the kind of cats they roll with: “You see my set of twin-hit men from Bushwick?/ Two chicks with the twenty-two TECs, bitch?” By the end of the track, you know who’s holding weight and carrying heat: all three of them.

 

9.          “Cowboys” – Fugees ft. Pacewon, Rah Digga, Young Zee and John Forté (1996)

          Drawing more from Westerns than the actual West, Fugees and fellow New Jerseyans the Outsidaz treat everyone from the Sundance Kid to John Wayne as mythical figures, and remind NYC that the Wild Wild West is only one state away. Each of the first three verses is shared by two MCs – the desperados Wyclef and Pacewon (the latter pulling out his gun to “Plug Two like Trugoy”), followed by Lauryn Hill and Rah Digga liberating saloon girls, then Young Zee and the Gambler Pras – while the fourth verse is a Man with No Name coda by John Forté. A dynamic collaboration, Young Zee sums it up best: “When the Outs hook up with the Refugees/ It’d be more niggas than the NAACP.”

 

8.          “The Show”/“La Di Da Di” – Doug E. Fresh ft. Slick Rick (1985)

          A grandiose showcase of Doug E. Fresh’s beatboxing, “The Show” recounts the typical (and atypical) problems with organizing a rap concert – cats not showing up, hitting stage last minute, not being able to locate one’s shoe horn – and oh yeah, features the debut of hip hop’s first true storyteller, Slick Rick. The single for “The Show” is a metaphor for hip hop’s history: the MC (Slick Rick) originally introduced and celebrated the DJ (in this case, Fresh), until the MC stepped in front of the set and became the central figure (example: the B-side “La Di Da Di,” Slick Rick’s non-stop classic).

 

7.          “Get It Together” – Beastie Boys ft Q-Tip (1994)

          “Get It Together” is four MCs playing a game of 21 and shooting the shit: John Stark’s importance to their beloved Knicks; Q-Tip’s Queens-specific Timberland boots (that MCA points out in such a way that I swear it means Tip is wearing them on the court); Joanie Loves Chachi (with a rhymed-in comparison to Ad Rock and his then wife, Ione); and annoying game interruptions (“The phone is ringing/ Oh my god…”). The Beastie Boys mix Q-Tip into their three man weave so well, it’s a wonder that this collaboration didn’t happen years before (I mean, Tip’s references to zany shit like pineapple Now and Laters, John Holmes, and Ma Bell are noticeably missing from Paul’s Boutique).

 

6.          “Symphony” – Marley Marl ft. Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool G Rap, and Big Daddy Kane (1988)

          Marley Marl, hip hop’s Art Blakey, introduces heavyweights Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool G Rap, and Big Daddy Kane in pass-the-mic fashion. On “The Symphony,” the verbal beat down to beat, each MC is introduced by the last – i.e. names are given, and then taken. Masta Ace shifts rhythmically and lyrically so often, it’s hard to catch him (“Once you hear the capital A rap, it’ll stay/ With you for awhile, it won’t go away”). Craig G Rap takes the POV of the target MC, if only to emasculate him: “I apologize. Oh yeah, and uh/ Can I have your autograph for me and my grandma?” Then there’s Kool G Rap, toned down compared to his later work but he still raps “your metaphor sucks more than a whore.” And Big Daddy Kane grabs the mic last and makes a lasting impression: “And battling me is hazardous to health/ So put a quarter in your ass, cos you played yourself.” After 20 odd years, “The Symphony” remains the definitive example of MC bravado.

 

5.          Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star (1998)

          Mos Def and Talib Kweli collaborated when both MCs were fresh and at the top of their game – and hip hop was losing its identity in mainstream radio. “Brown Skin Lady” is lyrical admiration akin to Miles Davis covers. “Respiration” bridges the gap between old school hip hop and the then situation, using Style Wars as a backdrop for a culture struggling in a city, much like the people living and dying there. “Children’s Story” is a line-for-line rhyme-for-rhyme retelling of Slick Rick’s signature rap, turning Rick’s cautionary tale about crime into a tale about MCs and producers selling hip hop out. Also on “Children’s Story,” Mos was one of the first to clarify that the East Coast/West Coast beef was grossly manufactured by the media. But not to ignore the talents lost to that beef, Mos and Talib pay tribute to Tupac and Biggie: with the single “Definition,” Mos and Talib rightfully declared Black Star as the “best alliance in hip hop” in a new era that hoped to be defined by artistry and not militant competition. (And “Good Jesus!” the song is a damn rhyme-fest.) A wake-up call to hip hop’s caretakers, Black Star appeared only once (so far…) – but with warnings that still apply to today.

 

 

 4.          Gorillaz (2001 – present)

          Blur’s Damon Albarn took trip hop’s collaborative mentality and created Gorillaz, an open forum for some of hip hop’s best verses in the last 10 years. Whether digging up the underground’s finest (Del the Funky Homosapien, MF Doom, Roots Manuva) or the shy (reminding everyone how great De La Soul is with “Feel Good Inc.” and “Superfast Jellyfish”); or finding the right MC for the right track (Mos Def’s Convoy-spit on “Stylo;” the paranoid antics of Bashy and Kano on “White Flag;” Snoop Dogg’s high-from-Mr. Bubble verse that opens Plastic Beach); all of Gorillaz’s hip hop collaborations have been solid. And: Bootie Brown’s tale of a soldier returning from war (highlighting the general bullshit of war) on “Dirty Harry” might be hip hop’s greatest verse.

 

3.          “Act Too (Love of My Life)” – the Roots ft. Common (1999)

          An ode to hip hop that’s as sweet (and heartbreaking) as any pop ballad, “Act Too (Love of My Life)” touches on hip hop’s finer points and comments on its state in 1999. Black Thought raps his “I Only Have Eyes For You” verse, using his personal history (his childhood romance) with hip hop: “It was all for you, from the door for you/… From the start, Thought was down by law for you/ Used to hit up every corner store war for you.” And Common masterfully returns to his “I Used to Love H.E.R.” metaphor, blaming crossover gents Hype Williams (“Caught in the Hype Williams, and lost Her direction”) and Puff Daddy (“Her Daddy, he beat Her, eyes all Puff”) for using hip hop as a commodity (and abandoning her as such). In the end, hip hop was treated the same way jazz was: neglected by the originating culture/exploited by another, a central theme of Things Fall Apart. “Act Too (Love of My Life)” is the album’s thesis statement.

 

2.          “Big Brother Beat” – De La Soul ft. Mos Def (1996)

          Of all the tracks that have introduced new MCs to the world, none have matched “Big Brother Beat” and its introduction of Mos Def. Vets De La Soul took on the MC from the unsigned Medina Green, and passed the torch by making Mos an honorary member of Native Tongues. At 22, Mos had already developed his particular style: his grimy slur that gives his lyrics such fluidity; and his diachronic sense of rap, interpolating Rakim’s definition of “MC:”

“I don’t bug out or chill or be acting ill/ No tricks in 86, it’s time to build/ Eric B(e) easy on the cut, no mistakes allowed/ Cos to me, MC means “move the crowd”
to
“I don’t bug out, I chill – don’t be acting ill/ No tricks in 96, Native Tongue gon’ build/ But we be easy on the cut, no mistakes allowed/ Cos to me, MC means “making cream,”

a line about financial security (not to be confused with financial obsession). Mos Def’s career accelerated shortly after this collaboration and he remains hip hop’s resident lyricist and most vocal advocate.

 

1.          “Scenario” – A Tribe Called Quest ft. Charlie Brown, Dinco D, and Busta Rhymes (1992)

          A Tribe Called Quest brought on Leaders of the New School (fellows of Native Tongues) for a 4-minute anthem to settle the score for those who still viewed hip hop as a fad. “Scenario” couldn’t have come at a better time: it was a stake for creditability as it became a mild hit, proving hip hop as a legitimate art from, with a great back beat and catchy yet impossible to match lyrics.

          And Phife raps the importance of hip hop at the beginning (and starts what is one of his best constructed verses): “A-yo, Bo knows this and Bo knows that/ But Bo don’t know jack, cos Bo can’t rap.” Jester Charlie Brown keeps the posse going and sets up fellow Leader Dinco D, who chops up words with sushi chef esteem: “So yo, the D, what? The O/ Incorporated I-N-C into a flow.” Tribe’s head, Q-Tip, waxes on not being a criminal, having better hearing in his right ear, and the pride he has in colleagues (“I love my young nation”) – just cold lamping while his crew backs up every line.

          The only break comes with Tip introducing Busta Rhymes, who builds the tension back up before… “BOOM! from the cannon/ Not bragging/ Try to read my mind, just imagine/ Vo-cab-u-lary’s necessary/ When digging into my library.” In a rhythm – and volume… and voice – that’s distinctly his, Busta closes “Scenario” as the posse comes back with the chant. One of the most re-playable songs, the greatest hip hop collaboration doubles as hip hop’s greatest track.

          And that, my friends, is the scenario.

Office chart and Progress! In Tutoring!

(Found a ghost in my room…)

Post-downtime office chart

“FML”  – deamau5 (cut at 2’46)* > “Fuckin’ in the Bushes” – Oasis >
“Halfway Home” > “Crying” > “Dancing Choose”† – TV on the Radio >
“Lotus Flower” > “Give Up the Ghost” > “Separator” > “Codex” – Radiohead >
“The Gentle Hum of Anxiety”‡ > “Intriguing Possibilities” – Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch

*and that’s about all I can take from deadmau5 (and I admit that’s partly because of titles like “FML” and “Moar Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff”)
†isn’t that the GREATEST TITLE??
‡Anyone else hear the similarities between “Codex” and “The Gentle Hum of Anxiety”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(box head)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been working one-on-one with a student this semester and we’ve made a lot of progress. Only two weeks ago I was worried that I wasn’t helping him; that as much as I wanted to see him focus and prioritize, I wasn’t sure I was even reaching him. Now I see him putting energy in the right direction – what needs to be done first, working a little bit on this assignment here and this assignment there, and even addressing fears: as his class presentation approached, he asked if we could set up mock runs so he could do his PowerPoint presentation a few times before it was due. I told him I’d love to help him and I needed to ask the tutorial coordinator. Part of me expected a “Yes… but we’ll assign someone else…” Instead, my boss has been fully supportive and helped me set it up. She’s new this semester, and we did click immediately, but I’m not sure I could have predicted working for such a positive and supportive person. In the end, my tutee gave two mock presentations – well. Yeah, it was a good feeling – and just the satisfaction I needed from a job.

(Mary Magdalene is doing well.)

Kevin… a cat?

(I was breaking into someone’s house last night when I saw this particularly friendly cat. I looked at his name tag and saw… Kevin? Did they chose such a human/mundane name because he’s actually magical? In honor: )

Kevin’s office chart

1. “Under Your Spell” – Desire> “A Real Hero” – College (ft. Electric Youth)> “Tick of the Clock” – Chromatics

2. “Kick Your Teeth” – Cliff Martinez/”Feral” – Radiohead (mixed at will) > “Lotus Flower” – Radiohead

(trust me on this…> )

3. The Whole Love – Wilco

29

Thanks to those who made this day special. I remember when someone (and I remember who) told me that when you turn the same number your birthday is, it’s special. I thought that was bullshit– though it was charming when she turned her “birthday age.” But, with all the other occurrences of 29 in my life– from 29 Palms, I was 009 (get it?) in high school– I can’t help but smile. I’m listening to Ryan Adam’s 29 (so?) and actually wondering what this last year of my twenties will be like. Cheers to the Nintendo 64 and Erika Eleniak.

(Thanks to Barry Cutler, my dear friend, for the best birthday greeting I’ve ever received. I mean, look at it.)

Found: short story “Dr. Beauchef, Penguin Dentist”

Digging in the my folders for poems and plays to write and rework, I found a story I wrote for creative writing class, the one short story class I took before I changed my focus to poetry. It’s rather silly. It actually stemmed from a conversation I had with my brother, Kelly, about jazz song titles and how they don’t have to really mean anything. (Oh, and Kelly has asked me recently to name tunes on a CD he’s supposed to be working on. I’m excited.)

Dr. Beauchef, Penguin Dentist

by Sean R. Corbin

Based on the Kneebody song, “Dr. Beauchef, Penguin Dentist”

Dr. Beauchef took off his right mitt and reached into his pocket. He pulled from it a tube of procaine and inspected it as a stranger. The Ross Sea wind chilled his hand and he returned the tube and quickly redressed his hand. He was lanky, although one could not tell because of his parka. His hair was fashionably short, but his dress had changed drastically for the rough Antarctic weather he prepared for.

            On the rusty deck of The Bowman, headed for Antarctica, Dr. Beauchef, for the first time since he had begun this venture four years before, questioned whether he was doing a smart thing. He thought of the millions of other people’s teeth he could clean and correct; the various love affairs with dental students that, until the week before his departure, he had sworn off; he thought of the tube of procaine in his pocket, the same he used to aid mothers in the street with teething children. But he remembered the three penguins he had met at the zoo, and thought of the others – the other penguins – who could use his help. He remembered also that, despite the gruff that now battled with his usually waxed moustache, he was still very young. He felt, as he had joked with those back home in Newark, that maybe he could still return home – to the humans and their teeth.

            His mitt off again, Dr. Beauchef reached for the tube of procaine. Laughing, he rubbed the numbing grease on his gums.

◦                       ◦                       ◦                       ◦                       ◦

Dr. Beauchef had established himself as a successful and even charismatic dentist, opening an office within a year of receiving his Doctorate of Dental Surgery, and retaining most of his savings for his retirement.

            After his visit to a zoo in New York City, Dr. Beauchef approached John D. Rockefeller, who immediately put up the remainder of the expedition’s cost; without the help, he could have only made it to Brazil, about half the way. There was paperwork, something the dentist rarely had the chance to enjoy and he completed it with a sort of nostalgic liking. And, for “insurance purposes,” he was required to list the possessions he would be taking with him: his dentistry equipment, of course (all of which was itemized individually on an attached form); a weeks change of clothes; an extra week each of long johns, briefs and pairs of socks; toiletries; charcoal and six writing tablatures. All other items – provisions, the shelter, etc. – would not be listed.

◦                       ◦                       ◦                       ◦                       ◦

The Bowman landed on the shore of Edward VII Land, near the Ross Ice Shelf. As she left for the dark horizon of the sea, Dr. Beauchef was sure he heard the same laughter that had mocked his adventure from its inception.

            Once on the shelf, Dr. Beauchef realized just how alone he was: no one was there. A chill set in and, now more determined to find his true patients, he established camp and bedded early in hopes of finding the penguins the next day.

◦                       ◦                       ◦                       ◦                       ◦

The first day was his most successful.

            He awoke early and ate what breakfast he could (cold oatmeal and ham). He strapped his equipment to his back and started for the hill that was farther south. The crisp line of the hill was broken by a mass of black as a small group of penguins approached. His first thought was they had been excited, perhaps because of his camp commotion, maybe even just his arrival. He then reasoned with himself a bit more and knew they were simply coming for their first appointments.

            He approached them, crouched down and slowly, and spoke in a tender voice.

◦                       ◦                       ◦                       ◦                       ◦

Three months passed and his body was found on a small snow bank less than two hundred yards from camp. Most of his food was discovered to be uneaten and a journal entry revealed how disappointed he was to find that penguins, as he had been told, actually have no teeth.

 

Life in the Suburbs


 

 

While searching for a digital booklet for Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs (sick of my current desktop image), I came across this ridiculous claim (that’s still awesome, and shaming me for not writing it first – there, I said it.)

 

 

 

When The Suburbs came out a year ago, I went on my lunch break, copped it in excitement… but wasn’t ready for it. That’s the best explanation I have for not… well, liking it when I first heard it, to feeling that it wasn’t written for me – for this time I’m in, for the changes I was going through, and for who I just might become.

It’s been on most of my office charts (someone do the math); when I lost my car it was the one CD I copied to tape for my walkman; I’ve teared up in both awe and relevance; I’ve had friends remind me that there are other albums by Arcade Fire; there was a point when a good friend of mine said “Is there one day when I don’t have to listen to the goddamn Suburbs??” (Okay, I’m good friends with Alan Arkin.)

A week ago, when things ended with the person I had hoped and tried and wanted to make a life with, I took a break – The Suburbs is too much of a reminder. (Hip hop, comics, Peep Show – these are the things we need in our life when it gets a little tough.) But what about the Deluxe Edition? I figured I’d buy it, shelve it, and hopefully listen to it in a few months, and call it a benchmark.

It was unwrapped before I got home. I listened to the remix and demo – just dancing around the idea of actually listening to it. I watched Scenes from the Suburbs. When I finally started the Deluxe Edition (opening with the two bonus tracks) I did something so distracting: dishes.

It dawned on me that regardless of how much I think or thought or just wanted this album to be about my relationship, at this point it wasn’t. At this point it was about this past year. Since it first came out:
•     I worked to get my girlfriend back, worked hard to be a better partner, and lost again (“Took a drive into the sprawl to find the house where we used to stay. We couldn’t read the number in the dark. You said, ‘Let’s save it for another day.’”)
•     Work (“…just punch the clock.”)
•     I moved from Indio back to Palm Desert (“I feel like I’ve been living in a city with no children in it.”)
•     I didn’t take care of and lost my car, becoming car-less for the first time since 16 (“…as we listened to the sound of the engine failing.”)
•     I acted in two plays with wildly different experiences – both reminding me that it’s time to move on, that I do not need to act at a school I no longer attend (“…it’s the first time I’ve felt like something is mine, like I have something to give.”)
•     I met a lot of good people – and hurt and confused a lot of good people (“Wanna wash away my sins in the presence of my friends.”)
•     I lost good friends (“Your part of town against mine.”) and realized that as dependent as I have been on others, I need to be more self-reliant (“In my dream I was almost there then they pulled me aside and said ‘You’re going nowhere.’”)
•     Above all, and seemingly in spite of all this, I’m learning that I need to stop living in the past (“You said the past won’t rest until we jump the fence and leave it behind.”)

 

Now. Now’s a good time to let go. Now’s a good time to stop waiting for something to happen. Now’s a good time to just trust myself, to be responsible for what I am rather than worrying anymore about what I’ve been or what I thought I could have been. Now’s a good time to no longer worry about what people may or may not think about me or what I’m doing. Now’s a good time to stop worrying. And maybe now’s a good time to shelve The Suburbs – take it down in a couple years when I want to remember what it was like to be young. Or when I want to remember what it was like to be here, in this town, working everyday to bring something beautiful to this life.

(“Now I’m ready to start.”)

PT#: 300-06-8599-4 OFFICE CHART and More (Stories)

1.) Endtroducing….. – DJ Shadow

2.) Psyence Fiction – UNKLE

3.) “Heaven” – UNKLE (PF‘s outro segued perfect; yeah, I just wanted it to)

I’ve been getting back into hip hop, re-buying the classics that time and heat have eaten and discovering albums that I slept on (post-Stakes De La, Kool Keith). Luckily for anyone involved, I’m not getting back into hip hop by re-buying Lugz (if Ma had bought me Timbos, this might be different), or re-discovering my rhymes from HS… that could probably be slept on… no, really: sleep on em, cat – I don’t care.

I had to find some distractions to get through this mess (hip hop being one of them). Now that I have the Internet, I’ve been watching Peep Show again. Peep Show has enough despicable moments that it’s easily the perfect distraction right now. And it gave me an idea to use for a play; may or may not work.

Trimming the fat: hawking my old records, books, intergalactic paraphernalia, etc online; trying new approaches to the LA jobsearch (that’s one word now, btw); working out every night/kicking my own ass; not picking up the tab, so deal with it.

Hallelujah

Well, I didn’t get into Caochella as I had hoped. The two years I’ve gone, I’ve gotten in for free: in 2004, a friend got a wristband for free (from some rich friend) but she figured it would benefit me to go (saw Radiohead, Kraftwerk, Pixies, the Flaming Lips, Bright Eyes; missed Beck and Broken Social Scene); I got in good with a scalper 2008 and saw Kraftwerk (better), the Verve, Dwight Yoakam, Prince, Calvin Harris, and Rilo Kiley. But this year a buddy said he had a wristband for me, one we could jimmy… until the very last moment. We’re talking “I’m outside the gate”-“Okay, I’m coming to get you” last moment. Unexplainable, but no big deal – I didn’t lose any money and I ran into an old friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen in four or five years. And my friend Brian had an interesting enough scalping experience for the two of us to write a piece on scamming Coachella. (I figure, given the pattern, I’ll go 2012 and maybe by then Wilco or Radiohead will be touring a new record and will be there. Hell, maybe Talking Heads will regroup? Nah.)

Not only am I writing a lot this National Poetry Month, but I’m setting out to write my first sestina. I’m basing it on the Jaime Hernandez comic strip Love and Rockets, namely a ghost story titled “La Blanca.” It’s not that sestinas are hard – it’s a matter of matching the right six words. I’m trying not to be so thematic when it comes to selecting the words (regardless that most sestinas have a theme), but still mindful of what would sound good repeated, and what words I can manipulate.

 

I got a cat. A month or so ago my landlady found a stray kitten in a tree and I asked/debated if I could take her in. I decided on it last week and renamed her Mary Magdalene. It’s a reference to the Biblical figure, but mostly a reference to the Ryan Adams’ line in “Hallelujah:” “If I could have a simple love, how would it feel and what would it mean? I’d only trade you away for Mary Magdalene.” There’s redemption in her name. (Also her name doubles as a reference to my favorite Love and Rockets character, Maggie.) She’s kind of a ball of energy – pretty much a terrorist – but I’m hoping that’ll change when I get her fixed and let her roam outside.

Next week I’ll be going out to the Leahy’s to catch a Dodger’s game with Jeff. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a game, about four years, but I’m mostly looking forward to Jeff’s wife, Tina, schooling my ass in Dr Mario.

Oh, a few quick notes:
•     I’m annotating my Top 25 LA Albums. I’ll repost that soon and then wrap up my (annotated) Top 25 NYC Albums.
•     I’m done with Indio – I’m gearing up to move to LA this year. I need to save money and pay off a good portion of my debt first, and I’d also like the economy to be more welcoming.
•     I want to go to Disneyland. Soon. With someone.
•     (Tomorrow?) I’m going to stop living in the past.