Monday, February 18, 2008

Seven Swans

1. President's day is evidently synonymous with laundry. As I walked the streets I saw many people with their laundry bags or bins heading to the laundromats. Most people fold their clothes in the laundromat. I throw mine back into the bag and fold it at home. This gives me a distinct priviledge: I can fold my clothes while listening to music. Today I have the music at full volume. The woman who lives below me is the aged Mandarin-speaking landlord. She karaokes to Mandarin soft rock daily. Sometimes I can even hear her singing through the floorboards. So I think she--unlike most proprietors, you would think--might appreciate a bit of loud music on a Monday afternoon. Cheers!

2. I would like to say that I am very grateful for those experiences that seem to find me. The spontaneous, out-of-the-blue moments that are so beautiful that I feel, for once, optimistic about the future. Not the opposite, the meticulously planned out experiences, premeditated excursions, for those I have myself to thank. Instead, occasionally I am blessed with a beautiful bike ride atop the city lights and green space that I had set off thinking it would be a chore. Taking in the fresh night's air and hearing the silence and the quiet whistling of the wind in my hair, I thought, it seems like I wasn't supposed to enjoy this moment. It was only an event of practicality, but now I feel this rush that I did not expect, as though this experience found me.

3. I biked over to a friend's house and everyone there was already two movies deep into a night of "bad horror movie" watching. After a trip to the liquor store for a twelve-pack of Pabst, we put in Robot Holocaust. The title alone sounds so promising: it seems like it would be a action-packed sci-fi movie with an undertone of political criticism. Perhaps it was a mockumentary, reimagining history with robots. In fact, it was one of the worst, most amateurly made films I've ever seen. I think the idea of a Holocaust was lost somewhere in the production of the film. There was only, as far as I could tell, three robots in the entire movie. Of course, I suppose it was to be expected that the movie was bad, given the nature of "bad horror movie" night, but I don't think it was even bad enough to be good. Or, rather, maybe even the worst produced of films have something campy enough, or something like a decent plot, or at least acceptable acting, something to earn their place as popular bad movies. It made me appreciate good movies though. It is very possible that in some alternate world, human ability never progressed past this type of movie making skill. It is very possible that, in a parallel universe, Star Wars was never made. God save the people of that place!

4. I met Gilbert and George this past weekend. I think it might turn out to be one of the defining moments of my life. The best part was that I didn't expect to meet them, let alone chat with them, and yet it turned into a two-day activity. One thing that George said that I thought very inspirational, when asked whether or not art could change the world, was that a city that has no museums is a city where you would need a bodyguard to walk around. You would see dead people scattered about.

5. Gilbert said, "We got very drunk once and finally saw the bigger picture."

"Portrait of the Artists as Young Men"

6. Last week I was up very early, driving around the city. When I got to the Tenderloin I saw many people, normal looking people, walking around as though it were only 8 pm when in fact it was 5:30 in the morning. I was very confused by this. The radio was playing Ravi Shankar though, which was perfect. I never listen to Ravi Shankar, but I ever since that morning I have been listening to him nonstop. The best part about his music is that it is this always amazing and most of the songs are at least 12 minutes each, some as long as 24 minutes. It never ends and it never gets boring. Not many genres of music could ever live up to that kind of quality.

7. Last year, Amir told me about a compilation of French synth-wave called BIPPP. I was living in France at the time, so it was easy for me to go to FNAC and purchase a copy. Despite its popularity (at least on college radio) it wasn't released in the United States until last Tuesday. There are a lot of great songs on it that would have otherwise remained generally unknown. The classics include "Polaroid/Roman/Photo" by Ruth, "Game and Performance" by Deux and my favorite, "Partie 1" by TGV. The latter pays hommage to the technological marvel of the, then, still new TGV train system. According to album's booklet, SNCF used "Partie 1" as a promotional song to herald a series of new trains in October of '81. The TGV today remains the apple of the eye of the French, notably this past summer when it was announced that the new East line would allow a speed of 320 mph in normal operation. Had the line been operational when I was living in Nancy last year, the time it took to travel to Paris would have been cut in half. But in those days, I was TGV deprived (as I am now), so I listened to "Partie 1" a lot. You can stream a few tracks on the album's myspace site.

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