Archive for reading

Throwing Copper, Tenty-Went, H-Burg Gem, Ashcan Love Puck

Posted in real life, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2016 by sethdellinger
  1. I really want to write one of those entries I write about just 4 or 5 random things that are on my mind.  I’ve wanted to write an entry like that all day and yet, as I finally get the chance, I have sat down in front of the keyboard and have blanked on all the things I wanted to write about.  I figured if I just started, stuff would start coming to me.  Oh hey–it looks like Ed Kowalczyk is back as the lead singer of LIVE–that’s pretty extraordinary.  I mean this was a band that was SERIOUSLY BROKEN UP.  Like, much, much animosity. I would have ranked them very near the bottom on lists of bands that might get back together.  But it’s excellent news.  Whether you are into their music or not, if you see them live in concert it’s challenging not to admit they are one of the most electrifying acts out there. I never saw LIVE with Ed’s replacement–I bet he’s great, but like so many bands that replace the lead singer, it’s simply not the same band.  I can’t wait to hear more about what’s going on in the LIVE camp.
  2. Speaking of camp–have you ever gone camping?  Karla, the boy, and I camped out in my dad’s back yard last summer, but aside from that, I’ve never really been camping, like in the woods.  We were close to almost “getting into” camping last year, and then somehow it just faded from our view.
  3. I need here to give a shout-out to Harrisburg’s gem of a book store, the Midtown Scholar.  Although it is far from a secret, it also rarely gets the credit it deserves; this is a truly GREAT book store–as its name implies, it specializes in more academic or artistic fare, but it does have contemporary fiction, etc.  The store is truly enormous; the basement just goes on and on.  There is a quite good coffee shop, lots of places to sit, an outdoor balcony overlooking midtown Harrisburg, a huge collection of film, music and poetry books, tons of art monographs, and even a rare book room with books from as far back as the 17th century and a keen collection of art prints.  I could literally spend days–and thousands of dollars–there.  What perplexes me greatly is that somehow, I had never been there (and barely heard of it) before moving to Harrisburg; this despite the fact that it is about two blocks from the indie movie theater I used to frequent constantly when I lived in Carlisle.  All I can say is, I’m tremendously happy to have found it now, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone from the area who hasn’t been there.
  4. Speaking of art–I was in the Scholar for Small Business Saturday and found my first ever art book focusing on the Ashcan School of artists; over the past year it has become clear to me that this entire group of artists is really my true passion when it comes to painting (although I still have other loves, ie Rousseau, Vermeer, Eakins, etc).  But the Ashcans and their use of color, broad brush strokes that approached but stopped short of impressionism, and their tendency to focus on urban scenes as a means to reveal human nature–really speak to my core.  If you’ve never heard of them and have an interest in art, I can not recommend highly enough Googling the works of John Sloan, Robert Henri, William Glackens, George Luks, Everett Schinn, and George Bellows.  I love Maurice Prendergast but it is often debated whether he qualifies as “Ashcan”.
  5. I like ice hockey.

Favorites, 2016

Posted in Rant/ Rave with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2016 by sethdellinger

Back in the old days of the Notes, I used to write a lot more about music, movies, and books, and I would every so often post updated lists of my absolute favorites of things.  Not due to any pressing interest from the public, of course–mostly just because it’s fun for me, and also because having such a blog post can be quite handy during discussions online; I can just link someone to the entry to aid in a discussion of favorites.

Of course this is not to be confused with my annual “Favorite Music” list, where I detail my favorite music released in the previous calendar year; these lists detail my current all-time favorites, which are (like yours, of course) constantly changing.

Looking back at my entries, it appears as though I haven’t done a big posting of lists since 2012, so I’ll make this one fairly comprehensive.  All of these lists have changed since 2012–some very little, some quite dramatically:

My top ten favorite poets

10.  Jane Kenyon
9.   Robert Creeley
8.  William Carlos Williams
7.   Sylvia Plath
6.  Billy Collins
5.  Denise Levertov
4.  E.E. Cummings
3.  Philip Levine
2.  John Updike
1.  Philip Larkin

My top 10 favorite film directors

10.  Federico Fellini
9.  Sidney Lumet
8.  Alejandro Inarritu
7.  Christopher Nolan
6.  Paul Thomas Anderson
5.  Alfonso Cuaron
4.  Stanley Kubrick
3.  Werner Herzog
2.  Alfred Hitchcock
1.  Terrence Malick

My top ten bands

10. This Will Destroy You
9.  My Morning Jacket
8.  Godspeed You! Black Emperor
7.  Radiohead
6.  Seven Mary Three
5.  Hey Rosetta!
4.   The National
3.  Band of Horses
2.  Modest Mouse
1.  Arcade Fire

 

My top ten music solo artists

10.  Tracy Chapman
9.  Ray LaMontagne
8.  Father John Misty
7.  Leonard Cohen
6.  Jim James
5.  Nina Simone
4.  Willis Earl Beal
3.  Emily Wells
2.  Paul Simon
1.  Neil Young

My top ten favorite (non-documentary) movies

10.  Citizen Kane
9.  Night of the Hunter
8.  Fitzcarraldo
7.  Magnolia
6.  The Trouble with Harry
5.  Children of Men
4.  Where the Wild Things Are
3.  The Thin Red Line
2.  I’m Still Here
1.  The Tree of Life

My ten favorite novelists

10.  Malcolm Lowry
9.  John Steinbeck
8.  Isaac Asimov
7.  Ernest Hemingway
6. Oscar Wilde
5.  Kurt Vonnegut
4.  Mark Twain
3.  David Mitchell
2.  Don DeLillo
1.  Dave Eggers

My top twenty favorite books (any genre, fiction or nonfiction)

20.  “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole
19.  “Slade House” by David Mitchell
18.  “The Terror” by Dan Simmons
17.  “You Shall Know Our Velocity” by Dave Eggers
16.  “Point Omega” by Don DeLillo
15.  “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell
14.  “Fallen Founder” by Nancy Isenberg
13.  “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde
12.  “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
11.  “Under the Volcano” by Malcolm Lowry
10.  “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” by Dave Eggers
9.  “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway
8.  “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut
7.  “Dubliners” by James Joyce
6.  “Letters From the Earth” by Mark Twain
5.  “White Noise” by Don DeLillo
4.  “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing
3.  “Your Fathers, Where Are They?  And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?” by Dave Eggers
2.  “Into the Wild” by John Krakauer
1.  “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

My top twenty favorite albums

20.  “Funeral” by Arcade Fire
19.  “Nobody Knows” by Willis Earl Beal
18.  “High Violet” by The National
17.  “The Battle of Los Angeles” by Rage Against the Machine
16.  “Swamp Ophelia” by Indigo Girls
15.  “Mirrorball” by Neil Young
14.  “Dis/Location” by Seven Mary Three
13.  “Abbey Road” by The Beatles
12.  “Graceland” by Paul Simon
11.  “Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis
10.  “‘Allelujah!  Don’t Bend!  Ascend!” by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
9.    “Kid A” by Radiohead
8.   “Strangers to Ourselves” by Modest Mouse
7.   “This Will Destroy You” by This Will Destroy You
6.   “Time Out” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
5.   “Secret Samadhi” by LIVE
4.   “Infinite Arms” by Band of Horses
3.   “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire
2.   “RockCrown” by Seven Mary Three
1.  “Into Your Lungs (and Around in Your Heart and On Through Your Blood)” by Hey Rosetta!

 

My top five composers

5.  Philip Glass
4.  Cliff Martinez
3.  Hans Zimmer
2.  Felix Mendelssohn
1.  Carl Nielsen

My top ten painters

10.  Edgar Degas
9.  George Bellows
8.  Mark Rothko
7.  Johannes Vermeer
6.  Mary Cassatt
5.  Maurice Prendergast
4.  Thomas Eakins
3.  Henri Rousseau
2.  Andrew Wyeth
1.  John Sloan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Badass Harrisburg, Media vs. Trump, Eraser, Alexander Supertramp

Posted in Prose, Rant/ Rave, real life, Snippet with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2016 by sethdellinger

It has now been over a year and a half since we moved to Harrisburg. Like every time I’ve made a large move, it’s been interesting how at first there is a large amount of culture shock, and then just a few weeks or months later, it’s almost like you’ve always lived there. It’s hard to imagine there was a time that I lived in Philadelphia, or Erie,  or Carlisle.  It’s hard to imagine there was a time when I actually could not imagine moving back to Central Pennsylvania. Did I ever actually move away from here? But also, the first time I lived here, I couldn’t have imagined living in Harrisburg, but now it seems the natural center of this area. Harrisburg gets a bad rap from many people, for those are people who are afraid of it, or have never spent much time in it. Granted, it is a city with its troubles, both financial and otherwise. There are plenty of areas that are downtrodden, poor, and wanting of many of the services that the surrounding areas take for granted. But there is a lot to love here, and plenty of neighborhoods that you can feel safe in, and with nice modern housing. There’s more than enough to do, more than enough beautiful views, and a vibrant arts scene. In fact, there are more things that we have not been able to do than those we have been able to do. And it seems clear to me that the city is still on the move. I know there have been lots of stories over the decades about the revitalization of Harrisburg, but this time it does seem legitimate. The independent music scene, hipster coffee shops, art galleries opening all over the place. Even a vegan coffee shop close to the state capitol building! There’s a lot to love here, and although there are certainly times when I’m riding my bike down a side street here that I miss being right in the middle of traffic on Broad Street in Philadelphia, there’s also something to be said for walking out of my job every night, looking to my right, and seeing the beautiful Capitol Dome less than a mile away, or walking my dog six blocks and being along the Susquehanna River Trail, almost always as the sun sets.

 

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The fact is, the system IS rigged against Trump, in the sense that the media (hold up; did I say the MEDIA?? You hate the media, don’t you? [I’m probably not talking to YOU here, but to about 30 people on my Facebook who bitch more about the media than the atrocities they report on}  But what is it you are talking about, when you say “the media”? It’s an institution with hundreds of thousands of outlets, platforms, and systems, and it’s actually one of the best things about our country–one of the things that really DOES keep us free. But see, you gotta do some work, too. You have to sift through some things, figure out what sources you trust, the nuances of how to best receive information from the media, and where and when you receive it. You have to READ things. Hey, quick–who’s your favorite columnist? Don’t have one? How do you HATE the media when you’ve never really consumed it to begin with? Stop being lazy. The American freedom of press truly does set us apart–and I’m not one for “American Exceptionalism”. But yeah–most of the media operates by making a profit, so be careful, and above all READ things. And it does make a difference if it’s printed on paper; it’s harder to trick your eye into only reading the “interesting” stuff or items you already agree with. Just read the news. Hating and callously dismissing “the media” is just active laziness. And memes are not the media. FYI) are not obligated to report on an aspiring despot who would end the American experiment like it was no big deal. The “media”–contrary to what many seem to think–are not obligated to be neutral observers of facts only at all times. They are to report facts, yes–but also interpret them (again, this is where understanding media nuance will serve you well: there ARE places you can go for just fact, and places you can go for opinion, and places you can go for analysis. If you go to one place expecting it to be something it isn’t, you might think it’s corrupt, when in fact you’re just a novice). So yes, the media are biased against Trump because they are reporting on a man who would destroy our nation–and harm the world. And it is not their DUTY to remain neutral. The media IS biased–but not against Trump; they’re biased against evil.

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I wasn’t ready for Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser, when it came out in 2006.  I was baffled by it, listened to it twice, and put it away–not knowing if it was bad or I was daft.  I put it in on a whim today and it turns out I am ready for it.

 

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Two nights ago, I got to meet Jon Krakauer, an author who is currently among America’s top 3 or 4 nonfiction authors.  I’ve admittedly only read two of Jon’s books–“Into the Wild” being his most famous book and a work that has touched my life very deeply.  In it, Krakauer tells the story of Christopher McCandless, who left a very comfprtable and promising life, wandered the country with little to no money and no contact with anyone for over a year, eventually hiking into the Alaskan wilderness where he would eventually die.  Chris’s story is complex and multi-layered–it can’t be reduced to one single element.  When I was at very low points in my life–still drinking and in deep depressions–Chris’s decision to disappear and walk into the wild until he died appealed to me.  Later, sober and happy, other elements of Chris’s philosophy and his journey resonated with me.  Here is an excerpt from a letter he wrote to a man he met on his sojourn across the country.  The man–who had been deeply affected by a month or so he spent with Chris–received the postcard after Chris died:

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” –Christopher McCandless

While it was McCandless whose story has so impacted me, Krakauer’s decision to tell it, and the respect he gave the story, resonated.  In the many years since “Into the Wild” was published, Chris’s story has become of major import to a growing legion of people who find something inspiring about him, and Krakauer does not shy away from his role as a steward of the story.  It was an intense honor to meet him.

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The sun goes up, the sun goes down. The wind begins to whistle through branches now bare with late months.  The sky grays, the wind grays, everywhere color mutes, curls into itself.  Even the insects look at you with worry.

 

 

 

Some Stuff I Want

Posted in Snippet with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2015 by sethdellinger

It is lately the generally accepted wisdom of the masses that one should not covet material items too much and you should spend your excess money on having experiences.  At least, this seems to be the generally accepted wisdom of my Facebook feed.  And I think I do fairly well with that; while there are certainly items I not only want but crave, I also spend a lot of my life having pretty great experiences.

All that being said, there remain some persistent bigger-ticket items that just call my name like a siren at sea, and I won’t deny it!  Perhaps it is an illness of our consumerist society, but dammit, there’s some stuff I want!  I thought it might be fun to put them here in a blog.  Please note this is just a fun exercise for me and not a veiled Christmas list.  As an adult I have never taken any joy in making out a list of things for people to buy me.  Some of these things have been bouncing around in my head as items I want for YEARS; I thought it might be therapeutic to get them out in the open.

In no particular order:

–OK, maybe in a SLIGHT order, just because this is definitely number one: Neil Young’s Mirrorball on vinyl.  It’s not my favorite album but it contains my favorite song.  Used would be fine but what I salivate over is the idea of a new, factory-sealed copy.  New copies on eBay generally go for about $100.

–I’m dying for a high-quality Philadelphia Flyers zip hoodie that goes light on the orange (but still has orange) and is heavy enough to wear for all but the coldest winter months.  Turns out all those criterion result in an expensive item.  Basically, I’m talking about this.  This would give me hoodies for all four Philly sports teams, but I don’t want to rush it and get a cheap version.  Hence, I’ve been sitting on this desire for almost two years.  I mean, who has $70 bucks for a hoodie?

–OK, I admit I have some fairly expensive interests.  I’ve been dying to get my hands on some first printings of collections of Philip Larkin poetry.  Now, this is a pretty specific area to deal in.  I am in no way talking about books actually called Collected Poems.  I am talking about the individual collections of poems AS THEY WERE PUBLISHED.  I would only be interested in them if they were FIRST PRINTINGS, which would mean they are hardcovers, usually being shipped from the UK somewhere, published in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  These titles would be:   The Less Deceived (1955, generally sell on eBay for $60-$150), The Whitsun Weddings (1964, goes for about $150), High Windows (1974, $90-$180.  This is the most desirable one).  There are some lesser collections: The North Ship being the most notable.  I do have a second printing copy of The North Ship, for which I paid $55 in a moment of weakness some years ago.

–I really want a pair of high quality Bose earbuds.  Please note earbuds, not headphones.  I like the crazy colors, too.  Specifically these.  I will never have the cojones to shell out the money for these.

–You might not guess it to look at me, but I love shoes.  It’s just that the shoes I love, which are very specific stylistically, can usually be bought very cheaply at many local retailers.  But it turns out, there are expensive versions of the shoes I like (apparently they are Chukkas), and I will never, ever be paying for them.  But look at them. Look how pretty they are.

–I don’t often feel a need to add many DVDs to my collection nowadays, although I will still add one here and there as I see more movies I fall in love with or as classics become available.  However, there is only one movie that I feel is causing a gap in my collection by its absence.  That movie is They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and it has been out of print on DVD for so long that new copies are very scarce.  Here look at this: a new copy of the DVD (not Blu Ray) on Amazon costs $100. You can see at that same Amazon page that used copies start at $20, but those are listed in acceptable condition.  I certainly do not mind used copies of DVDs but I balk at acceptable.  Some second-party sellers are offering New copies for $50.  Worth it but of course I can’t spend that on a single-disc, non-special edition DVD, no matter how badly I might want it.

–I love using the Roku to stream entertainment to my television.  In fact, we already own two of them.  However, in our new home, our wifi is terrible and it is a problem we don’t seem able to solve (we have been relegated to streaming Netflix via our Blu-Ray player, which is Ethernet cabled).  The thing is, I love Rokus, and the ROKU 3 has an Ethernet port.  Would this be an item of great excess?  Yes.  But I neeeeeeeeed it.

–My art book collection would basically be complete (for now) with the addition of a HIGH QUALITY, comprehensive, hardback book on Henri Rousseau.  I’m having trouble finding one to link to online, but the kind I’m thinking of is generally not cheaper than $60.  Failing that, I would settle for a framed print of The Dream (no smaller than 32×24) or The Snake Charmer (preferably 40×30).

See, I don’t ask for much!  I also like experiences!

The Past is a Melted Glacier

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2015 by sethdellinger

The section of the Susquehanna River that flows past Harrisburg has, by far, the most bridges in close proximity I’ve ever seen in my life. At one point the vehicle, train, and pedestrian bridges are so close to each other, you might be tempted to think immense, 300-foot-high mirrors have been slid behind some of them.  The reflection off the water only heightens the effect.  When one first encounters and really ponders them, many natural questions follow.  Why so many, so close?  How did this come to pass?  The city, the river, and the bridges have, I suspect, a long tale to tell.

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It is this time of year that I am most alive. I can feel the air buzzing around me, the close buzzing of air and oxygen and the thickness of invisible moisture. All-everywhere life is springing forth, preparing to display its full self.  Today I was simply unable to stay indoors, needing to feel the pavement under my bicycle wheels, exploring this city which I have always kind of known but never known, letting the sun warm up my skin, feel my pigment change shade. I was made for heat.

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Once every few years I become immersed for a few weeks in one of my minor tangential interests, early polar exploration. It’s not something I’m interested in enough to become an expert, or to have it be a true hobby, but it’s definitely something that intrigues me, for reasons I don’t quite understand. I have a special interest in Franklin’s lost expedition and the great adventure of Shackleton’s Endurance.  I just finished reading the definitive book on Shackleton’s journey, “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing. I finished the last two thirds of it in a breathless sprint today, in coffee shops and under the summer sky by the river. My brain is filled with polar agony, soaked horsehair sleeping bags, salt water-filled mouths, brittle frozen beards. The thing that I always find in these tales is that despite some of the hardest and most intense human suffering you can imagine, they are always filled with joy, hope, and celebration. And also mystery, and the idea of being somewhere nobody else has ever been, or probably will ever be again, and the vast majestic mystic magical landscape, in a world that doesn’t give a shit about you. So yeah, cherry stuff. Good summer reading.

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In the quiet moments that I have, I’ve always spent an inordinate amount of time contemplating the bigger issues of the universe. Time, past, memory, and the nature of oneself. Not to sound hoity-toity, that is just what I do. Lately I have found myself mesmerized by the change that has occurred in the recently, and suddenly. I spent most of my adult life espousing the fact that being alone was my best gateway into the secrets of the universe. And I’m not backtracking now, I’m not saying I was wrong. Just that maybe these long years alone were perfectly setting me up to best experience the other side of the coin. Now I can see that living with a partner, child, and, yes, a dog, are enlightening parts of myself I’ve never even seen or thought of before. In the best possible ways, I don’t even know who I am anymore.

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Karla and I were taking a walk through our new neighborhood the other day, when we walked past an ornately and oddly built and designed church, sporting in huge block letters across the front PLACE OF PRAYER FOR ALL PEOPLE. We stopped to look at it and talk about its unique brickwork and design, when we noticed the two large angel statues at the top of the building on either side of the minaret. They were odd-looking men (both were identical). Unlike most religious imagery on most ornate churches, the faces of these male angels looked…modern.  Like some dude you might see in the mall.  But there was something else strange about them that we couldn’t quite put our finger on. Then it dawned on me.  I turned to Karla and said,  It looks just like George Carlin. After a moment’s hesitation, Karla burst out laughing. It was undeniable.

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I’m actually dictating this blog entry into my cell phone, while sitting on a bench in the black of night overlooking the vast but comprehendible Susquehanna River. It’s a warm night, warm enough for the bugs to be nibbling at my legs, but the breeze off of the river is calming and cooling, drying my sweat off my skin enough to keep me temperate. It reminds me of summer days and evenings in Erie, a period of my life that is not that long ago, but is also quite different than recent.  The temperature and the breeze transport me right inside my 2008 Saturn Aura, with the windows down driving down Peninsula Drive, heading out onto Presque isle, the peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie, making it also the northernmost point in the state of Pennsylvania. On one side you have Presque Isle Bay, the safe harbor formed by the city of Erie and the peninsula, and as you drive your car around the tip of the peninsula, it opens up to the vast lake, a body of water that climbs to the horizon like a mountain, not unlike an Arctic ice floe. I remember the wind through my car, the heat and humidity, the breeze off the water, an enormous plastic cup of Dunkin’ Donuts caramel iced coffee, the sugar crunching at the bottom as my straw tapped it, The National’s  “Squalor Victoria” blasting out of my stereo. It was quite a day, and quite a period in my life. But that guy, he and I don’t stay in touch anymore. I don’t know him. There’s a new me here to discover. The past is a melted glacier.

Sack Races Can Blank My Blank

Posted in Philly Journal, Rant/ Rave, Snippet, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2014 by sethdellinger

1.  It should be noted that, a mere two days ago, I did in fact participate in two sack races at a picnic.  That’s right, on some occasions, folks are still doing sack races.  But the important part:  I totally owned my competition both times.  I won by landslides.  I say this to gloat.  Because it is a rare moment indeed in my life when I find myself vanquishing opponents in any physical competition whatsoever–including leisure sports like pool and bowling.  So yeah.  Apparently I rule at sack racing.  However, it should also be duly noted that even now, 48 hours later, my lower abs hurt like crazy!  And I have been working my abs in workouts for a few weeks, so it’s not just from using unused muscles…there is something about sack races that MURDERS the abs, but especially, like…the very bottom ones.  I’m a scientist.

2.  You know who reads a lot?  Homeless people.  I’m not making some tasteless joke here, I’m serious.  At least in Philadelphia, whenever I see homeless people, I would say 50% of the time, they are reading something, and not always a newspaper, but often books.  I hear what some of you are about to say: They sure have plenty of free time to read!  Well sure, and I’m not sure what my point is with this, but it seemed like an observation worth making.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

3.  So there are these two bands I like (don’t stop reading yet, this isn’t actually about the bands).  The bands are The War on Drugs and Sun Kil Moon.  Both bands are fairly recent discoveries for me.  Over the past month, a very odd “feud” has developed between these bands (who, while both “indie” bands, are not bands that would typically be grouped together or thought of at the same time).  The were both playing the same festival, on different stages, at the same time, and apparently War on Drugs’ sound was drowning out the sound of Sun Kil Moon.  Now, Sun Kil Moon is basically one guy, Mark Kozelek, a very outspoken eccentric who often makes waves in the indie community.  Kozelek writes great songs, then gets other folks to play them with him and calls that band Sun Kil Moon.  The War on Drugs is just a band.  Anyway, so War on Drugs is too loud for Mark Kolezek and he gets pissed at them, for some reason, and he says something like this onstage: “This next song is called ‘The War on Drugs Can Suck My Fucking Cock”.  Now, to make a really long story somewhat short: the indie music press loves feuds (who doesn’t?) and reported on this idiotic stage banter promptly, and Kozelek being the guy he is, he just kept making the problem worse and being extremely mean to War on Drugs for months now; for their part, War on Drugs has stayed mostly silent, seeing as they did truly nothing.  Sun Kil Moon went as far as to release, last week a song called “War on Drugs: Suck My Cock”.      You can read very interesting reporting from the feud as it went down here, or here, or here.

ANYWAY, here is what I want to talk about:  the very first time I read that story, I winced at Kozelek’s choice of words.  Suck my cock, while a slam I may have directed at many a male friend of mine over the years, is not a way I would choose to talk to today.  I don’t want to say I am evolved or enlightened, but I think it would be fair to say I am certainly MORE evolved or enlightened about this topic than I used to be.  The topic, as far as I can generally state it, is men using subtle violence and aggression in every day life to perpetuate the patriarchal society we’ve all come to inhabit; even as women gain a more visible foothold toward equality, men still casually sit with their legs wide open on trains, depriving women of proper legroom (your cock isn’t that big, guys), we use terms associated with the female anatomy to mean negative things (what does it mean when you so viciously call another person a pussy as if it is the last thing on earth you’d like to be?).  Men gawk at women as they walk past on the street as though nobody can tell–or that nobody should care.  And men like Mark Kozelek–ostensibly a very artistic, extremely intelligent man who skirts the edges of our culture in a way that one would assume means he’d be more enlightened–uses the language of male aggression to another man; the suggestion of this language goes deep (NO PUN FREAKIN’ INTENDED) and does more than hint at a latent hatred for homosexuality, not to even begin exploring what a mean-spirited “suck my cock” says about the speaker’s opinion about the women who, one would assume, have done so to him willingly.

Look, I know this line of thought seems “out there” to some people, maybe a little too new-agey. Being a male in today’s culture isn’t easy.  We still want to treat women nice and be chivalrous, but it’s tough to do that and play the equality game.  I get that.  We’re not always going to be perfect at it; ours is a culture in the middle of change, and it’s tough to keep up with that as individuals.  But really, at core, it’s easy.  Treat everyone correctly, and realize that language is also action.  The things couched in what you say are real and have meaning, not just academically, but to your listeners.  Realize that your actions in public, even if they seem benign–looking, where you sit or stand, things you say within earshot–can still reek of male supremacy.  Go ahead and hold the door open for your sweetheart (unless she’s told you to bugger off with that shit), but make sure you’re both standing beside each other at the Starbucks register.  Don’t be a fucking asshole.  What are your thoughts?

 

4.  As much as Mark Kozelek has pissed me off with his War on Drugs feud, his song (as Sun Kil Moon) “Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes” off this year’s new album Benji, is one of the best songs I’ve heard, not just this year, but in years:

 

5.  I like a lot of stuff.  I think I have made that fairly clear over the years.  And most people know that I love backscratchers.  But nobody has ever bought me a really good backscratcher.  #justsayin

Philly Journal, 7/24/14

Posted in Philly Journal, Photography with tags , , , , on July 24, 2014 by sethdellinger

It is not unusual for me to throw whatever current book or magazine or newspaper I am reading into a backpack and bike to one of the city’s parks or otherwise unique public spaces to do some outdoor reading.  I was just about to do that this evening, when I realized that I always go pretty far away to do this–usually the mile and a half or two miles toward Center City to hang out in one of the more illustrious or famous public spaces.  There are tons of parks near me, but these are actual parks, used by the residents who are regular folks!  I suppose I’ve stayed away from them not only because they are less interesting, but because I have typically felt like an outsider at them.  But this evening I took my book straight to Mifflin Square Park, by far the closest park to my house, at only 5 blocks away.  Mifflin Square Park is unique in that it is bordered on two of its four sides by the largest population of Cambodian residents in the state of Pennsylvania.  Not everyone who uses this park is Cambodian, but I would say 80% of the folks there are in fact Cambodian. Like, first-generation, speaking-Cambodian folks.  It wasn’t my first time there, but it was my first time spending any significant amount of time there.  It was nice!  Very pleasant folks (except the group of white teenagers sitting a bench next to me who were smoking weed).  I took some pictures that you might find pretty interesting:

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