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That Cliche About the Last Mile

July 28th, 2008

My patience is gone, my positivity is on a thread.  I’ve mixed six tracks so far.  Four more to go.  I’m taking my time, and it’s going OK, but I still have one problem.  I have to get up before noon and go to work for my dad every day.

I don’t mind painting, patching, cleaning, moving stuff.  It’s the little things that have been getting under my skin for years.  Rings of keys that are all in code.  The constant phone calls and micromanaging.  How everything is on short notice and nothing is ever written down.  How there’s always a fucking truck blocking the alley.  Even skipping CDs or bad radio reception often leads to me throwing tools across the room, or in today’s case, throwing a chair into the floor until it was in pieces.  Most of all, it’s that I’ve had this “temporary” job most of my adult life, and still do not get sick days, health insurance or vacation.  I get money per hour plus what I “borrow.”  That’s it.

Hopefully the mixing will be done in four days as planned and I can find a different job, without doing something stupid in the process.  That doesn’t look easy from where I’m standing.


The Dreamweaver-less Site Build

July 26th, 2008

Almost as soon as I learned to use Dreamweaver, I’ve hated it.  It’s supposed to be a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) but sometimes it likes to improvise.  It also likes to add code that you can’t see.  One time I updated a site that had the font defined at least a dozen times each place it was used.  Still I couldn’t imagine myself designing with code alone, until I learned Style Sheets.  So when my computer crashed a few months ago, I didn’t bother reinstalling Dreamweaver.  Instead I downloaded Filezilla and Crimson editor, and now I’m redesigning my main site in PHP, working directly with the code.  I’m learning to see the output and structure in my head while I’m writing the code, since there’s no graphic interface.

I’m always redesigning my sites just because I get obsessive over it, but this time there’s a practical reason: my site is built using Dreamweaver templates, which are really just comments that Dreamweaver uses to apply changes globally to the site.  This means that without Dreamweaver, changes must be applied to each page individually, because there are 10 files with the same code at the top and bottom.  Using PHP, there’s just one file that outputs different information according to the users input.  In exchange for having to think mathematically when you start to build, you get a site that’s easy to update and expand.  Put it together with CSS  and you can build with very clean code, using fewer files and causing less confusion down the road.

We’ll see where I end up with XHTML compliance when it’s done.


July 25th, 2008

Follow any path as far as you can take it and you always end up in the same place: in the dark. Everything looks the same in the dark. If you’re unwilling to except that, then you make stuff up. You pull whats buried inside and project it into the darkness to try and make sense of it. One thing you don’t want to do is invite the darkness inside. I wish I could put it away, turn it off, and save it for later. I’m always walking into the dark, and that’s fine. But what I need to do is stop believing that the things I see in the dark are real.


Bullet Points for this Evening’s Meeting with Life

July 24th, 2008
  • I’m unwilling to let go of myself for others and I’m also unwilling to let go of my need for the world outside myself. There’s a balance often struck, but every road I take to find it leads to me having to choose.
  • I used to look out at the city and see a vast sea of possibility. Tonight I looked off a highway footbridge and saw a vast wasteland of human potential, and I shouted “fucking trash city!” at the pavement, but no one was there to hear me.
  • There’s nothing keeping me here, but nothing forcing me to leave. My entire life is a default, and can be summed up with the phrase, “for lack of a better reason…” I’m in Minneapolis for the same reason why I’m alive: it’s what was granted me and I haven’t had the balls to change it.
  • I walked into an alley tonight, drifting towards the skyline, and I was confronted with a fence. Instead of walking all the way back, I chose to jump the fence. As the nearly empty flask of whiskey + vermouth in my back pocket could have predicted, it was not a good idea. Acrobatics aside, the bottle did not break and I left Stevens Square laughing.
  • I keep telling myself that I have a CD to finish, and when it’s done I can move on with my life. It’s the only thing keeping me going. The last time I had this much of myself riding on a creative project, it wasn’t pretty, and I topped off my 22nd birthday by collapsing in someone else’s yard in the pouring rain, convinced that I had just wasted 22 years. I’m really afraid that in September I might get to the point where I’m convinced that I just wasted 30.

Sleep Late, Call In, Mix

July 23rd, 2008

I took the day off today because, despite my attempts at getting to sleep before midnight (which didn’t work because my brain started probing the dark spots) I didn’t actually wake up until after noon. I have also been a little stressed out because I’ve taken so much time away from mixing while preparing for the zinefest, Milwaukee and live shows. So last night I wrote out my schedule for the next ten days. Today I mix one track. Tomorrow another. And so forth. Focusing on one track per day might take away some of the stress. Today I laid down a perfect three-part vocal that I’ve been struggling with for months. You never know when things are going to fall into place.

Speaking of Milwaukee, I posted two videos of my performance in a punk basement on MySpace TV.


I’m so god damn sick of keys…

July 22nd, 2008

…among other things. I have one set of keys I keep with me all the time, then another set I keep in my car to get into all the places I need to go at work. Then there’s another mess of keys at work that are hidden in one of the apartments, plus another hidden in the attic. On top of that, today I had to drive out to Roseville and get a key from a combination box so I could get into my parents house to get three other keys that I had to bring back to St. Paul, show an apartment, go get the big ring of keys that are hid in the apartment, put one key on the ring and then go hide the other two in a different apartment in a different building. None of the keys are clearly labeled either. They’re all in code.

After all that I drove back out to Roseville because I realized I forgot to lock the garage. I ran out of gas on the way back and had to walk 10 blocks to SA to buy a gas can. What the fuck?

Unrelated, I agreed to play a show on Friday that was supposed to be at Intermedia Arts. After I agreed to it, it got moved, first to a cafe in Minneapolis, then to a cafe in St. Paul, and now it’s at a vacant house in St. Paul. And there’s probably not much of a sound system. I’m not in a very good mood today. As soon as I’m done mixing this record I’m going out to look for a nice, easy, low-paying job.


On sound and where it lives

July 16th, 2008

You can’t have a zine festival without getting questions about zines’ survival in an increasingly digital age.  Are they dying?  Why don’t people just start blogs?  Etc. etc.  I’ve had this stuff on my mind lately, as I’m about to release another record on a different dying format: CD.  Now, this time I’m actually getting them professionally duplicated, just because it will open more doors for reviews and distribution.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a problem with it…

(BTW-zines are not dying, and the people who read zines are not the same people who read blogs though there are those that do both.  Nobody “collects” blogs, you can’t fill a shoebox or a milkcrate with them, you can’t save them.  A zine will be there to stumble upon when you’re old and going through things.  A blog will be deleted from the server.)

So-called MP3 culture asserts a song’s autonomy, making it available on it’s own without the other songs, without artwork or credits or packaging.  I obviously don’t buy this.  Songs need homes, and singles are the equivalent of a cramped apartment where there’s nothing but you, but at least it’s a place to stay.  MP3s are like homeless people.  Just as society in general doesn’t really give a shit if some guy is homeless, the consumer market doesn’t care if a song gets distributed as part of an album or on it’s own.  I think musicians do care though.  Songs are usually recorded as albums, with a distinct group of people working on them in the same place and over a certain period of time, etc.  Songs in an album often complement each other or just “go with” each other.  They live together.

Just because a new technology makes it effortless to distribute something in a certain form, doesn’t mean that the thing necessarily benefits from that form.  Amazon.com could save people a lot in shipping by selling books as PDF files.  Why is this debate not happening with literature?

Imagine your favorite book and then imagine if you had read it curled up with your laptop computer.

When I go over to someone’s house for the first time, for a party maybe, I glance through their music collection and their book shelf while everybody else is socializing.  People typically display these things prominently.  What I don’t do is turn on their computer and start opening folders.

I decided a little while ago just what is the problem with CDs. They’re ugly, stupid, fragile things.  They don’t age well, the cases break, they scratch.  Not only that but typically CDs are not produced with any consideration for the aesthetics of the physical product.  Beyond the graphic design and artwork of the booklet, and the screenprint of the disc itself, they’re all the same.  A  beautifully produced concept-album that took two-years to make is likely to come in the same form as a the bundle of free software included with your inkjet printer.

CDs have become ephemera.  The general consensus in our culture is that if it’s on CD, it’s endlessly replaceable, repeatable, and if it’s not free, it may as well be.

I think that even though people prefer having a tangible product, CDs just don’t have that many redeeming qualities as such a product.  A little while ago, I started thinking, “why am I still using CDs?  I can buy a USB turntable, buy records, and burn them to CD when I need to play them somewhere else.”  I just read an article from last year claiming that vinyl sales are up.  It makes sense to me.  Now I’m thinking my next release might be on vinyl.  This one will be a CD, but there’s no jewel case.  It’s going to be a little bit of a book-arts project, and consequently will also be expensive and a major pain in the ass.  But I needed to make it something that I could see myself buying.


Outside

July 11th, 2008
keep my failures where they belong, where did I go wrong?
search myself for some reason and let it all get me down
when it’s over I’ll be looking backwards, that’s not what I want
the days are fading, why am I still waiting for the spinning to stop

when I was younger, I felt so much older than I am now
left my doubts for my sleeping body to figure out
when those days are done they’ll want to run you over and spit you out
without the energy you give in quietly to live it out

but I’m still on the outside and I don’t mind

I’m still broken and I’m still miserable half the time
and I know you can’t see me but I got my finger up anyway
is this the price you pay for laying roots where they put you down?
there’s a certain freedom in knowing no one needs you around.

I know life’s not fair.
I don’t care.


Zinefest!

July 10th, 2008

I helped to found it, ran it near-solo for two years, and then ran away.  And now it’s better than ever!  I even heard it’s full.  I’ll be tabling at the fest and performing at the afterparty at the Pocketknife.  Come say hi.

www.zinefest.org


Whatever

July 10th, 2008

A song about that moment when you know you’re not thinking right and you don’t care, and you just open the door a little further…

I know you said everything will be OK
but I don’t know why I should listen to you anyway
I’ll dig my feet further in trap I set
what’s the use in even trying to forget

the uselessness of everything we touch
it’s a dream we can only wake up from once
there’s a beauty that I will never see again
watch me as I fall apart,
it’s the only journey I have left