Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's Like Proust In One Volume

The only thing I really know about Proust is he wrote a really, really, really long book.

I have so much I want to write, but will try to be sparing. I'm sure Proust, at times, felt the same way.

Tonight I attended Practical Mysticism class at church, then came home, put some laundry in the dryer, made myself a rootbeer float, turned on the Jose Gonzalez, put on my new (to me) pink velour track suit, and am now indulging my urge to do this bloggy thing. What is this weird urge? Its like a cross between the urge to gossip and the urge to write. Regardless, here it is.

Speaking of "cross between", I've decided Jose Gonzales is a cross between Cat Stevens and Nick Drake. Feel it.

Chapter 1: Switzerland
I went there. Did you know this? Its true! Greg was going for work and I got jealous, so I went, too.

So, how was Switzerland? Well, the short answer is, Switzerland is so consistently clean and nice it makes the rest of the world look totally trashy. I spent an afternoon in Franfurt, Germany on my way back home, and after Switzerland it felt like a third-world country. But, the Germans make the Swiss look like assholes. It was nice to see people smile again. So there you go.

Here is a picture of Switzerland:

Yes, that's the Matterhorn, and excuse my French, but we snow-shoed the fuck out of that mountain. All mountains are beautiful, but I gotta say, the Matterhorn has some crazy enchantment thing going on - not like pixies and unicorns, but like it was hard for me to take my eyes off of it. You can't tell much from the photo, but its big, too, over 14,000 feet.

Chapter 2: Dots vs. Stripes vs. Spandex
About five minutes after I got home from Europe, we had a party at my house. It was a big party and everyone had fun. The next day, the house smelled like a bar - stale and close and vaguely pukey. Did someone puke? No? Then why the smell?

Chapter 3: Tahoe
More snow! But this time, on cross country skis, and in California, and on notably shorter mountains. The highlight was not the skiing, but the butt sledding. Just imagine sledding, but then take away the sled. Yep, that was us, sliding down a hill on our asses. Thank god for snow pants.

Chapter 4: Pinback

I can't believe I've been keeping this blog for over three months and this is the first time I've mentioned Pinback. Yee olde blog was rife with Pinback gushing.

Greg and I saw them a few months ago at Bimbos. It was my first time - eek! They were playing two nights there, and we went to the first. The show started off a bit slow, low energy, not terribly engaging - you know, indie rock. But then, I don't know, its like something just happened, some kind of mope-to-awesomeness transmogrification that left me feeling buzzed the whole next day, so much so that I was ready to go back to Bimbos and stand around outside the sold-out show trying to score another ticket.

So, then just over a week ago they were playing a show at the Fillmore, so of course, OF COURSE we had to go (well, I did, anyway, and Greg came too because he's cool like that). mc chris warmed up the crowd like something fierce. He is perfectly constructed out parts stupid, charming, funny, magical, and repugnant.

Then Pinback comes on, but their sound was so bad, so horribly bad. What the fuck, brodogs, why? Why the sound like the bass and drums were being bumped way too loud out of some hoopty in front of the building? The over-driven, swampy, deafening low-end covered the band, so much so that a few times I knew Rob Crow was singing but couldn't actually hear his voice. We moved all over the room trying to find a sweet spot, but only found a sort of mildly salty spot, way back by the sound guy. Whom I wanted to smack.

Chapter 5: Traffic
Why do people love drug war movies? Its not like people don't love drugs. Marijuana is one of the United States a-number-one cash crops, and yet, people love the fuck out of drug war movies.

Traffic? No exception, plus its got this inexcusably racist, "lock up your white daughters" thing going near the end. Deplorable. But, Traffic does have a few things other bad drug war movies don't have. Namely, Benicio Del Toro and Don Cheadle. Plus Traffic has some slick editing and neat filmy tricks. It would be great if the damn script wasn't so hideously cliche.

Chapter 6: Dead Man
On the other hand, there's Dead Man, the film writer/director Jim Jarmusch called a psychedelic western. SO GOOD! I've read that a lot of critics didn't like this film, but clearly they were the same chumps who thought Traffic was brilliant. Sometimes Johnny Depp's acting feels like he's just sort of screwing around, but not so in Dead Man. He's looooovely in this, as is Gary Farmer.

And now you're asking yourself, who's Gary Farmer? I kept watching and asking myself the same thing, so I looked on IMDB and realized, "oh, him, he's been in everything." But in Dead Man he is fully immersed in his character Nobody, so it doesn't matter what he's been in before, because he's in Dead Man to win. Neil Young's sparse, psychedelic soundtrack is the trippy cherry on top. And also, Iggy Pop in a dress and bonnet.

Chapter 7: Pinback Gets Another Chance

Despite the bad sound at the Fillmore, I decided to give Pinback another go when they came around again a week later. Why a band would flagellate itself with a tour schedule like that I don't know, but hey, if that's what they're into its fine with me. The show was at the Bear's Lair, a bar on the Cal campus serving beer by the yard. This is a tremendously off-putting fact, and I was worried the audience would consist of frat boys drunk on miles of beer, but, well, I won tickets. So, with Greg by my side, we went.

The venue was like a grade school cafeteria. Technically, it was a university cafeteria, but it felt far more quaint. Mr. Crow remarked on this upon taking the stage: "Hi, welcome to lunch period. Its Friday. We're the Purple Squirrels and we'll be playing some songs while you eat your lunch." Poor Mr. Armistead Burwell Smith IV looked all pale and weak, and Mr. Crow mentioned he was sick and would be going to the nurses office after lunch so his mom could pick him up.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Pinback rocked the house. Or the cafeteria, whatever. Anyway, shitty venue, but way better show than the Fillmore. Go figure.


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  2. Switzerland is indeed a trip. My favorite story from my time there involved a night out in Neuchatel, which is in the French part of Switzerland. I was in the upstairs room at a crowded bar. A very drunk older guy staggered in and started harrassing people--nothing violent or anything, just very annoying. People were not amused, but they seemed to tolerate him. I went up to the bartender and asked why no one was doing anything about it, and he said it was the town drunk, and everyone is used to it. I told him I'd be happy to take care of the situation for him, but I wanted to make sure he was OK with that before I did anything. He responded "Really, you would do that?" and I said "Sure, no problem." I then proceeded to bounce the guy--not saying a word, just walking up to him until there was no room between us, looking down at him with vicious intent, and then maneuvering him in the direction of the stairs, then down the stairs, then out the door. The guy had a look of total fear in his eyes, but also complete surprise, like he had NEVER been bounced before. When I came back up the stairs to resume drinking, the crowd started cheering, and the bartender bought me a beer. It was like I had pierced some sort of cultural veil. Maybe they thought the whole thing was performance art.

    On the same trip my buddy Kaspar showed me the machine gun he is required to keep in his apartment, to be used in case anyone from a neighboring country gets crazy and decides to invade.

  3. okay, a) mc chris rocks; b) you and i are going to have a sodorberg v. jarmusch brawl when i get home; and c) i love reading your posts.

  4. a) I was thinking about you during mc chris' set. He totally won me over. b) Ha! Forget about it. Sodorberg does have Benecio del Toro on his side, but Jarmusch has Johnny Depp and Tom Waits FTW. c) Likewise, I love reading your posts. In fact, I'm going to right now...