Poem for a Friend

Ann belle princess of the isles

The orbs whisper your name

Even if you’ve gotten piles

Or if you’re on the game

 

Buxom barmaid or bellicose barfly

Begs the inevitable question

Booze improves the poet’s eye

But ruins her digestion

 

Her uncle made a fortune

Cold calling clogs

And swamped a shocked suburbia

With plasticine polywogs

 

Downstream from the trust fund

You while away your day

On alert for the bloke in the cummerbund

Who’ll provide the perfect lay

 

We desire to be known, desire to be seen

It’s the deepest human condition

I don’t know where you are much less where you’ve been

All that’s left, babe, is volition

Crushes and Crushing with Bad Moves and Swearin’

She said what do you do
I said get specific
In the long run I grow old
Elliot Murphy

What am I doing? Get specific. OK, basically I’m on east coast of the United States seeing bands. I am connecting with my roots and connecting with my heart. I love live music; I love live music fans; I love the whole scene. So that’s what’s going on.

This piece is about two young bands making waves this year. First is Bad Moves, who I saw open for The Hold Steady last weekend at the Brooklyn Bowl. Their record is Tell No One (2018, Don Giovanni). Second is Swearin’ who a music geek introduced to be as a top five record of the year. Their record is Fall Into the Sun. (Swearin’ is not actually a new band, just new to me. Their 2018 release is the first in five years.) For some reason listening to both bands brings to mind Dirty on Purpose. Their best record is Hallelujah Sirens (2006, North Street Records, for some reason not on Spotify). What happens to a band like Dirty on Purpose? Does anyone remember them? I do–they are way underrated. Huge props go out to Dirty on Purpose and here’s “No Radio” for you (super low-rent video btw!):

Dirty on Purpose “No Radio”

The best years of our lives
Were spent in some stranger’s basement
Medley made of empty cans and ex’s
And that radical romantic conversation
And how we are like mutants
Who found each other by chance through rock n roll music
Clenched fist, eyes wild
Scream over the records, you artfully complied
While I put my bad faith into practice
Sit at home on Saturday night
Ease into my false sense of superiority
No art degree, no conservatory
Just Katie and me
And whatever we are drinking
To diminish our diplomacy
If you can’t appreciate the art
Appreciate the air conditioning

That’s high-level awesome. “No art degree, no conservatory/ Just Katie and me”–“who’s better than us” is the refrain of DiLillo’s Underworld. If they can do it, why not us? Fuck ’em, and if you don’t that it, appreciate the air conditioning. That’s what attitude looks like kids, take notes.

Swearin’ Big Change

So “Big Change” is my single from Fall Into the Sun. Let’s play a little game wherein great records from bands like Bad Moves and Swearin’ would generate radio play singles. Any record worth it’s salt will have at least two singles; three is a bonus. And, we’ll do a “sneaky favorite.” I’m all about sneaky favorites, on all levels.

For Swearin’s second single I’ll go with “Grow into a Ghost.” It opens with a chugging guitar riff with an almost Krautrock drum line. The song is a perfect 3:10–in and out. Do you know anything about lost love? Swearin’ does–here’s verse 2:

I write you ceaselessly and abstracted
I hang our with old friends
And they unknowingly remind me
Of who I was before we met
You were somewhere out in the desert
You frame the natural light perfectly
Will you come back soon and
Let me love you completely

and the chorus: “I watch you/ I watch you grow into a ghost.”

Swearin’ “Grow into a Ghost”

I’ll save the sneaky favorite for later.

Bad Moves I gotta say rocked my world. First, the star of the band (and I know they are a collective, I get it, but my world is my world baby) is Katie Park.

Before the show Katie was at the merch table selling…magic eye! Magic eye! That she made by hand. And what did it say? The magic eye said “Bad Moves.” Obviously. 20 minutes later she and the band were crushing it. It’s only a snippet, but check this out:

The single here is pretty easy. It’s “Crushed Out.” The band released “Spirit FM” as the single, which is also excellent. But for me, “Crushed Out” is the single. Maybe “Spirit FM” is more immediately catchy? Possible. So maybe it is the single. But “Crushed Out” has more lasting power in my opinion. I’ll bow to the band and take “Spirit FM” as single two. “Crushed Out” is about exactly what it sounds like. It has a basically perfect power pop structure with a killer hook, a classic bridge, and a theme at once super obvious and super deep–the power of a crush.

It was a strange infatuation
I couldn’t place it at the time
But now it seems as if my mind
Was all stopped up with you
I had no sense of aspiration
I didn’t know, I guess it’s fine
But now it seems so obvious
Did it seem so obvious?
Through all my fits of desperation
Sharing looks and passing notes
What did you make of what I wrote?
What could I ask of you?
The weeks of strained communication
Could you read between the lines
Or was it just so obvious?
It was a strange infatuation
I didn’t have the words to say yet, to be fair
Crushing out that way
It would be years before I’d face it
But it was just so obvious

Baby, if you are crush-prone that power never goes away. Bad Moves knows this–it’s kind of what the record is about. Crushing out that way can be pretty obvious–do you think I’m, crushing out on Katie at all? Nah, this is just a piece of music appreciation.

Bad Moves “Crushed Out”

There are at least two other singles here. “Cool Generator” (my pick) and “Vessels” (hard to argue with). I’m listening to “Cool Generator” on the train to Boston right now and typing on the keyboard like it was, well, a keyboard. I want to get up and dance in the aisle. Is that allowed? The song pops–I love it.

The Bad Moves analysis goes on–my actual favorite part of the record comes from “Missing You.” The song starts like the others, sweet and high-speed power pop, and after two verses switches to a near-spoken word breakdown of the tug-of-war between a crush and the expectations of the world around. Guess which wins?

Something inside told me I shouldn’t do
Things that set my heart racing, the dreams I held yo
So I wrapped them up tight and hid them from view
And gave them a name I called “Missing You”
Every cop in the city and the family I knew
The church and the pastor all said I shouldn’t do
But their pleas for contrition just couldn’t break through
Not one of them stronger than missing you
The cops in the city, yeah, and everyone I knew
Their please for contrition, yeah, well, none of them broke through
Not one of them was stronger than missing you

I officially support these sentiments. And look what the band does with rhyming “knew,” “do,” “through,” and “you.” High level. So that’s my sneaky favorite song–doesn’t mean it’s better than “Crushed Out,” just it’s for me, you know. (Sadly I couldn’t find a video for the song.)

===== =====

Digression into Spiritual Literature

In addition to the Magic Eye, the Bad Moves engage in a little publishing. A little literature. Specifically they publish a little pamphlet called “The Virtues of Wearing White.” Check this out:

Chatting with Katie, she acknowledged more than a passing familiarity with the literature of the Jehovah Witnesses. I love Witness literature, and even talked about it here:

Jehovah Witness Periscope

What I love about Witness publications and about the Bad Moves literature is the “it’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day” vibe of the whole thing. If you know me this is not a secret, but I’m a hardcore closet New Ager. There, secret’s out. The other day I attended a Kabbala meetup in Manhattan. There’s some hardcore New Agers there too, seriously. Those folks are not in the closet at all. Shining eyes, whatever color they are wearing. Me, I wear black because it’s easier to launder, but the Bad Moves have me thinking…

One other publication you should take a look at is you are into this kind of thing is the Christian Science Monitor. It’s a serious piece of literature. God is great baby, god is great.

OK, digression over.

===== =====

My sneaky favorite Swearin’ song is track 10, the acoustic “Anyway.”

And for better or worse you have never met anyone like me before
Between heaven and earth there’s death and rebirth
And a plane where we couldn’t breathe
So we cut our losses and take a deep breath
Accept what is left and bet it on someone else
And in the light of morning remember
It would never have worked out
Anyway
Anyway

I think we have thematic consistency for this post. Both records are excellent. Check ’em out.

Works Cited/ Referenced:

Bad Moves. Tell No One

Cliff, Jimmy. “I Can See Clearly Now”

DeLillo, Don. Underworld.

Dirty on Purpose. Hallelujah Sirens.

Swearin’. Fall Into the Sun.

The Thin Man on Assignment, Part II

Read The Thin Man on Assignment, Part I here: https://thekyotokibbitzer.com/2018/11/15/the-thin-man-on-assignment

Dateline Singapore, 17:08.

Groups of male drinkers are highly permeable. Groups of female drinkers are also basically permeable, however, for various reasons that you will be aware of, somewhat less so than their more devolved counterparts. With these truisms in mind, the Thin Man prepared his cover.

He selects the largest of the group, ruddy complexion running to seed through a noxious combination of hotel living, corporate ineptitude, and nature, and opens with the most anodyne possible comment. “That’s a tough one,” he says extending his hand. “I’m Jack from marketing, over here from London. You wouldn’t believe what happened to me today.”

The men give him a quick once over. This is more than enough. “You wouldn’t believe what happened to US today” says the big man. “Jesus what a day.” He sits down and “Jack” is established. Just like that.

=====

Three hours later and the Thin Man has learned the following:

i) “Bill” is Bill Wetherington, Head of Accounting for the Green Group Asia. Aristocratic name, upper-middle class title, garden variety courage.

ii) The drinkers are also in accounting.

iii) Green Group is under internal pressure based on intensifying rumors of shady financial action at the very top. The current CEO, Anderson, is being challenged by a new board member, Rink. The rumors are rampant yet unproven, and the three men know relatively little about what is going on.

iv) Bill’s absence means that the men have no one to take their cue from re their stance on the firm’s political climate. Predictably they have been drinking for days. They are easy marks, too easy, but they don’t know enough. The Thin Man will have to attend the party tomorrow and scout an insider.

v) The men drank whisky alternated with beers and the occasional shot, tequila or vodka, which always came with roars of achievement and slaps on the back. The Thin Man gave himself to the role; he slapped back.

Eventually one of the men did circle back to Jack’s role in the firm. The Thin Man kept it vague, of course, claiming to be a kind of internal consultant and using a lot of words. A small amount of information communicated verbosely is a sure recipe for boredom and soon enough the men moved back to their own woes. It was a quarter after midnight when the Thin Man had heard enough and he bid them goodnight. By this time they were fast friends, and had agreed to meet for a pre-event drink the best day. The event space is pre-permeated; the reception folks don’t stand a chance.

Dateline The Thin Man’s Room. Friday, 0:32:

The elevator was a padded cell/ for the socially insane/ and the chronically unwell
Up three flights of stairs/ to the girl I knew/ she wore skin on skin/ with amphetamine/ on the hair of her lip
The key doesn’t fit the lock no more.
Happyness

Now we have a little confession to make. While the Thin Man may appear the picture of competence in the events depicted above, competence is a) relative; and b) often pretty narrow. He can ply information from drinkers in a company on the brink, sure, and this is a skill that pays. And while his severance pay was still running some women were around the general lifespace. Which was all good. However while the Thin Man may spend his days in a blur of undirected motion, he does have specific tastes in certain matters. The Thin Man, for instance, likes women to tell him what to do from a distance. More precisely he enjoys instruction from the non-copresent muse.

Underwater he and his crew didn’t have the ability to live partially on the internet as the modern human is wont to do, however since washing ashore in Singapore the Thin Man has established contact with some women he has never met. Of course there are plenty of guys who pay for the privilege of being under the thumb of a woman, there is apparently a whole industry around it. Good for them. This particular industry is on the overt side, and the Thin Man is not of it. He may, however, be quasi-adjacent. In any case after a shower the Thin Man texts Desiree. Right away.

What he wants here is, basically, for Desiree, who is 23 half French and half Romanian, to give him feedback in the form of some word, action, or idea to integrate into his espionage performance. A whisperer stage right, who can introduce the element, the thrilling frisson, of the random. A stylist, a sequencer, a psychically co-present muse. Desiree plays this role only moderately well; she is studying to be a dancer, goes to auditions, and generally alternates between attention and absence. Are you familiar, dear reader, with the interplay of attention and absence? I thought as much.

Anyway, tonight Desiree comes through. Fear, she says, fear is the operating mood of the Green Group employees. Young she may be, but she is smart our Desiree. Ingratiating oneself with the fearful is easy she says. And she is right, if the instability runs all the way to the top so will the fear. He just has to find the right mark and he’ll get what he needs to know. The idea of pocketing the $20,000 is appealing, 100%. He thanks her and tries to keep her on but she is done. Oh well, you get what you get. Some form of sleep and wake up as Jack. No problemo senor.


Note on Authorial Intent: Andrea, the Thin Man, the barely developed Mitchell Grey, the Azeri border guard, Desiree, the yet to be introduced Daniella, additional Azeris, these characters need to begin to cross paths, soon. This involves moving them between locations, which is a issue of logistics. And the logistics, they needn’t be watertight but they do kind of need to be semi-believable. So that’s to say, I’m working on it. I know you all like Andrea.

Works Cited/ Referenced

Happyness, “Lofts”

Featured Image:

Yves Tanguy, “Neither Legends nor Figures,” 1930.

I’m Reading Anais Nin’s Diaries

63C63FA0-BFB7-4149-8162-DF4ADB674C84.jpegSo basically I’ve been on hiatus after a decent spurt of fiction.  I apologize. In advance.

I could manufacture a list of excuses for the lack of content and all would be relevant. But the thing is, I’m reading Anais Nin’s 1947-1955 unexpurgated diaries called “Trapeze.”  That’s what I am doing.

Anais Nin is high level. Anais Nin is a dangerous writer. Anais Nin is fucking excellent.  Here is a little bit:

“One handles the truth like dynamite. Literature is one vast hypocrisy, a slant, deception, treachery. All the writers have concealed more than they have revealed.”

“My father died mad. He did not understand what happened to him. I want my suffering to be useful. I want the novel to teach life. I want the novel to accomplish what the analyst does.”

“Great lovers never trust each other.”

And…

“The diary cannot ever be published.”

So that’s it.  I’m reading Anais Nin. New material is on the way.

Works Cited/ Referenced:

Nin, Anais.  Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diaries of Anais Nin, 1947-1955