Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Look At These Effing Observations

Recently I had the epiphany that things typically associated with children and the elderly are becoming ever more prevalent among hipsters. I present the following photo evidence.

Knitting (Elderly)

Cooking (Elderly)
Cats (Elderly)

High-Waisted Pants (Elderly)

Face painting (Children)

Wearing Costumes When It's not Halloween (Children)
Kickball (Children) Toys (Children)
Crayons (Children)

Dressing Up Pets (Children)

Peanut butter (Elderly and Children)

One-Piece Pajamas (Elderly and Children)
(Photos are from Look at this fucking hipster, American Apparel, and flickr)

These observations are really more of a love letter to hipsters than the kind of mocking associated with This is in part because I'm still confused if I'm a child, a hipster, or an elderly person. It is hard to tell as I share the same interests as those in all three groups. And I don't find ascribing to labels particularly interesting or necessary.

Also, I don't think it's a stretch to to understand how it happens that hipsters are drawn to things both juvenile and geriatric--it's a natural reaction when things typically accepted as "adult" (careers, having children) are becoming less valued among adults in their 20s (and even 30s). It's easy to mock hipsters because of their ridiculous appearance. And that's the point.

Baby-boomer hippies and squares alike, and all their varied promises, have culminated in a vapid, existential, selfish reality a generation and a half later, the product of slick urban Reaganomic coke-heads, suburban pretenders and the rural subsidized. What I'm really trying to say when I play scrabble at a bar, wear neon colors and care way too much about the welfare of a feline is "Hey Baby-Boomers, this is your legacy. Never before has a generation been given so much and done so little. Congratulations. Here we are. Hope you take as much pleasure in watching adults play kickball as we do."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Top Ten Albums

The following is my list of the top ten albums of all time. This list isn't synonymous with my list of top ten bands of all time or top ten songs of all time; those are different concepts for me. These albums vary in time, theme and style, but the common thread is the cohesive genius manifest from start to end. And if this seems pretentious, consider the source; I eat string cheese mostly for the "I'm playing with my food!" aspect... Also, the best way to know if this is complete bullshit or not is to listen to each album for yourself, with virgin ears and void of a "you have something to prove to me" attitude. A brief description of why these albums are retained in my otherwise lackluster memory follows each listing.

1. The Body, the Blood, the Machine (The Thermals)
I'll be honest, I'm selfish. And no other album sounds, musically and lyrically, like something that could be born of my gut and heart, if I was blessed enough to express myself with clarity. But I'm not, and it's okay thanks to the Thermals.

2. Out of Step (Minor Threat)
Simultaneously the most idealistic and jaded piece of art, ever. And they were teenagers...

3. Neon Bible (Arcade Fire)
"My lips are near, but my heart is far away." I can't think of a better Biblical reference to describe religion in modern America. And Arcade Fire is a Canadian band. Even our collective religious experience is being out-sourced.

4. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel)
Occasionally I feel like I'm losing touch with reality and that makes me uncomfortable because it puts me at odds with the rat race I've entered into. Listening to this album reminds me that some of the most beautiful and touching things in life happen in day-dreams, memories shaped by nostalgia and not at all. I'll take beauty over comfort anytime.

5. From Here to Infirmary (Alkaline Trio)
The next time self-loathing creeps in, give this album a listen; it'll do it way better than you. Promise.

6. The Sunlandic Twins (Of Montreal)
If this album had a time equivalent, it would be a Sunday morning. It's airy, it's refreshing, it's easy and it sounds so celestial and weepy you realize you're actually worshipping.

7. Pet Sounds (The Beach Boys)
Sometimes I get to thinking that my experience is unique, never faced by another human (this can be both negative and positive). Pet Sounds undertakes the universal human themes of love, joy, jealousy, alienation, and quest for meaning. And all in a pop album. Suck it Shakespeare.
8. For Emma, Forever Ago (Bon Iver)
All I have are my intuitive impressions, and for some reason this album reminds me of a single day. Any day, where a number of things could happen and they do and all the emotions I experience. It's vivid and blurry at once. And I don't care if that makes sense.

9. The Crane Wife (The Decemberists)
According to the internets there are alot of literary themes and history that inspired this album, but that's not really relevant to me. What is relevant is how I connect to it, and I don't need the internets to tell me it's brilliant, it's crisp, and for all those themes and history, it's lonely. And that's tragic (in a way only make-believe and interpreted past can be).

10. Give Up (The Postal Service)
I'm a sucker for things that don't belong together being together.* Give Up is like a Frank Gehry building (which building, any building, just pick one, they're all nightmares) in a good way. Manufactured pop beats, bleeps, and repetitions weaved with the sincerest of words I've ever heard about romantic relationships. It's absurd and I love it.
(*Except in architecture. Buildings are meant for people to live, work and play in. They aren't meant to make some grandiose, self-indulgent, "I'm a rock star" statement. And yes, I abhor Frank Gehry, if you couldn't tell.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Top Ten Favorite Websites

Why?: Great website for finding what’s shakin’ in the Bay area.

Why?: Why sort through all the crappy videos yourself when the best are a click away?

Why?: Best planning related website.

Why?: It’s real news, but headlined in a way that almost makes me feign interest in the world around me.

Why?: Feeling less than stellar? This one will turn any frown upside down.

Why?: The website of one of my fav mags—reuse your shiz and make it look cool!


Why?: So, so, so true...

Why?: My favorite fatalistic social commentator.

Why?: It seems wrong that I should like this website so much, but I’ve never been one to let my conscience stand between me and mass quantities of wasted leisure time.

Why?: I loves me some fake news…

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Top Ten Favorite Cities

My travels are limited (the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Italy), but thus far, these are my favorite cities, and why:
1. Portland, OR (Pioneer Courthouse Square and pretty much everything else)

2. Denver, CO (16th Street Mall and LoDo)

3. Venice, Italy (No cars!!!! A total dream for me)

4. Seattle, WA (Love everything, except the perpetual drizzle)

5. Savannah, GA (Public squares everywhere, oh and a cool cemetery)

6. Charleston, SC (Great downtown--shoppes, restaurants, historic buildings, homes)

7. St. Augustine, FL (Narrow, winding streets)

8. Charlottesville, VA (UVA campus, history, architecture, site planning by Jefferson)

9. Richmond, VA (Hmm, okay, pretty much just Bill's BBQ)

10. St. Petersburg, FL (Some great architecture, brick roads, and pink streets--that's right, pink streets!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Parking Lot as Civic Space: The Collapse of the Public Realm

Admittedly I've been witness to a number of disturbing trends recently, including (but not limited to) beautiful people wearing trucker hats, sporting the porn stache, and wearing mom-jeans; and all irony free, beautiful people mean business. Who needs irony with cheekbones like that?

But in seriousness, I can handle the cosmetic crap. A far more grave, sinister, black, horrid threat exists (and if I can accurately be labeled as anything, it's an alarmist). Ask yourself these questions:

Where were you the last time you bought a box of girl scout cookies? Were solicited for spare change? Were approached by a Mormon missionary?

If you were me your answer to all three would be "a parking lot." What the hell happened to the street, the park, the square as civic space humans were welcome to inhabit? Oh dear, the end is near. Plug it in, pack it up. What would you do for a Klondike Bar? Stop using your car and start using intuition?

Some days this whole arrangement is just exhausting. Two weeks ago I was asked for spare change twice in one day, in different parking lots. The guy in the morning got the shaft--I only had 15 cents in cash; the guy in the evening did much better--I'd made change at the post office and had five bucks. He was carrying a toddler--whether for real or a prop doesn't matter.

What does matter is the disconnect between fellow citizens--our public forum consists of bitumen, line striping reflective chemicals, wheel stops and towing signs, motorized vehicles, shopping carts complete with dispatch and holding cells, the guy in the orange vest, cameras may be monitoring this property for your protection, landscaped mulch islands teaming with empty miller high life and big gulps, with pigeons and seagulls there to dine. Country meets city, ah, the good life. We're all so deserving.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Top Ten Shows I've Attended

The Format is as Follows: Band(s), Location, Date, Reason (Enjoy!)

10. The Descendents, Portland, April 1997, I want to be stereotyped!

9. The Skatalites w/ the Toasters and the Mad Caddies, Portland, September 1997, Appetizer: ska, Main course: ska, dessert: ska.

8. The Bouncing Souls w/ Flogging Molly, Seattle, November 2001, Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole! (With some bagpipes on top).

7. The Specials w/ Buck-O-Nine, Portland, June 1996, At the time, my two absolute favorite bands.

6. Of Montreal w/ The Fiery Furnaces, Ybor City, December 2008, Music + theatrics = Now that's entertainment.

5. Sonic Youth w/ The Amps and Bikini Kill, Portland, November 1995, Again--Kim Deal (plus, Sonic Youth had my ears bleeding from the feedback by the end--an early Christmas gift for any 15-year-old).

4. Rancid w/ AFI and The Distillers Salt Lake City, Spring 2001, Cruise Control!

3. The Stokes w/ Hello Amsterdam, Salt Lake City, September 2006, Completely flawless.

2. The Faint w/The Show is the Rainbow, St. Petersburg, October 2008, Amazing energy--danced the night away.

1. The Breeders w/ Lutefisk and Paleface, Portland, May 1997, I love Kim Deal!

The Top Ten

I'm horrible at this blogging thing, so instead I've decided to just make top ten lists. I was never adept at keeping a diary either, so this could have been predicted.