A List of Nice Things
TEPID APOLOGIA / LIKE WIND / A CLEAN DESK AND A NICE PLAYLIST / SURPRISING UTOPIA IN A STRAIGHT LINE TO CRANSTON / FIRST TIME SINCE PANGEA / ILLEGAL DOWNLOADING / GOOD NEWS FOR ONCE / LINKS
I missed a couple weeks of writing for no real reason beyond "I got hung up", so this week I decided to be a breeze and just focus on a few nice little things I've been enjoying lately. If you visited in the past two weeks and found nothing new I apologize but I've decided not to get too twisted up about it. Sometimes these things flow out like melted snow down a mountain stream but sometimes they just soak into the landscape and produce mud. Why get worked up?
Hadaka No Rariizu, or as they're known in the States, Les Rallizes Dénudés, is great music for fall- kind of mournful and searching but also wild, and sometimes as bracing as a strong wind, alternating between tenderness and carelessness. Psychedelic. There aren't a lot of "official" releases from this band, basically everything is a bootleg, which means there's a lot of recordings on YouTube and no one can take them down on a copyright claim. I misread a post the other day and thought it said that bandleader Mizutani died recectly, but then I looked into it and found out that his condition is still the same- completely unknown. Where is he? How's he doing? Is he even still alive? No one knows. I'm not in love with the mystery or anything but it really works with the feeling of the band-- the sounds are being made and then one day everyone just walks away. Links at the bottom of this post.
I'm experimenting with not having tons of shit on my desk all the time and so far it's pretty nice. I can't really say any practical reason for not keeping stacks of papers and small toys on the desk, considering that I only "use" the space around the keyboard and the mouse, but it feels good, like there's space to think. It's good to have a space in your house to pace around and it's nice to have a fairly blank field of woodgrain or whatever for your eye to wander over. Definitely give it a try if you've never done it this way before. Just stack all the shit that's on there now onto some other surface and wash any cups you find.
Sometimes walking around is a bad scene and I get into a circular mind hell thinking about bad stuff. But I don't get that way riding my bike, maybe because it's more dangerous? Lately I've been into this one bike path near my house that's like a warp zone to Cranston. It goes for a long way in what seems like an impossibly straight and fairly level line, due to being built over an abandoned railroad track. That's a perfect situation! I would even call it utopic. I had to ride out to the DMV two weeks ago and it was no problem because of the bike path and on the way home I got a coke float and the teen working at the ice cream place gave me the hook up because I guess I was the weirdest looking person there all day. That's a great feeling. Sadly it seems like the painfully stoned graffitti I'm used to seeing along bike paths is mostly absent from this one-- I guess no one passes the dutchie anymore because of COVID.
1491 by Charles C Mann
I just finished this dynamite book about life in the Americas before Columbus and WOW, what a book! The main riff is that human life in the Americas was much more complicated and populous than is currently accepted, that as much as 95% of the population of the so-called New World was killed by Old World diseases in the time soon after Columbus, and that the landscape was completely different. I just started the follow-up book, 1493, which is more about the incredible aftereffects of the Columbian Exchange, when plants, animals, insects, and disease (and people) started flowing freely across the planet for the first time since Pangea. These books are well-written and Charles C Mann seems like someone you'd enjoy hanging out with, but most importantly these books make good arguments for incredible ideas that significantly altered my worldview. Strongly recommended!
I never got into streaming services because I am extremely cheap, and also because I never got hooked on binge-oriented modern television. I just download everything, it rules. I used to use Pirate Bay, and I'd only download stuff that was at least 12 months old, long enough for any files with malware to get identified by the users and deprioritized. But then Buttcliff (I know him from twitter) sent me an invite to a private bittorrent tracker and I've been using that with no worries. Bittorrent is a peer to peer software so rather than downloading from a single central source you're downloading from a pool of other people that already downloaded it. And the private tracker requires you to upload as much as you download, which is a cool sort of governance and feels good. You could make the argument that illegal downloading deprives creators of income but honestly most creators make jack shit from most streaming services, so you might as well. And it keeps the money away from the middlemen, who are the real demons in this equation and have been since the game began. I download movies and music and sometimes ebooks. If the morality really bothers you then you can download only things you'd never ever pay for, that way the loss to the content creator is an honest zero. I mean if I'd never ever pay to watch Magnum PI (for example) then whether I watch it or not doesn't affect Tom Selleck (for instance) except that probably he'd love it that something he made touched someone's life (I imagine). In any event, it might be illegal but it's definitely not a sin.
There Was A Real "Lord Of The Flies" And It Was Pretty Chill
Something led me to this article in the Guardian from last year, about a group of 6 kids that got marooned on an island for over a year. When I was in 5th grade we read a book about a similar situation, "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding. The story as it was written didn't end so well, and quite frankly it bummed me out. But I'm happy to report that when it happened in real life, everyone was fine. They helped each other and kept their spirits high. Maybe part of it is that instead of being British preppies like in Lord of the Flies they were cool kids that stole a fishing boat from a mean old man to escape their shitty Catholic school. So they were accustomed to taking action, whereas the storybook children were accustomed to following orders. But also part of is that the guy who wrote the pretend book on the subject seems to be a mean old man himself. I wish there was a way to audit how often my mental picture of a scenario was painted by some mean old man that delighted in cruelty. But I guess I'll have to go case by case. In any event, the real-life Lord Of The Flies was no picnic but they stayed alive, they stayed friends, and in an absence of hierarchy they did great.
Links / Misc
Like I said, there's a fair amount of Les Rallizes Dénudés videos online, they all vary in audio quality. Here's a surprisingly good and rare live video, as good a place to start as any: [youtube], and here's a nice "Studio and soundboard" collection from 69-75: [youtube]. Jaan's favorite is Cable Hogue Soundtrack- [youtube].
Here's that Guardian article on the real Lord of the Flies- [link].
"sorry baby I got hung up" is via "How To Speak Hip" by Del Close & John Brent: [youtube]. This is probably the best Beatsploitation media object, and has some good and helpful riffs about security culture in the underground, cracking your brains, and having Things in your Pad.
as far as downloading, one tool I use all the time is youtube-dl, to download videos from youtube. Mainly I use it to download music from youtube and save it as an mp3, discarding the video content. It's a command line program, and if you've never run a program from the command line this is a great one to start with. download / more info here: [link]