Daniel Rossen, Justin Vernon and Robin Pecknold. In a room. At once. Would be so awesome.
I’m getting chills thinking about it.
Things could be going a little better. I’ve got a cough that would get an elephant seal sexually attracted to me. I’ve got a fever (and the only cure is fever medicine!). I’ve just opened my first professional theater production, which I’m confident would have gone WONDERFULLY as opposed to just “fine” if it weren’t for this damned viral vagrant. I’m also supposed to be moving. Heh.
But it’s precisely times like these that I feel like I gotta buck the system somehow, man. And maybe it’s just the fact that I’m hopped up on fever meds, but I have an unshakable DESIRE to write about how I think my life should be run, in comparison to the spiralling out of control that it tends to in times like these. I haven’t taken proper care of myself in five years. Yep, ever since high school. Not just that, I haven’t lived life. I’ve gotten close! But it was not nearly as often as I’d liked it to be.
This is a photo from a day in which I lived life. I want to use it, hold it to myself as a paragon of living. I am happy to say there have been many days in which I’ve been alive. In fact, there were at least four or five days this last year where I started to get my shit together, and had the best days of my life. Yes. So, then, my brand-spanking-new-acetaminophen-induced goal for life is:
HAVE MORE FUCKING BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE.
I mean, Jesus Chocolate Christ, what’s the significance of anything in our short lives if we don’t do anything about it?
Fuck you, illness. There’s no time for you. I’m going to EAT awesome shit like fruit and oatmeal and salad every day because it’s fresh and you can’t do anything to stop it. I’m going to actually go the gym (correction: run on the grass and do core workouts) and get my body to be an actual body, not a paper one that might blow away with one of my devilish coughs.
Fuck you, idleness. There’s no time for you either. If I’ve learned one thing from Berkeley, it’s that life is about EXPERIENCES, not some obscure product that only leaves you wanting more product. Some written goal or signpost of “success”. Took me long enough to figure that out. I need to get off my ass. I’m a writer and yet I haven’t written all that much.
Fuck you, fear. I do this a lot. It’s borderline pathological how much I worry about NOTHING. Anxiety, panic, stress, all that. I think my life is VERY RARE AND GOOD and should be celebrated everyday. Every small thing; every brownie, every squirrel, every San Francisco evening with the air full of crispness and city sounds, every tree, hill and glade, every awesome band, every everything.
Fuck you, doubt. I did a handstand & flip underwater for the first time in my life last week. A very delayed childhood, I know ( I didn’t know how to swim until a very intimidating 7th-grade teacher with a quota). How’d I finally do it? I pretended Charlize Theron was trapped in an underwater vault and I had to get my hands on it to save her. No, but really, I pulverized doubt from my frame of mind. I could do this so much more often, to so many more things in so many more instances. I’m going to Harvard to act, and will be continuously away from home & focused on one thing more than I ever have been. There are no excuses.
I want a beach, a mountain, a forest, something natural and something good. An acoustic guitar, someone to fool around with, somewhere to swim, and somewhere to camp. I want to watch all of the shit I haven’t watched, and listen to new stuff every day. And cook — start cooking stuff. And do this more often — write to fuck the world.
Ah. Tiredness is kicking in. Guess I will stop now. Thank you drugs for making this possible.
“WILL TRADE MASSAGE FOR DINNER W/ YOU.”
I had a fleeting image of taking a cute hipster homeless girl (with plaid, bangs and lovely eyes) out to dinner and then talking about life & existence while she gives me a candlelight back massage (I love massages) in my house, which may lead to something else, out of her immense gratitude and obvious attraction to my charming & intelligent demeanor.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t being held by a cute hipster homeless girl with plaid, bangs and lovely eyes, with a penchant for back massages and gratitude.
Rather, it was lying on the sidewalk, abandoned.
That’s sad, folks.
I sit at the counter with a burger. MAN sits next to me and sees the burger.
MAN (laughing): Hungry?
MAN: That’s great. You go for it.
ME: Oh yeah.
MAN: It’s the best when you’re hungry.
MAN: That’s when food tastes best. When I’m hungry — feed me!
MAN proceeds to read an issue of the New Yorker, and takes a drink from a bottle of mouthwash.
Time to buy clothes for Massachussetts weather, because I’m going to Harvard/ART’s Acting MFA! I have signed myself away for the next two years and I’m very excited.
And, in commemoration of National Poetry Month, I’ve decided to put up the poetry I’ve been writing. You don’t have to be kind if you don’t want — my poems are not my babies; rather, they’re my rebellious teenagers. And can use work.
Things You Should Know About My Daughter Before Marrying Her
Things You Should Know About My Daughter Before Marrying Her
Senior year in college
she only returned once
went out on the balcony at three in the morning
attached to a cigarette
staring down trees in the backyard
like a decaying garden statue
I didn’t disturb her
In high school
She came downstairs one morning
rubbing her eyes
her skirt a folded curtain, swinging between her legs
and, sniffling over her cereal, said she would
never date again
she nearly drowned while fishing
I huddled her in my arms
by the fire in the lodge and her cold algae-covered
hair stuck to me, body slippery
like a tuna against my skin
When she was four
she saw a snail on the sidewalk
after the rain
With the vigor and innocence of curiosity she took it
and peeled its shell off its
body, fresh and wet
Only after realizing it was dead
did she moan with grief and run to her parents
She was born two weeks early
She didn’t cry, but lay in the nurse’s arms
puckering her lips complacently
a tomato on the vine of her mother’s umbilical cord
Well, my aforementioned attempt to be Don Draper is being met with limited success. Probably because I’m still working on holding my liquor (drinking almost every night for the past three weeks is helping though), and I don’t smoke with any regularity, and, let’s face it, I simply haven’t even caught up with all the episodes.
Friend: “You want to be Don Draper?”
Friend: “Cool. Did you see the last episode of Mad Men?”
Friend: “…What kind of Mad Men fanatic are you?”
(cue judgment from Friend)
Anyway — sound the alarm! I am kicking off my thesis project production of quasi-epic proportions next week! I am adapting the poetry of Sir Robert Hass (title added by me, because Anglicising things is always classy) to the stage. I have talked to Professor Hass and he is, fortunately, very supportive of the endeavor. No crazy artistic ownership here (imagine if I tried to adapt Beckett, only to be subsequently sued by his estate and murdered by his ghost!) In the words of an interviewer I read, talking to Hass is like being in a Hass poem. Another instance, friends, of life imitating art.
My roommate is serving as my co-director, and has a concise and discerning eye that will certainly keep me in check, keeping the production from turning into the fire-breathing, nude tiger-riding spectacular I had been originally envisioning on the stage. We have productive conversations about the project like these:
Me: “We need to market this show to as many audiences as possible.”
Roommate: “I agree.”
Me: “Poetry is…….life. It is what we live on. People need it on stage, like they need fresh air to breathe. Poetry…..must be staged. It’s human.”
Roommate: “That sounds nothing like Don Draper.”
At least I apparently do a pretty good Gob impression from Its Holiness Arrested Development.
When the going gets tough, act like Don Draper. Cool, enigmatic.
Things are actually coming together as much as they are falling apart, but that’s the way life goes, isn’t it?
SOME ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS YEAR
1. Doing well in an unhealthy amount of classes.
2. Learning how to walk on stilts, and better yet, drink champagne at a holiday party and play ping-pong on such stilts.
3. Hosting some really awesome chill-out sessions / theme parties at my and my roommates’ place.
4. Forming a band with my roommate, finally.
5. I went to Europe (look at my previous posts for one-hundred-percent verifiable evidence).
THINGS THAT CAME WITH THESE ACCOMPLISHMENTS
1. Being unhealthy due to an unhealthy amount of classes. (On the bright side, I’ve met some very kind doctors!)
2. It’s only a matter of time before it escalates to getting wasted at a frat party and playing extreme fire-rugby on stilts.
3. Our apartment gets so hot that the windows fog up and people do things. Also, there was this one douchebag who I wanted to do very bad things to. Like drop a toilet over his head. Or spread a rumor that he has a small penis. Or tie him up and force him to listen to Nickelback until he cries for mercy.
4. Our band, while receiving its moments of encouragement, has had some rocky public starts. For instance, me Asian-glowing (because my alcohol enzymes are from THE DEVIL) during our first gig at a work party. Or, playing our first song which we had written the day before, utterly unprepared and messing up every ten seconds. And me awkwardly cracking jokes that don’t land as jokes because I’m getting over shaking so hard that I’d almost dropped my pick when a guy in the audience had yelled, “you know, you could play guitar louder.”
5. I’m broke and in debt from Europe. As tends to happen when a college student goes to Europe.
SPEAKING OF WHICH, I’m not going to be in college at this point next year. In fact, I don’t know where I will be or what the hell I will be doing. Yes, I have “plans” — I’m applying to things and (ideally) working — but that is an insane amount of possibility there. My current best option is to take a time travel machine, a pill that turns me into a handsome(r) rich white man who lives in the fifties, with a hidden past and an alluring demeanor, and BE DON DRAPER IN MAD MEN. Yeah can I have that one for Christmas thanks.
I think the Hipster Photo of the Day (because I obviously update this thing on a daily basis) might make an appropriate indie album cover for something. It’s got all the necessary elements: asymmetry, a dilapidated wall of some sort, a plumbing fixture outside its normal location, and of course general apathy. The less interested the people are in being in the picture, the better! The guy on the left looks like a douche, though. (Aren’t they all?)
Anyway, my roommate and I have finally “started” what we would like to call a “band”, or shall I even venture to say, an “indie band”. It only took us a year and a half of living together to do it! But, in order to launch ourselves into the wonderful world of obscurity and taste-setting, there are many steps I’ve identified to take — some of which we’ve started:
1. PICK A NAME
This is tough. More names are taken than one realizes. We went through about five possibilities that we could not choose because they were, for some absurd reason, already taken (“The Queen’s Gambit”? Really? Come on.) After going through mythology, pop culture, astrophysics, and us staring at random objects in the room and naming them, we arrived on a method that seemed to yield fruitful results:
— Animal names.
Think about it: this is common (Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective, Panda Bear, Arctic Monkeys, Grizzly Bear, Department of Eagles, please nobody talk about Owl City) — and I’ve just found this nifty site devoted to bandimals: animalbandnames.com.
And thus: Northern Wolves. Very surprised it wasn’t taken. I like it; it’s rugged but also pensive. And has nothing to do with the music - isn’t that the way it works?
Or, lack thereof. I think for it to be “indie”, it should have a genre whose name takes longer than five seconds to say.
For instance, our intended market: electro-indie-folk-acoustic-jazz-rock inspired by Indian classical and retro harmonies.
3. WRITE SONGS
Hm. Started on this. We’ll get around to it. Inspiration for songs could come from nature, love, sex, but the lyrics must be enigmatic to some extent. Otherwise everyone will “understand” what your band’s all about and say “oh, Northern Wolves, the band with all the whiny breakup songs?”. Mistake one — if you want to use the opposite sex as inspiration, you’ve got to be extra careful to make it either apathetic or ironic! If it’s earnest, you run the risk of making people think you actually mean what you’re saying. And if you have a whiny voice, you must wryly comment on it through a sense of self-awareness. Of course, the best lyrics don’t make sense at all. Then people will spend generations trying to understand what you’re saying and that puts you on a pedestal.
There are many methods of writing songs: tragic experiences, drugs, dreams, drug-induced dreams, girls, um….yes, like I said, many.
One time I stumbled into my apartment, drunk, and burst out liquid gold from my fingers on my piano for ten minutes straight. So, yes kids, DRINK AND PLAY.
4. RECORD SONGS
Lower quality = better! Spotless sound booth in a big studio < stuffy living room with towels draped over the microphone, and someone clinking dishes in the apartment next door.
5. KNOW PEOPLE
We don’t. Skip.
6. PERFORM SONGS
Ah— Well, we’ve played at parties. In our house.
The best thing to do is to get a nice shaky video camera and get recorded walking down the street in some city or rustic location, a la La Blogotheque (http://www.blogotheque.net/-Concerts-a-emporter-?lang=en). By the way, French names, references to France, French accents, etc. = GOOD.
7. KNOW HOW TO TALK ABOUT YOUR BAND
“So, my roommate and I started a band.”
“Oh, cool. What’s it called?”
“Northern Wolves.” (smiles proudly)
“Uh. Okay, interesting. What kind of music do you play?”
“We’re leaning toward electro-indie-folk-acoustic-jazz-rock inspired by Indian classical and retro harmonies. But we might eventually venture into club music.”
“Wow. That’s a lot. Do you have an album?”
“Do you record stuff?”
“Well, not quite.”
“Have you performed?”
That’s when the DJ cues Flight of the Conchords’ “Foux du Fafa” to ease the awkwardness.
I feel much better that this post is late, because I’m justifying its timing to yesterday’s World Cup final, which I watched at a local pub in Cambridge (where I am now). But for today, a sonnet devoted to Amsterdam, in honor of my stay there, and to lament its loss to the country I had arrived there from.
O Amsterdam! The land where I did bike
Of all your beauteous blue canals I sing
In shops of smoke and lights of red I like
To savor in the pleasures that they bring.
Of hutspot, kunst and bier what can I say?
The culture of the Dutch I savored when
Amongst the crowds along great Rokin way
I drowned my hopes and joys with Heineken.
To all ye folks of orange-clad good cheer:
Do not despair, and stifle all your cries
The Cup will come for you another year
So wipe the tears that fall from your blue eyes.
Just hearken back to times of trade so grand
And never lose the cry of “Hup, Holland!”
My high school Spanish is really coming back to me, only because I’ve been speaking it exclusively for the past week. Thank you, high school Spanish, for providing me with a valuable outlet for something I thought I would never need to use.
Las Palmas is the main city on Gran Canaria, an island of the Canary Islands, which, although part of Spain, are geographically right next to Africa. The climate is similar to California’s — although you won’t see as many pechos on the beach in LA compared to, say, La Playa Ingles in southern G.C.
There are loads of activities in Las Palmas. During my stay of a few days, I slept with multiple women in one night (Isabella, Maria, Cristina — you know who you are!), dealt some sweet party drugs with Ricardo, camped for 24 hours in the middle of the desert with only a bag of nuts and my ipod touch to keep me alive, and stayed up late watching police dramas in my aunt’s house. **Only one of the above actually happened. If you can guess which one it is, I won’t be impressed. Just ask Maria about it.
In Madrid, I stayed with my friend who investigates homicides for the police (just like in the police dramas!) He always carries a gun, and can park anywhere-the-hell he wants, as long as he places his siren and police clipboard on the dashboard. And he can get through traffic by putting such siren on top of his car and turning it on. — I’m thinking about a change of career now. I mean, come on. No more people allowed in the club? Flash my badge and it’s all good. Don’t want to come home with me? What’s wrong with you? I can freaking drive you back in a POLICE CAR. But really I just want my parking spot.