Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Newsflash: How You Feel Is Important

By: Ben Johnson

If you want to see the internet devolve into the internet, one of the many places you can do this is right here on this website, in the comments section of a post we just ran in which a person from a band said a thing about the band and then people... Jesus. I am not even. I don't. I can't.

I mean, we all know about the comments section. How it is the worst place, physical or otherwise, in the universe. It is worse than spending a weekend at your Great Aunt Esther's house in Fort Myers, Florida. It is worse than the instant you know for a fact that you are going to puke and there isn't anything you can do about it. It's worse than war and famine and senseless death, because at least those things have stakes, and therefore tend not to be boring. It is the worst. The comments section is the worst. We all know this.

But this comments section is the best kind of a comments section, and that's one where somebody writes or does something, and then other people feel a need to express their disagreement with that thing rather than moving on with their lives, and then the original person COMES BACK into the comment section and actually has a dialogue with these people. That is the best kind of a comment section. That's probably what people had in mind when they invented comments sections. "Oh, we can, like, talk to people about what we just said, and this process will enrich us somehow," these people thought, while ignoring the far more likely possibility, given human nature, of "this will be a great opportunity for random stupid talentless piece of shit strangers to call me a stupid talentless piece of shit."

I've been thinking recently about my own life and how it relates to the whole saga of that particular blog post and comments section. It's about Foxygen (a band)(they sound like a more twee version of Jacco Gardner)(sort of a retro 60's sunshine pop thing) and a person in that band who apparently thinks the people in that band are acting like assholes, (stop the presses: musicians are acting like assholes for no reason because they're musicians who can't communicate to other humans without a guitar), and she is sick of it, and also her best friend died so she's especially vulnerable, and therefore probably more sensitive than usual to people doing things that are assholish, and maybe because she is feeling this way she is also a little more prone than usual to her own displays of assholedom, because that is a way people sometimes deal with stress. Just a little conjecture on my part about what's going down. Based on experience.

Fact: right now the deal with that band, Foxygen, which who cares but it's making me think about other things I do care about, is it's a big melodramatic fucking mess, and it's impossible to know who exactly is being the worst asshole, but it sure seems like nobody feels good. From what I've learned about myself through a pretty fucking rocky journey into my mid-30's, that's really the important thing.

Put that in a press release: nobody in the band Foxygen feels good right now.

Also, probably: nobody feels good right now if what they're doing at the moment is participating in a comments section about how much somebody should be to blame for nobody feeling good in a particular band.

Actually: pretty much anybody saying anything ever is actually saying "I don't feel good." When you feel totally good, you usually don't say anything.

I was reminded of this recently when Jim DeRogatis of NPR's Sound Opinions gave a pretty solid thumbs down to the idea of the Pitchfork Festival (I agree) because, among other reasons, of his moral objections to R. Kelly (I think there are other better reasons not to like the Pitchfork Fest than the R. Kelly booking). Then Drew Millard at NOISEY (who pops up, tangentially, again--he also first posted that Foxygen thing--he's been doing a great job of inserting himself into banal music biz kerfuffles, which is actually a compliment, because that's his job) wrote a reaction piece to the DeRogatis thing. Then there was a twitter back-n-forth between Jessica Hopper and DeRogatis about it. It was... I mean, is anybody still reading this? I feel like a different person now after just having written this paragraph.

What struck me about THAT whole thing is how strong an urge I had to join the conversation. It's an interesting conversation, how much one can or should separate the art from the artist, but it doesn't actually fucking matter even a little bit. You could say "it matters a lot to those poor girls R. Kelly abused who have to sit back and watch while their assailant gets to still be celebrated and famous," but then you're in a position of talking yourself out of enjoying things, and R. Kelly is probably as unhappy a person as his victims are and... oh shit, I'm doing it. I'm joining the conversation. Oh shit.

It's an interesting conversation, I'd like to think I'm an interesting person, maybe I can add something that will be interesting. I should. That's what I should do. I've got to. If I don't, everybody will know I'm not interesting. Oh shit oh shit oh shit. I've got to join this conversation. I have thoughts. I've got to share my thoughts. Otherwise why bother having thoughts. Otherwise what am I but an automatic death machine. This is the mindset of every critic, who are basically a class of professional neurotics separated from the muttering-in-sweatpants-at-the-library set only by a thin veneer of capability. I imagine it's even worse when your livelihood is at stake. 

Critics don't feel good. Not often. They inhabit a world of conversations where all participants don't feel good. And when you live in a world where nobody feels good, you end up trying to decide things and be right about things and figure out who the exact asshole is and by how much, and generally, impossibly, try to define the edges of life's mysteries so they seem more safe because we're all afraid and alone. A happy person just goes "it's a mystery, isn't that great?!" and whistles while sauntering away.

I'm not suggesting that criticism serves no purpose, or that no conversation is worth having. I'm not suggesting that feeling good all the time is an imperative. Who am I, Gene Simmons? Feeling bad is an essential part of the human experience. We need to feel bad. If we didn't feel bad, we'd never learn anything. We're probably not learning anything anyway, but at least with feeling bad we've got a chance.

Here's what I'm saying: the next time you find yourself confronted with somebody being an asshole, or with a conversation you feel a weird sense of duty to join, you could probably be better served by asking yourself how good you feel and, more importantly, how good the other people who are behaving the way they're behaving feel. It's an easy way to slice through the bullshit.

Of course, what do I know? I wrote this. I must have something wrong with me. I definitely have something wrong with me. Please tell me you think I'm smart in the comment section. Throw me a bone. I'm moving in with my girlfriend who I love this week, and it's stressing me out so much I'm basically shitting my intestines out. Change is stressful. Help me out, guys.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2007 Chase Bank Promotion

By: Ben Seeder

Hey. Isn’t it time you got involved with the right bank? Isn’t it time you looked at your assets and then your wife and then your self in the mirror and then your wife again and said “Now is the time!”? Don’t you think it’s time to stop being such a pathetic loser and known clown?

We here at Chase Bank understand you work hard for your money and have a choice in who eats your soul. That’s why we take pride in devouring the souls of millions of young people just like yourself looking to establish financial security in this uncertain economic climate all across the world every single day. Isn’t it time to let your bank finally start working for you?

Well, we’ve listened to you, and we’re here to say the future is now. The two headed dogs, certified goblins and convicted felons at Chase have now devised a way for your bank account to serve you even better. We now offer an exciting new service where we’ll text you after literally every purchase made with your Chase Rewards Debit card.

You know that $24 you just spent on bourbon? Or that $80 you spent on Melvins posters off the internet because you’re a fucking ignoramus? Chase knows all about it and not only are we not mad, we’re more than happy to text you with your new account balance right after it happens. We have no problems interrupting your Sunday to let you know how much actual money you now currently possess to your name.

Or perhaps you’d like an account to remind you of how anti­climactic your weekend was? Or how that one girl was totally insane and a complete waste of time? Or how you live in a prison of your own mind? Well, let’s just say we’re working on it. Chase is even happy to take time out of its busy schedule to contact your parents ahead of time to request more money. It really wouldn’t be a big deal at all, and besides, it’s what we do!

You’re certainly free to consider keeping your money in another bank, as you seem like the kind of individual who enjoys outrageous ATM fees and vast stretches of wilderness between bank locations. So really, by all means, choose what is best for you as a person. We wouldn’t have it any other way. The last thing Chase is interested in is stripping you of your individuality before we so flippantly consume your soul, which, when you think about it, is really more of a “when” then an “if”, don’t you think? Why must you insist on prolonging this laughable game of cat and mouse? Well, whatever you say.

In the dead of night while all God fearing people sleep soundly in their beds, we here at Chase eat entire chickens and review your account to determine that it will be in everyone’s best interest if we apply further fees and penalties you could never understand and will find impossible to escape based on your prior history of overdrawn accounts, complete lack of confidence and general tom foolery. After all... it’s you, you’re an asshole and not to be trusted.

But we’re getting off course. Some of you out there may occasionally say things to yourself or others like “Wait a second, it feels like my bank is robbing me!”. Well, while you’re busy calling us bastards, consider this, it costs Chase $350 a year simply for you to even have the checking account you abuse so negligently. Are you aware of this? It’s true. Ask around. Chase thinks that’s something you should consider more often. Don’t fall all over yourself thanking us or anything, we’re happy to provide it.

We here at Chase would like to remind you that we are the United States and the rest of you are just visiting. You see, at Chase we’re fueled by the mass gobbling of souls, without which we would simply implode and melt not entirely unlike the Wicked Witch of the West, but messier and far more disturbing. It’s a good thing we’re geniuses at it and love doing it.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your consideration, and let you know that we sincerely look forward to devouring your soul.

Chase proudly supports Duke basketball.

Internet Runs Out of News, Posts Girl's Blog Post (OR) Elizabeth Fey's Response to the Foxygen Shit Storm

A few years ago I lived the hardest six months of my life (so far) in Olympia, Washington and Elizabeth Fey was my only friend. I had moved from New York to Olympia to work as the head of publicity for K Records, and shortly after settling in Elizabeth came on as an intern. She and I became friendly right away, primarily because she was funny, warm, creative, and intelligent - but also because she wasn't an asshole, and the entire rest of the town was populated with big stinky ones. During our brief, but memorable time together at K Records, Elizabeth and I would exchange our war stories about the various ways we were being horrified and shit upon by the town's folk. I remember her telling me a story about going to a dance party at some hole in the wall bar there that Calvin Johnson was DJing, and how she spent her night trying to dance and have fun while a click of girls circled around her like wild dogs, making fun of her appearance, and of her dance moves. There are more stories. Stories about how she got up really early one morning to drive my best friend, who had come to visit me from California, to the airport, how she always stuck up for me, even when the entire town turned against me and was threatening to beat me up for not eating organic or recycling, and how she has tried to stay in touch, to this day, even though I'm basically just another asshole in her life who hasn't done much to deserve her kindness. 

A week or so ago Elizabeth shared a blog post with me that has now been hacked up and re-posted by Stereogum, Pigeons & Planes, Pitchfork, NME, Clash Music, Spin, Brooklyn Vegan, Paste, and I'm sure many more. I can't speak for what these other writers got out of her post, other than traffic hits and content that they didn't need to fart out of the fart factory that day, but what I got from her post is that it's hard to go from being a small town girl making music in her bedroom because she's good at it and it's what she loves doing, to being in a well known band with her boyfriend and having the other people involved in the band treat her like shit. That seems like a pretty normal thing to feel. That seems like a pretty normal thing to write about in a blog post. What isn't "normal" is reading someone's public thoughts on a private matter and thinking "well this girl is an attention seeking whore who is clearly trying to break up this brilliant band that no one gave a shit about a year ago." Don't get me wrong, Foxygen is a good band, but when the internet is freaking out about another new band, and no one is tip tapping away on their laptops about them anymore, or having Twitter fights about who in the band is fucking who, and why, Elizabeth Fey will be out there doing something okay and being okay. She was okay then when people were dicks to her, and she's okay now. What Elizabeth has taken away from this, and what we can all see as the moral of the story, is that the world will allow you to be a girl, a girl who makes music, a girl who makes music in a famous band, a girl who makes music in a famous band that her boyfriend is also in, or a girl who makes music in a famous band that her boyfriend is also in - resulting in problems sometimes, but you can't have it all. You can't be all of those things. Band or no band, what the internet (world) has been telling Elizabeth these past few weeks, and what it's been telling creative women since the beginning of time, is something along the lines of "shut up and look pretty." But Elizabeth isn't going to shut up, because like Yoko Ono, who she's been compared to recently, her big mouth is her biggest asset, and if it upsets you, that's your problem, not hers. 

I asked Elizabeth to write a response to the recent Foxygen shitstorm, and this is what she had to say:

"Last time I checked, writing about one’s personal experience on tour was an acceptable thing to do. I’ve had a Tumblr for three years that I update every other day documenting my life. It just so happens that this year my life became a little more public. I don't consider it "airing my dirty laundry." It's what writers do, they write about their life.  I felt the need to express myself and how I was treated in Foxygen because there was no accountability for anything and it annoyed me. It annoyed me to read everywhere that the lead singer Sam France is “crazy” a “drug addict” and an “asshole” when in reality none of those things are true. Illusion is the favorite tool of the media when it comes to painting a picture of something and how they would like it to look. My intentions were never to have my blog post on Pitchfork or Spin, I just wrote it on my Tumblr and I honestly thought those websites had other things to worry about. What bothers me the most is how my words were spun way out of context. Never once did I say that Foxygen was breaking up, I just confirmed what other people had already been writing, that there was tension on stage. I didn’t go straight to my keyboard after the shit hit the fan, after I found out all the mean things Rado had said about me, instead I sat around for four months and thought about it. I said goodbye to Sam as he left on the first tour without me in months and continued playing with my own band. Sam was upset that Rado still wouldn’t talk to me and asked him just one favor, to please, give me a call. Sam and I are musical partners too who live together so I felt like Rado was putting Sam in a really uncomfortable position by alienating his girlfriend.  I’m not perfect by any means. I can be loud and restless in my own band Meowtain but I really turned all of that off in Foxygen and played the part of the background vocalist/tambourine player/keyboard player.   

After receiving dozens of nasty anonymous messages via Tumblr and message boards I thought to myself, was what I said really that bad? I thought I had written how I felt in a respectful way and tried not to use words that really cut people to shreds. I reread what I posted and felt that it wasn’t as dramatic as the media had played it out to be. NOTHING I said was hateful. Most of it was about how I met Sam France, my experience going on tour to Europe and across the country for the first time and losing my best friend simultaneously. It’s easy for media sites to cut out one part of my blog post “We are starting a new band” and turn it into a story about how Foxygen is breaking up. I mean isn’t Rado starting a new band? His solo album is coming out in a few months. How about you focus on that when you say that Foxygen is breaking up. Foxygen was dysfunctional way before I joined the group.

 Comments I’ve received have been from I am a nasty cunt, a groupie, and desperate for attention. The bassist from Unknown Mortal Orchestra even chimed in his with thoughts telling me: “I’m gross and just want to tag along, that it’s a long ride to the top when your songs suck.” I never said I wanted to be at the top, I write music for myself, I don’t care if people think my songs are good. I was just expressing how I felt disrespected in Foxygen. I have played music with enough people to know when someone is disrespecting me or not and yes it did feel like sexism when Rado refused to let me play guitar on ONE song but has let Joe Hein play guitar on most songs on this current tour despite that he barely knows the songs and is just noodling.  Other people have said I am hiding behind “feminism” and using that to justify my “immature” behavior. I am not hiding behind anything, I am just putting my side out for people to read because everyone’s side of the story matters and most of the time people don’t know what really goes on behind closed doors. I’m not looking for attention, I’m speaking out for myself and for other people who have been ignored, walked over, and thrown to the side like a piece of trash. I don’t appreciate people telling me I must not love Sam France because of my blog post when Sam France doesn’t care about my blog post, he cares more about how badly I was treated. Maybe if they had been a little bit nicer or respectful to me I wouldn’t have had to write my feelings on the internet.  My blog post said nothing bad about Sam France, just about my feelings on Rado and Shaun, who I spent several months with in a van for countless hours. It was about how grueling it was to be in a band with so much hype and not much support from the members when I was going through a traumatic time. It’s not everyday your best friend drops dead at 23 from an asthma attack.

 Who is anyone to judge my character? They didn't walk in my body in my shoes and tour with a bunch of guys they barely knew. What is so wrong with posting ones feelings on the internet? It is actually a privilege that we live in a day and age where an average person can be heard because they can write something online. It was not for self promotion, it was for myself. it was because I FELT FUCKED OVER AND WANTED TO WRITE ABOUT IT. I DIDN'T KNOW THAT WAS SUCH A CRIME. What is childish AND selfish is Rado blaming one person for everything and never being able to talk to me about so his called problems with me like a man. Instead, bandmates threw it all on Sam France and expected him to deal with it. I was a part of the band for seven months and Rado never once could talk to me or have a back bone to tell me his own problems. That is childish. What is selfish is to expect the lead singer and the song writer of the band, Sam France, to be okay with Rados immature actions. Misogyny does have something to do with this because the backlash I am getting for expressing my annoyance with Rado has yielded people calling me a tag along desperate for attention groupie CUNT. Let me say, I was asked by Sam France to join the band and didn’t even know what it was before I met him. I am getting blamed for the so called problems in the band that were around before I even joined. Even if Foxygen does break up, it really shouldn’t have anything to do with me, I was just the tambourine player/back ground vocalist/sometimes keyboard player who was just there to add to the sound and support Sam. When I was on tour with them Sam was never climbing the rafters or hurting himself. Maybe Rado thought he never had to talk to me about anything because to him I was “nothing, no one special” someone he could just ignore and pretend didn’t exist. But I do exist. I met my boyfriend Sam France because I agreed to do the San Francisco video. If Rado used a little more tact, he could have tried to preserve whatever relationship we had for the sake of Sam France who is sadly in the middle of all this. I support him regardless but find it unfair how he has treated both of us. Is this the fear that society wants to generate? That if a woman writes about her experience about someone somewhat famous in a not completely positive light that she will just be called an attention-craving groupie? Just a dumb girl Sam sleeps with? If I really was that I would have been trying to social climb the whole time I was touring, but my mind would never work that way, I was there for the music. It’s always about the music."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Roaring Plenties by Katie Heindl

I turn back and see you bobbing in the lake, the sky is pink and the water’s gone silver and something thuds up hard against a wall of my animal heart and goes still. We know ourselves to be savage, I can see the recognition in you of kind, I understand the stirring quality of kinetic triggers or just what comes after 30 beers. The rare moments you realize that everything is happening exactly as it should, roaming out in front of you and coming back in lazy circles before tearing out again on legs taking warm communion with the ground, tetherless. Our hectares are sparks, vibrating colours, your whole body a turnstile stuck with us in the middle, the plexiglass shuddering to know what it's got. You hold me to the hot water vent in the pool, handing me a Roman candle, cupping my chattering mouth and lighting the thing. The gun powder comes down around me settling soft in the chlorine and you tell me to wait there you're getting me out and pull me dripping into a towel then your duvet and then I’m lying on your living room floor wrapped in it, soaked. You hand me the Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band ‘Night Moves’ album and I draw his face on your chest, dripping water all over you. These bursts, stuff as natural as milk teeth, eyeing sideways your greens go into my blues making weird lagoons. Your breath was rampant and mine quit. Standing smirking with an armful of OV bottles, you eyed me from the floor and Billy Joel came from fucking everywhere.

The resilience of your body and how you come to know it, rolling over the hoods of cars and flinging it off the sides of boats into water so cold it shocks your breath from you in clenched up fists, pummelling your back. With all the skin and blood that goes from you into the world you find new ways to grow, outward, skinned open and made wide to the whole world maybe but you feel the power in you keening through pain. And you share your body, that’s what it’s made for. All your native crooks and angles plus the ones the world makes, you fling them around your betters and feel the worse lessen. We burn up, our skin sloughs off, we take mouthfuls of each other, we laugh and choke and sputter and taste so much through moans we build in layers into mountains we barrel down on laughter wild and shaking, tearing down the mountains, burying ourselves in the rubble of each other. I told them all: I can’t wait to know you for the rest of our lives. And the weight of this, of all the blood we’ve left to lose, it casts up over us burning and bright and I feel proud for our pain we’re bound to endure with our backs up on each other’s, holding, steady. What will we take? Too much. There’s no doubt. Have you seen our mouths? Great maws wide as the night, open to shadows and all the shit in between, eager as anything. But I’ve felt all our arms and legs with my own dog-hungry hands and their tremors are thunder steady enough to sleep on. “Can you imagine all the things that are going to happen to us?” I’d asked him, years back, before I even got run-over, “Oh god Katie, I get night terrors already.” You could cast your nets for days, trawl the cold trenches of what’s out in front, but we’ve no idea the depths we’re coming against, broadside. My anchors are blood, theirs and mine and what we’ve mixed up by now, and the holes we’ve made in each other we hold to.

There's a thing to meeting someone in summer. It's loose and it's light and it's all blood, ripe and reeling for the touch. This season feels an effigy, everyone is gathering around you and the light in their eyes is burning you up in flames that lick like the longest days you’d hope for. There ain’t words for how explosive the feeling that comes after cramming the best you’ve got, the best that’ll have you, into one small room again, onto one black roof, where your feet refuse to stay firm on the floor and the bouncing in your body is for how hard you can’t scream. Scrambling up rubble to the rail path, forcing everyone to do push-ups in the couch house, chasing a beach ball around a swamp while Rachel McAdams looks on from craft services ignoring your screams of “I CAN’T STOP TIME TRAVELING” through the firework pops, standing stupid proud with the Roman candles still going off in your hands after the bike cops have rolled out of the fog onto the baseball diamond, paddling back to the jetty weaving around handfuls of bloated oranges bobbing by you in the lake, thrashing the sheets to the floor, jumping off the marina dock in the rain the fog rolling down the bluffs like a tide of hungover ghosts, going feral from the heat, the howling of coyotes from the golf course next door as we stand stock-still and chattering in the backyard pool, the sky orange like an emergency blanket stretching across Chinatown, quicksilver clouds out in front so close you could smell them, heat lightning back behind that, out over the lake and everybody stopped, gaping in the street, smiling at you as you pass in the camaraderie that comes only with weird weather or impending doom, their teeth bright, everyone sweating, a hundred pairs of eyes like emergency flares trained upward, and it’s only July.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Moment by Moment Recap on Being at the Pitchfork Music Festival Without Really Being There, But ACTUALLY Being There.

This past weekend I, along with the rest of the internet, attended the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, Illinois. This was my second time going to the Pitchfork Music Festival. The first time I went was a number of years ago, while I still lived in Chicago, and I went because I wanted to see Sonic Youth play an album that I owned and could listen to at home, live and in its entirety. I also went to try and chase girls around a sweaty patch of grass in hopes that they'd let me kiss them or touch a boob. This year I went to listen to The Breeders play an album that I own, and can listen to at home, live and in its entirety, while also chasing my girlfriend around a sweaty field and grabbing her boob whenever I wanted to. We grabbed each other's boobs and kissed each other's faces in a sweaty field so much that some people who were there forcing Pop Chips on everyone asked us to kiss with a chip in our mouths so they could take a picture. We did it. We kissed with a chip in our mouths so that someone could take a picture for a chip website, because that's - almost literally - what music festivals are all about.

I don't know if I can go to music festivals anymore, and I definitely don't know if I want to be part of the music critic community anymore. I appreciate people who write about albums, and how listening to certain albums makes them feel, but I don't really care about your VIP porta-potty line stories, or about how you lost your Ray Bans during M.I.A. because you were backflipping over a keg of douche juice. I don't care about your Twitter, or your after party Instagrams. I don't care. I do care about music though, but at a thing like this, at a thing like the Pitchfork Music Festival, I could have heard more, absorbed more, and been able to comfortably process more music sitting on a bucket across the street from Union Park than I, or most other people were able to while sludging through three days of attendance. Also, here's a think piece for you: Are music festivals supposed to hurt? And if not, then why do 89% of people who go to them, spend their time there talking about how they feel like they're dying? Maybe just don't go? I can pretty much guarantee no one would die having not had access to your brilliant thoughts on R. Kelly. 

My favorite part of Pitchfork, similar to my favorite part of any and every other music festival, is being at a place where you can eat maple bacon out of your shoe while smoking cigarettes in the grass, and listening to music that you like, DESPITE the verbal, physical, and mental participatory antics of the people around you. 

To go ahead and make this an actual recap, let's recap. What follows is a moment by moment look at how I spent my time AT the Pitchfork Music Festival, while not realllllly "at" it. I'm using my Pitchfork Music Festival pocket guide and activity book as a reference guide, because I almost completely forgot about everything that happened at Pitchfork the minute I walked out the gates on Sunday night. 

Frankie Rose 3:20 - My girlfriend and I tried to go to FEED for a chicken lunch, but got lost in a bad part of town, so we went to the general area of the Pitchfork Music Festival, but hid out at the Billy Goat Tavern drinking beers and eating various meats until we felt ready and OK enough to go into the thing.
Daughn Gibson 3:30 - Still not ready.
Trash Talk 4:15 - Still not ready.
Mac DeMarco 4:35 - We enter Union Park around this time and purchase beer tickets, and then use those beer tickets to get beers. We drink the beers while leaning up against a tree and taking pictures of each other.
Angel Olsen 5:15 - Still leaning against a tree.
Woods 5:30 - Still leaning against a tree.
Mikal Cronin 6:15 - At this point I think we found a patch of grass to sit in, and we sat in it.
Wire 6:25 - My girlfriend went to a porta-potty around this time. I somehow managed to avoid peeing this whole day, as was my goal.
Joanna Newsom 7:20 - Earlier in the day my GF and I were trying to remember when Joanna Newsom's last album came out. I said something about how I remembered it playing at the homo clinic where I get my pap smears, the last time I got a pap smear, and then we Googled the release date and came to find that it was three years ago. My girlfriend was momentarily upset because she remembered me saying that I had gotten a pap smear ONE year ago, not THREE, and thought that maybe I had lied about the frequency of my pap smears. But no, I'm just bad with dates and timelines. Joanna Newsom's last album WAS playing at the homo clinic where I get my pap smears, while I was getting a pap smear, but it wasn't the most recent time. I did actually get one last year.
Bjork 8:30 - We were excited to see Bjork. At times I thought that her dance moves were reminding me of Mariah Carey. We laughed every time she said "thank you," to the audience in her silly accent. We sat for some of the songs, and stood for the ones we liked best. Towards the end of her performance, a lesbian came up to us and told us we were a cute couple. I liked that that happened while listening to Bjork. We made it home right before a huge rainstorm happened.

Ken Mode 1:00 - My girlfriend and I took a few trains that took us from our hotel to the beach. They call it a beach in Chicago, but it's really just a lake with a little puff of sand in front of it. We both really enjoyed being outside in the fresh air, and in the water, even though it was a little bit crowded. We regretted having eaten at a nearby Chipotle during a low blood sugar attack before we got to the beach, because there was a hot dog stand there, and beers too.
White Lung 1:00 - I wanted to see this band, but we missed it on account of still being at the beach.
Pissed Jeans 1:45 - Still at the beach.
Julia Holter 1:55 - Still at the beach.
Phosphorescent 2:30 - Smoking cigarettes in a patch of shady grass, just about to leave the beach.
Parquet Courts 2:50 - Ate some melty sweet and salty trail mix that I found in my purse while sitting near the area where this band played. 
And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead 3:20 -  Used a porta-potty around this time.
Merchandise 3:45 - Standing in line for beers to drink while getting positioned for Swans to play in a little bit.
Savages 4:15 - Watched the end of their performance on a big screen while standing in front of the stage where Swans was setting up. I found myself feeling not okay about this band, and vaguely remembering people saying that they liked them. I like bands that make me feel things. This band made me feel embarrassed, which I feel bad about saying for some reason, but it's true.
Metz 4:45 - Watching Swans do mic checks. Feeling pretty positive.
Swans 5:15 - I like experiencing live music that is physically painful very very much. A person threw a bottle of water behind them, causing its contents to splash my forehead and glasses, and I didn't care. 
Ryan Hemsworth 5:45 - Sitting in the grass smoking a cigarette and eating rice candy, waiting for The Breeders to play.
The Breeders 6:15 - A cute, youngish mom was dancing with her very small baby and we couldn't stop looking at her and kind of tearing up. 
Low 6:45 - Waiting for Solange to play. I think this was around the time someone made us kiss with a chip in our mouths.
Solange 7:25 - Mostly thinking about Beyonce. Solange did a Dirty Projectors song, so then I was thinking about Dirty Projectors. Around this time someone living in Olympia, Washington emailed me and said she had just been fired as an intern at K Records for being too distracting in the office. She said she'd been told about "all the Kelly McClure stuff."Around this point I bought a bag of bacon, and also a chocolate malt ice cream cone, and dipped the bacon into the ice cream. It was the best snack choice, hands down.
Andy Stott 7:45 - Was going to see this because my GF wanted to, but then we ended up making our way over to get situated for Belle and Sebastian.
Belle and Sebastian 8:30 - It was raining a little. We sat down, and then stood up for "Stars of Track and Field," and then went back to our hotel and ate an order of crab rangoon, and two vegetable egg rolls.

Photo by Lindsey Baker

Tree 1:00 - My GF and I got picked up by Bozo #1, Ben Johnson, and we went to FEED for brunch. FEED has one of those machines where you put in a quarter and a chicken makes a cluck and then you get an egg with a toy in it. The owners of the restaurant had, at some point over the years, decided it would be best to remove the chicken's cluck, so it was completely silent while spitting out our eggs. I got a small plastic treasure box that opens and closes, Ben Johnson got a sticker with a goat on it, and I can't remember what my GF got. After brunch we went back to our hotel and napped for a few hours.
DJ Rashad 1:00 - Napping
Foxygen 1:45 - Napping
Autre Ne Veut 1:55 - Napping
Killer Mike 2:30 - I think around this time we left our hotel and walked around for a little bit. Maybe we got something to eat. I don't really remember.
Blood Orange 2:50 - Still walking around?
EL-P 3:20 - Still Walking around?
Waxahatchee 3:45 - I think around this time we were making our way over to the Pitchfork Music Festival.
Yo La Tengo 4:15 - Probably waiting in line for wristbands to get drink tickets to get beers.
Sky Ferreira 4:45 - Sitting in the grass smoking cigarettes.
Lil B 5:15 - Really enjoying watching him on a big screen. My girlfriend thought about tweeting something at him, but I don't think she did. Later that night I dreamt that I downloaded his albums from Amazon.
Chairlift 5:45 - Either buying beers or going to the porta-potty in an effort to get comfortable and situated for M.I.A.
Toro Y Moi 6:15 - I can't remember
Evian Christ 6:45 - Making our way to the stage where M.I.A. will be. We decided that now will be the time, aside from the other time - which was for Swans - when we get up front and experience being in the middle of a sweaty crowd. 
M.I.A 7:25 - Pretty close up front. Dancing while also making sure our purse don't flop open. Someone passed me a bottle of water and I drank it. Lindsey was worried because the bottle was open, but I felt pretty okay about it. Some girl crowd surfed and her foot touched me, and then I touched her while trying to shove her over my head, and away from us.
Glass Candy 7:45 - Wanted to see them, but I've already seen them a bunch of times. We sat in the grass near where R. Kelly was about to perform.
R. Kelly 8:30 -  Stood in the grass, watching storm clouds roll in, and also watching people dance in their various ways. Went home and ate crab rangoon and egg rolls. I read on my phone that R. Kelly released doves during "I Believe I Can Fly," but I don't think it's true, and we don't know for sure because we left early to go eat Chinese food in our hotel and cuddle.

I think that maybe people just like to go to music festivals because it's fun to always, in some way, know what everyone is talking about on the internet. I go because I like having tickets to things, while also having the option to not go to the thing I have tickets for. Heading towards a thing, and then walking right past it has always felt so amazing to me. Freedom!

And Now, A Word On James Caan

By: Ben Seeder

James Caan. Not even particularly very good, but you can’t say you don’t get a full serving of Caan with extra Caan on the side every single time. Maybe that’s because Caan brings the fire. When Caan talks about auditions, Caan says other actors try to take food off Caan’s plate but he takes food off of theirs instead. Caan shows up and delivers and that’s why he books, bro.

Caan has one night stands at Burbank steakhouses and there’s nothing you can do about it. He hooks up all the time. Caan forgets about these women tomorrow but they talk about him for the rest of their lives. Caan can’t even walk down the street in Orlando. They love him down there.

When you work with Caan you understand why he’s been doing this for years and you are nobody. When it’s time to shoot, Caan is the last person they bring to set because really what else is there? The other day one of the extras straight geeked out on Caan and he actually spoke to her. He said, “Where are you from?” and she said, “Cleveland!” and Caan shook his head knowingly, looked off at the clouds and said “Cleveland Ohio.” That extra was promptly fired. On the way to lunch, the director said to Caan, “I’m really sorry she spoke to you Jimmy, but you handled that perfectly you know,” but then get this, Caan opens the door to his trailer and says to him, “Terry, just keep the animals in the zoo next time.”

Caan will run up stairs. Caan will get his legs maimed by a lunatic. Caan will fall in love. Caan will find the lens. “Welcome to show business,” Caan says. Caan will play possum until the time is right. Caan makes out with hot ladies on screen and when he does he really goes after it. Before the director calls action he gently informs the actress, “Just so you know, I’m really going to go for it,” and then the actress gets a facefull of Caan smashed into her own and while he sweats under the hot lights both of their makeup merges with the others and Caan sweats more and says, “Mmm, Mmm,” while he keeps both of his lips entirely shut and breathes through his nostrils onto her face. When the director yells “Cut!” the actress politely wipes her mouth off with her hand and Caan says, “So how long have you been in LA?” and then has goes to have lunch alone in his trailer. Caan gets different food than the other actors.

Caan laughs insanely hard at his own jokes, startling people and taking hold of your arm while it’s happening. Caan will make you feel like an idiot. Watching Caan’s face navigate his rich inner world of emotions on screen is a sensation matched only by his explosiveness. Caan makes only the most obvious choices but he does so at full Caan velocity. Caan cries. Caan begs, commands and condemns. He does them because he knows you don’t know how so he will show you. The last Christmas Caan spent with a girlfriend’s family, he showed up in an evergreen turtleneck and merlot colored blazer. He told them all stories about “Francis.” When Caan and his girlfriend went home, her Dad tried to say something but her Mom interrupted him by saying, “Just give me a minute to come back to planet Earth here.”

When Caan is at the urinal he farts long and hard and it reverberates off all the tile and porcelain and if you start laughing Caan hits you with a look that obliterates you and grinds you into dust. In Burbank, if a waiter asks Caan what he’ll be having he answers “The brisket, champ” like it was the dumbest shit anybody’s ever asked. Caan’s knuckles are covered in hair and bejeweled with diamonds and gold. Caan once made love to a girl in Thailand and afterwards wore thongs for a month but now all of his boxers are white. Caan once told Will Ferrell, “Kid, in this business, you’re either in Heaven, Hell or Pasadena.” Ferrell and his friends still laugh about it all the time, but meanwhile Caan is getting fucking paid, okay?

With the growth in popularity of “Star Trek,” Caan’s already heard all your gay jokes about “The Wrath of Caan,” and they straight blow, dude. Maybe you can grow up though? At the afterparty for
“Misery,” Kathy Bates put her mouth right next to Caan’s ear and whispered, “Do you know what you do to me, Jimmy?” Caan smiled and never spoke to her again. Caan gets emails for dick pills and looks at them sometimes.

When Caan dreams, sometimes it’s of a day when he was seven and his Dad took him to Yankee Stadium. The sun was hiding behind the clouds but it didn’t rain. Caan almost caught a foul ball but it bounced off the concrete over his head and into the hands of a fat Armenian man who’d been drinking. Caan stared at him awhile before his Dad told him there’d be plenty of other chances. The Yanks lost 7 to 3 but Caan talked about the game forever until his friends told him to just shut up about it already.

Caan’s got the top down right now and boy, didn’t this town used to be something?

Ben Seeder is a special contributor to Total Bozo

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The City of the Big Shoulders Is Shrugging

Well, you hear some amount of self-conscious grumbling every year. “Hipster” bingo. Cutoff jeans and Toms shoes with some kind of a promotional tank top from 1992 with a caricature of Larry Bird on it, neon green cheapo Ray Ban knockoffs, a straw hat of some kind, and multiple tattoos of birds. What kind of a person is that? What are they celebrating? What does that uniform mean? It means “I am coming to Chicago because of the Pitchfork Festival.” It means “skip brunch this weekend.”

You hear all that grumbling.

All that comes from people who are going to Pitchfork and want to establish some dividing line between themselves and everybody else who is going to Pitchfork. As if there is a “good guy” team and a “bad guy” team, and one’s membership in the good guy team must be proven through overabundant displays of self-awareness. “We’re not like those people who just rise up from the sidewalk and walk in the direction of the nearest crowd wearing whatever they think will help them get laid, man, we’re here for the music.” If that sounds like an exaggeration, count the number of times this weekend a Pitchfork-goer says the apology “I’m just here to see ________.” It’s as if going to the entire festival simply because you enjoy music and being outdoors is implicitly frowned upon as gauche, so excuses must be made. You know the attitude. You have it.

This is where the grumbling comes from. People are grumbling about themselves. “Can you believe us? We’re the worst.” Kelly McClure asked me to write about what it’s like to live in Chicago during Pitchfork weekend under the assumption that I’d say it’s awful. It is not awful. It is not anything. It’s no thing.

For most people in Chicago, Pitchfork is a barely perceptible reason why an unusually high volume of young people with stupid haircuts are pouring steadily out of the airports and train stations. Every year is the same. They emerge and generally cavort like they’re the opening credits of Laverne and Shirley and you’re just some fucking guy in a blue shirt on the way to work, and you go “oh yeah, Pitchfork.” It’s what young people do. It’s fine.

We don’t give a fuck, you guys. We’re not Austin. You’re not “turning this city upside down.” There are huge, huge swaths of land area in Chicago in which not one denizen knows about or cares about the Pitchfork Fest. Can you imagine that, you little shits? Can you even conceive of a reality (the actual reality) wherein you and your activities are not the central storyline of everybody else’s life? No, you probably can’t. Well it’s true. Nobody in Chicago gives a shit about you. We’ll take your money, sure, but that’s it.

You want to know what I’m worried about, like, a lot? I’m worried I’ll have some unforeseen reason to be in Wrigleyville (it’s the neighborhood near Wrigley Field)(where the Cubs play)(baseball, you fucking clod) tomorrow night, and it will slip my mind that fucking Pearl Jam is playing in fucking Wrigley Field and there will be 50,000 plus Pearl Jam fans in the streets while I’m there trying to renew the City Sticker for my car (we have cars here, sometimes). Can you imagine the stress nightmare come to life of being anywhere near there? Pearl Jam fans. Fans of the band Pearl Jam. Making their presence felt in every restaurant and bar for square miles. Doing whatever it is they do, I’m guessing drinking beer and being in touch with their feelings about their parents’ divorce while taking fucking FOREVER to parallel park.

Which is fine, actually. Pearl Jam is fine. Being a fan of Pearl Jam is fine.

Just, you know, 50,000 of the same kind of person converging somewhere where there are also other things. A friend of mine is doing a comedy show less than a block away from Wrigley Field that night. I want to go to it enough for me to almost forget about the whole Pearl Jam thing. I think about what I’m doing tomorrow night, and I have to remind myself not to go hang out with my friend because of Pearl Jam. Even so, I might forget. I might be dicking around at home and lose track of time and get kind of bored and go “what was I going to do tonight? Oh yeah, there’s that comedy thing,” and then find myself in my car driving towards cargo-shorted oblivion. You want awful? THAT is awful.

Pitchfork is at Union Park, at the intersection of Lake and Ashland. It’s a contained site. East of there is industrial buildings and shuttered-for-the-weekend union halls, north is the weird not-technically-Little-Italy-but-still-quite-Italian neighborhood that’s one of the areas in the city where if you’re ever walking around you hear the cawing of a single distant crow and turn to your date and say “let’s get out of here” because the houses have no yards and that old lady is looking at you, and south and west are the beginnings of those huge swaths of land where your little white boy indie pop music fan life and safety are not a concern for anybody, and will therefore through ancient evolutionary instinct send you scurrying back to the hive. Pitchfork is contained. You’re not ruining anything except for the “cool” businesses in the “cool” neighborhoods during the non-Festival hours of a weekend. Those places are all already ruined.

I’m not worried about you guys. I see you people every goddamn day. You look like nothing. I see you in my peripheral vision and it’s like “what’s that” and then I point my eyes at you and I go “oh, nothing” while you loudly explain something you once heard about Roman Coppola to your friends who are also nothing. You’re just people. You’re not a thing different from or better than or worse than people. You need to relax. I hope you actually enjoy yourselves at this Pitchfork thing instead of constantly worrying that you might be enjoying yourself more than might be cool, or that you might be placing a burden on the City of Chicago. You’re not. We’re good. Go ahead. Knock yourself out.

I’d be there too, but it’s going to be crowded and hot and there’s not going to be anywhere to sit and nobody gave me a free ticket.