The guy behind the guy behind the guy

Two beautiful covers, two musical eras. Go see Devotchka live. Generation Derivative, listen up.


A Part

My youngest son has hair that is completely different than mine. It is entirely straight; it does not sprout from his head, it simply falls. Hair such as his does not seem to naturally part, and I find myself continually, almost absently, pushing his hair away from his eyes and to one side. It is as if my fingers have become wiper blades on an intermittent setting.

It struck me one day that his hair is not really in his eyes as much as I think. He rarely brushes it aside, and goes about unbothered by the way it hangs. I realized that my brushing away hair that really isn’t in his way is in some respects me filling a need of my own — the need to touch him, to shape him, both literally and figuratively.

A Slow-Moving Orgy

Choriqueso at Polvo’s. Green Chili Pork taco and the Democrat at Torchy’s Tacos. Micheladas (made w/Negra Modelo, of course) at multiple locations. Uchi sushi. Nepali noodle salad at Farm to Market. Sweet potato fries at Freddie’s. A BBQ pork sandwich with jalapenos.  Home Slice pizza. Those lovely rosemary and salt bagels w/cream cheese in the mornings at Once Over. A slow-moving orgy.

Thanks Austin.

A Student of Pakistan

Some years ago, when I was at university, I enrolled in a small class on South Asian history. The class was in fact tiny for such a large subject — only five students — and was the first stand-alone course on the history of the subcontinent ever taught at my school. That awkward and surprising fact aside (the year was 1989, the Berlin Wall would fall and declarations of the end of history would soon abound) the other odd nugget was that the course was taught jointly.  Two professors, B— and J—, one focusing on the history of India and the other on the creation of the nation called Pakistan. Even stranger, I learned that the pair of professors were connected. They shared a home and lascivious rumor had it that they were lovers. Continue reading

Letter from Asturias

I am in Asturias, in Spain. Up in the hills above a town called Santa Marina on a little peak called Pico Los Rozos.  We are staying in a small farmhouse here, composed of three or four buildings of which we occupy a room.  From here the views are extremely pleasant, full of contours and angles and on top of some hills are wind power generators. I notice most of all the silence, so profound that each noise, when it does reach me, is magnified and travels long distances.  The sound of bees and flies and insects of all types, which I think I recall now only from childhood (so much urban living), almost numbs my ears if there are more than just a few buzzing past.  I hear the clanking bells around cows’ necks, but it is difficult to pinpoint the source of the noise, as the wind — a noise in itself — spreads the sonic waves, so that you feel at times surrounded. Continue reading

And I’m Going Down…

On occasion you find yourself doing things that seem strange to your notion of yourself. Like drinking a 16oz Pabst Blue Ribbon. Sometimes these strange details don’t bend your mind much, because you’re doing exactly the right thing. Which is to be drinking that PBR at an A.A. Bondy show with other people who clearly know the man’s music, understand that there’s something about what he does that will never signify super-stardom, but is, among all today’s drek, true. Normally when a musician sings and plays with eyes closed I wonder if it’s not a bit too affected. But that understated voice…Bondy, it is clear, is somewhere else when he plays. That somewhere must be a hard place, and I don’t envy him his demons, be they dark as pitch or just a light, gray rain.

There were couples, and singles, and old folks listening. I wished I’d recorded the whole thing in a 360 surround screen, it was that good. I don’t know if this description is accurate, but it hints at a respect for a performer that I haven’t seen in years from an audience. Even between songs people stayed quiet, understanding that spaces are just as much a part of the whole as anything else. And when, during one of those spaces, a woman called out, We love you Scott Bondy, he said exactly the right thing: Thank you, darling.