one hundred story #77: The sound of music

She used to listen to records with her father while they washed dishes. Her hands had to be dry when it came time to flip the record. She’d hold it with her thumb and forefinger before placing the needle. This is sacred, he’d say, peering through the record’s eye. Twenty years later, when she’d fit her music collection onto a single hard drive, she realized what was missing. Aretha, Bob, Etta—they were invisible files written in invisible code. She longed to hold something. That night, at the music store, she thumbed stacks of records, rubbing music into her hands.

New Villager

Cool thing about the internet #1,783,067: stumbling across a music video you really like and then realizing that you once dated one of the musicians. Yes. Either the world is that small, or someone's getting older.

My new favorite song: Rich Doors, by New Villager. Apparently, not only are they great songwriters and performers, but they also direct and produce really brilliant, colorful music videos (see their song "Light House", which reminds me of the BBC production of Alice in Wonderland, the version with Ringo Starr).

Small, beautiful little world we've got.

Recipe for Punkara Rock: Spain Series #1

How to dress like a Spanish punkara rocker:

1. Take a low, loose or flimsily cut fabric.
2. Add a silkscreen of Che Guevara, Zapatistas or the Palestinian flag.
3. Emblazon cheery designs with skull and crossbones images of fire, shit, or sex, and work in a good cuss word and/or sexual innuendo. The blunter, the better.
4. Decorate wit ha jagged pattern of large, bulky safety pins. Rip large holes (preferably across the breasts) for a real Frankenstein effect.
5. Top with a paperboy hat (maybe in clashing stripes, polka dots or plaid), a discolored bandanna or otherwise ripped and faded fabric.

Shoes range from the classic multicolored low-top Converse to purple, thick-soled Doc Martens, gothic men's sneakers, hippie Birkenstock ripoffs, to, well, Frodo-style bare feet.

This series is taken verbatim from a series of journals I kept while living in Spain, 2006-2007.

*photo credit: This photo of Spanish band Ojos de Brujo is taken from the blog Dentro Musica.

Cords and Wires

My life is full of cords and wires.

Lying in bed, the first one I see is the the tubing that goes from insulin pump to abdomen. People are always startled to hear that I sleep with a little pager-like device stuck to my body. True, it is at times inconvenient when I turn over and my pump slides off the bed, and yet it I'm used to it.

Then there are the recreational wires. I (cough) use an iPod way more than I probably should. i have also started the obnoxious habit of failing to capitalize my "i"s. Growing up in the age of radio technology-turned-portable-everything, I can't fall alseep without listening to something. It started back in junior high, when I would just leave my radio on the windowsill tuned in to 100.5 FM, waking up to used car ads and Dr. Drew's "Loveline." Then there was the audio books phase, which also propelled me through the Walkman phase, longer than most, and later on to the Discman ("skip-free") era. In college, there were the carefully-selected mix cds from boyfriends and roommates. There was always a startling difference between the "sleep" cd and the "running / rocking out" cd. And these days...well, my inner nerd has emerged triumphant with the blossoming of podcasts. The highlight of every Monday is downloading the latest "This American Life," "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," "Sound Opinions," "Dawn and Drew Show," "PRI: Selected Shorts," and many more my inner geek is not yet comfortable enough to reveal.

So far both of these cords are both physically close to my body and represent a psychological or otherwise physiological dependency (a bit of a hyperbole for the iPod, but definitely true for my iPump). Even more recent is my very first laptop, adquired this summer through an amazing discount. Never before have I been able to type a story or respond to an email in bed. Genius. I don't trust myself quite enough to take my darling Wangari Maathai (aptly named, I hope) beyond the corner coffee shop. I have taken her to Progressive Grounds down the street, trotting carefully with her tucked away in an inherited computer-carrying case, bringing along yet more cords.

Maybe this is the generation of robots. Maybe the Flight of the Conchords are singing prophesies. Maybe the goal of technology is to get all of us non-programmed beings into some state of wire-and-cord obsession, so much so that our knowledge of small nuts and bolts is greater than that of our own selves. Maybe our intellectual strength is really no more potent than our ability to run a solid battery.

The extent to which I use technology on a daily basis really struck me a few days ago, when I was walking uphill home and felt three hand-size lumps in my pockets, all of which make sounds that indicate different things, all of which I use every day, all of which I could survive successfully without. I pulled them out of my pockets while waiting for the bus and stared my full palms for a moment: cell phone, iPod, insulin pump. Each of them store so much information that I consider vital--medical dosages, emergency numbers, that one dance playlist I spent two hours fine-tuning. Suddenly my phone began vibrating, and I grabbed my pump, accidentally turning up the volume to Ira Glass on my ears.

Wires and cords. They're taking over.