Pre-minstrel tension

Tomorrow at 7 p.m., I will show up at Rooz Cafe, 1924 Park Boulevard, Oakland, and see if I remember how to sing my own lyrics and play an acoustic guitar at the same time. I am almost wondering if I should bother walking and chewing gum earlier in the day. I have had the pleasure of opening for my friendly neighborhood modern/urban-folk band State Secrets twice this year, but I hadn’t taken two months off playing in public before either set.

I’d like to think the half a dozen or so times I’ve sung karaoke in the last month would be some kind of help, would set my mind at ease a little further about performing, but it’s an entirely different beast. There’s really no comparison to the songs you’ve casually or informally invited into your life as guests, or even familiar friends, and combinations of chords and words who owe you their life, any life you can breathe into them in front of people.

I owe them a fair shot at existence, even if no one shows up, even if I have not been giving them the attention they might deserve. If I had sense, I would have tried lowering the stakes by busking once or twice a week somewhere no one could get in trouble and embarrass themselves. But as we have established, I do not have sense, I have songs and a set to sing them in.

Searchin’

When I wasn’t turning the dial, a widget on my mobile helped me identify songs in chain bookstores and coffee shops, at bar DJ nights and on terrestrial radio stations this summer:

June 24, 2014: “Face in the Window,” Dave Loggins
June 24, 2014: “Monday Morning,” Fleetwood Mac
June 24, 2014: “Here To Love You,” The Doobie Brothers
June 24, 2014: “Easy to Love,” Leo Sayer
June 24, 2014: “To Prove My Love,” Ned Doheny
June 24, 2014: “Just A Love Child,” Bobby Humphrey
June 24, 2014: “One Way Ticket To Paradise,” Dave Loggins
June 24, 2014: “Woman,” Foreigner
June 24, 2014: “How Can You Love Me,” Ambrosia
June 24, 2014: “Lady,” Little River Band
June 24, 2014: “Dance on the Heartbreak,” Ilse DeLange
June 24, 2014: “Lady,” Styx
June 24, 2014: “Gino,” Daryl Hall & John Oates
June 26, 2014: “Helena Beat,” Foster The People
June 27, 2014: “Lady Don’t Tek No,” Latex
June 27, 2014: “Estrelar,” Marcos Valle
June 27, 2014: “Horizons,” Afrolicious
June 27, 2014: “Same Old Clown,” Chico Mann
June 27, 2014: “California Dreaming,” Afrolicious
July 3, 2014: “Take The World,” JOHNNYSWIM
July 5, 2014: “How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?,” Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
July 6, 2014: “The Goose,” Parliament
July 6, 2014: “Rigor Mortis,” Cameo
July 14, 2014: “Lost Land,” Alela Diane
July 16, 2014: “Riptide,” Vance Joy
July 20, 2014: “Atlas,” Coldplay
July 22, 2014: “Slow Dancer,” Life Force
July 22, 2014: “Dancin’ By Myself,” Ambrosia
July 22, 2014: “One Way Ticket To Paradise,” Dave Loggins
July 22, 2014: “Steal Away,” Robbie Dupree
July 22, 2014: “Gino,” Daryl Hall & John Oates
July 22, 2014: “Devil Woman,” Cliff Richard
July 22, 2014: “Falling in Love,” Surface
July 23, 2014, “Silent Spring,” Massive Attack
July 23, 2014: “Night At The Dogs,” Jesse Rose
July 24, 2014: “Skinhead Love Affair,” Bad Manners
July 24, 2014: “Steppin’ Stone,” The Monkees
July 24, 2014: “Murder,” Old 97’s
July 28, 2014: “Cool Kinds,” Echosmith
July 28, 2014: “Up The Mountain,” Bomb The Bass feat. The Battle Of Land & Sea
July 31, 2014: “Puzzlin’ Evidence,” Talking Heads
August 1, 2014: “Take Me To Church,” Hozier
August 1, 2014: “Chocolate,” The 1975
August 2, 2014: “Come a Little Closer,” Cage The Elephant
August 4, 2014: “Dreadlock Holiday,” 10cc
August 5, 2014: “Angel in Blue Jeans,” Train
August 6, 2014: “Jealous,” Chromeo
August 6, 2014: “Sherry,” Four Seasons
August 8, 2014: “Long Tall Glasses,” Leo Sayer
August 9, 2014: “The Loving Sounds of Static,” Mobius Band
August 12, 2014: “Ain’t It The Life,” Foo Fighters
August 13, 2014: “Levitator,” LP
August 13, 2014: “Habits,” Tove Lo
August 15, 2014: “Blue Moon,” Beck
August 15, 2014: “These Days,” Matt Pond
August 15, 2014: “Sweet Tooth,” Dave Rawlings Machine
August 15, 2014: “For Emma,” Bon Iver
August 16, 2014: “Barangrill,” Joni Mitchell
August 16, 2014: “Old Before Your Time,” Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs
August 16, 2014: “Joshua,” Dolly Parton
August 16, 2014: “Heaven Can’t Be Found,” Hank Williams, Jr.
August 18, 2014: “The Sporting Life,” The Decemberists
August 19, 2014: “Over And Done With,” White Horse
August 19, 2014: “Ease Along,” Cliff Richard
August 19, 2014: “Thinking Of You,” Sister Sledge
August 19, 2014: “Lady Montego,” Ayers Rock
August 19, 2014: “Dancin’ By Myself,” Ambrosia
August 19, 2014: “Step By Step,” Eddie Rabbitt
August 19, 2014: “Here To Love You,” The Doobie Brothers
August 19, 2014: “I Won’t Let Go,” Brooklyn Dreams
August 19, 2014: “Living Without Your Love,” The Imperials
August 21, 2014: “Julia,” SZA
August 23, 2014: “I Feel Love,” Plaintains
August 27, 2014: “One Last Mistake,” LP
August 27, 2014: “I Like It Like That,” Pete Rodriguez
August 27, 2014: “Lucky Man,” Courtney John
August 27, 2014: “C.R.E.A.M.,” El Michels Affair
August 27, 2014: “Bustin’ Loose,” Rebirth Brass Band
August 27, 2014: “Sexual Healing,” Hot 8 Brass Band
September 5, 2014: “Jungle Love,” The Steve Miller Band
September 6, 2014: “Come On Back,” The Brothers Of Soul
September 6, 2014: “Hotel California,” Gipsy Kings
September 21, 2014: “Sunshine Of Your Love,” Magic Drum Orchestra
September 21, 2014: “Happiness,” Shawn Lee
September 21, 2014: “Bird Song,” The Underwolves

What about you?

Lapsed lake lovers

Morning tea led to the living room, and then to a decision: brunch. After someone I care very much for insisted, I put on shorts and we headed along our street and a few blocks over to Portal. Sides (biscuits with butter, bacon, scrambled eggs) and coffee later, we could see lanes of Lakeshore Avenue and its intersection with Foothill Boulevard coned off for Love Our Lake Day.

We paid our bill and left, letting the path lead us around to the amphitheater. I declared I was staying put for a while, and listened to the bicycle-powered PA system pump out an acoustic-leaning lineup. Then I people-watched for a bit, stopping to take an actual Hyperlapse and a Framelapse.

I watched pedestrians dodge fliers passed out on behalf of political candidates. I saw the mayor herself greeting people from her booth, conveniently placed next to another booth with a large sign outlining the lake’s many upgrades and improvements. I chatted with an on-duty Oakland Tribune photographer who’d already been up to Albany for the Solano Stroll earlier about our quiet, uneventful workweek. Then I figured I’d better walk home before it got too much warmer. Additional hyperlapses were required.

There GIFs the neighborhood

If you have to live somewhere, it’s good to be someplace where you can drive off a few miles on a Saturday morning, come back and know just where to scratch an itch: satisfy a sweet (or savory) tooth, or accidentally run across an acquaintance who just wanted a veggie sandwich and sparkling water after getting her tired fixed up the block.

If you look up, hours later, and realize you’re not cooking dinner, it’s a lucky thing if you’re able to people-watch restaurant-goers and and dawdle next to a window display if a city-based tchotchke catches your eye.

And if you get to stop in the middle of a local highway’s bridge overpass for the thirty seconds or so it takes to GIF smoothly moving traffic below, you might even be distracted enough to briefly forget small things like new residents and rising rental prices.

How nature points up the folly of men

You who give yourself over to patterns, to data, to teasing out significant signal from the big nothing’s worth of noise in the background, take heed and take heart: You’ll have to deal with the fact that you’re not the biggest issue on or offline, and you’ll have to think about something bigger than yourself: how to bring balance to folks dead-set on upending The Way Things’ve Always Been.

Maybe there’s no way other than to point to the folks who say this is how it’s always been. Maybe there’s nothing to do but show up with your money for your ticket and your popcorn, and to try not to keep score when people look at your family, their progress and what may be leftover for the church to pick over.

Recent ancient history

I wish I weren’t the kind of person who only looks bad when times are tough, news is bad, or difficult things play out in real time. I’d like to be the kind of person who looks forward, but that’s usually the person getting the evil eye from other people stuck in the present and still processing. So when I noticed the #DearMassimo hashtag floating around some designer folk on Twitter, I figured it’d be a good idea to re-watch “Helvetica” late yesterday. That meant when I logged in today, Netflix suggested “Page One: Inside the New York Times.” I hadn’t seen it before, and figured now would be a good time because, as we all know now in a way we didn’t know a week ago, nothing of significance or import can ever happen to a newspaper like that.

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Truisms

Untitled

I noticed a couple of sayings (“Humanism is obsolete” and “humor is a release”) in rows on a poster hanging in the background of a designer’s studio in the movie “Helvetica.” Googling the sayings led me to their origins in Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms,” one unsurprising instance when they were removed from display more than 25 years ago, and a quiz, where I found 19 things I believe, as well as how many people believe them out of the 2906 people who’ve voted to share their own beliefs:

  • A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE CAN GO A LONG WAY (1037)
  • A SINGLE EVENT CAN HAVE INFINITELY MANY INTERPRETATIONS (822)
  • ABSOLUTE SUBMISSION CAN BE A FORM OF FREEDOM (459)
  • ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE (730)
  • ALL THINGS ARE DELICATELY INTERCONNECTED (626)
  • AT TIMES INACTIVITY IS PREFERABLE TO MINDLESS FUNCTIONING (574)
  • DEVIANTS ARE SACRIFICED TO INCREASE GROUP SOLIDARITY (338)
  • EVEN YOUR FAMILY CAN BETRAY YOU (572)
  • EXPIRING FOR LOVE IS BEAUTIFUL BUT STUPID (399)
  • HIDING YOUR MOTIVES IS DESPICABLE (253)
  • LACK OF CHARISMA CAN BE FATAL (366)
  • MEN ARE NOT MONOGAMOUS BY NATURE (249)
  • MOTHERS SHOULDN’T MAKE TOO MANY SACRIFICES (340)
  • MUCH WAS DECIDED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN (482)
  • RAISE BOYS AND GIRLS THE SAME WAY (412)
  • TAKING A STRONG STAND PUBLICIZES THE OPPOSITE POSITION (312)
  • TORTURE IS BARBARIC (629)
  • WISHING THINGS AWAY IS NOT EFFECTIVE (596)
  • YOU ARE A VICTIM OF THE RULES YOU LIVE BY (588)
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