This is How We Balk on the Moon

Reentering Always Feels a Bit Forced

May 17, 2008
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Edward Hopper- A Woman in the Sun


So the Earth endures, in every petty matter

And in the lives of men, irreversible.

And it seems a relief. To win? To lose?

What for, if the world will forget us anyway.

— Cseslaw Milosz


Spacemen 3- Lord Can You Hear Me


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There Will Be Lists Pt. 4

January 28, 2008
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20. Marco Polo fea. Masta Ace- Nostalgia


            The throwback hip-hop pearl of 2007, Marco Polo gives veteran Masta Ace a beat that has DJ Premier’s name (and particularly his scratching) all over it. It’s not a flashy piece, but it’s a treat and lets the perennially underrated Ace impress as per usual, someone who, in his own words, has “been a star since Pat Benatar.” He succeeds in hitting us with his best shot.

19. Phosphorescent- Wolves

(Dead Oceans) 

            It seems like Matthew Houck is singing directly to me, as if I met him under a bridge and asked him to recount something beautiful. The harmonium softly swells to match the bittersweet images that Houck provides to enhance our understanding of what he’s seen, namely in the form of wolf metaphors. 


18. Dizzee Rascal- Sirens


            Admittedly, I never got into Maths+English, but if everything was this harsh on the album, I’d be a lot more engrossed. I think I read one blog compare the sound to Primal Scream during Xtrmntr-era, which is pretty accurate, and only serves to further the point that in almost any other rapper’s hands, this would come off as the second coming of “Rock Superstar.” On his second verse, Dizzee has one of his best pieces of storytelling yet, detailing him and his boys beating up an old couple in the alley before finding out a girl from school saw him, and oh yeah, he can hear sirens too. By the time the guitars start playing some “Freak on a Leash”-esque riff, Dizzee just unleashes a concluding verbal assault that fucking sounds great. I don’t really know who else is hard enough to pull this off, besides maybe a rapping Carl Weathers.


17. Los Campesinos!- You! Me! Dancing!

(Arts & Crafts) 

            What a fucking guitar riff. And it’s even duplicated by a xylophone! I’d love to be able to confess to people upfront my inability to dance a single step, so leave it to Los Campesinos! to take the frontline in the war against high dancing expectations.


16. Marnie Stern- Absorb The Numbers

(Kill Rock Stars) 

            Beginning with the high timbre of Stern’s voice singing about breath catching up, there’s something a bit off about this song. For the first portion of the song, the track’s the aural equivalent of a hot mess, with all the elements close to being together but not quite there. When the drums and the guitar hammering come together, though, there’s this magical moment, something rarely replicated in any other song this year. Not to content to let us revel in this instant, Stern and drummer go back to a more clattering state, a decision that can’t help but be admired, like giving us a sneak peak at heaven or the new season of Lost, only to kick us back out onto the street again


15. M.I.A.- Paper Planes


            Even though I found Kala to be rather overrated, it did provoke various reactions in me, so I’ll give credit to it. The most positive of these reactions came via “Paper Planes,” which seems to be the unanimous choice for the greatest track on the album, and it’s not much a stretch to understand why. M.I.A. utilizes probably her best production ever and lets her flow perfectly play off the snap-laced, gunshot-laced, cashier-laced musical assembly, topped off by the Clash-sampled propelling riff. This almost atones for most people thinking “Jimmy” isn’t an incredibly shit song, as only Coke Machine Glow seems to back me up on.


14. Vampire Weekend- Oxford Comma


            Usually these hype-laden bands never strike the right chord with me, and it’s not like their sound should make me go for them (I don’t even like Graceland that much!), but “Oxford Comma” is simple and catchy enough that I made room for it in the birdhouse in my soul. Who knows if they’ll go on to bigger and better things, but they likely will never top referencing Lil’ Jon in a paean about truth. 


13. Spoon- You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb


             “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” seemingly typifies what makes Spoon such a durable indie-pop group. Apparent on first listen is the top-notch hook, one of the most charming in the band’s catalog. Yet it’s what’s noticed on further listens- the horns, the gently backing falsetto, the piano hammering home the chords- that thrusts the deceptively simple pop into their usual high strata. 


12. Jesu- Conqueror

This certainly was the Western Conference Shoegaze Champion of the year. It leaves me in a haze every time I hear it, like I’m in some dense fog near the Pacific Coast, and although I never know if I’ll find my way out of the mist, I don’t really seem to mind my indistinct state.

(Hydra Head)


11. Outkast- Da Art of Storytelling Pt. 4

(Gangsta Grillz) 

It’s just great to hear both of these guys kill it on the same track again. The beat never gets in the way of the tales, and Andre’s line about girls exfoliating and cheering him on is one of the best in hip-hop this year. This excuses most of Idlewild, and special mention needs to go to DJ Drama for his hilarious but heartfelt shout-out at the end of the song. Gotta love him getting out of jail. 


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There Will Be Lists Pt. 3

January 17, 2008
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30. Escort- All Through The Night


            Two things: no matter if the track is a bit long, the opening bass kick followed by “Giveittomesayitomeworkitwithmeifyourereadyimabouttopop” is the best introduction to a song this year. Secondly, the music video utilizes the Muppets far better than anything since A Muppet Christmas Carol.



29. LCD Soundsystem- All My Friends


            Everyone loves this song, and I do think I may have to be in my thirties to appreciate fully, but it’s still pretty heart-wrenching to hear James Murphy break out of his reserved tone to intently ask the listener “where are your friends tonight?” Personally, I would probably guess that they are probably watching VH1 reality shows while eating Tostino’s Pizza Rolls.


28. Jay-Z – American Gangster


            In my book, I feel like S Dot Carter and Just Blaze have consistently collaborated for some of the best work in each of their careers. This one’s no different, as Blaze lays down a beat very similar to last year’s “Show Me What You Got,” but this time Jay-Z doesn’t spit a lyrical clunker. Instead, his flow glides like Jordan from the foul line, never losing any steam while also comparing himself to Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson, and even Kanye’s jaw. It would be easy to give this spot to the solid single “Roc Boys,” but this is Jay and Blaze’s second chance, atoning for the mostly whack Kingdom Come, and like letting Dwyane Wade grab his own rebound, there’s little chance of it not going in the second time. It takes two basketball similes to make a thing go right.


27. Black Kids- I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You


            There have been a few moments in my life when an ex has asked me to teach their new boyfriend how to dance with her. I never had a good excuse, so I’d walk over with my tail between legs and offer a few pointers on the Charleston, the Chicken Noodle Soup, and the like. Now, with the help of the Black Kids, I just need to direct their attention to my iTunes and pump this bouncy track, and POOF- no more free lessons.


26. General Public vs. Rihanna- Tender Umbrella

(Party Ben) 

            I was a bit shocked that “Umbrella” blew up as much as it did, since I never loved it. But pair it with one of the undeniably best 80s pop songs in General Public’s “Tenderness,’ as Party Ben did, and now you’re on some David Blaine shit. They compliment each other perfectly, as Rihanna’s elongated “eh-eh-eh” fits in with the post-chorus guitar line in a moment of glorious synchronicity. Monster mash-up. 


25. Yeasayer- 2080

(We Are Free) 

            I can’t exactly pinpoint what this sounds like (besides the 25th best song of the year),  but it does the trick when it comes to quasi-roots rock. When the whole band starts singing near the middle of the song, something inside me crinkles and lets it seep into my pores, the raw unadulterated emotion overcoming any Fleetwood Mac comparisons that may steer me away from truly grooving to it. 


24. Simian Mobile Disco- I Believe

(Wichita Recordings) 

            I believe…that this could be…what I need…to believe in over-hyped indie dance acts.


23. The Field- Everyday


            I never fell in love with The Field’s highly-lauded full-length, but the hype is all good when it comes to “Everyday.” It comes the nearest to replicating a trip to another world (not a trip to a “Different World,” which Nick at Nite provides nightly), touching a bit of the infinite while simultaneously making your life seem very small. The vocal loop seems to gently nudge the listener towards the pearly gates of musical bliss, and one comes to think that maybe this is what it sounds like after you die, as you bolt across different planes of existence. Maybe it just sounds like a Swedish hipster dance party.


22. Kanye West- The Glory


            Spent enough time writing about “Yeezy” (fuck off) a few months ago, and my opinion hasn’t changed, but despite my pertinacious stance I will give credit where it’s due. One of the his best productions, “The Glory” takes strings, piano, and a choir and creates a swirling background for him to spit his usual self-conscious/egotistical prick shtick. I do compliment the fact that when he says he wants to be compared to Big, he includes Pun and L in addition to Biggie Smalls.  How thoughtful, ‘ye.


21. Animal Collective- Fireworks


            There was a great day this past summer when my housemates and I threw a party during the day and it turned into a full-fledged water gun fight, eventually devolving into boys against girls. Naturally, the duders topped the dudettes, not before I was sneak attacked by two of my housemates who threw a bucket of water on me from our roof. Afterwards, we all were soaked and thrust our attention towards the Slip n’ Slide for a bit, before the beer and the heat consumed us all, forcing us inside to dance and drink more. This song wasn’t played that day (we mostly heard Mystikal- I was DJing, of course), but I when I look back with fondness to that day, it’s become more and more soundtracked exclusively by this song. Why, I’m not sure, besides the fact that it’s the kind of song you’d you love to hear beside your fondest memories from the past year.


There Will Be Lists Pt. 2

January 17, 2008



40. The Clientele- Bookshop Casanova


            I profoundly want to strut to this song, a feeling induced by the quarter note-propelled lead guitar, and I rarely want to strut my stuff. My posture’s pretty weak, actually, so it takes an immense jangle to reverse my spinal position and put some fleetness in my step. This tune works for me, so what else can I say in defense. “Bookshop Casanova”: kid-tested, mother-approved.


39. Aesop Rock- None Shall Pass

(Definitive Jux) 

            A very solid track for Ian Bavitz, where the production is superb enough to keep up with what Aesop’s spitting. Peep the third verse, where his voice exudes total confidence in being firmly idiosyncratic even while the words aren’t totally comprehendible on first listen, summing up his career pretty well. Aesop is always a dude who I’d like to really get into more, if only because when he’s on point, he’s nothing like any other MC in the game, thoroughly tantalizing with his flow and diction.


38. Amerie- Gotta Work

(Columbia/Sony Urban) 

            With “1 Thing” in 2005, “Take Control” in 2006, and “Gotta Work” repping in 2007, can we firmly establish that Amerie may be a dark horse candidate for singles artist of the second half of the decade? Riding a Sam and Dave horn riff and those big drums copped from “1 Thing” (which single-handedly sold the Hitch OST), Amerie gives us life-affirming lessons, much like a 21st-century Edna Garrett. She sounds like she’s close to throwing her voice out each time she goes high, leading to her having an appealing rasp when she belts it out, and it definitely works. If she keeps it up, she’ll be competing with Shanice circa 1991 for my R&B affection.


37. Burial-Archangel


            I don’t really know how to put this, but if you don’t find this the least bit haunting, with a warped vocal singing “tell me I belong,” I’m not sure if you know my steez. Almost every blog I read who mentions that they love this song also subtly mentions that they aren’t dubstep experts, and I’d do the same, so maybe that speaks to the sublimity of “Archangel.” Or maybe there’s just no one who could actually claim dubstep as an area of expertise. I mean, I don’t know if there’s a master’s degree for it. 

36. Dinosaur Jr.- Almost Ready

(Fat Possum) 

            I have only recently, as in the past year, begun listening to Dinosaur Jr., so I wasn’t anxiously looking forward to their new album. The opening guitar riff has a Beverly Hills 90210 theme quality to it, but it evolves into a song that could be put next to “Freak Scene” or “In A Jar” on the top shelf of their greatest power pop tunes.


35. Kathy Diamond- All Woman

(Permanent Vacation) 

            Yeah, there’s some slinky production, and yeah, Diamond’s voice is pretty adept when it comes to cooing disco come-ons, but it’s really the first line that seals it: “I came, I saw, I conquered your heart.” I’ve said that to at least three girls and it’s never done me wrong yet.


34. Magik Markers- Bad Dream/Hartford’s Beat Suite

(Ecstatic Peace/Arbitrary Signs) 

            It’s weird to think that may favorite song off a noise-rock group’s album is their one ballad, but it’s way too haunting to disregard as an anomaly. The lyrics seem to recount the plot of Corpse Bride, but don’t hold me to that. I didn’t catch that one in the theaters.


33. Black Milk- Popular Demand

(Fat Beats) 

            One of the best beats of the year, this sounds as close to a J Dilla tribute as one can come without rapping over one of his beats. It comes from rapper/producer Black Milk, who was a friend of Dilla, and although he is only adequate as an emcee, save for a great hammock simile, the production is the Mary Katherine Gallagher of the song. Before the track ends, Black Milk throws in a “let’s start it off…let’s go!” in a nod to “Dilla Says Go” off of Donuts, which is a nice touch.


32. Justice- D.A.N.C.E.

(Ed Banger) 

            I don’t even like this song that much, but it was so ubiquitous, such a party hit no matter which continent I was on (although Europe loves their Craig David a bit more), I couldn’t help to begin to dig it, just a bit. It’s that funky guitar, I think.


31. Lil’ Wayne- My Daddy (We Takin’ Over Remix)

(Young Money Entertainment) 

            I find myself enjoying Weezy F. Baby much more for impersonation (re: David McNamera) than for his music, most of the time, but this track of Da Drought 3 seems to find him at his most enjoyable, as he kills the “We Takin Over” beat. Truthfully, this isn’t his best lyrical performance of the past year- he even starts babbling at one point before bringing it home with a clutch Scott Storch stinger- but it’s the flow that’s pertinent. He doesn’t really relent for two minutes, making his finishing “bye” come more abruptly than the end of a Tom Brady one-night stand. 

There Will Be Lists

January 16, 2008
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 Here’s the ‘very sorry song’

Won’t you help and sing along?

Bum bum bum 

I blew it! 

He’s sorry 

I knew it! 

So sorry 

I’m very very sorry that I took your precious flaaggg! 

Just don’t do it any more, you scurvy scalawaagg!

– Calvin and Hobbes, “The Very Sorry Song”


So I fucked up, and totally neglected this for three months. To be fair, I often thought about  updating (not as much as I thought about Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations”), but I was living it up in Prague. We’ll get to that at some point, but for now, here’s my gift to you: my 50 favorite songs of 2007 (as of today, because it’ll probably change every week or so.) 

 The songs are all available to download, so think of it as my personal mixtape to you. And whoever else downloads it.  


50. Jurgen Paape + Boy Schaufler- We Love 

(Motivo Productions)       

There’s something very restrained and soothing, with the minimalist lyrics and synth reminiscent of Orbital’s “Chime.” I always imagine this as a song that I would be enjoying from the sidelines at a club, catching a dancing girl’s eyes and mouthing to her, “Good track. I am enjoying this.” She likely diverts her attention elsewhere after this encounter. Oh, we love.


49. Beirut- Forks and Knives (La Fête)


            Sounds hella French. Like, this should replace the first song from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”


48. Groove Armada fea. Mutya Buena- Song 4 Mutya (Out of Control)


            So say you’re in a car, you’re feeling on top of the world, and your ex pulls up next to you. Your first inclination is to panic and let this ruin your day. I mean, just as you’re on top of your life, there homeboy is again. But really, just don’t react and look ahead. I know that’s what Mutya Buena (with the help of Groove Armada) would do, and damned if you don’t listen to her advice.


47. Tenniscoats- Baibaba Bimba


            I have no clue what the lead singer’s saying, and while I’d like to hedge my bet that she’s singing in Japanese since Tenniscoats from Nippon, I have this overwhelming feeling it’s just gibberish. If so, anyone who knows me knows that I love babytalk in songs, and it helps that this tune is cuter than a 365-day calendar of Zooey Deschanel.           

 Charlie Wilson

46. Charlie Wilson- Charlie, Last Name Wilson


            One of the best choruses of the year, as it’s literally Charlie Wilson’s pickup of a girl, a pickup line so earnest and formal that it’s nearly impossible to not appreciate. The clincher is the last minute of the song when Charlie loses his cool and starts cranking with his pipes lines such as “girl, I got a big old house” and pleads for her to pick up the phone and call him. Hell, he gives the girl his manager’s number, his studio’s number, even his mama’s number. What I marvel at is the fact that Uncle Charlie could even be single at this point, a talent of his magnitude still looking for love in his 60s. Of course, after this song, he should never again have any trouble picking up ladies. Don’t forget, the name is Charlie.


45. Pantha du Prince- Saturn Strobe


            This is the kind of techno that would sound ace in a car commercial. I guess that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but it would sell me a Kia or two.


44. Ghostface Killah fea. Method Man and Raekwon- Yolanda’s House

(Def Jam) 

            While part of me wanted the obligatory Ghostface pick to be “Supa GFK,” if only for him finishing the song by chanting “Momma gotta big butt, momma got a big butt,” I have to give it to this, on account to his near-perfect attention to detail. It makes me so content to hear him go from talking about eating fishsticks while a girl puts on lipstick to him barging into another room to see Method Man with his “balls out” getting it on. As heard before from Jadakiss on “Run,” working with the Wallaby Champ can lead to some great asthma-related punchlines, and Meth doesn’t disappoint, as he chastises Ghost for laughing at his asthmatic hook-up. Man, I just want to kick it with these guys.


43. Iron & Wine- Carousel

(Sub Pop) 

            Something just incredibly pretty about this, it’s purely a nice tune that feels, perhaps due to the warbled vocals, like it washed up on the riverbank. The singer rambles on about crackheads and Persian rugs, narrowly avoiding triteness (unlike any of these best songs captions) and we all luck out because it’s sheer dream-like feel can’t be denied. Let’s get this on the Garden State II soundtrack.


42. Hot Chip- My Piano

(Studio !K7) 

            An extremely catchy chorus fuels what is a lesser but easily more fun song than Hot Chip’s “Boy From School,” which seems to be the indie synth-pop equivalent to a TBS New Classic.

Girls Aloud 

41. Girls Aloud- Can’t Speak French    


            It once was hip to love Girls Aloud as a choice manufactured pop group, but I think that changed once Stylus closed its proverbial doors. I’m not sure, yet I still think they put out another song that amazes me, not only by how catchy it is, but also by how interesting it is compared to it’s other chart-topping buddies on the UK pop charts. While not quite the treasure “Biology” or “The Show” each were, “Can’t Speak French” succeeds in once again eschewing most modern pop trends and being master-crafted. All I know is that with this airy, indefinable gem, Girls Aloud has now had one of my favorite pop songs for three of the past four years, and that’s not because anyone else told me it was hip to. I mean, I only read Spin anyways. 


The list has only just begun. There’s forty more to come, and you won’t have to wait three months to see the rest (probably only two and a half.)


Drew R. 

Show Me What Drew Got, Lil’ Mama

October 10, 2007

I’ve still in the midst of trying to explain, as accurately as possible, the city and country I’m in, to many friends and family. I am a pretty verbose guy, and I consider myself a pretty adequate writer additionally, but sometimes I can’t convey the full experience of any of what I’m doing. There are points in e-mails or skype conversations that I actually feel like it’s impossible to communicate, even if given all the details, and it leaves me alone in my experiences, save for those who were physically there with me. The best storytellers can successfully reproduce an image seen by one in another person’s mind, but I’m not that dude. Not yet.

So, to not take a cue from soulstress Sharon Jones, I feel like showing you, rather than telling you. If it will ease the process, feel free to invoke the spirit of Peter Frampton and sing, at an acceptable volume, “I want Drew-ew-ew, to show me the way.” That’ll probably win you friends and lovers.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings- Tell Me

Last Friday, I decided to use the weekend to actually take a day trip to a city in Northern Bohemia, Hradec Kralove, which is an above-average-sized town, at least when talking in Czech terms. It was a $7 train ride round trip, or about the price of a ticket to see Norbit, and I went with four friends, without much of an agenda or sightseeing plan. With eight hours to walk around, it’s amazing how impressive the place was, even if it was a ghost town for much of the day. Seriously, there were fears abound among the group regarding vampires coming out at sundown. Because, Dracula Dead and Loving It and Was (Not Was) taught us anything, it’s that vampires and freaks come out at night.

Most towns of fair size wouldn’t seem to be able to boast a wide array of museums, but Hradec Kralove has that on lockdown. We went to the Museum of Eastern Bohemia, which was in a building that had undergone many uses over since its creation. At one point it was a school in the early part of the 20th century, and some of the learning materials were on display. This one was a bit perturbing:

I suppose it’s logical.

After that, we went to an florist school’s student exhibition, and it definitely was more memorable than my own science fair experiences.

I often think to myself while walking around Prague that this is what I always imagined Europe to look like. I don’t know why, as most American kids think of Europe in Eiffel Tower and Big Ben terms, but I constantly have this memory of a European town that is almost completely replicated in what I see on the streets of my neighborhood in Letna. Similarly, Hradec Kralove has a center town square reminiscent of what I thought small European village all looked like. The town square was a wide-open area that practically screamed for a public hanging.

When I returned to Prague, my roommates and I ventured to nearby Stromovka Park, which is one of our favorite places in the city. I have tried to tell people, even those living in Prague, why I love it, but it doesn’t seem to affect them much. The main draw for me is two-pronged: there’s a carnival there, featuring the insurmountable sport of bumper cars, which has undergone an unexpected resurgence in my heart akin to the Colorado Rockies recent run, and also a convention center. Now this convention center was built by architects who had to be on some 2001 shit, and it is one of those space-age buildings that now looks like a relic from another planet, almost achieving what 60s-era architects aspired to achieve. Or at least, it looks like the the colony where Space Mountain would be located

The carnival is very obviously geared to little kids and tourists, but the most attention-grabbing aspect of the fair are some of the random paintings featured on their rides. I think they’ve done an admirable job of capturing American culture:

Japan’s “Sumo Culture,” touched upon briefly in There’s Something About Mary is even represented, albeit in a much more tight way, perhaps:

Anyways, I’m going to Berlin tomorrow, for a long weekend, and I hope to come away with more than a few superb experiences and sights. Also, I promised myself that I would sing “Take My Breath Away” for the duration of the trip. Danke.

Drew R.

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When I Can’t Move, I’ll Savor The Pause For Awhile

September 29, 2007

Now I understand if you already have lost trust in me, as I’ve totally bombed when it comes to updating. I thoroughly believed that I would be able to fit in at least one entry per week, even with adjusting to a new land and preparing to shoot a short 16mm film (more on this in about 110 words). It would not be out of place for the common reader to expect at least this much output, and yet, your expectations, so far, have gone unfulfilled.The only good that comes out of us this appalling blogging (ugh) is that it is a touchstone in the creation of a unifying theme for this entry. Expectations, whether of Dickens’ stature or not, simply cannot be expected to be actualized. Unless we’re discussing a new Bronson Pinochet TV series- then you can expect with all of your heart that it’s going to be out of the park.I guess I purposedly didn’t mention that I was going to be studying abroad in Prague until mid-December in my first entry, as I didn’t envision this to be a blog devoted to this excursion, hopeful that this will be a lengthier endeavor than just four months. But anyways, through my college, American University, which some consider a frontrunner for third best school in Washington DC which lacks an African-American or deaf majority, I am in Praha to study at FAMU, the world-renowned film school.The school is responsible for the schooling of basically every important contributor to the Czech New Wave, such as Milos Forman, Jiri Menzel, and Vera Chytilová, among many others. It’s amazing to watch Closely Watched Trains, which has steadily become one of my favorite films over the past year and a half, and have the Director of Photography Jaromir Sofr be in the audience with you, as he teaches at FAMU now. The history at this school and standard of excellence consistently astounds me, and it’s hard not to be inspired to produce a meritorious product while matriculating here. Plus, there is a bar in the basement of the school that has one of the cheapest half-liters of Budweiser Budvar on tap that I’ve come across thus far.As for the city itself, I find it’s really hard to explicate what is so appealing already about the place. I’ve been reading friends’ blogs who discuss their study abroad experiences so far, and what I read is usually the same: that it’s an amazing place, that they are having the time of their life, etc. And to be fair, I could easily say that and mean it, and I’m not knocking my friends who write the aforementioned bit. It is an overwhelming and truly blithesome venture to just make it to another place and be able to live, no matter if there is a language barrier or any other roadblocks. The everyday interactions and challenges faced, big or small, make up my time here, and I could never remember/detail these for you, especially those that occured in my first three weeks here. However, I could tell you the little facts about the city that I have found out so far; that I’ve never seen so many dogs (and so much dogshit) on the streets, that Smažený Sýr is the real currency here, that there’s a little bakery on the corner of my street that has perhaps the best smell I could ever ask for at eight in the morning when I walk to class. These start giving a slight indication of what my life is like here, but I’m not sure what context to put them into- yet. Maybe that’s what the city is about, figuring out what to do with it’s greatness, but I will spend a lot of time in this blog trying to figure it out, as best as one can in less than four months’ time.Dogs of Praha IRight now, I often just feel exhilaration at being in a different place, having to create a very different state of mind, where I can’t expect people to speak my native language, where I can’t expect anyone to understand my Drew Cool For School sweatshirt, where I can’t expect ladies to throw a smile my way even if I look fly and fresh to death. I just have to be buoyant and let the proverbial Czech waves take me, a feeling laid to sound very well by Guillemots on “We’re Here” (a title which always reminds me of this animated gem) from from last year’s “Through The Windowpane.” The band treads a line that could easily delve into a Coldplay-sounding shitshow, yet almost always impressed me greatly, and while “We’re Here” isn’t as wow-inducing as “Trains to Brazil” or “Made Up Love Song #43”, it still gives the impression of a wonderous magic carpet ride, if Aladdin was trying to score some indie punani. Guillemots- We’re HereLord SaviorWhen it comes to expectations, I also found myself recently stung by actually believing that Kanye West would produce something unlike his last two albums with Graduation. I have never had an opinion that Kanye was ever anything more than a weak emcee at best, but I have always tipped my bowler towards him when it comes to his producing skills. For some reason, as he has been propelled into mythical music status, his personality and ego have started consuming anything they touch, leading him to become one of the most hard to stomach celebrities I can think of. Someone else has already concocted a list that highlights a few reasons why his self-aggrandizement is a bit too much, but more importantly, he has placed himself as the savior of not only hip-hop but of pop music, or more likely, human beings. I have come to believe that a new album by him will feature great production on half of the songs and maybe two or three songs with any semblance of enjoyable rhyming. I figured I would get around to hearing the album when it came out, content to not expect much from it, but once again, many music review websites championed him, and my interest was piqued. Reviewers said that this new album was different, that he had matured and was a consistent rapper now, but sadly, there is not much difference between what he’s spitting on Graduation and The College Dropout.At times, even his production work falls flat like “Barry Bonds” or “I Wonder,” which another music blog rightfully said sounds like the music you would hear over the closing credits of a late-90s Japanese RPG. And Lord Sam Cooke, is he still sometimes unbearable to listen to on some cuts. Admittedly, when he succeeds, it is generally pretty golden, such as “The Glory” or “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” but how many times can I hear “louis Vuitton” featured in every other line? Of course, I also could deal without ever hearing Chris Martin on another rap song, and “Stronger” is still as much of an abomination as it was four months ago. To me, he has had a miniscule growth rate as a rapper since “Through The Wire,” perhaps the last time he was likeable, and the huge annoyance that his real-life personality more and more becomes is now more and more present in his raps, and that’s not a good thing. He does have an extreme predilection for now saying “dykes” in his raps, which seems weird coming from a guy who is public about his crusade to eliminate homophobia in the rap world, but it actually seems more weird than offensive, sort of like Wes Anderson’s usage of handjobs as a status symbol in Rushmore.Maybe, judging from that example, I hold him to a different standard because of his ego and musical status, as some of my favorite rappers drop homophobic, misogynistic, and incredibly egostical comments in all of their rhymes, and yet, I still support them. So I guess I respect the fact that he is one of the most popular artists in the world now and he is trying to improve and include new elements in his music, as compared to a, say, 50 Cent, a laughable foe. If anything, I have to give him credit for giving us two tight music videos this year:I do have to wonder what my expectations will be, and if I will be burned once again by them, when his fourth album comes around (most likely titled GRE Status).Of course, after seeing a grandfather and his grandkid nailing some ollies on a shoddy halfpipe in the south Cesky Republiky, what else is there to expect from this life?Sk8 or Die GrampsSincerely,Drew R.

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A Salty Salute

September 4, 2007

Here’s the conundrum: part of me wants to begin this new blog by mentioning that I feel like I have been down this road before, at least once or twice. But so much of me wants to immediately follow up that statement by saying that it doesn’t matter, because where I’m going, I won’t need roads. And then a sliver of my soul is appalled that any facet of me wants to commence a new blog with consecutive clichés.

I have before typed up my thoughts and placed them in a public setting twice, to varying degrees of success. Both of these could best be described as online journals, and both were integral to my high school life, in various ways. But since arriving at college, I have forsaken these avenues of expression, for no particular reason, other than the fact that I thought that I didn’t care to let the world in on my life in what I thought was a trivial outlet. Recently, though, I returned to view my past journals, and I was filled with a bit of unexpected emotion.

Going back to printed fragments of your five-year-old psyche, replete with sophomore year yearnings and utterly naïve delusions of relative normalcy is, as could be expected, a somewhat painful act. However, I found that being able to look back on a time period, not just through my memories which have been refined and sculpted to my liking with the filter of time, but actually through my own words of that moment led to a much more accurate script to follow. Nostalgia is malleable, but actual written accounts from the past are (by and large) not. Also, it’s a superb way to knock myself off my high stallion of music elitism when there’s proof that there was a time in my life that I championed …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead. And anytime I wish to create my first big screen melodrama, I will likely cite the journal entries circa-me getting dumped junior year alongside Douglas Sirk and Falcon Crest as primary influences.

The point, however backwardly I finally arrive at it, is that by reading journal entries from the past five years of my life, which charted at least a bit of my evolution (which, to be fair, is not anywhere as entertaining or soulful as the Evolution of Robin Thicke), I discovered a reserve of avidity when it came to writing about my life again. Not under the thin guise of a screenplay or short story, but to actually just put my thoughts down and let the world view them- it occurred to me that I wanted to be able to look back at my life a few years from now and be able to read something that I constructed from way back when. If the past is an edifice that we are eternally locked out of, then it’s a benefit if there are at least a few windows to peek through, and I think that’s what makes this a worthwhile endeavor.

To clarify, the title is a reference to “This is How We Walk On The Moon,” a song by
Arthur Russell, one of my favorite musicians. It is, admittedly, not my choice piece by him, but it is one of my best-loved titles; in a way, it’s the titular companion of “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”, a fabulously-named short story by one of my most admired authors, Raymond Carver. There’s a very thin line between imitation and homage, and while I aim to fulfill the latter, I in no way intend to place the substance featured here in the same category as these two visionaries- that would just be substance abuse (Sorry, I had a pun in the oven.)

For the guidance of the audience, here’s a breakdown of a few choice words featured in the title:

How — An operative word that leads to a pressing question: How? Likely, by means of substandard syntax where meaning becomes mired in way too many words, shoddy diction worthy of my 12-year-old cousin’s Myspace bulletins, a myriad of pop culture references to convey a trace of relevance, and more cheap gimmicks than the last season of Roseanne– these are a few of my favorite things.

We — See, this could have been changed to a singular term, but I wanted everyone to join in on the fun. So when you read the inevitable “Girls don’t like me, fuck, I should just castrate myself for attention” post (over/under: three entries in), we- you, me and Dupree- can all commiserate by commenting and cheering each other up. When used in conjunction with “how,” it indicates that this is a learning process for not only the creator but the observer, as well- edification for all!

Balk — In all honesty (a trait that you can hopefully expect throughout), this is just me trying to be snarky (a trait that you can sadly expect throughout). This was the main word that had to be changed, in order for it to not just be straight copycattery, and this was the best I could do. There are only so many four-letter words that end in –alk, so it came down to this or “talk,” and while the latter may have proven to be a more appropriate title, I really just find the word “balk” to be an ace of a word. But if I have to force any significance upon this word choice, then let it serve as the first representation of this blog’s unerring effort to consistently bewilder and leave the audience guessing what will come next. Feel free to balk at this suggestion.

Moon — Offers a wonderful vantage point to look at our world, and is not made out of cheese, contrary to popular belief.

Okay, now that a handful of key terms have been haphazardly defined, I feel like it’s time to come clean about this new pursuit of mine. This is, undoubtedly, the embryonic stage of this blog, and I am aiming to try numerous methods and styles of expression. Sometimes it’s going to be a bear to read, as I already notice by looking back and cringing at the list of terms clarified above, but that can be expected with any fresh start. Perhaps these first entries will be nothing like future logs, serving only as a remembrance of an inchoate beginning before undergoing aesthetic transmutation for the better. I don’t think you will just find recounting of my daily doings here, as I have a premonition that there will be features dedicated to pieces of art I marvel at or hold my nose at, and there may even be essays about certain pressing issues. Of course, sometimes it will just be a forum for me to post my Buffy fan-fiction. No, that’s not true at all.

I turned twenty a few days ago, and because I am at home, awaiting to go abroad, very few of my friends, either from high school or college, are anywhere close to me. So after a day of getting a haircut (I aspired to look like Drumline-era Nick Cannon), getting treated to seafood by my parents, and getting a smattering of phone calls from distant friends, I decided to go driving in my pops’ car late at night. The album I listened to was The Queen is Dead, by the Smiths, and as I drove around, I thought that it was ironic that my 20th birthday was not that different from my 16th birthday. For some reason, I thought that this was what I did four years ago, and while it’s not an off-base guess, since Morrissey and Marr were as reliably present in those youthful days as backne and tight tees, it also just isn’t true. I couldn’t drive the day I turned sixteen, and furthermore, I didn’t own The Queen is Dead on CD until senior year. So as much as I would have liked to have experienced a moment of cyclical transcendence on my birthday, the facts proved otherwise. And I had to laugh at this, because it felt comforting that I somehow was able to recapture some truth about an earlier time in my life. The past shouldn’t always be romanticized, because it usually leads to verisimilitude being excised for the sake of wistfulness. Truthfully, I could deal with more moments like that, and that’s where comes in. So while I may never exactly remember what I did that September 1st in 2003, I will know what happened that same date in 2007- at least when it comes to musical choices.

In summation: New blog, ever-changing life, Wild n’ Out haircut.

Drew R.

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