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12 September 2011

September 12th, 2001 to September 12, 2011

On September 12, 2001, I wrote a thing about the day before. (Though I was living in Brooklyn at the time, that week I just happened to be in Los Angeles.) Here it is with some pictures I took when I returned to New York.

Remains of the Day

The thing to remember in the face of death is that it is a moment when we who live through it are the most alive. We notice the same things. Reality comes into focus.

This morning, you freeze up when you hear the news and drop a handful of change on your hardwood floor: three nickels, four dimes, six pennies, one quarter. You wonder where on Earth the news photographers are going to get their awful negatives developed and their pictures processed. You decide to take up smoking again, and the brown-skinned clerk at the 7-Eleven where you buy them is upset because a customer came in this morning to make hateful accusations. Calls arrive from everyone you know, but there‘s little to say, so these conversations are brief. You want to cleave to ex-lovers, because the problems you had seem minor now. As you drive to work, you look pedestrians in the eye and share a moment. You open a door on a co-worker, and he recoils and squints his eyes. “A little jumpy today,” he says. There is a common understanding.

“We’ve given up a little of our freedom today,” a police chief says on the radio. But it‘d be wrong to give that up. We will give blood instead. Read more »

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18 October 2010

Odd Future from Los Angeles

Above is a YouTube blip by Tyler, the Creator, the one member of LA hip-hop posse Odd Future who is most hotly tipped to go all the way. And, well, now that LA Weekly has finally gotten around to it, I should probably publish my post about them too. Here’s a boiled down version of the Weekly‘s feature (written by an acquaintance, Caroline Ryder, to whom I’ll say, nice job).:

    Their visual language reflects influences they don’t even know they have yet — Aleister Crowley, ’80s porn, Amityville, A Clockwork Orange and Dogtown. Their lyrical matter is XXX-rated, containing references a little too weird (rape? scat? Jermaine DuPri?) and a little too learned for their young-adult minds. They are tough enough to be on The Wu-Tang’s radar (GZA is a fan), and their beats, dense enough to crush bone matter, are engineered by a girl — Syd, Odd Future’s only female, who is arrestingly beautiful in a no-makeup-and-hoodie kind of way…

    In addition to Tyler, the Creator, Odd Future is: Jasper Dolphin, Domo Genesis, Matt Martians of the Super 3, Left Brain, Mike G, Hodgy Beats, Taco, Syd and Earl Sweatshirt.

    Sweatshirt’s video, called “Earl,” is how I stumbled upon Odd Future. Directed by A.G. Rojas, it features Earl sitting under a hair-salon dryer rapping about ass sex, catfish and decomposing bodies while his Odd Future posse members drink a smoothie made of cough syrup, weed, pills and powders, with gory, deeply disconcerting consequences. “Let’s all fucking kill ourselves,” someone commented on YouTube, which pretty much summed up how the video made me feel, too.

    It was amazing…

    Tyler says he really loves to masturbate, collects books and was, until very recently, studying film at a community college in West L.A. He dropped out, aware that Odd Future was turning into something that might require all of his time and attention.

They’re dark to the point of being indefensible, perhaps…

…but I’ve learned better than to even attempt to police the hazy borders that govern morality in art. Say what you will, they’re at least self-aware enough to know what they rap about has fucked-up qualities. (The top post on their website right now debuts a new track, while noting that it marks a change of direction: “Some OF You Females Might Get Annoyed By Us Raping You, So, Left Brain And Hodgy Decided To Slow It Down And Show You That…You Are Special…Not On No Soft Shit.” Ok then!)

Where to start? You can download many of their mixtapes at their blog OFWGKTA (an acronym for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) or visit some of their MySpaces. I started with Tyler the Creator‘s album Bastard which he released free online on Christmas day in 2009. Check it out (though unfortunately the full album-length download link at seems to be gone now).

Not being the hip-hop head, I’ll admit I haven’t gotten very far past that album, but I like it. Reference points via an RIYL: Wu-Tang Clan, Dr. Octagon, Gravediggaz. And RE: that last RIYL, here’s a thought to anyone that thinks Odd Future is truly new. Everything old can and will become new again! (Evidence after the jump.)
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10 May 2010

Obits: Alan Rich, classical music critic

A few weeks ago the august and (by some accounts) curmudgeonly classical music critic Alan Rich passed away.

As is my way, I’m not so good at the blog-paced instant response. I made a terrible journalist when I was in that field, but I did get to know some quite good ones while I toiled among them, Alan Rich being one of them. Let me log some remembrances.
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