Good Bones

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Good Bones by Maggie Smith


i was fortunate enough to see promises live last night—apparently the only-ever performance—and i am still kind of dumbfounded by the experience. rarely have i seen a show that the cliché words cannot describe what i just heard could be used, but if there was one, it was this.

not to mention, the description of the video above is absolutely wild:

Floating Points and Pharoah Sanders at Sargent Recorders in Los Angeles, June 2019. This was the first moment Pharoah Sanders ever heard the Promises composition, and his first take on playing. It became Movement 1 and the opening of the album.

the only bad part about the performance was, during the incredible quiets, two or three people had to decide to cheer or whoop while thousands of others remained totally silent. still, though, mind-boggling over all. rest in peace, pharoah sanders.

to live and die in los angeles

when i was visiting the east coast, most of my friends asked the same question—so, what’s living in la like?

the funny coincidence wasn’t that the wording was so similar each time i was asked, but their demeanor when asking. it’s a loaded question that comes with a bit of a sneer, because everyone has this weird preconception of los angeles and what it’s like here. (admittedly, i felt something similar before moving—then, one day, i was driving down sunset and realized, it’s just a fucking street full of potholes like the rest. cultural lore is really something else.)

plenty of factors come into play when describing what it’s like to live somewhere. i can’t afford a house in the hills, so there’s that. but my studio apartment is the same rent as one in boston or portland and my painting studio is less per-square-foot then really anywhere i’ve found. gas is insane—california just hit over $6 a gallon again—and food isn’t cheap, but in ‘cost of living’ terms—the most fucked up phrase on the planet—it rounds out.

downtown los angeles

and that’s what people think about when they think about california, or los angeles. that and palm trees. but what it really means to live here, for me at least, is that tonight i’m going to see floating points perform 2021’s promises. later this year, i’ll get to see william basinski perform the last symphony a couple days before my birthday. between now and then will be undoubtedly killer shows with tim hecker, jessica moss, mary lattimore.

obviously, given it’s hollywood, there are any number of film events that are happening all of the time and impossible to recount. (next week i’m seeing an nc-17 cut of david cronenberg’s crash as part of beyond fest.) but there’s also an incredible visual arts scene—right now on my list of shows to make it to: jenny holzer, harmony korine, william monk.

when i say that los angeles is the last place in the states i want to live, part of it is because i’ve lived in every other part of the country and none really measure up to southern california. but mostly it’s that la provides an unlimited amount of art and culture to indulg in. there is just no shortage of anything to do in terms of gallery shows, music, film. i think at this point, living anywhere else, i would just find myself so bored.

on display

key changes

josh and i were eating sushi at a joint off beverly and discussing music, preparing to go see relay for death and aaron dilloway make so much noise that my teeth hurt during the sets. going to an abrasive noise show perhaps isn’t as rare as it used to be, but it still takes a certain path to end up at one. josh grew up in ohio and i spent high school in small-town alaska or rural new england—places not exactly known for their cultural scenes. finding the music, and therefore the people, we could relate to back then took work.

and this is actually how we initially became friends—on a message board loosely affiliated with the punk scene around 2006. now we both live in los angeles and go to usually anything but punk shows—taste changes with time. our conversation revolved around cultural growth and how some people just stop at a certain place; how entertainment gives society the option to just never expand their experience with art beyond what is projected from the screen.

being back east last week, i had similar kind of experience, talking with my old friend dan about how much fun we had at taking back sunday shows in 2002 or how rowdy the worcester palladium would get when a band like thursday would play it. these weren’t exactly unknown bands, but that was a scene that gives the option to just stop any sort of musical growth. if i had chosen to, i could have just stayed listening to music reminiscent of early-2000s emo and still have content to consume today.

we live in a strange moment where the commodification of art is integral to the new economy. on the artistic side you have the ongoing debate about selling out and becoming a part of the machine that is eating away at every cultural scene possible; on the consumer side, there is the choice between seeking out new and perhaps difficult artists with your time or just accepting whatever an algorithm tries to sell you. but those consumer experiences are completely different—to take a personal chance on something against listening to whatever spotify spits out is actually a fairly substantial personal choice.

these choices are important because they impact how our socio-cultural growth, at any scale, is formed—and, more significantly, by who. but most people don’t think beyond their own taste, and plenty don’t even think much about that. it’s too bad, because these decisions of consideration do matter.

anyway, i’ve been listening a lot to rachika nayar’s heaven come crashing, tim hecker’s konoyo, corntuth’s the desert is paper thin, and manas’ collaboration with efrim menuck, at home unamerican—and then some placebo and taylor swift in there, because we all fall victim to the pop machine sometime.