July, July

July: It is the seventh month of the year, the seventh month in the Gregorian calendar and the fifth in the ancient Roman calendar. It is, on average, the hottest month of the year. But then, if you live anywhere near where I do, you knew that already.

July is when the dog days start, the beginning of the really hot summer weather. I like the phrase, “the dog days.” Maybe because of the alliteration. I think it would make a good book title. Now, if I’m remembering correctly, they’re called the dog days because of Sirius, the dog star, having some effect on the weather. However, I’m not going to look it up and I read that in a novel when I was twelve or thirteen so don’t quote me on it. No, strike that: together we will spread misinformation around the world! NYC is the capital of New York! Everyone in Christopher Columbus’ era believed in a flat earth! A duck’s quack does not echo! Teflon kills you! (I don’t remember if that one’s true or not. . . )

Anyway, I thought I’d celebrate this month, July, with a really great song off of Laura Veirs’ new album, July Flame. The song is called. . . wait for it. . . . July Flame. It’s a really great track from an amazing singer/songwriter – check it out!

P.S. I apologize for the great number of (!)’s in this post. As Fitzgerald said, using exclamation points is like laughing at your own joke. Or maybe that was Hemingway. . .

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Things Bostonians Dislike: The Lakers

Boston is a sports city. Boston is a team city. They have a sports bar at every corner, next to the Dunkin’ Donuts and the Starbucks. Boston is nuts about sports. That said, there are some sports that Boston, and therefore Bostonians, prefers over others: basketball over soccer, baseball over football (the American kind). Which of these take precedence and preference is a matter of season. In basketball, the Boston Celtics are gods of the city. Their mortal enemies are the L.A. Lakers

Although much of Boston’s population is rather preppy/yuppie, and given to the opinion that most sports are too masculine (no leaving out the females, dude!) and aggressive (we’re all for world peace here, yo), for some reason this doesn’t stop them from being totally for the annihilation of the five men who comprise the Lakers team and anyone who supports them. Therefore, be forewarned: Do not, repeat, do NOT enter Boston, especially after nightfall, wearing a Lakers shirt, or paraphernalia.
Similar to the British obsession with football (their version), sports in Boston are partially an excuse to be violent and to get drunk at odd hours of the day.  However, not all of Boston’s obsession with their teams can be boiled down to a repressed (and then expressed, during game time) need for violence. My belief is that it can be traced back to the days of the revolutionary war. Boston was one of the first colonial cities to oppose the tyranny of the British, the most famous act being the Boston Teaparty. Since then, Boston has become a liberal bastion as it were, eschewing things such a patriotism, nationalism, and tea. However, deep down, the old nature of Boston desires to re-assert itself.
The result is such: The Lakers have somehow become equated in Bostonians’ minds with the tyrannical British, circa 1770s. And by crushing them on the court, and their fans off court, they are being patriotic and nationalistic, despite their firmly held beliefs that these things are evil.

Things Bostonians Like: Coffee

Bostonian Motto

A requisite to being a Bostonian is a love of coffee. Although Bostonians didn’t invent coffee, they are under the impression that they did. They also believe that it’s actually good. Or they pretend that they do. Coffee, like cigarettes and Frank Sinatra, is an acquired taste with a built-in image. And due to the fact that Bostonians also love pretentiousness (just their own, not anybody else’s), the way they refer to their coffee requires a translator for out-of-state friends.

Bostonians all need Dunkin’ Donuts (a franchise that sells all breakfast goods except donuts), Starbucks, or their local independent coffee-shop coffee before they can make it to their strenuous office job at 10:00 am. Poor behaviour, or cussing out the crossing guard lady, will inevitably be blamed on a lack of “morning java.” Referral to coffee as java, joe, morning fuel, etc. is usually a male Bostonian trait.

If they can help it, they will buy Fair Trade coffee for an extra six bucks, because by doing so they can save the world and still get their morning fix.

Bonus Points: Decorating one’s room with the cast-off cardboard coffee-cup sleeves or having a bumper-sticker that reads: My Car Runs on Starbucks.

Band List

This might be a little long, so be forewarned. Although by no means comprehensive, leaning more toward indie folk than my other listening interests, I have spent some time compiling a list of bands that I enjoy. The list isn’t horribly organized, but neither is it completely unorganized. They are not ordered according to my preference, merely according to chaos theory. The * indicates a favorite of mine.

Caleb Caldwell’s Music List
Electronic Pop/Rock
1)Owl City
2)The Postal Service
3)Death Cab For Cutie
a)Favorite Album: Plans
4)Mute Math
5)Radiohead*
a)Favorite Albums: OK, Computer; In Rainbows
6)The Echoing Green
7)The Killers
a)Album: Day and Age
8)The Flaming Lips
a)Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot
Indie Folk/Baroque Rock
1)Iron and Wine*
2)Sufjan Stevens*
a)Favorite Songs: Chicago, Seven Swans
3)The Arcade Fire*
a)All of their stuff is great, but my favorite song is Tunnels (Neighborhood #1)
4)Neko Case
a)Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
5)The Decemberists*
a)The Crane Wife
6)Carbon Leaf*
a)Nothing Rhymes with Woman
7)Damien Jurado
a)Caught in the Trees
8)Laura Veirs
9)The New Pornographers
a)Good despite their name
10)The Weepies
11)Bon Iver*
a)For Emma, Forever Ago
12)Blind Pilot
13)Elliott Smith
14)Jon Foreman (solo work from Switchfoot’s frontman)
15)Mumford and Sons
16)Fionn Regan
17)Great Lake Swimmers
18)Fanfarlo
19)Grizzly Bear
20)J. Tillman
21)City and Colour
22)Local Natives
23)Andrew Bird
24)Monsters of Folk
25)My Morning Jacket
26)Nick Drake*
27)Justin Vernon (solo work from the frontman for Bon Iver)
28)The Shins*
a)Favorite Album: Oh, Inverted World
29)Fleet Foxes
30)Beirut
31)Damien Rice
a)Good Songs: Cold Water; Blower’s Daughter; Cannonball
32)Band of Horses
a)Album: Everything All the Time
33)Belle & Sebastian
34)Pedro the Lion
35)Grandaddy
a)Favorite Song: He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot
36)Eddie Vedder
37)The Avett Brothers*
38)mewithoutYou**
a)Their last album It’s all crazy! It’s all false! It’s all a dream! It’s alright! is folk-rock but their other three cd’s aren’t. However, they are certainly worth listening to.
39)Glen Hansard* (Also appears as The Swell Season and as the frontman for The Frames)
a)Singer off of the movie Once
Brit/Irish Rock
1)Coldplay
a)Their first two albums, Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head are my favorite.
2)Travis
3)Stereophonics
a)Favorite Song: Mr. Writer
4)Keane
a)Perfect Symmetry
5)Snow Patrol*
a)Favorite Album: Hundred Million Suns
6)Starsailor
7)The Kooks
8)Gomez
9)The Doves
10)U2**

Random Indie
1)Interpol
a)Favorite Albums: Turn on the Bright Lights, Our Love to Admire
2)The National**
a)Boxer, High Violet
3)Okkervil River
4)Lovedrug
5)The Joy Formidable
6)Broken Bells
a)Broken Bells is the side project of James Mercer, frontman for the Shins
7)Seabear
8)Bat for Lashes
9)Sigur Ros
10)Jeff Buckley
11)Regina Spektor
a)Good Songs: Fidelity, Samson, Laughing With
12)Ingrid Michaelson
a)Album: Be OK
13)Ben Folds
a)Favorite Album: Rocking the Suburbs
Good Alternative Rock
1)Anberlin
a)Favorite Albums: Cities, New Surrender
2)Switchfoot*
3)Muse
a)Album: Black Holes and Revelations
i)Favorite track: Supermassive Black Hole
4)Lifehouse
5)Goo Goo Dolls

Excerpt. . .

He was jangled all right, he was hyped, he was wired like a friggin’ amplifier. He was electric, could look down at his arms and see his life blood running hot and blue through his skin; he could see through his shirt and through his skin and see the electricity – he was strong and rootless, not concerned in anything outside the act of living. He knew this was how the real poets felt, intense and feverish with the sensation of the edge, the fringe. As a child he had sat on edge of the slanted roof and felt the warm tar under his palms. He could reach the roof by climbing out of his bedroom window, which was recessed, onto a small ledge and shuffling over until he reached the brown slant of the roof of the room next to his. He would sit with his feet braced against the friction of the tar and his knees against his chest, loving the feeling of the edge just beyond his shoes. It was lovely, the space between his body and nothingness, like the space now between his nerve ends and his weariness. It made him conscious of his luckiness, the luckiness of life.

He wanted to talk; god, he wanted to talk. He was starting to feel beat, but he was still alive, and he wanted to talk. He wanted to tell someone about his day, about the waiter, Yankell, who thought he recognized him from a movie. “Is a bit piece,” he kept saying, muddling his English in a lovely fashion. About the homeless guy who thought the other homeless guy was his father. “Hey,” he said. “Hey, are you my father? I’m looking for my father.” Aren’t we all, he thought.

Poem on Poetry (fragment from a larger work)

I. I am the poet, at work at an escritoire –

I would prefer a dark armchair, but must

finish this stanza before six o’clock.

I dream a little, a very little.

I have flooded myself with a profusion

of images and found, to my chagrin,

that I have begun to rust.

Rimbaud

Today I have been reading translations of the French Decadent poet, Arthur Rimbaud. A line from one of his poems struck me: “We know very well/how to waste our lives.” Even as I continue work daily on my writing, I am often seized with the sensation that time is running away from me, quite a bit more quickly than I can catch hold. I feel the need to maintain a strict regime of reading, writing, and study, but never cover quite as much ground as I want to, instead turning aside to tutor or to read period mystery novels. Each day is a constant tension between my desires – the desire to force myself into growth and the desire to lose myself in a movie, a light novel, sleep. These thoughts were exacerbated by the fact that Rimbaud produced all of his major work before he turned twenty-one. I’m already there. Excuse me, I have some work to do. . .

Thoughts on Art and Originality

The drawing below (charcoal medium) is what artists call a study – by that, they mean an exercise that serves to develop technique and (possibly) style without the artist getting too hung up on Art with a capital A. A study is usually a focused look at an ordinary object, such as a leaf or, in this case, a toy block with a couple of marbles.

It is possible that I am writing this post because I am unsure – I did not come up with this study, I did not arrange this “still life.” It was an exercise in an art magazine that I own. It has been a while since I have drawn, instead of painted, and I wanted to get my hand back in, as it were, before I started on another, original project. It is the artistic equivalent of scales. Which makes me wonder: we don’t look down on an accomplished musician because he plays another composer’s music. But somehow, I think less of this drawing because it isn’t completely mine, isn’t original, even though it was my hand on the pencil, my eyes and muscles and knowledge that went into forming the drawing. And yet, we also borrow – all great artists do. Shakespeare supposedly only came up with one original plot. If we agree that Shakespeare (and others) qualify artistically, then borrowing elements to use in a piece of art does not prevent it from being art. Yet we all know that if we borrow incorrectly, we are cheap imitators or plagiarists. One possible conclusion that originality is in the mind of the artist, not the object.

In terms of style and originality, I would argue that there are as many different ways of drawing a thing as there are ways to think about it – for example, do I think about it in term of texture, in terms of light and shadow, in terms of color, in terms of shape, in terms of social context, in terms of its history, etc. The list goes on. I think, ultimately, that the drawing below is an exercise only, and that it should probably have stayed in its sketchbook, much like scales should stay in the practice room, since my thoughts on this object have all been thought before. But I wanted to share them with you, so here they are.

Dunkin’ Donuts Vs. Krispy Kreme

Dunkin’ Donuts seems to be the coffee/donut shop of choice in the north-east, specifically, Boston. This, dear reader, is an unfortunate thing, due to the inferiority of Dunkin’ Donuts’ donuts. They are, in point of fact, not very good. As I discovered in my recent purchase. The glaze was waxy, the powdered sugar tasteless. The jelly, despite its acceptable flavor, was meagre, to the extent of being miserly. The texture of the dough, instead of being light, was heavy, smooshing dryly between my teeth – this is a sign of an old donut. Donuts do not survive long; in the pastry world, they are the beautiful butterflies that die in a day. The best time to eat a donut is right after it is made. However, any self-respecting donut will maintain most of its best qualities for a reasonable amount of time, even up to 12 hours. After this period of time, they can be re-animated to a certain extent by an 8-12 second heat in a microwave oven.

However, my recent purchase from Dunkin’ Donuts was made at noon. Assuming that the donuts are made fresh each day (as is advertised in their shop window) the donut holes I purchased should have been well within the acceptable time frame of good donut. They were not. I cannot speak for the coffee, since I have never tasted it, but they do not call themselves a coffee-shop – donuts is in the title, and therefore they have accepted the responsibilities of a donut shop. They (meaning Dunkin’ Donuts) have failed. Krispy Kremes, of which there is a noticeable lack in this city, would pwn Dunkin’ Donuts’ sorry tail in a fight. However, being unable to witness such a spectacle, I am left to finish my mediocre donuts in silence and sadness.

All hail the Kremes.

Austin and Kaelee Truelove’s Wedding

Here are a few photos from the December wedding.

The Witness

Sleeping Groomsmen

Matron of Honor and Flower Girl

Kissing on the Love Blocks

Sleeping Groom

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