Monday, 15 December 2014

secret: today's prayer

when the actual best part of your shitty fucking inane bore of a day (with a side note of what the fuck hope is there for humanity anyways) is hanging your washing out in a wash of streetlight, amongst the stars:

just be greatful that you have the quiet street.
just be thankful that you have that piece of peace.
just be happy you're allowed
to count the fucking stars.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Secret: it's cool to care (a manifesto)

A warning that this piece, written in early December last year, is born of the hellfury that only little brothers can inspire. Admittedly, it's not only them, as there are plenty of other nuisances pervading my mental space, but on this particular night the nonchalant attitude of younger male siblings brought forth my ire, and so I wanted to share with you poor unsuspecting readers my thoughts.

In case you're concerned that the legendary friendship of the infamous Taylor siblings is in jeopardy, fear not: we still got this, in buckets full of awesome. But sometimes to make an omelette you gotta break some eggs.

Additionally, let me observe that that "why" of the pissed offedness of me on the night this was scribbled furiously into my notebook is not relevant. I actually thank them for pissing me off because they are often the filter through which my world exists, whether I give them credit for it or not. And funnily enough, it's not them at all that doesn't care. However, for that second when I assumed they weren't the type to give a fuck, I really took the world's tendency to not care (disappointing me hugely, always) as personally as I take hurt feelings c/- little brothers.

Here is my rant:

Listen, y'all: caring is cool. It is not creepy, like The Shins said once. Caring about things is what humans do: it's status quo stuff. We care about ourselves- our hair, our breath, our bum in those jeans.  We care about not being able to justify a second helping of cake. We care about if we'll get our request for leave over Christmas granted. We care about keeping our jobs, cars and houses. We care about things happening that we want to happen. We care about being happy, in a myriad of different ways. If you're very lucky, you'll find yourself surrounded by people who care not only about themselves, but about others, too.

Maybe even others like you.

And their caring will fill your cup right to the brim. You will feel happy and loved and valued in ways immeasurable, simply because someone cared. 

The point where you start thinking it's better not to care is a veritable death sentence of the heart. How could it possibly ever be better not to care about things? The living worst, in my opinion, is when you're so misguided in your creepy gross not-care agenda that you start attracting and hanging out with other non-carers, and their very existence starts to get you thinking that not caring is cool. That people who do care are silly, or weak, or just need to calm the fuck down.

I do get it, I really do. Caring about something means inevitable hurt, at some point. We hate the breaking of our tender, vulnerable hearts. We feel the cracks left by the stuff we've cared about, we feel the wind whistling through those cracks- it's like biting down on a sweet thing when you have a cavity. This shit gets right up into the hurtin' stakes.

To care is to expect things. To have expectations is to have something to lose. To lose is to be vulnerable, and nobody wants that - vulnerability isn't brag-worthy, isn't a trophy, doesn't look good as a Facebook post. Care about stuff and sooner or later, shit will inevitably go south. It's the law of things.

But listen up, motherfuckers: I think you should care anyway. Even if it's different from what your friends are doing. Even when no one else is doing it. Even though you're probably going to get hurt. Care anyway. Stand for things, even if it's just you standing there. Love people. Love your family. Get involved and have an opinion about something that might get you into a fight. Care about getting what you want from your life. Ask for things! Demand answers to your questions.

And once you've focused on Number One, do a bit of a social experiment and care about other stuff. People you know. People you don't. Things that are happening, like babies being put in detention centres or Australia's education system or (fuck it) all the countries in the world with populations seeking basic human rights.

What I think is that caring is awesome. Sure, it can hurt. Caring keeps beating me around with its pointy stick of irony, but I can take it. What I can't for the life of me embrace is not caring. Of missing out on the thrill of meaningful human experience- things like best friends getting on planes in the near future to come to Australia. Fuck yeah, I care about that. And because I do, that first glass of wine together is going to be sweet beyond belief. 

Yep, I give a shit about stuff, and the one thing I don't care about is who knows it. I hope for and wish for and expect things from the people I care about. Even when they let me down, which is an inevitable factor of the human condition, I'll still continue to care. The meaning in my life is huge, each day appreciated because of the care factor. I wouldn't do it any other way.

If you don't care, that's your loss, because I'm going to sit here and continue to give a shit about aspects of my life and the lives of others, both great and small. I'm going to rant about the things I care about. I'm going to rant and rave to my heart's content. When you non- carers roll your eyes at my mortifying lack of cool, just know that I'm feeling sorry for ya.

And because I care, I'm probably going to continue trying to make you care too, for the rest of my days. Because YOLO.

Peace. *drops mic*

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

July 15 - Oh Land, "Renaissance Girls"

the first in the next theme which is "shit someone showed me/I found on the internet". this one wins many points for the amazing film clip, which is quite a bit about the dancing, a little about the hair and a bit about the clothing.

Oh Land is Nanna Øland Fabricius, a girl from Denmark with an amazing name. There's something catchy about this tune that I'm not quite ready to be bored with yet.

Monday, 25 August 2014

secret: the soundtrack of your life, part one

There are some songs that find me forever 17.

When I was 17 I was a beautiful mix of music, poetry, angst and idealism. I spent much of my time just being hard out in love with people who hard out did not love me back.

I was cocooned in the safety of parent's money and food on the table 3 times a day, clean sheets and clean clothes and care, lights on when I got home. I drew things and made things, sang things and wrote things and holy fuck, my little heart was so open, so joyous and so vulnerable. 

How ferociously I loved. How vigorously I scribbled and cut and pasted, how carefully I coded my poetry to hide the love it was bursting with. I marvel at my 17 year old self and her sheer bloodymindedness at being constantly rejected and loved and never really being aware.

I'm all too aware now. A heart can only stay open to all the horrors of the world for so long before it hardens over, just a little. I'd tell my 17 year old self to tell everyone how she felt, even though my 28 year old self finds that damn near impossible. 

I listen to '1979' by the Pumpkins and am putting the finishing touches to an end of school mixtape. Dragging my fingertips through the air with my arms out the window of someone's car adorned with freshly minted P plates (how did our parents ever trust us enough to let us go?). Embarking on my first real relationship with my first real boyfriend, not knowing what a struggle I'd put myself in for, just heady in love with somebody beautiful to deigned to love me back. That was enough, and I didn't know any better.

I listen to 'Nothingman' by Pearl Jam and I'm right back into the torn up pinstripe flares dragged on underneath my school uniform in a faux show of rebellion. Why don't I have any photos of this? We were punk in the way Smirnoff Ice is alcoholic, we were alternative in a mode of carefully constructed layers of tie-dye and nose piercings. I'm happy I've kept my nose pierced, a relic of my 16 year old self in one of her few moments of rebelling against parents who gave her every little thing she wanted except maybe being able to attend more parties.

When I was 17 I felt so damned invisible. I felt angry that a part of me wanted to get the best marks in the class, and another part of me wanted to burn the world down. How do you reconcile the two of those? How do you figure out who to be? I wanted to hurt people to be sure they cared, but I also wanted everyone to love me for always, to know all the secrets and be someone's everything. 

I'd never have picked all the things that would happen to me, all the loves I'd have had and all the times my heart would have broken by the time I was 28. 

And perhaps I hold it a little less loftily high than I used to, but love is still all I think about, one way or another. 

"Shakedown 1979, cool kids never have the time

On a live wire right up off the street
You and I should meet
Junebug skipping like a stone
With the headlights pointed at the dawn
We were sure we'd never see an end to it all
And I don't even care to shake these zipper blues
And we don't know
Just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed into the earth below
Double cross the vacant and the bored
They're not sure just what we have in store
Morphine city slipping dues down to see
That we don't even care as restless as we are
We feel the pull in the land of a thousand guilts
And poured cement, lamented and assured
To the lights and towns below
Faster than the speed of sound
Faster than we thought we'd go, beneath the sound of hope
Justine never knew the rules,
Hung down with the freaks and the ghouls
No apologies ever need be made, I know you better than you fake it
To see that we don't even care to shake these zipper blues
And we don't know just where our bones will rest
To dust I guess
Forgotten and absorbed into the earth below
The street heats the urgency of now
As you see there's no one around."

1979, Smashing Pumpkins

Sunday, 24 August 2014

treasure: Margaret Atwood

“Falling in love, we said; I fell for him. We were falling women. We believed in it, this downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said, but we reversed that, and love, like heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.

And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done; and you would know too why your friends had been evasive about it, at the time.

There is a good deal of comfort, now, in remembering this.” 
― Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid's Tale

Saturday, 16 August 2014

secrets: rainy days

Single friends: Is it just me, or do rainy days make you wish you had someone to stay in bed with all day for sex and movies?

Actually, for me right now in the middle of my musical renaissance, it would be sex and songwriting. Or songwriting and sex.

A girl can dream.

Monday, 14 July 2014

July 14: Something sexy - Abbe May covers Ginuine's "Pony" & Toni Braxton, "You're Makin' Me High"

Pretty sure everyone remembers this song from such times as 1996, when it was all kinds of hit. In 1996 I was 11 so I did think it was an actual song about riding ponies.

But that's ok. Abbe May covered it for triple j's Like A Version last year and put it back on the radar. I like this version more, because it's maybe taking itself a little less seriously than Ginuine (seriously, what kind of name...?) while still being a little bit sexy.

"I'm just a bachelor
I'm looking for a partner
Someone who knows how to ride
Without even falling off"

Speaking of sexy, did anyone else have this on their radar?

Again, 1996 - but unlike "Pony", I figured out what this one was about. Probably because of the use of the phrase "private parts". Hot.

Seriously though, go Toni Braxton - slipping multiple sexual references including masturbation into a popular r&b song is no small feat. Although perhaps things were different for women back in '96. I just think if we're going to get all up in arms about Miley, let's remember this has been going on for a while, women making it clear they're sexual beings. I know it's offensive, but women have been having the sex for as long as men have. Hate to break it to you.

"Can't get my mind off you
I think I might be obsessed
The very thought of you
Makes me want to get undressed
I wanna be with you
In spite of that my heart says
I guess I want you too bad

All I want is
Moonlight, with you there inside me
All night, doin' it again and again
You know I want you so bad
Baby, baby, baby, baby"

Sunday, 13 July 2014

July 13 - Willow Smith, "Whip My Hair"

I played this song so. many. times. in 2010. It was my jam. It was good to blast while getting ready to go riding during the 09/10 season in Whistler (even though my housemates weren't quite as stoked on hearing it 3 times in a row as me). It was fucking awesome to ride to - it made me brave for the moments when you know you're going to need extra speed even though a slight miscalculation will result in a fall that makes all the things hurt almost immediately. The film clip is also awesome, energy packed and defiant, sexless (apt for a girl of 10) but tough.

Now my snow days are over, I tend to blast it in my van on the way to work and feel badass for those 3mins 54 seconds. Sometimes that's all the badass you need.

I feel like this song captures a moment in time for me, a moment when I was a strong and fearless boarder, when I didn't care about anything more than when the next snow was coming, whether my board was waxed and my iPod charged, who was riding with me and where the freshest lines would be.

I wax lyrical about this because it was pure happiness. But it did teach me something: that there can be pure happiness just about anywhere.

So some mornings, on my way to work, with this song playing and a cup of coffee precariously balanced by my side, with things to look forward to both in the work day and outside of it, with awesome friends and warm toes, I am pretty damn pleased with myself.

And Willow Smith is right there with me, putting fire in my belly.

"Hop up out the bed, turn my swag on
Pay no attention to them haters
Because we whip 'em off
And we ain’t doin' nothin' wrong
So don’t tell me nothin'
I’m just trying to have fun
So keep the party jumping
So what's up?
And now they don't know what to do
We turn our back and whip our hair and just
Shake em off, shake em off
Shake em off, shake em off

Don’t let haters get me off my grind
Keep my head up, I know I’ll be fine
Keep fighting until I get there
When I’m down and I feel like giving up"

July 12 - TLC, "No Scrubs" & Destiny's Child, "Say My Name"

 These two go together like peas and carrots in my musical memory, so they get to share a post.

I don't know anyone who wants no scrubs. While I'm certain that TLC's double negative has caused confusion for some, for most others, this song's statement causes vehement agreement. A scrub is basically the type of guy I've dated til now, despite listening to this song almost daily for that period of time back in 99, probably a month's worth. I imagine 99's TLC shaking their collective heads in disappointment at my inevitable choice of the very scrub types they were warning me off.

For your future reference:

"If you don't have a car and you're walking
Oh yes son I'm talking to you
If you live at home wit' your momma
Oh yes son I'm talking to you
If you have a shorty but you don't show love
Oh yes son I'm talking to you
Wanna get with me with no money
Oh no I don't want no scrubs"

Recently I decided that the next guy I date must be able to buy his own breakfast. I am sick of buying boys breakfast just so I have someone to come out to breakfast with me. No more, and no scrubs neither.

I know Queen Bey has already had a song in this week's posts, but you know, Destiny's Child in the year 2000 were a force to be reckoned with.

I'm particularly partial to both these songs because of Lydia, who was one of my best friends in the middle highschool years... she loved both these songs and I'm pretty sure owned the singles, when singles were a thing. We listened to them countless times, talked about boys we liked, but also always did our homework. I'm pretty proud of 14 to 16 year old us.

This one is about boys cheatin'. It's bad news. This much my teen self did work out.

It's also about when boys are all talk. Still learning that lesson.

"Say my name, say my name
When no one is around you,
Say baby I love you
If you ain't runnin' game
Say my name, say my name
You actin' kinda shady,
Ain't callin' me baby
Why the sudden change?"

So much wisdom in the late 90s and early 00s.

July 11 - Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"

Seen here with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots, Miley Cyrus's "We Can't Stop" is now a guilty pleasure for me to cover with varying degrees of competency on my guitar. I cannot twerk, but you know, I can play the 4 chords of which this pop classic consists.

While I acknowledge that Miley is doing some things that make some of you angry and uncomfortable, or maybe just hate her outright, or maybe wonder whatever happened to Hannah Montana, I still pick this song. You should hear me sing it in my van on the way to work.

The thing with pop music is, I just can't not. I'm quite ok with being slightly susceptible to catchy tunes carefully formulated with hooks to sell records or generate views or however success is measured for musicians anymore. I'm ok with allowing the part of my brain that identifies with the lowest common denominator to have some candy now and then, even if said 'candy' is full of the musical equivalent of red food dye and chemicals I can't pronounce.

Not even sorry.

"And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
We run things, things don’t run we
Don't take nothing from nobody

It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can see who we want"

I think Miley has actually got a little talent, as seen here in her cover of 'Jolene' by Dolly Parton.  

Also, I don't hate this cover of Lana Del Ray, either.

July 10 - Barden Bellas, "Finals Medley"

How about that motherfuckin' choreography, yo?

I'm well aware this is the second Pitch Perfect reference in a week, and I wish I could find it in my heart to be even slightly sorry/embarrassed, but I am just not. This movie is pretty much everything I love about American college movies, with added acapella and incredibly quotable quotes.

This particular performance, though. It's victorious, it's poppy, it's got sass. It's got Fat Amy, who is pretty much the best character ever. It makes use of Jessie J's "Price Tag" which I had on solid rotation for a good month back in 2012 (yes, a good 2 years after its release... what of it?). It also has a section where Anna Kendrick, who is awesome, sings Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me" from 1985's "The Breakfast Club" to tell Skylar Astin's character through the power of song that she is sorry and she is in love with him. I not-so-secretly pine for a boy to make the face Skylar Astin's character makes (when his little heart melts and all the love rushes in) about falling in love with me. A great love like the love of the movies.

If that's not a guilty pleasure then I just don't know what is.

Aca-believe it.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

July 9 - Sheryl Crow, "Strong Enough"

I'm learning this one on guitar after realising how straight-up awesome it is care of Haim's Like A Version cover.

I think I sort of ignored/soaked up Sheryl Crow through osmosis in the early to mid 90s when she was really kicking ass with songs like this, and "Run Baby Run", "All I Wanna Do" and "If It Makes You Happy". So I was learning all the words and I didn't even realise.

I put this in the guilty musical pleasure category of the July Challenge because there's something about the 90s that feels like comfort food for me. Musical comfort food.

She's a really tough and awesome woman, who I believe when she sings things. She has credibility and authenticity. And I like that, a lot. Also, she is a total babe, in the most kick ass way.

This song really resonates lately as I start to wonder what the guy I fall in love with is actually going to be like. He's going to have to be strong enough, that is for damn sure. While I don't agree that it's the man's role to be the strong one, I also don't see the harm in two strong people being together. Otherwise one of them always has to do the carrying, and I ain't talkin' 'bout groceries.

"God, I feel like hell tonight
Tears of rage I cannot fight
I'd be the last to help you understand
Are you strong enough to be my man, my man?

Nothing's true and nothing's right
So let me be alone tonight
Cause you can't change the way I am
Are you strong enough to be my man?"

Also: holy shit, this version with Stevie Nicks. Fucking A.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

July 8 - Beyoncé, "Flawless" [feat Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie]

I don't even feel I need to say a lot here, do I? Don't we all love the shit out of this amazing lady?

I think the thing about Beyoncé is that she is just badass. I listen to her in the car when I'm on the way to work and the other stuff just won't cut it. Actually, probably fair to say that of all the ladies I'm going to write about this week.

She is all power and lack of apology. She gets what she wants because she believes she deserves it. She may be a complete asshole in real life, although I like to think that she just sasses about the place telling people things and being 100% right. I basically do not want this imagining to be proven wrong, ever.

"Flawless" is a particularly awesome track for its "I woke up like this" factor. I am buying a tshirt with this on it to sleep in. You cannot stop me. It is already in the mail.

I feel like saying "I woke up like this" is one of the most feminist artful ways of saying 'fuck you, beauty things'. Admittedly I am sure Beyoncé looks amazing a lot of the time, but maybe sometimes she forgot to take off her makeup and mixed $5 house red with Campari shots the night before.

Oh wait, that's not Beyoncé.

Here's the kick ass feminist bit for you, also:

And just because I'm feeling all Beyoncé tonight, here's the other one that rocks:

Now go home, learn the dance, meet me out at the club in 3 weeks (that's for you, Chris).

July 7 - Bec Laughton, "Number One (Heartbreak)"

So many feels.

I was lucky enough to see Bec Laughton play a few weeks ago now at the Armidale Club. That night goes down in the books as A Night When Things Happened, but it was also just an amazing night for the music. She played this song towards the end of the set - shortly afterwards she had us dancing to a fuck-off amazing medley of 90s hits, but not before blowing me away with this soulful piece of heartbreak.

I know how it feels, exactly, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I don't mind feeling all the feelings, but sometimes it's a tiring process where it's not so much glamorous melancholia as it is having your tiny heart stomped upon, over and over.

Her voice is ridiculous live - she has perfect control over it; she puts her heart into it in a way that the record kind of captures - but listen, anything this soulful really needs to be felt all around you and ingested in a way that only a live situation can make happen.

It's definitely worth checking her our on Soundcloud. And probably buying her EP.

"They say that heartbreak makes the best songs
I'd know I'd rather not have written this one
And I don't care even if it were to be a number one
Because I can't escape loving you".

Monday, 7 July 2014

July 6 - Julia Stone, "Bloodbuzz Ohio"

This piece of gorgeous and delicious brilliance is a cover of a song by one of my favourite bands, The National. This version is beautiful too, but the clip above one is the one that I found via another favourite YouTube channel, 3eme Gauche.  It reminded me of both my love of The National and my love of Julia Stone.

Not everyone likes her voice; it's a sort of ethereal fairychild's voice. I find it really honest. I find her songs to be pretty lovely too, and I really enjoy her cover choices a lot. Like when she covered "You're the one that I want" from Grease. Amazing. 

The song itself creates this amazing space around it, like a lot of The National's songs. I feel as though Julia's take on it offers a little something different, perhaps makes more of a story of it. It's special when an artist you know can make you fall in love with a song you already loved by another favourite band.

"I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
I never thought about love when I thought about home
I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
The floors are falling out from everybody I know"

July 5 - Iggy Izalea, "Fancy" [feat Charli XCX]

Erryone's talking about Iggy Izalea lately - maybe because she's a white Australian woman rapping in an American accent. There are bulk haters, let me tell you that.

While I agree that the appropriation of black culture is problematic (Miley Cyrus is another one copping regular criticism for the same sort of stuff) I have to say I find her incredibly interesting. The attacks on her are on everything from the fact she doesn't write her songs by herself (if Beyonce is allowed to get help from Sia I don't see this criticism as particularly fair, I don't see music as being any less true or real if it's written by someone and performed by someone else) to her ass. I'm very interested in women in hiphop in any shape or form and so I will continue to keep my eye on her, as well as her haters.

I find this song to be rather catchy, and I find the clip's 'Clueless' theme to be particularly awesome. That is all.

"First thing's first, I'm the realist (realist)
Drop this and let the whole world feel it (let them feel it)
And I'm still in the Murda Bizness
I could hold you down, like I'm givin' lessons in physics (right, right)"


Saturday, 5 July 2014

July 4 - Bic Runga, "Sway"

A lot of things happening in 1997. I turned 12. I lived in France for 6 months with my family. I had started to get into music as my own person beyond what my mum (with, admittedly, impeccable taste) put on the mix tapes that accompanied us on the long car trips we were often taking (more on my mix tape reminiscence here).

In 1997, New Zealand artist Bic Runga released "Sway". It got used in 99's American Pie, but we won't hold that against it.

"Sway" is a very very simple tale of being out of control in love with someone. At 12, I was so close to thinking I knew what love was. The kind of love where you hold hands sometimes, and share your lunches. The kind of love where you have private jokes, save seats for each other, write their name over and over and over in your school books.

I still want that kind of love.

"And here I go
Losing my control
I'm practicing your name
So I can say it
To your face it doesn't
Seem right
To look you in the eye
Let all the things
You mean to me
Come tumbling out my mouth"

Thursday, 3 July 2014

July 3 - Sia, "Elastic Heart" [feat The Weeknd and Diplo]

I have so many reasons to love this one in particular, but it's really about Sia - as I recently observed on Facebook, she is my spirit animal. Of course I currently can't stop with "Chandelier" either, and have pre-ordered the shit out of her upcoming album '1000 Forms of Fear'. She's written ALL the songs, too - not only her own albums, but money-makers for Rihanna, Beyonce, David Guetta ... she's lent hooks to Eminem and Hilltop Hoods, plus more, I'm sure of it.

I also just recently found out she's actually an Aussie - you may well scoff at my lack of knowing of things, my housemates did - but I think it's because Sia started to get better known while I was overseas and stuck in the "hiphop/dubstep/stuff I could steal from my friends" musical loop. That's my story. Anyway, all her being Australian means is that I can include her in my 'Local'-themed Week 1 of this challenge.

"Elastic Heart" is part of the 'Catching Fire' soundtrack. I am part of the Hunger Games fanbase. It's entirely possible I saw it twice at the cinema in the space of a week, I can neither confirm nor deny. The soundtrack definitely didn't suck, and I probably own it.

I really truly got into this tune early this year (I believe it was around the 10th of January, actually) as I collected my van from the mechanic in Gloucester (I don't want to talk about it) and started my way up the hill in the summer heat. It was just me, which I see as a green light to turn up the volume and bellow away to my heart's content. So I completely owned this song by the time I got to the top of the hill, sweaty with a lack of air conditioning and a slightly uneasy feeling about whether I'd make it home.

I like how epic it is - it takes up a lot of space, vocally and emotionally. And the lyrics... so many feels.

"And another one bites the dust
Oh why can I not conquer love
And I might have thought that we were one
Wanted to fight this war without weapons

And I wanted it, I wanted it bad
But there were so many red flags
Now another one bites the dust
Yeah let's be clear, I'll trust no one"

Love stinks. But the chorus is basically like, I've got an elastic heart, so I'll be fine. Which is how I also feel. It's a partly sad inspirational tune. I feel I believe it more when there's a touch of melancholy. Gives it grit and credibility.

Listen to more Sia. Listen to this version of "Breathe Me" and this awkward shower-scene acapella version of "Titanium" ... because every post needs a touch of Pitch Perfect.

You're welcome.

Wondering what I'm up to? Here's the 'why'.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

July 2 - Courtney Barnett, "Avant Gardener"

It's an interesting experience to listen to the epic Australian accent on this lady. Perhaps you'll even be little uncomfortable for the first listen, like I was: part of me thinking "holy shit, is she even allowed to do that?" and part of me being like "fuck yeah this chick is just totally and unapologetically being herself".

I wasn't sure I liked her at all until suddenly she was all I wanted to listen to. I actually came across her through her amazing NPR Tiny Desk performance (this is where I get all my new musical loves lately). Courtney Barnett appears to be taking America on and winning in all the ways that it counts, and I fully support that.

Her songwriting is on another level all together. There are so many gems worthy of quotation I almost hesitate to choose one:

"Halfway down High Street, Andy looks ambivalent
He’s probably wondering what I’m doing getting in an ambulance
The paramedic thinks I’m clever cos I play guitar
I think she’s clever cos she stops people dying"

Each song is a story (I completely and absolutely advocate buying her album, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas - get it here), carefully crafted in a way that sounds slightly familiar, like a friend telling you a story about something that happened to them on the way to the party.

She's a poet and a master, and I bow down.

Wondering what I'm up to? Here's the 'why'.

July 1 - Jen Cloher and Mia Dyson, "Save Me"

Besides the super cute haloumi joke at the beginning of this clip, the song itself is beautiful.

"Save me from what I want" is a refrain that could possibly be my life, and I don't doubt many of you might feel the same way. It's tough to want things that you know you shouldn't want, whether it's haloumi or bad news lovers. Those men that never text you back, you know the ones?

I love women vocalists with deeper voices - they seem to ground a song in something a bit more earthy and solid, making their words instantly grittier and more likely to resonate somewhere in my soul.

I came across Jen Cloher a lifetime ago, when it was summer and I was breaking free of an abusive relationship. I drank beer and sat on my tiny balcony while she sang me love songs and other songs, smelling the city in big gulps to try and drown out my apprehension. Her songs are simple; the chords are ones that even I could play. Her voice is strong, yes, but it's also a bit about the way she strums a guitar with such certainty.

"We were made for ecstasy, we were made for pain. We were made to risk our love and find our way again."

Wondering what I'm up to? Here's the 'why'.

My July Challenge 2014: Women in Music

Last year after being rather put out about triple j's hottest 100 of the last 20 years being men-heavy to the point of a mere 8 songs in 100 being fronted or written by women, I spent a month focusing on women-made musics. You can read all about it over here.

I have been rather busy with my life and feel as though I've been missing out on both music listening time and blogging time, so I've set myself a challenge of writing every day of July about a song or a female artist of the musical persuasion. It means I can catch up on all the recommendations made by both friends and the taste-makers on the Internets, spend time in my room listening to fine things (and sipping whisky, if you must make yourself a mental picture) and generally enjoying myself.

July is a cold month in Armidale and so I think the company of talented ladies singing me all manner of things will warm me up no end.

A post a day. You may have noticed it's the 2nd that I'm starting this challenge, or at least posting about it. My defense is this: Canada Day is July 1st, and I had to drink delicious cocktails and watch a lovely Canadian movie with other appreciators of all things Canadia. But I do have a belated July 1st post for you.

I'm not being particularly political about this, although I guess in the face of many men, listening to and actively seeking female musical companionship may be an act of rebellion, or radicalism, or whateveryoumay. I just think small and amazing things can happen if you put your energy into them.

So this month it is all about the ladies.

Let's go.

Oh, also, by the end of the month I will have made a spotify playlist to share with you. In case you're into it. Alternatively, write me a letter and I might just post you a mix CD.

Monday, 19 May 2014

secret: a cool thing I found on the internet

I know not everyone loves Dylan, but I seem to know a lot of people that do.

This is a pretty thing I found a while ago, and forgot about until just now. Read the full post about the process here. Damn I wish I was cleverer with my hands.

Monday, 12 May 2014

on smartphones, social media and "Looking Up"

The kids are all posting this video on Facebook and being like "yeah, totes" and it is hurting my feelings. It is hurting my feelings because I do not like to be called an idiot.

I've given you the link, because it's worth watching so you understand exactly where I'm coming from for this post. I've watched it thrice, to be sure it really did annoy me beyond regular amounts, and not just that I was having a bad internet day. 

My understanding of this spoken word piece is that its creator, presumably now crazy-famous Gary Turk (it's had over 35 million views) is lamenting our use of smartphones, feeling that we miss out on the better things in life because we are looking down at screens instead of looking up, living our lives.

Most people are totally on board, which is a bit intimidating. Particularly because I am about to tell you all that I think it's bullshit.

Ignoring the fact that this guy made a video to post to YouTube, and ignoring the money he stands to make from having the piece go viral in such a short amount of time, and ignoring that the thing is spoken word which I'm normally all for (this one and this one rock my world), I have some things to say.

A smartphone is ultimately another human-made tool. But folks, with great smartphone comes great responsibility. You are in control of your own touchscreen. It's as much part of your life as you want it to be - you own it, it does not own you. My largest and most singular issue is that "Look Up" seems to imply it's overtaken us all and made us zombies; "A world where we're slaves to the technology we mastered".

Are we really that scared of technology? Is Skynet coming to kick our sorry asses for creating it? Terminator is not a documentary, children. While I'm as excited about the apocalypse as the next person, I don't believe that smartphones are going to bring the world crashing down around our ears. 

To be fair, that's not exactly what old mate Gary is saying. He is really emphasizing the human connections we miss when we look downwards at our trusty iPhone 4S's with a single crack running diagonally through their screen, and they smile their battered smiles back at us... oh wait, no, I can't have a relationship with a smartphone.*breaking heart noise*

Except that I know all this. Before I pull out my favourite rhyming couplets from "Look Up" (provided by Jez Kemp, who also has a bit to say on this subject) to examine and burn with acid, my overall issue with Mr Turk is that his piece is a prescriptive text. He takes it upon himself to tell us all firstly that our lives are empty, and follows up with what we should be doing instead. What we should be doing with our smartphones - I'll tell you what you can do with yours, friend (too much? Sorry. Diminished capacity for empathy, too much Candy Crush Saga). 

He tells us to put down our phones and experience our lives, like he knows our lives. Like his realisation is so fucking precious we should fall down thanking him for bringing to our attention the meaninglessness of our sorry, screen-filled realities. Privileged White Man alert.  We could argue for free speech, and that he was just having a beautiful, heartfelt opinion, sure. We could argue that, but for the sheer production quality of the YouTube clip. The music? The poorly acted newly pregnant couple? The care taken to ensure "Look Up" went viral leaves me cold, and simultaneously, slightly thirsty.

I flat-out resent being told that as a Gen Y, my life lacks meaning, or lingers in black white and grey rather than technicolour because I have a relationship and ease with a level of technology that my parents supposedly don't have (I have enough instances in my pocket that I may just beg to differ with the 'technological divide'). Elite Daily, a website that calls itself "The Voice of Gen Y" (cringe) posted a link to the video - this was the first time I came across it- titling the post "This Is One Of The Most Vital Messages Gen Y Needs To Hear" (another pet hate for another time: Capitalising Each Word In An Article Title). 

I have 422 friends, yet I am lonely.
I speak to all of them every day, yet none of them really know me.
I have 525 friends. Suck it, dude.

Not even touching the fact that you can't and don't speak to 422 people online everyday, let's look at how you might want someone to know you, as a friend. In the real world, how many of your face-to-face friends would you say really know you? Personally, I'd say 15% of my friends know me extremely well, perhaps another 20% know me quite well, another 30% know me well enough to be clear on what sort of things I'm interested in talking about or giving my energy to. That leaves 35% of friends that sit just this side of acquaintance, or as my brother might call it, the "maybe pile". And I'm a very social person at this stage of my life. 

Is "Look Up" bemoaning the nature of smartphones, or is this about Facebook specifically? It seems to me that it's really social media taking a beating here, but it's a confused message.

If you, as the audience, have felt a twang of recognition at this particular rhyming couplet, I respectfully suggest that if social media makes you feel lonely, chances are you feel lonely in general. Perhaps I am cavalier in saying this, and I'm not out to hurt anyone's feelings, but after giving it large amounts of thought, I have decided that sometimes, feeling lonely is ok. No-one can know your mind, not exactly. This is not your smartphone's fault, or Facebook's fault. This is human nature. Welcome to it.

A world of self interest, self image and self promotion
Where we all share our best bits but, leave out the emotion.

Smartphone are not to blame; that's people, folks. We're rarely honest about ourselves with people we don't know particularly well. We're rarely honest with about ourselves with ourselves. If you are only just realising it's an imperfect world out there, what you need is not so much to "look up" as it is to, as they say, "drink more whisky". If your management of your online presence is making you feel like an emotionless faker, change it. Know yourself - take this opportunity, right now, to choose what works for you. Be yourself, or be someone else, but don't pretend it's out of your control. 

Being alone isn't a problem let me just emphasize
If you read a book, paint a picture, or do some exercise
You're being productive and present, not reserved and recluse
You're being awake and attentive and putting your time to good use

So many thoughts here.

I firstly do not owe anyone productivity, presence, alertness, art or fitness. And this one may be just me, but fuck I'm rude when I'm reading a book. The world disappears for me and is replaced by a fictional one put together by the author of whatever I am reading. Am I doing it wrong? Dirty books, keeping me from looking up.

The awesome Tavi Gevinson touched on an awesome thing in her editorial for the May edition of Rookie on the theme of 'Together'. She says: 
"I don’t think there has to be anything particularly vile about the fact that the internet has often been, and will more often be, the on ramp en route to a feeling of Together. I get that something feels less sincere about sharing stuff on a site with “likes” and “reblogs” than on a typewriter, or in the sand, or using tiny twigs like a Wes Anderson credits sequence, but there was a time when even novels were conceived of as tacky and dangerous to society. And now everyone wants to save the printed word! If you have nothing to lose, nothing to prove, and don’t think being in public is necessarily a performance, the way I, and many other people reading this, have grown up—typing out our feelings to friends we’ve never met, sharing life’s minutiae when it seems to have some value—is not intrinsically dirty, some kind of loss, or less truthful than the way our parents did it."

At one point or another, writing on paper threatened the spoken word, radio threatened books, tv threatened radio, internet threatened tv. Don't even get me started on rock & roll and what it's doing to the kids.

I can't stand to hear the silence of a busy commuter train
When no one wants to talk for the fear of looking insane.
We're becoming unsocial, it no longer satisfies
To engage with one another, and look into someone's eyes.

So listen. There is a certain way that it feels to be a woman on a train when an unknown man starts to interact with her in an unwelcome way. Often this is done with the belief they are being friendly, which quickly turns to aggression when the so-called (unrequested) "friendliness" is not responded to or reciprocated. I've seen it happen. It's happened to me. That's my personal space and I shall fill it as I see fit. I refuse to agree this makes me antisocial. It is my right.

We're a generation of idiots, smart phones and dumb people.

You are.

The time you want to start a family, and the moment when
You first hold your little girl, and get to fall in love again.
The time she keeps you up at night, and all you want is rest.

I'm anecdotally certain that social media and smartphones give mums of young children a connection to friends, family and other mums that they don't always have the time, energy or chance to have otherwise. Talking about your experiences, successes and failures as a parent, I have to assume, must be a way of normalising your experience - you're not alone, and there are millions of mums online to prove it. Sharing photos and videos of your little ones with your 422 extended family and friends seems to connect you in a way that isn't possible in real life. It's through Instagram, Facebook and texted videos that I have the incredible privilege of watching my friends kids grow up, whether they're in Melbourne or Vancouver. Not easily huggable doesn't equate to unknowable, and while the visits I get to have are precious, the other bits are the sweetener. If I didn't see how cute they were getting, where would the impetus be to fly to faraway places to see them?

So don't give into a life where you follow the hype
Give people your love, don't give them your 'like'
Disconnect from the need to be heard and defined
Go out into the world, leave distractions behind.

It's not hype, and it's not a phase. Social media has been around long enough that it's a part of everyday life. It's most definitely part of mine, and I love it. When I'm not digging social media, that's the point where I go and do something else. I'll tell you this - it normally has nothing to do with Facebook or my smartphone and everything to do with me. 

Because I am an adult in control of my mental facilities, I recognise and understand this. I'm going to give you the credit to assume you're capable also, but if there's a market for it, I could run workshops for you all. Maybe things have gotten really terrible and if I'd only looked up, I would understand. Yeah? Nah?

Also: there are many distractions out in the world. Hello, have you ever heard of shiny things? Wine? Opshopping? 

There is a danger in marathon games of 500; a darkness at the heart of every Monopoly tournament.

Look up from your phone. Shut down that display. 
Stop watching this video. Live life the real way.

Now it sounds like a cult. If it's antisocial to be on your phone around your friends, it's antisocial to push your cultish tendencies on your friends.

Samsung is also to be feared and revered.
Before I let you go, if your now-limited attention spans haven't lead you away from this page to video of a cat suckling a monkey, I wanted to also talk a little about my version of human connectivity. I want to explain the way I use Facebook, social media and my smartphone.

Reading my other blog posts, you'd be quite right in assuming I'm a feminist - and that as time goes on, I just cannot avoid applying this filter to a great many of the things I come across in the media. I have used Facebook to effectively seek out and create a safe feminist space for myself, where most of the pages I'm subscribed to actually populate my news feed. I see bits and pieces of friend's posts, but my constant interaction with feminist Facebook pages means that those clever algorithms have identified my viewing preferences.

Social media means that people all over the world are able to have a voice. Granted, not all people. Mainly people with internet, but there are still minorities among those people. People that can't speak up, for any number of reasons. People who are survivors of sexual abuse, who can find safe online anonymous communities to get support on their terms. People who have awful experiences on the daily with street harassment. People who have lost loved ones. People who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, questioning, trans*, intersexual or asexual can find whole communities to which they are able to belong. 

If life is really tough, sometimes online friends might be the only ones you feel like you have. Sadly, there is a reality of online bullying I acknowledge as something I have been fortunate to avoid. I know it happens, but I still have to insist it's the people, not the smartphones. Like in life, you can open yourself up to some things while being able to close yourself off to others.

I'm getting an incredible education. I'm interacting with and supporting people who have suffered awful things, I'm cheering on the achievements of minorities working so hard to just live in the world and be ok with it. These are people I have not met, who can read and feel the love I send across the world from my HUMBLE SMARTPHONE, and that makes me feel so happy and connected. It makes my online presence meaningful in a way that is significant to me.

So fuck this "Look Up" shit. If you watched Gary Turk's spoken word piece and it made you want to change something in your life, by all means, you go Glen Coco. But don't believe for a second that it's your smartphone, or Facebook, or any social media that is to blame. It's up to you. It's your choice. You're the one that has to look at yourself in the mirror and live your life. If you want to take a selfie while you're looking, more power to ya.