Psychic anesthesia

I am listening to “Waitin’ For A Superman” on $40 headphones I purchased at an outlet mall.

I visit a place called City Creek the Mormon Church erected in the middle of downtown Salt Lake City. I find comfort and a disquieted mind in the sky-touching ceilings, the smooth futuristic flow and the glass, everywhere the glass. I am worshipping in a hypercapitalist cathedral simply by stepping into the place. I ooh and aah at the displays and the diamonds and the fountain. This place is only futuristic to 14-year-old me. To 32-year-old me it is simply uncomfortable present.

Jeff Buckley’s “Last Goodbye” is rich and haunting through the $40 headphones from a brand called Skull Candy.

I am now listening to “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth).” When I was a teenager I thought the song was meant to make one’s teeth hurt (which would mean the anesthesia wasn’t working I suppose). I believe I clung to this myth because Alan Nichols, a guy who could actually play some Metallica songs (or at least a couple of cool riffs) on guitar said so. Even now I imagine I feel my teeth ache to Cliff Burton’s distorted bass solo (take one).

I am sitting in a living room watching a one-hour video of logs burning in a fireplace.

I attend a rally at the Utah capitol building. The rally is for clean air. Many persons are wearing masks. Basic masks, gas masks, respirator masks.

I am living in the future. The air is too toxic for our present-day lungs. Reality is too much for our fragile bodies and psyches. Our fireplaces must be safe pixelations.

Music Recommendation #1: KRISTEENYOUNG

11 May 2011

Several weeks ago, my friend Marci told me I should start including music to listen to as a part of this blog. This one is for you Marci.

As a child and young adult (hell, even now), I was plagued by self-doubt, self-recrimination and all around low self-esteem. I sought comfort in the Christian god. I found comfort to an extent, but also saw my constant failings as a human brought out in front of fellow, judgmental Christians and an all-powerful, albeit fictional, deity.

I jumped into music, especially Metallica, and found emotional release in the blistering riffs of Kill ‘Em All. Then, I decided I wasn’t dedicated enough to god (after watching one of those Christian “documentaries” decrying the inherent Satanism of all rock music) and dove fully into Christian music. I did find some wonderful stuff, including Five Iron Frenzy and Switchfoot. However, I wasn’t quite satisfied. Eventually, I would step away from my evangelical Christianity and the “songs that made [me] smile and the songs that saved [my] life” would no longer be relevant to me. I needed something else.

Along came graduate school and, finally, the discovery of You Are The Quarry. I had never heard the sweet, melancholy croon of Morrissey before this time, but I was instantly ensorcelled. As soon as track three, “I Have Forgiven Jesus,” played, I knew I had met the musical love of my life. Since then I have devoured the music of Morrissey and The Smiths.

I was incredibly riled up and excited to see Morrissey in concert at Utah’s E Center Ford’s Theatre for the first time. As much as I loved Morrissey’s live performance, I was even more fascinated by that raucous opener KRISTEENYOUNG.

Prior to the concert, I picked up two of Ms. Young’s singles which included the tracks “Kill The Father,” “Life’s Not Short, It’s Sooooo Long,” “London Cry” and “The Dawn of My D-Day.” My musical life would never be the same.

[Kill The Father by KRISTEENYOUNG]

Kristeen Young’s lyrics and music spoke to my deep need to be bold, irreverent and simultaneously worship and disdain those who came before me. When I saw her perform, I knew the lyrics to most of her songs and belted them out as passionately as I could muster. The crowd seemed antsy for Morrissey to appear. But I hoped he never showed. I wished desperately for Kristeen and her drummer, “Baby” Jef, to play all night and for eternity.

[I’ll Get You Back by KRISTEENYOUNG]

Today, I urge you to listen to KRISTEENYOUNG and buy all of her music and see her any chance you get.

[The Devil Made Me by KRISTEENYOUNG]

[Fantastic Failure by KRISTEENYOUNG]



10 February 2012: DC Exile Day 17

Let’s get caught up on some news from the past week.

Big Miracle

On Thursday, GF and I went to see the new film, Big Miracle. The film stars John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore and Kristen Bell. The film’s plot revolves around three whales trapped under ice (much like James Hetfield was) off the coast of Alaska. It takes a daring young reporter, a fiery unstoppable Greenpeace activist and a host of other characters to deal with rescuing these adorable gray whales. The film had two highlights for me. The first involved seeing a Russian tanker (that’s a type of ship for you nautical newbies). Ever since I was in elementary school I had a passive fascination with Russia. It is one place on earth that has a magical, sexy allure for me. When I was a kid, I would stand in the shower (taking a shower) and point my pointer finger in the air. My pointer finger was crooked toward the right (east if you’re facing north) and I always said aloud to myself (quietly and in what I thought was a Russian accent), “Yes. It points to Mother Russia.”

The second highlight of the film was seeing the Russian ship crew taking shots of vodka. I learned that it must be ok to drink and drive if you’re driving a massive piece of metal that is generally in open water. (“Wait, what’s that poking out of the water up ahead? That looks like ice. Nah. It can’t beahhhhhhhh! Cue the violins!”)

Halting the Big Miracle

Catholic bishops and leaders have been wrangling with President Obama regarding the decision that all women should have access to free birth control. President Obama issued a compromise to the mandate that all employers offer no-cost birth control. The coverage from Slate and Mother Jones is helpful in explaining just what the decision means for women working at religiously-affiliated charities, hospitals and schools. NARAL Pro-Choice America calls the decision a “reaffirmation of the commitment to ensuring contraceptive coverage.”

Based on my initial understanding of President Obama’s decision, it seems like a fair compromise and one that will allow all women in the US to benefit from no-cost birth control despite the Catholic bishops’ best attempt to stop women from having access to the full rights of citizens.

Bigoted Miracle

Why do Catholic bishops have any say in the political decisions of this country? The answer should be “they don’t,” but that is sadly not true.

I do not believe that any religious organization should be allowed to open any sort of usually-public institution. Religious organizations should not be allowed to open hospitals, schools, universities, post offices, fire departments or police stations. Religion is inherently a private matter in which private citizens can make private decisions to follow make-believe. (I did it for a large portion of my life.) But those private decisions and beliefs should never get to sway public policy. If Catholic bishops are opposed to birth control – the end. There should be no more to that sentence because it doesn’t matter what comes after their belief as far as public policy is concerned.

Sometimes I feel that we wrongly assume “freedom of religion” is synonymous with and equivalent to “freedom of unchallengeable bigotry.”