…the incident had meant a great deal to him. A high point in a life lived at sea level, prone to flooding.
“Telegraph Avenue” (via shyofstupidity)
“Telegraph Avenue” (via shyofstupidity)
“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.” - Ernest Hemingway
We travelled to Paris in search of that feeling that inspires all creative souls, that muse who resides in all great cities, especially the old cities like Paris. It is exactly as Hemingway described, “a moveable feast”. Paris stays with you, smoking your dreams, wisping in your vision in a haze of history and culture. You awake each morning filled with a purpose, a resolve in your bones that you can create and build, that the city is alive and you must go out into it at once! Do not dilly dally or miss the passing of time in a great city such as Paris.
We invested our time in history and culture, steeping ourselves in the rich tapestry of the city’s life. We visited the catacombs, waching the tide of human history come crashing down on us. It was a macabre and humbling place to see the bones of six million lives stacked in a library of lives, dated and arranged. The air was quieter and more precious when we emerged from the sarcophogus, like Dante emerging from hell, into new life.
We returned to Notre Dame, possibly my favourite part of the city, along the Seine, with its book stalls and memorabilia. There we found Shakespeare and Company, the bookshop that once hosted Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and the Beat generation, as its predecessor (for which it took its name) once hosted Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the Lost generation.
There they were, my muses, emblazoned on the wall. I bowed my head involuntarily as I passed the portraits of Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. On the floor lay a sunken basin filled with coins. A handwritten sign sat in the middle, “Save the Starving Writers.” I bought another copy of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (one can never have enough) and got it stamped by the bookseller. This would be my relic when I feel the ghost of Hemingway punch me in the mouth for being a lazy ass writer.
We visited the familiar tourist spots, La Tour Eiffel, the Champs-Élysées but perhaps the most meaningful to our creative group was when, on a scorching Sunday afternoon, we made our way to the Church of St. Etienne du Mont, to the steps where Owen Wilson sat in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, and waited on a car to bring him back to the roaring twenties.
There we sat and took stock of our place in the world. The sun blazed brightly over head and the strains of a jazz trio from down the street echoed up the hill. We felt young and alive in our time. We are returning to our lost generation with the tools to escape. The financial implications of a lifetime are ours to lift, make no mistake we are saddled with difficult times, but dammit we are young and alive, and we can create art and writing, and if all good art affirms courage and grace under pressure then we shall emerge victorious, bloodied but tasting the iron in our veins that confirms we are alive.
Really summing up my problem at the minute.
“Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.” - Rob Gordon, High Fidelity
So a few of you will know by now that I like making mix cds (ah, if only the casette tape was still in fashion…) and it is a skill, no two ways about it. It’s demanding, delicate work. There are many rules to making a really good mix cd (Rule #1: People who tell you there are no rules are full of shit) and if you get it right, you’ve made a thing of beauty.
Now the first thing to decide is why you are making a mix cd. Maybe you have a crush on someone, maybe you are making one of those era-defining tapes that capture a moment in your life, or maybe you are taking someone on a musical journey through a genre… Whatever your reason, it is the glue that holds your mix together. It gives it boundaries.
You have to open with a scorcher. Nothing gets your message across quicker than a kick to the balls. Let’s say you are making a cd for a road trip. You have to open with something that pumps you up and gets the blood driving. For example: Jumpin’ Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones or maybe some Husker Du… If you are trying to tell someone you like them, why not go for something fun like Coyote Shivers - Sugar High. Punky, makes you dance, makes you smile. Actually…maybe not that specific song. I’m listening to these songs as I write this and it’s taken a turn into lyrically dicey territory. But you get the gist. I opened a Valentine’s Mix CD with Bell X1. What did I follow that slow burner with? Why KISS, obviously. Because…
Next you have to change it up! Get your groove on! Put on something on like T.Rex or Plum Tree… Suede even…
Keep the listener guessing and dig into those CDs. Find some gems that get your message across. Impress that listener with your careful orchestration. You are a master puppeteer of the heart and the DJ of your most personal and important club. This isn’t amateur hour.
Effort is everything. Don’t rip loads of songs from the one album or rely too heavily on obvious choices. Not even ironically. They get skipped faster than the sink in a men’s room.
Don’t forget to come up with a good title for your mix. “Billy’s Mix” is not a good one. “We’re in Bat Country” however, is. (Thanks, Doc.)
Some good rules to keep in mind:
Delve deep into your music collection. Try to find alternate or live takes. My favourite Aerosmith song is a B-Side called “Head First” and 99% of people have never heard it so it’s a surprise when it pops up on a disc.
Be creative: Include sound clips from movies, or self recorded messages.
Keep an eye on the volume levels between songs. Especially now that this is mostly done on computers.
Make artwork and tracklistings! The more effort you put in, the better the reaction.
Don’t put more than two songs by the same artist (and definitely not from the same album - that’s lazy)
I mentioned boundaries earlier and their imortance but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mix things up with genres and styles. Catch the listener off guard with your surprising and thoughtful selections: Follow that folk band with some old jazz or a Disney song.
Don’t be selfish. Unless you are teaching someone with a cd, try to make a mix of stuff they would like.
How long should it be? It depends on the theme but generally you should fill one CD. (Unless you are doing alternates in pairs like a Heavy and Light Mix). In the era of tapes you ideally filled every side of the tape. (But 100min tapes were a no-no - too long). CDs are generally 80mins and that’s perfect.
Now, grab that blank CD and get mixing. Fare thee well brave explorer. Come back a hero or don’t come back at all.
I find one of the most peaceful things I can do is drive late at night on the motorway. It calms me down. There is minimal traffic, the hazy glow of junctions and the quiet darkness of the open road. I am surrounded by customers and the general public all day every day and it wears me down and depresses me. I need quiet moments to gather my thoughts and get my head right.
Driving home from my girlfriend’s house the other night I noticed the sea of stars above. It was a clear night and I had gone to see her after a long day at work so I was tired. I put the car in sixth gear and cruised pleasantly through the night, gazing up at the stars every now and then. It was a strange mixture of emotions. On one hand, I was very much alone and relaxed but at the same time, the vast amount of stars made me feel like a small cog of an unfathomably big machine, a spec in the grandness of time and space. Alone but impossibly surrounded by life.
I couldn’t decide if I was alone or if on those lonely drives I am in fact more a part of the universe than at any other time. Out in that vast cosmos are other celestial bodies, stars, comets… maybe even life. I felt connected to all of it, and I was humbled by its ability to make me feel like I belonged to a particular location in space and time. If people ever wear you down, I suggest you get your keys and go for a drive at night and take the time to look up now and again at the stars. They are far away but their presence is reassuring.
I am part of Generation Y, sometimes called the Peter Pan generation or the Boomerang generation. We’re the ones who were told to go to university in order to get a good job and then got screwed over by the economy so there were no jobs for us after graduation. Hi, there!
I’m not going to talk…