I was in DC a few weeks ago, visiting friends and working, sometimes both at the same time. I had a couple of days to myself, which I spent alternately sightseeing and taking naps.
While I always enjoy tooling around the monuments, I was saddened to see how paranoid the city has become. Cops were stopping and searching cars driving toward the Capitol. Meanwhile, the White House was well fenced off with barricades, fences, and street construction that makes it difficult to walk anywhere near there. The government is cut off from the people both literally and figuratively, these days. This should have made me angry, but it mostly made me sad.
What's left, then, is the people milling around with each other. As I was getting ready to leave, a vanload full of anti-gay protesters from a local church stopped by for a photo, complete with signs. They would later continue on to a rally on the Mall. I edged away, preferring the company of the nearby wild-eyed barefoot homeless guy. They stood near, but kept a wide berth from, the peace lady.
Had I been a little luckier, I might have bumped into Salam Pax, who was also wandering around the city that week, with the same (if not more) malaise. Here's his take:
There was one small detour: my map showed a place called Foggy Bottom - and I had to see what a foggy bottom looked like. It didn't work out as well as I thought it would. To start with, the Foggy Bottom detour was a waste of time. It seems the gods here don't think much of circumambulation rituals: you can't walk around the White House. So I just stood there and gawked.
While I was in London, I neglected to note the 10-year anniversary of the indiepop list. Cyberspace anniversaries tend to go unnoticed, but I felt this one shouldn't, because with the exception of the Indie List, no online community was more important or influential to me for most of the 1990s. I learned more about music and met more interesting people than I ever would have imagined possible. (I also learned more about online community behavior, or dysfunction, than I ever thought possible, but that's another post, or perhaps a book. Example: Enjoy recent list archives here, but try to overlook the gay marriage flame war, the "who owns the word 'popfest'" argument, and other inanities.)
Indiepop was not in the lexicon of the Southern Indiana music scene in pre-Internet days, so it seemed exotic to me. It was wearying (and still is) to try to have to explain it, though. (Here are a few examples: a history of an influential label and the endless attempt to self-define. This article does a pretty good job of explaining the early British origins, and this long-delayed compilation, which I looked for, fruitlessly, in London, unearths some of the players.)
A few more links of interest:
So happy birthday, indiepop list. Long may you trainspot. But even observing the anniversary is making me feel old, although the primary mode of this genre is youthfulness (and, some would say, juvenalia). Does longevity mean that the moment has already passed us by? TMN would say so:
See, I just don't think kids in bands in college are thinking, "How can I be more like Mission to Burma and Galaxie 500?" They're thinking, "How can I plug Fruity Loops into Reason? How should I sample Radiohead? How can I make some orchestral shit?" Ted Leo and the Pharmacists is music for 35 year olds. Frank Black is just a middle-aged fat guy now. He's like an indie Stevie Nicks. And Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach, together at last? Jack White and Loretta Lynn? It's like when Elvis sang "My Way." How can you be the voice of your generation when you dust off someone from the generation before?
I have a sinking suspicion that this may be true. But at least I wasn't scared to get happy.
This note was taped to the window of my car yesterday.
How nice, a personal note from the CTA! All of those budget talks must be going badly, because it was handwritten in pencil.
B&W is going on the road. Back Oct. 18 or thereafter.
Photo to contemplate during the pause:
'It's the Mayonnaise! The army must be dressing!'
More vacation stories up at KJ Gardens.
And I just can't stop linking this week...
The CTA is threatening transit cuts of late, which would affect every bus going to my neighborhood and would surely make urban life more difficult, generally, than it already is. Seems like a good time for the CTA Tattler and the Chicago L Community Livejournal.
New blogs spring up every day and I remain blissfully ignorant of most of them. But here are a few recent discoveries:
The Hallway chronicles "the murky world of home improvement." Should we ever make progress on serious renovations on the Bloomington properties (or the Chicago hovel) I can see us creating a similar blog, although where we'd get the spare time eludes me.
Instead of going to Burning Man, these crazy kids got married. A generation on the brink at Electrolicious.
More serious discussions are going on at 11D, but she's doing a good job of breaking up a complex subject into small pieces.
News from the Southern Indiana outpost of KJ world impresses on us these laws of physics:
1. A body at rest remains at rest, except when it doesn't. Even when the body is a Jeep rolling down a hill, without anyone in it.
2. A body in motion remains in motion, except if it backs into the side of a barn. Expect to see tire prints. On the wall.
3. Don't underestimate the power of chain reactions. Looks like it's time to fix the wall. Also, too bad about that tree. And what shall we do with that dilapidated greenhouse? I'm thinking renovation and spa.
3. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. But at least no one was hurt.
Dr. Surly will be presenting his findings at an upcoming symposium: "Spacetime and Gravity, or, Jeeps and Me." See pictures here.
Jetlag and head cold have conspired to keep me from posting vacation highlights for a couple of weeks now. However, continual re-hashing with friends has brought some highlights to the surface:
2. While walking past Parliament, we inadvertently walked through a mass protest of a proposed ban on fox hunting. As non-hunting Americans, we were (and remain) baffled by the whole issue, but were impressed by the apparent relaxed demeanor of the police presence (compared to the riot gear and tear gas that Chicago police frequently don for mass protests). After we left, some heads got busted and some tradition-minded rich kids 'stormed' the House of Commons(literally translated as 'ran around in customized T-shirts for a few minutes before being arrested').
3. A couple of day trips to various National Trust sites in Kent were also highlights, especially Chartwell, the estate of Winston Churchill, where we were among the youngest people there. Also of note was Sissinghurst Castle, where we wandered in the garden and photographed unrecognizeable plants.
4. Of course we were helped tremendously by the various friends and family members who fed us and gave us tips on where to go and what to do. One friend pointed us toward a nice walk along the Thames near Hammersmith Bridge, where we enjoyed the houseboats.
Too soon it was over, but we'll be back! I promise.