Pastoral Genocide

Babbys Are Little Gifts From God.
May 19, 2008, 4:21 am
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May 16, 2008, 9:25 pm
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Songs About Dancing Bears, Etc.

Dancing Bears. By no means would I consider myself a Randy Newman fan, but this cover of “Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear” is unreasonably spectacular. The original song is, in itself, something of a masterpiece. Keeping in mind that this song was written by a grown-ass man, check out the lyrics:

I may go out tomorrow if I can borrow a coat to wear/Oh I’d step out in style with my sincere smile and my dancing bear/Outrageous, alarming, courageous, charming/Oh who would think a boy and bear/Could be well accepted everywhere/It’s just amazing how fair people can be/Seen at the nicest places where well fed faces all stop to stare/Making the grandest entrance is Simon Smith and his dancing bear/They’ll love us, won’t they?/They feed us, don’t they?/Oh, who would think a boy and bear/Could be well accepted everywhere/It’s just amazing how fair people can be/Who needs money when you’re funny?/The big attraction everywhere/Will be Simon Smith and his dancing bear/It’s Simon Smith and the amazing dancing bear

Etc. Here are some Muxtapes that are, perhaps, worth checking out: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

Etc, Etc. (1) Matt Pryor posts a new song – titled Loralai – here. (2) You can stream Kevin Seconds’ new album, “Rise Up, Insomniacs!” here. (3) Scenepointblank recently posted a cool Ted Leo interview. (4) Sigur Ros is planning an upcoming world tour in which, unfortunately, they say “fuck you, guy,” to the vast majority of the United States. (5) The Gaslight Anthem have finished recording their upcoming full length, “The ’59 Sound.” Tentative release date: August 19, 2008.

Boom. Cops and crackheads and tranny love gone awry.

it’s late august, a hot summer night//and the red and the blue dance in frenzy of light//frozen, two men stand like pillars of salt in the street//they’re poor and they’re black and they’ve both got the bug//one’s dressed like a woman but you can see he’s a man//the other has been stabbed in the arm and he’s obviously mad//they both claim they’re in love//and though its hard to see, maybe they are//but they seem so desperate, and covered in sweat//the cops, they mumble quietly and shake their heads//wondering, just slightly, how two beating hearts became this

Something About Seattle

She told me it was over, that she was leaving. On her way out the door, she yelled something about Seattle and then stole my car. From the bedroom window I watched as she backed furiously out of the driveway and sped off into the afternoon. That was the last I saw of either her or the car.

I work in a canning plant ten miles away from my rented one bedroom apartment. Each afternoon, I wake up begrudgingly and ride my bike across town. Winter is looming, cold and terrible. Things are different in Alaska. Less exciting, less meaningful. This place is purgatorial holding cell set against a backdrop of snow-tipped mountain tops. Its beauty belies its cruelty.

I came up this way when I was 18. I took a bus from Little Rock to Tulsa, from Tulsa to Spokane, from Spokane to here. I bounced from job to job, drinking sometimes hard and sometimes long. I caught on with a fishing outfit for awhile. Made decent enough money that I spent mostly on booze. Eventually, I got a job in a canning plant and it stuck. I’m a supervisor now, I work 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., four nights a week. I drink less and I read a lot – books, magazines, the newspaper. It’s ok. I feel like I’m waiting for something to happen, epiphanic or otherwise.

I haven’t been home since my mom died in ‘96. I’m not sure where home is anymore. Not here, that’s for sure. I’m planning on getting out. I’ve got a couple grand in the bank and it’s more than I’ve ever had. But something’s keeping me here. Maybe it was her, but I’m not entirely sure.

The day that I decide to leave yawns only slightly awake. It’s December and this place is foggishly dim, even in the afternoon. Against the cold, I bike downtown, to Citizen’s Savings and Loan. I close out my account. Four thousand, four hundred and nine dollars. Seventeen cents. I feel good about it, mostly. I stop by Henderson’s for a drink before heading home. I pack my things into a brown suitcase. A couple shirts, a handful of books, a black and white picture of my mom from when she was 20. I light a cigarette and look around the apartment. I’ve lived here from 8 years and I still don’t have a thing on the walls. It’s good to be leaving, I say aloud.

I call into work. I tell them I’m done. They say its fine and wish me luck. I wish them luck, too, and then I hang up the phone. That night, I sleep well. I wake up around noon and head out the door. I’m leaving behind some tattered furniture – a peeling bureau, a steel corner desk, a stained queen mattress that sits on the floor, a lime green couch that I bought from the local Salvation Army. I lock the door behind me and drop the key in the manager’s box on the way out. My former landlord is an Aleutian fellow named Sam. Nice guy, a big hockey fan. I quickly scribble a note to him on the back of sporting goods catalog. I apologize for the lack of advanced notice. I push two twenties into the fold for his trouble.

I shrug against the cold. I won’t miss this, I think to myself. I straddle my bike and start to peddle. The wind is pushing voluptuously against me, almost demanding that I stay. But I’m not staying.

I arrive at the bus station out of breath. My fingers and toes are remarkably numb and my face feels chapped and stiff.

At the ticket window, a cute native girl greets me with a forcibly impatient half-smile. She’s chewing gum. “Where to” she demands. I pause for a second, unsure. I clear my throat and almost say Seattle.

“I’ll take a one-way ticket to Spokane, please.”

Digital Clocks

[I’m not sure what to make of this piece. It’s based, in large part, on a local article in a regional paper that was picked up by the AP and the multimedia news giants. Everything about the story – it’s presentation on a glossy news site, the matter of fact “re-telling” of the macabre, the desolate and horrific minutia of the event itself – left me genuinely shaken. Like all things that happen far away, though, my reverie was short lived and faded quickly. I’m fine with that fact: this particular tragedy was surely slow-burning, a smoldering act of desperation from some sort of terror that will never really make sense to me. It’s the simplest sort of smut, human-on-human cruelty which results in an epic mess. ]

They hung like piñatas.

Sgt. Jim Feebly surveyed the front room of the trailer. The mid-afternoon sun sliced horizontally through the outdated vinyl blinds, cutting pinpricks of light and shadow on the trampled green shag of the carpet. The week-old smell of rot and decay and the drooping grey skin that was literally melting off the faces of the bodies dangling lifelessly from the ceiling of the trailer accosted him with a muted ferocity. On the floor, a man lay sprawled, blood dried like dark candy against the side of his face. In a life, you see a lot of things, some good, some bad. This was a bad thing, Feebly thought, a very bad thing. He buried his nose into the starched fabric of his work shirt that clung sweaty to the front side of his elbow and stepped, begrudgingly, forward.

August had come to the salt plains of the panhandle and the sun reined heavy-handed upon the earth, nauseatingly baking the dust and dirt and the corrugated metal of the trailer’s exterior with biblical, albeit annual, tenacity. The viscosity of it all was unbearable. The heat, the smell, the silence all collided in a sickly boutique of cruelty. Sweat weltered and sank from Feebly’s hair, dripping into his ears and flatly stinging corners of his eyes.

He moved past the hanging bodies of a woman and two children and pushed open the door to the bathroom. A baby girl, no older than a year old, lay dead in the sink. She was naked and helpless, her eyes frozen paunchy and open. Feebly could see the purple lacerations around her neck. She had been strangled with the guitar string that lay coiled like snake on the floor next to the toilet. Her body was an advanced state of decay and she hardly looked human. Heat and time had been unkind to the bathroom window, staining it yellow. It was latched shut and Feebly instinctively moved to push the window open, to get some air in the place, chase out the disgusting stink of death. He stopped, though, staring down at the child. Feebly didn’t know what to think or even if it was appropriate to think at all. He swore to himself, silently, and stood in place, dizzy and soul sick and unable to push himself away from the cathartic, nightmarish mess of the sink and the walls and the scene in its full. Flies moiled around the room, buzzing angrily at Feebly for disturbing them as they worked.

Suddenly, Feebly felt it rising ascetically from his stomach. He turned and ran for the trailer’s entrance. Leaning over the loosely fastened handrail, he retched chunks of red onto the dry yellow grass that was suffocating silently beneath the sun. He felt dizzy and sank to one knee.

Gathering himself, he stood up wearily and walked out to his squad car, grabbing for a bottle of water. It had turned warm inside the car but, nonetheless, it helped drive the stale taste of vomit from his mouth. He pushed it around with his tongue, feeling the lukewarm liquid move through the gaps in his molars. He spit and watched as the beads of water spread in vein-like patterns before coagulating with the dust of the driveway. Feebly scanned the road leading back to town and turned back towards the trailer.

Soon, Feebly knew, this whole godforsaken lot would be crowded by the forensic team and local media. They’d look for answers, they’d blame it on meth or mental illness or poverty or all three. But right now, it was just him. Across the open plains, Feebly saw nothing but the horizon. The country was wide open, expansive. Intimidating. For 38 years, this dust and the heat was his. This land was the crust and fodder of the earth, the untidy, dust swept corner of the desert and the plains. It was deemed fallow by the power of God and it looked like it had every intention of staying that way. He’d grown up in the dense heat and bitter, windy winters. Auspiciously and totally rural, the land scared most folks.

Feebly could see why. This place took patience. Even then, you mostly tolerated it because it was all you’d ever really known. As a kid, Feebly had always wanted to move away, to a big city with subways and tree-lined parks. But he grew up a little, and began to appreciate the country for what it was. He’d always thought it like he and the land had come to some sort of unspoken compromise. They understood each other and, maybe, grew to like each other, even if just slightly.

Right now,though, Feebly was lost. Lost in something, something bigger than the desert or the plains or the idea of house and home. He felt apart. The cruelty of it all, everything, was a massive, ornery thing. And the heat, God, it was awful. The world was at a standstill. A surreal touch of hell dabbled on a canvas of dry brown dirt and scragged rocks. He felt alone and repulsed and saddened in a way he’d never felt before. He felt, somehow, profound.

To Feebly, the loss seemed inconceivable.

March 28, 2008, 5:44 am
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Nostalgia is for pussies. Just because something was totally sweet when you were twelve doesn’t mean that anything now that you’re twenty five. I mean, when I was twelve I used to think that it would be totally awesome to have a tree house where a whole bunch of hot, naked babes were just hanging out, ready to play naked Twister on my beck and command. But maybe thats a bad example because I’m still really into naked chicks and flexibility promoting party games and I’m especially into getting broads to do things per my request. Anyway, I digress. Look, my original point was that the rear-view mirror of retrospect is too often reflected with rose colored glass. Things are better in 2008; televisions are bigger, porn is freer, and music sounds better. I’d like to stress the last point, again, for emphasis: music sounds better. I get it: that mixtape you remember making, the one were you accidentally supplanted the last thirty seconds of Bush’s “I Don’t Wanna Come Back Down” with Cracker’ s “Low,” reminds you of riding the bus home, rocking a bowl cut, and being way too cool for your moms. But its not 1994 anymore. So lets just drop the fucking cassette mix tape chatter, ya feel me? Hipsters are main culprits of this dictum. And hipsters are the lowest form of social beast. But then again, who am I to judge? Maybe I’ve been wrong the whole time. Maybe white sport jackets really are cool. Maybe the Electric Six is a good band. Maybe the “It’s the twenty first century but I’ve got a motherfucking Walkman strapped to my tapered black man jeans and I’m wearing these super sweet white PF Flyers” look is actually hottt. Actually, fuck that. I’m not wrong. Hipsters suck, electronic-based sex rock is a fucking hatchet job excuse for music, and scarves with short sleeve t-shirts is the actualized hallmark of a legitimate and resolute queef.

In the name of progress, lets talk about Muxtape. It takes what was great about mix tapes – throwing together a bunch of songs you’re stoked on – and transposes musical wonderlust with the modern convenience of digital media. It’s simple: create an account name (which subsequently becomes part of your personal URL), upload some songs from your computer onto a website, and pass out the link to your crew. The best part is that you don’t have to download either a media player or the song itself. It’s all streaming. Like I said, 2008 fucking rules. And if you’re a hipster, my advice would be to straighten out your act, keep your nose clean, and go tell your barber that you’re sick of looking like an asshole.

(1) Ghosts of Modern Man – Left a Mark (2) Seven Storey Mountain – Politician (3) Andrew Johnson Jihad – Brave as a Noun (4) The Lemonheads – Big Gay Heart (5)Ester Drang- Felicity, Darling (6) Okkervil River – Red, Live (7) Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Bring it On (8 ) Tom Waits – I Can’t Wait to Get Off Work (And See My Baby on Montgomery Avenue) (9) Black and White Children – Graveyard Earth (10) The One A.M. Radio – Calamity Jane (the David Slade) (11) The Mercury Program – Marianas (12) Unbunny – Snow Tires


March 16, 2008, 12:42 am
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