by t clair
If that title is provocative it is only because you don’t know me. If we were speaking to one another face to face you would notice some things.
For instance, I don’t wear berets.
I bought one in Canada once. This occurred during a brief and rarely mentioned shaved head period. I was told that berets are fantastic for shaved heads. This, of course, was merely a ploy. In fact, I looked utterly ridiculous. The hysterical laughing that went on behind my back for the rest of the trip helped warm my frigid fellow travelers, I’m sure.
Given my lack of zeal for the beret, not to mention my non-vegan diet, I could hardly be considered an anarchist in any popular sense.
Or in any real sense for that matter.
Nevertheless, calling oneself a quasi-anarchist–thereby juxtaposing radicalism and half-ass non-commitment–strikes me as quite sexy. Read the rest of this entry »
by T. CLAIR
Nobody would haul off the thing, so Erich was left with a hunk of wood and steel string stubbornly occupying some prime space in his new basement. It was an old upright from 1917, royal blue and peeling. You could ping at the thing, running through the broken octaves, creating reluctant melodies with dead metallic clinks, but what once was beauty had become ravaged by the years and stood now in Parthenon-glory.
He tells me it was around three when he began, after the unsuccessful phone calls to the music stores and movers, after trying to cart the thing off. I’m not sure what tools he used. Screwdrivers. Wrenches. Hammers (I cringe). Regardless, he set into it with vigor. His son came to him confused.
“What are you doing, Papa?”
“I’m taking apart this old piano. It’s old and ugly and nobody wants it and they won’t even take it away unless I pay them. So, it’s easier to take it apart, piece by piece and then haul it away, and burn it or dump it.”
He wanted to save the soundboard with the however-many strings laid out in out-of-tune succession. He banged out some melodies with his screwdriver. “Amazing Grace.” “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” There was some gusto there yet. But it wasn’t worth the trouble. He snipped each string—ting, ting, ting—all the way through the scales. Read the rest of this entry »
How Frankenstein Antics and Tecnological Gimmickry Deadens Musical Influence
by TYLER CLAIR SMITH
When I’m old I’ll tell my grandchildren of rainbow-gleaming discs we stuck in little trays. The trays sucked back into machines with knobs and buttons. The machines even had lasers in those days (can you imagine?) and they scanned the little discs, interpreting the information into noise that came out of speakers. (This was before music was pumped directly into your temporal lobe, of course.)
Once I witnessed the antiquation of compact discs in the form of garish yard art. Some neo-folk sculptor wired them together into flamingos and frogs that could peek out from behind your geraniums for a modest price of one hundred dollars.
Yes, CDs. They’re going the way of the buffalo. I could count on one hand the number of albums I have purchased in the form of an actual, physical artifact (aside from vinyl) within the last two years.
Recently, someone bought for me Bringing It All Back Home by Mr. Robert Zimmerman on, you guessed it, compact disc. Having already downloaded that miracle of modern rock straight to my laptop via iTunes, I happily clutched the gift receipt and journeyed to the record store for a gleeful stroll down memory lane. It’s adventurous browsing a record store—sampling fifteen seconds worth of four-minute songs, deciphering that particular store’s method of alphabetization. (”S” for “Simon, Paul” or “P” for “Paul Simon”? “S” for “Shins, The” or T for “The Shins”?) And there’s nothing better than seeing the latest 50 Cent album misplaced in the children’s section next to music from Yo Gabba Gabba. Read the rest of this entry »
by TYLER CLAIR SMITH
I’m writing this three days before the majority of Americans will cast their vote for who should be the next president of the United States. I’m no patriot. I’m of the ilk who unreasonably senses national guilt for old atrocities such as the Native American genocide, the enslavement of Africans, the bloody, arguably unjustified revolution that instigated the birth of this nation and countless other little blights on our people’s history. I will say it again: this is unreasonable. Nevertheless, I find it increasingly difficult to be “proud to be an American,” despite the fact that it might be the greatest, most God-friendly Babylon in the history of the planet. In the end, our government is just another fist shaking at the sky from a lofty tower; it just so happens this one is whitewashed. Read the rest of this entry »
by Tyler Clair Smith
I discovered Johnny Cash all over again on September 12, 2003.
Though the grit and gruff of Cash’s baritone were not uncommon features in my childhood, I can’t say I understood his unique genius at the time—nor the nasal beauty of his compatriot Willie, for that matter. Through the years, though, I had grown to appreciate Johnny, if only as a nostalgic reminder of growing up in rural West Virginia. Eventually he was obscured by my high school fling with cheesy Christian rap-core. (Sighs). Read the rest of this entry »