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Perfect, renewable cat toys

Nail clippers
Spare change
Unraveled clotheshanger
Bell attached to ribbon
Reed of pasta
Dehydrated snacks I bought them when they were mostly immaterial kittens
A fly
Dismembered plastic bag
Box of macaroni

Audio

Driver Friendly: “Deconstruct You” (Unimagined Bridges, 2014)

I saw this band for the first time last night. Their 2012 album Bury a Dream was one of my favorite records from that year; it’s still sort of astonishing to me that a very tiny Austin band produced a song cycle so dense. The songs sound like individual glowing crypts. The new one, Unimagined Bridges, is just as good, if a little more convalescent and sunlit. Live, they intensified what I found captivating about them on record; there’s an acute energy that circulates between each instrument. Drums, bass, guitar, and horns vividly envelope each other like halos of flame. Both vocalists sing in simultaneous yet digressionary rhythms which will suddenly accelerate and braid together. The guitar tones resemble events of phosphorescence.

Video

Last month I saw a production of Randy Newman’s Faust at New York City Center. At the time I was enduring a summer cold and received the detail of my experience in a glacial melt. The sensation of touch felt extremely surgical. This is the ideal way to walk into a circumstance of theater, to feel at any moment as if you might flow out of your skeleton into the vast silvery red of Randy Newman’s devil cape and blow your ghost nose in its moving gloss. It was this image that sustained me for two hours.

I had never seen or heard Faust before and despite viewing it from a compromised state I found it exhaustively funny and self-reflexive, as much a work of literary and music criticism as a musical itself. Newman stretched his sensibility to the aerodynamics of gospel for the songs sung by God and his angels, and shrank it back down to tidy, modest blues phrases for his own devil songs. He on more than one occasion eviscerated the limits of his own compositions, which beyond appearances are rich with chords that resolve gorgeously and intelligently. Faust, along with Newman’s entire body of work, constructs an evocative nerve between Tin Pan Alley and Ray Charles, which he populates with characters that are variously grotesque and tender. There’s a newborn quality to the most evil or deeply estranged of Newman’s characters, as if they had just recovered the tools to properly articulate their perspectives.

"Feels Like Home," sung by Vonda Shepard in the City Center production and by Bonnie Raitt in the video above, is a love song the character Martha addresses to the Devil, whom she dates briefly in one of the story’s many digressions. Even writing a straightforward love song Newman never loses his capacity for imagery and character; when Martha sings, “A window breaks / Down a long dark street / And a siren wails in the night," the seeming anonymity of her sentiment is itself broken up into vivid and gleaming fragments.

I’ve been thinking lately of the nature of “home” and what it takes to make one. I’ve never really felt at home anywhere in a geographic sense, Nevada too empty and shapeless to project anything onto, New York too dense with other projections. I’ve never successfully applied my interior design ambitions to an apartment; I either decorate too minimally or wildly overcompensate, creating an effect that is alternately lunar and mosaic. Regardless I’ve occasionally assembled the feeling of “home” among friends with whom I’ve shared histories, enthusiasms, musical silences. When Martha sings, "Something in your eyes / Makes me want to lose myself / In your arms," I remember home as mostly an expansion of the self, a bodiless place where the self can radiate and merge unconsciously with others. From my chair in the City Center, feeling like an exposed nerve, I heard this song and watched Shepard drift warmly across the stage toward Newman’s piano, both of them meticulously assembling the feeling of the song, and I started to cry, sensing in my eyes in the hot gloss of fresh tears.

Photo
Semiconsciously watched the Dolph Lundgren/Brandon Lee vehicle Showdown in Little Tokyo in a bar last night and I arrived at two neutral realizations:
1. Showdown came out in 1991, but the soundtrack’s cryogenic synth patches seem derived from as far back as 1986 i.e. what I could hear over bar noise sounded descended, in a mostly compromised state, from Manhunter.
2. At Dolph Lundgren’s precise stage of physical fitness in this movie he is the enigma of a body composed of raw semicircles.

Semiconsciously watched the Dolph Lundgren/Brandon Lee vehicle Showdown in Little Tokyo in a bar last night and I arrived at two neutral realizations:

1. Showdown came out in 1991, but the soundtrack’s cryogenic synth patches seem derived from as far back as 1986 i.e. what I could hear over bar noise sounded descended, in a mostly compromised state, from Manhunter.

2. At Dolph Lundgren’s precise stage of physical fitness in this movie he is the enigma of a body composed of raw semicircles.

Photo

Straw-Ber-Rita is a bit more of an acquired taste, its strawberry essence being even more divorced from its real-life counterpart than the zombie limes in the Lime-A-Rita. At first sip, it’s almost… gross? Yet it compels. The Straw-Ber-Rita is to strawberry margaritas as the Parliament Menthol is to the spearmint plant. You’re like: What is this. What are these flavors. How is this a beverage. But there’s also a saltiness present—weirdly, more pronounced here than in the Lime-A-Rita—that keeps you slightly thirsty, keeps you sucking it down. As you continue drinking, the bizarro strawberryness fades into the background of a complex gustatorial skein, and suddenly an entire can is gone and you’re reaching for another, because what were we even talking about? Who cares, right?

Kevin Fanning, “Mutant Limes”
I have read this piece aloud during a variety of otherwise social settings while elliptically sipping a Lime-A-Rita and attempting to describe the depth of its anatomy (which is dense but chemically rich, like waves of improbably shiny hair). It is available for free today, along with its surrounding issue of Maura Magazine.

Straw-Ber-Rita is a bit more of an acquired taste, its strawberry essence being even more divorced from its real-life counterpart than the zombie limes in the Lime-A-Rita. At first sip, it’s almost… gross? Yet it compels. The Straw-Ber-Rita is to strawberry margaritas as the Parliament Menthol is to the spearmint plant. You’re like: What is this. What are these flavors. How is this a beverage. But there’s also a saltiness present—weirdly, more pronounced here than in the Lime-A-Rita—that keeps you slightly thirsty, keeps you sucking it down. As you continue drinking, the bizarro strawberryness fades into the background of a complex gustatorial skein, and suddenly an entire can is gone and you’re reaching for another, because what were we even talking about? Who cares, right?

Kevin Fanning, “Mutant Limes”

I have read this piece aloud during a variety of otherwise social settings while elliptically sipping a Lime-A-Rita and attempting to describe the depth of its anatomy (which is dense but chemically rich, like waves of improbably shiny hair). It is available for free today, along with its surrounding issue of Maura Magazine.