The music things I got from Past Scott and am now enjoying

Updated 4 Oct 2018

I had two large shelves of CDs that were gathered beginning with the one My Brother gave me when I was in college before I even had (or maybe when I first got?) a CD player when they were rare-ish and my and others’ primary means of music w/r/t listening was The Turntable. It was Elvis Costello’s King of America.

First and last songs open with the same melody.

Fun fact: after the obtainment or maybe before, I went to a Costello concert following said album/CD’s release with bro and his then girlfriend at The Fox. It was neat. Also fun fact: I got into EC in HS when I dug through My Brother’s albums and decided to listen to Imperial Bedroom. It was a revelation.

CDs were kept; CDs were moved from college apts to post college apts to shared apt (hey Lisa!) to condo (hey Wife!!) and sat for years on shelves and were looked at like Ulysses the book we want to read but don’t. Still, they had memories. I resisted getting rid of them and appreciate that. Getting them in digital form was more than overdue. I still have everything that I’ve ever burned to digital on local, RAIDed, 4x2TB (~5 TB total) drives backed up to the cloud, but I see that as an old person habit that is irrelevant-ish. Google Play allows 50,000 songs and all purchases are download-able w/o copy-protection. Although I think copy protection may be an old person’s concept also.

So now those shelved CDs are less visible but more easily accessible. And the act of reviewing what got burned reëmphasizes what was valuable.


I got “into” them when I had a subscription to IIRC CMJ. They were a magazine I subscribed to that contained a CD of a dozen or so new artist that, Pitchfork-like, predicted possessed coolness. I discovered so much from them. And one was Stereolab. If I dug through the CD tracts I would remember the exact song but it doesn’t matter.

Years ago and years after the discovery I went to a concert with Wife and Robert and Shelby at Variety Playhouse. They don’t disappoint. I wonder if they still tour.

Sonic Youth

This is the one.

I discovered them one weekend during college when friends and I came in from Carrollton to L5P to dig through what Wax n’ Facts had to offer. I had heard of Sonic Youth, for how long I don’t know, and that, via Rolling Stone of-all-places, Daydream Nation was a masterpiece (same publication that called Imperial Bedroom a masterpiece). It was like discovering Dark Side of the Moon. The double album provided the right amount of prog framing with noise-rock experimentation. I had been informed by Glenn Branca et al. from high school and so I easily absorbed the rock band consisting of the musicians of Branca’s symphonies.

Played this for my college music theory teacher and he was… intrigued? Hey, Dr. Dan Bakos!
Found on the internet. Ah, memories.

This I had on cassette from … ROIR! (Google search). Obtained from mailings I would get with alt noise rock and no-wave. Sonic Youth’s first album was also offered in their catalogues but they were very Branca at the time and less Sonic Youth.

Shudder to Think

I had found these guys via an early internet radio station that was more like a pirate AM station than anything else. Two Austin (?) guys who just played the shit they liked and were as much talk as music but it was great. Besides StT I learned about math rock and the math rock bands Durian (which for no specific reason did not make the cut to be burned to MP3) and Faraquet (same, no reason?). StT I revisited as I re-listened and found that they were a bands’ band and of the Pearl Jam time milieu indie. Respected and influential.


These guys were the weird ones in a field of weird. They are math rock via Sunny Day Real Estate (maybe?) via The Minutemen (short song, yet pop not punk). I cannot recommend them enough as forgotten missed potential. I really have no idea where I found them (see May 2004). There was random internet radio, RIOR, Wax n’ Facts, CMJ, a brother? Probably something else.

Now, the musicians from Thingy did as musical theatre a piece based on G. Stein’s poem (see Jul 2006) called The World is Round. I only had access to short clipes but goddammit I loved that music. A few videos were available the time, but research for this blog post brought up the rarity of a complete performance.

I had two large shelves of CDs

Updated 4 Oct 2018

Nice coincidence: Sonic Youth is celebrating the 30th anniversary (1988!) of Daydream Nation at an event in Portland, OR. Included will be documentaries of their performance from 2007 along with archival footage. Gordon Withers just released cello versions of two Sonic Youth songs including “Youth Against Fascism” which rails against Clarence Thomas (today I’ve been glued to the Kavanaugh news). Days after the Daydream Nation screenings, Steve Shelley will be performing a fundraiser for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Nice coincidence.

The void

I’ve had this idea of cultural memory w/r/t individuals and the longevity of the importance of their contribution to it, good or bad or whatever. There’s an infinite space with time progressing, say, left-to-right. A person of enduring importance would start as a dot then continue as a bright line that flares up, grows brighter or diminishes as their value to culture varies. The line may continue on, brightly, to a great length. Shakespeare. Bach; well-respected during his lifetime, less bright for a century or so, then “rediscovered” by Mendelssohn and increasing in brightness ever since. Some are bright and diminish as they are in and out of fashion. (I know music and art best so…) Sigismond Thalberg was a pianist and composer contemporaneous with Liszt, well-respected in his day but little-known now. Little-known but thought of passionately by some; the Wikipedia talk page for Thalberg is lousy with fights on who’s the better, Thalberg or Liszt. I had gotten involved in the talk page a decade or so ago and… let’s say his adherents had passions. I would not have known of him if I hadn’t dug into Liszt’s history.

So we see these lines, bright and less so, with some lasting effectively forever. And for the rest of us, even those famous in our lifetimes, we’re a dot. Maybe lasting a little longer a couple of generations but no more and ending with a precipitous drop. And then there is that blackness.

I wondered what that extra space in between was. I know it’s only a space created by my metaphor/simile yet that construct created this idea of The Void where none exist and nothing is remembered. And it seems important.

A similar-but-different idea is when I think about my impressions of art and generally many things these days. It’s not that I have great opinions or ideas, but it’s that I have an historical and reference-rich impression of each moment. Even something like a scene from a sit-com is overfull with references. Like the bright lines above, I think of it as a line of my going through time and encountering these dots of experiences. With each, a string hangs down and the longer ones represent those with more varied and complex references. I feel like there’re more and more of those long strings of complexity.

Or something like that.

Back again

Over the past few weeks I’ve started playing piano again.

A few years back I started getting weird deficiencies in my right hand. Descending arpeggios started becoming odd then difficult when my 3rd finger would cross over. Degeneration increased over several months, carpal tunnel surgery was performed and completely ineffective, physical therapy was attempted, but here we are. My PT therapist did fascinating research and came up with focal hand dystonia:

in focal hand dystonia, the fingers either curl into the palm or extend outward without control

That about sums it up.

It’s depressing if I think about it so I usually don’t. I’m pretty much unable to play any of the songs I’ve written except for the more basic ones, and I never got my last rock opera in my hands at all. That’s probably the most regretful.

I got itchy recently and so picked up Shostakovich’s Prelude #5 from opus 87. It’s a nice little piece in D major-ish and distributes the themes across both hands. I’m at speed now with not too many stumbles with my 3rd and 4th fingers. Working on memory. I just started Bach’s 7th fugue in E-flat from The Well-Tempered Clavier edition that I received after donating to the Musescore Kickstarter project. Difficult (for me) four note descending arpeggios that kind of tax a very weak fourth finger. Getting stronger though. I’m still surprised with the difference in competence between the two hands.

It feels very good to get back. I hate that I’m not composing and playing my own stuff but am still enjoying and hopeful.

Where was I?

Sydney Australia from Tue 24 Jul to Tue 31 Jul. Kindof. Flight was late Tuesday and I arrived Thursday morning. Flight back was early afternoon Tuesday and we returned Tuesday night at around 7 PM. wat? It wasn’t too too weird though. The 4 and 14 hour flights via Los Angeles were much more manageable than those we took when we went to Thailand way back in 2011, and I had absolutely no jet lag.

Sydney, Manly, and Watsons Bay
Sites in the city we’ve seen

Thu 26 Jul 2018

Lisa was in for work two weeks prior, so I had most of a day for myself pining over lost luggage, waiting for our room to become available at the Shangri-La Hotel in The Rocks neighborhood, and assaulting a docent at the Museum of Contemporary Art with my 20+ hour flight stink. She was actually very good conversation, and I got to banter with her about the nuances of nationalism in aboriginal-influenced Australian art. It was also neat seeing so many young school kids marching in line and sitting in semi-circles to join in art critique with another docent. Yay art!

Museum of Contemporary Art

This solo museum visit at the beginning of vacation repeats the one I did in Prague while waiting for Lisa and the girls to arrive from München. And correcting a mistake I’d made in that and many other museums, I took notes and pictures of most of the pieces. (Well, I thought I had taken pictures. I am now enraged that most of the art photos I took are missing from my Google Photos album. Around 10 or so are there but missing are some gems.)

Here are short notes I took and some images but not all because Google is a bitch:

Kevin Gilbert 1960s linotype made in prison Active sky, animals the same components as people

Daniel Boyd 2000s Black and White layers

Daniel Boyd, Untitled (PSM), 2014

Mabel Juli 2000s Black and White simple abstractions, crescent

Mabel Juli, Garnkiny Ngarranggarni, 2016

Imants Tillers 1980s landscape on panels

Helen Johnson 2000s Huge tapestries with part flat on the ground, hidden image in the back (so much analysis with the docent, great regret over missing images)

Brian Blanchflower 1980s, messy pointillism on rough canvas

Brain Branchflower, Canopy 1 (Long Man’s View), 1982-1985

Timothy Cook, 2000s, cleaner pointillism, abstract expression, brush work, oval depth infinity

Timothy Cook, Kulama, 2015

James Angus, three bicycles in one, shifted across space

Callum Morton, storefront cave vortex, flat depth, Josef Albers where depth is chromatic intensity?

Emma White, clay outlet and power strip (Untitled (useless, powerful) I, 2008)

Moya McKenna, classic Still life with slight weirdness, intense primaries to blacks, raw blacks too flat

Ricky Swallow, 2000s, colored balloons with growths, light is heavy, barnacles static, minimalist sculpture like in the Lisbon Museu Colecao Berardo modern art museum? (Caravan, 2008)

Josette Urso, 2000s, pointillism again, slightly varied by accident, ancient script, scar tattoos

Nicole Foreshew, 2000s, walking sticks with varied crystals on the top

Gordon Bennett, 2000s, diamond shape, base color painted over, red ochre overlays yellow ochre, split in two different than if they weren’t [ed. I don’t remember what I meant here], Frank Stella, painting as painting

Gordon Bennett, Number 9, 2008

Ian Burn, 1960s, blue reflective, you are the subject, almost no imperfections must have been difficult, opposite of abstract expressionism

Ian Burn, Blue Reflex, 1966

Robert MacPherson, 1970s, three slides become one, last is textural, the black looks fuzzy

Robert MacPherson, White/black (Arago), 1975

Mikala Dwyer, 1990s, tower of plates, more minimalism (balloons) [ed. again, very much the minimalist sculptures we saw in Lisbon], so much tension

Mikala Dwyer, Untitled, 1992-1994

Sally Smart, 1990s, red, pastiche, disassemble

OK, so enough of the gallery tour. Afterwards, still in 20+ hour flight clothes, I hung in the museum/waterfont area and enjoyed the sun and birds, then did a city walkabout to search for replacement clothes. No luck. Snacks of sausage and wine at the Angel Hotel (surprisingly inexpensive!) then to get a cocktail at Grain in the Four Seasons because reasons. So many suits during happy hour. And yes still in stink-wear so they were mad impressed (closing sarcasm tag without opening tag).

Eventually joined with Lisa and the boss late night and hung at our hotel’s top floor bar piling up a bar tab that and-I-am-not-joking rivaled a full weekend’s sassiness. Vacation Money is Fake Money so it doesn’t matter!

Fri 27 Jul 2018

We are in the Central Business District: CBD. The goal of the day is a walk from Spit to Manly Wharf.

The Walrus touts itself as gourmet breakfast, but it was just very good breakfast food so no need for too much touting. The food touts for itself and the breakfast sandwiches are <makes smacking sound with fingers to lips>. TOUT! And it became the base of energy for us to do some heavy touristing. Walk to Hyde Park where, much like the crazy grackles we were introduced to in Austin back in 2017, we saw some Australian-specific crazy birds: the noble Australian White Ibis. Or, as it is better known: “bin chicken” or “trash turkey”. They’re apparently the pigeons of Australia but look so odd to our eyes that one man’s trash etc.

Such nobility!

Across from the park is St. Mary’s Cathedral. Fun facts which I kinda remember: started in around 1820, burned down and rebuilt, burned/broken remnants on display, large murals representing the 14 stations of the cross (of all my art history, we still had to look up how many stations there were), constant renovations as the Australian sandstone breaks down. Beautiful church that I, oddly, would not think of Australia as having such a thing.

On to Spit!

(We took public transportation which is easy however we are not so skilled, living with a transportation system that goes nowhere, dealing with one that goes errwhere. OK, that’s unfair to Marta. We really just bonked and missed our stop and had to backtrack to arrive at the destination we had seen fly by us 20 minutes prior.)

The tour wonks recommend Manly-to-Spit, but Lisa wisely chose the reverse so that we would end at civilization and bars. After a 10k walk we would earn it. The trail went through Sydney Harbour National Park and was a nice nature walk yet, varying throughout, came close to neighborhoods and family parks. It still gave us steep ups-and-downs, cliffside views, beach walks, peaceful forest isolation. Having abandoned jogging for a while, it was a trail that made me jealous when the joggers would pass us. And yet: we still earned that breakfast sandwich. I guess we earned the drinks at the end too? A lot of earning going on and said earnings came with some people-watching on the patio at Hugo’s.

This makes me yearn.

We get back to CBD and stop for beers at Harts Pub near the hotel. It looked to be converted from an old house into a neighborhood hang out and we did same while watching Australian football. Holy shit that looks rough! Americans are wimps. Back at the hotel we realized that a 10k walk plus beer plus possibly the time change catching up to me will result in a nap until 11 PM. Up and find the only place open with food that wasn’t a late night bar filled with party drunks or a guitar player belting out some 70s pop song I can’t remember but know we did not want to hear: Grain! My first night cocktail joint supplied us with decent bar pizza. Sleep again by 2 or 3 AM.

Self-portrait in Lisa’s glasses

Sat 28 Jul 2018

Next day’s adventure started and ended with the Sydney Opera House for a performance of Aida. We did the walkin’ around thing (that’s what they call it in Australia, right?) and started a few blocks away at the opera house. Our hotel location was perfect.

Das Haus der Oper

I did something stupid and hesitated on purchasing tickets. Well, I almost did something stupid. Normally, I consider money during vacations to be basically play money (see above) and something that affects-me-not. I don’t know why but I felt beset when deciding whether we should get tickets to Aida. Old age? Nah, that can’t be it. So anyway sensibility prevailed and we got the tickets plus a sweet sweet coffee mug for fond, caffeinated memories. Always remember this if you waver: DON’T. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Pre-opera-pre-game was a trip to Watson’s Bay via ferry. There, we got our seafood on on the balcony at Doyle’s (133-years-old! “we opened Australia’s first seafood restaurant in 1885”) and strolled the beautiful Gap Bluff.

Not shown: regatta of around 20 or 30 sail boats and a sunken treasure ship!

Return trip and walk (vacations are nothing if not walking) to the stylish Bangaroo neighborhood. So many cool buildings! And possibly too cool for us. Drinks and people watchin’ at the Bangaroo House Bar.

Welcome to the world of tomorrow!

Home, prepare for the opera–for which I was wardrobely unprepared and had to purchase some khakis at a discount shop which fit well but look somewhat shabby (but the price was right, again I fretted over cost?)–and drinks at the open-air opera bar beforehand. I had never seen Aida before and this introduction had a sense of the modern and classic. The stage contained a forest full of full-height LCD screens depicting various Egypt-influenced, flowing computer graphics. The wardrobe was historic opera and waaaaay over-the-top opulent. Perfect modern introduction to an opera classic. (Throughout the trip, I tried and failed to get a pic of one of the stylish Aida banners displayed across the city. Regerts.)

Difficult search for dinner afterwards but we finally found Restaurant Hubert–stylish, fin de siècle, and late night. Portobello and au poivre, fried gruyere, drinks. However, after an exhausting day we shamefully left the rarity of a cool late-nite joint and only stayed till 12:30. Ollllld people.

Sun 29 Jul 2018

Ahh, the Blue Mountains and their Aussie naturalness without containing deadly fish or animals or bugs or plants. Day trip with a small group and with our Fearless Leader Tom out of Sydney–whose metropolitan area is ridiculously large–west and north and increasing a bit in elevation. They are very much like north GA mountains of similar name. Tom was great and greatly gregarious there and back, but it took all my self-control not to correct his explanation of the blue-ness of the mountains not as eucalyptus-derived but actually an example of the optics of atmospheric perspective (art degree, yo). Still, he bequeathed us with his secret for a good marinade: Coke and soy sauce.

(shhhh, prehistoric)
They should have sent a poet!

Places visited in the nearby town of [ed. find the town we visited] were: Lyrebird, Conservation Hut Cafe, Leura Cellars (where Lisa scored a bottle of Bloody Shiraz gin from Four Pillars), and the Featherdale Wildlife Park. So many animals at the park! Kangaroos… Tasmanian devils… birds of many types… dingos!! And, of course, trash turkeys errwere.

Drive and boat back to the City of Sydney for drinks at The Push where a singer-songwriter played Tracy Chapman with Britney Spears lyrics (re: our New Years par-tay with her in Vegas) threaded in. Chill. Off to Pony in our hood, The Rocks, for some kangaroo carpaccio and cod dinner. Then we somehow found a Sydney’s version of a classic Irish pub (?) downstairs at a low-ceilinged bar called The Doss House. Australian folk music with guitar+flute(?)+singers standing around a table and just folk-riffing. I spotted the larger-than-life owner with the musicians and as we were leaving he wished us well. Neat!

Mon 30 Jul 2018


Time has come today, TIME!
“The Highest Working Post Box in the Southern Hemisphere”

Queen Victoria Building and a French coffee shop where Lisa got The World’s Largest Croissant and we puzzled over a clock with ships circling it.

The Sydney Tower Eye observation deck to be the masters of all we surveyed and get a sense of just what an awesome city Sydney is.

The Mojo Record Bar (bar closed, record shoppe open) to resist purchasing the rare first Chicano Batman album (Lisa) and the GitS soundtrack (me).

Bar Luca for really delicious burgers before our bridge walk.

Bridge. Mother. Fucking. Climb. I have no pictures but it was impressive. Here’s the deal: start at the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, hook up to safety cables, walk up, uP, UP the suspended arch, and hang out for dusk. View! Starting the walk on the beams over the harbour I gots the nerves, but then when we came down from a height 2x that of the Sydney Opera House the original, lower height felt… mundane. Not unappreciative as such, but the gots-ing of nerves were put into perspective.

And, finally, the NOLA Smokehouse and Bar. How in the hell did Lisa find a Louisiana bar in Sydney? Whatever. Perfect food and perfect atmosphere and they suffered us as the late hangers about but there was way too much good food for the night before our flight back.

This! Is!! NOLA!!!