go on, you deserve it
so i just got back from the emp pop conference, which was sort of like a combo summit, fashion show, and collective lecture for music nerds of a wide variety of glasses styles. i gave my paper on north korean pop and it was fine. well, i’ll say this: i was trying to be my “awkward, uncomfortable, twitchy, unfiltered, detail-obsessed, noisy, painful, blood-drawing” self, and instead earned one lone “haunting.”
highlights: former voice writer and decibel contributor and hospital janitor scott seward delivering a narrative about his appreciation for contemporary metal that spilled pretty much every shade of emotional resonance with CALM and PURPOSE; joshua clover talking about pop in the moment of the fall of the berlin wall. honestly. deeply inspiring. and i don’t say it without a reason. scott was personal, funny, and super-informative without scrambling to offer some sorta thesis or big picture per se–he made me realize that MAKING connections and FORCING them are really different things. it was a brain at work, but a brain refreshingly without a world-gripping agenda. joshua demonstrated that talking impressionistically about history isn’t a categorical joke-less drag. i got a breeze in my heart.
i also finally got to meet carl wilson, who was every bit as engaged, engaging, sharp, and human as i expected. we stood outside talking about notions of “location” in music–writing about it, specifically, but also relating to it. anyway, it occurred to me that a shift had taken place: i no longer desire infinity in its traditional, misleading costumes! i am growing up! let’s celebrate by bringing things extremely close to home; like, if you want to come over, just call me:
go get your copy of steely dan’s aja. position your five stereo speakers so three are on one side of a wall and two tweeters are on the other, facing away from the wall. then turn on your artificial dolby stereo splitting and skip to “peg.” you will discover michael macdonald’s backing vocal in one of the tweeters and i am not lying when i say it will change your life, quite possibly in an irrevocable way. i have been searching for metaphors for the past 12 days: warmed butter? gravelly butter? buttergravel? steaming chocolate fondue with a smoothed beach stone dipped in it? if you can’t do that all, skip to minute 6:21 in this. though really, nothing beats 7:20 am, a half-finished bowl of greek yogurt, leaning over an upright piano with your face to a tweeter to hear michael macdonald wrapping close harmonies with all the easy flair of god.