Tag Archives: mix tape

Poems and Philosophy

28 Feb

First off, there are poems –  actually a poem – over at The Blue Hour about boys and basketballs and my June who thinks she’s one tough kitty.

So many thanks to them. Small presses rock.

That covers the poetry part – now to the philosophy part.

I was riding the subway the other day, thinking about a book I want to/sort of am writing. It’s about when I was in high school and I fell off a waterfall cracking my noggin open. But really it’s about the people who I spent my time with then, people who meant the world to me – that even today, still do. And I was stuck with a particular thought:

I’m so incredibly thankful I grew up when I did because now I know how to be alone and still.

Hear me out:

During twilight, in the winter or summer, I used to go on walks with my best friend Dan who lived around the corner. We would walk and talk or sometimes we would walk and not talk. We would go down to the basketball courts in my old neighborhood and lay there, staring up at the stars. We would just be together. But also, alone.

Do you know what I mean? The way you can be with someone but also be by yourself?

So that got me thinking about that time, about being in high school during a time of mix tapes and duct tape that held your bumper on and stealing beers from the garage.

And what it made me think about the most was the quiet. Because we had no cell phones. We had no internet. There was no technology that kept us all together. Now clearly we all know the danger of cyber bullying and the heartbreaking stories like that of Amanda Todd – something that extreme is not even what I’m getting into here. It’s something smaller. Something that might be eating us up slowly.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel really lucky to have been in that horribly amazing time before all this “connection.” Because it let me be ALONE.

And there’s a lot to be said about being alone.

About knowing what the crunch of gravel sounds like under your feet in the summer evening.

About laying in your room, alone, making a mix tape for the boy you secretly like.

About just being still.

About knowing that after school – after that horrible fight I had with my friend, after all the horrible things I said and she said – that it’s over. It’s not going to continue in this other world where other people can watch. It’s just me now, and my feelings, alone in my room where I can sort them out and remember that I love her. And she loves me. And now that we can calm down I can see that again.

I just feel really lucky. And not to sound too old or anything but I worry about the kids who are texting and skypeing and tweeting their way through high school. I worry they don’t know how to be alone. That they might not even understand the CONCEPT of alone, truly alone, truly unconnected.

That singular moment when you can feel the blood cells race through your veins.

The realization that you are here, in your room, in this house, on this street, in this town, in this country, on this planet, floating out there in all that dark empty space.

That the chance that you would EVEN exist is minuscule and yet, here you are – alive and still and alone.

Alone is a good thing. And it’s not the same as loneliness. Because I wasn’t lonely. I had friends I would jump off waterfalls for. And I wasn’t afraid of the quiet. Of being with me and only me.

It is its own form of peace. One that we should be careful not to lose.

….And the smoke came out our mouths On all those hooded sweatshirt walks We were a stroke of luck We were a goldmine and they gutted us…

 – Conor Obrest

I Keep My Rhymes In My Little Black Book

5 May

It’s called Gratitude.

RIP MCA August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012

Rest in Peace Adam Yauch.

I’m pretty sure if you went to high school anytime between 1990 and 1999 that the Beastie Boys helped craft the soundtrack to your life.

The Beastie Boys were musical pioneers, without a doubt. They were a ground breaking trio who changed the way people viewed rap. And Adam Yauch, MCA, was also a director, a visionary and a humanitarian.

I remember the first time I saw the Fight for Your Right video. When I was assigned a claymation video to make in AV class, I argued till I was blue in the face that it had to be recreation of that video.  And it was.

I remember driving around that little town I felt trapped in, up and down the same old roads, listening to the Beastie Boys. Their tapes were always in my glove compartment. I remember winding it back and forth to check, wait, what did he say? What was that lyric? To learn it. To memorize it.

I remember being caked from head to toe in mud at Lollapalloza with my sister and her boyfriend. The Beasties came on stage and the entire place went nuts. It is probably my favorite concert memory. We were all there, soaked, muddy, reeling from the death of Kurt Cobain, and there they were onstage, having the time of their life. And with them so did we. We were renewed. We were a part of something great.

I graduated high school in 1995. My specialty was making mix tapes for people. I made them for everyone. It was my way of communicating all the things I couldn’t say. That’s what music does. Mix tapes meant something in a way that playlists never will. You had to sit there and listen to each song you put on. There was no pointing and clicking. It was a process. An experience. There was thought and feeling that went into it. And I don’t think I made a single mix tape that didn’t have a Beastie Boys song on it. Ill Communication was the soundtrack to my life at one point. I think, maybe it was for all of us.

When Hot Sauce Committee Part II came out, it was like time traveling. There was a homecoming to it. When MCA wasn’t there for the induction at the rock n roll hall of fame, I knew it wasn’t good.

For a book that I’m working on, I have been spending a lot of time remembering 1994. And that includes listening to the music I was listening to then. The music that changed me. That shaped me. That did the talking for me.

So thanks Adam. Thanks for the  rhymes. Thanks for the songs that loop in my head. Thanks for being a real life superstar. You will be missed.

I go on till the crack of dawn. Mowing down MCs like I’m mowin the lawn

What do you think that world owes you.

What’s gonna set you free?

Look inside and you’ll see. When you’ve got so much to say, it’s called Gratitude. And that’s right.

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