A few weeks back, David Bowie released a single and video (“Where Are We Now”) for his upcoming album, The New Day. I loved its expansive and unfolding manner as I mentioned here (though I had unwittingly reblogged an unofficial, and thus defunct video).
This past week, I’ve been listening to Low’s latest album, C’mon, and the similarities are palpable. This here has quickly become one of my favorite tracks ever. The titular phrase is repeated like a mantra but never feels repetitive as the music swells and moves it, unravels it. These similarities are hardly a letdown - if this style of music is something Bowie is keen on exploring in The New Day, then I think we have something great to look forward to.
In the meantime, put on a good pair of headphones or just crank up your laptop volume and give this track (and the whole album!) a listen. It’s how I imagine an internal cardiac massage would feel.
Aaron H. Swartz, one of our our most vigorous champions of open access and copyright reform, committed suicide in New York City on Friday at the age of 26.
He was a pioneer and a renegade, part of the team that built Reddit as well as the widely-used RSS protocol. But he first began making headlines for a coding exploit that he undertook in September of 2010, when he used MIT’s servers to scrape and download some two million academic articles stored by the online catalog JSTOR using a program named keepgrabbing.py. Per copyright law, it may have been illegal or, as some argue, “inconsiderate”: these articles were meant only to be available to MIT affiliates, not to the wider world that Swartz believed deserved better access to the world’s information.
MIT didn’t press charges and neither did JSTOR. The government, however, decided to throw the book at Swartz, eventually hitting him with 13 separate charges and threatening to send him to prison for decades. According to his mother, Swartz was depressed about the court case and possibility of years in prison. He’d contemplated suicide in the past and, for unknown reasons, followed through this time.
My grandfather will die soon. We’ve known for a while but now this certainty has a time frame: “within the week.” I imagine him now propped up at an angle in a bed in a hospital in Baguio, a wristband indicating DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) hanging below the tattoo on his forearm of a lady in a grass skirt. He doesn’t have the strength to tighten his fist, to make her dance.
The news came on Saturday, only hours after learning that the older brother of a friend from high school committed suicide. My parents ditched their vacation to jet from Hong Kong to Singapore to Manila to Baguio to get to him as quickly as possible. I took the A train home. I listened to sad music. I tried to sleep. I rolled out of bed. I went to work.
Near the end of my shift, the loathsome radio started playing “Hotel California.” The store is dead quiet when The Eagles spit out the lines, Some people dance to remember/ some people dance to forget. This prompted a purchase of whimsy - a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah/Carmenere blend I had picked out for my father when I went to visit my family in the fall. This is a wine I have sold to customers as being like “a warm blanket,” or “a big hug.” The bottle weighs, like, two pounds with broad shoulders but the wine itself is soft and mouth-filling. Dark chocolate, blackberries, herbal spice. I share the bottle with my roommates, distracted, and take the last glass into my bare room. I think and then, I remember.
In which David Bowie refines what it means to grow old gracefully. Awesome.
It ends in such an impressively stellar manner. Like, Bowie gets into these broad, huge statements and the instruments just keep unfolding infinitely to the point that you have to fade out.
Also, how interesting that the video takes place in a studio, positioning the titular question smack dab in the middle of creation, spatially and chronologically? How haunting, the close proximity of the silent other?
This was the best way to wake up today - to hear and see something that makes you think and feel. Thanks and happy birthday, David Bowie!
I seriously love this band. They present this desolate, expansive, sonic landscape punctuated with emotive percussion. It’s a sound that overwhelms and retreats. It’s the crash of a wave and the withdrawing tide. It’s an entire winter - the cold, the space between blizzards, the wanting.
I have made two New Year’s Resolutions. One, use people’s names more often. Two, get on Tumblr again. The second one is ridiculous, but I’ve been trying to get in the habit of writing again but every time I sit down by my window with the sun pouring in, a cup of tea or whiskey or last night’s wine on the sill, I get so caught up in the idea of writing that I hardly get anything down. Writing for an audience might be the sort of pressure I’ve been lacking.
Anyways, I’ve been listening to a lot of “slowcore” the last few months. I lay some blame on one of my co-workers, who has smuggled Kinder Eggs over the border and thinks he might be dead, since he introduced me to Codeine. Also, it appeals to various ideas I’ve been forming in regards to deliberate action, empathy, and statuary.
Sad music’s coming people. Just thought you should know.
In the end credits, the Coffee Shop Manager is credited as just Coffee Shop. Quentin Tarantino said this was because when Tim Roth puts the gun to his head and says “Are you gonna be a hero?”, the manager only says “I’m just a Coffee Shop-” before Tim Roth cuts him off and starts yelling again.