If You Find The Earth Boring...

Turn Up The Lights In Here Baby, Extra Bright, I Want Y'all To See This

As the days grow shorter, the Parc de la Pepiniere (Park of the Little Trees) in Nancy, usually my go-to place for running, is locked up as night falls.  I’ve been extra busy at work which means I get home too late to be able to use the park for running, so I’ve been changing my routine and doing some long runs through the city and some of the surrounding neighborhoods.  Running in the dark on centuries old cobblestone streets is humbling in many ways: mainly for my ankles and my sense of history.  Running to me is so much more than physical exercise.  It has taken me too long to realize that a daily run is the best therapy for both my mental and physical constitution.  Sometimes under the most stress I have neglected to commit myself to the simple act of daily exercise, probably what I needed most.  My daily runs serve as a mental release from a day of hard work.  It’s meditative time to think, which is mainly what happens during these long runs on unknown streets past Boulageries I have neither smelled or seen before (keep in mind that in France there is a bakery on every corner). I usually don’t listen to music when I run.  With some longer runs I have been doing over the past few weeks, I’ve taken to listening to music again.  Just in the last few days I have enjoyed some older favorites (just listened to Burial’s Untrue album and had just about forgotten how great it is) or some newer releases, such as albums from No Age (Everything In Between), Twin Shadow (Forget) and Cloud Nothings (Turning On).  Getting the most rotations on my runs is Kanye West’s new record My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  I’m usually not into his thing, either on record or off, but this album is brilliant.  “All Of The Lights” is the absolute jam for me right now; there’s so many themes running through the record, but this song hits the hardest for me in premise and hook.  I can get with the fact that we all deserve a little forgiveness and redemption. It’s been snowing here most of today.  I thoroughly enjoyed work because my Brazilian office mate (who’s in France as a visiting scientist) had never seen snow before.  He kept going to the window throughout the day to tell me how beautiful the falling snow was.  We went outside and he told me the snow wasn’t as cold as he thought it would be.  Makes you realize how you take something as simple as the falling snow for granted sometimes.  I’ll try to remember this the next time I am shoveling sidewalks. I get asked a lot of questions from people living here in France, but probably the most common question asked is “What do you miss most about the United States?”  I never know how to answer this.  It’s always a different answer: Tortilla chips, peanut butter, pretzels… things they don’t have here.  It’s also funny because I usually don’t eat these things very often, just the simple fact of not being able to have something will make you want it even more.  The truth is: I really don’t miss any one thing.  What I miss are my family and friends.  I also have been so lucky to meet so many incredible people here who I truly consider friends. So, because it’s Thanksgiving in the United States, I’m reflecting on what I am thankful for.  I’m thankful for family and friends, new beginnings and old endings, sounds and silence, redemption and forgiveness, and breaking routines and embracing them.  I’m also thankful for snow, cobblestone streets, and peanut butter.  Maybe someday soon I will eat peanut butter again, but for now, I am completely happy with the European equivalent (Nutella; not an endorsement, but oh so good).

Goodbye Peter Christopherson

Peter Christopherson, musician, music video director, and designer with the influential British graphic design firm Hipgnosis, has left this mortal coil.  Even if you are not familiar with his name, most likely you have heard music he has worked on, or even more likely to have seen a music video he directed or an album cover he designed.  Here’s a link for the invisible jukebox interview with him from the Wire Magazine in August of last year.

Vampire Weekend's Contra

It’s approaching the end of the year, as we all can see, and I’d like to attempt to tell you a little about some new music I fell in love with this past year over the next couple of months.  This is in anticipation of the annual “best of” list I enjoy taking part of. Despite all the hype, I tried hard to ignore Vampire Weekend’s Contra record that came out very early this year.  I have always loved a good pop record, so despite being hyped out of proportion, I truly fell for Vampire Weekend’s self titled album.  Expecting a sophomore slump, I listened to Contra a few times in the cold of winter this past year, and, unfortunately, it didn’t grab me right away and was shelved and ignored.  To those who know me this unfortunately happens quite frequently. I had basically forgotten about the album until I was flying to Spain for a scientific meeting in June.  My cell phone (AKA music player) battery died on the plane and at the time I didn’t feel like reading and just needed something to listen to.  There wasn’t really anything on the airline “radio” to satisfy me, until I found that you could listen to Contra in its entirety on the plane.  I somehow spent the rest of the flight listening to the album, I don’t know how many times, and, like their debut record, after that flight I was hooked on Contra. I heard this record everywhere this past year.  For example, “Cousins” was heard on TV and film, notably Lisa Cholodenkos’s The Kids Are Alright, I heard “Giving Up The Gun” while walking through my local mall, “Horchata” was quite ironically playing at the local coffee shop, and I caught an MTV Europe special on Contra which played quite loud in a French bar.  Being inundated like that can be quite annoying, but it still was a somewhat happy reminder of what a great pop group Vampire Weekend are.  I am seriously trying not to hold that against them.

Sun Araw's On Patrol

It was a hot Friday night this past summer.  It wasn’t late but I was tired and decided to lay down and read a little bit.  I put a digitized version of the new double LP On Patrol by Sun Araw on the stereo (on repeat!) and started to read.  Did I say it was really hot and humid, you know, the way it sometimes gets in the summertime? I started to drift away to sleep as I attempted to read.  I wasn’t reading a novel by Philip K. Dick, or was I?  I couldn’t remember what I was reading.  I felt the hot sand of a silver white Hawaiian beach warming my body.  I slowly lifted up my head to see a futuristic crew of what looked like police, ride up on surfboards from white capped waves, wearing outfits stolen from the prop warehouse of the movie Tron.  As these uniformed beings were greeting me, a row of hip-shaking hula-girls sung from a distance, and then a shimmering saucer appeared flying above me in the sky.  A large green hand appeared from the spacecraft and slowly picked me up from the beach and brought me gently inside the apparently metal floating object.  I was placed in a soft lounge chair as a strange green being swayed in the distance playing a looping melody on an electric guitar.  It was wearing dark sunglasses.  Quite calmly, the large green hand plugged a stereo cable into the back of my head and I was filled with the static filled sounds of a broken Hammond organ perfectly matched to the electric guitar played by the strange green being.  The strange green being sang something but I did not understand its meaning. I heard my phone ring and I slowly sat up in bed.  I looked at the phone, but the call registered “unknown number” with no other information.  I then looked at the time and realized I had listened to On Patrol for the last four hours in my sleep.  It was this night that I realized that this was a fucking great album.

Rip It Up And Start Again

I finally have a separate page set up for photos and images of artwork.  I will still be working on fixing some broken links, etc., but it’s ready to go.  I’ve just posted two new folders, along with some oldies. The first new folder is partly inspired by rainy days looking out my third story window on the street below and partly inspired by my friend’s work found here.  There’s also a nice focus of Eric’s work in Contributor Magazine this month. The second new folder is me playing around.  I hope you enjoy. Busting out with the updates today since the server is back up and running after a couple of days of downtime.  There’s more on the way so please check back soon.