Monthly Archives: May 2010

dead media kittyIS IT PREMATURE
to compare mix-making to dying arts like blacksmithing or millinery? Probably. But when Barrett proposed an old-fashioned mix-trading club a month ago, I was giddy. I bombed friends with comps back when they took hours to create. Now it’s appallingly cheap—sequencing and burning a CD takes less than 60 seconds; there may be love there, but not much labor.

For old-school skills to survive, you have to make sport of it. I got a turntable with a USB output, so I can eat up time converting vinyl tracks to include. There are little challenges like repping music from five or more decades, going for gender balance (if not equity), and floating some highly improbable juxtapositions. Here’s what I came up with: Download Adult Contemporary Mixtape Club #1: Vegan Safari.

01    Nobody But Me  – The Human Beinz
02    We Are the Men You’ll Grow to Love Soon – Let’s Wrestle
03    Feet and Bones – Trampled By Turtles
04    Is It True – Brenda Lee
05    Dixon’s Girl – Dessa
06    Work – Gang Starr (R.I.P. Guru)
07    Action – Oh No
08    Academy Fight Song – Mission of Burma
09    Die Right Now – Lemonheads
10    Mambo Sun – T. Rex
11     Subtractions – Dosh
12    Tortoise Pace – Memory Tapes
13    I’m So Green – Can
14    Getting Nasty – Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm
15    I Can’t Stand The Rain – Ann Peebles
16    Balcony Beach – Latyrx
17    The Style You Haven’t Done Yet – Boogie Down Productions
18    Half of Two Times Two – Barr
19    Mother of Pearl (edit) – Roxy Music
20   Paris 1919 – John Cale
21    Love Rules – Pens
21    Anyway You Like It – Holly Golightly
22    Old Enough – Nelly McKay
23    Golden Apples – Country Teasers

A SLEW OF VINTAGE FREIGHT COMPANY PADS were my booty from Sarah’s recent trip to Salem (Oregon), quirky artifacts from the Early Modern era of office stationery scored at a flea market. They’re nice to have by a desk phone (preferably corded), with an in-between size and parchment-like surface that’s good for drawing. You gotta love the tiny maps and type that looks like it’s in a hurry (click a couple times to enlarge).

> The Modern Lovers – Old World

SPECIAL SCREENINGS OF HITCHCOCK are happening within walking distance, at the strange new Trylon microcinema and the Riverview, our ‘hood’s best bragging right. I’m a Hitch-lover, but I underestimated the charge of seeing “The Birds” in a crowded house—with buffs hooting and laughing beyond usual Minnesota decorum.

I found details I’d missed: Tippi Hedron’s green suit that stays unruffled through a half-dozen attacks, only to be pecked to shreds at the end (along with her steely demeanor); Suzanne Pleshette’s brooding, loser-ish existence that (I see now) marks her as a casualty even before the birds finish her off.

It even felt topical. At the peak of the berserk attacks, townsfolk are left wondering if they themselves are to blame for nature turning on them. Nearly 50 years later, there can be no doubt.

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Nick Reding’s “Methland” explains the rural methamphetamine epidemic in terms of disappearing industrial jobs, shrinking wages, and an abundance of fertilizer, which contains a key ingredient for the drug’s production. Congress had a chance to shut down the source of ephedrine (another main ingredient) in 1985 and nip the problem in the bud. Instead they caved to the pharmaceutical lobby who cashed in on those who would crush up and cook the pills into a drug much more powerful and addictive than crack.

I have family in the immediate vicinity of Oelwein, Iowa, the town the book examines, and I live only 150 miles away. Yet I have no reference point for the “delusional violence, morbid depravity, extreme sexual perversion and almost otherworldly, hallucinogenic dimension of evil” meth has wrought in Reding’s description. Since reading “Methland”, I’m attributing people’s odd behavior to the drug: the woman clearly shoplifting at Walgreen’s who, when stopped for her receipt, abruptly hands her “purchase” to the cashier saying “just hold this while I have a cigarette”; The girl behind me at the coffee shop with the awful scabs on her face who struggled to pull her dollar out of her pocket.

Of course, you don’t know who’s a tweaker, who’s sick or who’s just unlucky (or maybe all three). It’s reassuring to think addiction only happens to people who’ve made lousy choices—people we’re separated from by good sense and propriety. But when it wrecks a whole region, we all share in the moral failing. That a drug can erode the humanity of so many people, families and communities and yet be invisible to those living comfortably nearby deepens the tragedy.