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30-May-07

Anacortes or Olympia? Anacortes or Olympia? It’s driving me crazy. There’s just so much involved in the decision at this point. I need to talk it over with a good listener.

Anacortes (specifically, the Department of Safety):
1) Immediate opportunities for meeting new people.
2) More likely to build character and provide new experiences as I’ll be a worker/resident and thus will be performing maintenance duties, helping set up shows, etc.
3) A very real chance of meeting and collaborating with several recording artists I respect.
4) Essentially a positive environment to learn and grow in.
5) A unique opporunity – I don’t foresee myself getting the chance to live in such a situation again anytime soon.

Olympia:
1) I’d be living in a house and thus could unload and set up all of the stuff I have collecting dust in my mom’s basement.
2) I’d be able to set up my drumset and amplifier and play more or less whenever I wanted to.
3) I’d have access to theaters, libraries, and so on that Anacortes likely wouldn’t have.
4) I’d have relative privacy.

It comes down to my character, I guess. Both places present interesting challenges. If I move to Olympia, I’ll have to really reach out in order to succeed. If I move to Anacortes, I’ll have to be open and positive near-constantly. Which would benefit me more? What do I want right now? I’ll get back to you, I guess.

Ryan
xoxo

17-May-07

The move became exponentially more confusing since the last entry. I more or less secured that apartment I was talking about, but! two new and alluring options have also come into play:

1) I can/may move to the Department of Safety in Anacortes, WA. The DoS is an amazing community venue/workers co-op chaired by, among others, Phil Elvrum of the Microphones and his wife Genevieve. I sent a resume and personal statement to the Department of Safety in Anacortes, WA, a month or so ago, hoping to move in as a resident/worker. I was/am psyched to move in but I figured it was a longshot, especially after a week or two of silence on the part of their coordinators. Turns out they really liked me and want me to move up in August!

2) My ex-roommate Lisa wants to room with me in Olympia. Despite our tempestuous past, Lisa and I are still basically best friends, so I’m very, very tempted. To sweeten the deal even more, she has a car and wants to rent a house. A house! I could record instruments with impunity! Lisa + a house.

So, to recap, I will either 1) live cheaply amongst a community of artists in a lake village, b) live alone in a 1-BR bedroom at the center of Olympia, or c) live in a house with one of my best friends somewhere in Olympia. I. am. ambivalent.

Weird, dreamy. That just about sums up where I’m at right now.

Haircut happening tomorrow.

Ryan
xoxo

07-May-07

I may be moving to Olympia sooner than anticipated. I discovered an apartment building that is apparently the Holy Grail of apartment buildings, right in the center of downtown Olympia, and I’ve been spending most of my spare time trying to secure it. It’s tricky – I don’t have any direct contacts in Olympia to check out the place for me nor do I necessarily have the credit for this kind of thing. (I lost most of the former in the big Kill Rock Stars change-of-hands last year and most of the latter in this year’s taxes.) I do, however, know people who know people, and I’m pretty sure my mom will help out if things get serious. Her basement’s storing 90% of my belongings right now and as far as I know she’s not loving it or anything.

Allow me to briefly expound on how great this place is. It’s on the bus line and it sports an on-site washer/dryer and free wireless internet. It’s right around the corner from what Hannah informs me is “the best bookstore in the city” and right upstairs from “the best coffee in the city.” It’s in front of a lake and has a view of the park. It is one block from KRS and three from K. I want it I want it I want it.

I’ve been suffering from designer’s block the last few days. I don’t know where it’s coming from. It’s an issue of focus and motivation, I think; this is commercial work, so there can’t be any real artistic despair to speak of. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back on track tomorrow.

Ryan
xoxo

03-May-07

I changed my profile picture. This one’s more accurate. Enjoy. In deference to Doug, who knew straightaway that the pic I put up was substandard, I’m substituting in the infamous “Ryan as David Foster Wallace” pic.


DFW, as seen on the back of Infinite Jest.
It was a good day. I woke up in the afternoon and decided that I probably wasn’t going to get any work done, so I left for Manhattan and bought some books. I ended up with a few French translations – the Radiguet was a real find, if a bit costly – and some books by Latin American authors I’m not familiar with, Jorge Amado and Machado de Assis. I also picked up a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, which I’ve never read before. Something in Calvino’s Six Memos suggested that a working knowledge of Carroll would be desirable, and I’ve never been one to disagree with Calvino. He’s my main man.

Worth mentioning: Julian Barnes and a colleague were perusing at East Village Books at the same time as myself. Judging from their conversation – “Have you read this? The style is wanting but the story is interesting.” or “I could see that, but that’s what the writer was shooting for, I think. You should try reading the dialogue aloud.” – I took them at first for professors of creative writing, but at some point the name “Julian” slipped out and I immediately became suspicious. A Google Image search confirmed it. This is of course apropos of nothing. I never could get into Julian Barnes. I’m told his stuff is excellent, though. Maybe he suffers from that too-good-for-his-own-good syndrome that people like Nabokov and Martin Amis sometimes suffer from.

Dina received her mix (mentioned last entry) and seems to be enjoying it. The cover was a pencil sketch I drew of me thinking of her wondering where her mix was. I drew her from memory, but apparently it was accurate enough that her coworkers remarked on it. Pretty cool. The previously mentioned “Miscegenation” mix (now untitled) is nearly finished, and I’ll probably send that along to her as well.

This evening I spent the bulk of my time spring cleaning. I’ve reduced the clutter in my room significantly, but without proper shelving there are still messy spots and piles here and there. I think I might pick up some cardboard boxes tomorrow and start packing the stuff that I never use but would like to keep. Maybe a pile of boxes will look slightly less disorganized than several piles of books and CDs.

One of the stranger aspects of cleaning was rooting through my clear plastic trunk. This trunk has been through a lot and is worse for the wear. It was lugged from Jasmine’s bedbug-ridden Greenpoint residence across Brooklyn, evacuated from my doomed South Park Slope sublet in midday to Josh’s, used as my sole shelf during my three somber months in Williamsburg, fitted with effort into the far corner of my 6×6 lofted bedroom in Hell’s Kitchen, and finally deposited beside my dresser for over a year here in Ridgewood, so completely disfigured by this point that the lid would barely stay on. To rummage through it was to be suddently confronted with my not-so-distant Situation as a newcomer to New York City.

(Plus I found $3 and some change that included quarters.)

There’s a certain amount of intelligence hiding in one’s history, I think. The last two or so years are more than an good adventure story. They reassure me that I have been and always will be capable of taking control of my life. The important thing to remember is that I needn’t wait for crises to strike in order to do so.

Yours,
Ryan

01-May-07

I’ve been just stupidly broke the last couple of days. But things are swell. Last week was an extremely effective week for Ryan M. I was completing projects right and left: I averaged a card a day, sent off a mix to Dina, sent off a resume to the worker’s co-op up in Anacortes that I’m angling to join. I wrote or recorded or re-recorded three songs.

So the Other Plan, if this worker’s co-op deal doesn’t pan out, was and is to move to Olympia, WA. My roommate-to-be has copped out for lack of fiscal power, but I have an Other Plan (B) and even an Other Plan (C). Other Plan (B) involves moving up with a friend of mine who just graduated from Vassar. She, too, has at least three potential plans going on, so it’s not a very dependable plan. Other Plan (C) is a pretty heavy one, though I could hack it if I had to. It involves me moving up to Olympia alone and renting a small studio, alone.

I think I’m gonna send the Department of Safety folks some brownies and maybe a few mix CDs. I could send them the mix I made for Dina, and I’m working on a second mix that I’ve tentatively titled “Miscegenation Celebration.” Is that sort of reappropriation of a vaguely perjorative term considered “black humor”? Maybe I should reconsider.

Ryan
xoxo

28-Apr-07

First things first: my phone’s been partially shut off. In a mischievious twist, Verizon has made it so I can receive text messages and phone calls but I can’t make them myself. In the words of the Pharcyde, “Aw, shit!”

Last night I saw the devil’s own show at the Silent Barn. Chrissakes. Fact: the Dirty Projectors, when performing as a band, are actually mindblowing. I was shocked. Easily the best thing all night. The Shape of Folk to Come, all derelict guitarwork and intricately askew stomps and unbelievable female harmonies. Fact: Awesome Color were also the best thing all night, but for completely different reasons. They basically played four riffs (“songs”) for about thirty minutes, but energy-wise it was comparable to Les Savy Fav. Slam-dancing, crowd-surfing, little girls being thrown into drumsets. The speakers almost toppled over several times. Craziness.

Black Moth Super Rainbow also played, and they were pretty alright. I missed Deerhunter.

The thing about this show was that the venue only comfortably holds 150 and there were 400+ in there. Without any windows open or anything. It was like being in the hold of a slave ship, only with good live music and less scurvy (though equal vomiting, probably).

What else: I finished my mix for Dina and sent it off yesterday. I put in an app for an artists co-op in the Northwest as well. I saw Altman’s The Long Goodbye on Thursday and must emphatically tell everyone who will hear me to rent it. Oh yeah, and my phone was shut off. But you knew that already.

Ryan
xoxo

[wednesday] night in the kingdom of doom…

18-Apr-07

One reason I’m none too fond of music reviews as a general rule: Every now and then professional music reviewers seem to collide and collude against a specific musician for no obvious reason. Like, say, Tim Kinsella. Every time I read a Joan of Arc or Make Believe review, I can actually visualize some smarmy 22-year-old Pitchfork-sired music critic crouching behind Tim while another, perhaps a writer for Tiny Mix Tapes, pushes him. Then maybe they kick him in the face for complaining. The party line is that Mr. Kinsella is “pretentious”, an argument which seems to imply that most other musicians aren’t.

Similarly, Damon Albarn always seems to be under fire. According to the press, he’s “tempermental”, a “vicious drunk”, a “control freak”, “self-important”, a “celebrity complaining about celebrity”, a wannabe. 2003′s one-off Democrazy, a 5,000-run 10″ vinyl released on his own independent, was the proverbial whipping boy that year, more or less existing for reviewers to crack their knuckles and accuse the man of being “completely self-indulgent”. [Interestingly, similar projects such as The Microphones’ Little Bird Flies Into Big Black Cloud – a 300-run on a boutique label – and Fugazi’s Instrument, which was basically the same thing as Democrazy only mass-produced, were roundly lauded (if they were reviewed at all, in the case of the former).] Even the reviews of The Good, the Bad, and the Queen- tied with Person Pitch as the year’s best album so far, in my opinion – that praise the album tend to either express surprise at just how good it is or play down the contributions of the other members, refusing to let the reader forget for a moment that this is a “weird” album by a Complicated, Wary Former Brit-Pop Idol. Albarn’s cranky, narcissistic public persona was created by music journalists and will be perpetuated by the same.Which bums me out, because I personally think Damon Albarn is one of the better songwriters we have at the moment. Blur’s 13 and The Good, the Bad, and the Queen‘s self-titled debut are inventive, meticulously-crafted modern classics.

“Just my thoughts, man. Just some things I was thinkin’ about at the time.” – Jay-Z

17-Apr-07

I can’t remember if I complained about taxes in here. If not, I’m complaining now. After writing two checks totalling $611.48, I still owe the government $1416.74. Where’m I gonna get $1416.74? This self-employment stuff is for the birds. It’s like normal work only you have to be “responsible” and keep “records” of your “business expenditures.” Just give me some goddamn money and be done with it, people.

I keep hearing about the death of things lately. People dying (Virginia Tech), idealism dying (“Slouching Towards Bethlehem”), venues dying (Tonic). Evem the weather is rather withering. I could’ve sworn this was springtime. We haven’t had a blue sky in a few weeks.

Oh yeah, it seems I’m gonna be in the Midwest in mid-May.

Ryan
xoxo

13-Apr-07

A new Elliott Smith record – that is, a new record of Elliott Smith sides – is shipping May 1st from KRS HQ. The tracks are mostly old news, b-sides and demos that’ve been floating around ad nauseum since the dawn of P2P, but there are several there I don’t recognize as well – “New Monkey”, “Riot Coming”, “All Cleaned Out”, and a few others. The art looks bizarrely friendly, mostly because Elliott’s meek, lonely visage doesn’t figure prominently as is usually the case. I’m not gonna pretend I’m not psyched by this thing. Elliott Smith is a big musical hero of mine. I’m thinking I’m gonna pick it up on vinyl and grab the MP3s from somewheres in the meantime.

Most of the time, I love being self-employed. The freedom is extremely satisfying – I could never suffer working under someone else at this point. However, there are some drawbacks. Health insurance, for one, is more or less an impossibility for a relatively inexperienced freelancer like myself. “Spending money” isn’t always there – hell, it’s hard to even save for anything. But perhaps the worst is the tax situation.
<!–begin complaining–!>
I didn’t save a solitary nickel for taxes this year, which means I’m gonna get real f—ed. Not only that, but I worked a normal job and two separate “self-employed” jobs, so I have to fill out like ten forms.
<!–end complaining–!>

Ryan
xoxo

12-Apr-07

When do I write in this blog? When Kurt Vonnegut Jr., dies, that’s when. I suppose my experience with Vonnegut has been similar to many other curious, searching types’ experiences with him. For one, the man more or less taught me how to Read. He made me feel more certain of my own ideas and reassured me that it was okay to question and investigate any and all things, even (perhaps especially) “common sense.” Etc. etc. In short, he made me care. It’s good that he’s finally at rest.

Elsewhere in my life: Todd P recently began booking shows at a venue not three stops from me, a hole-in-the-wall artists’ loft off of the Halsey L known as the Silent Barn. It’s a really cool place – it’s supremely painty and dressed up and makes me feel like there’s something small and good happening in Brooklyn still. What’s more, I met a cool couple of girls from NYU last time I was there, and I even discovered an okay band, this sampler-perc-vox duo called High Places. Live, these two come off a bit like a placid suburban antidote to Gang Gang Dance – lots of thrum and hitting contact mic-ed things with drum sticks, but with lazy no-frills vox and not much attitude to speak of. On record, they’re more just simple kitchen-sink electro pop. The fact that they regularly open for YACHT makes a lot of sense to me.

Speaking of music, I finished a pretty good track today. The track, you’ll probably notice, is shot through with the sounds of trains passing by. This is because I live on the M line – I could reach out my window and touch the M train as it passed if I wanted to, it’s that close – so I’m including it, even if I don’t much like it. It’s like writing a short story on candy bar wrappers or toilet paper, I guess. You get to experience the author’s terrible prison, where niceties such as clean paper and unpolluted silence are few and far between.

On that note, adieu for now! Feel free to comment on the track. I doubt that anyone reads this journal ‘sides my brother, but hey, it’s possible.

Ryan
xoxo