Thursday, February 23, 2006

Say it Ain't So--muddling in my musical past

Okay. Music being the thread by which I've often managed to hang on to my sanity, I love to delve into my past and think about what I was listening to when. So, the other day Ayzair and I were musing over what we listened to our freshman year of college... and I realized that a lot of what I initially thought was freshman year was more of an amalgam of college in general, particularly my years spent living on an all girl hall with plenty of grrrl rock and guilty pleasures (Madonna and Prince come to mind...). When I actually stepped back and thought about that difficult and transforming year, I realized how my musical tastes at the time helped bridge the space between being home(ie, the good overachieving daughter) and being away(ie, the tentative, experimental young woman) and also played a role in developing my own sense of self and separate identity. Anyway, here is what I was listening to in the fall of 1994/spring of 1995:
  • Sonic Youth--"Dirty" Oh, how I loved Sonic Youth... the more feedback, the better. I worshiped Kim Gordon and was in awe of Thurston Moore (although I never liked his solo stuff). I also played their self titled first album...all artsy and stuff. It was good for a melancholy afternoon, and it made me think of home
  • Weezer--the Blue Album I still love this album, as does my son. I remember riding in the car, playing this on the tape deck and thinking it was one of the most singable albums ever. "Say it Ain't So" was so huge then--and when I hear it I always think of my road trip to Tennessee and the windows down. I still love "In the Garage," as it summed up so many of my male friends and their pastimes (or lack thereof)...
  • Joni Mitchell--"Clouds" and "Ladies of the Canyon" Ladies of the Canyon is the first cd I ever bought. Yep. It was all tape for me, with a good percentage of it beloved mix tapes (I admit I still have a few). So, I went to college with my first cd player, and I had this almost superstitious feeling that the album should be something timeless, something that I would always listen to... not some flash in the pan record that would embarass me later.
  • Speaking of flash in the pan... Luscious Jackson--"Natural Ingredients" Okay, forgive me this one, but I loved this album. At the time they were cool, they were relatively unknown, and I loved it. I still think it was a great album, very different from other stuff at the time.
  • U2--"The Joshua Tree" and "Achtung Baby" This got me through many a late night study session... and it was an homage to high school, where I played Achtung Baby constantly
  • REM--Green, Automatic for the People, Monster... My sister turned me on to REM when I was in middle school, and their albums were a constant for me from that point on
  • Smashing Pumpkins--"Siamese Dream" I loved this album. It was so loud and emotional--I sometimes still sneak and listen to it, even though Billy Corgan turned out to be a real ass
  • The Pulp Fiction soundtrack--Egad I played this all the time... it expanded my musical tastes (thank you, Tarentino). I was hooked on surf rock--my dad's old Ventures albums got dusted off and put into rotation. "Son of a Preacherman" inspired my boyfriend at the time to buy a copy of Dusty in Memphis, another great album
  • The Velvet Underground--self-titled and with Nico--I love Lou Reed, and these two albums are so perfect. Mo Tucker rocks.
  • Pavement--"Wowee Zowee" and "Crooked Rain Crooked Rain"--I was so entranced by their lyrics and sheer bizarre blend of sound, word, and song--loved it. Drove my roommate crazy, I think...
  • PJ Harvey--"Rid of Me" I had the four track demos and damn, did I wear that tape out... this was good for the car because I could play it much louder than I could in the dorm
  • TMBG--"Lincoln" Still my favorite of all their albums, with its quirky and cynical dispair and sheer wistfulness for what could never be
Anyway, I challenge you to come up with a list of stuff that meant something to you your first year out on your own, away from home. (Check out ayzair's list if you need more inspiration)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Make yer own top ten list of must-read books

Okay, I woke up to read this list of top ten books every child should read before leaving school (which I discovered via rebecca's pocket). Now I keep turning it over in my head--should everyone have a knowledge of Animal Farm before they enter into polite society? Is there a universal list, or should the list reflect the culture in which you are raised and living? I mean, the ones listed are obviously adherents to an Anglo-Saxon based, heavily British canon... not that that makes them inappropriate, but what about world literature? So I'm trying out my own list... what would be on yours? I definitely think you need to read Milton's Paradise Lost if you are going to understand the cultural atmosphere of Western literature... likewise with The Odyssey. I would argue for Don Quixote, since it's the first novel and it seems part of a cultural literacy...but then I start leaning toward my own prejudices, toward expatriate lit and the whole sense of important periods in literature (ie, existentialism, naturalism, romanticism, etc.). But what about 1984? Or should all Americans be required to read Uncle Tom's Cabin? Or The Grapes of Wrath? Anyway, food for thought as I cook dinner...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Judy Chicago at Queen's...

So we went to see Judy Chicago at Queen's College yesterday... she had quite a lot to say about her work; i.e., how she created The Dinner Party, the Birth Project, etc. (If you want to see her work, go here .)The sheer amount of handwork that went into those installations is amazing--and daunting. Still, what I enjoyed most and what stuck with me was a comment she made about her understanding of feminism today versus her understanding of feminism in the seventies. She basically said that in the seventies, women counted females who should have been enemies as friends and counted men who should have been friends as enemies. She said that gender cannot be the definition by which we judge someone's intentions; a person's values have to be the definition through which feminists evaluate the social and political landscape. Her crowning point was that Condoleeza Rice is the perfect example of gender not being the trump card for feminism--obviously, gender alone is not enough to make you care about feminist issues!

One of my professors, Georgia Rhoades, expounded upon that idea throughout her classes. She called for third wave feminism to be a pursuit of equalism, a place where men and women strove for equality in the workplace, the home, and in their relationships. This always appealed to me in a way that the in-your-face feminism espoused by my NOW joining peers did not. I am a feminist--but I have always had difficulty with the strict checklist by which many women evaluate others, deeming them appropriately radical or feminist enough. Ugg. It seems like we ought to see the power within diversity, the tremendous advantage it gives to have a vast and varied population working to facilitate change.

As I play with my daughter, I wonder what kind of feminism she will inherit. In so many ways it astounds me that we have made so little progress in our views--if anything, the current political situation seems bent on arresting the movement, calling all feminists "radical" and "liberal" and therefore marginalizing those pesky women who think out of the public arena... I don't know how we ended up this way. With each election my hopes have been dashed that there are a lot of us out there, men and women who believe in a more conscientious, thoughtful approach to our world's people and resources.

On paper America looks like its politics are roughly divided in half. Of course, that image is accurate only among the people who actually vote. What about the percentage out there who don't make their voices heard? Number one, what the hell are they thinking? and number two... what if they world is more feminist than we are led to believe?

I hope it for my baby girl. I hope it for my son. I hope it for me as I slowly become older, closer to the crone and further from the young, fertile and powerless girl that our society worships.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy Birthday, Toast!

This morning...
Bleary eyed, I opened the living section to be greeted with the headline, "100 Years of Toast," accompanied by a lovely photo illustration of a chrome toaster reflecting three birthday cupcakes. Apparently
1 in 10 people would rather have toast than sex in the morning. Now that's something to consider while buttering yer bread.
Ahh... toast. I love it, with cinnamon, with peanut butter, with a slice of cheese melted on top... In fact, I love it so much that I would write a poem about it, if I weren't so lazy and if some other people hadn't covered that subject here.
Yep. Haiku for toast. (The sad thing is, I bookmarked that site years ago, having always been a fan of the toasted treat.) Anyway, there's something to be said for thinking about the mundane objects that we never really consider, simply expecting them to deliver day in and day out... something like a toaster is hardly a revolutionary object in our lives. Perhaps we ought to marvel in our everday things more often-- So I salute you, toaster!

* * *

Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy Formerly Anti-Valentine's Day

Okay, okay... here I go again.

Anyway... this is what I'm thinking this evening, as I have a cup of tea--Valentine's Day may be a created holiday, implemented for the purpose of selling cards and cheap candy, but it is a truly guilty pleasure of mine. For years I protested; I hosted anti-Valentine's day parties (always on the 13th, incidentally) and snubbed my nose at other's saccharine displays of affection. Inwardly, though, I have always reveled in the sheer over-the-topness of it all--the ornate decorations, the freedom to express things that are normally saved for within the pages of a bodice ripper paperback.
This year I had a new experience: the filling out of valentines for a grade school class. There he sat, studying his class list and carefully filling out each Power Rangers card with precise letters, one after the other. Such concentration! Then, after each card was properly addressed "to" and "from," he slid the matching pencils into each valentine (not an easy feat, as I discovered when I tried to speed him along and ripped the slot in the process). For his teachers, we used red paper doilies and some awesome victorian stickers (thank you, TJ Maxx!) to make real cards, and he was thrilled to use rubber cement (which he announced smells really good. Hmmm). He went to bed singing some weird little song he learned in music today, something that went "Viva, viva Valentine." Maybe a take off on Viva Las Vegas? I don't know... Anyway, he was so excited about tomorrow that it was infectious. I have a little gift for him and a valentine, of course...

So--from me to you-- viva Valentine's Day to you, too.