Sunday, August 21, 2005

Save your 'Hi'

This morning I stepped up to the bus stop, as I do about five days a week, and checked the schedule for the next bus. Headed my way was a quasi-homeless looking black dude I'd seen around the block a few times. I know he's not homeless, because he goes in and out of a pretty nice house across from the bus stop. But he's got the powderkeg look that says "try me," the pimp limp and the dischevelled style that many homeless affect to great effect.

So he's coming up to me this morning and I think, "Alright, neighborhood dude has a question for me." Though I think the actual Onion tag would've been closer to "Area Nut Offers Threat, Wisdom."

Eyeballing me at a few paces, he says, "Huh?" Sort of as if I hadn't responded to a previous querie. Since I hadn't heard anything prior, I looked back and greeted him with a, "Hey." His response to this, perhaps appropriately? was "Fuck you."

Beat that logic. I'm not positive my "Hey" came off as an insult, but I know enough to cede fair ground to the wandering not-homeless guy, so I just walked to the part of the curb where I sit to wait for the bus. One must pick one's battles, indeed, and I wasn't headed into battle with some neighborhood character on a Sunday morning.

He lumbered off down the block on one of his aimless patrols and I sat down to read "Wired" magazine. The thought dawned on me today that you can cover just about everything you need to with subscriptions to "Wired" and "New Yorker" magazine. Coast to coast, new school to old, technology to technique. Dig both. And dig that as I aimed to engage myself in an interview with Jon Stewart, the thought came that my reading material illustrated the gap between me and not-homeless pretty well. Well enough to rationalize our exchange, anyway, whether that gap spans white to black, privileged to disenfranchised, or sane to unstable.

It's a moot point whether or not the thought holds any validity; probably just the psyche in overdrive spinning tales to explain. I doubt not-homeless has any such sociological premeditations on the moment. Halfway down the block, the dude turned and said, "Save your 'Hi.'"

I suppose I will.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Quelle machine extraordinaire

I was encouraged to find a single off of Fiona Apple's "unreleased" album released on iTunes today. The unreleased album is amazing, the now-released "Parting Gift" single is amazing, and Fiona's stuff is generally in a class above commercial music made today. She's an artist using her voice and the piano. I wonder what she'd paint or sculpt or create with film.

After all the fuss made by the devoted fans for Sony to "free" Fiona, it's clear that she herself wasn't happy with the unreleased recordings, and labored on to make them more what she wanted. I imagine it put both Sony and Fiona in a bind to have valued fans demanding her work, casting Sony as the corporate bad guy. But from a business sense, it didn't make too much sense that they would shelve an artist who's two for two in platinum releases.

For my part, I called Sony's licensing department to inquire about licensing the property for release on the Frozen Food Section. Seriously! But like I said, shelving a twice-platinum artist doesn't make sense, nor does licensing one out to a startup. I didn't hear back.

While releasing a Fiona album would be pretty rad for the FFS, it's also rad to be reaching out to connect in the way that she does with her fans. Knowing how much hearing her new stuff feeds my creative soul, I know how I hope ears hear my new album. Summed up in a head nod. Captivated in a mental affirmative. Totally, totally.

Hope you dig it when it's out this month: Hypocrisy in the Genius Room

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I made eye contact with a dog the other day.

It's always an interesting study in humanity to make eye contact with people in the city. It tells you who's interested or willing or not scared to acknowledge a complete stranger as a person. It doesn't tell you much about a person, but it tells you something.

Peoples' first instinct when making eye contact is what interests me. Dudes frequently just make eye contact as a parry to see if they will be judged desirable. Methinks this is why so many ladies know better than to make eye contact with such dudes. It's a vibe thing, of course, and the eye-contact-hunting dudes put off the "I-wanna-get-wit-you-but-probably-can't-so-I'm-checking-the-eye-contact" vibe. Which, I guess, is all guys.

Present company excepted.

Alright, really, it's all guys. But beyond the Men-Seeking-Heartrate crowd, I'm most interested in how people react to generic eye contact. I think the most common is the 'pretend it didn't happen' crowd, who look away immediately. There's usually a followup glance to ascertain whether or not the other person is still looking, and then it turns into eye contact tag, whereby both parties are saying, "I wasn't looking. I wasn't looking. I wasn't."

My favorite is when people just smile and keep going. Don't have to pursue it, don't have to get their phone number or something. Just, like a ray of sunshine on a passing face.

The most intriguing eye contact moments are the ones in which I find dogs to be more open to a connection than human beings. Beneath the bustle of some social fuss, dogs will look out and make a more honest connection than all the human pretense above them.

If I'm not clear about what I mean, I mean me, looking at a dog, who stares back at me.

This happened just the other day when I was on an escalator heading up. I looked down and saw some smiling dog waiting on his owner. The dog looked up at me, riding the moving staircase, and we stared at each other until he disappeared beneath the next level.

It's also intriguing to find youth who connect naturally at a young age. I've seen kids at three years old who are more aware of their surroundings than some 12 or 14-year-olds. Or 30-year-olds. It's like a little meter of consciousness.

I'm not drawing any conclusions here, just imagining that even anonymous eyes connect on a level that reflects the universe. It may not even be the eyes themselves, but the moment which divulges that everything's connected.

"For what man sees is what man is and opened eyes can help crippled minds / To stand." (Bayonettes and Battlefields, April 2000)

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Album updates and the crock pot

I've resigned myself to blog. It's not a light decision, as I don't really care for the word 'blog'. I'd be totally into it if it were called dazzlepantsing or scrappleranting. Or writing.

So as to make these blog posts more interesting than the flashdance Burberry-Coach quiz above (do I care which Paris will choose?), I'll make a concerted effort to document the currents of my mind with all the promotion and record salesmanship you'd expect from a proud Frozen Food Section rep.

In the spirit of both, The Frozen Food Section has albums coming out by both my brother Jon and I this month. Jon's will feature the amazing underground hip-hop king MF DOOM. It'll be a 12" vinyl platter with instrumentals, acapellas and remix, plus a b-side with Serengeti and Hi-Fidel. Should be amazing. We're hoping it'll be the FFS's first big seller, even though all of our artists are amazing.

My album is the sum total of about four years of writing and two years of buying a worthy home studio on credit (via my job at Apple), teaching myself ProTools well enough to produce an album, and actually recording it. A few samples are here on MySpace, as well as more on the FFS site. Hope you dig them all. When it's finally time to play and promote the album, I'll have probably spent about 15 grand on credit to get it done.

I anticipate the day that this is my job.

On the cerebral front, I recently heard an NPR broadcast about how the 1893 Parliament of World Religions influenced American artists by exposing them to eastern culture. I was struck by the fact that such a conference, held in Chicago, could have a widespread influence upon a greater body of artists. Why? Because such a conference held today would likely have little or no influence upon a city, much less a nation, beyond an uptrend in retail sales.

The global village is so tightly bound together that serious movements are reduced to passing fads. I attribute this to the fact that there isn't enough isolation to percolate genuine change. We can browse foreign cultures casually in a way that doesn't strike us deep like the Parliament of World Religions did the heartland. In that day, the visitation of eastern influence and religion was a source of wonder and impression, whereas today, we see the world through a web browser pretty regularly. And what's worse, that's Internet Explorer for many.

Certainly, this exposure can result in sincere inspiration to a creative soul. But in terms of a widespread influence, there is such opportunity for selective exposure, the concept of a movement (i.e., impressionism, cubism, postmodernism) is kind of scattered. Unless you can truck a crate of cultural creatives to China or Thailand or wherever, there'll be no movement, because everybody's into their own thing.

I'm not preaching cultural doomsday or global homogeny, but it's kind of nice when a phenomenon can have a lasting effect in the eyes and ears of a greater audience. Not for the sake of consensus, but a communal consideration of something big. I imagine we'll see one sometime soon, whether or not the world has shrunk with the passage of the Telecommunications Bill. (Wow, that was 9 years ago.) I guess 9/11 was the closest we've had in years, and that has resonated more in politics and war than artists creating beautiful things. Lots of bitching and bad liberal slogans, but not a lot of beautiful things.

Maybe I'm wrong about the beautiful things.

I was going to tie this all into a metaphor of the crock pot, giving the flava (yeah, I'm taking it hip-hop!!) the time it needs to percolate. But I'm spent. To close, the redeeming line from Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda, : "Melinda had a reputation of being postmodern in bed."