Archive for November, 2010

it’s a jungle out there.

23 November 2010

the surreptitious nature of the above picture is intentional as it emphasizes something i want to write about. i’m not going to beat around the bush waste time, so i’ll just come out and say it: why are we women still so uncomfortable with our bodies that we have to make up silly words to hide our embarrassment? have we really come so far, advancing out of the kitchen where we were barely more than birthing machines to our present lofty position where we earn about seventy cents for every dollar that a man makes, to now sit idly, watching it all crumble like so many cookies we eat when our cheating boyfriends break up with us? did we learn nothing from rosie the riveter?

are we really content becoming carrie bradshaw, waiting for charlotte york to sell her ring so we can pay off our massive shoe debt? are we going to run towards big every time our situation becomes particularly hairy challenging?

i for one think we’re better than that. i don’t think a utopian society is required before we can snatch reclaim our genitalia. we need to be able to stand up to oprah when she insists on using slang to describe something that is intimately ours. right now eve ensler is turning in her grave. well, she would be if she were dead; believe me, though, she’s definitely spinning in her desk chair, in a very angry and perplexed way, due to this injustice.

i don’t want to live in a world where my daughters have to hear adult women use terminology that even their young innocent minds know is damaging and pathetic. i don’t want to spend another day at the breakfast table where they ask me why their heroes are always failing them. i just want to eat my bacon strips pancakes and talk about the things they want to achieve. i don’t want them to have to worry about obstacles placed by other women’s insecurities.

as women, we know we are smarter than men, we know we are more patient, our dual role in and out of the house is proof that we are better multi-taskers, and we are more in touch with our feelings. it’s about time we took a stand and said, fuck you, cosmo magazine, this is my vagina and i am proud of it.

if anything, lattes should be more expensive.

18 November 2010

a representative from the record label asthmatic kitty responded to the email i recently sent them about the music industry, particularly the prices of albums.

hi scott,

thank you for your thoughtful message and your support for sufjan’s music. i am glad you saw the show in asheville despite ticketmaster’s ‘convenience’ charge. the percentile of the low price sufjan keeps his tickets at, is huge. if you come up with a system to get around using them, please let us know.

the price of asthmatic kitty records’ merchandise has not changed in ten years. however we have no control over the prices charged by the tour. there is no shipping to pay when you buy from the table. thus, on tour, the cd is $3 more.

despite the ambiguous message conveyed in the “latte” letter, asthmatic kitty records did willingly participate in the program that made amazon’s price available.

we sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write.

please forgive us our shortcomings. it must be those lattes.
________________________________________________

dear asthmatic kitty,

allow me to begin by saying that i feel awkward replying to your last message — for even writing to you in the first place — as i take no pleasure in pointing out the faults of entities i respect, but perhaps i have to keep in mind that i can enjoy sufjan’s music and whatever else and still dislike a silly email sent by the music label he founded, without either stance being problematic, in the same way i can list knut hamsun among my favorite writers without feeling his work is maligned or can be overshadowed by his personal life, i.e. his vehement support of nazi germany. sorry, it sounds like i’m comparing you to the extermination of jewish people. i can assure you that’s not my intention.

while i do forgive you for your shortcomings, i am confused by something you wrote in the latest email. you write that on tour, the cd is $3 more than if purchased from your website because fans do not have to pay for shipping to pick it up at the table. on the surface, such a markup makes no sense (and that is before i think about the fact that you do not have to pay for postage to ship it to the fan). it’s possible that i’m missing something here — perhaps the additional charge is justified because of the cost to ship all of this merchandise to each venue on the tour. i would think there is ample room on the van to store this stuff though, unless sufjan’s friends took up all the extra space. if that’s the case, i’d suggest this is one of the many mistakes alluded to in the song i’m referencing, and one that can be easily remedied.

you know as well as i do that the problems with ticketmaster are unsolvable. we are teacups in their ocean, pawns on their chessboard, forgotten vegetables in the crisper of their refrigerator (i’m not still referencing sufjan lyrics, by the way; i made these up on my own).

lastly, don’t beat yourself up over your penchant for overpriced lattes. we all have our vices, and, in the grand scheme of things, that’s probably one of the least damaging ones.

all the best,
asthmatic scotty

spanish for beginners.

14 November 2010

i purchased a flight to san jose, costa rica. i will be in the country from december 21 to january 5, traveling solo by rental car, except for a couple days around christmas when i’m meeting my dad and sister at a resort on the pacific coast near liberia.

i’m going to let you in on a little secret, namely, i don’t quite know what i’m doing. i’m not particularly worried about navigating on poor roads or evading sticky situations, in and of themselves, but not being at all bilingual is disconcerting. i mean, i didn’t like montreal, in large part, because of all the french signs, so i’m not quite sure how i’m going to handle a predominantly foreign-speaking area that is outside my birth country.

i asked hector to tutor me since he’s the only spanish-speaking person i know1 and, also, he somehow has a larger english vocabulary than anyone i know2.

he was as helpful as he normally is.

hector: in costa rica i am sure you will be fine being a white man who speaks only english. half the country has been refurbished for you.

i think that if someone wants to scam you, language is not really an impediment.

just tattoo sida on your abdomen.

scott: see, you’re already trying to scam me.

hector: sida = aids

scott: so to turn english into spanish you just rearrange letters?
________________________________________________________

1 it was only a matter of time before my xenophobic heart let one of them in. it can’t be expected to be completely impermeable, like the borders of the united states.

2 i didn’t include myself. obviously.

no shortness of breath.

9 November 2010

leading up to the release of the age of adz, sufjan stevens’ amazing new album, the record label he founded, asthmatic kitty, sent an email to his fans.

we love getting good music into your hands. we think it makes you happy, and that makes us happy. and that’s why we’re writing this email: to make everyone happy. it’s admittedly a long email but we hope you’ll stick with us for at least a little while because we want to explain something.

on october twelve we are proud to release sufjan stevens’ first song-based full-length album in five years, the age of adz. we think it’s one of the best things we’ve heard in a long time and we’re hoping you’ll buy it.

so. we have it on good authority that amazon will be selling the age of adz for a very low price on release date, not unlike they did with arcade fire’s recent (and really terrific) the suburbs. we’re not one hundred percent sure amazon will do this, but mostly sure.

we have mixed feelings about discounted pricing. like we said, we love getting good music into the hands of good people, and when a price is low, more people buy. a low price will introduce a lot of people to sufjan’s music and to this wonderful album. for that, we’re grateful.

but we also feel like the work that our artists produce is worth more than a cost of a latte. we value the skill, love, and time they’ve put into making their records. and we feel that our work too, in promotion and distribution, is also valuable and worthwhile.

that’s why we personally feel that physical products like eps should sell for around $7 and full-length cds for around $10-12. we think digital eps should sell for around $5 and full-length digital albums for something like $8.

they continue by listing various avenues to acquire the album.

dear asthmatic kitty,

as one of those who took advantage of amazon’s discounted pricing of $3.99 to purchase sufjan stevens’ new album, i feel the need to comment on behalf of myself and other fans who have made the same (wise) choice.

in a time of pecuniary difficulties, it’s not a very good tactic to caution people away from lower prices, especially when the other acceptable option for them is downloading the album for free with file-sharing software. i’m not saying this option is viable to me, as i’m kind of old-fashioned in that respect, but the fact remains that the record company gets the same cut whether amazon sells it at their introductory price or they charge an amount that is more than a latte (i have never purchased a latte, by the way, let alone a $4 one, so i may be missing some subtle points you’re trying to make).

if you’ll permit, i’ll tell you about my own experience: i would not have owned this album when i did if i had not visited amazon at three thirty am on the release day and seen the deal. subsequently i would not have listened to it as soon as i did — and been astounded enough by it to contemplate driving three hours to asheville, north carolina, for a sufjan show ten days later. i attended and recommended both the album and remaining tour dates to friends and strangers afterward.

i paid $30 for the ticket, which i felt was fair enough. ticketmaster added another $17 in convenience charges, which, in case you don’t have a calculator nearby, is almost an additional sixty percent fee. asthmatic kitty, if you need a corporate monopoly to go after, one whose defeat will make fans happy, then sharpen your teeth against ticketmaster rather than amazon, though, according to eddie vedder, they don’t fight fairly, so you may want to have an extra inhaler ready.

while we’re on the topic of the show and fair prices, the merchandise table outside of the auditorium was selling the age of adz for $15. on your website you sell this same album for $10, in line with what you personally feel a physical full-length cd is worth (these are your words from the email). if you’re indeed made happy by making us happy (again these are your words from the email) then should we consider this added charge as a way of saying, thank you for coming out tonight and supporting us, because, on the surface, it seems a bit prohibitive.

enjoy your latte,
scott

the widow maker.

1 November 2010

i found a black widow spider, circled below in red, inside an old grill.

i attempted to capture it in an empty apple juice bottle, and resettling it elsewhere, as i didn’t believe trespassing on abandoned territory was punishable by death. also, i hoped it could teach me something about grief. with gloved hands, i picked up a long stick to guide it towards its new home, but it was too quick. i slowly removed the grate and pieces of charcoal so i could view its hiding places.

few things are more invigorating than tracking something using insufficient weaponry. it would only take a couple quick movements on its part or a couple blinks of the eye on my end, to allow it the opportunity to knock me onto the grass where i would convulse and foam until death permitted me solace. for a brief time i felt like a fencer, parrying and riposting, performing balestras and fleches across the field, fighting with the grim reaper.

i thought about life and death, about how close they are, and about how we take things for granted, because you never know when you’re going to have to remove something as dangerous as a black widow from your backyard. later i read that the mortality rate from the spider’s bite if not treated with anti-venom, which i would have likely avoided, was around one percent, so all of my ideas about heroism, the flash of the sword, and impending doom, were false, as it would no doubt take a better war to kill a college man like me. the red hourglass on its abdomen, i learned, was less a symbol of the sands of time quickly slipping through our hands and, instead, more like the end of a game of boggle.

needless to say the spider passed away after i accidentally broke off one of its legs. in addition, there was still a bit of juice in the container, so as it labored, pulling itself across its prison’s floor in a horrifyingly depressing display, it drowned.

the next day i returned to the spot to say a few words of condolence. before me was a web with a hastily scrawled message, woven with seemingly-benign pink thread, evidence both that the spider has a sense of humor and that it mocks our feeble attempts at superiority.


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