Thoughts on Home

Without much commentary, because I haven’t really done much mulling-over of it, I wanted to include the opening words of Giles Morris‘ Read This First segment in this week’s C-ville. They just really resonated with me.

You can never go home again. The line expresses a quintessential sorrow embedded in the American dream. You move up and out. You can never go home again, because you left and became someone different. When you go back, no one will understand you, and the place you idealized can’t ever live up to the new tastes you’ve acquired. But is the message historical or progressive? Essential or didactic? Was it coined to communicate immigrant longing? Or as a warning to those who made the upwardly mobile journey from the provinces to the city? Or, more basically, does it say something about time and memory?

And since the phrase “American dream” found its way into the very first sentence (and since you know how I feel about media-less posts, and since I spent a good amount of time last week strangely engaged in this song) I’m going to throw in David Bowie’s “Young Americans” along with an insightful interpretation from (Haha I don’t know if I should be embarrassed by admitting that I find myself doing investigating on that site with relative frequency.)

all the way from washington, her bread-winner begs off the bathroom floor: “we live for just these twenty years… do we have to die for the fifty more?”

Several people have mentioned the allusion to the Beatles: “I heard the news today, oh boy.” …Remember the rest of the line? “About a lucky man who made the grade.” You see, Bowie’s song is about someone who has NOT “made the grade” that is collectively articulated as the American Dream. That, in a nutshell, is the point of the song: America bombards people with a litany of flashy expectations -Ford Mustangs, Barbie dolls, Daddy’s heroes (Sports, Hollywood, etc.) material success, etc., but the disconcerting reality is that few people ever attain this tantalizing vision of success, because it’s unrealistic, and when their adult lives turn out to be about divorce, alimony, and general failure, they are just confused. The speaker of Bowie’s song asks questions like “”We live for just these twenty years… Do we have to die for the fifty more?” and “Ain’t there a man who can say no more?” Because he is confused when he sees that a culture that only values youth and flashy things leaves everyone over 20 in the lurch. And there’s no Hollywood hero who will step in to save the day, because that’s just in the movies. In the final evaluation, those who fail to realize that the American Dream is, after all, a dream, will wind up in mid-life wondering what kind of meaning they were really supposed to have sought instead. The ironic part is that Bowie (who is British) is so smart that he manages to critique America without being obvious; most people mistakenly think this song is some kind of celebration of the American way of life. It’s not. It’s an intelligent critique of our shallow culture and the hollow expectations it encourages in place of anything that could actually provide meaning-religion, literature, learning, family, etc.

(Comment– which I don’t mean to say I relate to entirely, but certainly in some ways– by lazerpj. Full lyrics available here.)

But still a sick jam!

(Oh and don’t let me trick you into thinking I’m bummed out or anything… I’ve got housing sorted out for next year, I think I’ve got some second income about to kick in, and Foxfield 2013 begins in three days!!!)

he sleeps in the bed he’s made,
but he just lost a brother today.
street shoot-out ensued,
got caught tryna lift some loot,
owned up to the limb-stealing bangs.

everyone was already running.

lay low in your little boat,
heart races; the end of the road.

Spring in Charlottesville

Almost exactly a month ago I announced that spring was springing!

spring is springing!But I… jumped the gun a little. It rained a lot, it sleeted a bit, it suddenly hit the 90s for most of last week… Spring seemed nowhere to be found in the mix.

I think it’s finally really here. I expect it’ll be short-lived, so all the more reason to enjoy every bit of these perfect temperatures and stunning colors everywhere we could choose to look.

cville spring downtown tulipscville spring trees skycville spring cherry blossom spudnutscville spring housecville spring purple flowers

i really want to eat the dandelion greens?

i really want to eat the dandelion greens?

the most epic game of hopscotch in the world

the most epic game of hopscotch in the world

cville spring red tulipscville spring petalscville spring birdhousecville spring pitbullcville spring cherry blossomcville spring pink tree skycville spring overhead tulip

oh yeah! and i made ollie a dog run out of a toilet paper roll and some duct tape. but then i just got him a longer leash haha.

oh yeah! and i made ollie a dog run out of a toilet paper roll and some duct tape. but then i just got him a longer leash haha.

Two years ago: Songkran

The City Market

I moved back to Charlottesville last December just in time to be able to attend the very last instance of the City Market for the season. I was both thankful and disappointed; the City Market was always something I was sure to include in any of my rave reviews of Charlottesville I’d impart upon any stranger I encountered in my travels who cared to listen. I didn’t like the idea of waiting all the way until April to shuffle myself over on a yawny Saturday morning to our splendid weekly Farmer’s Market.

But April is finally here!

charlottesville downtownI think today actually marked the City Market’s second appearance this year, but I wasn’t able to make it last week. All week I’ve been excited to walk Ollie over and check out the offerings, especially when I discovered that there would be something Tom Tom Fest-oriented going on as well.

Because apparently I’m just one hell of a curmudgeon these days I’ll lead off with the negative bits (but that means we end on the high notes!). They’re completely petty– the negative bits, I mean. Most of my pictures were pretty terrible and even the ones I managed to salvage leave a bit to be desired. But that was on account of the strong sunlight and I’d be a fool to complain about that. It’s obviously really early in the season so the selection was mostly limited to greens and herbs. But also, who cares, I got a basil plant and a dill plant, and some Swish chard, and some NoBull burgers, and some English muffins and had a great time. But I didn’t get a bagel as planned, because my silly dog started freaking out and barking at everyone and I had to take him away in shame. Lil pup got overwhelmed. Oh also I didn’t really notice anything that seemed to pertain to the Tom Tom Fest, but maybe my timing was just bad.

ollie city market

spot the scaredy pup

city market street

line out the door for the mexican food. (there was no door and it may not actually be mexican... don't hold either of those things against me)

line out the door for the mexican food. (there was no door and it may not actually be mexican… don’t hold either of those things against me)

brussels sproutstwin oaks ornamentals

turns out your business plan may have been sound, downing.

turns out your business plan may have been sound, downing.

city market plantsgrass fed beef

what is this, thailand?

what is this, thailand?

lots of arsty stuff as well... proper hippie get-up

lots of arsty stuff as well… proper hippie get-up

city market paintingscity market wrought ironcity market flowers

oh a jam saleslady at a farmer's market in a 4h tshirt... how cliché...

oh a jam saleslady at a farmer’s market in a 4h tshirt… how cliché…

city market crowns

crowns. because why the hell not?



okay maybe this is my favorite

okay maybe this is my favorite

the cville city market: where greenies and bbq can coexist peacefully.

the cville city market: where greenie’s and j&p bbq can coexist peacefully.

then i went home and made this nobull burger with sweet corn/sriracha hummus (corn+chick peas+tahini+olive oil+sriracha+S&P), herbed chevre (chevre+lemon+dill+pepepper), avocado and baby spinach on an english muffin.

then i went home and made this nobull burger with sweet corn/sriracha hummus (corn+chick peas+tahini+olive oil+sriracha+S&P), herbed chevre (chevre+lemon+dill+pepper), avocado and baby spinach on an english muffin.

Oh, and then I did see a bit of Tom Tom Fest stuff later anyway.

tom tom fest paramountlee park tom tom fest

Two years ago: The Waterfall Excursion
Three years ago: Huangshan Two (Or, a Journey through Middle Earth) (OR: “There and Back Again; A Hobbit’s Holiday”… I Just Can’t Decide)

Seven Months (The Burn)

When one’s jaw hangs grotesquely on its hinges, and ‘many many’ (a rough estimate on the part of a medical professional) stitches sprout from the forehead like coarse hairs on the chins of so many witches, it becomes surprisingly easy (almost absurdly so, I now realize in retrospect) to overlook the severity of a painless (on account of the obliteration of all associated nerve endings) burn on the calf.

Yesterday marks seven months since the motorbike accident I sustained one balmy night in the small Thai town of Thung Song. I was the passenger; my then-boyfriend (who, I’ll clarify to avoid any unintended negative connotations with that description, remains a cherished friend) was driving when we were blind-sided by a turning 18-wheeler (I should, again, clarify for those not in the know that we hit the truck, and not the other way around, otherwise we’d be talking about a truly miraculous happening. Though I suppose the events as they occurred probably warrant such an adjective anyway.). Continue reading

Guerillas do Gorillaz; Flume does U Street Music Hall

Last week was a good week for me, musically. Awhile ago my brother was excited to inform me he’d been asked to play trumpet with local act Guerilla Tactics when they, appropriately enough, covered the first Gorillaz album (“Gorillaz,” as it so happens) for an April Fool’s Day show. Guerilla Tactics is generally a two-man operation: Tucker Rogers and Rob Bedford (aka DJ XSV), two old friends of mine from my first stint in Charlottesville. For this undertaking they obviously were going to need a little more than an acoustic guitar and some turntables (and a trumpet), however. Another old friend, Travis Elliott, took lead vocals; another Tucker and another Rob (Titus and Richmond, respectively), joined them on drums and bass, respectively; and the Bowden sisters rounded out the mix with Kristen on keys and Amy on violin (and kazoo!).

To the best of my knowledge this spectacle came together with precious few rehearsals and limited time (as well as a couple last-minute changes in the lineup) and I thought the results were well impressive. And despite being moved back from my normal Monday-night bedtime of 10 pm to the unthinkable hour of 11:30 in order to avoid competing with another show at the Jefferson that night, turnout was massive and, suffice it to say, the House was most certainly Rocked.

And… even with all the fun I was having I managed to take over an hour of video? That I’ve trimmed down into four videos and made a playlist from? Enjoy! (Video quality, as always, is definitely lacking but the audio’s decent enough.)

Track listing: April Fool’s Day “treat”, “Re-Hash”, “New Genius (Brother)”, “Punk”, “Sound Check (Gravity)”, “Double Bass”, “Rock the House” (featuring Aaron Ahlbrandt of Kings of Belmont), “19-2000”, “Latin Simone” (featuring Seth Green of Sons of Bill), “Slow Country”and the special encore, “Feel Good Inc.” (Also I apologize in advance for the nonsense chatter that, on occasion, can be heard in the background on my part… a friend and I decided that our only hope for remaining awake until such a late hour came in the form of $3 Jack & Gingers at the Virginian before the show…)

sibling shot! i love that i get to see these two so frequently :)

sibling shot! i love that i get to see these two so frequently

with the prompt 'pout.' (alas, i'm clearly far better-experienced in the ways of pouting than either of my brothers)

with the prompt ‘pout.’ (alas, i’m clearly far better-experienced in the ways of pouting than either of my brothers)

giving it another go

giving it another go

guerilla tacticsryan on stage

hadn't seen these lovely ladies in awhile!

hadn’t seen these lovely ladies in awhile!

having fun

genna matthew and ryan calonder... a match made in cville music heaven!

genna matthew and ryan calonder… a match made in cville music heaven!

Wednesday then found me saddling up to drive to DC to see Flume perform at U Street Music Hall with some friends. Flume (or “Harvey Streten,” as he may have once been known) is a 21-year-old DJ/producer from Australia that a friend had turned me on to awhile ago; U Street’s known to be a pretty dope venue; Nate said he’d take Ollie for the night… I couldn’t resist. And it was fun!

flume u street music hallI mean, there were a few drawbacks. He went on quite late and the set was fairly short (there were rumors that he’d come back on that kept us there later than we may have ordinarily stayed, but eventually we had to cut our losses). We also found ourselves musing that the first few tracks were sounding more or less like he’d just set his CD to “Play” (though even if this had truly been the case it still sounded extra-cool on the state-of-the-art soundsystem they’ve got there). And, this is probably my biggest lament, he didn’t play one of my favorite tracks, “Bring You Down”. That being said, before long he was doing some more novel and interesting things with both new and old songs, and all in all it was a right good time. (The same cannot be said for work on Thursday, but I suppose I was prepared for as much).

Here’s his most recent album:

(My favorites, in addition to “Bring You Down” are “Holdin On”, “Insane”, and “On Top”.)

One year ago: Ubud, Part One (and Getting There)
Two years ago: Krabi (yeah last week marked the two-year anniversary of my departure to Thailand!! So crazy…)
Three years ago: Hangzhou Two


I was reading a collection of George Orwell’s essays, Books v. cigarettes, many moons ago in China when a reference to Pontius Pilate inspired me to read his (Pilate’s) Wikipedia page.

That, in turn, inspired me to write this song:

(I was listening to a lot of Sufjan Stevens at the time, which must have reassured me that it can be cool to write songs with strong religious overtones. Though Brand New might win the prize for best religious-themed song.)

Four Easters (and, I suppose, more appropriately, Holy Thursdays) have passed since then, each marked by an intention to sit down and get it recorded that was finally realized this year. Enjoy!

Oh, and the image in the video is a photo of a wood carving that I edited a little (heres the original). The artist, Grant Figura, has a lot of really interesting pieces and I’ve just noticed he’s from right down the road in Floyd, Virginia!

Lyrics: Continue reading