rest in peace, mr. salinger.

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It's really no great coincidence that I brought up Holden Caulfield in last night's post, before I had heard of J.D. Salinger's passing. If you scan through the entirety of my blog, I'm sure you can find more than one reference to Salinger's characters, especially those in the Glass family. I can honestly say that I relate my experiences to his writings on a daily basis. Maybe that is childish. Maybe I should be looking to some more divine reference to life--surely Seymour would tell me this. While I do consider things in a spiritual manner, I need real, human reinforcement. More often than not, the characters in Salinger's stories display more humanity than the people with whom I interact on a daily basis.

I remember the first time I read The Catcher in the Rye. I was fifteen, and had recently concluded that everyone was a phony. (Not that I think I was wrong. Wart Hog by The Ramones validated my decision.) Imagine my surprise to find a kindred spirit in some foul-mouthed little New York prep school punk. I sat in my red armchair and read the entire book that night. Though I immediately proclaimed that it was my new favorite, it would be another five years before I read another Salinger work.

College was the biggest breath of fresh air I have ever received. It made Holden seem like more of an old friend, one that I didn't completely relate to anymore. I had more time to think about myself, instead of worrying about how much other people sickened me. Enter Franny and Zooey. I fell in love with the idea of the Glass family. At first glance, it would seem that I don't have a thing in common with them. Well-off children of parents with a mixed heritage, each of whom appeared on "It's a Wise Child" and were considered worrisome if they couldn't read by age three. The Glass children were "somebody." People think I'm supposed to be a "somebody." Sure, I have done well in school. I have ambition, and I would like to make a difference. But whether I will "make something of myself" the way all the folks back home believe that I should is another story. Franny's breakdown never seemed so bizarre to me. She said, "I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody." Well, me too, Franny. Me too.

I finished up Nine Stories, Raise High the Roof Beam..., Seymour, and any other unpublished stories I could dig up by the end of the year. For the sake of brevity and your sanity, I won't begin to talk about how I feel about Seymour Glass. In ...Bananafish, Sybil said "See-more Glass." Suffice it to say that I don't think this was just Salinger being fanciful.

Buddy said that Seymour was a person much too large to fit on ordinary typewriter paper. The same goes out to you, Mr. Salinger. Thank you.

reinject realness and referentiality everywhere.

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I've been even more cynical than usual lately. Law school has reminded me why I liked Holden Caulfield so much in the first place. But it's not only that. It's the entire world. I'm having a hard time perceiving much of anything as real. Yes, I can acknowledge the concrete existence of things. It just seems that societal entities, emotions, and many people are so displaced by the idea of their social function that their actual being is diluted. We're an entire planet of people who go through the motions instead of truly living.

Tonight, I re-read Simulacra and Simulations by Jean Baudrillard, remembering that the essay centered around our modern construction of what is "real." He wrote that a world based on simulation models would lead to "hyperreality", and I'll be damned if that's not what our "reality" is. Essentially, Baudrillard believes that in hyperreality, signs are more flexible than an absolute meaning. Thus, in the hyperreal world, it is futile to simply copy or imitate the signs. Instead, Baudrillard contends that signs of the real are substituted for the real itself. This, in turn, circumvents the “real” processes that once accompanied these signs. Thus, it is not necessary for the real to be produced again. He describes this role as “…the vital function of the model in a system of death.”

Unfortunately, I cannot say that I agree with Baudrillard's proposal of socialism as a solution to hyperreality. He believes that socialism will come as a response to the death of the social. But let's be realistic--
so long as the populace is pacified by signs of power, should they not be blind to the fact that it, along with their social world, has disappeared? At this point, society is nowhere near reaching the realization that the social itself, the real, has died. Baudrillard's second and much simpler remedy is the one I have taken to heart. "Reinject realness and referentiality everywhere."

a thought to begin your week.

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The rain falls upon the just
And also on the unjust fellas
But mostly it falls upon the just
Cause the unjust have the just's umbrellas.
— Cormac McCarthy (The Stonemason)

Have a great week, and remember to keep the people of Haiti in your prayers.

Elvis Perkins in Dearland, 11-18-2009

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A Primer on my Passion for Perkins (<- holy alliteration) I had waited on this show since early 2007, the first time I heard "While You Were Sleeping." The tune is beautiful in its simplicity, but it was the song's lyrics that really caught me. There are a trove of lyrics that I could tell you are lovely, or witty, or poetic, but these are the only ones that I could claim feel as if they came straight from my heart. The lines that particularly grab me:
"So I waited for the riddled sky
to be solved again by sunrise
And I've made a death suit for life
For my father's ill widowed wife
Did you have that strangest dream before you woke
Cause in your gown you had the butterfly stroke
Did it escape you like some half told joke?
When you reached for your plume of smoke..."

Elvis sings this (and many other songs) with such a distinct sadness, one that I feel only those who have suffered a profound loss could completely understand. Ten years after I had such a loss, it still takes a daily effort for me to untangle my emotions and move forward. As cheesy as it may sound, this song reminds me to do that.

Elvis at Zanzabar

This was my first time to Zanzabar, Louisville. As I understand it, the place was recently renovated. Kudos to the designers--it looks amazing. Zanzabar is a great venue. We arrived early and met Erin for dinner. Elvis and the guys had the same idea. We saw them having a pre-show snack across from the bar. Our food (especially the homemade chips) was great, and they have a decent selection of brews as well.

The Woes and A.A. Bondy supported Elvis that night. Let me tell you--The Woes are one of the must underrated bands on the indie scene. They were AMAZING. Have a listen, and you will thank me later. I can't really tell you much about A.A. Bondy's show, except that it was so relaxing I felt like I was at home in bed. I'll leave the decision on whether that was good or bad up to you.

After the crowd cleared from A.A.'s show, I walked up to the stage area. After a few more people shifted, I was more than happy to take a place front-and-center. When Elvis and the guys took the stage, I was literally about two feet away from him. Elvis surprised me by kicking off the set with "While You Were Sleeping". I tried not to get weepy. I mean, isn't that bad concert etiquette to burst into tears right in front of the songwriter? I choked back my (happy) tears and enjoyed the theatrics of the song. Dearland came into the song one-by-one, like they did in the Letterman performance a few years back. Beautiful. The show went on with more of my favorites, like Shampoo, and featured all of the new songs from the Doomsday EP. Elvis closed the show with the title track from the EP. All of Dearland, as well as a few members of the Woes, joined Elvis on the song, but played amongst the audience. It was truly a unique experience. Kele ran into the audience when I saw Bloc Party, but I had definitely never had members of the band playing directly into my ears. Perfect.

After the show, I was lucky enough to meet Brigham Brough (bass,vocals, saxophone for Dearland) and Elvis. They couldn't have been nicer. Brigham actually approached us to talk after the show, which I figure is pretty much unheard of. He asked me how I first heard them, and I really had to think about it. I finally remembered that my first listen was Elvis' Daytrotter session back in 07. After trying to make them understand the geography of Kentucky, making my argument for them to play in Lexington, and having my vinyl copy of "Ash Wednesday" signed, we hit I-64. Truly an unforgettable show.

Some pictures I snapped. CANNOT believe I didn't bring my DSLR.

ring out the old, ring in the new...

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Happy New Year and God bless George Harrison!