CONTEXT: I grew up outside of Detroit, where we were taught to never, ever go out on ice (very few ponds froze solidly, because so many were spring fed, or had weird inflows of nice warm waste that kept the ice rotten). But one time I was walking on a gravel path around a pond, scuffing my feet, and the gravel went shooting out over the thin, glass-smooth, clear ice and made this most amazing space-phaser-time-portal-starship-battle-pew-pew-pew! sound that I love-love-loved! (My ongoing experiments in slinkiphonics have largely been about chasing this Good Noise™ and wielding).
I sorta love things like this, not because it’s the “sound of a Martian sunrise”—because it isn’t. It’s a composition humans made, using an express (and consciously expressed) scheme that’s inspired by a Martian sunrise.
No, I love this art because it sounds pretty and pleases and soothes me, and I love projects like this because artists always and forever operate based on formulae—they just usually aren’t able (or willing) to consciously and explicitly formulate those formula. I like it when we engage with our formulae outright.
Also, I really like Mars. Our relationship with that planet has changed substantially since I was a boy, and that always fills my heart with Hope.
You don’t have to love—or like, or even give shit one—about skating to enjoy watching Richie Jackson skate.You don’t need to know a lexicon of jargon to appreciate it, because most of what he does has no formal name, since it’s arisen from the immediate conditions and his feelings about them.
I guess I maybe dig Richie Jackson so much because he’s kept skateboarding—a thing that, since I was a kid, has been transformed into a sport and a career—as an expressive art form.
“I for sure had a vision, but how close to it I’ve gotten, I don’t know [because] I’ve dissolved it by making it a reality, and it’s different. [laughs] The original vision has ceased to be.I’ve replaced it with a bunch of pixels.”
Fresh translations of samurai accounts of a “barbarian” ship in 1830 give startling corroboration to a story modern scholars had long dismissed as convict fantasy: that a ragtag crew of criminals encountered a forbidden Japan at the height of its feudal isolation.
The “samurai accounts” listed above included watercolor sketches made by Makita Hamaguchi, who was sent to investigate the interlopers and their “unbearable stench.”
What really gets me, though, is the detail of the dog in this sketch, which Hamaguchi noted “did not look like food. It looked like a pet.”
Tuesday was my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. At 4:20, when her bus finally arrived, she didn’t get off.
The driver checked, first calling out from the front, then shushing all of the kids and calling out again, then finally going seat to seat down the length of the big yellow bus.
My daughter wasn’t there.
Don’t worry—this is an “all’s well that ends” situation: Due to a printing error her First Day of Kindergarten name tag didn’t have her bus number printed on it, and subsequently she’d gotten on the wrong bus.She ultimately wound up exactly where she should have been, all smiles and in fine fettle—albeit about an hour and a half late, following two bus transfers, and thanks to the intercession of three bus drivers, two transpo office workers, four school admins across two buildings, and one teacher. (The second day went smoother—in part because a neighbor kindly took it upon themselves to assign their first grader the job of making sure my daughter always sits next to her.)
You’re probably thinking “You must have been terrified!“, but the thing is, my son (now 11) also never showed up at the end of his first day of kindergarten. I can’t even properly recall how that came to pass, now, just that he didn’t get on any bus at all.This may have been due to some confusion about aftercare (which required he take a different bus to get to a different locale)—
but I seem to recall that the geodesic dome he’s on in the pic had something to do with it, too, being strategically located right next to the bus loading area, but on the far side of a hedge tall enough to block the play structure from view, but not thick enough to prevent a kindergartner from slipping through.An attractive nuisance if there ever was one.
Incidentally, his fish—a beta named “Electric,” given to him by an older boy who’d won it at a Labor Day fair, decided he didn’t want some stupid fish, and had thus stood in a gazebo and called out “Who wants a fish?”—had died that day while my son was gone at his first day of school.That would be lamely symbolic if it wasn’t just a fact.
Point being, the boy was fine, as you can see in the picture.He was more upset about the fish, and even that didn’t last.
Anyway, you’re probably thinking “You must have been terrified!“
But I don’t know that I was terrified then either, because I remembered the end of my first day of kindergarten.I remember it clearly, because it occasioned what I now recognize to be the first truly adult thought of my life:
I was the only kindergartener that rode my bus.The “safety” (one of a small cadre of fifth graders given fluorescent orange Sam Browne belts and tasked with holding doors, keeping the halls orderly, and making sure the little kids found their buses) led me down a long cinderblock-and-linoleum hall, where kids were other kindergarteners were lined up under construction-paper cut-outs of school buses.He stopped me in front of a red paper bus, taped high above my head on the wall, and said:
“This is your bus.”
He walked away.I stood there, alone, staring up at the two-dimensional red paper school bus, and thought to myself:
“How the hell am I supposed to get home on a paper bus?”
I tried to puzzle this out, and had a brief, vivid moment where I imagined myself shrinking down and flattening out like a Shrinky Dink™, transforming into a big-nosed black-and-white cartoon character (basically the kid from that 1980s Tootsie Pop commercial).Cartoon me moseyed up to the bus, the door accordioned open—just like the door of the real, steal, three-dimensional bus I’d ridden to school just after eating lunch with my mom (back then it was half-day kindergarten, and I had PMs)—and I climbed aboard. Then the paper bus chugged to life and cruised down the wall in a little Pig Pen-esuque swirl of penciled diesel fumes.
In that moment, and for a moment, I entirely believed in that scenario. It was the only thing that made sense. And then I recall thinking:
“No, that can’t be right.“
Soon enough another safety came and lead us kindergarteners, lined up like ducks, down to the turnaround where the real steel yellow schoolhouses were similarly lined up, and I discovered that my bus was identified with a number (that I could not read) written on a sheet of red construction paper—hence the red paper bus on the wall.So, sort of a semiotics lesson built into that first day of school to, I guess—although it was a bit above my head (pun? joke!)
Point being, kindergarten was my first time out of the home place, in a meaningful way.Going to kindergarten, among other things, meant my first brushes with anti-Semitism, with both the quiet, constant terror of bullying, and the quiet heroism of the few bigger kids who tried to stand up for you.And it was my first taste of solitude, being left to think my own slow, long thoughts in the intervals between assigned activities—something that I still treasure very much.I wasn’t me before I was finally left alone to be me.
But none of that was on the First Day.
On the First Day I had to grapple with staying calm when faced wth a seemingly impossible scenario: Here, kid, you’re six now; figure out how to ride a paper bus home.
In a lot of ways, my life has been a series of brief intervals separating moments of distorted, disconcerting reasoning–and in which the only thing that separated me from a Very Bad Turn of Events was that simple first adult thought:
“No, that can’t be right.Calm down and think this through.”
It’s the only useful response to the apparently endless string of Kobayashi Maru that make up our lives.
Not that I knew any of that then—for chrissakes, what do you expect?I was six; it was My First goddamn Day.
I love a lot of things about both this Carnaval Sauvage de Bruxelles thang and Arthur’s contribution to it, bot most of all I love their costumes. When I was very little my mother was a docent at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and so my earliest memories are of that museum, and especially their collections of Native American and African ritual art and “material culture.” I’ve always loved the dance costumes they have in their collection (similar to those shown below, which are in the AIC), and the dances that went with them, which were exuberant and otherworldly to me (much like the sounds that I like to dig out of unsuspecting electronics).
Arthur also pointed me to a few of his fellow Brusselers (Brusselman? Brusselsprouts?) similarly pushing out into the fringes of the Good Noise. I’m loving this!
Tunde Olaniran: OMFG, Tunde Olaniran! From the sadly infamous Flint, MI, Tunde Olaniran is superfantastically trans-everything. Go listen to Transgressorand then buy it and then listen to it again and again and again. I seriously absolutely equally love every single track on that album.
Passalacqua: I’m still exploring these guys, both from Detroit; been loving everything I’ve tried by them. This mixtape is a low-risk place to start, but I’m leaning more toward their albums CHURCH and Passalacqua, and the Banglatown EP.
Noname: This poet/rapper from Chicago is awesome, the natural inheritor of the crown Lauren Hill dropped after releasing The Miseducation of Lauren Hill. Noname’s Telefono mixtape is absolutely mandatory listening. Go grab it now! Hell, at the very least go right now and listen to track number one (“Yesterday“) and tell me you don’t absolutely love Noname without reservation. GO!