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Virtual Near E-Death Experiences and other detritus

At about eight tonight I logged onto and discovered the server thought my files didn’t exist. Soon after, the international cabal of geeks managing and indy fixed it up. Thank god I didn’t have time to panic about the disappearance of my life experiences over the past two months. I really need to back up more often. Losing even a day’s worth of work can send me into a weeklong depression. Anyway, if you hit DSWJ or All Mirth No Matter or the subway blog earlier today and they were reticent, that’s why.

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Blogger highlights some really good sites in its Blogs Of Note section, one of which I find particularly arresting: a blog of regrets. (The funniest ones are here.) I thought about posting mine there, but I think I’d rather keep them here, along with the things I don’t regret:

I regret that the guy who was perfect for me came along at a time when my hormones were screaming at me to experiment with as many people as possbible, and that I didn’t recognize how perfect he was then. That is not to say that I ultimately regret having fooled around with so many people. I wouldn’t trade my insight into these guys for anything; my understanding of these dozen-or-so gestalts is one of my greatest treasures.

I do regret hurting one of them, in particular. When I say hurting I envision it the way this kitten I knew used to play with a toy snake. Pasha would wrap her front legs around the snake’s head and kick the shit out of it with her hindclaws. It’s a play behavior which gives a kitten practice with disemboweling prey, but it looks like the strangest combination of tenderness and reflexive, unthinking violence. I tore this guy’s trust in me to ribbons. Years of clinging, then rejecting commitment, then cheating, then returning in terror of being alone. I can’t fix that now. When I see him, I remember what I did to him and hate myself. (And all sorts of dysfunctional-torch-songs by Jacques Brel run through my head — you thought I’d never live it down, but you see, I’ve forgotten your name — and then the war began, and here we are tonight. A rather pleasant side effect.)

What else? I regret bringing my Game Boy on my trip across the country after graduation, and not looking out the window enough. I regret being in that awful government program last year, and I regret not taking a year off after high school or a year abroad during college. And I daily regret not taking the initiative to talk to people. I do not, however, regret going to Hampshire, or going to Poly. The excesses of each of my educational experiences have brought me to a crossroads which feels electric. I’m just feeling out the switches.

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I am going to refrain from writing a review of David Byrne’s new album Look Into The Eyeball. Mostly this is because, as someone who’s listened to “The Great Intoxication” seventy times on repeat with my tongue lolling out of my mouth in a state of ecstasy, I can’t be objective about it. I only ever want to review things I love, and then I say horrible garpy things about them. (When I reviewed “The Nightmare Before Christmas” for a media class in tenth grade, I ended up concluding that it was the best movie musical ever made.)

Besides, plenny of people have reviewed the album already. The world doesn’t need their opinions, much less mine. The man wrote his own damn explanation of the album, ok? It’s the internet; if you can’t find your way to the primary source material, you’re going to get eaten by bigger fish. (I do think I’m more familiar with Byrne’s oeuvre than the reviewer for the New York Times Magazine was. That writer seems to have lost track of him after “Burning Down The House,” and had to rush to brush up before writing his piece. He seemed to think orchestral arrangements are a new and exciting step for Byrne. They aren’t. These strings are less extraplanetary than those in The Forest, or even the shuffling trashcans-in-the-alley-sounding orchestra at the end of his last album, though I think they’re used to good effect. )

I have now read two reviews of Byrne which describe two separate albums of his as “more emotionally direct” than their predecessors: this one, and his self-titled album, released two albums previous. More indication that the music reviewer’s line of work really is like dancing about architecture (and in chewing over that aphorism, it occurs to me that dancing about architecture might really be fun to watch, and that somewhere in New York someone must be doing it right this very minnit, and I should get off my can and go see it.)

What the fsck is that supposed to mean, “emotionally direct”? This album is full of dance music about women and men and god and genes and the eschatologies of life which are all koyannisqatsi and obscured by our governmental circus and the baroque web of social customs. Byrne has the same old obsessions. He’s been thinking about the same things since “Sugar On My Tongue.” The only thing that changes is the beat, and it gets itchier and itcher and swallows the world. The album titled David Byrne was in fact rawer — it sounded like he was about to wreck his vocal chords — and if that’s what you mean by emotionally direct, fine. When it comes to Look Into The Eyeball, I’m going with Byrne’s own description: he wants to make music which will make you dance and cry at the same time, and I’m doing just that.

So there’s this left to say:

1) More god-talk than we’ve seen from Byrne since Uh-Oh. (Whose great intoxication are we talking about, here? The Creator’s, or the creator’s?)

2) He’s gray. He’s gone really, really gray. I miss that year he had the beautiful long flowing hair.

3) Hooray for gimmicky album art! Next time, I want album art with its own special brand of plastic-flavored Japanese candy included.

4) Check out Byrne playing with Space Ghost.

5) NO FAIR! How come Japanese listeners get a bonus track?! (sound of me firing up my rusty old copy of Napster in the background)

6)”Look into the eyeball of your boyfriend“? That was a surprise. Being the title and all you’d think it would be god or something.

7) Separated at birth: David Byrne and Tony Slattery (also, “The Accident” and TMBG song “End Of The Tour”?)

8) Can I be a renaissance man when I grow up, too? Where can I go for certification?

Good lord these things take a long time to write. And to what end? All I have to add, as any of us do, are my own memories about the music (Uh-Oh has an extra track in my memory, a high-pitched keening over all its twitchy beats: I used to listen to it on the family stereo while vacuuming). Or my own music.

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