Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Clouds of unhappiness still persist in the unseen mesh that draws around everything

"Yes, in the long run there is something to be said for these shiftless days, each distilling its drop of poison until the cup is full; there is something to be said for them because there is no escaping them."
From "The System" by John Ashbery, which only exists in copies of Three Poems (and collections, I guess) but not on the internet. I somehow found Ashbery's star chart (???) so, um, yeah. There's that.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

And yet for all this sea-hoard of deciduous things

My birthday is tomorrow and I haven’t thought much of it, except in an abstract way. I’ll be twenty-eight. I don’t know how to feel about it - I’m getting older, obviously, but I think I've subconsciously decided to save all my aging-related dread for later, maybe thirty, maybe thirty-one. I feel the same as I ever have, maybe slightly sleepier and more ready to call it a night, but more or less I feel as I’ve always felt: like myself. I feel lucky in that way. Changes within myself don’t really feel like changes but more a continuation of whoever I am supposed to be, whoever the person it is that I will eventually arrive at being. None of the people I’ve been feel wholly foreign to me, but maybe that’s because I still am all of them. I’m still the four-year-old admonishing my mother for eating unhealthily, I’m still the nine-year-old hitting boys with my metal lunchbox, I’m still the thirteen-year-old going on and on about some fucking book (first it was The Count of Monte Cristo and then it was Pere Goriot) and lecturing my friends for reading Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging instead, I’m still the fifteen-year-old listening to twee pop in my bedroom, I’m still the seventeen-year-old ditching my AP Art History class to go to museums, I’m still the eighteen-year-old fundamentally unsure about everything but still going on like I’m not. All of the twenties Londons are still there, too, but they’re just distillations of teen Londons, really, with different boys, different music genres, different books, different ditching of one thing for another. Of course, though, there's been change - lots of it, and sometimes too much. The past two years especially have been trying, but despite that I’ve still been able to pop my head up amongst the muck and be here. And it’s alright, being here. I’m glad I am.

I will say this, though - the London who toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo of a line from an Ezra Pound poem? She’s gone.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Album covers I've been thinking about lately, part II

Monday, May 1, 2017

The sun shining and all the stars aflame

 "Remember that: I know how black it looks today, for you. It looked bad that day, too, yes, we were trembling.1"
I had the idea that I would be spoiled for choice in terms of insightful writing on the anniversary of the L.A. riots, which began 25 years ago this past Saturday, but it turns out I am not - most of what I’ve read this go around felt formulaic at best and offensive at worst. But there are things to do - the California African American Museum has its No Justice, No Peace exhibit up until August 27th, the Hammer has a few events planned May 2nd - 4th, and there are several documentaries to watch, among them being LA 92, which opened in theatres Friday and premiered on Nat Geo last night. Considering all that hasn’t changed in these 25 years, I suppose it might be the fire next time, too.

1. James Baldwin, as ever, from "My Dungeon Shook"

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Don Paterson, "Wave"

For months I’d moved across the open water
like a wheel under its skin, a frictionless
and by then almost wholly abstract matter
with nothing in my head beyond the bliss
of my own breaking: how the long foreshore
would hear my full confession, and I’d drain
into the shale till I was filtered pure.
There was no way to tell on that bare plain
but I felt my power run down with the miles
and by the time I saw the scattered sails,
the painted front and children on the pier
I was no more than a fold in her blue gown
and knew I was already in the clear.
I hit the beach and swept away the town.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I love you, Ian.

Rest in peace.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Only built for internet linx

I had an pre-election post, and then the election happened, and here we are. I don’t have anything particularly profound to add to the conversation. I’m tired, just like everyone else I know - there’s an endless stream of bad news and hot takes and tweet threads and poor decisions and it’s exhausting. The good news is that the internet is vast - there are other things to read! Here are some of those other things.

1. "We're launching The Outline today, but that's not the end of our work. Actually, it's the start of it. We have ideas about how people will use this product and how an audience will respond to what we put into the world, but we won't really know until you start playing around with this crazy thing we've made. And since a lot of this is unexplored territory, we expect that you'll see some unexpected / unusual results depending on how and where you look. The future is scary and wonderful and weird. Embrace it."

2. Is it rude to recline your seat?

3. I'm not exactly a fan of "Instagram makeup" personally (gradient eyebrows????? hwhy), but I get so annoyed by articles like this one from the New York Times that seem to imply that social media alone is responsible for so much sameness in beauty, as if beauty trends haven't existed for fucking centuries. The article makes some good points, but criticizing social media for its popularization of certain styles seems lazy and maybe even deflective, considering some of the beauty industry's other problems.

4. Speaking of beauty, I enjoy reading critiques of Glossier’s vaguely Gallic “cool girl” ethos/marketing style for a number of reasons, one of which being that I always thought it was sus of them to elicit market research on their website in such a middle school slumber party “we’re all friends here!” kind of way with no compensation for those involved except, I guess, another fucking moisturizer to buy. It is no surprise to me, then, that Glossier seems to still be asking for shit for free, this time in the form of blog posts mentioning their products, the reward being that you get to signal to others that you, too, are part of the cool girl club, I guess. Marketing’s marketing and brands are going to try to hook you one way or another, but I do think it’s important to stay critical of the ways that they do, especially when they position themselves as some sort of BFF feminist empowerment cheerleader or whatever - remember Jia Tolentino’s NYT article from earlier this year? Commodified empowerment is tricky - even those selling it may not even be buying it, something made apparent with Lil Kim’s ever-changing face and body and the low self-esteem that seems to fuel it. I guess this is just a long-winded word of warning: BFF brands will not and can not do the work of making your body and/or the world a less horrifying thing to inhabit better than any other brand can which is, like, fine, I guess. Just so you know.

5. Other things I enjoy: dragging nerds!!! Here’s Om Malik on Silicon Valley’s empathy problem.

6. “Just across the bay from San Francisco, one of Alameda County's deputy public defenders, Jeff Chorney, says that since the county switched from a decades-old computer system to Odyssey in August, dozens of defendants have been wrongly arrested or jailed. Others have even been forced to register as sex offenders unnecessarily. “I understand that with every piece of technology, bugs have to be worked out,” he said, practically exasperated. “But we're not talking about whether people are getting their paychecks on time. We're talking about people being locked in cages, that's what jail is. It's taking a person and locking them in a cage.”

7. Social media and sex work.

8. The rise and fall of Ted Ngoy, the former doughnut king of Southern California, featuring photos by Stephanie Gonot, one of my favorite commercial photographers.

9. I’ve retired from being annoying about music but when I first got started as a teen I spent countless late-night hours trawling AllMusic - this site and long-defunct Pulse! (Tower Records’ in-store mag) introduced me to music criticism and the idea that there was more to say about music aside from “sounds alright.” Anyway! a short history of AllMusic.

10. "The conception of a lawn, its very idea, is, at least in Sontag’s terms, camp."

BONUS: I slang in my white tee, bang in my white tee, all up in the club spittin game in my white tee

Sunday, December 4, 2016


"I can never ever stop
thinking about Fred Hampton
and youth, and how it ends."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

From Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews by Nathaniel Mackey

Centrifugal work begins with good-bye, wants to bid all givens good­-bye. It begins with what words will not do, paint will not do, whatever medium we find ourselves working in will not do. Amenities and conso­lation accrue to a horizon it wants to get beyond, abandoning amenities and consolation or seeking new ones. It will, of course, suffer marginal­ization, temporary in some cases, unremitting in most.

Black centrifugal writing has been and continues to be multiply mar­ginalized. Why would it be otherwise? At a time when academic and crit­ical discourse battens on identity obsession (even as it “problematizes” identity), black centrifugal writing reorients identity in ways that defy prevailing divisions of labor. In the face of a widespread fetishization of collectivity, it dislocates collectivity, flies from collectivity, wants to make flight a condition of collectivity. It says that “we” was never a swifter fiction—not so much a war between family and flight as the familial song of one’s feeling for flight. It says that only such admitted fugitivity stands a ghost of a chance of apportioning prodigal truth. This is one of the lessons it has learned from black music. It remembers that Coleman Hawkins felt no identity crisis playing an instrument invented by a Belgian, that Lester Young referred to the keys of his horn as his people.

Black art, like any other, is innovative, demanding and/ or outside to the extent that it addresses the wings and resistances indigenous to its medium qua medium, address ranging from amorous touch to agonistic embrace, angelic rub. To don such wings and engage such resistances as though they were the stuff of identity and community is to have taken a step toward making them so.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"The wonder is not that so many are ruined but that so many survive."

Happy birthday, James Baldwin.

Maira Gall