no black ink on the black paper

incessant- and perhaps incoherent- verbosity from an optimistic misanthrope.

2.21.2008

vote hope?


My friend Michael just forwarded me an email from the Obama campain, alerting donators and supporters about the American Leadership Project that was announced yesterday. I'd been meaning to donate to Obama's effort for a while, so the missive lit a fire under my ass and I did it right away. Then I read the email more closely. The disconcerting part the message was this:

The so-called "American Leadership Project" will take unlimited contributions from individuals and is organized the same way as the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Groups like this are forbidden from working primarily for the purpose of electing or defeating a candidate. Yet here we have a committee that springs up on the eve of an election, promotes a specific candidate, and has no history or apparent purpose of lobbying specific issues outside the benefit to the candidate of these communications.


Yet, in the article I linked to above, they say

Obama has been aided by an independent group, Vote Hope, which has spent more than $1 million.


On Vote Hope's website, they state that they're an organization of activists with histories of working toward improvement on the same issues Obama stands for, which circumvents the whole "no history or apparent purpose" thing. However, who's to say that the ALP won't release a statement or launch a website touting the same thing? Thus far, they have not revealed who is funding the organization, but the public could be exposed to a whole new round of side-of-the-mouth talking.

The other night, while I was gushing about Obama and the galvanizing effect he's having on our nation, Skye said to me, "He's still just a politician." That statement startled me, and I actually took slight offense to it. I suppose that's the most disingenous part of this whole election process, though: here we have this bastion of hope and change, who is single-handedly inspiring the youth vote in ways the Vote or Die and Rock the Vote campaigns could have only dreamed of, yet, at the end of the day, after all the speeches and rallies are over, it's still just politics as usual.

12.07.2007

resurrection/insurrection.

I like writing. I'm only going to get better at it if I actually do it more often. Now, however, seems to not be the time.

How do you cure writer's block if you're not even a writer?

8.01.2007

sec 2.

This one I wasn't too stoked on. I feel like it really limited me. Nils gave us 4 different scenarios and asked us to expound on them for ten minutes. I got so bummed out I didn't even do the fourth... Oops. I felt really blocked and uninspired.

Scenario 1
It's late. You're out walking in a quiet neighborhood. You're worried, looking for something. There's a house in front of you. A door opens, two people come out...


(Let yourself feel the situation, see the house, see the people, jot down your associations. Who are they? Who are you? What do they look like, what are they wearing? Are you nervous? Curious? Do they see you? Help you? Hurt you? What happens next?)

The door opens and lets out a stream of golden light, along with the jingle of cheerful laughter and all-around merrymaking. The couple seem drunk, or at least a little tipsy, and are leaning into each other as they make their way to the sidewalk. I slow my steps so as not to come in contact with them. I’m afraid their jubilance may rub off on me and the cold night and harsh wind have already taken hold. There’s snow on the ground, and empty, sparse branches hang from the trees. My breath makes icy puffs as I breathe. I’m in a very residential neighborhood, tony, even. Brick houses with white pillars and dense hedges line the street, and the rows of cars parked on either side make the street narrow and almost claustrophobic.
The couple has found their way to their car and the man is opening her door for her. She’s wrapped in a camel-colored shawl, tiptoeing in black stilettos, small but brilliant diamonds glinting from her ears. She smiles big and wide and her laughter fills the otherwise empty air. I want to be her. I want to be happy and carefree and in love. Instead, I hang back and watch. If I can watch for long enough, maybe I’ll be able to approximate her life, her attitude, her laughter.


Scenario 2
You're alone in your apartment. You're angry, upset about something. You hear a sound at the front door. You go to it, open it. There's a box on the doorstep. You lift it up, open it...


(Who are you? Why are you alone? Why so angry? Do you open the door slowly, quickly? What's in the box? What happens next?)

The conversation hadn’t gone the way I’d wanted it to. I wanted to scream and complain, but instead I stayed calm and mellow and let her speak her mind; let her win. Again. This is the way it goes.
My throat is starting to close up again. I carry my stress in my throat, and when I get angry, so exceptionally angry that I can’t even speak, I also start to lose the ability to breathe. I want to throw my phone against the wall, my brand new $300 phone. I want to throw something. I want to break something. I want to cut something. The pain is so sharp and so clear, it allows me to focus on nothing more than the simplicity of it. My kitchen knives are too dull, though, and I end up with bright red scratches instead of clean incisions.
I hear the knocker on my front door shifting, ever so quietly. If I’d been listening to music or watching TV, I wouldn’t have even heard it, but I’ve been sitting here, quiet in my anger, and so I catch the soft touch of metal knob to metal plate. I walk over to the door and look out the peephole, but there’s no one out there. I hear the door to the stairwell latch closed and the steady, rumbling rhythm of someone running down the stairs. I open the door to try to catch them, and literally stumble over a bright red toolbox left in front of my door. It’s full of something heavy, and I can barely move it. I push it into the living room without opening it, and can hear metal pieces rattling around inside.


Scenario 3
You've been out drinking, celebrating something with your buddies. This guy you don't know very well says, hey, let's do something crazy. You laugh, get in his car...


(What's the occasion? Why do you get in? What do you see, hear, smell? What happens next?)

We’d been out since happy hour. Jennifer had gotten the job she’d been interviewing for and we’d been celebrating with Black Velvets. My tongue was fuzzy with champagne sweetness and it was time to switch to whiskey. The man who sidled up to me at the bar as I ordered our round seemed charming enough, so I let him pay for our drinks. He, in turn, followed me back to the booth. He leaned in closely when he talked, enveloping me in a heady cloud of tequila-tinted breath, cigarette smoke, and a faint, musky cologne. There were tiny beads of sweat on his forehead, which only added to his intensity. “Let’s do something crazy,” he said under his breath so no one else can hear.
I stood up immediately and announced my departure. He grabbed my hand and lead me up the stairs to the exit. This was nothing new for me. Strangers intoxicate me: the excitement and awkwardness, bolstered by alcohol, fuels the part of me that otherwise hovers below the surface. I become fearless and invincible and almost otherwordly.

7.30.2007

singularly exquisite corpse 1.

As part of the bailee. life-overhaul, I signed up for a fiction/short story writing class at the UW's Experimental College. I've been once, and while I'm annoyed with my fellow classmates, I like the teacher and I look forward to blowing him away. Judging by my competition in the classroom, I don't think that will be too hard. We started a true exquisite corpse exercise where we were in groups of four and each person contributed a sentence to a tiny short story, and where I felt like my sentences opened up the narrative (as did two others in my group), there was this one girl who just kept throwing a wrench in the works... Every single time. Let me give you some examples (her contributions are italicized):

When the clock struck midnight, Mark knew that nothing would ever be the same…
But although this was what he wanted, he felt hesitation and then paralysis.
He knew he was supposed to make this call, to press this button, to “change the world,” just like they’d always said.
But he wouldn’t go through with it. Breaking up with Paris Hilton just isn’t something you “do.” She usually does it for you.

I was standing at the kitchen sink when it happened.
I saw the flash out the window and was momentarily blinded.
“Jesus!” I exclaimed. “Yes, it is I; I was wondering if you could recommend an esthetician, for my beard is rather out of control.”
“Well, you’ve come to the right place, for I am a skilled stylist… but there’ll be a price, and it shall be steep!”

It seemed like the ice had formed instantaneously; every step he took down the stairs was so slippery and unsure, it was like one step closer to death.
Her mother’s icy expression confirmed what she expected already: her mother was now fully aware of the fact that she’d been amorous with the pool boy.
The only problem was the pool-boy was her ex-husband’s love-child.
After contemplating a moment, she decided it wasn’t a problem- if Woody Allen could marry his wife’s adopted daughter, she could do anything.


     It was really discouraging. Everything she had to offer seemed to change the direction the exercise was headed and we all had to adjust to her low-brow sens of humor accordingly. No fun.
     Anyhow, I'm going to be posting the personal exercises here. Feedback from strangers is all well and good, but I'd also appreciate some from people who know me, and probably have a good sense of what I'm aiming for. This was an in-class exercise; the instructor basically said "Write for ten minutes straight." The ten minutes went really quickly.
     The phone is ringing. Again. It's an old-school 80's era rotary dial, all coffee-brown, dial yellowing with age. The ring is loud and harsh and everytime I hear it I tell myself to get rid of the phone. But I haven't yet. I also haven't cleaned my bathroom or my kitchen in weeks. Sure, I straighten them up and wipe down surfaces, but I've yet to give them the deep scrubbing and sanitation they need. I'm running a little behind on my spring cleaning.
     I think about my apartment a lot, about how it has become this ode to mid- to late-century decor, thanks to cabinets that haven't been replaced since the 60's, along with my penchant for buying random bits of furniture at yard sales. I like my apartment. I like that I don't use air freshener or incense or candles, but every time I open my door it smells fresh and clean and slightly sweet, regardless of whatever bacon or marijuana smell is permeating the outside hallway.
     It's tiny and it's mine and it's perfect. Or it was until a month ago. The dogs that have taken up residence in the new kennel just across the alley from my bedroom window have tainted the unit's perfection, ever so slightly. The barking begins before dawn, but even worse than that are the girls that work there, whose only method of placating the animals (heaven forbid they should play with them or take them for walks!)is to walk into the kennel area and yell, "Hey! HEY!" until the beasts are still. The I hear the gate shut, and silence, until usually a smaller pup starts whimpering, and then a larger one begins bellowing, until finally it's a chorus of canines, and the routine begins anew. I want to complain, I want to go in there and ask those girls why they work in a kennel if they hate dogs so much.

5.23.2007

i'm lucky to have such clever friends.

In a further attempt to alienate anyone who reads my blog and DOESN'T frequent the Cap Hill "scene," here's an IM conversation from earlier today that I keep thinking (and giggling) about:

bailee: hey, was it just me, or did [REDACTED] SUCK BALLS?

donte: it was lame - i came by for my hellos and well wishes, and that was it

bailee: i am SO TIRED of hearing the same 10 songs every time i go to that night.

donte: although i did appreciate some electro track they played
-i tired of that long ago
-yeah, i wonder if all those djs have some playlist that they all share

bailee: totally!
- and they're not even that great of djs.
- my friend made a really good point: "none of those dudes probably listen to music."

donte: i feel like the same can be said for much of the audience
- it's just top 40 for hipsters

bailee: exactly.
- over it.

donte: i don't think you're allowed to say that. vice magazine will send the hipster gestapo to get you
- for "reeducation"

4.16.2007

truckasauras, dude!


One of the more depressing casualties of the Keenan Bowen Debacle of Ought-Six was the feature I wrote on Truckasauras that was going to run before their opening slot for Daedelus. It was slated to run in the October 19th edition, but was shelved on the 11th... Two days later, Dave and I were unemployed. Sigh. What with all the hullabaloo surrounding the Truck now, I revisited the story, and it amazes me how well, in a 45 minute conversation the first time we met, I was able to capture their personalities and dynamic. Having spent tons of time with them in the last few months, I've borne witness to the constant finishing-of-sentences and psychic abilities these guys share, and I feel like the people I purport them to be in the story are pretty spot-on representations (with the exception of Dan, who, it turns out, is the spawn of Satan). Without further ado...

The Party’s Crashing Us Now
Truckasauras’s Advanced Nerdery
By Keenan Bowen Bailee Martin

     There’s a moment during every Truckasauras show, usually midway through the set, where the group drops a banger. It’s the same song every time, and every time one can feel the collective, yet silent, round of “Oh, shit!” rattle through the masses. The heads up front start bobbing a little stronger, fists begin pumping in the air, and the three dudes behind the expanse of drum machines, keyboards, and Game Boys begin bopping back and forth in unison.
     “Even if we mess up, which we do a lot,” admits Adam Swan, Truckasauras’s keyboard/Commodore 64 specialist, “it still sounds good. We get going, and just kinda listen to it; we’re just tricking all the machines into doing something that we like.”
     With whimsical analog loops skirting over darkly minimal drums, Truckasauras’s sound toes the line between goofiness and sincerity, and does so with aplomb. Such is to be expected from a group comprised of members of Seattle’s Fourthcity collective.
     In a roundtable conversation with Swan, his brother Tyler, childhood friend Ryan Trudell, and visual ace Dan Bordon, the giddiness and excitability expressed by the group when discussing their gear is palpable. “There was a show a few years ago at the Hugo House; some 8-bit themed thing,” Trudell explains when asked about Truckasauras’s origins. “I had recently gotten the Game Boy program [NanoLoop, a German synthesizer /sequencer program for Nintendo’s handheld systems], and Tyler and I threw together a set on a whim.”
     Tyler breaks in. “Like, that day. We just started drinking at noon or something, and it was born.”
     “Initially, it was just me and Tyler,” continues Trudell, “but then I got a Commodore 64 and Adam started rocking that, doing keyboards over it.”
     “Basically we pulled this guy out of his bedroom,” says Adam, gesturing at Bordon, who spends the majority of the interview with his fingers laced, quietly watching his musical counterparts wax effusive over the intricacies of vintage Roland drum machines.
     “There’s a lot of modern software that’s all based on this stuff, but you can’t beat it,” Tyler boasts.
     “And just the way you use [the gear] in a live setting dictates the music to a certain extent. It’s super fun,” adds Trudell. “We’re just rocking hardware, you know, the old 808 drum machines and stuff. [Being able to] plug that into a nice system and let that bump is just…pretty awesome.”
     “It’s a lot of fun to buy gear, too, so…” Adam’s thought trails off slightly. “Nerd stuff,” he grins.
     “Total nerd stuff!” Trudell agrees enthusiastically. “It’s the 808 that’s really constrictive [live], but it sounds so pure, and it’s got such character.”
     “It’s a classic,” attests Adam.
     “About as old as us, I think!” Trudell concurs.
     When asked what label the group’s upcoming album will be released on, Tyler smiles. “This is gonna be an independent release, hand screen-printed, the whole thing.”
     “We really like the DIY aesthetic of Truckasauras,” Adam declares.
     “The first time we did a show,” says Tyler, “half of it was live drums, and we were excited because it felt like punk rock.”
     “The visuals are pretty punk rock, too,” his brother agrees.
     Live, the group resembles (as Portland Mercury’s Chas Bowie so eloquently put it) “a trio of Larry the Cable Guy devotees who would spit Skoal in your eyeball after kicking your hipster ass for no good reason.” Fishing vests, trucker hats emblazoned with bald eagles, and American flags-as-capes are the fashion de rigeur for these fellows, who stand three-strong in front of a screen projecting images of monster truck rallies, explosions, and WWF matches.
     “Even just the name ‘Truckasauras’ is just so over-the-top,” insists Trudell, referencing the monster truck destructive icon. “The other day I saw a semi with a big Confederate flag for the grill. That’s so Truckasauras. It’s pseudo-patriotism. If someone was kinda into that stuff they’d look at it and be stoked, but we just look at it as so…”
      “It’s parody style— Truck has become its own entity.” Tyler continues, in the habitual pattern of finishing each other’s sentences like only a tight-knit group of established comrades can. “Truck definitely has plenty of gimmick, but with the album, we want to make it so it’s good to listen to—not reliant on the gimmick. We really do put a lot of thought into it.”
     “We didn’t initially,” interjects Trudell. “It was more of just a fun thing to do, but then…”
     “People started taking it seriously,” Adam concludes. “And it just turned into… it’s just way cooler than any of us just on our own.”

4.05.2007

this is why going to sleep sober isn't all it's cracked up to be.

I had a vivid and disturbing dream last night. I was shacking up in this flop-house on northeastern Manhattan (in my dream it was in Harlem but I don't think that's correct). Instead of being on the water, though, the building was smack up against a hillside, a huge, rolling hillside with a metal fence running the length of it. Like, one whole side of the building was without windows because it was almost built into the hillside. People hung out on the rooftop, much like they do in front of the halfway houses that run the length of Summit Ave b/w Howell and Pine. Two of those people were jbin and Woody Harrelson, and the three of us started smoking crack out of a pipe fashioned from a test tube, with a screw-on cap/screen combination reminiscent of a Mason jar. The next thing I knew, I looked over, and jbin had shot an arrow through his dog's head. He'd done it from behind so that the arrowhead was protruding from between her beautiful (and now lifeless) eyes. Blood was trickling out of her mouth. I LOVE this dog as though she were my own, and this action broke my heart. I got up and walked to the edge of the roof, looking out at the fence. I wondered to myself if it were an electric fence, and just then I saw two raccoons come scrambling down the hill. One of them lost its footing and tumbled into the fence, and I watched it spasm and jolt as a current ran through it (Is that equivalent to lucid dreaming? I'm kind of inclined to think it is). While I was distracted by that, the other raccoon jumped over the fence and started to hiss and growl at me, shoulders haunched and fur standing straight up. I started to back away slowly, when he lunged and sunk his teeth into my wrist. I swear, I've never physically felt the pain in a dream like I did last night. It burned. I could feel it on my nerve endings. At times like these remembering dreams is overrated.

4.04.2007

i really do hate to say i told you so...

My camera is en route to me, so once I get that I'll throw up a huge post about the Truckasauras/Portland weekend. Until then, however, maybe this GLOWING FUCKING PRAISE from PITCHFORK and Line Out will tide you over.

I called this shit like a year ago. Those boys are gonna be famous. Much love to the Truck.

4.03.2007

feel my iPain.

So. Last week at Ratatat's "DJ" set at Havana, I lost my iPod. jbin said he saw me, at one point, look down at my bag and see that my headphones were no longer attached to anything, and whimper. The next morning, in a slightly-less drunken state, I realized it was long gone. I went through brief moments of incredulity and irritation, and then just decided that instead of spending my next Chop Suey check on my bike, I'd replace my Nano with the top-of-the-line 80GB video iPod, which I did in Portland (no sales tax).

Last night, a conversation with one of my coworkers went something like this:
Him: "I want to start filling iPods with music and selling them, rather than burning discs of stuff."
Me: "iPods are expensive."
Him: "Yeah, but I find a lot of them. Like, last week at Havana I looked down and kicked what I thought was a flyer, and this iPod went flying across the floor."
Me: "..."
Him: "And it's got some hella good shit on there. Aesop Rock, MF Doom/RZA..."
Me: "OHMIGOD you found my fucking iPod! God DAMMIT!"

Needless to say, I'm slightly annoyed this conversation didn't take place BEFORE Saturday. So now I have two iPods. Annoying.