Flight from Detroit to Los Angeles:
First off, I was overjoyed to see that the usually shitty Motown Memories store that's been slightly above "eyesore" status in the McNamara Terminal has finally begun to carry The Complete Motown Singles boxsets. While my visit would only find the collection from 1969 available (and at an over-inflated $159.99 price tag), it was simply the idea that the compilation was there that I was pleased with.
Flight with window seat and I devour the Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair. Pound for pound (literally with the heft of this month's edition) my favorite magazine right now. No other publication has the insight, foresight, grace or overall sleek, stylized and refined completeness that Graydon Carter's mag seems to effortlessly spew forth with each subsequent issue.
Of particular interest to me was the in-depth piece on The Graduate. From it's beginnings as a book by a schizophrenic author who would later shun all material goods, to the troubles it had finding a studio home to the general uncertainty everyone except director Mike Nichols had about casting Dustin Hoffman as the confused Benjamin Braddock, the story told is nothing short of rapturous and alone is worth the price of purchase.
I think to some degree, every man fancies Mrs. Robinson (perfectly portrayed by the stunning Ann Bancroft) in The Graduate. Her detached sexual fever as unleashed upon the unwitting Braddock, coupled with her experience, her overall learned and wisened demeanor is something that every young man would be considered downright lucky to get a whiff of in real life.
From there I snapped on my new Sharper Image noise cancellation headphones and reveled in the relative serenity they provided to an otherwise unrelenting drone of airplane operations. Tapped into my iPod it was even more heavenly. I'm still learning the tricks and feel of the 8-gig little beast, but to be able to call up OOIOO's "UMO" without a second thought is truly one of the better joys in my life.
Does anyone here goof around with the EQ setting on their iPod? I've fiddled with a few and quite honestly, the only ones that sound remotely palatable are flat (read: nothing) and the treble booster. But maybe that's just me.
I then proceeded to devour Gillian Gaar's fairly rote entry in Continium's 33 1/3 series with her tale of Nirvana's In Utero. As a dedicated fan since "Smells Like Teen Spirit" first bounced across these pre-pubescent eardrums, it's hardly worth the 40 minutes it should take to read. Gaar's words have all the charm of a Mexican bowel movement and her source material is limited to fairly uninteresting quotes from Krist Noveselic and Earnie Bailey. I'll have to admit that anything out of Steve Albini's mouth seemed honest, frank and ultimately to the benefit of Gaar's otherwise sagging words.
I've not read any of the other 33 1/3 books, so I really have nothing to compare it to, but for someone like myself with such an unflinching, deep-rooted devotion to In Utero I would think I'd be easily won over. Instead, I'm left pointing any truly interested parties to Everett True's essential tome Nirvana: The True Story for all sorts of insight and tales you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
After landing I made a quick trip to the In'N'Out Burger on Sepulveda to enjoy a hearty cheeseburger and fries while catching the last bits of Jonesy's Jukebox for the evening. I heard a new Be Your Own Pet song and it made me happy when other things made me sad.
Back on the plane and I indiscriminately devoured the latest issue of Radar. Another magazine where I read every last shred of text contained within regardless of my predetermined interest. Needless to say, I'm always impressed. Kudos on the revelatory story about the shady dealings behind the $1 billion empire of Forever 21, their blatant theft of certain designer frocks shocking, to say the least. The George Clooney article left me unimpressed though…just read like a whole lot of anonymous whiners complaining about nothing from a man who comes off as genuinely likeable.
I tapped into the Air New Zealand jukebox and was delighted to see a Datsuns collection featured. Featuring songs spanning all of the Datto's released interspersed with bits of interview, it was a welcome refresher course on the lethal qualities of this band's back catalog. The highlight though was a bit of conversation where the band discusses the few songs they've covered in their career…"Hello Ladies and Gentlemen" and "Good Night Ladies and Gentlemen" by Cheap Trick, a song I can't remember by Fun Things, and then "Where Eagles Dare" by the Misfits. The sure as shit, cue the lo-fi fuzz rumble that erupts into the explosive "I ain't no goddamn son of a bitch!"
To be able to hear this, unedited, unretouched, on the Air New Zealand musical selection computer jukebox, was quite possible the best moment of the 12 hour flight.
I then jumped over to a similarly formatted program featuring the Checks. The Dirtbombs first Auckland performance was opened by these New Zealand tykes and I was readily impressed with their frenetic teenage attack. Surely they were the next big thing. While they'd been feted by the NME, they've been virtually non-existent on US shores and with access to their debut full-length Hunting Whales I could see why.
The album abounds with ill-chosen tempos, ultimately defeating the energy one would imagine a bunch of kids in their early twenties should be brimming with. Instead, most songs have that same, slow, middle-of-the-road plod that sounds like a modern Rolling Stones throwaway without the benefit of being played by the same dudes who wrote "Satisfaction". Earlier in the week I'd mentioned in an interview with New Zealand press how I looked forward to buying a copy of the Checks records. Consider these Checks cancelled with insufficient funds in the "rock" department.
My first movie choice was The Bourne Ultimatum. While I'd initially hoped on seeing it in the theater, this is the perfect kind of movie to see on a twelve-hour flight. It never failed to lose my attention and Matt Damon is all kinds of badass. Add to the fact that it's the only trilogy in recent memory that I've seen each volume of (other than the Oceans 11 pictures) and what you get is a highly-recommended action thriller jam.
I followed that with Takk by Sigur Ros. I'd lost touch with them after the ( ) album, but still treasure my vinyl copy of Agaetis Byrjum purchased solely on David Fricke's Rolling Stone Review from 2000.
I was expecting Takk to be a total downer. But with the opening chimes of the title track I was paralyzed with the overall confusion of how such music is even created. It seems so distant and foreign from what I know, from what is familiar. String sections and cascading swoops of atmospheric vibes are plentiful and, as far as I can tell, truly difficult music to create.
When a friend recommends an album (or is even just a fan of it), there seems to be an unspoken hope on my part to really like the record. Knowing that going into Takk, the feeling of the record is not an upper or a downer…it feels like change. Maybe not for the better and maybe not for worse, but Takk feels like a record to signal a new path. It feels like a separation, an energy informed by an unspeakable distance, maybe geographical, maybe generational, maybe situational, but entirely clear and known and an ever-present issue.
The separation I feel on Takk is imbued with a sense of possibility. That things are rife for change, open for the taking, ready to be confronted. Opportunities need to be seized and turned into the ideal. Don't let yourself be weighed down, Grab hold and make the shit you want to happen happen. And if you need to cry, that's ok, because tears are usually the harbinger of truth, people want you to feel good because they care about you, not because that's what they're supposed to say. No matter how perfect or cinematic something may seem or feel at the time, it will always still be awkward and sad.
It's 4:03am Detroit time and I'm sitting here typing on a laptop thousands of feet over the Pacific Ocean and we're nowhere even near the halfway point of this flight.