This is not a galley! This is a fabulously beautiful hardcover book!
I suppose I will read it anyway.
A solemn promise between internet friends, written and recorded by Kevin Fanning.
I'm a contributing writer for The Morning News and the Beverage Expert in Residence at Maura Magazine and you can follow me on twitter @kfan.
#best of / #stuff I wrote / #GPOY / #pep talks / #quotes / #poetry / #lists / #music
1980-1988: radio (WTIC; WKSS)
1982-1992: TV (MTV; HBO Video Jukebox)
1989-1992: magazines (Rolling Stone; Musician)
1992-1994: Columbia House
1994-1998: college radio station people (not the actual radio station)
1998-2004: magazines (EW)
2002-2006: mp3 blogs
2006-2012: nothing / ”the internet”
2012-present: Shazaming songs overheard in stores (Froyoworld; Old Navy)
Maura Magazine, Issue 39, “Reset”.
Vinyl, Goonies, gamers, and fatigue. Plus poems by Rae Armantrout!
I wrote about Mountain Dew Game Fuel, video games, and parenting for the return of Maura Magazine. You can download it on your iOS device, you can read it on the web, but you need to get at this content, I worked hard on it.
After my friend Christine’s dad died, she gave everyone who worked with her at the soup kitchen a plastic bag filled with birdseed. The bags had a little tag on them with a picture of cardinals and a note about how her dad loved feeding birds, so we should feed them in his memory. I had never met her dad and I only knew Christine from the hours we spent together every Wednesday afternoon cooking alongside a lot of other volunteers, but it was also impossible to be anywhere near her and not know her. She let everyone in to her world, which was fascinating, larger than life. She had been so many places and known so many interesting people. All the New York things I’d read novels about, Christine had experienced, and she also knew the people who wrote those novels. Now she worked as an art restorer and spent a lot of time cooking and dishing out food in a soup kitchen in Greenpoint.
I didn’t have a backyard or birdfeeder, so I just put the seed out on my windowsill. Birds came and ate it, which seemed slightly miraculous. How did they know to come? After the bag ran out, I bought more. More than a year later, I still put some out every morning. Mostly mourning doves come, but occasionally also juncos and finches.
Christine took her own life last Friday and no one seems to know why. It seems impossible. She was so much more alive than most people.
This morning I heard the unmistakable metallic chirp of a cardinal and went to watch him eat the seed. He sang as he ate, loud and full of life, with his majestic crest flaring in the early sunlight. Christine, I thought.
I know the idea that someone who has died comes and visits you in some reassuring form is silly, childish wishful thinking. I believe that at the same time that I believe that Christine’s spirit is in the world still, in birds and cats and people, in everything that sings loudly and proudly and is absolutely always purely itself.
Growing old is hard, you guys. When you’re young everything is so fresh and new. Around every corner there’s a mind-blowing, life-changing artistic experience. But eventually you reach a certain age and realize those WHOA moments, where you hear or see something for the first time and suddenly can’t believe you ever got this far without that thing, get fewer and farther. That is why we are lucky to have Shiina Ringo. I will tell you about her.
Shiina Ringo had a successful 10-year career as a solo artist in Japan, at which point she decided she wanted to be in a band. Does this happen a lot? It usually seems to go the other way around, but Shiina Ringo does everything differently.
She had a mole on her face. Like Madonna or Cindy, a noticeable trademark. At the end of her solo career, she had it removed. Tell me that’s not some ice-cold end of side one type shit.
She released a song called "Ringo no Uta" (“A Song of Apples”) as a kind of retrospective on her career up to that point. It’s elegiac, an over-the-end-credits closer. This version of the song doesn’t appear on any of her albums. But the first song on Side 1 of her first album with her new band, Tokyo Jihen, featured a different version of the song, a rocking, opening-credits reinterpretation.
Reinterpretation is kind of the thing with her. She makes a fetish of revisiting and rewriting some of her most popular songs. She sings in Japanese, English and French. She works across all genres, and I mean all, From electronica to supper club jazz to metal to noise rock to bossa nova to show tunes that are so true to the form it’s hard to believe they’re not from an actual Broadway show.
Reading about her is endlessly fascinating. It’s hard to tell where her biography ends and her mythology begins. She has terrible scars across her back, and she says it’s from where her wings were removed. Read on Wikipedia about the way she structures her albums and song titles. There’s an attention to detail, a craft surrounding her music that I don’t think you see from a lot of other artists.
She’s popular all over the world, but not in the US as much, which is criminal. This is a mixtape of some of my favorite songs of hers. It’s a mix of solo stuff and Tokyo Jihen, with songs taken from just about all of her albums.
If you like artists who experiment with form and genre and imbue everything they do with a sense of drama and recklessness, you will probably like her.
She is my favorite.
Marunouchi Sadistic (Expo Ver.) / Himitsu / Rodosha / La Salle de Bain / Gamble / Hatsukoi Shoujo / Akane Sasu Kiro Terasaredo / Gibuso / Irokoizata / More / Nodoteki Sanpunkan / Season Sayonara / Kronkekodow / OSCA / Tsugo no li Karada / Marunouchi Sadistic (Live)
At the request of shitty I’ve reuploaded this mix plus added a few new tracks that came out since I originally put it together: Koroshiya Kiki Ippatsu (The Assassin’s Assassin) by Soil & PIMP Sessions and Sweet Spot & Ariamaru Tomi from the live Ultra-C album
Thinking about going to Ikea today. I don’t need to go to Ikea, what I need is a lamp. One lamp, for one bedside table. The old lamp was broken in a tragic act of frustrated book-flinging. I could go to Target or Economy Hardware down the street or probably 3 other places nearby and the journey & purchase of the lamp would be over in minutes or an hour.
I could get a lamp and be done and move on to other things. But like then you have to ask: what is the point of life? To risk as little as possible? To just whistle through life popping down to the store to buy lamps?
I was thinking about where else I could get a lamp and I thought, Well, you can get lamps at Ikea. But can you? CAN YOU? Does one simply walk into Ikea and buy a lamp?
And then suddenly my need for a lamp became an epic quest. A hubristic and perilous journey through a bleak abyss of sterile commercialism and cool Scandinavian functionality. An epic odyssey into the byzantine up- and cross-selling dungeons of the dread castle Ikea, in hopes that I might return—battle-worn and bruised, sure, and potentially full of meatballs, but also triumphant—holding aloft the One Lamp.
The hooks are in me now. I fear normal life, with its workaday buying of lamps, is no longer for me. Having not even left my home yet, I sense this journey has already begun.
Yesterday Pierce said something interesting on Twitter about Google Glass and Oculus Rift. I can’t show you exactly what because his tweets are protected and I totally respect his privacy, but basically he was like:
And then I responded to his tweet with:
Which is not super interesting or clever, but it built on what Pierce had said.
So THEN Pierce was like:
Which, I mean, he’s not wrong.
But then, later, my tweet showed up in Today In Tabs:
And Pierce saw it and was like:
It was pretty funny. Anyways no hard feelings Pierce.
Remember to follow me on Twitter. Pierce maybe not so much.
10 Culinary Questions for Kevin Fanning Instead of Gwyneth Paltrow
RM: Favorite family meal?
KF: We love to keep it simple. Rosalie and I both work so we tend to stick to things that you just have in the freezer, and when it’s dinner time we’ll kind of root around in there and see what we have that doesn’t look terrible, then stick it in the oven. The kids complain about everything, so it’s hard to pick a favorite!
RM: Favorite family restaurants?
KF: In Cambridge we like Thelonius Monkfish, Veggie Galaxy, Miracle of Science, Cambridge Common, Tasty Burger, Cambridge Brewing Company, Middle East, Chipotle, S&S, and Beauty’s. When we can’t agree on where to go, we’ll end up at Asgard, where everyone is equally unhappy but at least they have a decent drinks menu. On weekends when we visit my mom in Connecticut we go to Plan B or On The Border. We eat out a lot because there’s no personal satisfaction to be had from cooking. One of our favorite things to do at restaurants is let the kids play their DS’s so we can ignore them and have an actual adult human conversation.
RM: Favorite recipes for cooking-with-kids sessions?
KF: Cooking, being in the kitchen, that’s “me” time. I don’t go out of my way to get them involved—I’m happier if I can just put on my music and bop around and do things at my pace. When kids get involved I find there’s a lot of frustration and yelling. Kids can set and clear the table, it’s a great use of their skills.
RM: Favorite food shops?
KF: In Cambridge we’re blessed with so many options. Trader Joe’s is cheapest so we end up there at least once a weekend, but there are some things you just can’t get there, plus some things you can but are terrible (like their peanut butter, which is a basically an oil spill near a peanut). So invariably we have to make an additional stop at Star Market or Whole Foods to pick up a few more things, and you end up spending as much on 5 items as you spent at Trader Joe’s on a whole cart full of things. It’s great. And then when we need some dumb, difficult to find ingredient we’ll go to Harvest in Central Square. It’s a co-op, and they always ask if we’re members, but we’re not, because there’s literally no incentive to join beyond the smug self-satisfaction of being able to say you belong.
RM: Go-to kitchen tools and accoutrements?
KF: Definitely a knife? I feel like a knife is definitely a go-to. Then of course a cutting board is key. We have a bunch. Beyond that you get into things like plates, bowls, silverware.
RM: Favorite pots and pans?
KF: If you pointed a gun at my kid’s head I would not be able to even guess at a brand name for pots & pans. I have no recollection of how our pots and pans came into our possession and I have no emotional attachment to them whatsoever. There’s one pan that’s really wide and kind of awkward to fit into the dishwasher, so that one is definitely my least favorite.
RM: What was the first meal you cooked?
KF: As what they used to call a “latch-key kid” in the 80s, I was often forced to fend for myself for hours on end, so I got good at whipping up little snacks. Fill a glass with croutons and then douse it with Italian dressing, that was a favorite. Our fill a glass with whipped cream, douse it with chocolate syrup, then stir it up for a quick and easy mousse. Or just make a quick sandwich out of Pop-Tarts and Fruit Roll-Ups from the pantry. Sometimes you’d hear a noise in the house and you’d be terrified that there was someone hiding in a closet upstairs. This was before cell phones, so there was no way to contact your parents, no way of knowing where they were or when they’d be home. You’d just sit on the couch with your snack and hope there wasn’t someone hiding in the house to kill you. Those are some of my earliest memories of feeding myself.
RM: Favorite jet lag meal?
KF: You can no longer afford to fly anywhere on this planet with a family of four, so jet lag rarely comes into play. But on long car trips we’ll eat a lot of junk food. We like to stop at travel plazas, gas stations—sometimes different states have different sodas and chips. We love exploring local cuisine.
RM: Notable culinary disaster?
KF: I remember the first time Rosalie was pregnant, we got some bad news from the doctor. We drove home in silence, both kind of stunned, not even sure what to say to each other, and then Ro declared that she really wanted cheese waffle fries for dinner. So I called the one place in town that served them—they didn’t deliver so I had to go pick them up. I picked them up and got home and realized they’d forgotten half our order. Rosalie was upstairs in bed and I just wanted one thing on this day to not go completely terrible, so in a rush I put the oven on low and put the food in to keep it warm while I went back to the restaurant to get the stuff they’d forgotten. And then I got back and realized that the food was in styrofoam containers, which had melted and warped in the oven, so everything was completely ruined and inedible. And I just kind of stood there in the kitchen, shaking with anger, no idea what to do, no idea how to fix everything, no idea how to make it better.
My 5 Favorite Parts of Soldier of Love by Sade
1. There are at least 3 different guitar parts in this song, but the loudest one, with the noise gate on it. How the lines cut in and out, dancing around the drums, like glimpses of the safety of love, promises that vanish as soon as you speak them.
2. I’m at the borderland of my faith, I’m in the hinterland of my devotion. Maybe one of the best lines in any song, ever? So deep and pure and complex and true that I can’t even think about it too much. It destroys me to contemplate what those words even mean.
3. I’m doing my best b/w I’m still alive. Proclamations of determination and an absolute unwillingness to give up (on love? on life? on oneself?) despite history, despite the odds.
4. The gang vocals (WHOA) and handclaps on the bridge. You’re not in this alone. We have each other.
5. The song is basically over at 4:00 but the music continues for another 0:59. Like, look: settle in for a long ride. This is life. Still waiting for love to come.