vonnegut on the blues

 . . . Back to music. It makes practically everybody fonder of life than he or she would be without it. Even military bands, although I am a pacifist, always cheer me up. And I really like Strauss and Mozart and all that, but the priceless gift that African Americans gave the whole world when they were still in slavery was a gift so great that it is now almost the only reason many foreigners still like us at least a little bit. That specific remedy for the worldwide epidemic of depression is a gift called the blues. All pop music today - jazz, swing, be-bop, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Stones, rock-and-roll, hip-hop and on and on - is derived from the blues. 

A gift to the world? One of the best rhythm-and-blues combos I ever heard was three guys and a girl from Finland playing in a club in Krakow, Poland.

The wonderful writer Albert Murray, who is a jazz historian and a friend of mine among other things, told me that during the era of slavery in this country - an atrocity from which we can never fully recover - the suicide rate per capita among slave owners was much higher than the suicide rate among slaves. 

Murray says he thinks this was because slaves had a way of dealing with depression, which their white owners did not: They could shoo away Old Man Suicide by playing and singing the Blues. He says something else which also sounds right to me. He says the blues can't drive depression clear out of a house, but can drive it into the corners of any room where it's being played. So please remember that.
- Kurt Vonnegut, from A Man Without a Country


things I like this week, vol. 36

Literary jokes for the win.

. . .

“After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.”
-Mark Twain

. . .

They're tiny perfume-filled glass bottles. You're supposed to violently throw them on the ground to make the room smell pretty. The website gives no recommendation for how to clean up the shards of glass, which implies a level of decadence I'm not sure I'm comfortable with.

. . .

 Indi Apparel in Zocalo magazine. (I am still quite proud of the makeup.)

. . .

Cats. Accompanied by Neruda quotes. (The internet is amazing.)

There is also Calming Manatee.

. . . 

From Gatsby, of course.

. . .

Children's books reimagined as minimalist posters.

. . .

An interesting perspective on homosexual marriage: the tradition of "two-spirit" people in Native American tribes.

. . .

A clothing wishlist:

a dress for tango

and a dress for New Year's.

. . .

Bar cart inspiration, and two ideas for drinks:

smoked cocktails (they're apparently a thing. I am intrigued) and . . .

a recipe for apple cider sangria that I will be concocting at the earliest opportunity.

. . .

Lincoln in realistic color.

. . .

Vintage WW2 photographs superimposed on shots taken in the same spot in modern times.

. . .

A river of 10,000 lighted books in Melbourne. At the end of the night they started giving them away to passersby.

. . .

Friends of mine on top of Mt. Lemmon.

. . .

And a poem:
Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
-Mary Oliver


on houses

There is symbolism in so many things, I think.

I should rephrase. Being mostly of an existentialist mindset, I think there is no inherent meaning in anything, but that the meaning we create is what is of importance. So, more accurately, I see symbolism in so many things.

Houses, for instance.

I just moved - packed up all of my suddenly myriad belongings in two days - hauled all of it to a new place on the third day - cleaned the old house from top to bottom on the fourth. I am exhausted.

When Colin and I first broke up, and I started looking for a place because I thought I'd have to move when the lease was up, everything I looked at was far out of my price range and felt like a coffin: rectangular, solid, confining, with a distinct lack of light. Suffocating. I couldn't breathe in them. It was appropriate, since our splitting up made me feel like I was drowning.

I clung to our house, then, to its light, to its space, to the quirks of its layout. I wasn't ready to leave a place where I had been, for years, happy. And when my landlord gave me until October, letting me pay only half-rent, I thought, okay. October is a long time away. Colin has until October to change his mind, to realize how much he loves me, to come home, before we lose this house forever. In my head, losing the house meant losing any chance he and I might have to reconcile.

Yet life still somehow moved forward. My stuff stretched to fill the house that slowly started to feel far too large for just me and my kid. When Colin and I began talking again, began piecing ourselves back together both individually and as a couple, it was around the same time that I was forced to start looking in earnest again for a place to live.

It seemed an impossible task: find something cheap enough that I could afford on my own if things didn't work out with Colin; find a place big enough that all three of us could fit if we did.

I finally found one and had to put the deposit down before he even had a chance to see it. By then, my mindset had changed: I didn't want the old house, any more. There was too much space. There were too many places where we had spent time in our own worlds, too many harsh memories lingering among the pleasant ones. It was a beautiful house, and it was good for us, but it was time to move on, to start again with something new.

We got back together the week before I moved, and it was him (and a couple other angelic souls) that helped me do it - our first big collaboration as a couple again.

All my stuff is in the new apartment, piled in boxes I didn't even have time to properly label. In the coming weeks I am going to be sifting through everything I own, paring it down, discarding of anything superfluous, of anything that doesn't make me happy. In a few weeks, Colin will be here, too, having done the same thing.

And so we begin again, rebuilding, free of the extra belongings, of the space that kept us apart before.