I thought that staying inside all day every day meant I wouldn’t be spending as much money—wrong. I feel like I’m more prone to ordering delivery now? Is anyone else experiencing this? Because I’ll be in my home minding my business and then I’ll think, you know what would taste good right now? Korean. And then I’ll spend like an hour trying to find a place near me that is open and delivers, but by the time I have my order set I’m not hungry and it’s like, 3 am. That’s happened at least six times now.
Quarantine cravings are the worst because 1) I’m trying to stop going to the grocery store as much and 2) I’m not making money so it’s just not smart to be spending it impulsively. And then when I do manage to think about delivery I feel bad for making the delivery worker come all the way out to my house, and the food’s probably too expensive anyway, and how do I know that no one is accidentally passing along the virus, and what if I put myself at risk for a meal that doesn’t end up being good???
For the first time in a long time, the fact that the outside world has so many different, unknown variables scares me. Before that was a huge draw, the night was full of opportunity. Now the thought of even stepping outside my door for a walk makes me anxious. I’ve been actively seeking out and compiling wellness resources because of this, and you can see what I’ve got so far in the discourse™ section!
Anyways, the best way (?) to deal with anxiety is to find other things you can distract yourself with, and I think I’ve managed that. I’ve been playing this online Pictionary game with my friends called skribbl. Please enjoy one of my masterpieces:
The prompt was weather, and I feel like I did my best. She didn’t get it, lol.
in my queue 🎶
This song is both too short, and just the right length. Like I think I want a longer version, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be as good. Anyways, it’s the most (legal) fun you’ll have in under 2 minutes.
“Use Me” by Hank Wood and the Hammerheads
One of the most frustrating things about Substack is that it’s basically impossible to embed Bandcamp links at this point. But hopefully that won’t discourage you from listening to this song off of Hank Wood and the Hammerheads’ latest project Use Me. I got put onto this song by the monthly punk column by Kerry Cardoza. Buy it if you can! It’s worth your money.
what i’ve read 📖
The Labor Beat ~ by Robin James
You might remember that a couple emails back I dedicated this section to talking about the intersection of labor and music. This article is an extension of that conversation, and another attempt to conceptualize how legislation like AB5 could benefit all gig workers. It discusses in depth the term “interdependence,” how it applies to music, and how music critics have talked about it. There’s a fair bit of theory in here—so theoretical that I feel like this needs more than one read—but it contributes and critiques the current conversation around musician labor.
“Neoliberalization, however, has since shifted the stakes of DIY: It demands that everyone “do it themselves” as independent entrepreneurs, such as gig economy contract workers…the independent musician is now an aspirational and inspirational figure for hegemonic institutions rather than a thorn in their side — no longer a countercultural rebel but the gig economy’s ideal worker.”
keywords: independent, interdependence, DIY, labor
A River Runs Through it ~ by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah
This one’s an essay, so there won’t be a pull quote—what matters is the whole. It’s a biography of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios here in New York City, and it is truly some of the most entrancing writing I’ve read in a while. Few people who aren’t musicians get to actually enter the studios, but this essay is so vivid it really doesn’t matter if you can’t see it with your eyes. I really recommend taking the time out of your day to read this, especially because it literally has nothing to do with COVID-19. It’s just a lovingly told tale about the studios, the characters surround it, and its place in both history and the present.
keywords: black-owned studios, Jimi Hendrix, Electric Lady Studios
Finally read this article after having it sit in my notes for ages. I’m interested in this idea of prototyping and versioning, and the idea of albums as fluid versus static. I always personally really like it when I get to hear the demo track vs. mastered track, or different versions of the same song. You sort of get to see the evolution of music, and I think it shows us more about where an artist wants to go/how they want to sound. Just think of all the artists that release different versions of the same track on an album, like a reprise. I think Hu is right though that there would need to be a cultural shift around the album, but if that were to happen at any time it would probably be now—albums aren’t necessarily revered in the same way they were before the streaming era.
“This emotional element underscores another reason why a lot of musicians may be uncomfortable treating their albums as prototypes. They would subsequently have to treat these songs as disposable and changeable, instead of cherished and immutable.”
keywords: traditional album, prototyping, versioning
The Pitfalls and the Potential of the New Minimalism ~ by Jia Tolentino
Really interested in the way that Tolentino brings the classed nature of minimalism to the forefront. She very clearly shows how minimalism uses much of the radical language of Marx, but divorces it from any political meaning. Even though you could argue that minimalism in a post-industrial society can’t escape being politicized. Choosing to divorce yourself from materialism instead becomes a class signifier, another way of signaling wealth. Think about the distinctions between old money and new money—the former is meant to be understated, while the latter is typically cast as gaudy and ostentatious.
“Less is more attractive when you’ve got a lot of money, and minimalism is easily transformed from a philosophy of intentional restraint into an aesthetic language through which to assert a form of walled-off luxury—a self-centered and competitive impulse that is not so different from the acquisitive attitude that minimalism purports to reject.”
“Even these sincere prophets of anti-consumerism are hesitant to conclude that the excessive purchasing of stuff may be a symptom of larger structural problems, or that a life built around maximum accumulation may be not only insufficiently conducive to happiness but actually, morally bad.”
“The worst versions of life-style minimalism frame simplicity not as a worthy end in itself but as an instrument—a tool of self-improvement, or of high-end consumption, or of self-improvement through high-end consumption. It is a vision shaped by the logic of the market: the self is perpetually being improved; its environment is ready for public display and admiration; it methodically sheds all inefficiencies and flaws. “
keywords: minimalism of ideas versus things, capitalism,
what i’ve written📝
Got to interview Billy Easter of the band Shopping for AdHoc! This happened pre-COVID-19, but I found what All Or Nothing is about (that is, “living your life in a world that feels really unstable”) to be incredibly relevant right now. The best part about All Or Nothing though is that it never feels like a downer—it’s a cheerful invitation to dance away your worries, because what you’re worried about right now will pass one day and you’ll look back on it and wonder why you worried about it at all. The barriers you’re faced with aren’t necessarily permanent or insurmountable. It is truly very hard to listen to All Or Nothing and not feel like moving and enjoying the moment. Check out the interview—which has some great dance anthem recommendations—now.
I wanted to take a moment and highlight all the different resources for mental and physical health that I’ve come across recently.
For free meditations:
For mental health:
Guide To Anxiety Relief & Self Isolation by The Music Industry Therapist Collective
NYS COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline: 1-844-863-9314
NYC Well Hotline: 1-888-692-9355
Care For Your Coronavirus Anxiety (fits here too)
If I missed any or if you know of any other ones, let me know!
I had to do a top five countdown (I accidentally counted up) of the different ways I keep myself entertained/distracted during self-isolation. I tried to mimic radio countdowns with airhorns and whatnot, so this was pretty fun to create.
Here’s my full countdown:
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (clip is from “A Very Sunny Christmas”)
Animal Crossing Pocket Camp (my ID is 2314-4400-562 if you wanna be friends)
Journaling (I played the NTS Slow Focus Infinite Mixtape)
“British People Be Like” tweets — I used this video for the clip
Other things that I’ve really been enjoying?
Wyrd Gallery: An oil painting Instagram account that features traditional still lifes with the odd 90’s cartoon character. My favorites are the Furbies!
Cat Strikes Back: This hilarious video of an unsuspecting woman getting BIT ON THE FACE (a nibble) by her very fed-up cat. It’s normal to watch this 100 times a day.
The other day I fell into an Internet Hole trying to find the exact replica of my earrings that I lost back in October (they got knocked right out my ears!). I learned a few interesting things: gold jewelry (plated or filled) is stamped to designate gold quality and the person who made it. What will you do with this information? I have no idea. But if I’m going to learn anything during my time indoors, it is going to be information that would only be useful on like Antique Roadshow or some shit.
I hope everyone is doing okay! It really changes day by day for me, but I’m trying to remind myself how lucky I am. It helps to fill my day, and I think I’m really getting my money’s worth from Netflix at this point. I’ve already finished It’s Always Sunny, but the anniversary of Twin Peaks makes me feel like revisiting it—I also think the surrealism of Twin Peaks will help me put our bizarre times in perspective.
Happy holidays to everyone that celebrates!