All posts by joshkinal

The Things We Miss

Almost half way through the year and, because the first quarter was largely taken up with travel, it was difficult to then assess what the most difficult parts of this challenge were.

(The new Laura Marling record, Short Movie, is on the turntable. It didn’t come with a download code. How did people in the 70s ever get by without having music wherever they went?)

Lyndal has always said it would be hard for her to not revisit old books during this year. She continues to have that difficulty. Recently she started reading the start of the children’s sci-fi series The Tripods, by John Christopher. She had to stop during the first book because she couldn’t recall if she had read it as a child or just seen a TV series of it.

When Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan‘s fates were still unsure, Lyndal had asked for a special dispensation in the event that they were executed. She felt that Gilead by Marilyn Robinson would be the book to help her make sense of the world. It was my recommendation that she not pursue that train of thought. These are the difficulties of this challenge. Sometimes we need that easy comfort and it’s just not there.

In a lighter situation, when news came that a found manuscript by Harper Lee was to be published, Lyndal’s thoughts went to rereading To Kill a Mockingbird for the -lost-count- time.

In music, she misses PJ Harvey especially and has probably found herself repeatedly listening to Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie & Lowell to fill whatever hole Polly-Jean has left. To be fair, the day Myuran and Andrew were executed, we both listened to that record on repeat. There’s so much emotion there.

As the subtitle of this site shows, I thought I would miss Sonic Youth most of all. For the past 24 years their song have been my go-to for comfort, understanding and desire.

But I haven’t missed Sonic Youth or any of my other at-hand, play-it-because-I-can’t-think-of-anything-else artists like the Beastie Boys. Those bands and artists that were such a part of my every day are still with me because they were with me every day. I can basically recite all of Paul’s Boutique off-by-heart.

I also haven’t missed some of the newer music in my life, because after a while it was pretty easy to replace the music with new sounds.

I’ve missed the TV and movies that I like to embrace when the mood strikes. When we were in Germany I wanted to rewatch Top Secret just because one line kept repeating in my head: "I know a little German. He’s over there."

There’s another project that I’ve been working on about they way we live and I’ve really wanted to rewatch The Wire to get remember the passionate thoughts of a need for justice that coursed through me when I watched it the first time.

Sometimes I just want to watch a film again to see if it’s as good as I thought the first time. When I first watched David Lynch’s Inland Empire I was blown away by its existence on the edge of the subconscious. But that was when we had a CRT television. Now we have a big LCD screen and I really want to watch it again.

I have these hankerings to rewatch shows and movies. Some of them are for comfort and some of them are for my own interest but I have to stop myself every time that thought comes up. I keep thinking about what January next year is going to be like and wondering if I’ll have an air-conditioned screening room where I can lock myself for weeks.

Nostalgia’s Curse

(Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie and Lowell is on the turntable.)

Lyndal and I were travelling. I had spent some time and some bucks buying music speculatively so we could have something while we were away. Bandcamp was a big help with that.

We visited many places that were new to us and had a chance to discover the wonders they had to offer. We finished our trip in New York.

For me New York is a second home. We live in Melbourne and I travel to NYC about once a year.

One of the things about not living in a place but being super familiar with it is noticing the changes. When Lyndal and I first started visiting there together we stayed at the Hotel Chelsea. This became our base in the city. We stayed there a few more times over the coming years. We knew the staff. We knew the residents.

The Chelsea closed down in 2011 after some bitter feuding between the owners. It had already started to change, though. Somehow the fighting had affected the hotel itself. We noticed a change in the atmosphere when we visited only a few months earlier. We were already mourning the loss of something we once knew. We mourned an experience we once had.

Continue reading Nostalgia’s Curse

Traveling Nostalgia: An interlude

We’re traveling around the world. I began in Wellington, New Zealand. I met up with Lyndal in Sydney and we’ve since been to Tokyo and are currently in Paris.

Early on in my travels it struck me that old music is often the only music one might hear while traveling. Taxis and airports and hotel lobbies play hits from the 80s, 90s and now, or some such bullshit. It brought to mind some ideas about our project and the concept of safety in the recognisable.

Continue reading Traveling Nostalgia: An interlude

The Barriers to Discovering Music

I thought that one of the biggest barriers to discovering new music was trust.

The people at Lyndal’s work – the ones who always turn up ‘Run to Paradise’ when it comes on the radio – they trust the radio station to tell them what is good. They’ve always trusted the radio station and, maybe, they’ve never thought about why they like the music they do.

It takes a lot of work to know why we like something.

Continue reading The Barriers to Discovering Music

Where is New Music?

There’s nothing on the record player.

I’ve already discussed how difficult it is to discover new music in December and January.

Almost nothing gets released until about now. As I write this, the new Sleater Kinney record is due out in a few days. Thanks to the NPR First Listen series I’ve been blasting that along with Belle & Sebastian’s Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance.

There used to be a great service called "Your Next Favourite Band" or something like that. It used your Last FM library and some other available music genome type things. I can’t find it anymore. I think at some point Last FM changed its API and the site stopped working.

Continue reading Where is New Music?

The Rules

We spent a lot of time thinking about the rules of this challenge.

That’s a lie.

We spent a short amount of time thinking about this challenge and we have probably made some mistakes in creating the rules. But Lyndal and I are so stubborn that we would rather be miserable than show any weakness in the face of this arbitrary list of directives for consuming culture over the following year that we, ourselves, invented.

So we spent a short time creating the rules and a lot of time wishing we had created them differently. By "differrently" we mean, of course, easier. By "we", I mean, "me". I think Lyndal’s pretty zen about it.

Continue reading The Rules

The Music: The Beginning

I considered writing the first draft of this post on my typewriter. I like using the typewriter for reasons that no one really cares about. They might see it as an affectation—the peculiarity of a contrarian in the modern age.

I did begin creating this post while listening to Big Star’s Radio City, an album released the year I was born and given to me on vinyl for my 40th birthday. I played it on my Technics SL-220—a turntable that has served me well since my mid-twenties.

There are some things I will never be able to let go and I don’t know if it’s because of the memories they hold for me or that they truly provide a better experience: The typewriter forces me to re-type a second draft, which gives me more opportunity for improvement and pushes me out of laziness for leaving things as they are; The turntable helps me engage more with the music because I have to be in a specific place to listen to it.

I also think the turntable sounds better but I don’t know if that’s true or just nostalgia.

Continue reading The Music: The Beginning