Friends: self-care is important. This will require us to be strong and resilient (some of us sadly have more practice at this because of systemic oppression.) We will all need to support each other as best we can wherever we are at, in order to make the necessary changes.
I am here to listen as best I can and also to talk about other love and life-affirming things in order to keep our strength up.
I am scared. My friends and loved ones are scared. My fellow LGBTQ people are scared. My fellow Jews are scared. My fellow non-traditional-relationship people are scared. My fellow socialists are scared. My fellow feminists are scared. My fellow self employed people are scared. My fellow social justice advocates are scared, and fired the fuck up.
I have no platitudes, other than this: We are not alone. We are strong. And as DeRay Mckesson says: “We will win.”
Yes, I know it’s late.
AirLands – AirLands (Self-released): Dude formerly of Stars of Track and Field does Greys Anatomy pop, collaborating with Ben Weikel (Helio Sequence).
Young Wonder – Birth (Feel Good Lost): Irish electronic pop. Distinctly mid 2010s EDM sounds but more reverie and 6/8 than BROWWWWWWWWWWMMM-y
Matthew Perryman Jones – Cold Answer (Self-Released): My list always has a dude-with-guitar-Americana record and MPJ has been on the list several times. This one has banjo!
BT/Gregory Tripi – Dark Places (Original Score) (Milan Records): Dark, atmospheric, brooding, reverby. Featuring Belong and David Kristian
Vessels – Dilate (Bias): Dancey post-rock, reissued in 2016 with some new great remixes. RIYL Oneohtrix point never, Holly Herndon
Calexico – Edge of the Sun (Anti): Calexico goes synthy? With new collaborators including Sam Beam, Ben from Band of Horses and Neko Case, it works.
VV Brown – Glitch (self-released): Former Janelle-alike (in a good way) takes her craft in more Emika-meets-Robyn-like direction.
Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness (Domino): Avant-garde weird music auteur goes ever-so-slightly pop, spotlights her gift for lush and melody, Polly Jean fandom.
ASC – Imagine The Future (Samurai Music Group): Music with which to explore a barren unfamiliar-yet-somehow-super-mechanical underground city on a newly discovered planet while wearing a comfortable yet slightly restrictive space suit.
Bluebirds Of Paradise – In A Night (Project 4): Ari Hest and Caitlin Canty craft a light-as-cotton-candy confection straight out of a 70s French rom-com, flute solos and all.
Editors – In Dream (PIAS): Icy, in a Nick Cave and Depeche Mode (and side project Recoil)-esque way
Arovane & Hior Chronic – In-Between (A Strangely Isolated Place): Music for the end of Brazil, or if Blade Runner were a more contemplative meditation.
The Unthanks – Mount the Air (RabbleRouser Music): Steeped in melancholy in a profoundly British/Celtic way.
Conforce – Presentism (Delsin Records): Like a lesser Polygon Window album
Marriages – Salome (Sargent House): Like a lost Catherine Wheel album or a soundtrack from 1993. Featuring former members of Red Sparowes and Isis.
Findlay Brown – Slow Light (Dead People’s Choice): One of those albums with vocals drenched in echo and choir and close-mic acoustic guitar.
Single/EP honorable mention
Idjut Boys – One For Kenny (Smalltown Supersound): Hypnotizing multi-phasic slow nu-disco remix from Bjorn Torske of this 106bpm classic tribute to Kenny Hawkes, plus a Prins Thomas banger on the flip side.
16 Bit Lolitas – Not The Only One EP (Anjunadeep): When 16bL hit on a solid melody rather than random noodling, they are the kinds of deep proggy tech-house.
Mix honorable Mention:
Jon Hopkins – LateNightTales
I used to do these “What I’ve Learned” lists every year. I’m going to do them more.
- Resistance is not a reason not to do things. It may be an invitation to explore further. It’s also not a reason to shut down and “power through” without feeling.
- Having a structure to my day is one of the only ways I can stave off feeling like a useless burden on society. Writing just three things that I’d like to accomplish the night before and being able to cross them off is helpful (a framework I learned from Gina Trapani). When I don’t do this, it starts a spiral of self-judgment and shame around concepts like “wasting my life” and “not living up to my potential” that actually get me further mired, rather than leading to action.
- My voice is not essential in conversations about politics, and the best way to use my privilege is to amplify the voices of those being primarily affected by oppression.
- I am sad a lot. I have a habit of self-medicating/numbing out to avoid sadness. I’m trying to sit with it more. If I can sit with my emotional state for 30 seconds longer than I did yesterday and then numb out if I want to, then that is an accomplishment that I can feel proud of.
- I have real challenges with internally-generated motivation. Motivating myself and feeling ‘positive’ (i.e. motivating) emotions like excitement and anger get quickly redirected into shame (as well-documented in The Change Triangle). This motivation -> shame cycle is often misdiagnosed as depression (though I have also historically struggled with depression, I’ve thankfully . I am addressing this. This shall be addressed.
I surrender self-improvement.
I surrender “fixing my life”
I surrender making small changes that add up.
I surrender figuring it out.
I surrender doing better and hoping it works.
Fine. I’m “so smart” and “things just naturally fall into place for me” and i’m “so lucky” and I’m a “sensitive person” and whatever else takes it all away from me.
Fine, I’ll stay out of your way.
I surrender so that you can make art.
I surrender so that you can figure yourself out.
I surrender so you can keep your image of me intact.
I surrender so let’s talk about you.
I surrender, so I’ll stay out of your way. Out of everyone’s way.
I will feel childish about feeling angry. I will feel embarrassed about being hurt. I will throw a tantrum, apparently.
I will find comfort in shame and victimhood and powerlessness and surrender and not in excitement and self-directedness and positive reinforcement.
I will be contemptuous of my flavor of brokenness.
I will accept my flavor of brokenness.
I will find it boring.
It will not solve things.
But maybe they’re beyond solution.
In digging through my storage unit over the holidays, I came across a VHS tape featuring a set of news stories from 1987 about a protest march in the NoHo area of NYC.
Residents were protesting the ‘invasion’ of crackheads and crack dealers into their once safe neighborhood. They ‘didnt feel safe’ and ‘these people should be locked up’ They demanded a larger police presence and the arrest of addicts and dealers alike.
Knowing what we know about the racial sources of the crack epidemic, I find this to be a severely depressing glimpse into the many ways that the powers that be manage to pit us against each other and ignore systemic oppression, as well as the state of race relations in NYC in the 1980s.
NoHo is now one of the most chic, sought after and expensive blocks in the whole city. I should know, I grew up there (and you can see me in some of the news footage as a kid on a bike). I remember very distinctly feeling quite ambivalent about the protest, as even back then I felt that addiction should be treated as a medical issue.
I hope this video is enlightening.