screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Category: Ruminations

“Indier than thou”?

An email popped up via my Airborne Toxic Event google alerts this afternoon. The article, from, was titled “Exclusive: Rachael Ray Plans Return To South By Southwest” – The Hold Steady and The Airborne Toxic Event being the first two rumoured bands invited to her event. For those of you who don’t know her (that includes me, not being a Food Network viewer, and not being able to cook either, apart from maybe fried eggs and steamed vegetables), she hosts a cooking show, and is apparently quite a celebrity. And an indie music fan. Which should be fine, right? I mean, I like hanging out in skanky clubs listening to bands, and I also enjoy bird watching. But for some reason, she caused quite a stir when last year, she hosted a party at SXSW (that’s South by Southwest for those poor lost souls out there who don’t know, a very popular annual indie music gathering – of all music genres – that takes place in Austin, Texas). I guess it was startling and somehow unacceptable for someone who does something considered “mainstream” to also be interested in something well, not considered mainstream. Whatever. The bands she invited to last year’s soiree were considered respectable by those who had appointed and anointed themselves as qualified judges for us poor huddled clueless masses who obviously don’t know what’s good for us.

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Gray, drizzly morning, fog thick on the harbor, shrouding secret cruise ships, tankers, military vessels – or perhaps something even more sinister. No one knows, in the mysterious, sensuous gloom. But you feel they’re out there, stealthily lurking to and fro with their unknown cargo. Later on in the morning, foghorns cry their mournful song, harmonizing with the seagulls. These are perfect sorts of days for me, standing on my porch with a cup of tea. Thoughtful, wistful, vaguely sad, though I find it does not depress. On the contrary, I welcome it like a comforting shawl that wraps itself securely around me.

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Carnival Ducks

The pursuit of happiness feels to me like a game in a carnival. So difficult. So random. So elusive. All those endless floating ducks circling past you, and you know that one – only one – has your dreams, your desires, your hopes, casually revealed on its bottom. So you put your money down, and pluck one up. Nope, not that one. And more money, and again. No. And still more money, more effort, as time slips by, the hours, the days, the years. You try to concentrate, you try not to concentrate. To focus, to not focus. To clear the mind, to meditate, to approach the matter in a Zen-like, irreverent fashion. They’re not ducks, they’re grains of sand, or toy soldiers, or jellybeans. And this isn’t important, this isn’t your happiness at stake, not the purpose of your life, but a child’s fancy. Let it go, release the expectations, release the fears, release the sense of struggle, the sense of anything. But in trying not to try, you’re caught up in that eternal riddle.

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