July 2010


Anyone who knows me can tell you that my favorite band is the Drive-by Truckers. For the past couple of years, I have been on a one-woman¬†proselytizing¬†mission, dragging friends off to concerts with me, making mix cds, etc. And in 2008, when they were touring with the Hold Steady, they played SF on my best friend’s birthday, and we went together and had a fabulous time.

(this is the best video I could find from that specific show, a combined encore of the two bands playing a Blue Oyster Cult song. You can’t see me, obviously, but I about 3 people back from the stage, right under the keyboardist.)

ANYWAY, the point I’m slowly getting to is that after this show, which was fucking phenomenal (as most DBT shows are; they’re a great live band), L. turned to me in the car and said, “Concerts are religious experiences.” I wasn’t really capable of replying to her in any kind of serious way at the time, but it’s an idea that’s been bumming around at the back of my mind for a while now.

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I’m watching The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas right now. Have you seen this movie? If you haven’t, then I’m not really sure how to explain it to you. Here’s the basics: Dolly Parton, Burt Reynolds, whorehouse, musical. However, it’s way, way more badass and hilarious than the sum of its parts. Trust me on this.

The other thing I’m not sure about is how to explain my response to it. Part of me – the part that loves Dolly and weird movies and has been watching this movie forever – would sum up my response as: AWESOME. 100% PURE AWESOME.

The logical, analytical, feminist part of me has some reservations.

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In the spring of 2003, I was having a rough time. I’d just been soundly rejected from every grad school I’d applied to.* My plan for the future – or at least the next year – had just collapsed. My ego, long connected to my academic performance, had been completely crushed, my whole sense of self brought into question. I didn’t know what to do next. So that spring, I had some ups and downs. I agonized over grad school, and then I went to a conference and hung out with some great people and started to see that it wasn’t the end of the world. I had an enormous, humiliating anxiety attack in front of my boss, and then I went on my first adult vacation, to NYC, and it was fantastic.

I came home from New York much improved, smoking less and no longer feeling the need to take daily work breaks and head over to the park to swing.** I was back on track. Until five days later, when I had a seizure while sitting at my desk.

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On Fridays, the A.V. Club has a feature called “A.V. Club Q&A,” where all the various contributors answer a question on pop culture. Sometimes I don’t care about the question at all, but sometimes I find the question – and the answers – quite intriguing. On these occasions, I’ll sometimes post my own response. So this week’s question: art that “hits close to home.”

One of the things that always amuses me is how often these questions hit close to something I’d been ruminating on myself. Just a couple weeks ago, after reading this post on Jezebel, a friend and I were discussing Reality Bites, a movie that I was completely obsessed with after I graduated from college.

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I like music. I have a lot of music. And one of my specialties in life is making themed mixes for my friends. This activity allows me to play with juxtaposition, and get kind of nerdy about rare bands and off-the-wall themes, and proselytize about my favorite musicians. Occasionally I will post the mixes here and try to make some larger point about music and culture. But really, I’ll just be showing off (and, sure, trying to incite some conversation about your own suggestions for the theme).

Today this article appeared on SFGate. The headline intrigued me, so I clicked through and then became irate. Irate, I tell you! Partly because this list is terrible – “California Gurls”? SERIOUSLY? – and partly because my most recent masterpiece was a collection of songs about food, so I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. So, herewith, my track listing for the two-volume collection “Gastromusica”:

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