june, 2007

Mon, 4 Jun 2007 20:07:15 -0700

Sunday afternoon, as I was pitting the first stonefruit of the season (apricots, dark red cherries staining my cuticles) in my kitchen, there was a tap at the back window. One of the upstairs neighbors (why can't I remember their names?) had come down the back staircase that usually only her cats use, to ask me to turn down the bass ("it's really just the subwoofer," I apologized) on the music I'd been blasting. But could I be blamed? Saturday night, Justin and I had driven over the bay (on the bottom deck of the Bay Bridge, the one that Malcolm always observes is justly viewless, pointing as it does towards "ugly Berkeley" (okay, so it doesn't have a skyline)), lingered in his car a bit, not really knowing if we were becoming incoherent or just talking faster in our ramblings of web frameworks ("You know Zope?!" "Dude, I dated the Debian package maintainer!") and of the future of the Internet (either Justin's drinking the Facebook kool-aid, or he's onto something). And then we walked down a series of hills, converging, with hundreds of other Berkeley hippies (and SF hipsters, as I discovered on the westbound BART platform afterwards) into the Greek Theatre.

I've only seen three shows there to date -- certainly nothing to rival coworker Ken's days as a deadhead -- but what shows! And tonight, the Arcade Fire -- all nine or ten of them, scaling the lighting rigging, beating on the metal struts with drumsticks; tossing drums in the air and somehow not killing any of the band members; with their touring organ onstage; the too-tall lead singer with his too-short pants; the obvious this-side-of-insanity of everyone on stage -- did not disappoint.

They've been called "anthemic." Well, and what other word would you use to describe a band that can inspire the kind of fervor in an audience to keep singing the the wordless refrain of "Rebellion (Lies)" off of Funeral as the musicians walked offstage, to keep singing it while we clapped and stomped and whistled for them to come back on, to maintain the chorus even through screams of appreciation, even as they walked back onstage, wordlessly picked up their instruments, and accompanied us to a close, thereby bridging the performance and the encore with one song?

I always, out of a sense of duty to my hearing, bring earplugs to these concerts. And in the indoor ones (Voxtrot at the Great American Music Hall with Jaime last Wednesday, which I left early, too tired to stay out after two opening bands), I need them. But at the Greek, there is nothing I want more than to stand facing the stage, absorbing every decibel with every particle of my skin, the lights punctuating the songs ("Hey!" they shouted in "No Cars Go," and the suspended headlights flashed on, faded off, to the collective roar of surprise and pleasure from the masses), slight clouds of smoke drifting up from the crowd. Rock is one thing; rock with a live organ, you can't possibly be expected to listen to at anything less than a volume you can feel in the injured ligaments of your still-painful right foot.

But not indoors, as my neighbor reminded me.

Fri, 15 Jun 2007 11:07:14 -0700

This has become my working-from-home tea, this Harney & Sons Bangkok blend. But instead of conjuring the hot, gritty streets and steaming food sold on the side of the road for a few bhat of Thailand's capital, it evokes for me a different chain of associations: Junior spring in The Barn, in my big purple room, trying to write a paper on Beethoven (or was I just listening to the Rasumovsky string quartets a lot?), I smelled the scharfes paprika on my desk and remembered Olivia and my time in Europe; back one level, is the Dobra Cajovna in a small village in the Czech Republic in which Olivia and I sat, trying to decipher a huge German menu of tea given to us by the waitress (better to be mistaken for that than an American!), and failing. I ended up with a blend of something that was strong with coconut. I brought it back with me, and even into my senior year in that oblong room on the third floor of Palmer, I didn't drink it, but opened it every now and then to smell. By the time I got around to making tea out of it, probably close to graduation time, I'm sure it had faded past the point of recognition. But, rather than having been wasted, it provided a year of olfactory memories.

Now, taking every other Friday or so to sit at my kitchen table (well, Jaime's, on loan) with my laptop and external keyboard plugged into my new MacBook Pro and the breeze blowing in through the window, I've taken to drinking the pretty pyramidal sachets of Erica's tea. So they've become associated with avoiding both MUNI and the shuttle commute; having breakfast with the dogs and young families of Anthropologie-model mothers and adorable, golden-haired children; picking up my CSA vegetables just across the park (I was late, but I got extra provender for it!); having coffee in the afternoon with a friend a few blocks away. Everything in my neighborhood, tree-lined and sunny. What a relaxing way to work!

all this Šnori heikkinen, June 2007

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