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Subject:Cat Rides a Roomba
Time:08:19 pm
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Subject:tour diary: Vienna
Time:06:53 pm
Hello,

The difference between touring Europe and the US is ridiculous. It's like here we're famous and at home we're nobody. It might just be Austria where we have tons of fans due largely to Fritz Ostermeyer who is an influential local radio DJ and musician ("the John Peel of Austria", we've been told) and LOVES our band. Last time we were in Vienna we had a really epic time partying with him and stayed up all night at his apartment listening to music and ripping CD's to our laptops. Good memories. He came to the show in Innsbruck but we only hung out with him a little bit because he was going to be flying to Istanbul with his girlfriend.

Last night we stayed in a room that resembled a hostel where the walls were almost completely filled in with tags done mostly by other bands who had stayed there. Whenever we run into these types of rooms on the road it's always really amazing how much bands love to leave homoerotic tags, drawings of cock&balls, quotes about "assrape", etc. It's a really strange avenue for pent up sexual frustration to express itself through. The best band name on the walls was "Stoner Kebab".

I've had a hard time finding internet over here and I'm worried that trying to work on the road is going to compromise my prospects for continuing to do this job. They've started to become hard asses about how many hours they expect you to work per project. Fortunately, we've been making tons of money on merch so far.

Today these Austrians shot a video of us playing acoustic in this epic public space that had like a 300 foot ceiling with about a 5 second reverberation time. We played 2 songs with piano, accordion/melodica, glockenspiel, and drums. In the middle of the first song a classroom worth of schoolchildren barged in on the scene and started watching us, which was kind of magical. I really hope they were captured on the video.

I've been having a rough time with jet lag. Every night at about 7pm I get really tired because it's as if my body thinks that I've stayed up all night until 11am and it's like: "Go to sleep NOW, Matt!" The first couple mornings I would wake up wide-eyed at 7am, but I'm learning to sleep in now.

Our van is hella pimp, it has a TV and DVD player in the back, although I haven't really got that into it yet. Watched "The Long Goodbye" the other day and I ended up just finishing it on my laptop because of my ridiculously anal movie watching standards. The screen is really high up so the angle in the middle bench where I was watching made the picture all dark. Also the headphone jack on the TV is connected to the electrical system in the car, so there was this high-pitched whine that would increase and decrease frequency in relation to the acceleration of the car. I thought the movie was really good, though, it's just so hard for me to enjoy a film when I feel like the viewing experience is being compromised by something.

I've been reading a lot, I'm about 200 something pages into Infinite Jest, which has been a joy to read so far. I think the reason I read a lot on tour is because it is the one art form that is relatively uncompromised by being experienced in a car. Sure your attention span is not quite as good, but the basic aesthetic experience is maintained. Whereas I think that watching movies and listening to music in the car is always fundamentally shittier because of the poor viewing and listening conditions.

Tomorrow we go to Italy, where we will face what our former Czechoslovakian driver Jacob (who despised Italians) somewhat aptly referred to as "too much chaotic". Wish us luck.
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Time:02:51 pm
There was this guy in South Carolina who kept getting annoyed because out-of-towners always assume that South Carolina and North Carolina are basically the same thing and can be considered as one whole. "They're totally different STATES!" he would say. Someone asked him a question about North Carolina and he'd be like: "I don't know! This is SOUTH Carolina!". Then at some point we were trying to figure out what city Jacksonville was in, I said it was in Florida, and then the man suddenly exclaimed: "OH JACKSONVILLE'S IN NORTH CAROLINA!"

Someone pointed out that the fact that he knew this suggested he in fact DID know more about North Carolina than your average American, and he acted awkward and uncomfortable in response to this.
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Subject:Critiquing by Showing
Time:12:14 am
Godard’s film “2 or 3 Things I Know About Her” contains a scene in which a man has hired two prostitutes (one of whom is our protagonist) to strip and put airline flight bags over their heads and walk around the room. (See the clip, here [Can't embed for some reason]). It’s easy to look at this scene and read it as Godard being degrading and objectifying towards Women, but it’s necessary to interpret the scene within the themes of the film. Godard had read a magazine article about how the urban renewal of Paris was raising costs of living so much that middle class housewives were becoming prostitutes to help cover their increasing expenses, and this story spawned the film. It’s often been pointed out that the “Her” of the title refers both to Juliette (the main character) and to the city of Paris itself. During the scene where Juliette is being humiliated by her customer we see an abrupt cut to the demolition and reconstruction of Paris. This creates a visual metaphor for the double-meaning in the title: Paris and Juliette are both being degraded. Juliette’s customer happens to be an American photo-journalist just back from Vietnam, an obvious symbol of capitalist imperialism and an attempt by Godard to link together and personify the degradation of Juliette (personal imperialism), the degradation of Paris (cultural imperialism) and the degradation of Vietnam (political imperialism) in one character. When Juliette first puts the bag on her head the camera is at an angle that seems like the point of view of the American, with the girls walking back and forth perpendicular to him. After the construction it cuts back to the same angle but now Juliette has decided not to sleep with him and the next thing we see is a photograph (taken by the American?) of war-torn Vietnamese youth. When we return the camera breaks from this fixed POV and is in a close-up of Juliette, the camera has been freed from the American just as Juliette frees herself of him. The scene uses formal techniques to create a thematic union between camera/image and character, cinema and society that is quite elegant, however offensive the narrative content might seem to be on the surface.
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Time:02:47 am
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Time:12:43 am
why is it that humans often feel the need to assert themselves as the most important person in a given situation? "yeah, everything you've been saying about yourself also appplies to me, but in my case it's actually even cooler." I can't think of a more boring conversation to be having. If you know me then you know that this is actually a pretty boring thing for me to be talking/complaining about. But really, what is the desired end result of such a conversation? For the other people to say: "oh wow, you're right, you're actually the most impressive person here"? Sometimes it seems like we really waste our ability to communicate on the most shallow, pointless things.

I'm so sick of hanging out in bars. I feel weird in the role of being entertainment for drunk people. Even if they think it's cool I get the sense that they'll forget about it as soon as they wake up in the morning. It's so awkward being in this situation where every single night is a "party" night at whatever place we happen to be in, and we are the locus of others' partying, but beyond that we don't really mean anything to them.

I have really ambivalent feelings about how much music as an artform is often dependant on getting "fucked up", both in creation and appreciation. Can't music be appreciated on it's own terms, for it's own good? It just seems weird that for a lot of people being drunk and/or high is a prerequisite to really engaging with music.

Wow this has been really dark, it's not that bad I swear.
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Subject:freeby download of my new record
Time:03:04 pm


Well, I finally got around to uploading my new solo CD for download. American Standard is an album I worked on (and off) for about 8 months, recording whenever I wasn't working or doing Parenthetical Girls stuff. The music was an attempt to bring together disparate musical interests of mine into a cohesive whole. "Vortex" is basically drone meets EAI with a pop melody on top. "Let's Move (into the store)" is Krautrock-pop using additive processes. The only real unifying aesthetic I guess is minimalist techniques put into song form, making use of an extended time scale. Really it's an EP with songs that are so long that it becomes a full-length.

Mastered by Luke Wyland of Au.

Download the whole album as a Zip here.

Or the individual songs:

Vortex at the Center of the World
Slab of Concrete
If I Only Knew Who You Were
Morgan Freeman's Voice
Let's Move (into the store)
Distancing Yourself
American Standard
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Time:02:28 pm
"I suppose at the root of all this is the feeling that possibly the only way that humans can remain cooperative is by those of us who are artists or who are interested in the arts realizing that we have some kind of a job to do. It's no good any more as far as I'm concerned for artists to just take the Bohemian attitude of, oh, it just comes out of me, and I don't know what I'm doing, etc. I just can't stand that, I don't want this romantic attitude that says artists shouldn't be part of this planet. This is a real job, and it has to do something."
-Brian Eno

"Myth must be kept alive. The people who can keep it alive are artists of one kind or another. The function of the artist is the mythologization of the environment and the world."
-Joseph Campbell

I'm not trying to simply add to the chorus of artists congratulating themselves for being artists: these quotes resonate with me in the sense that we need to take more seriously what we do and ask real questions about what it is we're doing as cultural producers: how does it work, what is its function? Almost everyone I know devotes a serious chunk of their time and energy to pursuits that are considered non-functional and purely stylistic. From an evolutionary perspective there must be some kind of reward that comes from this, otherwise it wouldn't make sense for humans to be pursuing these activities. The most common answers seem to be either that we're simply trying to make our environment more beautiful or that culture is another way of advertising the fitness of our genes. Both of these probably have some degree of truth but do not seem to ultimately explain the whole field of cultural production.

Eno argues that culture is a kind of game where we try out different realities, exercising the part of our brains that deal with imagining new possibilities. The reason it is important, he believes, is that this ability is one of the fundamental ways we are separate from the other animals. Campbell seems to believe that the function of culture is to express a manifestation of the universal Transcendent, the deep truth at the heart of all consciousness, and that humans need these experiences to be fulfilled in life.

There's also the post-structuralist idea of culture as a language, a complex system of codes and signs that is a way of communicating meaning and abstract ideas. This concept has always appealed to me although perhaps it is more a theory of how culture functions rather than what it is for. All of these approaches seem more satisfying than the old but surprisingly still ubiquitous Renaissance idea of "self-expression" as the primary purpose of culture.

Ultimately it's not as important to have a definitive answer as it is to think deeply about these issues and consider them in relation to what we do. I definitely agree with Eno that there's a too many artists who believe that we shouldn't even think about it and that any attempt to demystify culture threatens to "ruin" art.

If anyone knows any good books on these topics please let me know.
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Time:02:34 am
brenna: just 15 minutes ago I was sitting on the kitchen floor with kaz and some kids from san luis obispo and someone came out of the bathroom and knocked a microwave on my head. Actually he knocked a whole shelf over with multiple appliances. They felt really bad and I acted like I had a concussion to scare them.
At tonight's show I didnt wear my earplugs and I thought it was way too loud and felt like peple must be in pain while they're watching us play, but I asked these guys tonight and they said it was ok.
I drove from LA to here and listened to Einstein on the Beach all the way through. Probably the best music for driving ever.
You should see the outfit rachael came up with for kaz tonight. I'll put a picture on flickr. It's pretty absurd.
Tomorrow we have to play SF then drive straight to Seattle after the show. Total nightmare. Kind of like that drive from Barcelona to Lisbon.
I guess thats all I have to say right now. Goodnight.
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Time:03:59 am
hi brenna: So I got to thinking, what if I made a "confessional" style livejournal "diary" post where I just talked about all the crazy stuff in my life and how "efffed" up being on the road is and how nobody understands my strife and all that kind of thing. What then? And I remembered sometimes Kendall would write directly to you on here and thought maybe it would be a good way to write. Then I was laying here trying to fall asleep and I couldn't so I was like: maybe if I type abunch of stuff on the little iPhone keyboard then I will get tired. Tonight I got really "hyper" and stayed up doing voices with eddy and his friend who lives in San diego. I made eddy roll around on the ground by playing a dominant seventh chord on guitar over and over, and I think we probably pissed everyone off because they were trying to sleep. Kaz is sneaky, as you know. Hard to read. Before the show tonight rachael and I did a version of "my heart will go on" that lasted 10 minutes at least because I kept transposing it up a half step like it was just getting even more intense over and over again, and rachael was making up lyrics that didnt mean anything by combining the real lyrics in the wrong way. I think touring is fun if I decide that it is and behave as such. Still, even recognizing that I'm not always able to do it. We hung out with Daniel and went to the beach today. It was kind of cold but everyone ended up going in the ocean except kaz and zac. Maybe because both their names have three letters. Karen is pregnant now so I'm going to be an uncle pretty soon. Maybe I already was one though, who knows? Valerie came to the show and showed me pictures of her baby. I had to tell her about depressing stuff like my dad and jeremy. Im getting sleepier now so maybe I'm done. Have you been looking at the pictures I post on flickr? I've been updating in real time. Live photo blog. At any given moment there might be a new pic. How do you like that?

I love you, goodnight.
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[icon] And then I saw the bucket
View:Recent Entries.
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