Dairy River Vol. 10

Page 1

Congratulations. Your purchase of this washing machine means that you have joined an elite club; a consumer with an eye for quality; who understands the value ofa dollar; who won't be taken in by smooth sales pitches, timeshare alarm clock offers, ab-strengthening devices, cheap lakefront land, commemorative coins; who believes in the use of trucks for hauling timber or larger loads; who doesn't skimp on quality dress shirts; who drinks craft beer, domestic economy beer, imported beer, small-batch and large batch whiskey; sometimes simultaneously; chef; specialist in orchid management; day-trader; financial planner.


DR Unabridged Guide to Goods & Services: {Indicate fresh, raw or unprocessed} chives

Allium schoenoprasum, from the genus Allium (edible onions). The main difference between chives and green onions is that people have given green onions a variety of names (scallions, spring onions, salad onions, table onions, green shallots, onion sticks, long onions, baby onions, precious onions, yard onions, gibbons, or syboes) whereas people only refer to chives as chives. Also green onions have yellow flowers and don’t appear to have bulbs or leaves whereas chives have bulbs, leaves, and purple flowers. The word “chives” is derived from the Old French “cive” which is in turn derived from the Latin “caepa” for onion (think cebolla). Chives v. chive. Usually plural refers to the singular. But see chives v. chive. Curious results (heavily skewed toward chive) accounted for by popularity of internet kudzu, “thechive.com.” Devastated when I learned that results from chives v. scallions were also skewed for same reason (fueled by desperate searches for non-existant website, “thechives.com”). Decorative chives. But we know them as ornamental onions. Related: Chive makes some pretty nifty vases — strangely though, the vases contain all sorts of exotic flora but not chives. Unsubstantiated rumor ofa subdivision with chive lawns. Will continue to search. Searched for biggest, longest, and greenest – or bluest possibly. File under “deep fry big chive.” Wikihow for drying chives. Step 1: Dry chives. Results from chive professors: chiefvolatile components identified as dipropyl disulfide, methyl pentyl disulfide, pentyl hydrodisulfide and (cis and trans) 3,5-diethyl-1,2,4-trithiolane. Note predominance of sulfur. Andrew Wasson / Douglas Bennett


Cool Ranch Doritos -- Matt Diamond

Gregory hated going to the Techno-Psych. He felt like a computer on a lab bench, wires exposed in harsh fluorescence. But he knew he needed to go. His mind was “a ship torn apart by two odd captains,” or at least that’s what the Detector said. It was prone to overly florid language, an unfortunate design decision. Gregory had little patience for poet-engineers. In the elevator, the man on the k-screen was babbling. Something was for sale. Laser knives? Gregory didn’t much care. All he wanted was some Doritos. He would do anything for some Doritos. He would die for some Doritos. He would put a gun under his chin, pull the trigger, feel his brains erupt from his head in a crimson splash, ifit meant that someone would give him a bag of Doritos. Ideally the Cool Ranch variety. He loved Cool Ranch. The Techno-Psych sat waiting, tapping his finger against his watch. “You’re late,” he said, blood pouring from one ofhis eyes. “You’re bleeding,” said Gregory. “Am I?” replied the Techno-Psych. “Fuck off, you know nothing. You think you know things, but you don’t. There is nothing that you know.” “Sorry,” muttered Gregory, taking a seat on the plastic couchshaped object by the door. “State your name,” ordered the TP. “Gregory Blasch,” stated Gregory.


The TP closed his eyes. “Why have you come here, Gregory Blasch?” he asked, as if he were terribly inconvenienced by this visit. “I don’t know, the Supervisor said I had to,” replied Gregory. “And do you do everything the Supervisor says?” “I guess so.” “Why?” Gregory thought for a moment. “Because ifI don’t, the Supervisor will be upset.” “That’s true,” noted the TP. He scribbled something on the metallic note-plate resting on his lap. “Would you say you’re happy with your current state?” “I don’t know,” said Gregory. “Well I don’t know either,” said the TP, a hint of frustration in his voice. “Okay,” said Gregory. They sat there in silence for 15 minutes. Then a buzzer sounded and a voice came through on the speaker above the door. “Blah blah blah,” it said. “Blah blah blah blah.” “Oh, I see,” replied the TP, as if this announcement were perfectly coherent. “Indeed, indeed.” .


The blood which had been streaming out of the TP’s eye had slowed to a trickle, and Gregory was becoming restless “I think I’m going to go now,” he said. “Very well,” said the TP, standing up and brushing lint off his jacket. Then he fell to the floor and died. Then everyone else in the building fell down and died. These things happened now and then. Gregory felt something like melancholy pass through him briefly, but could not catch it in time. “I wish I had some Cool Ranch Doritos,” he said. He stood up and made his way to the exit, stepping gingerly over the bodies in the hallway, hoping beyond hope for a vending machine. ***

Aspen Hill Public Library, Aspen Hill, Maryland (John Henry Sullivan, Jr., architect), 1967. Note two-tiered roofwith broad lower tier and steep upper tier.


is this and yes: The Nostalgic Urge in My Bloody Valentine by Steve Wright

These days accolades for the new release of a canonized indie rock act arrive before anyone has a chance to hear the album. Critics for the major tastemaking portals compete to be the first to best frame such albums, days before the masses have a chance to legally acquire a copy, and weeks before anyone can really gain a full understanding of an album’s worth. This now-ist urge to “get it first” / “hear it first” / “review it first” pried open a strange new wrinkle in spacetime this February when Pitchfork published what was essentially a prereview of the long awaited “new” My Bloody Valentine album, m b v. In it the critic writes about the excitement and apprehension he feels just before he first listens to the new album. Yes: a review ofwhat the album is like before you listen to it. To be fair, for certain people the arrival of m b v (22 years in the making, supposedly) is not unlike Brian Wilson finally completing Smile in 2004, or perhaps the discovery ofa previously unknown work ofShakespeare. Over the last three months the reviews have mostly agreed that m b v is “very good” at least. Is m b v‘s positive reception a magnificent comeback considering the distracted and now-ist nature of today’s indie scene or a fait accompli for a legendary band? As a fan who wanted MBV to just “stay awesome” and also a cynic skeptical ofthe 90s-nostalgia bandwagon and the pre-determined feel of many big-time reviews, I’ve struggled with why I’ve fallen for this one given the hype and clichés of My Bloody Valentine’s history. Certainly the Behind The Music prerequisites are all here: an unknown band creates a new sound, a masterpiece album (1991’s Loveless) and then acrimoniously dissolves at the height ofits powers; the genius artiste Kevin Shields struggles in his studio for 22 years to finish the follow-up; the years of hinting that “the album was coming”; and now the 20-year nostalgia cycle’s current focus – the nineties. But then I realized that even in 1992 I felt a kind of nostalgia whenever I listened to Loveless, and that longing is baked-in to the My Bloody Valentine sound as achieved in 1991. The band’s musical techniques and representations create an aura of yearning and loss regardless of the year, and the overall sound evokes a nostalgia gripped not by a conscious loss of a time or experience but rather the feeling ofbeing lost. The impact ofMy Blood Valentine is usually attributed to the band’s sonics, both live and on record. The recorded music is dense, blurred and wrapped in an ether where bent guitars, effects, and synths swirl in the foreground while the vocals and drums swim deep inside the mix. It is a colossal wave,


moving in delayed motion as large things appear to do, enunciated by Colm Ó Cíosóig’s slowed snare rolls, fills, and the drum programming. The opening flood of Loveless’ “Only Shallow” is typical of the sound’s roiling wash, simultaneously loud and soft as ifheard from deep within something: a cavern, the ocean, the womb, a head with plugged ears. Live the band is legendary for its volume that Shields identifies as a performative element that “fills the room to such an extent that any inconsistencies with the mixing are overshadowed by the fact that the whole room is saturated” (TheQuietus.com, 5/10/2012). To further the sense of massive volume, Shields uses specific instrumental and mixing techniques: the constant “glide guitar” (where every strummed chord is bent with the tremolo bar) pushed to the fore, the drums deep inside, and the buried vocals of Bilinda Butcher and Shields breathing in and out, just beyond comprehension. Listen to the first minute of Loveless’ “Come In Alone”: each of the two rhythm glide guitars is hard-panned to a single side of the stereo field, while a delirious . Continued on page 12


Woodcuts -- Loren Kantor

Loren Kantor is a xylographer (i.e. a woodcutter) and writer living in Hollywood, CA. Most of his works involve portraits, but I thought that the “Open Road” was particularly relevant to certain subject areas of interest to DR. Note also that Kantor’s woodcuts are often accompanied by a detailed and thoughtful written piece. File this squarely under “Lost Arts.”

* * *

Important note about your new Washer and Dryer! At the setting labeled "1/4" contents ofdryer may teleport to oven (ifoven is set to "broil").


Two Poems by Marc Carver the past

I got into the Jacuzzi with two women they looked like they had been around the block a few times. They chatted away and i pretended not to listen. They touched me with their toes and flirted with me a bit. They started to talk about their plumbing problems then the one who looked like she had been a stunner twenty years ago turned to me and asked “Are you a plumber?” “Well i have looked up some holes but nothing professionally.” They burst out laughing but asked me no more questions. One turned to the other and said. “You weren’t expecting an answer like that.” I left them in there and ten minutes later they were flirting with another couple ofguys. Oh what bliss to live in the past Monday Morning

I watched the man as he pulled up his trousers at the middle so the immaculate creases would run straight down to his polished shoes. Earlier i had looked at his fresh socks, pulled all the way up past he ankle. The green letters on the black socks said. Monday. I had to think about it for a while BUT HE WAS RIGHT? I am lucky ifi can find two socks that are the same color. I almost want to see him tomorrow just to check but i know i don’t need to. Because I am sure his socks will say ???????????


DR Unabridged Guide to Goods & Services: Fruits

Major issue is obviously definitional. There is a discrepancy (bordering on animosity) between the botanical definition (which relates to seed-bearing tissue) and the culinary definition (basically any plant matter that tastes sweet). Many foods satisfy the botanical definition but not the culinary definition (e.g. tomatoes, cucumbers). Fewer foods satisfy the culinary definition but not the botanical definition (rhubarb apparently). Deep structures of the persistent fascination with Nix v. Hedden, the Supreme Court case deeming tomatoes a vegetable. Why does an 1893 Supreme Court case have a Facebook page with 152 likes? On the one hand, it is appealing that the Supreme Court, in its august glory, would occupy itself with such a mundane topic. It’s a classic Margaret Dumont bit. On the other hand, the whole fascination with false taxonomies — the savory goodness of parallel discourses coming together into one icon. Compare favorably Borges’ taxonomy of animals ostensibly found in the “Celestial Emporium ofBenevolent Knowledge.” Fruit moulds. Not to be confused with mold on fruits. Consider development of Takery and Silver Univnron fruit moulds. Dole Pineapple Maze: ”The fastest finishers win a prize and enter into the history of Dole Plantation, with their names recorded on a sign at the maze’s entrance.” Fruitarian diets: How extreme you could take fruit only diet? Empire apple only diet? Perhaps each month or each year you take on a new type of food. So over the course of a lifetime you’ll have a balanced diet but month by month it is only focused on a single food. January 2013: banana. February 2013: Milk. March 2013: Salt. And so forth. Even when you eat a meal, each bite is going down at different intervals. You are simply changing the interval at which you receive those bites in a much more orderly way. Seem quite sensible when you break it down. Andrew Wasson / Douglas Bennett/ Ari Berenbaum


Continued from page 8

plucked guitar and a synth or effect swirl about the middle; then the vocals emerge, sounding first like Butcher but then possibly both Butcher and Shields while the bass holds single notes around which the guitars move in and out. The sum effect is an unusual combination of heavy and luscious: the ecstatic and the ferocious. MBV evoke these crescendos again and again with truly Romantic/Gothic excess. Even the band’s name – “My Bloody Valentine” – is emotional, visceral drama. Yet many kinds of music can feel emotionally loaded and overwhelming in power or complexity. Fans of classical music can point to such powerfully emotive moments in Wagner and other composers. A number oftop rock acts and underground post-rock and post-metal bands can also get loud and grandiose. But what is remarkable about MBV’s brand of sonic sublimity is its maximal use of shifting pitches, its non-masculine or non-gendered sensibility, and its evocation ofa particular nostalgia that is highly sexualized yet dissolute subjectively. To back up a bit, shifted pitches and “bent” notes are not unusual in non-Western music and appear in African instrumental and vocal techniques such as bending guitar strings or singing “blue” notes in later American forms such as blues, jazz and rock to signify yearning and nostalgia for lost loves, lost homes, lost freedom and the rest. More recently, we can hear a nostalgia in the avant-guitar technique of an indie rock band like Polvo (especially the bent note at 2:03 of “My Kimono”) and a yearning for unity in the feedback oscillations at the beginning of Drive Like Jehu’s “Super Unison” or the last minute of Fugazi’s “By You”. Through the progressive techniques of these and other bands creating at the time of Loveless’ emergence in the early and mid-1990s, we recognize that the contemporary listener could understand or feel how a number ofvolume- and effect-driven guitar, synthesizer, and vocal sounds could represent a yearning or desire. My Bloody Valentine’s innovation was to employ all these techniques and more, to such an immersive degree that it overwhelms subjectivity: hear the shifting waves at the end of“I Only Said” – the doubled crooning ofButcher and Shields reaching toward unison, the two distinct hard-panned glide guitars then wrapped in an additional low bass, another wave of bent guitar, and a synth or lead loop; or the outro of m b v ‘s “who sees you” – a bit murkier but again the multiple bent glide guitars and the doubled vocals (with Butcher faintly topping offShields) sliding into the root note, followed by an actual lead guitar of two bent strings merging to one note, possibly mimicked by a vocal line, all ofwhich then begins to break up as ifthe inputs are being overdriven by the volume. And because the


sound ofthese semi-conscious blurred whispers, melodies and pulsing, mantralike returns to the root note comes not from a traditionally masculine genre like punk or metal, but rather the goth and cutie/twee strains of the underground, the experience signified is a non-gendered transcendental or psychedelic union (sexually between two, subjectively between the self and the rest). To put it another way: Interviewer: “So many of those songs are about sex, but there’s nothing carnal or thrusting about them. It’s as far removed from Led Zeppelin as you can get.” Shields: “Yeah, because their sex songs were about wanting it. We were doing it! It’s from the inside out, rather than the outside in.” (TheQuietus.com, 5/10/2012) Coming from the inside (the place of union) rather than the outside, the sound signifies a departure from the home – the harmonic root note, the universal subconscious, the locus of sexual ecstasy – and a nostalgia for these things. Following the sound, the symbolism in My Bloody Valentine’s titles, lyrics and artwork also deal in the romantic tropes of losing one’s self. The hazy cycle of dissolution and recognition/return is represented over and over again by the often incomprehensible language and gender of the singing and the subjectively confused or incomplete nature of many of the song titles (“I Only Said”, “who sees you”, “if i am”, “Off Your Face”, “You Made Me Realize”, “is this and yes”, etc., etc.).


Occasionally the lyrics even rise to comprehensibility and describe the nostalgic dissolution: “when I look at you, oh, I don’t know what’s real” (“When You Sleep”). Visually the album covers symbolize psychic and sexual dissolution/union in various ways: the ecstatic expression of You Made Me Realise’s girl lying on her back with the lilies and knife at her throat, the searing white heat that envelopes the band members on Isn’t Anything leaving only hair and edges, Glider’s genderless faces kissing with eyes closed as they again evaporate into a white electric field. These visual and verbal signs further MBV’s sonic concept of a dissolving self being overwhelmed by an ecstatic experience. It’s all very Romantic – or Gothic really, with the blood, knives, and harrowing passages – calling for literary capitalization and heady analysis. Comparing this music to literature that deals in nostalgia, romantic excess and the sublime also reveals an another difference between the nostalgic operations in My Bloody Valentine and nostalgia in other rock music: while the latter simply evokes a yearning remembrance ofthe time when the subject was actively listening to the music, through its sonics and symbologies MBV evokes the possible loss of the self in a way that a reader may experience a nostalgia for the times or setting of a book that he or she has never lived. Like reflecting upon the possibility ofone’s own death or experiencing the edge of self-dissolution through ecstatic experience or an encounter with the sublime, it is a nostalgia for a possible and/or possibly imminent future loss. Rather than looking to the past with rose colored glasses, it’s peering at the future through a pair of warped, bloodspattered goggles. And perhaps that’s the kind of nostalgia the Pitchfork reviewer was feeling just before listening to m b v: the possibly imminent future loss of an idealized band and the degradation of his time associated with the music if the album sucks; or if good, the return to the edge of those other dissolutions in the face of the sublime once again: “is this[?] and yes[!]”



Dairy River, Vol. 10 (June 2013) New Rochelle - Chapel Hill - Rochester Contact: dairyriver@gmail.com Website: http://www.dairyriver.com