HOW TO BE A MISCREANT #2 by mister matthew gasda So a few nights ago I went to a jazz club in Dresden, Germany where I’m visiting my sister1 where I had an experience that was curiously reminiscent to that of the character Roquentin in Jean Paul2 Sartre’s existentially canonical novel, La Nausea. In brief: Roquentin, the novel’s protagonist spends the novel wandering around La Havre, France where he feels nausea over the contingency3 of objects in reality, and over the general meaninglessness and pallor of unreality hanging over reality and everything he does. Then, at some point in the book, I forget where exactly, I think near the end, he hears a jazz song and feels a moment of intense relief from his otherwise continual angst. The music has a form and a necessity that Roquentin sees as otherwise missing. In his cool French-not-gonna-get-too-worked-up-ecstasy he resolves to write a novel, presumably one like La Nausea and take responsibility for his existence. In brief: My own experience at a jazz club isn’t so serious but the following happened: I, during spurts of morbidity and a pseudo philosophical preoccupation with death, often feel a Roquentin-like mist settle over my thought, which frankly, it in the words of Bart Simpson, “sucks.”4 Anyway, to make a long story short, I found myself after a glass of wine and during an hour and a half of jazz curiously elated just to be there. i.e., the present, the now, which so often to me seems doomed to collapse into the future and eventual nothingness... suddenly seemed so... great. And worth living. Now I should note that I am not always a morbid person and have passed a majority of my life in relative happiness, but with maturity and getting older I certainly have, as I’ve said, developed a propensity for the bleaker side of thinking. So, like Roquentin, I found it a major relief to be released, at least temporarily from my philosophical preoccupations.5 But I think I’ve drawn a different moral than old Roquentin and J.P.
yes, you may want to turn your pretension shields up to MAX. 2 ok, so those pretension shields are probably broken. Sorry, guys. 3 non-necessity 4 I don’t like this aspect of my inner life and in no way think there is anything particularly glorifiable about existential preoccupations. 5 For those who are interested: Woody Allen has a similar relationship to jazz, at least that’s what one can be glean from his films. The last five minutes of the very underrated Stardust Memories in particular. 1
Sartre- life shouldn’t be about a few moments of happiness which remind us that we need to buck up and be more responsible for creating meaning- but those moments free of anxiety and saturated with good feeling are the meanings of life. Happiness in other words, justifies happiness. But before I go I think I should say a bit more about jazz6 and why it is such an existential glass of lemonade, jazz just doesn’t care about your problems. It’s the most free form7 and least personal form of music I can imagine. A jazz musician doesn’t work with much, a few chords, a melody maybe, a rhythm, the basic parts of music, and is free, at least relatively compared to say classical music, to improvise. It’s never really sad or happy, but just... jazz. You can’t project your moodiness all over it.8 But it’s not just improvisation and controlled chaos which makes jazz jazz, but some tonal-genetic stuff which invariably prevents someone listening to jazz to sink into thought. Jazz is zen, in other words. It blasts up the anxiety-clots that form in our brains and just lets us not think about whatever is preoccupying us for a little while. So it’s zen in the sense that zen at its most basic is unknotting our mental concerns with the world.9 So...In conclusion: the moral I would draw from my excursion into the German jazz scene10 is that I either have to be listening to jazz all the time if I want to be happy, or I have to feel like I’m listening to jazz all the time. I have to let my intractable preoccupations just go and let life have a little rhythm, a little joy, and most of freedom. An inner freedom, which resembles music more than thought.
I think you can probably get a refund on the pretension shields 7 Sometimes literally, right, “free jazz...” 8 Which is why it’s not the favored music genre of teenage girls… 9 What I’ve said about jazz is more of a descriptive rather than an explanation. I couldn’t begin to explain why I think this happens... 10 I was at a Finnish-German jazz-rock fusion show to be specific. 6
MATTHEW AND KIMBERLY by captain andrew mcclain This Spring, some odd combination of coincidences brought Matt & Kim to a parking lot carnival at my tiny state school in Arkansas. I’m still not exactly sure how it happened. The president of the local TOMS fundraiser chapter told me that he brought them with the help of the Student Activities Board (SAB), but I don’t believe it for good reasons. What’s important, though, is that through perseverance and my affiliation with the school paper, I bullshitted my way into an interview with Matt & Kim. See, musical acts like Matt & Kim don’t come to the University of Central Arkansas. The people who make the arrangements for these bands to play aren’t accustomed to people wanting interviews with the acts, or even caring a lot, because they usually book people like Blood, Sweat and Tears. So when I asked for an interview, they tried to pull some strings. I’d interviewed a few local bands, but never someone as well-established as Matt & Kim. In fact, I think I skipped a few rungs on the ladder. The day of the concert, I found myself waiting after the show inside the ropedoff area the SAB crew had made into a backstage area, festival-style. While roadies disassembled the stage, the SAB stood around in confusion as Matt and Kim stood by the side of the stage area hugging and taking pictures with every last fan who wanted to meet the duo. Matt’s last name is Johnson and Kim’s is Schifino. The two met in art school at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute and have scarcely spent a day apart since. Their onstage energy is infectious. Their driving ethos is pure joy and optimism. And everyone who stands around sidestage after a show understands that what sells the whole package is that the two are true to their act offstage. It’s something you have to see to believe: Schifino, olive-skinned, toned and tattooed, pounds away at her drum kit, (which she has a tendency to climb on top of) while Johnson, lanky, exuberant and slightly effeminate, mans a set of keyboards and sings. The setup is basic, but the energy these two generate is palpable, and when they get offstage, they barely seem anything but a bit winded, and ready to meet fans. It takes something more than everyday extroversion and a fine-tuned metabolism. Throughout the entire thing, they both smile as if they can scarcely believe what is happening to them. So I sat as SAB and road crews disassembled the stage and the dressing room tent. Matt and Kim got in a van with two of their roadies and drove over to the auditorium where the green room was set up. I was brought behind them in a golf cart. As we entered the large performance hall from the back entrance, I shook hands with Matt and watched carefully for that sigh of relief to finally have the focus of a crowd taken off him. To look tired or stop smiling. I couldn’t catch it. We ducked down the hallway and into the green room. The two roadies with us grabbed a bottle of water and a Red Bull and left the three of us alone. 4
Kim opened a tray of raw vegetables and hummus, collapsed onto the couch, still smiling, saying “man, I’m hungry after that,” the same way a normal person might say the same thing after swimming a few laps. I learned that the last show they had played was in Barcelona, Spain, and that they had actually played in Arkansas twice before - house shows at a place called The Treehouse which I’d never heard of. I asked how the European tour had been. “We haven’t done as much groundwork in Europe,” Matt said, “this is the best European tour we’ve done, out of the three.” Matt and Kim are interesting because they have such a powerful personal dynamic. Everyone wants to find that person who seems to be their missing half, and it’s clear that these two have found it in each other. But there’s no handholding, eye-gazing, or any such schmaltz. In fact, there are no overt gender roles in their relationship, and, in fact, they each seem a bit androgynous in their own way. It’s easy to imagine them at ten years old, playing in a creek together, and noticing little difference in the way they are now, on and offstage. I asked them about their new album, “Sidewalks,” and talked to Matt about the production quality, and how their three albums had made a clear arc from almost lo-fi to something quite a bit more polished. “It does sound like something closer to hip-hop,” Matt agreed. “Someone did a mashup of ‘Cameras’ with Big Boi’s ‘Shutterbugg’ and Morgan Spurlock is using it in the credits of his new film!” Matt seemed proud of the new record - the slick production on “Sidewalks” certainly expanded their sonic palette. “Keeping things more organic makes it less definable,” Matt said, but said that the drum machines and horn sections on “Sidewalks” wasn’t likely to be the continued direction for the band. Kim quickly added, “I like the idea of going back to just us two.” I asked Matt about their musical influences, and he gave me the most startling answer that a music nerd could receive from a musician: “We didn’t go into this thing trying to emulate anyone. We wanted to learn how to play these instruments, and the style is just what came out of it.” You get the feeling, listening to their three LPs that none of them really have a compelling emotional or artistic vision. Matt brushed off some mild qualms with “Sidewalks,” saying “We’ve played a zillion shows and only recorded three times.” It becomes clear that Matt & Kim’s live show is where their art thrives. While some artists might tour in order to support themselves financially and in order to make another record, Matt & Kim are probably making records so that they can continue touring. Their songwriting can seem one-dimensional because Matt and Kim are probably the two happiest people on Earth, and most compelling art involves conflict of some sort. 5
H0W 2 B A B0$$ L@DY #1: Lipstick by the queen of ego candy, victoria pilar nava “Never leave home without your lipstick” -- the best advice I have ever received, from my wonderful mother of course. In grade school when I would get in the car with bare lips, one utterance of the word “lips” was all I needed to reach into my purse on cue for whatever lip wear I had and gloss it on with precision. After Bonnebell Lip Smackers came the fancy lip glosses, and I prided myself on making MAC Lipglass every tweenage girl’s obsession at South Middle School. It wasn’t until I discovered a red lipgloss with a tingling, plumping effect that I felt like a woman. But it still wasn’t enough. The short-lasting gloss was nothing compared to my first love affair with real lipstick. Ruby Woo by MAC was a Christmas gift given to me by the boss lady that gave me life. After stealing my mom’s Ruby Woo lipstick far too many times, it was time for my own tube. Although Ruby Woo is still a go-to classic, she waits patiently in my cosmetic bag for me to pull her out for a special occasion. I’ve earned my right of passage through lipstick given to me by a boss lady, herself. I’d be lost without the beauty guidance and advice of a woman that I admire for her style, swagger, and overall boss status. One time, during a lipstick touch up, a dude actually had the audacity to say, “You know, guys don’t care about lipstick. We don’t even like it.” As if to say I did it for the attention of men. I don’t wear lipstick for guys, I wear it for myself. A guy that can’t appreciate my boss lady nature can’t hang with me. Lipstick is not something you can just dive into head first. Trust me, we’ve all witnessed it and sometimes that kind of thing just isn’t cute. You know what I’m talking about. A girl that has never worn lipstick (or any bold lip color for that matter) before and shows up to the party looking like a tramp for lack of better words. You’re not fooling us girl, we know that’s not the real you and you look like a child that was playing in your big sister’s party closet. So ladies, do yourselves a favor and marinate those luscious lips before layering on the love. Lipstick doesn’t mean red, so the next time you find yourself standing in front of a lipstick display stocked floor to ceiling with shades, take your time to find that perfect shade that makes you feel beautiful, powerful, and like a boss. And wear it everyday. 6
Upon those hills of silence. poetry by david faes which catch tattered pieces and needles, spinning chased with mountains against the battered pieces left with a consignment for oblivion in the Maya temples and Navajo deeps coloring with vigor and passion a beautiful portrait of what we do not know what we cannot speak, what we can no longer feel, what we care no more to seek some lips left too numb to sift by veil of discounted damnation, a gas whose color is a name we no longer speak
a photograph of kyle on record store day by the miscreant, herself 7
AN ACQUIRED TASTE by miss liz kenny It all began with the night my dad setup the speakers in our den while digging through his old CDs. I was really young and sat on the floor while the tunes of Bob Dylan, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Talking Heads, and Bruce Springsteen filled the room. I was moved in ways that no other kids in elementary school could actually relate; I spoke music while they spoke top 40’s; therefore, I became bilingual. I joined the wave of late 90’s MTV culture in elementary school; TRL was watched everyday after school with all of the girls in my neighborhood, while the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, and the Backstreet Boys albums were owned on cassette and/or CD- whichever our parents bought us. I grew up with two different eras of music playing through my boom box, and eventually my iPod. Every holiday and birthday I would not only receive the latest “NOW” CD that was out on sale from friends, but also the legends of the Temptations, the Beatles, David Bowie, and even Marvin Gaye from my dad. I suspect the CDs he bought me were half towards my music education and half for his own enjoyment- either way; it benefited the both of us. My first concert ever was Britney Spears. I had an amazing time and will still admit, to this day- Britney Spears knew how to put on a damn good show. I continued my brigade of attending the concerts of the latest MTV stars, and eventually entered the scene of the local shows put on by no ones (who actually are somewhat “someones” today- Therefore I Am, TREOS, anyone?). By the end of middle school it was big arena, open floor, shows where Brand New, Motion City Soundtrack, The Starting Line, Coheed and Cambria would take the stage to a crowd of track-jacket wearing young, angsty, teens, as we all moshed in the crowd. It was as if it were the most exhilarating music we had ever heard live. My dad was typically the one who took us and paid for tickets to all of these silly concerts and shows, god bless the guy for putting up with all of that. However, he still continued to buy me the albums of artists ranging from The Band to The Clash, even to the eccentric Pixies. He then bought me concert tickets to see Sleater-Kinney before I began high school. Mind you, this was their last tour before they officially broke up. If you don’t know SleaterKinney, then you better get on your game. They’re what I picture as the girl Nirvana- yes, that iconic, and also the last of the Riot grrrl breed. I was lucky enough to see them at a small club in Boston in my ripped jeans and Vans, next to my dad in his work clothes, while the adults around us were trendy as hell and all about the music. The minute Sleater-Kinney hit the stage their music overtook me. As my memory recalls, they opened up with “The Fox” as Co-
rin Tucker belted the song out with Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss filling in background vocals, along with Brownstein on guitar and Weiss on the drums. I left the show that night absolutely blown away while my dad looked me in the eyes and said, “You’ll probably never see a better guitarist in your lifetime.” After that show I took on the likings of Liz Phair and Alanis Morissette. I couldn’t help it- I was a female 90’s baby who needed more powerful women than just Sleater-Kinney to cling onto musically. As high school arrived I was lucky enough to have friends who understood the value of a mixed CD. They would give me the latest in hip-hop, DMB, Neutral Milk Hotel, and the National, while I fed them their music history, 90’s basics, Arcade Fire, and even whatever Phish and Grateful Dead I had. I also matured into attending more quality concerts and shows with both parents and friends. Elton John, RHCP, the Shins, the National, Phish, the Roots, and more, were suddenly on the agenda as if we were making up for lost time. Once college hit, the music tradeoffs began. It wasn’t until then where I was introduced not only to the talents of Bon Iver, the Black Keys, and Mayer Hawthorne, but also, more electronic, blog house, and remixes than I ever imagined actually appreciating. Last summer, when I returned home from college, I had my dad get tickets to see the Black Keys with me; it was as if I was the one educating him this time. It was a beautiful night, the venue was outside on Boston’s waterfront, and their performance was everything and more we could’ve asked for. Upon listening to the radio on the way home I began critiquing the latest music playing; I couldn’t help it. My dad then turned at me and said with a stern voice, which I don’t typically hear from the chill guy, “Don’t be a music snob; music is for enjoyment.” Essentially, my point of the story is that your taste is forever evolving, whether it be in music, interests, movies, what-have-you. Therefore, you should simply enjoy the ride and treasure the moments that come with each phase, and/ or longtime passion, your music likings take you. All of it, in essence, contributes to the person you become. At any given time, the critic doesn’t matter when it comes to your own personal taste. To this day I will still defend the grungy music of the Oblivians, whom none of my friends have ever come to agree with me on, but I’m absolutely okay with that. Just as the saying goes “do what you love,” one should listen to what he or she loves openly, and, in return, listen to new music with an open mind. I say this because you truly never know what is to come out of taking on the love for another music artist. Each artist you come to admire will ultimately contribute to your acquired taste, which is, as Cicero would say: “to each his own.”
THIS ISSUE OF THE MISCREANT IS “MAGNICIFENT!”
Single of the
Week Enjoy this classic rendition of “Ballroom Blitz” by Tia Carrere, featured in the motion picture soundtrack of Waynes’s World. 10
20 TIPS TO WRITE THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL by dearest sam sodomsky 1. Use Faulkner and O’Connor as inspiration and fuck Charles Dickens. 2. Let your protagonist symbolize Jesus but idolize Jay-Z. 3. If you have a female publisher, your book will appeal to female readers. 4. Have the inscription say “For God, for all He has done in my life.” 5. If you’re going to plagiarize, at least make it interesting. 6. Only agree to do interviews that will be available as Podcasts. 7. Say “no” to drugs; say “yes” to acid. 8. If you have a handicapped editor, your book will appeal to handicapped readers. 9. Hire Dustin Hoffman to narrate the “Audio Book” version (trust me, this will work). 10. Take an eight-year-long vacation before starting work on the follow-up novel; attribute the gap between books to “emotional exhaustion.” 11. Say “no” to acid; say “yes” to Willie Nelson. 12. Be distractingly vague when writing about locations but violently specific when referring to bra-sizes. 13. Shower twice a day. 14. Try not to do product placement, but make it classy if you have to. 15. Title at least one chapter after a line from a Jim Jarmusch film. 16. Forget everything you learned in English class except the obviously important things you learned in English class. 17. There’s nothing sexier than an extended chase scene. 18. WWMCD: What would Mouth’s Cradle do? 19. Subtly but constantly condemn members of the House of Representatives in italicized asides; get frustrated when nobody is offended. 20. Respect the Jews (but don’t be condescending about it).
DEAR DONALD an account by chelsea barker Let me start off by saying I’ve always had strange obsessions. In the 5th grade, I created clay figurines of The Donnas. In 7th grade, I followed around a red headed Mormon who would later become my boyfriend. In 9th grade, I cried when I found out Chris Martin was shopping in Atlanta because I wasn’t there to meet him. Most people see these obsessions as strange or sad, but I just look at them as a way to pass the time. Donald Glover has become my latest target. I’m not even sure what started it all, but it progressed from normal to creepy in a few short days. When I learned he was performing at Bonnaroo, I knew I had to meet him. My one goal for the weekend was to make out with him. I figured I was attractive enough, I just had to keep my cool. I was more than determined to see his set from the front row. J. Cole ended his set around 9:30 and during his last song, I pushed through several dozen people to the barricade. I’ve never been more proud of myself. Twin Shadow performed before Childish Gambino. I didn’t enjoy them, but I’m pretty sure it was only because I wanted to see Donald so badly. I tried to befriend the other fans around me. To my surprise, I was the only girl. My friend Chelsea and I met two best friends who were both named Steve. Their other friend tagged along as well. He was on acid and thought that everyone in the crowd was Gumby. I didn’t speak to him too much. The boy next to me from Arizona made faces at every camera that turned his way. I got mad and called him a bastard. This would later come back to bite me in the ass. We also met these two boys from Tennessee. I freaked them out when I showed them my cat hat and asked if it would be a good idea to wear it. I realized afterwards maybe it wasn’t the best idea to come off like a 16 year old Belieber, but I couldn’t help myself. When Donald came onstage, I lost it. I can rap almost all of his songs and I did not hold back. The kid next to me (the one who I berated earlier) knew every single word. I watched Donald’s tour manager from the side of the stage pointing in awe of this kid. Sure, he was obnoxious, but he was insane. During one of his last songs, I took out my cat hat and wrote in red sharpie my number, twitter name, and “I promise I look better when I shower.” At the end of his set, I threw it onstage. He didn’t see it, but I was hoping someone in his band would pick it up. I was about to leave when Donald’s manager comes up and says “You two, let’s go backstage.” Of course, by “you two” he meant me and the boy next to me. The boy from Arizona and I hop over the barricade, get pulled up onstage, and head to the back. Chelsea came with me because I couldn’t leave her by herself. We headed down a walkway and there he was. He came off as the most modest and genuine person. Someone with his talent should not be as humble as he is. We walked up and his manager started bragging about the Arizona boy. “You should have seen this kid! There was not one word he didn’t know!” I qui12
etly stood back waiting for my turn. This kid went on and on about how he is going to be famous and write for “Community.” He had to have repeated his name over 10 times, but I can’t remember it for the life of me. I knew if I didn’t step in, I would go unnoticed. I casually went up to him, introduced myself, and talked for two minutes without interruption: “One time you direct messaged me about eating an apple because I was having a panic attack and that made my night and I grew up in Decatur and I used to play softball by your old high school and I go to school in New York too but not New York, New York more like upstate in Syracuse but it’s kind of the same because we both came from Georgia to New York but it’s different but the same and I tweet you creepy things and I’m sorry.” I barely let him get a word in. I had so many things I wanted to say, but they all escaped me in that one moment. I could have asked him to make out, I could have told him he’s the reason I watch interracial porn, but I didn’t. Instead I told him trivial things about my life that he won’t remember. I wasn’t too upset though. I had just touched Donald Glover’s shirtless body. There’s really no way to complain after that.
WANT MORE MISCREANT? Thank you for reading the third issue (OMG!) of ‘The Miscreant.’ I hope you feel compelled to read more, and even contribute, if you feel so inclined. Perhaps you have seen an interesting movie or play that you’d like to tell the world about? Or maybe you just want to talk? Well, don’t be shy, my troublemakers! Tell us what you have to say; spread the wealth. Email the Miscreant at: themiscreantt@ gmail.com (don’t forget the double t!)