Friday, January 26, 2007

Inspired By True Events

The January edition of the Woodpeckers CD club is officially completed. Above is the cover, below is the story...


The story goes something like this, but before I get into it, I should warn you that this is one of those stories where you had to be there. But then again, isn’t every story? I suppose whether you had to be there or not really boils down to how well the story is told – a well told story makes you feel like you were there and thus less like you actually had to be there. But then again, if the story were about a shark attack, you probably wouldn’t want to be there no matter how well or badly the story was told. Perhaps we should just start from the beginning of this particular story.

The story goes something like this…

It was New Year’s Eve day 2006 and fellow Woodpeckers Rob, Matt, Rick and Gabe were over at my house enjoying the day. Our time was spent lazily going back and forth from watching football on TV, to playing music in the basement, to skating the recently installed half-pipe in my backyard. If you didn’t know better and were a passer-by peering at us over the fence, you could have easily mistaken us for a bunch of teenagers conjuring up cures to suburban boredom. But we were all in our early 30’s and wise enough to know that boredom was a luxury not to be squandered.

So we played on…

It’s at this point in the story where it would be wise of me, the storyteller, to provide you with some details that could perhaps help you feel more like you were actually there. For example, the day was unseasonably clear for Portland. You couldn’t say it was a warm day, but you wouldn’t call it a cold day either, at least not for that time of year. But regardless of your opinion on what’s cold or not, the sun was definitely shining, albeit at a very low angle so that it was casting what Emily Dickinson might call “A certain slant of light that oppresses like cathedral tombs.”

Can you picture it? Try a little harder.

Perhaps this will help. Earlier that day my girlfriend Sheila had cooked a large breakfast of scrambled eggs. The scent of caramelized onions and bacon filled the air and for the first time since my move back from Europe over eight months ago, Portland smelled like home. Throughout the day, while us boys played, Sheila and Rick’s wife May spent their day under knitted blankets watching movies, reading magazines and talking.

OK back to the story…

Sometime around midday my brother Gabe had to leave to pick up his girlfriend Taylor from the airport. Taylor was flying in from LA to join us for that night’s New Year’s Eve revelry, the anticipation of which was as much a part of the day’s air as the smell of caramelized onions and the reality that within a few months, Gabe would be moving from Portland to LA to live with Taylor.

A question just came to me that I would like to pose to you the reader: How is one to feel about a situation that fills them with both a profound sense of happiness and emptiness? Confused? Selfish?

By this point you’re probably wondering where this story is going. I’d like to say I know but I’d be lying; but then again, lying is a part of storytelling so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

So let’s recap...

Gabe is off to the airport. The air smells like sweet onions and home. The sun is shining. Sheila and May are cozy inside. Rick, Rob, Matt and I are outside. What have I missed? Let’s see…oh right, now I remember…music…there was music. I had recently purchased a new portable iPod speaker system which we had brought outside while we learned to skate on the new ramp. I had set my iPod to shuffle which meant that the music playing was a random collection of my favorite tracks and songs that made me question my judgment on everything.

It was at this moment in the story that a track came on – an electronic disco track by LCD Soundsystem called “45:33”. When the track came on and the whimsical disco beats kicked in, it was as if the day had finally found it’s sonic harmony. Have you ever seen footage of a bridge when it starts to bend and sway because the wind reaches that perfect resonance that renders all engineering hopeless? The technical term is torsional vibration. (Trust me, I Googled it.) Apparently the LCD track was this day’s torsional vibration tipping point. As soon as the music played, Rob and Matt were on top of the skate ramp vibrating their torsos like a couple of go-go dancers while Rick was sliding back and forth on the ramp like a metronome on wheels. As sole witness to the moment I grabbed my camera and tried desperately to capture it all, the entire scene – the dancing, the trying of new things, my best friends lost in the moment, the embrace at the airport, comfort under the blankets inside, the smell of home, the sun shining…I wanted to capture all of it but all I had was a tiny camera and what I really needed, what I really wanted was a huge set of arms with a wingspan so wide I could wrap them around the entire moment and hold it so tight that everything and everyone would know just how much I loved them.

Like I said, you had to be there.

Nevertheless, here is a collection of tracks inspired by true events. I can’t guarantee that they will make you want to grow gargantuan arms and embrace the world around you, but I do hope you enjoy them.

“45:33” - LCD Soundsystem
“Hot in Here” - Tiga
“And I Was a Boy From School” - Hot Chip
“Saturdays” - Cut Copy
“Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above” - CSS
“You’re So Gangsta” - Chromeo
“Love’s Too Much” - Shapemod
“Feel Good Hit of the Fall” - !!! Chk Chik Chick
“Without Love” - Z-Trip vs Doobie Brothers
“In the Meantime“ - Mocky
“Operate” - Peaches
“Wildcat” - Ratatat
“A Little Bit More” - Jamie Lidell

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Shake 'n' Skate

December 31 marked the end of yet another year and, more importantly, the completion of the skate ramp in my backyard. The combination of the two has inevitably lead to my 2007 new year's resolution - learn to skate. A few friends came over New Year's Eve Day for the inaugural skate session/impromptu dance party. I'm not sure what needs more work, the shaking or the skating but both were pretty damn funny to watch.