Random Gum – Anti-Valentine Signs – Spring Dump Soundtrack 2014

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As to what I think of the void that is Valentine’s Day

I and Thou
Tomaž Šalamun (Slovenia)

Your lips have never kissed me, you’ve never
drunk snow. You melancholy moment, frigid
under these snowdrifts. Let me ask a cruel question –
do you still heat your igloo? I cast a spell on you

and tore your limbs off. And those creases deepening
in what was once a godlike brow, perhaps you’ve even lost
your right to them. You haven’t hurt me more, you haven’t.
Little mummy, aborted flower, the memory of you fades.

Oceans divide us, and you’re jaded. The hard stone
hopeless, smeared with silicate. We shall yet make love,
and I shall grease those beehives yet. My desire has weakened

now, you’ve won, you are indeed a void. And I,
the tree-lined path of countless others, contain your red heart,
gone rigid, too. I have gurgled with happiness only in you.

Valentine Signs – Spring Dump
Random Gum – Winter/Spring 2014

The complete Spotify playlist – where the songs exist (not all are available on Spotify)…

1. Brenton Wood – “Gimme Little Sign” …if you don’t want me/don’t lead me on, girl…
A great way to start. Driving the icy roads of the Swedish 172

2. Bill Withers – “Ain’t No Sunshine” …ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone/and she’s always gone too long…
My friend Terra and I used to laugh at this one for the repetitive “I know I know I know I know I know” lyric.

3. Robyn Hitchcock – “My Wife and My Dead Wife” …and I can’t decide which one I love the most/the flesh and blood or the pale, smiling ghost…
This has a bittersweet quality – does one’s long-lost love keep appearing after they’ve passed on? “You know I don’t take sugar”. Somehow makes me think with love of my friend Jared, and his late wife, Hulda. RIP

4. Mojo Nixon – “Elvis is Everywhere”
After writing about people’s tendency to quote Bill Gates (“content is king”) I set the record straight; “Elvis is still the king”.

5. Primal Scream – “Country Girl” …Country girl take my hand/Lead me through this diseased land/I am tired I am weak I am worn/I have stole I have sinned/Oh my soul is unclean/Country girl got to keep on keeping on…
January day in Oslo: mistakes, forgiveness, love. Thanks to Stephen. My Oslo-based Primal Scream connections.

6. The Legendary Pink Dots – “I Love You in Your Tragic Beauty” …You always wore the same dress/always bore the same expression/It’s a loveless world/So what’s the point of looking?…

7. Neutral Milk Hotel – “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” …and one day we will die, and our ashes will fly/from the aeroplane over the sea/but for now we are young/let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see…
Letting go of trying to control things that logic has no hand in. For SD, ZM

8. Cass McCombs – “Sooner Cheat Death than Fool Love”
“I wish I never met you, of that I’m sure, I ain’t any better off than I was before…”

9. Laurie Anderson – “It Tango”
For my dear Jill.

10. Amanda Palmer – “Runs in the Family” …business is business/and business runs in the family…
With love for Roxane.

11. Hot Chocolate – “Every1s a Winner”
Something relentless about the sound of this song that makes it impossible to stop listening. It is an “activity song”, whatever that means.

12. Liz Phair – “Fuck and Run”
Thinking about Lóa, and “Fuck Mattresses Anonymous” (an imaginary AA-like organization)

13. Calvin Harris – “Acceptable in the 80s”
As my brother wondered, what was acceptable in the 80s? Shoulder pads? Cocaine?

14. Tom Tom Club – “Genius of Love”
“All the weekend/Boyfriend was missing/I surely miss him/The way he’d hold me in his warm arms/We went insane when we took cocaine.”

15. Grace Jones – “Pull Up to the Bumper” …just pull up to my bumper baby/drive it in between…
We can blame Grace Jones for the fact that Dolph Lundgren has/had an acting career.

16. Robyn Hitchcock – “Your Head Here” …I walk a thousand miles to be alone…
“Everyone you care about/say you’d never do without/walk away, forsake or doubt/see them fade and flicker out/faces on the phone/Everything that you rely on/tentacles of blood and ??/pillows that you want to cry on/promises that you get by on/Life is all I own…”

17. Pulp– “Pencil Skirt” …when you raise your pencil skirt/like a veil before my eyes…
For Stephen, who knows what a pencil skirt and heels are all about. “Oh it’s turning me on”

18. Lyubov – “Fire” …but forever was a day/and we just ran out of time…

19. Stevie Wonder – “I Don’t Know Why” …I never knew how much love could hurt til I loved you, baby…
“Always treat me like a fool/kick me when I’m down/that’s your rule…”

20. Robyn Hitchcock – “Sixteen Years…Sixteen calendars with nothing in the frame/you said you’d pencil me in/but you don’t know my name…
“You pegged me for a fool/but I’m the one to blame/I played a pretty neat fool for you/but you don’t know my name”

21. The Everly Brothers – “Bye Bye Love” …Bye bye love, bye bye sweet caress, hello emptiness, I feel like I could die…
RIP Phil Everly

22. Gary Walker & the Boogie Kings – “Who Needs You So Bad?”
Bittersweet end of the tv show Treme.

23. Pascal Pinon – “Ekki vanmeta”
Missing Iceland and my friends there. “Hann á heima nær en þú heldur/Ekki vanmeta fjarlægðina”

24. Os Kiezos – “Saudades de Luanda
For Kristie and the inexplicable “saudades

25. Minor Alps – “If I Wanted Trouble” …this growing up it never ends/the same mistakes come back again…
Last days as a tram rider, ending the Gothenburg period. And repeated mistakes!

26. The Bluetones – “Slight Return”
For Stephen.

27. Robyn Hitchcock – “Old Man Weather”
Madly in love with Robyn Hitchcock – as usual, as always, hence the elaborate presence here.

28. John Lennon – “Nobody Told Me”
Reflecting on the fact that the Liverpool airport is named after Lennon.

29. The Smiths – “William, It Was Really Nothing”
For the Smiths-quoting, dirty storyteller. “How can you stay with a fat girl who’ll say, ‘Would you like to marry me? And if you’d like you can buy the ring…?’”

30. Thin Lizzy – “Bad Reputation”

31. Robyn Hitchcock – “Ordinary Millionaire” …I don’t know where you’ve gone from me/I know you don’t belong to me/I only know you’re there…
“I always find a reckoning/always find you beckoning…” A nice song from Hitchcock & brilliant Johnny Marr. “I’ve got no love/’Cause it’s not in my DNA”

32. Mekons – “Sheffield Park
One of the nicer memories of junior high/high school.

33. Terakaft – “Imgharen win ibda”

34. The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” …I’ve got a love that keeps me waiting…
For Stephen. “I’m so above you, it is plain to see, but I came to love you anyway…”

35. Girls in Hawaii – “Switzerland”
For Jared and the love for Switzerland.

36. Sam Phillips – “Pretty Time Bomb” …it’s easy to change your name/but hard to change your life…
“Start counting, everybody/it’s gonna blow/Pretty time bomb/You’re a mirror of your time”

37. Big Summer – “Do It Alone

38. Sarah RabDAU – “Self-Employed Assassin…you should have loved me…

39. The Male Choir of Valaam Singing Culture Institute – “Riga Advising Stockholm
I can’t explain the presence of this song. Its sound just overpowers.

40. Cowboy Junkies – “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
For Stephen and the sad, longing sound of old country & cover versions that are even sadder than originals

41. Robyn Hitchcock – “Harry’s Song”…Nothing wants you like tomorrow…/Nothing tortures you like how it could have been…
“But I don’t know anything about you/Anymore”. The end of the Gothenburg li(f)e.

42. The The – “My Heart Would Know”
Dug out my old copy of The The’s album of Hank Williams covers – the marriage of two greats.

43. Os Kiezos – “Muxima”

44. Dionne Warwick – “Walk On By”
Song for coming to work on a holiday without knowing it was a holiday (set off all the alarms). Happy new year to me!

45. La Luz – “Easy Baby” …but in the evening/how things change…

46. Tanga – “Eme n’gongo iami”

47. ABBA – “Voulez Vous”
For Gary and the uncomfortable sexuality of the 1970s.

48. Paula Cole – “Feelin’ Love”
Probably the first song S. told me to listen to and I did not do it for weeks afterward; it’s fitting.

49. Peggy Lee – “Waitin’ for the Train to Come In”
All the songs that sound ridiculous – as in, my life can’t begin til my man comes home from the war. Opening the door to my would-be 1950s lifestyle.

50. Elvis Presley – “Love Me” …break my faithful heart, tear it all apart, but love me…
Reminds me of Kevin circa 1996 but no longer makes me sad. Memories of other lifetimes.

51. Patsy Cline – “Crazy”
For SD my Glaswegian firewall

52. Cowboy Junkies – “Mariner’s Song” …The last of man’s great unchained beasts lies/lapping at my door/I would give it what it wants, but I do know,/it would just ask for more…
For Mark and all the things we could not be. “In the storm you are my/destination, in the port you are my storm/But I would weather you my love, if you would be my guide,/if you would be my stars in the sky tonight”. I am no one’s port in a storm.

When hell freezes over – cocaine-fueled sex-dog behavior or a happy Christmas?

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Sometimes you write headlines and titles more for shock value than for any relation to reality. Tonight, considering the downhill trajectory of this entire year, I can only imagine and hope that I am at the bottom of the hill. Not that I want the challenge of climbing uphill. But at least its complications are activity, working toward something – climbing, ascending. Going up is better than going down or remaining stagnant at the bottom of a hill.

“Now this man down at the used car lot
Tried to sell me four wheels and a trunk,
I said, ‘But man there ain’t no engine!’
He said, ‘The engine’s just a bunch of junk,

you don’t need no engine to go downhill
and I can plainly see
that’s the direction you’re headed in’
and he handed me the keys.”
No Deal” – Townes van Zandt

The most unlikely activities – things that would happen when hell freezes over – are more likely than having a happy Christmas this year. Not that it will be an unhappy Christmas. It’s just going to be nothingness. All the television shows – swinging between the extremes of depressing, serious documentaries on abortion to TV comedies – gotta balance it all out somehow.

Striving for balance.

Balanced, measured behavior makes the most sense but there are always the temptations to quit one’s job, citing the need to go play with baby tigers as the reason, or attending management seminars, and responding quite soberly, “Sex dog” when asked (possibly in thick French accent), “What is your inner animal?” Haha.

Perhaps if I decided it was time to throw in the corporate towel and, for example, run away to Detroit to become a full-time writer (and take on home ownership in a slum-ghetto), I would feel comfortable saying whatever came to mind. I push to the edges with my writing but still color within the lines. Unleashing creativity might be an uphill push, actually, because I am so deeply conditioned by corporate life. Going into the coming year, the best way to make the climb will also be to go out on a limb.

The daily schmear – Sleazy topic overload: Dirty habits, dirty minds, dirty looks

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“Fucking cocaine!” he muttered (at :45 seconds)

“You know I was really so successful at everything I did – business, politics, hell, I could handle anything. Except cocaine. Only I didn’t know that because of cocaine.” (RIP Larry Hagman)

Dirty habits

Cocaine has been in the news – and news parodies in particular – a lot lately. We can thank North American politicians for the rapid uptick in cocaine-related news, even if, every time cocaine is mentioned, I think of the aforementioned clip from the film Primary Colors. (Or I think of the music of Rosa Eskenazi, a Greek singer, who sang a lot about drugs, back in the early part of the 20th century.)

Both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were fixated on cocaine and its crack cousin this week, thanks to Toronto mayor Rob Ford and Florida Republican congressman Trey Radel and their drug-related indiscretions.

Trey Radel cocaine

Daily Show coverage of Trey Cokehead Radel

One Colbert story, though, comedic as his presentation was, actually struck a chord in my nerd side. Apparently University of Pennsylvania researchers have found that a male cocaine users’ sperm DNA (okay, granted we’re talking about male rodents, not humans) is altered to pass on some kind of immunity to the effects of cocaine, making his male offspring less susceptible to cocaine addiction.

Colbert – cocaine study

Of course when I passionately rattle off details of studies like this as well as the observed symptoms and effects of various drugs, I scare my colleagues – but it is just general knowledge, gleaned from talking to people who have done these things. I’ve never even been drunk. Actually in a former workplace, one colleague and I were joking that all the aluminum foil accumulated in our office (because I wrapped all my baked goods in foil for transport) could help us smoke crack. Except we only imagined that you needed foil to smoke crack because we had no idea at all how one would actually smoke it. We have no idea how to take any drugs, let alone how to get them.

Dirty minds: Multicultural Swedish fika

In Swedish, “fika” is a concept beyond just a “coffee break”. It is a sacred cow – to the extent that any talk against or threat of eliminating this treasured event from Swedish work life is met with loud protest of a kind that Swedes are rarely wont to undertake. It is so ingrained and expected that HR recently felt it necessary to discuss its centrality to the culture with the global staff.  Apparently they wanted to emphasize that people should feel empowered to take fika, to explain that we actually do not have enough fika today and that people should not succumb to the pressure of people giving them “dirty looks” when they seem to disapprove of their “fika-taking”.

Let’s not get into the multicultural challenges of fika. Even the word fika sends nonplussed, flustered Italians into a tailspin, not knowing where to look, averting their gaze, not knowing what to do with themselves when we exclaim excitedly, “FIKA TIME!” (Check out the word “fica”, and you’ll get it.)

Dirty looks

In a recent discussion on these “dirty looks” that (presumably) non-Swedish colleagues give to active fika-takers, one Swedish colleague misunderstood “dirty looks” to mean something sexual. Yes, every time you take a fika, someone will give you seductive looks! In which case, Italian men would hang around and wait for fika to happen constantly.