So It Appears That I’m Living the Dream

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A last hurrah in Binghamton, April 19, 2007

Binghamton, 2006.  I’m 23, living in a fire-trap basement apartment in the ghetto.  I’m that kind of art-poverty broke where I live on black coffee and scrambled eggs and dinner is paid on for on a rotating basis between whichever one of us got paid that week.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my life except that I know I want to write and listen to records.  Out of college just over a year, I’m kicking myself for not having spent more time in music classes because I’ve got a subscription to Spin and being a music journalist would have been a kick-ass career.

I started a blog, Kill Your Ipod and reviewed shitty CDs from indie bands that I solicited over email.  No one read it except a couple of stalkers.  I wasn’t even sure how to write about music.  I lacked the technical language; all I had was this intense passion, this gut feeling whenever I listened to Tom Waits or Warren Zevon or the patchwork of mix CDs that stood in for conversation with boys I liked.  I hung around the record store and worked at FYE like a model waiting tables, hoping the right person might notice me and ask me to move back to NYC to write for some new music magazine.

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In Praise of Adult Contemporary Radio

I was not a cool kid.

Yes Please!

Yes Please!

While my sisters and peers were in love with Devon Sawa and JTT, I was crushing on Matthew Modine in Cutthroat Island and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  While they were listening to Mariah Carey and Blink 182 on Fly 92, I was calling in to B 95.5, the adult contemporary station, in hopes of hearing George Benson’s “Turn Your Love Around.”

When I discovered The Smiths and Siouxsie & The Banshees in high school, then Tom Waits in college, I could finally feel cool.  Sure, it was a hipster-goth kind of cool, eschewing the flair-leg jeans and trucker

Bask in my total fucking coolness (or don't, who cares.)

Bask in my total fucking coolness (or don’t, who cares.)

hats of the early-2000s for Doc Martens and cabby caps.  I discovered a lot of incredible music during this time period, aided by some awesome mix CDs from great people.

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Mix Tape Monday: The (Unrequited) Crush Mix

Portlandia Mix Tape

Welcome Back to Mix Tape Monday, the blog series that celebrates the lost art of mix-tape making.  Today is Part II of our “Crush Mix” series, the Unrequited Crush!

Now, there are two types of Unrequited Crush Mix.  The first is made up entirely of Smiths songs like “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” and is made for moping around because boo-hoo, your crush doesn’t notice you.

This is not that mix.

Rather, this is one that celebrates the unrequited love as a love that cannot ever be, but is still fun to have.  It’s the kind of crush that makes you happy and tingly because you know it can never be consummated, which is how it can remain so perfect.  This is a mix solely for you to listen to when you are feeling dreamy and excitable and giddy in love, so go crazy.

This mix is called the Grey Chalk Playlist (2014) and it’s fairly brief.

Fan Mail

Because I made this one for my TV-crush, I open it with a sound clip from one of his shows so I can hear his sexy, sexy voice.  It, ah, sets the mood.

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Mixtape Monday: The Crush Mix

Say-Anything1

Welcome back to Mix Tape Monday, the blog series that celebrates all things mix-related.  Today we’re talking about the whole reason Mix Tapes were invented–The Crush Mix.

You know the drill.  You’re so head-over-heels in love with someone that every song you hear reminds you of them.  You savor the music that played on the radio when they happened to glance your way, convinced it was destiny that that song came on at that exact moment. But you don’t know if they’re feeling the same, so you test the waters with a tape that could be plutonic…but really, your heart is bleeding through every single lyric. The Crush Mix is meant to be listened to on headphones, alone and in one go, so plan your lyrics and transitions accordingly.  Sound clips are not advised here.

There are two types of Crush Mixes–the hopeful and the unrequited.  Today, we’ll be looking at the first, using a mix I titled Songs For Your Future Front Office (2005).  I’m not going to tell you who I made it for, but if you’re out there, Darling Recipient, feel free to identify yourself.  Obviously, this one went unrequited, but it was still fun to make, and I still think fondly of the recipient.  Let’s get started!

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Mix Tape Monday: The Apology Mix

parks-and-rec-how-a-bill-becomes-a-law-cool-times-summer-jamz-mix-614x341

There’s a lot more to making a mix than just throwing a bunch of songs onto a Spotify playlist or a CD.  It’s about creating a mood or emphasizing an emotion, playing to a theme or singing what you can’t speak aloud.  You don’t make someone a mix unless they’re really important.

So I have a new feature here on the blog–MIX TAPE MONDAY.  I’ll dissect mixes I’ve made for other people, and maybe even a few people have made for me, to dissect what works.  A note before we begin: we’ll use the term “Mix Tape” as a general term here, because “Mix CD” or “Playlist” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The Big Rewind CoverUp first, we have the APOLOGY MIX.  I’ve made a few of these in my day, but this one, titled The All Or Nothing Days (2014) is especially poignant because it was made for my friend Jason.  The epic fight we had, which lead to seven years of silence between us, was part of the inspiration for The Big Rewind, and the first thing we did when we reconnected (thanks to our awesome friend Corey, seriously, she rules and I owe her my whole life.) was make each other mixes.  I would be lying if I said I hadn’t planned a lot of this mix ahead of time, and I was glad I finally had a chance to use it.

A quick word about Jason: He was my mix tape protege, and has taken the art form to a new level.  He can pick songs and clips that are so precise, so devastatingly perfect, that it borders on sadistic.  He has made several of my all-time favorite mixes, including She Doesn’t Think My Tractor’s Sexy Anymore (2005) which should be in some sort of mix CD museum for it’s sheer brilliance.

The Apology Mix is meant to be listened to on headphones.  It’s a close, intimate type of mix, so make sure each of your messages comes through loud and clear.  You won’t around to explain the meaning of each song, so be precise in your choices.

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Idiot Box: ‘Turning Japanese’

Turning Japanese

I was a girl you splashed with water.  He spoke only in signs and subtitles.  We kissed on his bed under a blue and pink horizon of cigarette smoke.  Outside his window there were fireflies.  Inside his walls there were infomercials.  I carried a sword too big for my fragile hands, he drifted aimlessly in space, always out of gas, always out of luck. 

In our cartoon world, we can pull costumes out of back pockets.  In the ordinary world, all the roses he gave me were already half-black. On a melting sidewalk I intertwined our names like DNA.  He only called at 2 a.m. when The Boss couldn’t hear. 

The cat still says his name aloud.  I only have the red half of our locket.  I hold the summer’s last firefly in my hand outstretched.  Really, I say.  Really, it was nothing.

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