November 30th, 2003

Retrieval of the Day

I may be able to see my friend Leanne, her husband Adam, and their two boys when we're in D.C. next week. They live in Northern Virginia, so it's a little far for us to go there or for them to come to my parents. But I've broached the possibility of meeting at the Smithsonian.

Anyway, in the honor of that hope, I'm posting my latest item from the archives. It's a postcard Leanne sent from Germany to our anarchist household at 984 57th Street in Oakland, addressed to "Charlie, Josh, Jim." The front is a black-and-white photo of police righting an overturned police van. The postmark can't be discerned, but the date in the note -- written the European way -- indicates that the card was written on October 4th, 1990.

After graduation in the spring, Leanne and her friend Alicia got ready for a long trip through Europe. I don't remember when they left precisely, but they were gone almost all of the fall semester. They came to pick me up from Sue Schweik's Honors class the day that Rachel Myrow and I were giving our presentation on Marxist literary theory, walking in right as I finished talking and making me very happy indeed. Here's the text:
Dear Charlie, Josh, and Jim,
Well, Alicia and I have already been in berlin a week and it is definitely my favorite place so far. We've had a lot of luck and lucky circumstances in terms of hooking up with people to stay with. For the last couple of days we've been hanging out with Mike E. and he arranged for us to stay in the squat where he's staying. The long awaited reunification was yesterday and people expect the cops to move in on the squats sometime soon. But it's a pretty solid, heavily supported and large community. To "celebrate" 3-10-90 we marched in a demo of about 10,000 people. Heavy stuff and fun!!! Love and miss you all,
Rereading Leanne's note after all these years brought back vivid memories of the political crowd I hung out with as an undergraduate. I never felt like I truly belonged. And I experienced considerable class anxiety in the midst of all those fashionably distressed Beverly Hills High graduates in the anarchist scene. But Leanne always made me feel at home, never more so then when I was mourning the end of my relationship with Annalee and generally in a very dark space. That period went from August until the end of October in 1989, so this postcard was from one year later. So much had changed though, since I was deeply involved with Kim and doing well in school again, largely as a consequence of not being miserable.

Top Tennis

My editor at Phoenix New Times asked a bunch of his regular writers to come up with a list of music-related favorites for 2003. The idea is to get a sense of everyone's list so that he can avoid redundancy and have us write about different things. As anyone who tired of seeing Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on almost every 2002 end-of-year Top Ten will tell you, this is an admirable goal.

Anyway, I just fired off my "draft" to him, in which I list all the things that I could think of that qualify as "favorite" and are worth writing about:

• The User, Abandon (ambient sounds recorded in a 20 degree Fahrenheit grain silo)

• Enon, Hocus Pocus

Lost in Translation soundtrack

• Matmos, The Civil War

• Nicolai Dunger, Tranquil Isolation

• Howe Gelb, The Listener

• Antimatter, Antimatter vs. Antimatter

• Drive-by Truckers, Decoration Day

• Steven Malkmus and the Jicks, Pig Lib

• Okkervil River, Down the River of Golden Dreams

• Super Furry Animals, Phantom Power

• New Pornographers, The Electric Version


• The Coup, Steal This Double Album (which includes new material)

• The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo (Legacy Edition)


• Les Savy Fav (at Club Congress in Tucson)

• Die Monitr Batss and Numbers (at Solar Culture in Tucson)

• Little Wings and Calvin Johnson (at Modified Arts in Phoenix and Solar Culture in Tucson)

• Howe Gelb and his Danish Band, with John Parish and John Covertino (at Solar Culture in Tucson)

• Bangs (at Solar Culture in Tucson)


• The Cure, Trilogy


• Watching the music-filled portions of Kill Bill, Volume 1

• Watching the music-filled portions of 28 Days Later


• Walking around in Wild Oats Market, listening to the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” being piped in, then hearing my four-year-old singing along, even though she’d probably never heard their version, because she knows Cat Power’s chorus-less cover so well


• Spacing out at 2:30am on I-8 east of Gila Bend and inadvertently surpassing the official top speed of my VW Passat while listening to the 70s rock riffs of “Bobbin,’” track four off J Mascis and the Fog’s latest, Feel So Free

• Listening to Songs: Ohia while cruising past the windmills just west of Palm Springs, filming out the passenger window – without looking into the viewfinder, obviously – and noticing how everything seemed to suddenly sync


• Hanging out with the guys in Okkervil River after their Thanksgiving show in Tucson, drinking a very sweet $90 muscat someone had appropriated and watching lead singer Will Sheff write some of his favorite literary quotes on a whiteboard, then me saying “So much depends,” only to hear the band, in unison, recite William Carlos Williams’s famous micro-poem aloud, in perfect unison, despite their post-performance, post-prandial condition


• Fooling around with one of Neko Case’s guitars while she and her fellow New Pornographers were in her bedroom for a photo shoot, as I basked in her Twin Peaksy décor with a deer-and-beaver theme
  • Current Music
    Sin Taxi - Steven Malkmus - Phantasies EP