February 13th, 2005

Broken Social Scene

I'm discovering Toronto's Broken Social Scene belatedly, even though I had a chance to get on the bandwagon several years ago, thanks to a tip from one of my students. But I got sidetracked, put it off for later as I often do, particularly when advice is involved. He had told me that they seemed to match my musical taste perfectly. Often, when someone tells me that sort of thing, I'm disappointed. In this case, though, the advice was right. Their most recent album You Forgot It In People from 2002 -- they released a collection of B-sides and rarities last year -- is a smoothie made from ingredients that have been delighting me since I was a teenager: New Order's melodic base, Sonic Youth's thrum, the sonic spaciousness of late 60s psychedelia, and Pavement's facility for making songs that sound like they're falling apart and coming together at the same time.

It tasted so good I forgot the bad taste in my mouth. I had a really demoralizing experience today and had to make the long drive home shaking with distress. Luckily I'd insisted on bringing New Silver and could blast the record, look at the gorgeously cloud-shadowed ridgeline, and make vows of social chastity that I will surely end up breaking, but which were necessary for me to regain my composure. Yes, I did reflect on the fact that the band's name was improbably suited to my mood. The music, however, took precedence. Three years is a long time for a relatively new artist to go between albums. This is a collective, though, and the band has been touring regularly, so I anticipate that a new record will come out within the year. I can't wait. And in the meantime I'll be playing this one on auto-repeat while I do everything from driving around aimlessly in the dark to standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes.
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Still In Mourning

Four years ago on this day Russ, Skylar's "Uncle Grandpa," who lived upstairs from us at 617 Napa Street with his partner Joe, passed away after a terrible struggle with cancer. We think about him every day. I'm sure that Skylar's perverse behavior this week has been her way of acting out memories that she can no longer access directly. Kim and I had a great time Friday night, but it was in our pre-parental Vallejo fashion, making the memories more vivid than they otherwise would be.

No one deserves to die before their time. But Russie's death was particularly cruel. So many gay men of his generation died of AIDS. Happily partnered with Joe for decades, he avoided that scourge, only to waste away just like an AIDS victim. I'm glad we got to say goodbye to him. The experience of seeing him so far gone, though, when we visited at the end of January, 2001, was one of the worst of my life.

If your spirit is watching, Russ, take heart in seeing what a smart, beautiful girl the Bean has become and know that we all love and miss you more than words can say. We will always be your family and you will always be ours.