Greetings to the Depraved and Sleep Deprived;

Let me begin by saying that I am technologically challenged (and might I add, financially challenged as a result), so creating a blog is a bit out of character for me. On the other hand, nighttime mania, my unfortunate superpower, allows me to think and act in mystifying ways. Thus the birth of my crippled brainchild. The following content is unapologetic, crass, and certainly not politically correct. So if you have a proclivity towards Hallmark, Disney, and tact--or if your circadian rhythms are like a velvety Beethoven symphony --this may not be the blog for you. For all of you unfortunate, standing and pleading at the gates of R.E.M.; you, white-knuckled while awaiting your Ambien prescription refill; you, counting endless sheep--so many that you could felt around the world...Welcome. It is nice to finally have some company.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

For iPod Listeners and Musical Theory Junkies...

The following is an old academic paper of mine for a music class. The paper is in response to a very general question:  Is the iPod a cultural benefit or cost?  This paper is not for everyone, and it is lengthier.  Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy!

            “Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it,...View it, code it, jam, unlock it, Surf it, scroll it, pause it, click it...” monotonously rumbles the Daft Punk song, “Technologic,” in seeming harmony with the almost automatic, speedy, and dynamic iPod.   If according to Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message,” what can be said of the current technologic mediation: the iPod?  Portable, small, nearly weightless, synthetic storage: is this innovation for music’s sake or for the consumer’s own egotism and sense of exceptionalism?  Where Cook asserts, “there can be no music in a vacuum,” the iPod brutally retaliates, altering the sonic landscape and destabilizing our modes of listening; bastardizing the concept of musical authenticity; and ultimately enslaving and suffocating us in our current cultural postmodern condition: all this splintered and narrow-minded speed with nowhere to go (Cook, 127). 

            The sonic landscape pre-iPod music portability, seemed to express a private, yet ritualized communal vibe: one of harmony with the environment, attachment, and active social relations.  Once upon a time, composers, performers, and an audience related with one another, exchanged thoughts, and communicated acoustically (Cox, 65).  Today, on the other hand, our iPod “soundscape” (Stockfelt, 93) resembles more of a deserted wasteland, as our “nomadism” (Chambers, 99) prevents us from forging any relationship with the environment and the people residing in it.  This community once dominated by music hunters and gatherers, adopts a more ‘diasporic identity’ (Chambers, 99) as human innovation allows for increasing mobility and transitoriness.  In a world where people roam freely, music too has provided faulty bounds, diminishing structure, and surely, like ones ties to the land, becomes replaceable in the name of domesticity.

            This shift to a more postmodern, fragmented environment and community directly impose on the rusty soundworld of the past, requiring the sound landscape of today to become increasingly self-contained, dense, and privatized, hugely a result of the iPod and like gadgets.  Sound recording and playback systems like the iPod, allow music to be “detached from its source, from its ties to any particular setting and location” (Cox, 65).  Even listening to an authentic Robert Johnson song via iPod, removes the song’s southern roots and its color: its historicity and musical origin.  And instead of the recording disclosing “ontologically distinct and autonomous soundworlds” (Cox, 65), the iPod suffocates the fundamental quality and experience of the music, while constructing a new depraved sound world in captivity.  iPod headphones further incapacitate external sound and stimuli, producing a test-tube effect on the music: trapping it, strangling it, and mercilessly scaling it down into its most compacted form.  The iPod’s fidelity is poor, and unlike other recording equipment, its ability to “amplify and focus upon previously unheard or conspicuous sounds” (Cox, 66) is severely hindered.  Its “sonic depth of field” (Cox, 66) is extremely limited as foreground and background sound are condensed to a single centered point.  We are unable to hear the “bulldozer outside, the radio playing in the next room” (66), or our neighbor’s conversation.  We can easily see now how the concept of the iPod is in great opposition to Marshall McLuhan’s statement that, “there are no boundaries to sound.  We hear from all directions at once” (McLuhan, 68).  Sound, we can deduce, should observe a sort of equilibrium where its “multicentered and reverberating” frenetic lines eventually create a “balance between inner and outer experience” (McLuhan, 68).  In listening to the iPod, however, our depth-less listening is focused on a single, internalized, and exclusive listening center, that has no room to expand. In contrast to the above mentioned arguments, Iain Chamber’s asserts that the Walkman (or iPod) “serves to set one apart while simultaneously reaffirming individual contact to certain common, if shifting, measures (music, fashion, aesthetics,...)” (99), seeming to suggest a sort of balance.  Upon closer inspection, however, one can clearly see that the so-called common standards themselves forge and reaffirm hierarchies and promote individual affiliation through group separatism (or exceptionalism). 

            Furthermore, the iPod problematizes the concepts of “acousmatic listening” and “profound listening” to “environmental sound matter” (Cox, 65; Lopez, 82).  By drastically compartmentalizing the space of sound, not only do listeners strip the sound of a temporally limited and specific origin, but they, in seeming paradox, force it into a new immaculately conceived origin: the sound becomes produced and mediated by the iPod itself!  Consumers morph into puppeteers who summon and quell the sound from and into its megabyte storage space.  In the case of environmental sound produced by “biotic and non-biotic components” (Lopez, 83), this tunnel-hearing through headphones seems to sever “sound-transmitting and sound-modifying (human) elements” (83).  While the iPod’s headphones do serve to compact and focus listening, they do so in an unnatural, synthetic, and tyrannical manner.  Our senses, pure and unblemished, need be the only musical directives we follow. Not to mention the troublesome fact that when external noises are cut-off, we can face physical dangers–the inability to hear someone yelling, “watch out” if we are not paying attention, footsteps approaching us late at night, important announcements over a loudspeaker, etc.  In summary, when all the airtight sound “goes straight to our heads,” we are unable to discern the lively mediating sound forces, and as a result, we are unable to listen profoundly, wholly, and respectfully.  Distracted and solitary, we only skim sound’s synthetic surface.

            Similarly daunting, the iPod jeopardizes our ability to adequately listen, according to Stockfelt’s pre-requisites (Stockfelt, 88).  To begin, Stockfelt claims that “each style of music, even if it can make an appearance almost anywhere today, is shaped in close relation to a few environments” (90).  Reasoning as such, and considering the iPod’s range of mobility, I find it fair to say that our continued range and diversity of mobility could eventually lead to the collapse of these initial and typical molding and standardizing environments. Simply put, we are beginning to “listen” to anything anywhere, and in a myriad of infinite “listening situations,” which lack any relatable “historical situation” or geographical context.  According to Stockfelt, “adequate listening...occurs when one listens to music according to the exigencies of a given social situation and according to predominant sociocultural conventions of the subculture to which the music belongs” (Stockfelt, 91).  But where do the “sociocultural conventions” even come into play with the iPod, when listening here is, 1.) an exclusive, privatized act without judges to disqualify what we are listening to and where we are listening to it; and, 2.) a mobile and trans-territorial act?  Lastly, iPod listeners have fully shredded the notion of a “specific genre’s comprehensible context” (91).  If we can arrange Beethoven, Mos Def, Steely Dan, and Shakira in the same contextualized space, what is the use of genre anyway?

            More problematic still is Western society’s desire (and the iPod’s manipulative power) to assimilate music into a rapidly moving visual space, compromising its implications and assumptions in a wholly acoustic “natural space” (McLuhan, 71).  Visual space, in direct contrast to acoustic space, “is an artifact of Western civilization...with fixed boundaries...homogeneous... and static” (McLuhan, 71).  Ironically, the iPod seems to fall more into the visual space.  Not only does it boast its sleek miniature design: a visual sign of status, hip-ness, youth, and technological savvy; it also functions as a soundtrack to our own motion picture of life.  In addition, certain models offer a video playback system as well, additionally securing the iPod’s place in a visually inclined society.  Perhaps most fascinating, however, is iPod’s eye-catching marketing--billboards with electrified Day-Glo figures jamming, and commercials, basic and uncluttered, focusing on a Feist video playing on an iPod’s sleek screen.  While both forms of advertising appear to play on the synesthetic, their marketing success is wholly determined by their strategic and abundant placement in a visual sign world.

            iPod: the prefix drawing on the pronoun “I,” appears to suggest individuality, self-truth, freedom, and distinction; at least it does until one notices the serial and model number and the vast sea of numbered consumers.  Does the iPod in fact promote musical authenticity by not only allowing, but promoting a “direct expression to emotion and feeling” (Cook, 7)? I think not, given the fact that the iPod offers no real musical “presence,” but rather focuses solely on essence, or the trace elements of sound (Cox, 113).  While music is a social construct, the idea of divine inspiration in music and “the realness of the live singular event” (113), encourage an authoritative realness and soundness in music that pluck our emotional chords.  In regards to reproduction (which is largely, if not entirely possible as a result of technology) and the invent of the iPod, music (and art) has undergone “fracturing, magnifying, and multiplying:” drastic cosmetic contortion, the desire being to dissect, control, and perfect rather than let be (Cox, 113).     

            In addition, the iPod allows for an increasingly divested and distracted consumer who believes in quantity over quality.  While music has always come with a price-tag, our current state of “commercialization,” directly challenges authenticity’s “ethical side,” by devaluing the musical author (Cook, 8; Cox, 114).  Layer by layer, the “original exemplar” is obscured.  We no longer have to travel further then our own computers to access a daunting reservoir of music.  Like the musical practice of sampling, or “plunderphonics” (Cutler, 141), we too become internet pirates searching for booty or just something to make our booty shake.  And where before music was the intellectual property of the composer/originator, now much of the power seems to lie in the “technologically prosthetic” hands of consumers, who lack individuality since they speak through others and through the voice of technology as well (Cutler, 143; Cox, 113).  We want, what we want, when we want it, no matter what copyright law is in place, or what the suggested retail value may be.  The days of paying homage to the creator by giving a CD release event, critical status, are long gone.  We now can create our own endless CD montages in the form of an iPod playlist, and we can shuffle them in a desperate attempt to seduce chance and tickle phenomena.

            The iPod’s inauthentic approach to music appears to leave us with devalued and underappreciated sound.   Like the “I” in iPod, music is all about us: our experience, our solitude, our “auditory desires” (Cox, 113).  We appear to give greater emphasis to the “musical technologies (which) are constantly reappropriated and redirected to ends and uses other than those originally intended” (Cox, 114) than to the actual musical presence itself.  Our self-congratulatory and self-centered natures are visibly evident, as reflected by the iPod: we are the sole constructors of our musical tastes and technologic strides; we and we alone affect the music and are immune to its effect on us.

            Most troubling in the midst of this expansive, yet confining technologic atmosphere, is the concept of a postmodern cultural condition: the fragmentation of our governing meta-narratives (Lyotard) for the adaptation of personal narratives: narratives which we think entitle us to our “fifteen minutes of fame” (Warhol).  The iPod certainly reaffirms our sense of creative control and power alongside “music” generating computer programs.  Similarly, technologic mediation allows us to produce musical reproductions, which “satisfy our expectations of how ‘the real thing’ sounds” (Lopez, 84), not the far too often disappointing actuality of reality.  But we continue to be plagued with this coveted sense of otherness and our desire to know, control, and place that which is unknowable, unrestrained, and detached. 

            The question becomes: are we truly slipping into a “Sonic Futurism” (Eshun, 158) which “adopts a cruel, despotic, amoral attitude toward the human species” (158)?  Will “Sonic Science” (159) expose us to some disastrous “cultural viruses” (159), where all humanism, authenticity, and soul will die?  If we continue this push towards the postmodern, I truly believe that that which we control now will end up controlling us, and music. 






AMBIEN: Their Warnings and Mine....

According to one Ambien CR prescription warning label website (which can be accessed at, the following is quoted (their words, not mine!):

"Complex behaviors such as "sleep-driving" (i.e., driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic, with amnesia for the event) have been reported with sedative-hypnotics, including zolpidem. These events can occur in sedative-hypnotic-naive as well as in sedative-hypnotic-experienced persons. Although behaviors such as "sleep-driving" may occur with Ambien CR alone at therapeutic doses, the use of alcohol and other CNS depressants with Ambien CR appears to increase the risk of such behaviors, as does the use of Ambien CR at doses exceeding the maximum recommended dose. Due to the risk to the patient and the community, discontinuation of Ambien CR should be strongly considered for patients who report a "sleep-driving" episode. Other complex behaviors (e.g., preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex) have been reported in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with "sleep-driving", patients usually do not remember these events. Amnesia, anxiety and other neuro-psychiatric symptoms may occur unpredictably."
-sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC
Bridgewater, NJ 08807 October, 2010

Following, I have made a few adjustments which I will be suggesting to the FDA (their words and mine):

Complex behaviors such as "sleep-driving" (made even more complex when combined with eating, talking on the cell phone, or navigating winding roads), or, driving cars, uhauls, go-karts, or golf balls while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic-erotic-psychotic-robotic, with amnesia for the event, have been reported with Ambien. These events can occur in sedative-hypnotic-na├»ve (children) as well as in sedative-hypnotic-experienced persons (hippies). Although behaviors such as "sleep-driving" may occur with Ambien CR when you are alone, the use of alcohol, meth, chocolate, butane, lysol or other CNS depressants with Ambien CR appears to increase the risk of such ostracizing behaviors, as does the use of Ambien CR at doses exceeding the maximum recommended dose (so you might as well exceed the dose, and then maybe you'll remember even less). Due to the risk to the patient, but more so to the sleep-capable community, discontinuation of Ambien CR should be strongly considered for patients who report a "sleep-driving" episode, which is usually only communicable (given the amnesia) when a patient experiences a "sleep-phoning" or "sleep-emailing" episode directly following a joy ride. Other complex behaviors (e.g., preparing and eating ethnic food, making difficult phone calls, or having tantric sex) have been reported in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with "sleep-driving", patients usually do not remember these events.  In cases involving sedative-hypnotic food preparation, patients reported cases of overeating, combining uncomplimentary ingredients, using and ruining roommates’ Teflon cookware, and scorching the roofs of their mouths.  In cases involving making phone calls on Ambien, patients reported racking up QVC charges, scheduling dental appointments in other states, getting in touch with their long-lost family members, and dialing 900 numbers.  In situations involving sexual intercourse while under the influence of Ambien, 90% of patients reported extreme satisfaction and an increase in one-night stands.  The other 10% reported sore genitalia and carpal tunnel-like symptoms. And lastly, in rare cases, patients have been known to exhibit all these complex behaviors simultaneously, every time leading to public humiliation and hospitilization.   Amnesia, anxiety and other neuro-psychiatric (aka Borderline Nerve Disorder…”,, freeze…I don’t know what message to send to my fucking brain!”) symptoms may occur unpredictably, so plan accordingly.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"The Needle Exchange"

“The Needle Exchange” punctured Our exchange of careening sweatied sheet words.
Stale, stagnant air, and an uncompromising topical tropical oral humidity,
possibly reminiscent of the topographical tenderloin prescription stripmalls
caved in, hollowed faces, toothless solicitations, empty black hole abysmal eyes, and sliding-scale relief
Black, brown, or round and white
A nearsighted spectral chart
Various nanometers of obliteration
Your arm, Ed McMahon’s recipient
a large Rx check
Inkblot bruises like nebulous mood ring faces
Purple to green, Green to blue
Splattered with Jackson Pollock carelessness
Smoking a fag with shaky, ravaged cuticle fingers
Retreated nailbeds, nervously eroded by aggressive saliva
Sheets crinkled as the whole tattered bed inhales,
And with the exhale
The sheets slide straight
Relaxed eggplant paraffin wax
I sympathize
And our two seaweed tongues thrust up a tide
Momentarily transferring your breath into my cheek pockets
Like sweet, tingling chewing tobacco.
I offer bullet point kisses, tracing the reclusive translucence of your veins,
Following poison’s path,
But knowing that this journey I am unwilling to take
I even refuse to pack you a paper-sack lunch
All my willingness was shot up my dilated nose long ago
leaving snotty disdain, and unpresentable pity.
Unwilling to be maternal material, or some oedipal edifice.
Both of us?
Cooking up my own necessary defenses,
While you do your own spoonfeeding
Your Lady O! Is too misleading
And I cannot promise star-sapphires exploding and stretching under your skin
Reveries diving in and from your every pore
A million feather fragments dusting epidermal crevices, searching for Lady O’s chalky white fingerprints
My onion skin arms cannot compete with her surging occult charms
I know too well
Her brother was a dear friend of mine
I know too well
How to cross that thin white line.

An Oldie of Mine--"Children's International"

The full-bodied Merlot hits your mouth,
filling every crevice of your ravenously bitten, dry, and peeling lips–
the sting–
then the swallow.
And you take a curious gaze, and a confused moment,
glass held like the newborn just delivered
from the woman who didn’t know she was pregnant–
“Thyroid my ass!”
She had snarled,
but softened as a moment of calming strength trickled through her i.v.
And as you gaze,
you think about...ponder...turn upside down in your head...
60's music legends
why certain low end motels boast a very Mojave Desert/arizona motif–
cactus studded trims, Native American acrylic paintings, those sand-stained pinks and greens.
You ponder...marinate, like two teriyaki skewers;

What the Fuck is going on–
with your unarticulated next move,
and the haphazardly executed previous moves.

Pretty sure yesterday found you in the most desperately grim of states,
Tostitos and colby jack, kellogs, seasame bread and butter, brownies...
And as you approach the 4th brownie in your crusty red robe,
hair so greasy you could fry an egg–
you stare, , transfixed, ,
at the fifteen minute Children’s International advertisement,
blaring in the background.
And perhaps it is the fourth brownie,
or the self-pity oozing from your every pore...
But you start thinking that $22 a month is an excellent bargain,
to help a poor, pathetic, maggot-infested third world child in need.
Perhaps it is simply the African American host
who reminds you of the Reading Rainbow mentor of third grade.

Your mind diverts–
Didn’t Susan Sarandon host these types of infomercials?

You skip again–
and for alliteration purposes,
there are a lot of famous women with double S’s in their names–
Susan Sarandon, Sharon Stone, Suzanne Somers,
the list pours from your well of mindless knowledge,
originally entreated by Jack and Jill.

Sarah Silverman–
Is this really what’s going on again?
Anything, you think,
just any benign dribble to connect the empty minutes.

“I’ll do it!” you affirm,
referring to sponsoring the overseas child,
And once again neglecting the real child–
the one couch-ridden in the tattered red robe,
brownie crumbs from the fatal fifth.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You Know Your Sleeping's Fucked When...

(1) you are on the cats' 4am playtime schedule.  Unfortunately, I am a bit too loud when running back and forth down the hall. 
(2) it's 4:30am, and you are sending out emails inquiring about government loans
(3) you make a bed in your breakfast, instead of the other way around
(4) you take real-time video footage of your stomach flattening (I look ten pounds lighter in the a.m., and I am bound and determined to solve the mystery)
(5) most of your ideas come between the hours of 12 and 4am
(5) you are considering introducing a 4th meal into your day
(6) you are blogging at 5:07am

Monday, February 7, 2011

Superbowl Sunday...

12:55pm.  What an exciting game today.  And while I was rooting for the Steelers, I must say that Green Bay played exceptionally well (this keen observation coming from the girl who turned to her roommate and said, "I see them making plays and stuff, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, someone kicks the ball in the opposite direction...what's that about!?").  What has become increasingly fascinating to me, however, is the hype over the pre-game, half-time, in between game moments.  Did anyone catch the Michael Douglas pre-game commerical/advertisement/PSA!?  I thought it was going to be one of those commercials for Metlife or an infomercial for those mobility power scooters, with Catherine Zeta-Jones bicyling alongside her rotting, limp- dick husband.  But was even better than all that.  It was like this obscurely patriotic, Jerry Bruckheimer film trailer.  It referenced American greats and their contributions, using crafted old film footage, well-recognized audio clips, and the artsy montage technique. I was left confused.  Like I'm so sure Martin Luther King Jr. and JFK would have loved their valiant efforts to serve as metaphors for football and it's players' supposed staunch determination and heroicism.  Pretty sure Dr. King's dream didn't consist of exposing his genitalia to hapless women or growing a rapist's beard (I'm sorry Ben Roethlisberger, but what can I say?).  Yes, football's atheletes are talented (a talent they like to thank God if the "supreme being" didn't have more important things to do than ensure the outcome of a football game), but it seems to me to be a bit of dumb luck...its a uncanny ability coupled with a lot of training.  But enough about this team's ability to perservere in the face of adversity, or that team's ability to come together as a team when the going gets tough.  The bottom line is, they are making more money than I will ever see in my lifetime.  Don't you think that is determination enough.  It isn't a matter of heroes here, these men are rationalists.  Which brings me back to Big Ben.  Really, Ben!?  With all that money and fame you couldn't find a woman who actually wanted to see your cock...potentially even sit on it!?  I find that shocking. And lastly, the remaining topic I am forced to ponder when considering football, is the homophobic homoeroticism deeply imbedded in every game (and I know this is a big argument I'm bringing up here, and even contradictory to my earlier expression of awe for the game, but hey!  I'm generating questions here, not looking for the answers of which there are none).  From the sportscasters language, to the uniforms, to the multiple ass pats (perhaps some of the players have OCD, and just have to even out the love...or tap a cheek just right), to the doggy pile tackling, the game exudes bro-mance.  And yet, their is an anti-gay sentiment.  Has a player ever come out?  There is sure to be a queer footballer out there, but I assume he would be castigated if he ever came out.  It appears to me much like the army's old "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.  Perhaps that is why football is so all-American (did you catch the budweiser, chevy, Kim Kardashian commercials?), it is the America we truely live in, but are told to regard as only a "game."  Jovial, privileged, straight, white, masculine, physical.  And for this one day a year, we can happily buy into our warped reality, we can ignore the troubling realities elsewhere, we can forget that the American dream has never manifested, but rather been countlessly deferred.  And who am I to say I don't enjoy this break...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Daily Observations and Ruminations...

  • My desire to prevent bad things from happening:  The idea of children...having them, caring for them, watching them grow...rarely crosses my mind.  This is a good thing, and here's why:  everytime I see a child, he/she is doing something unsafe, with a parent casually and calmly overlooking.  I feel my body and throat tighten.  My arms start to extend, my hands begin to desparately clench, and my mouth yearns to reprimand.  I feel like I become unnerved--on edge--just waiting for a skull to crack, a lip to split, an infant death.  And the worse of it is, I feel advancely responsible.  If I have had the thought and not shared it--or acted on it--the fault automatically lies with me.  In fact, I must have contributed by witholding my divine interpretations.  These unwanted thoughts are far too pesky for me to seriously consider procreation.  I would have to take up residence in an inflatable bounce house, make frequent trips to Costco for family packs of Lysol wipes, count bowel movements, fashion latex full-body panchos, and stay up all night recording the child's sleep patterns.  I feel myself suffocating just thinking about it.  I think I'll opt for a dog. 

  • Odd Visuals:  Asian men with muscles:  I am not speaking about the Jackie Chan variety.  I consider that musculature...toning...the healthy result of martial arts and kicking ass.  I am speaking to a different breed of Asian men.  The smaller statured, translucent-skinned, hairless variety.  So delicate, they resemble Victorian-era children.  When you add the muscles, their arms look like egg noodles strategically tied off with rubber bands.  Awkward bulges, deflated calves, skinny ankles, pasty, no.  Just stop.  Please do not run through Golden Gate Park with your perfectly matched Nike spandex gear, your iPod banded to your arm like a blood pressure cuff, and your reflective sneakers (your skin is reflective enough).  If you want to follow this path, with a semblance of gymnastics, where your physical awkwardness will be met and well-received. 

  • The desire to be part of a team:  I have these moments when I watch people coming together, working together, and laughing together, and I think, "Wow.  That sure looks like a feel-good, underdog movie.  I wouldn't mind interpersonally relating like that..."  Which leads me to generate a cost/benefit analysis.  Benefits:  support, encouragement, others to blame when something goes wrong, respect, diversity, more facebook friends.  Costs:  letting go, listening, being agreeable, letting go, being reliable, sacrifice, personality differences, not being found as amusing as I find myself, sharing responsibility, letting go, making friends so that I have to consider creating a facebook, getting kicked off of the team. Conclusions:  while the desire to team up and participate may be strong at times, the reality is even stronger and undeniable: other people are hard to trust, especially when their ideas are not as good as yours.