Here’s my futile act of resistance against posting screenshots of algorithmically
generated “Your Top Songs 2018” playlists.
eli keszler - stadium
This album broke my brain during a late night subway ride. It sounds like the city more than any: the predictable randomness of machinery; the steel scrapes of the train bouncing through the tunnel; the steady, ethereal drone of electricity; a beeping that you can’t place. Two men board a nearly empty subway car, sit on opposite sides and start chirping each other like only old friends can.
The Pacific Northwest has a very specific architectural feeling to it.
Dark wet concrete, sometimes pitted and rusty from the sea air, seems at home against the rippled grey sky. The damp greens and browns of parks and public spaces are a natural contrast against the monochrome palette of giant cement staircases poured over the hilly landscape. Extremely comfortable ergonomic shoes on a really hard surface.
I can’t stop watching these videos. They illustrate the present era
of participatory media better than anything else I’ve seen; how social media
encourages us to make an event out of everything. They are America’s last grasps at two absolutes it has relied on: gender rigidity and the internal combustion engine.
So I’m at the ambient show—total ripper—and there’s this drone metal act
killing it. Great sense of dynamics and atmosphere but going all way in on the
theatrics (QT forest nymph on ethereal vocals, complete with True Detective S1
leaf crown) but something was missing: fog machine. You can’t have drone metal
without some smoke emerging from whatever bog you crawled out of. Do us all a
favor and head on over to Long and McQuade and properly set the scene.
Then, right as the dronetown headliner starts their singular note of the
evening this guy in front of me presents, I shit you not, a full bag of Nacho
Cheese Doritos and starts eating them one by one. I’m trying not to just
totally lose it laughing my ass off.
I look around and suddenly the magic is gone. The whole room smells like too
many masters degrees. Everyone has found a way to stand in an even more awkward
way than the person next to them. I start to hear that note again and it’s
suddenly a dialtone.
I think about conspiracy theorists a lot, reading about them when I can.
Obviously there’s some degree of grifting going on, but it’s near impossible to
tell where the grifting ends and the belief begins. People in sales talk about
believing in what you’re selling, but does someone selling tickets to a seminar
on chemtrails? I’m sure at some point they saw it as a way to make money, or to
gain notoriety, or even just some friends. They begin as impostors but get in
too deep. They eventually fully embody their views and they’re swallowed whole;
the person indistinguishable from their gospel.
I work in tech, and ‘impostor’ is instead used from the inside looking out. An
impostor in this sense is somebody who feels like they lack the skills or
knowledge to succeed in their company. This is obviously a threat to anyone’s
ability to be successful but this is not about that. There are plenty of better
words about that elsewhere.
The bigger problem are the people who are impostors in the other way: they believe
it so hard that they cease to be real people.
You see it most clearly during a fire drill. The filing cabinet for small
startups spills all its disruption into the street. I’m told that’s a shirt
referencing a Bitcoin inside joke. That man is wearing a set of shoulder
holsters—like for pistols—but they have an iPhone and a Moleskine in each.
Later, a message in the conversation pit1 tells us that the alarm
was triggered by an adjoining building full of art students.
Oh yeah every year I say I’m really gonna squeeze all the juice out of the
summer but this year I’m really gonna do it. There will be a smoking hole in
the earth where this summer once was.
Usually by the end of September I feel some malaise and regret that I was
inside a little too much, left a Corona undrank and a lake unswam. Not this
People will be filled with reverence and envy as they remember Summer 2018 as
that one When He Really Did It. That year when he was pure expression of
relaxation and warm weather exuberance in the face of all adversity.
What if we hired a small child by the hour to kick everyone in the shins? They’d
do it at a totally unpredictable interval so you could never know when it’s
coming. We should probably hire one to hide under every desk.
“What am I doing wrong?” You shout down to your ankles, beyond the mug that
reads DO WHAT YOU LOVE. The kid says something about Fortnite and ignores
Streaming music is dominating our consumption of digital music and I can’t stand it. Leaving my library in the hands of a startup that surely will not be around forever is unwise. I want the files, I want metadata, I want to know what I’m listening to. Is this album the Remastered version, Deluxe version, the Anniversary Edition or a remixed bootleg? With most services it’s hard to tell if it’s Explicit or Clean.
The best ways to get mp3s these days are Bandcamp, download codes included with physical media or a thing that rhymes with “dole squeak”, but what you do with these files once you have them is another story. Keeping a large collection of music on your computer isn’t easy and my process has evolved over the years.
When I was a kid in the mid nineties most of my music listening happened through
the Sony Cassette Walkman my Grandma gave me for my birthday. I don’t remember being
enthralled with my parents cassette collection; Rod Stewart, Fine Young
Cannibals, Simply Red and other detritus of late-eighties Adult Contemporary
radio, but it also had an AM/FM radio and I used to power through AA batteries
staying up too late listening to Toronto stations.
On Saturday nights 104.5 CHUM-FM would broadcast their weekly chart show where Roger
Ashby would count down the top 30 singles in the station’s format and I’m pretty
sure that’s when I first heard The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century”.
Years ago Apple added the “Album Artist” field to iTunes, immediately solving the problem of grouping albums containing tracks with featured artists. For metadata anal-retentives like myself certain albums (rap mixtapes, collaborative albums, split singles) live in this grey area between single-artist albums and compilations. Just because I Got That Work has a featured artist on almost every track does not make it a compilation—it’s decidedly a work of Big Tymers—Psych Funk 101 is a compilation.
Album Artist works great for this, but unfortunately doesn’t work on any of the iPod Classics, which I use in my car, so albums formatted this way clutter the artist list with an entry for every combination of featured artist. My solution is to move featured artists out of the Artist field and into the Track Name.