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Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey

Maggie Cassidy

Maggie Cassidy
Jack Kerouac

Maggie Cassidy
The moral of Maggie Cassidy seems to be something along these lines: Love stinks. When you’re young, you care too much, and everything seems like a big deal, even though it probably isn’t. And then you get older, and you don’t care enough, and nothing seems like a big deal, even though it should. And pretty much the whole time, you’re wishing for something different than you have now. This, in a nutshell, is love.
Maggie Cassidy is one of those books that affected me, and not in very nice ways, and not at a very nice time. It hurt me, and that makes it a pretty powerful book. I would not call it a “good” book. I didn’t finish it and think, “Gee, I’m glad I read that. Think I’ll go make a sandwich now.” I finished it and thought, “Ouch. I think I’ll bury my head under my pillow for the rest of the day.”
I will say this — it’s quite a bit different than any other Kerouac book that I’ve read. Different tone, different style, different characters. Which is probably why I had never heard of it, prior to picking it off of a used bookstore shelf. You won’t find the usual cast of hipsters and pranksters, swinging their way through the Harlem night. Instead, you’ll find a bunch of goofy kids in small-town New York, killing off what’s left of their childhood before killing off what’s left of their lives in bleak blue-collar jobs. Real warm, fuzzy stuff, that. And stuff that will probably scare the hell out of anybody who’s ever tried to love anybody else.

Here’s To Shutting Up

Superchunk
Here’s To Shutting Up

Here's To Shutting Up
McViking? Obsessive? Certainly not! And yet… And yet… Every time I try to listen to a different CD, I somehow end up listening to Here’s To Shutting Up. It’s like the standard Scooby Doo chase scene, where Scoob and Shaggy are running away from the taffy-monster, and they escape into a dark closet, only to notice a third pair of eyes blinking at them in the dark, and it’s the taffy-monster again — Aargh! — and they have to start running away again. This album is like that for me, except that instead of a taffy-monster, it’s ten beautifully crafted pop songs that have been setting the background for my emotional train wreck of an autumn. And I can’t seem to stop listening to them.
I’ll admit that I didn’t expect much from this album. Having heard some of these songs live prior the the album release, I was pretty disappointed by what I heard. I’m now prepared to chalk that up to an off night on the part of the band. These songs are brilliant, probably on par with those from the last two Superchunk albums, which were similarly brilliant. At the moment, I’m particularly obsessed with the album’s third cut, “Phone Sex” (although if I have to read one more review that compares it to a country song, I’ll slay someone. Whoever told these reviewers that lap steel = country music needs to be flogged.) And last night, I was stumbling through the streets of Carlisle, PA, mumbling the lyrics to “Florida’s On Fire” to myself and anyone else within earshot. While this arguably does not constitute healthy behavior, it made me feel better for a couple of hours.
Now excuse me while I listen to something else for a bit.
Aargh! Taffy-monster!

Ahoy

Red wine, drag queens, hip-hop, and pirates. Ah, Halloween. Last night saw a mad party at the home of Brandon and Danielle. McViking arrived as a salty drunken pirate, but was pretty well outdone by a simple plate of spaghetti and most of the other costumes there.

I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

Yo La Tengo
I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
Yo La Tengo is one of those bands that every music lover worth his or her salt is supposed to love, to mention in hushed, reverent tones immediately before glancing heavenward and whispering a quick "Thank You." And yet, somehow, in all of my years of throwing away countless dollars and countless hours of my dwindling life on crappy record after crappy record, I never bought a Yo La Tengo album. Like ships in the night, their amplifiers and my ears glided past one another, frequently in close proximity, but never actually making contact. Until now.
My decision to purchase I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One was one of those choices that we make in life without much thought given to the actual decision. The decision-making process went something like this: "Hmm, Yo La Tengo. What the hell." The album arrived by mail a few days later, and I sat down to give it a listen. At the beginning of track 2, "Moby Octopad", I soiled myself. After a quick change of clothes, I continued listening to the album, and got as far as track 3, "Sugarcube", when I soiled myself again. I repeated this process several times, and then just decided to wallow in my own feces long enough to listen to the rest of the album. I’ve been doing laundry every other day since then.
This album is that good.
"Moby Octopad" and many other songs on the album embody my single favorite musical function: pretty feedback. Not the kind of feedback that makes your eyes bug out and your head explode, but the kind of feedback that makes you smile and lick your ice cream cone happily while your ears bleed. Reference the end of The Pixies Alec Eiffel, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
In summary: Yo La Tengo. I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One. Get it. And stock up on stain stick and fabric softener while you’re out.

Fall Shout-Out

The Phatty Snax 2001 Fall Shout-Out went off with nary a hitch. Beer and beat-boxing were in full supply. Flexmasta G’s paper bag game was a hit, and produced one of the strangest sets of party photos that this reporter has seen in some time.