Hi! It's pup sounds friday again. We've almost made it through all of January 2023 and that is cause for celebration. Aquarius season wants us to, like, focus and implement our plans. You're doing great. Give yourself a reward! Buy a donut.
I got Banjo this Gumby dog toy and can't wait to give it to him later tonight. Sometimes he carries his toys around for a while, gently holding them in his mouth and occasionally licking them, but because Gumby dog toy has a squeaker he will likely tear him open immediately to locate the squeaking plastic heart and pull out all the fluff.
I haven't really gotten into listening to full albums yet this year but some songs have been on repeat (When We Were Very Young by Belle & Sebastian). There are 4 songs by Swedish artists on this playlist. Bob Hund (Bob Dog) has been one of the biggest indie rock bands in Sweden since the early 90s and they released a 6 song EP yesterday, Drömmen är en råvara (The dream is a raw material... Ish), including a Swedish version of The Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Dog (Din hund) and I can't think of a better way to start a Pup playlist than this.
Another swedish (and swedish language) drop is Fågelle's second album Den svenska vreden (The swedish wrath), full of soft and buzzing songs I'll probably spend alot of time with. Fever Ray has another single out from the forthcoming March release Radical Romantics called Kandy. The fourth swede on this list is Nicolai Dunger who's been making weird jazzy folk type albums since the 90s (including one album interpreting Edith Södergran poems that I wore out listening to on CD).
Discovered the artist Q who has a new song out, LUV (I KNOW I WANT THIS FOR REAL), and it made me aware of the song Stereo Driver from 2022 and I'm obsessed. His voice! If you listen to one thing off this playlist make it this! Both of them.
There's also a couple of harder tracks on here. Jigsaw Youth is an all female punk grunge band from Staten Island. Riot Stares is an indie metal band from South Carolina.
Hope there's something you like on here! Here's the full list:
the internet was down all morning.
frustrated from hours trying to fix it myself, i walked to the tavern down the street for late breakfast and early whiskey.
it's the only place for a decent meal on the north side. it’s a little pricey. i know the manager well enough for chats about food, alcohol, politics, whatever. he seems like a nice guy. he seems like a bar manager. i found a stool at the bar, near the front. he brought my drink and took my order. outside, the sun toiled through slow clouds as
and woman walked in
and heavy coats.
his face like busted sidewalks.
hers ashy and grey from winter.
they were dirty. everything they carried was dirty. everything they carried smelled like labor.
i can place faces on most street people around there, but not those two; they were from a different place; from a different misery.
the man told the manager they had 17 dollars. what could they get for 10?
the manager ignored the man’s admission.
he sat them in a booth. he gave them menus. he told them to order what they want. he told them he would work it out. he spoke to them as he spoke to everyone: his approach remained unchanged. he brought them coffee. he brought them juice between other customers. he finally brought them hot food. he asked if everything looked okay.
the woman stared ahead. eyes heavy. speech heavy. she said, “this looks almost too good to eat." the man’s eyes erupted. his voice like dry leaves. his “thank you” faded into thin coughs.
a lump formed in my throat. i swallowed it with my drink and stood. i exited. i walked away from there,
my wallet 22 dollars smaller.
i walked away from there…
you just feel that way.
from Barely Half in an Awkward Line by Jay Halsey published by Really Serious Literature
I’m lying in a hotel bed right now. In the room next to mine, the phone keeps ringing. I can hear the door slamming against a deadbolt a few times and the voices of men shouting benign messages to each other. I don’t know if they’re talking about when they need to leave to catch their flight or if they’re negotiating how much for the hooker. Either way, I can’t sleep.
I try to call the front desk. They answer, but when I try to explain what’s going on, the young woman says, “Hello, Front desk. Hello?” Then she hangs up. The phone is broken. She can’t hear me. This is a decent hotel. What the fuck? I try again. Same thing.
Finally, I call from my cell. I explain. She says she will handle it. I can hear the phone in the room next to me ring. Things quiet down. Now I can hear loud music from another room further down the hall. I twist. I turn. I think about what will happen in the next 48 hours. Actually, the next 50 hours.
I'm at a Hampton Inn near the Minneapolis Airport. I'm on the way to see my 13 year old son who is in a residential treatment facility in Traveler’s Rest, SC. That’s the name of the town. What town has an apostrophe in its name? How did it become Traveler’s Rest?
I have to wake up in 2 hours to catch my flight and it’s becoming clear I won’t sleep tonight. My mind is spinning. I finished work. I had a glass of wine once I got home, bitched out my daughter for not doing homework, and said goodbye to my wife and other daughter as they left for hockey practice. I wrap my son’s Christmas presents. I don’t even know if he will like them. I don’t even know if he will like me.
My last memories are of him screaming at us. I can feel the scars on my arms and chest from countless violent events after asking him to go to bed, go to the bathroom, simple things. My brain jumps from the softness of his skin, the feeling of our arms wrapped around each other, holding my beautiful child, memories of us laughing or him nursing… to constant rejection, the agony of not knowing what will help, and the feeling of my hair being pulled out of my scalp. The smell of toilet refusal. Cops at my house. Restraints in the front lawn while the neighbors look on in judgment. Cleaning the bathroom. Carrying him to his room. His giggles. Bite marks. Running my hand over his short hair. The color of his skin is the same as mine. The way he looks when he lunges at me, attacking. I knitted him in my womb. I hope this place helps. It just keeps going back and forth. My brain.
Now I’m crying. I’m getting over a cold. I blow my nose. Post-COVID. Will everyone think I have COVID? Will I be able to fly?
This is real life. This is my life. It’s happening right now. Amidst everything else.
I don’t know what my first memory is, but I think it’s the first time I was drunk. We lived in Rochester Squares, low income apartment housing. My mom was about 22, and I must have been 2. There was a party and people were giving me sips of their wine coolers, thinking it was funny. I remember people laughing. I remember thinking it tasted like soda, but less sugary. I liked it. At some point, I felt dizzy and disoriented. I didn’t like that. I was looking for my mom but it was so hard to focus. I needed to go to the bathroom. I needed to vomit and I needed to pee. There was a lot of cigarette smoke, loud music, people much bigger than I laughing and talking. My mom surfaced through a crowd and she was laughing. She thought I was funny, too. I asked her if she would go to the bathroom with me. She told me, “You know where it is. I’m talking.” I made my way to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. The seat was too big for me and I had a hard time holding myself up to pee. The small brown and white tiles began to float under my feet, which couldn’t touch the ground. I began vomiting. My mom came in and yelled at me.
Actually, I remember a few things from that apartment and I don’t remember what was first. Was it being drunk? Was it when I saw my mom’s boyfriend wrestling her in the living room before she yelled at me to go back in my room? Was it when I snuck out a window to play while she was napping? Or when I’d sneak down the hall to play with a friend? Was it watching her get ready to go to work at Estabans, where I would eat broccoli enchiladas? Maybe it was the time my mom purposely drove our white Ford Fiesta into a ditch to get out of work, and I thought we might need oars to paddle our way out. Eating sticks of butter when there wasn’t anything else in the fridge. Was it seeing the picture of Cindy, my mom’s beautiful friend who killed herself, on top of a coffin? Maybe it was coloring from the back seat of that same car while we went to Tulsa to search for my father, who we never ever found.
I don’t remember which memory came first, but I do know how I felt. I was always a passenger, a sidekick, or a tag along in a show that featured my mother. I was an inconvenience or a doll, depending on the moment.
Inside, I felt insecure, in danger, and needy. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing or where I was supposed to be. I wish I could have scooped up that little girl and held her. But someone else did that. My grandma.
Grandma Jean was around a lot. She would give me cookies with holes in them. I’d put one on each finger and nib at them until my belly hurt. She sang me songs and made me wear a seat belt. She cut my bangs crooked with pink tape and my mom would yell at her. Grandma and my mom bagged at each other all the time.
My father met my mother while his wife was having a surgery at the Mayo Clinic. My 19 year old mother fell madly in love and believed whatever he said, even though he was lying. He moved her to Tulsa. Although, he was seeing several other women and my mother had been deceived. She found out she was pregnant and threatened to have an abortion unless he stayed with her. She waited at an abortion clinic for him to arrive. He never came. I don’t know how I exist, except through my mother’s hope that I would save her relationship.
I never sleep. I cry. I send a message to a friend, which turns into receiving the love and validation I need to keep crying. Eventually I look at the time and I see I have less than an hour before I have to wash my face and look just a smidge less disheveled so I can guzzle as many drinks as possible between the Delta SkyClub opening and boarding my plane. I’d like to sleep on the plane and it seems alcohol is probably going to be the only thing that makes that possible. So that’s what I do. I stand up, I wash my face, and I politely throw all my snotty tissues in the garbage. I drive, delirious, to airport parking and somehow navigate myself through baggage check and TSA. I reach Delta SkyClub at 3:30am, 45 minutes before they open. I chug my champagne with a side of orange juice.
I sit down in my seat near the back of the plane, preparing for comatose when a young woman sits next to me. I know her. She goes to my gym and I don’t like her. We both exchange niceties and I tell her my tale of why I’m on this plane with her while she reports back about her fucking birthday and some cousin she’s visiting. The world - this plane - doesn’t even feel real anymore. We eventually take off and I fall asleep with sand paper in my mouth.
I’m driving. Atlanta Airport is such a shit show and after 24 hours without sleep and traveling in planes, trains, and automobiles, I am in a rental car for a 2 hour drive to the middle of a Confederate flag. I’m listening to Dave Grohl’s The Storyteller but my mind is continually distracted by images and anxieties about him. It still doesn’t stop. I have to keep pausing the book so I can cry. It’s raining. Visibility sucks. I drive to a Hampton Inn. The manager at the front desk is petite and smoking outside under the car port when I arrive. She comes in to check me in, asking me in her most hospitable Southern accent why I’m in her little town. I tell her. She doesn’t say a word. She goes, “Hmm” and doesn’t make eye contact after that. I must be a shitty fucking mother. My son and I are a piece of shit. Why else would we be there?
I think that’s what pisses me off the most. Whether it be some Crossfit peer or a person checking you in to your nightmare, people never know the whole story. They create the story they want about me in their heads. That’s been going on since Day 1. Nicki is a whore. Nicki is a ditz. Nicki is trash. Nicki is crazy. She’s a bad mom. She’s wild. And all you get is the silence or the fake smile or the top of someone’s head as they avoid eye contact. I’m unworthy of even seeing their pupils. I’d like to burn a city to the ground. Now we know where he gets it from. I can blame his dad all I want but no one carries my rage like my children. I kind of don’t hate that about us. It’s the only time I feel powerful.
I stare at a wall in my hotel room for a couple hours before going to visit him. I still can’t sleep.
Going to see my only son in a locked facility across the country is probably the strangest thing I’ve ever done. I wish the drive from the hotel was longer. I have the thought that I need more mental preparation, but I don’t actually know what could prepare me for such a fucked up scenario. When I see him, he is different. He doesn’t look feral anymore. His embrace and sincere love fill me up in a way I can’t describe and in a way most mothers don’t know. It was beautiful. I felt my nervous system regulate. My heart stopped pounding and after some knocking around, I felt us fall into a familiar transaction; him coming up with outlandish scenarios for me to navigate, or me providing information on an obscure topic, such as the origin of goulash.
On the second day of visiting him, I know our time to part is drawing near. We’re in the cafeteria - about 6 large wood dining room tables, one or two families at each. My beautiful son is tired and lying his heavy body across my lap. I do everything my body remembers to do; I brush his short hair with my fingers. I actively hold his body close to mine- flexing my muscles around his young adult frame. Feeling my lips on his warm cheeks, I tell him over and over again how much I love him. When I stand to leave, I whisper in his ear that I want him home. He cracks and begin to sob. We say “I love you” as many times as we can fit in before I realize all the other parents have left. I finally say goodbye and avoid looking back as he is escorted back to his unit. I leave the cafeteria doors down a corridor. I feel that heavy rock in my chest rise into my throat. It feels juicy, more like a water balloon, ready to burst. I can’t cry. I don’t want anyone to see me cry. I walk faster to pass them. As the corridor opens to the parking lot, I pass a mother and two siblings on my left. I look directly at the mother’s face. She’s making the same face. Her lips spread and tight across her mouth stopping herself from sobbing. Oh fuck. The water balloon gets bigger. It’s spreading to my eyes. I walk fast. I’m at the back of the parking lot. To my right, another mother. I can’t not look. Same face, but head low. We’re both ashamed. Keep moving. Then another. And another.
This feels like something out of one of those psychological horrors Lisa is always suggesting I watch. I’ve told the story of this day. Of this moment. And all these people seem to think this is some moment of solidarity for me - like “Oh wow, someone you can relate with” or something. But it’s not. It’s completely fucked. As I power walk to my car as quickly as my stout legs can take me, all I can think of is how separated each of us are. We are drowning, independently, in our pain. We are doing what is most unnatural. This is so fucked.
And as each of us reach our vehicles, I hear car doors slam. The water balloon bursts. I finally scream. And so does everyone else.
by Michael Seymour Blake
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964, Jacques Demy
*You are required to sing the following text*
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a 1964 musical about young love and relationships. The story is aggressively basic, the execution is anything but.
It's filled with bright, bold colors that keep your attention on the screen. Everything from costumes to scenery fit into some surreal aesthetic world that also feels true to life.
I'm not a fan of musicals in general, which is weird because you cannot escape music while this is on. It's everywhere. Every line is part of an overarching number. I liked that there weren’t speaking parts leading to big bursts of song. A plain-spoken business transaction is just as musically charming as two lovers discussing their dreams for the future.
The Important Man, 1962, Ismael Rodríguez
Legendary actor Toshiro Mifune starring in a Mexican movie? Wha?
Took some strength to get through the scenes of animal cruelty (it's fairly concentrated in one area), but this movie was great.
It's easy to throw stones at the monomaniacal Animas. He's despicable, cruel, and devious... but he's also a prisoner of his own narcissism, unable to clearly see the world as it is. Or, if he does see it, to understand it. Everything is blurred by the veil of his unbridled egotism. I'm not saying he's the poor victim here, but there's a sense that he represents the whisper within us that begs to be known, respected, loved, important. Or maybe he's an example of someone whose whisper happens to be a roar filtered through a vengeful and unstable mind.
I love how the object of desire here isn't money for money's sake. It's not to be rich. The object of desire is to feel validated. Seems… familiar…
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky, 1991, Lam Ngai Kai
If you could take your weird younger cousin's dream and dip that dream in the mind of a deranged martial artist, then I don't know what you'd get... but it might be comparable to this movie.
Loved the extravagance and ambition. I read that the manga has some religious elements central to the plot, and while religion doesn't necessarily have a huge role here, there’s some religious imagery scattered throughout (not to mention Riki-Oh having a few Christlike moments).
The magnificent absurdity of this martial arts monstrosity will forever live within me. Excellent party movie. Watch it with your heart open and your fists closed (so you can punch them through someone’s chest).
I haven't really been listening to any new music so far this year but the last couple of days I've been listening and re-listening through some of Angelo Badalamenti's soundtracks. His music means a lot to me and I was sad when he passed away in December. His work with David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive etc) and Julie Cruise, who also sadly passed away in 2022. He made the soundtracks for The City of Lost Children (the amazing "Who Will Take My Dreams Away" with Marianne Faithful), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and others. In 1967 he co-wrote "I Hold No Grudge" for Nina Simone. He's collaborated with Pet Shop Boys, Siouxsie Sioux, Anthrax, David Bowie, Dolores O'Riordan and more.
A lot of soundtracks aren't on spotify (like Jane Campion's 1999 Holy Smoke!) but I made a playlist with some of what I could find. Happy pup friday from the dark haunted woods of mercury in retrograde season!
It always rains on my birthday.
Not really. My birthday is in November. Sometimes it does nothing. Sometimes it snows.
It did rain on my 6th birthday. I was in Kindergarten. I walked to and from school every day. Once I got in very big trouble when, instead of walking all the way to school, I stopped at a friend’s house to play. I was in morning classes, she was in afternoon classes so when she said school didn’t start until later, I believed her. Her mom believed us both and said she’d drive me. It wasn’t until I was dropped off for my non-existent afternoon classes I learned my mistake.
My friend gave me a giant geode because we had a fun morning. My mom made me give it back because it was a fun morning I wasn’t supposed to have.
She didn’t yell at me, my mom. She told me I’d played hooky. She explained school was much too important to play hooky. I never played hooky again.
On my 6th birthday, Miss Laverne gave me a certificate that said, “Congratulations on turning 6!”
She also let me make a purple construction paper crown to wear. I wrote my name all over it and covered it in crayon 6’s. Miss Laverne had to work the stapler for me because I wasn’t strong enough yet to squeeze it.
When it was time to walk home, it was raining. On raining days my mom would drive me or pick me up or both. But I didn’t see her car waiting for me in the line of cars so I walked home.
I cried the whole way. I wore my birthday crown and carried my certificate and everything was wet from rain and I did not think turning 6 was very fun at all.
When I got home, no one was there. There was a birthday cake on the kitchen table with 6 candles in it but all the lights were off and no one was there.
So, I walked back to school in the rain, still wearing my paper crown and carrying my certificate.
At some point, my mom found me. She apologized for not seeing me when I came out of the school. It was raining too hard. When she realized what I must have done she drove home. When I wasn’t there, she traced my route, driving up and down every side street until she found me.
When we got home I took off my wet things and took a nap in my parents’ bed. I remember my sister, Kathy, was there when I woke up and the candles were lit for my cake. I remember because it was the first time I was ever mad at my mom. I remember because at that moment, my sister was the only person in the world I liked.
Then I tasted my mom’s homemade peanut butter frosting for the first time and I felt bad for not liking my mom for a minute and I cried all over again.
My brother George came home while I cried into my cake and asked me if I was crazy.
I told him my whole ordeal and showed him my messed up crown and my ruined certificate and I cried all over him. He told me to eat more cake. He told me mom would have plenty of opportunities to make me not like her. He said if he wasn’t allowed to stay mad at her, I wasn’t either. He said it was okay to be mad at her sometimes though. I just should try very hard not to stay mad at her because she really was pretty good as far as moms went and besides, “You aren’t going to be half the fuck up I am,” he said.
I laughed. Mom smacked George on the head and told him not to say the f word. Kathy said, “Ya, don’t be a fuck up like George and say fuck in front of mom and dad,”
But Kathy was smart and waited until mom wasn’t in the room when she said it. She was also eating leftover peanut butter frosting off a spatula. The sun was setting behind her outside the kitchen window and the light on her hair looked like a halo. Kathy, the Patron Saint of Peanut Butter Fucking Frosting.
I don’t like my birthdays anymore. I haven’t had a happy birthday for a very long time but this will be a very special unhappy birthday. George died when he was 54. On this birthday, I will turn 54.
So far, however, the forecast says it will not rain.
It will be a Friday the 13th though. Because fuck.
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