Painted Palms return. With an enhanced sound. They rightly believe–as many do–that the early part of the millennium was a wonderful time for music. Their second album, Horizons, celebrates that moment. I like the fact that Painted Palms are not afraid to poke around in not-too-distant trends and examine what might be worthwhile to revisit, revise, and modify. “Disintegrate” is good and bodes well for the rest of their new album.
A letter on cicadas: Dear —, on the train ride back from D.C., I began to be afraid. The news had spoken of a dangerous brood that was due to emerge from their underground holes that very night. The normal 4-hour train ride became, for some reason, a 7-hour train ride. We circled around Richmond for what felt like several days. The territory of this brood extended all through the Mid-Atlantic, i.e., all the states I love and travel through. All I could picture was roads covered in carpets of cicada bodies, their red eyes blaring–making noise somehow–in the lights of oncoming cars. I imagined them lined up at my door, waiting to pounce on me. I had heard they would be aggressive. Not actively attacking, I guess, but actively being aggressively dumb, flying blindly into whatever, which would include me and my own personal, screaming head. Trees would become coated in cicadas. The noise would be deafening, like a million petulant toddlers detonating at full whininess at once. I did not relish the idea of going for a walk in the park unprotected. But it all turned out to be an exaggeration. The only one I saw that summer was a dead carcass on the trunk of a friend’s parents’ tree.
This is as summer as it gets. Or at least the peaceful side of summer. The tranquil parts. The Clientele’s first album is like a bottle of beer (or wine), a blanket, a grassy hill, and a beautiful sunset—it is the distillation of the best of those experiences, the highlight reel. This album just about made me swoon when I was 20 and it does the same things to me today, 14 years later. What it did then and still does is make me think of the miraculous nature of life, the freakish and hard otherworldly beauty of nature, rain, bicycles, beer, night, and twilight. This album is a monument.
A dream: you can go back and re-do your own birth. A new draft. No hospitals. This will be a home birth, for sure. A midwife will attend. Everyone knows a baby born in a hospital is basically a corporate baby already, robbed of vitality and humanity. Hospital babies might as well be born with sponsorship decals on their backs from Pfizer, etc. Though there is a new sense, you have heard, that home births even have been compromised. By Big Midwifery. How can your birth be real if other people are involved? If you’re ever going to be real, like, real as shit, it needs to be just you, your mom, and your pop. Scratch that, just you and your mom. Scratch that, just you. Floating out of the ether. An accretion of phlogiston made human. That’s how things should be.
An empire of Lik-M-Aid. The snack bar was the locus of everything: fun, drama, sugar, soda, and gestural flirting. You pay $5 for a small adventure. Rent tennis rackets for the dried-up courts. Rent ping-pong paddles for the broken tables. Inquire about the rules for tetherball. Settle, in the end, for shuffleboard. There is a hill of grass that makes you dream of past picnics. Three pools: standard, lap, and kiddie. High-dive and low-dive right next to each other. Swim underwater in pursuit of rings at the bottom. No pool toys in pool 1, fine in pool 3, kids don’t go in pool 2. They sold it because the inheritors couldn’t agree what to do with it.