those crows sick their starving wings on choking out the sun full sinking pinks

I had great questions to ask you all, polls and open thoughts. They're gone now, as these things go.

I'm fixing to have a great time.

I didn't mean to do a short post like this, but I'm not sure of what to say. I've had a good while (along the same lines as a good night, or a good weekend), I'm happy, and excited, and nervous, and worried, but flowing, and laughing my way through the day (and I'd laugh through hurricanes and fire, to be sure). I'm rereading favorite books, and exploring new ones, I'm revisiting old pleasures and giving credence to new ones, I'm delighting in noise and in color and wordplay, and along with that I owe someone an apology, for hypocrisy. Sorry.

Dreadnought is such a word... it's used to describe a certain shape of guitar, usually strung with steel strings, with the 14th fret at the body. The word is very ... acute at the moment? Maybe not the right word, but it has that pointed, somewhat painful feeling that I'm trying to convey.


Check up

I was really busy in August, I apologize. I only got, what, 4 blog posts up in the entire month? Pitiful. Or something like that. Anyways, having gone to Morris, MN, and stood on the lawn in the center of UMM's campus, and listened to Cloud Cult perform for an hour and a half or so, I have decided to sit here and plug them shamelessly. Which is too bad, since they aren't going to be playing another show for a bit.

Last year, Cloud Cult, which is a homegrown Minnesota rock band that has been around for about 12 years, released an album titled Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) with the intention of releasing it, doing perhaps a small tour, and then retiring to a life of hobby farming in northern Minnesota. Or maybe that was just the lead singer, Craig Minowa. Regardless, that's not what happened, thank goodness. The album brought them heaps of critical praise and general popularity - they even had a song on a commercial spot. So they kept touring. As I finally got around to seeing them, and hearing them for the first time (which makes me sort of a terrible person, I know), in Summer 2009, I am quite pleased with this turn of events. I'm hoping they are too.

Anyways, they're a rock band in the sense that there are drums, a guitar and a bass; the full instrumentation is as follows: violin, cello, drums, electric guitar, and electric bass. The guitarist sings main vocals and also plays the keyboard and manipulates artificial noise (loops, sound bites, and such), the cellist also sometimes plays keyboard, the bassist also sometimes plays trombone and a children's xylophone, and everybody already mentioned but the drummer sings vocals. BUT there are also two full-time painters that tour with the band and paint during shows (the paintings are auctioned off for charity at the end of the show; UMM bought one for $500); one of the painters also sometimes plays the keyboard, and sings, and the other sings and sometimes plays the trumpet.

So "rock" isn't a very good description, but the point is, they're amazingly talented, and make amazing music. It sounds as if they're going on a small hiatus (one of the painters is married to Craig, the lead singer, and they're expecting in about a month), and almost everyone in the band is married, and not necessarily to each other, so families and lives beckon. So even though you may not be able to see them live anytime soon (unless you live in River Falls, Wisconsin, in which case go see them on 9/11 at the U of W there), you can check out their music and buy their 7 or 8 albums at cloudcult.com.


Have heart.

I watched a lot of movies while I was on vacation with my parents. The full list is this: Iron Man, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Last Chance Harvey, and Good night, and good luck. Iron Man is a great movie, BB was also good, but long and troubling, Harvey was mostly adorable, but what I really want to talk about is GN,AGL.

Good night, and good luck. is a movie about Edward R. Murrow and his conflicts with Junior Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. The history lesson is short: McCarthy founded the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and unconstitutionally tried people for Communist ties. Murrow, perceiving the illegality and immorality of the Senator's actions, did a series of specials covering the hearings on his show, See It Now. The Senator responded by attacking Murrow without refuting any of Murrow's allegations. An investigation into McCarthy and his actions occurred shortly thereafter.

The message I took away from this concerned a topic that is very prevalent today: what is good journalism? Part of this question revolves around the idea of the "purpose" of journalism. A friend ponders it here, and Andrew Sullivan often does it here. For my own part, I view the purpose of journalism as I view many things, as a spectrum, no pun intended.

On one end is objective journalism: news delivered with as little bias as possible and as accurately as possible. Most news sources attempt to deliver this type of news. The idea is that the news should be one step removed from the event, and that the reporter is a collator, or a curator, if you will. In this case, a reporter is analogous to a mapmaker - the best map is the land itself, but that doesn't fit in your pocket, on your doorstep, on your television, in your browser, so a map is made, a news story written.

On the other end is subjective journalism. I don't have a ready definition for this, so I'll give examples. Socialist newsletters are subjective journalism. Hannity is subjective journalism. Andrew Sullivan is subjective journalism. Perhaps a good word for all this is simply, Editorial. It's the word used in GN,AGL by Murrow to describe his show and his department at CBS.

Is one of these "better" than the other? Arguably, yes. If I want to find out what happened in Ghana today, I would turn to objective news. If I wanted to know how well the American economy is doing, I would turn to objective news. But say I want to know what the American far right thinks about the War on Terror: I would turn to WaPo editorials.

The assumption in answering affirmatively to that question is that news without bias, news written for as wide an audience as possible, is better news. News can still be accurate and biased. Look at John Stewart: the Daily Show is a nightly program that does a very good job of covering the daily news, but it does so with a leftist bias. MSNBC does much the same thing, albeit a lot less entertaining. Sean Hannity also does a daily program that covers the news, with a far right bias. I'm not sure entertaining is the right word, but there's my opinion showing. It's affirming. I don't hold the same beliefs, but I can sense that.

See It Now was an editorial program. The nature of the program was subjective. But it's segments on the McCarthy hearings were revolutionary. For really the first time, the media directly affected politics. Murrow's journalism was solid. It was deep. It was thought provoking. It was accurate. Was it objective? Possibly. His intentions were objective: he was trying to tell the truth.

And that's the rub. Truth is subjective. Watch the interviewhere. Both of these people believe fully that they are right. They are argueing their positions with a passion that cannot be denied. Yet the text agrees with only one of them.

Where does this put journalists? I think you can safely say that journalists should tell the news as accurately as possible. What they tell will be based on their bias. How they tell it should not be. Ideally, people should seek to consume news from multiple sources: good journalists will give out accurate news that they care about, and each news consumer will receive news from a variety of biases. That is a news world I think we could have.


There's a mural up on east 14th, it said, "Hallelujah, RIP"

I have resolved to try and face more of my fears, and to try to work past them as best I can. In some cases, this means steeling up and doing things that I want to do, but am afraid to do, in other cases it means telling people how I feel and trying to get them to work with me, and in still others it means doing things that I don't want to do at the moment, but should. Some of these cases overlap, in ... some cases.

Or something like that.

I would really like to stop being afraid of things, afraid of people; or, really, I want this gutfeeling of apprehension to go away. Living is no fun when your insides strangle you.


The blue light was my blues, and the red light was my mind

A checklist of sorts, or maybe, a really, really long mastercard commercial, from my vacation:

Hours of guitar played: 3-4
Number of times I played Love In Vain Blues: 3-4
Number of mochas drunk: 2
Number of poems written: 2
Number of beers had: about 5
Glasses of Syrah: about ... 5
Glasses of Chardonnay: ... about five
Nights spent: 4
Fears faced: many
Fears defeated: maybe not that many
Books read finished: 3, working on a 4th
Friends missed: a lot of them
S'mores eaten: 0
Mountains circled: 1
Chocolate Mouse-es ate: 2
Trips to the swimming pool: 3
Scrapes from the swimming pool: 1
Mild Sunburn: check
Things jonesed for: 4
Trips yearned for: 3
Days I wanted to come home: all of them
Days I wanted to see someone special: all of them
Days I didn't want to leave: all of them
What could be the last vacation with I take with my family in a long time: absolutely wonderful, and, yes, priceless

More starting later this week. Real journalism, not being a theater person, things like that.


Maria came from Nashville with a suitcase in her hand, I always kinda sorta wished I looked like Elvis

I seem to always be saying this, but, "it's been a while." Summer is bad for blogging. I spend too much time hanging out with friends, and as those friends are mostly the people that read this blog, it's hard to be motivated to write. That, and when I'm hanging out with friends, I'm not doing anything interesting that can't be tracked in another manner. Like, a month or so ago, a friend was housesitting for some folks with a chicken coop, so some friends and I went over to see the chickens. I took some pictures of them playing with chickens, and then put them up on facebook. That was the end of that; it felt like there wasn't any need to write about how fun it was playing with chickens, when the folks in those pictures are the people who read this the most. :-\

In addition to summer not being good for blogging, I've been in a different sort of mood since school ended. I've had a lot less desire to share generally (as opposed to individually), and a desire to be quieter. I've been listening to a lot more indie and folk music this summer, which is quite different from the punk and hardcore binge I went on at the end of the schoolyear, or the hip hop binge I went on last year. I've spent a lot more time thinking about my problems, and a lot less time writing about them, which means less poetry. The same is true for events in my life, which means fewer blog posts.

Spring semester was very intense for me, academically and emotionally. Academically, I was very busy, doing homework, planning for the coming year, planning for the future, writing papers, writing code, writing poetry. But I also made new friends, forged stronger friendships, missed some people more than is usually healthy, forgot how to breathe, and remembered just in time to fly away.

This year I lost some independence, and gained some self-esteem, and realized both of those things are important to me. I realized that what I want isn't always compatible with current situations - something that is completely contrary to the lessons I learned as an only child in a supportive household. I was taught, all through my life, you can be anything you want, you can do anything you wish to. I never thought that I wouldn't know what I wanted. I also never learned that sometimes what you want involves others - it takes more than one egg to make an omelette; some things cannot be accomplished alone, and sometimes others don't want the same things you do. And... in that case, you *can't* do whatever you want. Sometimes people won't be there to support your endeavors.

And sometimes, people will be there. The people who love you should inspire and support you, and you should do the same for them, out of love for their dreams.

I'm coming home again.


Open E-mail to Lisa Goodman

Might do a weekend recap tomorrow or Thursday. For now, an e-mail I sent to Minneapolis Ward 7 Council Member Lisa Goodman regarding 18+ shows.

Dear Council Member Lisa Goodman,

I've become aware of an initiative by your office relating to 18+ music shows and the availability of alcohol at those shows. I read an article in the City Pages (link below), which I recognize is most likely biased, but as a resident of the Twin Cities and a frequent concert-goer, I feel the need to inform you of my concerns, and make a humble suggestion for future action.

Firstly, the main concern of your office seems to be the potential hazards of having underage youth in such close contact with alcohol while at concerts. One of the dangers, in particular, is that of individuals aged 21+ passing alcohol off to minors. I agree that this is a major problem. The issue is that the minors who get drunk and attend concerts aren't getting their alcohol at the show itself. Most of them are actually pre-gaming the show - that is, procuring alcohol through a legal adult before the event, and then going to the event after they're already drunk. This is the logical source of alcohol for the minors - if their alcohol consumption were restricted to the show itself, they would not be able to preform the binge drinking that has been observed, due to the restrictive cost of drinks at venues and the suspiciousness of a patron continually purchasing a large volume of alcohol. I don't know of any venue that wouldn't investigate such behavior.

Secondly, 18+ shows represent a unique niche in the world of bookings. The main issue at hand is a matter of ambiance. All Ages shows have a very particular feel - the average age is much lower, the performances less serious, the crowd more rowdy. 18+ shows on the other hand, allow young adults to attend concerts with people not closer to their physical age, but closer to the age and maturity level that young adults wish to have. This, along with the general increase in maturity, makes for a more intimate atmosphere, less rowdy crowds (particularly at punk and metal shows) and better performances. There have been many times when my friends and I have forgone seeing great bands, simply because the show is All Ages, and we'd rather wait for a better atmosphere in which to appreciate the music.

I'm sure that your office will weigh all the positives and negatives of any restriction, and make a well-thought out decision. Also, if I may, I would like to make a couple small suggestions. The primary problem with this initiative at the moment is that it appears to the public as an instinctual, puritanical strike at underage drinking. To help you learn about the source of the problems, as well as give the public an impression of consideration and deliberation on the part of your office, I would suggest you conduct some research about the source of underage alcohol consumption, the strength of venue underage drinking policies, etc. Along with this, you might also consider other solutions to this problem besides a booking restriction on venues.

Here's the City Pages link: http://www.citypages.com/2009-07-22/news/proposal-to-ban-18-shows-could-kill-minneapolis-s-music-scene/

Thank you for your concern in public health and safety, and thank you for taking the time to read this. I would be willing to discuss this matter further with you, and I trust you will make a well-informed decision.


Colin Welch