Sahar has Thoughts on music

Band of Horses was never my favorite band, but they are consistently great for many an occasion
Great Lake Swimmers is folky and sweet, but NOT sad. Rare combo. Their first album is great to fall asleep to.
Sufjan Stevens is the best
Cloud cult is pretty fun, but repetitive. Not amazing
Death cab for cutie is a great band if you are 16 and sad about girls
LCD Soundsystem is the best thing that libertarian capitalists ever gave the world. Two huge thumbs up
Bob Dylan songs often have great melodies. Tangled up in blue is a particular favorite. And then it so happens they they have nice lyrics too
Leonard Cohen is the thinking man’s Bob Dylan.
Of Montreal are great for walking down busy urban streets and giving yourself a spring in your step
The Velvet Undergrounds first album is phenomenal for sitting on a train going through the countryside looking out the window
The violent femmes are underrated
Gnarls Barkelry is great and every knows it, but they’re often overlooked for some reason
Robyn is the killingest pop star
Sigur Røs is great music to convince a date to kiss you for the first time
I’ve been getting into fugal I. Half their stuff is great and half is pretentious crap
The Mountaon Goats have way too much crap in their catalogue. But the good stuff is golden. Get Lonely is the best breakup album I’ve ever heard
Radiohead whatever
Daft punk yes we get it they’re amazing. Did you know they have an album length music video which is awesome? (Look up interstella 5555)
Arcade fires first two albums are the purest expression of the rage and terror of living in the early bush years
Strokes are overrated
Janelle Monae is so fun
The Decemberists stopped being interesting 8 years ago
Jeans Lekman will never be the center of anyone’s musical universe, but he’s always welcome as a nice addition
Alt-J’s breezeblocks is just catchy as hell
I can and have listened to CAKE on repeat for days.
Billy Bragg has some good stuff, and a lot of misses. His Red Flag and Internationale are killer, though
Wilco’s live album will blow the mind of moody freshmen minoring in philosophy
Hercules and Love affair had one really good song (Hercules theme) and milked that into two mediocrely albums
Justice is good for dance music if you’ve got less than five minutes to prepare before drunk people knock on your door demanding a party
Bikini Kill is great for when you’re an angry feminist and unbearable screaming the other 95% of your life
Frank orange has one great album. Get it.
Animal collective is music that won’t distract you from more important things, ht then when you decide to finally pay it attention you’ll be well rewarded.
The xx is for being generally sad about the world but not sad enough to go play games or eat ice cream about it
Iron and Wine is like the god fare of sad folky music. Put him in Pandora and you’ll get a selection of a ton of good stuff by other people
I hear Grimes is great. Honestly I don’t get it
Björk is terrible. Burn her albums in a fire
The freelance whales are fun and poppy and you should. Check out their first album
DJ /rupture is awesome and interesting
Nettle is obscure and fun and exotic!
Explosions in the sky is like better classical music. Play it whenever you want great background music to whatever you’re doing. (Boring Skype calls?)
Ratatat fills the seem need as explosions in the sky but it’s much faster and more aggressive
Fleet Foxes are solid
Cat power deserves our money and attention
Beck is a genius, but not as much as he thinks he is
Neutral Milk Hotel is the Pixies of new folk music. In a good way
Pete Seeger is an American treasure. <3 <3 <3
Johnny Cash is the best and only country music you need to hear
Remember Kings of Leon? Me neither. Same for Hot Chip.
Sleigh Bells does one thing, and they do it well!
The Whitest Boy Alive is great background music as you stroll across a campus, or stroll anywhere actually. Someone needs to use it in a film soundtrack asap.
Purity Ring is actually pretty nice. Just getting into them. I like Shrines
Simon and Garfunkel had a good thing going. “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls” – be still my heart!
Did I mention that sufjan is the very bae of bae’s?


My memoirs in 5 minutes

Once, we lived in a world on fire. A world of slaughter and war and
fear. Out of that world, two special people were able to flee, to bulid,
to thrive.

This is not their story.

Once, there was a little boy. And his middle name was Moses. He was a stranger in a strange land. He did not collect baseball cards. He did not pray in Shul. He would never wear a black hat.

This little boy, let’s call him Moses, may have believed in god. He definitely did not believe in himself. His namesake could speak seven languages. Moses could only master two. Moses was mediocre at kickball. Moses did not know Torah.

Moses staged elaborate plays with his stuffed animals at night. When no
one watched.

One day, Moses’ best friend called him his “seventh best friend”. He was crushed.

Moses did not like to read. But his parents forced him. Moses did not know Torah, but he did know to honor his father and mother. And so he did.

One day, he found an artifact which would change his life. Tucked in the corner of his teacher’s shelves – his tyrannical, harsh (overworked, underpaid) teacher – was the first chapter book he ever read.

It was about adventure.

It was about children living on their own, as a family. Building a home in the woods. Scavenging. Thriving. Nothing would ever be the same.

Moses grew. He escaped the citadel of black hats and stern words and small thoughts. He found a new school with a sunrise painted on the side. He grew glasses from all his reading. His adversaries were not black hats but small hearts, all the same.

He was handed the poisoned chalice of praise, and drank deeply. From now on, he would be known as “smart”. He’d never be able to tear himself from that wretched goblet again.

Moses grew, and grew strange. He chased Pokemon in his
dreams. His days were the tormented mix of boredom, frustrated
exuberance, and the casual cruelty of children. He started keeping a book constantly at his side, ready to whip it out and escape every time
the teacher turned her back.

The isolation of being a foreigner ripened into the isolation of being strange. And so Moses drifted towards the other strangers. They were weak, but most had drunk from the chalice as well. They were brothers trapped by the addiction to smart.

And so they built themselves a small shtetl in the concrete walls of the middle school. Some would be able to leave through sports. Most would only be forced out with the triumph of age.

The triumph of age. The triumph of making friends, joining clubs, of having youth take you seriously. The triumph of death inexorably approaching, of being torn from the breast of friendship and scattered to the four winds.

And so our hero found himself a stranger again in a new home, surrounded by new strangers still. He found himself able to make a fresh start. And so he did.

He found love mixed with tragedy, and to this day confuses one for the other.

He found a new village in the campus. A bulwark against the cruel world outside. A community that contained its own diseases: cruelty, status, and posturing. But one that also contained power, solidarity, and action.

In that village Moses started taking up arms against a
sea of troubles, and by opposing, moderate them. As you know, the people united will sometimes win and sometimes lose. Moses couldn’t save the world, or even america. So he painted demon faces on the petty tyrants at hand and rallied the villagers to cast out the dracula. Sometimes he even succeeded.

And then – the triumph of age. The casting out. The peering through a glass window at the place that once was home. Ever the rootless jew, Moses left his last village and wandered through the desert.

He wandered through the desolate cities of Oakland and Springfield and New Haven and Rochester. He wandered through the gardens of eden in Oakland and Springfield and New Haven and Rochester. He was a itinerant knight, a Robin Hood, and a little boy with a pot helmet and a wooden stick for a sword.

And now he doesn’t know what to do next. There’s no village. All the old certainties – in his coding ability, in his affiliation with the professional left, in the abundance the world had to offer – all are gone.

What’s left? Just a little boy with a stick for a sword and a world full of dragons to explore. 


What do you say to a man about to lose everything?

(A letter I wrote on September 16, 2013)

And I mean everything.

I said goodbye to a dying man tonight, Anna.

His body – bony. Raspy. Mottled. Hunched.

His voice – surprisingly strong.

His eyes – oh his eyes.

His eyes were so scared, Anna. They were the eyes of a young man about to be forced to storm in a trench in Verdun. The eyes of a sick man in a hospital bed, with no machinery around to even check his pulse.

They looked up. Up because we loomed over his tiny frame on his low hospital bed. Up because that’s where your eyes go when you plead.

Anna this guy was dying and his wife wasn’t even there. Dad’s at her apartment/dorm right now trying to get her to stay with him until he dies.

And he’s going to die tonight. The doctors have stopped doing anything proactive, really.

We stood in this awkward half-circle around his bed and each said hello (but really goodbye). I went first. Then Shelly asked if she could hug him and cried. Then Talie gave him a hug. So I got on the hug train.

I was trying to smile. I think if I were going to die I’d like cheerful energy around me, instead of sadness everywhere. Right?

We went outside. Washed thoroughly. Those hospital sinks are nice. Warm-water luxuries. Then I said out loud “I wish I said I love you too”.

Dad said I could go back but he didn’t seem to enthusiastic about it. “Don’t worry. He knows” Shelly chimes in “it doesn’t matter. He won’t even remember.”

“I want to live a life without regrets”. I said. So I walked back in and told him. Shelly and Talie came in with me too. It was nice. Much less stilted. Then Dad had some alone time with him.

Dad finally fessed up to Joe that he is dying. Did he have any final wishes? No. Okay. Crying.

We left the hospital then and in my heard I just heard the phrase over and over again. That lyrics from the Mountain Goats’ Woke up New: “The world in its cold way started coming alive.”

What a cruel joke.


Declaration of Independence

Remember the joy of being young, the joy of discovery? 

Remember rushing outside and finding everything so utterly fascinating?

The pleasure of moving your body. The smell of the outdoors. Each conversation an adventure. 

I’m beginning to forget. 

I’ve been spending so much time with computers lately. First for class, now for work. I keep in touch with my scattered friends through the computer. I read news through the computer. My most important organs are now my brain for thinking and my hands for typing.

Our bodies deserve to be more than just vehicles to transport our brains from meeting to meeting.

I declare independence from:

  1. Being so social-movement focused.
  2. Obsessing over news.
  3. Viewing the internet as a consumer rather than producer.
  4. Facebook
  5. Google Reader
  6. Smartphone notifications
  7. Digitally-mediated interaction

Sure, I’ll still be online. But no longer will I spend a bulk of my time on google reader and facebook. No longer will I consume much more than I create. 

That means more blogging. More writing. More going outside and walking. Less reading facebook (only check it once a day!), less reading Google Reader (I’m on a week-long hiatus!), less politics. The left is interesting and all, but my dreams should be full of other topics as well. I have other interests! It’s time to activate them.

Time for each day to be an adventure again.