without reflecting too much on this, i need to say that it moves me to tears any time i seriously think about spending time on this earth after my wife has entered the kingdom in eternity.
her qualities are so rare. if you know her, you know that people are drawn to her– over and over i watch people pour their hearts out to zena, because she radiates understanding and inspires honesty with her honesty. and you’ll have to take my word for her masterful, loving touch as a mother. she is the most observant and insightful student of the human condition i have ever met. she is stunningly beautiful. her love of the lord, lived out in action, literally overwhelmed my defenses and ushered me into the kingdom of god. i am completely in love with her.
erika from philly stopped by the house today. z and she spent some time together, with liam and mazz running and sliding down the slide and riding the bike and generally having a good time. liam kept saying ‘mazzyss,’ a vaguely arabic-sounding interpretation of mazz’s name that was cute.
erika related how she felt that her worst year was god’s extravagant grace to her: by letting her choose to go her own way and do her own thing, he taught her to have faith that his way is good, even better than best. i say this because mansfield is pretty dry; dryer, maybe, than we were warned, even. we’ve found no church, we’ve made few friends (though i am truly grateful for the friends we have made, they are indeed god’s grace to us). we may not be giving it enough time, but it feels more and more like it is the desert here, the bad desert, the one you wandered out into of your own accord. this is exacerbated by reports of wonderful discoveries of church and community in columbus (not just you, e), things we’ve long sought in vain, coming to fruition only now that we are gone. despite encouragements, this feeling persists.
i’ve been listening to the postal service in the car on the way to and from work. the last words on the album are ‘everything will change.’ these are portents of the future. i take comfort in the fact that god is good, and he loves to grant mercy if only we will repent of our own ways and turn to him. his extravagant grace to us may be to solidify our understanding of the value of true community by having allowed us to step out of it so hastily.
by the way, if you’ve been reading and wanted to converse with me, you can do so near the top of this page now.
okay, i should warn you up front that i’m going to talk about pavement. so if you don’t want to read about pavement, or you’re tired of hearing me go on and on about pavement, you should stop reading now. because now i’m going to talk about pavement.
pavement; from stockton, CA; formed in the late 80’s; released independent eps on drag city; recorded epochal first album slanted and enchanted which, on the strength of a pre-release unmarked cassette, became spin magazine’s surprise album of the year for 1992 before it was even released.
they had the unfortunate bad timing to get picked up by the cultural radar at about the same time as the ‘slacker’ concept, which is a misnomer when applied to this band. they more accurately embody sprezzatura, that is, the doing of something gracefully and expertly, but made to look effortless or ‘tossed-off.’ pavement’s guitar workouts, elliptical figures, surf-drenched harmonies, fat chord structures and studied non-sequitors are not the work of amateurs or even savants, but absolute masters.
i happen to personally believe that i hear more evidence in new-millenium rock of pavement’s influence than i do of nirvana’s. nevermind may have rushed in the cultural zeitgeist, but slanted and enchanted was the turtle to kurt cobain’s hair.
listen to pavement: from the john peel sessions after their first album, here’s here (mp3), and from their final album, terror twilight, the lilting spit on a stranger (mp3). these are but bookends to their career. many would choose their sophomore triumph crooked rain, crooked rain as the album of the decade, and they certainly achieved their most commercial success with the single ‘cut your hair’ (video here). i return to brighten the corners with regularity, not only for the back-to-back opening stunners ‘stereo’ (“hey, listen to me, i’m on the stereo stereo, my baby gave me malaria, hysteria”) and ‘shady lane’ (“oh my god, oh your god, oh his god, oh her god, it’s everybody’s god”), but for the best ever hard-rocker about international relations, ’embassy row’ (“…men in dashikis and their leftist weeklies…”).
pavement broke up some number of years ago now, but the two principal songwriters, stephen malkmus and spiral stairs (in that order) went on to solo projects: malkmus heads the jicks, and spiral is now the preston school of industry. for my money, malkmus was always the man behind the music, and his jicks albums get better and better: listen to ‘us‘ and ‘(do not feed the) oysters‘ (both mp3s) from his latest, pig lib. spiral stairs (nee scott kannberg) is releasing a new album, monsoon shortly; he collaborated with wilco on ‘get your crayons out,’ which is an okay track.
matador records plans to re-release crooked rain, crooked rain soon, giving it the deluxe treatment, with all the bells and whistles and extra tracks. if you haven’t ever bit the pavement, that would be a great introduction, i’m sure.
we now return to your regularly scheduled program.