Thursday, February 25, 2010


So I watched a stand-up special of Aziz Anasari's today. You know, that guy from Funny People and Parks and Recreation. And it was funny. Like, really funny. A big part of his bit dealt with attending an R. Kelly concert, and for some reason, after the show, I started downloading R. Kelly songs, remembering a roadtrip myself and 3 friends took spring break of our senior year of high school (2003).

We drove from Ithaca to Myrtle Beach. Once there, we drove up and down Broadway every night blasting, straight blasting "Ignition" out the factory speakers of my '96 Honda Civic. To this day, I can't hear that song without thinking of that trip. And I have no larger commentary here, just that I can't, even if I wanted to, extricate trip from song. And most times the last thing in the world I'd ever want to do would be return to being 17, acne-covered, and awkward (as opposed to 24, bearded, and awkward) rolling down the street with my buddies car-dancing our asses off to R.Kelley; but tonight, with snow covering the ground and more coming down, with three straight 6-day teaching weeks behind me and one ahead, with a stack of tax bills on the property my brother and I inherited from our mother, with a defunct engagement nearly a year behind me, I'm really happy to have this song take me back. Then, to look back at all the aforementioned minor-to-major stressors and say, "hey, maybe this life ain't so bad."

Self-indulgence time over. All this only to quote something I once heard on the radio: "When life comes crashing down on you, it's nice to have beautiful memories." Not that life is currently crashing down, I just seem to be feeling the slow crush right now...fortunately a 2-week spring break is just a week away...

Other strange song/memory combinations out there?


Killer first line of the moment:

"Our light is never spent."

from Rae Armantrout's "Eyes"
(Poetry, June 2009)


Many thanks to Matthew Nienow, another young poet I recently connected with via the blogosphere, for inviting me to join Ink Node, an online publishing experiment. Basically, each invited poet has the chance to create their own little publishing bubble, and in doing so, connect to other bubbles. So you can reprint poems that have been published elsewhere, post new work, invite a limited number of other poets to join (who, in turn, can also invite), and everyone can rate (not so hot on this part of it) and comment (very much enjoy this part, the opportunity for conversation on a piece) on a poem. It's a really great idea and I'm hoping it takes off, but for now I'm simply happy to be included. I posted the first poem I ever published in print, entitled "Charged" from the Spring 2008 issue of the Roanoke Review. Also, check out Matt's great poem on Ink Node, "Lupa," originally published in The Journal.



Anonymous said...

There's an interview with Aziz on NPR's Fresh Air, during which he convinces Terry Gross to do something unprecedented. It made me laugh harder than anything else I've ever heard on that program.

Your story made me think of the time in life when everyone we knew was hitting that mid-point of adolescence, where we were granted access to an automobile and given a degree of personal freedom that we had yet to experience. Given the opportunity to make our own decisions about culture, people began gravitating towards music in hilariously inappropriate ways. I remember sitting in friends' cars, driving through what seemed to be endless fields that existed between our homes, laughing tearfully at 'World War III' or the music of Fabolous. It was a strange, incongruous time, when our tastes could ascend to heights of staggering absurdity thanks to the place in which we lived. Whenever I hear any kind of rap, there's always a piece of me that is reminded of being a kid, partly because of those formative years, and partly because I realized I'd be about as useful as one in most situations that rappers describe.

These memories remind me of another bit of music, which was attached to a performance piece that I believe you starred in. If I remember correctly, it harnessed that awkwardness you were referring to and turned it into a powerful work of art. It was good stuff.

I heard you may be up in the north west in the middle of March. If you're around the 13th + 14th, I should be up in Seattle if you care to get together.


Luke said...

Great comment, Owen. Too much to say here. E-mailing you...