"Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait" -Longfellow

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In Flight: 10 Questions with Marcus Rubio

Birds of oblivion, Birds of enlightenment.

San Antonio composer/rockstar Marcus Rubio has been perplexing, delighting and inspiring  local music lovers since he was practically a hatchling. His all-arts mind has made him an especially endearing performer/personality in the scene and his playing, of more than several instruments, has become impeccably agile across multiple contexts. It's songwriting and composing, however, that are Rubio's truest gifts... Just dig his latest effort None of the Birds, a self-described "album of pop songs". Recorded on the fly, in small spaces, and with unflinchingly giant ideas; None of the Birds is Rubio at his most capable. Rather than getting lost exploring the labyrinth of musical possibilities, Rubio steadies his focus here and allows the emotive and severe irreverence of the songs to laze about in hazy versions of the odd perfection he hears in his head. These songs, and this album, are intelligently anguished and curiously disillusioned... but buried in the warmth of the joy with which they were created- joy and an ever-sharpening sense of arrangement, voice, and texture. I sent Marcus some questions designed to get to the bottom of his developmental visions as a musician and writer (classical and popular) and to see where his intimate yet philosophical lyrics grow from. His thoughtful,  exuberant, and candid answers reveal his gently wild complexity as a dude and as an artist. Read my review of the album (via the San Antonio Current) HERE and download it, and other goodies, HERE. Below: enjoy the interview, the album stream and a fantastic video of Marcus and the Gospel Choir of Pillows performing the title track off None of the Birds.

1. This is such a dangerous question, I have a feeling, to ask you... But who influences you most when it comes to writing this type of fervent pop music?
Ahh there’s so many! But in terms of this particular release there were definitely some aesthetic models I had in mind when writing and/or recording these songs. Jim O’Rourke has been a very prevalent musical and lyrical inspiration to me over the last few years. Musically, he pushes all the right buttons in terms of harmonic movement, production, arrangements, and rhythm but in a way, he’s most influenced my songwriting lyrically. The songs on his solo album Insignificance and on his albums with Loose Fur are so amazingly cynical, direct, and personal yet still cryptic, clever, and beautiful. He really manages to create this whole curmudgeon-y persona through his music and it really gave me the inspiration to say things in my songs that I had previously restrained. Musically, O’Rourke has definitely been a huge influence as well. He’s great at synthesizing disparate styles into a cohesive whole and his whole concept of treating pop music as a sort of cultural musique concrete is really fascinating to me and something that I feel like I identify with. 

With a lot of the songs on None of the Birds, I was really into the idea of trying to take lofty arrangements/production and pull them off with my very limited recording means and I really inundated myself with bands that work in a similar style like the Royal Trux, Yo La Tengo, the Microphones, the Flaming Lips, Pavement, and all of Bradford Cox’s projects. I also - of course - love Mark Hollis and the late period Talk Talk albums and their philosophical recording practices definitely factored into my writing as well. 

There was a definite shift in songwriting over the last two or three years of moving away from having the most complicated chord progressions to really focusing on generating interest and change through rhythm, texture, and groove. There’s a good bit of that on None of the Birds but I think it’s even more apparent on the next batch of Gospel Choir of Pillows songs that will be released soon. All of the afforementioned artists are responsible for that but listening to a lot of krautrock, Miles Davis and the Stones also contributed to that change as well. 

2. Your obvious interest and participation in classical music seems to be somewhat less dominant on this album than some of your others, is that something conscious? Is there a split personality thing that goes along with working in these multiple distinct modes?
In all honesty, the decreased emphasis on orchestration really came as  a matter of convenience in many ways. When I started the Gospel Choir of Pillows in high school, it was basically a chamber ensemble of mostly classical kids that I got together to play very exact music that I transcribed. When we all graduated, half the band moved away for college. So we went from being a 13 piece group to a 4 piece overnight. I really wanted to keep up the elaborate orchestrations but it was just hard to find permanent players and I found that I was spending all of my time writing really specific and integral parts only to have players cancel the day of the show. It became more trouble than it was worth and I finally decided that it was time to focus more on writing for a “rock” band. My perceptions on the way I arranged songs really changed because of this too. When I was younger, I was drunk on writing these thick Wagnerian arrangements with just insane voice leading that was meant to be the crux of the song. I don’t really think that way anymore. I definitely try to be more spare when I write arrangements for myself and others these days. I want do what suits the song or piece that I’m working on the best. 

In terms of the split personality thing, I used to try and separate those worlds as much as I possibly could but, luckily, I had some really amazing composition professors that made me realize that I can integrate those worlds as much as I want to. I’d like any semblance of a divide between them to completely dissolve for me-I feel like I’m close to achieving that but I’ve still got a little way to go. Conversely, I’ve always been into cross pollinating in my songwriting by using weird synthetic scales or ripping off Ligeti for a string arrangement. It just really hasn’t been until the last three years that I’ve started incorporating pop elements into my classical/experimental pieces.

3. As a follow up to the previous question... tell me about your involvement in classical music. What defines Marcus Rubio the composer (as opposed to Marcus the Rockstar)? And how do you see your artistic interests shifting as you continue to study?
As a composer, I’m very into the idea of challenging preconceived notions of how people perceive a sound or instrument, etc... I like to kind of push the extremes of that but in a very minimalist fashion. For example, I’m working on a piece for violin and guitar pedals now that has a movement where the violinist plays a single open string for several minutes before any other notes are added. This might seem boring to some but, interest is generated by the player radically changing their tone and rhythm through bowing techniques and the processing of the pedals. I don’t think that you need to write overly complicated music in order to explore new territory, you just need a good sense of timing, form, and texture. So, I guess my aesthetic is complexity disguised as simplicity or vice versa. As a songwriter, I think my interests are kind of similar in that I like to stretch the confines of what a pop song can do while still having it come across as a song of sorts. Eventually, I’d like there to be absolutely no separation between these two worlds. I’ve been discovering more and more experimental and/or classical artists that really walk the line between both worlds and it’s inspiring. I can’t overstate how much Blue “Gene” Tyranny’s album Out of the Blue really made me aware of the potential for this. Out of the Blue is just great because it has three absolutely perfect shorter songs and then a mindblowing 25 minute long piece that leaves you wanting more of each. I’ve also been fascinated with artists like Richard Youngs, Motion Sickness of Time Travel, and Christina Carter who do very similar things with their music. That’s essentially what I want to work towards. 

4. Your lyrics on this album seem a bit more direct and certainly more biting than on Oceanic Tremors. I’m sure in part that is because this is not a ‘concept’ album... But there’s also a refined exactitude to the lyrics that gives them an air of deeper self-knowledge. Tell me a bit about your lyric writing process and to what extent it is something you work at.
Lyrics are kind of a funny thing for me. They used to come to me much more quickly when I first started writing songs. However, a lot of the stuff I wrote when I was in high school was completely reliant on imagery with little substance. I think about lyrics contributing to a much broader theme, concept, or even narrative nowadays. It’s not just some surreal variation on moon, spoon, June, etc...anymore. I think the exactitude you’re referring to really came about as a result of really intensely studying literature and poetry at Trinity. It forced me to think about linking ideas together even if they’re shrouded in layers of figurative language. All of this really allowed me to be much more direct and personal lyrically, while still remaining vague enough to be universal. 

5. At what point, in the process of creating a whole song, do you write the lyrics? Does the music come first and then the lyrics? Which is the primary impulse? Do you think more in notes or in words when you’re feeling creatively charged? Discuss your relationship to writing and (without ripping out a page of your diary) the things that inspire you to do so.
I don’t know how to explain it, but lyrics and music are almost always tied together for me from the get go. Of course, I’ll sometimes have just one or the other to start with and it’ll develop from there. But the majority of the time, lyrics and music will typically start spewing out of me simultaneously. As my ear has gotten better, the process of marrying chords to lyrics has gotten much faster and I’ll frequently know what I’m hearing/envisioning before I even touch an instrument. However, I can never really predict what course the song will take based off of the original impulse and things will frequently grow and develop organically as I write. 

Lately, a lot of my songwriting has been this weird self-excorcism of sorts-especially on None of the Birds and the upcoming album. I tried so hard on Oceanic Tremors to hide all of my anxieties and paranoia behind whale totems and eventually that just broke down because it was so affected. A lot of the songs on None of the Birds were written during and after several shitty break ups, including a particularly bad one that seemed to never end. Those events happened in conjunction with a lot of typical existential crisis stuff that made me really question the course my life had taken and if I was happy with it. I got cynical about many things I was doing and songwriting became a way to address a lot of that. On the other hand, during this time, I also realized how miserable I’d been in this relationship and in many social situations I kept forcing myself into. so, there was this eventual reassessment of happiness and love that occurred which inspired me to write as well. I started listening to just an insane amount of music and the songs started immediately coming out of me. On a slightly unrelated note, I also frequently find myself moved by scientific terms and philosophic concepts- so those items typically creep their way into this personal exercise for me. 

I think songwriting and composing will always be major acts of catharsis for me. When I go a week without composing, I start getting extremely irritable! Consistently working on artistically satisfying work is really important to me and I don’t know what I would do without it.

6. How did None of the Birds come about as an album? Tell me a bit about the recording process and how these songs eventually became this rather cohesive album.
All of the songs on None of the Birds were recorded in very different locations and often used very different equipment. The main common thread between this group of songs was that they were all  recorded almost immediately after the song itself was written, which is really my favorite way to work because it allows a lot of different writing/arrangement directions to be explored in the studio. I got really into Talk Talk’s idea of most accurately capturing the feel of a song by recording it immediately and having people improvise over the recording with little to no prior knowledge of what they’re hearing. Some people like to really meticulously labor over their records and I used to very much be one of those people until I realized that a lot of my favorite music is very ramshackle and sprawling and that the recordings I most enjoyed of my own were similarly conceived. So, most of these songs were captured as quickly as possible after their conception with whatever tools/performers were close by. However, despite often recording fast and in a kind of a lo-fi fashion, I still spent a lot of time arranging and mixing each song. Even though I would frequently just be multi-tracking myself, I’d spend a long time figuring out what each individual instrumental part would do and the spatial relationships of sounds in the mix. So, everything kind of goes back to the idea of trying to capture these very grand ideas but doing it within limited confines. I’d never intended for this to all be a cohesive album but when I listened to all these recordings as a whole they just made sense together and I figured it was time I stopped sitting on these songs and put them out!  

7. Musically speaking, aside from moonlighting in several awesome bands (Bad Breaks, Cartographers, etc.), the recent past has seen the emergence of Loose Eel Ball. What is the allure of doing a project like that for you? I get the impression there is a sense of release.
Haha! Well, the Ball initially started as a joke, but then Chris booked a show so we had to do it! We literally wrote all of our songs in an afternoon and then played the gig. I like Loose Eel Ball shows because it is one of the only times I feel absolutely no pressure about what’s going to happen when I step on stage-I actually feel surprisingly calm most of the time! Even when people try to take off all of my clothes or throw Crisco at me. I could care less what the audience thinks at a Loose Eel Ball show because the people who want to play along will go nuts with us and those who don’t will be sad for the rest of their lives that they didn’t. I think it can be a release for both band and audience when the crowd is willing to let it be. Loose Eel Ball is a total ego destroyer for me (in a good way). It’s nice to be able to write very serious music but then go onstage with the Ball and flip off the entire audience while singing a song called “Pancake Horse.” It’s almost Dionysian. 

8. I know you recorded almost all of the songs on None of the Birds by yourself, but you also (as always) have a long list of talented collaborators. Talk a bit about collaboration and the value that it holds for you.
As mentioned above, the common thread throughout None of the Birds is that most of the songs were recorded very shortly after they were written. As a result, my collaborators were frequently people available at that particular moment in time to help me realize the song. In particular, Jackson Floyd and Hanna Campbell were really superstars in this department. We had an amazing night where we recorded both “Boss Vegas” and “The Light is Green...”. I laid down a very bare skeleton for “Boss Vegas” and then we went to the house Boss Vegas, which was this insane somewhat dilapidated mansion that Jackson lived in at the time, and proceeded to flesh everything out. I don’t think either one of them had heard the songs but I’d tell them what I wanted them to do and they were both willing to oblige and in many cases contributed their own very creative ideas. We worked with whatever we had available too and made it work which was great. “The Light is Green...” was recorded at like 2 in the morning that same night and I basically just showed them the song and then we tracked it. It was a great way to work and I wish I had the opportunity to spontaneously record like that more. In terms of writing, collaborating with Chuck is also great and the next batch of songs would not be at all the same if it weren’t for his percussion expertise. I’ve always loved working with Chuck because he’s an amazing improviser and I can give him the vaguest of guidelines and watch him come up with a near perfect realization of what I want.

Collaboration outside of my own songs is very important to me as a learning process. In terms of the experimental/classical/improv world, it’s really opened me up to working in a number of idioms and taught me a lot about pacing and listening, while often forcing me out of my comfort zones by necessity. I’ve also learned a lot from playing with Jackson Albracht in Cartographers and working with him has definitely impacted my approach to songwriting.

9. You mentioned previously that the months before you left for school are going to be full of musical performances and releases. What’s the latest on that? Parting gifts for the people?
Well, first and foremost, the Gospel Choir of Pillows will be playing several shows before I leave. We’ll be at the 1011 on August 11th, 502 Bar on the 17th, and the Josephine Street Theater on the 24th. I think we have the best lineup maybe ever for these shows. My friends Jen Hill and Eric Montano will both be joining the band and they’re incredible composers/multi-instrumentalists that have opened up a wealth of arrangement opportunities for the group. Additionally, Jackson Albracht will be rejoining as a guitarist for these shows and my bassist, Matt Thomas now has a plethora of fun electronic toys/pedals so we’ll really be able to maximize our sound like never before. Additionally, the Gospel Choir of Pillows will be recording another album before I leave that will also hopefully be released before my departure. This next group of songs are what I refer to as “the krautrock songs” because they are often very minimal but extremely epic in length and production. I’ve been wanting to record them for a while but a lot of them require the energy and the instrumentation of a full band as opposed to me just constantly overdubbing everything.

I’m also working on a really exciting collaborative project with local poet/Kendra Steiner Editions founder Bill Shute. Bill is a fantastic poet and a tireless champion for experimental music. His label has put out a staggering amount of great music and literature that’s gotten attention everywhere but San Antonio! Essentially the project involves three tracks that I recorded of Bill reading his poetry and then four electronic pieces that I’m creating by warping Bill’s spoken text. I’ve been getting some pretty crazy results so far! Bill gave me some fantastic material to work with both in terms of literary inspiration for the direction of each piece and in terms of the actual audio itself. Bill’s speaking voice is booming and full of musical cadence to begin with so by altering it, the hidden melodic qualities are brought out even more. The project is about halfway completed now and it should be out sometime in the fall. 

Finally, I’ll be working with the director Kyle Gillette on the score to the original play Open Sesame! by Rick Stemm. Kyle and I worked together on The Bacchae last year which was an incredibly rewarding experience and this piece will definitely retain some similar stylistic elements to that- but it’s looking like it’ll take some pretty great directions. Right now, I’m splitting composition duties with my friend Jamie Rameriez who’s a fantastic composer and songwriter in his own right. The score and songs look like they might become a pretty rad combination of electronica, hip hop, Indian music, and Westernized appropriations of Eastern music. The show will begin its run sometime in October.

10. Gotta do this... for Feli... but also for me; you always look so fresh, where do you meet your haberdashery needs?
Ha! I really don’t have a particular place-I just sort of buy what I like and try to find combinations that more or less work. I’m a big fan of Buffalo Exchange of course and I typically find treats at various vintage stores. There’s no one particular place though, I don’t really have a “go to” shop. I’ve always been a fan of looking fancy for shows though! I think that somewhat stems from spending a lot of time in a theater as a kid-I always really liked costumes and/or dress up time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Seasons Past and Seasons Future: 10 Questions with Chris Maddin

Tiago, is that you?

Virtually since I started following the San Antonio music scene - back in 2003 when I naively considered it quite an arid landscape - Chris Maddin has been a character that, for lack of a better phrase, stands out. Different commentators and fans may quibble about the reason for that fact; perhaps his off-center charm and world-weary frenetics off the stage, perhaps his sweet self-styled and disarmingly powerful voice, perhaps his penchant to be involved with all things art... constantly seeking and over-committing to the weight of our disintegrating collective love. I think for me the reason has to do with... well... reason. Namely, the reason Chris seems so driven - through countless outlets, most notably Blowing Trees - to create. Some, it is easily observable in the music and art 'world' (is there any other world?), create out of a need to be recognized or to be identified as that specific kind of person that creates. For true artists, like Chris Maddin, the creation is its own necessity. Recorded two years ago... Maddin's latest release, and his second solo project since the indefinite hiatus of his longtime band Blowing Trees, is a slowly unwinding epic about change and that which stays constant. Named for Maddin's backing band on the album - which is named after a Spurs player and features members of local badass bands  Buttercup and Bad Breaks - The Tiago Splitters is dreamspun Americana, skewed slightly down the rabbit hole of wandering notes and barely escaped sounds. Though the album is all around enthralling, the true highlights are definitely Maddin's magnetic voice and constantly improving songwriting. Hear for yourself... you can download the album HERE and read my full review of it (for The San Antonio Current) HERE. In my desire to understand the album, the process, the person and his plans more deeply... I asked Chris a few things via email.
Below are my questions, his delightfully rambling stream-of-consciousness answers and the album stream.

1) Where do you go when you're writing your lyrics...? They have a mystical yet perfectly pop sensibility to them... What's the process that allows you to get to these unique places?
i like to think i channel something or an energy or maybe just all my influences. i’ve always kind of felt like there’s a different part of me that i sometimes know and sometimes i wonder where he is. i write a lot of prose poetry that sometimes i take certain parts from that i think might fit. i like songs with a ton of words in them that can mean lots of things all at once. i don’t know where my lyrics come from, but Dylan often said something along the lines of if he did not write something, someone else would... he just had to reach up and take it. i like to think of my songs like looking in a kaleidoscope.

2) Your songwriting, lyrically speaking, seems to center around personal relationships and individual enlightenments. What events in your life have most moved your songwriting?
i think for this record i was inspired by where i was in the world two years ago. in 2010 i was living with BLOWING TREES making the WOLF WALTZ album and i had lost some weight and got over some health issues i was having, falling in love with my girlfriend and being excited about that, not exactly hitting the success we had hoped for with our major label album and that hanging over my head. we made the Splitters album around the time me and Chuck Kerr started covering albums in their entirety, i think we were doing Ziggy around the time. learning classic albums in their entirety can definitely force you to be inspired. there is a song on the album called "Jacqueline" about my Grandmother, who i loved to visit as a kid but fell out of touch with growing up, that is probably one of the most direct songs i have written... i wrote this existential song the day she died. "Dandelions and the Columbia" is a song i wrote about my girlfriend that i wrote one morning kinda fast, that turned out as one of my favorite songs on the album. 

3) Who are your favorite writers (songs AND otherwise)? Tell me about their importance to you...
Bob Dylan, Radiohead, David Bowie, Arcade Fire, Wilco, and The Beatles are all big influences on me, along with many others. i was listening to alot of Neil Young when we made this album. Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Sufjan Stevens’ The Age of Adz, The National’s High Violet and Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs were my favorite albums in 2010 and all came out around the same time. i still love those albums. i have always been pretty obsessed with Dylan, he is my favorite. a world without Bob Dylan would be a terrible place. i am a DJ at KRTU 91.7 FM Saturday nights and i always try and focus on new music coming out that i find inspiring and local music- i am inspired by local bands too... you know, we don’t get all the great concerts here so it’s good to have bands that i respect and admire to go watch every weekend. i am also influenced by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Arthur Rimbaud. 

4) Enough about lyrical content... these Tiago songs are folky affairs draped in steel guitar and percussive quirks that highlight Joe’s driving riffs... what was the collaboration process like there?
well i had done some acoustic demos with Joe Reyes that i guess could have ended up the album and then we decided to just do takes with me and Chuck Kerr on the drums. so we would show up drink some delicious iced tea, Joe would mike us up and we’d maybe knock out a song or two in a few hours. we did some first take kind of stuff and then there are songs with a bit more production on them like "Temporarily Me". sometimes Joe would play bass with us, but pretty much after me and Chuck would leave Joe would lay down bass and lead guitar. Erik Sanden also played piano on "Dandelions" and sang some harmonies. but i remember it being really easy and fun and fast which i really liked because the production on the WOLF WALTZ was already at 2 years so it felt great to just knock songs out. 

5) What’s wrong with you? Haha... by that I mean... you seem to be quite a frenetic individual and artist. To be really excruciating; what is it that drives you to keep on creating? How do you see yourself as an artist, musical or otherwise? Do my job for me and tell me about the Maddin legacy...
haha, i have no idea really. i remember being in highschool and kind of deciding that music was what i wanted to do. i really put my all into the TREES for so long and we all really believed and we had people who believed and it was really hard to break out of this town. but we started getting breaks here and there and i really think we accomplished a lot for a band from San Antonio which to me is kind of like an island, and not a bad island, just away from the major media and really most relevant bands that tour . our live shows got bigger and better and i think that was always a thing for us and the studio was always second, and the past few years i would say i care so much more about the studio and trying to make good records. as much as i like playing live, it is temporary, a recorded song can last forever. i like to think how amazing it would be for someone to enjoy my music 100 years from now. to live is to create, to create is to live.

6) Musically; post Blowing Trees Chris Maddin has been defined by the Filmstrips project and now this... what’s next in your songwriting career (solo or otherwise)?
well i would say FILMSTRIPS is def. what’s next for me. last year i finished the music for an album of 15 songs and i just needed to record vocals for it, and then instead of finishing it i got inspired and made a separate 10 song album that is almost finished. so i have 2 albums that are almost ready to go and i would love to figure out the live show and all that. i would love to tour the Splitters album and there have been talks of going out with a few other singer friends and we could back each other up which would be ideal. BLOWING TREES is playing their first show in a year at 502 August 4th and we hope to have a few new songs for it. we have been talking about making a new album. as proud and happy as i am with the WOLF WALTZ, which to me is our grandiose rock opera, on this next one we want to try and write some hits.

7) Speaking in terms of overarching sound, what satisfies you more electronics or live instruments? And why do you suppose that is?
i think that goes along with what i said earlier about having different parts of me and my psyche. i have played guitar since i was 11, so i feel like it’s just who i am. I’ve played the acoustic guitar for about 10 years, dating back to when i was a senior in highschool and starting up BLOWING TREES and i started playing keyboards around 21 or so. in 2007 i started experimenting with the electronic program Reason by Propellerhead and the songs i write in Reason for my project FILMSTRIPS are probably the songs i enjoy listening to the most. i really love the sound of a synthesizer and i love the sound of beats. i almost feel like that is my main deal and the rock and roll and singer songwriter is something i do on the side... but really i just want to do it all. 

8) {{I was told this was a shitty ass question and I didn't listen. Thanks Feli, you were right!}} If I had to give this album a few themes - like crazy english teachers sometimes ask students to do for sweeping novels - I would say “Paranoia”, “Love”, and “Nostalgia”... What themes would you say preoccupied you the most in the writing of this album and in what ways did you express them most effectively?
well i think that’s an interesting way of looking at it. i don’t think i have really thought about that yet, but you probably nailed it with “Paranoia”, “Love”, and “Nostalgia”- those are all great themes.

9) For me, “Farewell the Analog” is a song that confronts nostalgia in its ridiculousness and still ends up being infatuated and remorseful about what is lost. Memory is quite a loaded subject in many areas of discourse. What is important to remember? What is the value of bygone forms and modes (like analog or vinyl or fuckin paper for that matter)?
i agree, children of the 80’s have really seen the world change in such a crazy way, especially with technology. i remember when the kid next door to us in Chicago got the first Nintendo and it was the coolest thing ever. and i guess we’ve seen every gaming system since, how far they have come. same thing with cassettes, i was all about cassettes, i used to make tapes all the time. the mp3 is a long way from the cassette, the cassette had guts that you could pull out, the mp3 is invisible. growing up i always fell asleep to the TV. it was my night-light and it was my friend, always there for me; it could always make me laugh, it could always capture my imagination. i had moved to Austin for a few years and when i came back i was living in this dark decrepit loft, figuring things out, writing songs, and i had the tv on again like i was a kid and it was big news to me that analog television was going off the air and it was now going to be all digital. it was kind of a big deal to me... my friend that i could always just plug in and watch was gone. i seriously remember watching the last show as it went to snow. In a way it was a good thing because i don’t really watch TV anymore except for Spurs games. i do think the digital age is exciting, i just don’t want to forget where i came from. i hope we don’t get rid of paper or books for that matter. in my day...

10) In light of this year’s NBA playoffs, say a few words about Mr. Tiago Splitter. And don’t bullshit me.
that’s funny, that is the second snarky question i’ve gotten today about Tiago. first off i am a fan of him and a fan of the Spurs and there is nothing worse to me than a fair-weather fan. sure he missed some free throws to the point where he was fouled knowing he would miss them (ala hack-a-Shaq), but he shot free throws consistently all year long at something like 70 percent. there have been playoff pasts where Tim Duncan, largely considered one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA was abysmal at the free throw line. that being said Splitter is not Duncan, he is a different player though... when he is on he can and has made a big impact in games. Tiago was praised all year long by Poppovich and his staff along with many analysts (save Stephen A. Smith) and was considered by many a candidate for most improved player. i am excited to see his progression this season; he can score but that is not his main purpose, Poppovich puts it best, calling him a “blue collar player”. i like a good underdog. maybe i just like his name.

CHRIS MADDIN: facebook, bandcamp, FILMSTRIPS, Blowing Trees

this is about me

From the odd and strangely warming catalog at this tumblr.

i don't find certainty when i look into a mirror. or familiarity.
my face is an alien landscape that tells the world how to properly misunderstand me.
there are lines and lies and confusions representing almost a soul.
i'm trying to forget the sadness i learned,
to rebuild the inner earth seeming so tired,
to un-calculate the numbered strings that never exist
and grow into the owning and vanishing i've got ahead of me.
when i say "i love you", i mean "i'm MADE of you and
i don't understand god without you". the wicked unreality of time
drowns in the wild and innocent sea of our connection. but this is about me.

it's a painful climb down into self-forgiveness.
hugging my monsters, i imagine wailing in waltz time
and following a bewitched daydream procession
into the narrow cherry-wood halls of my anxious and magical boyhood.
i've got to be honest about the disappointment and rage
that underpin my devout confidence. this is not about lifting darkness from darkness.
everything weighs so little and feels so flimsy when the winds are at their play.
the saints will ask for charity even while the proud go on misusing
and misappropriating the quick and the dead. but this is about me.

if i could stop validating the past, i know the void futures would swallow me whole.
it seems like such a lovely way to reappear; temperate,
exhausting and tickling. the vast sadness of the masses
really does look like misunderstanding from a million miles away.
and i'm here, dressed up to be a man, longing for yawning youth
where heaviness was respect and lightness was the cross to shrug off.
i can crush myself into tininess and i can breathe myself into gianthood,
i can waste myself in humanhood and receive only what there is to receive-
i might magnify the pointlessness of flesh, make the perfect silent plea,
or help others decide to begin to see. but this is about me.

we're all hoping for openness in the closed-door grip of professional oblivion.
or we're wandering the filthy back roads mumbling about the dust,
inconceivable to ourselves and mistrusting every intimated mother waiting;
as afraid to steal as to give back or to give up everything finally.
i'm starting to suspect conspiracies among the gods i don't always believe in
and then i'm wondering how long modesty ought to be
            in the face of default perfection everywhere.
i used to think of myself as emotional and applaud smugly
            in the auditorium of my inner dialogue.
now it's just true love, green light, gold stars, figurines in dreams of 5000 years
and alarm clocks summoning self to everyone. but this is about me.