Saturday, August 30, 2003


This site was reviewed twice by The Weblog Review.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Labor Day

Overlord embarks on their lecture tour of the East coast in promotion of George Pasles' new album, The World Takes. The East coast originally included New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C.; it has since been consolidated into last night's performance at Doc Watson's in Philadelphia, and three shows in D.C. over the weekend.

The World Takes lecture series includes many of Mr. Pasles' newest songs, including the Elvis/Smiths tribute, "A Boy In Name Only"; the anthem for living, "Give it Up, Let it Go"; as well as re-workings of older favorites such as "The Big Sad." The weekend schedule of appearances is available at Overlord's website.

Monday, August 25, 2003


Obedience has special meaning in the spiritual context. It refers specifically to one's relationship with God, and on the true realization of this relationship in one's daily life. This is especially the case within the sacrament of marriage. Obedience is an important part of living in communion with a spouse, particularly if you hope to have them house-trained before winter. Obedience does not necessarily mean a strict adherence to the laws of man--for instance, going the speed limit on the Garden State Parkway, or abstaining from pornography on Sundays--and should never be misinterpreted as such.

Most everyone experiences periods of questioning in the course of their spiritual journey. A person may ask themselves, "How can God exist, and especially under the current administration?" This is a normal feature of a healthy spiritual life, and should not be taken as a sign of flagging obedience. There are many great people known for their deep questioning of God, such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Vladimir Lenin. Lenin questioned God for the benefit of the Russian peasantry, and the peasantry questioned Lenin for the glory of God; finally the peasants questioned God directly for the whole convoluted affair, but it turns out God would not speak without his lawyer present. In a similar way, Friedrich Nietzsche made a name for himself questioning the existence of God, and this worked very much in his favor until God questioned the existence of Nietzsche, ruining his vacation plans for that summer. The moral of the story is that it is all well and good to question the existence of something, just so long no one has to forfeit their deposit in a French bordello.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The Organ

The Organ are a Vancouver quintet, formed in 2001. In a short space of time, this all female ensemble has gained rapid exposure with the release of their first EP, Sinking Hearts; an accompanying two-song single, and a live show that has spirited them on tour with some of the most significant bands today. A critical and popular favorite, The Organ write melodic and introspective music based on layered interplay between their instrumentalists--Debora Cohen, guitar; Ashley Webber, bass; Shelby Stocks, drums; Jenny Smyth, Hammond organ--and the intimate and doleful lyrics of their lead singer, Katie Sketch.

The Organ's "sound" has been commented on and debated over from the very beginning, so great is the fascination that it inspires. "The Organ's melancholy melodies are intoxicating," writes Cyndi Elliot of Magnet Magazine. The band is consistently compared with the best songwriters of the early 80's new-wave, writing structured songs around minimal arrangements, and creating a nuanced, textured sound that can be brooding and catchy at the same time. The best of many bands can be found here--whether it is the weaving counterpoint melodies between organ and bass; the lean, bell-like intonation of sparkling guitars; the charmed tenacity of the snare; or the suspended lamentation of Sketch's cascading vocals--and much excitement is borne out of the desire to name The Organ's sound in precise terms. "The Organ does it so well, it's hard to believe these kids are in their early 20's," writes John Parish of The Big Takeover. "It makes me feel better than the electronic craziness of some of those 'I love the 80's' bands, and almost as sad as I used to feel in the 1980's, and I love 'em for it." For their own part, the band accepts the associations with an amused detachment. "Originally I was trying to do something a little more rock, like Elastica," says Sketch, "but obviously it didn't work out that way."

The Organ have played with an wide variety of contemporary bands such as Interpol, Hot Hot Heat, The Walkmen, The Von Bondies, The Soledad Brothers and Bratmobile; and most recently finished a tour across North America with Matador's New Pornographers. The band has become well-known for the somber intensity of their live performances, which they happily acknowledge as involving very little physical movement on-stage. "That's the only way we can be," says Sketch, "if I paid Debora a million dollars to jump up and down, she wouldn't. That's just her personality." "The Organ's approach is classic European detachment," writes Michael White of Calgary's News and Entertainment Weekly, "It creates an enveloping mood, and fully complements the music's soulful melancholy." And perhaps it is a testament to the saliency of Sketch's dark lyrical themes--which range from interpersonal relationships to politics--that The Organ is so often perceived as a wholly melancholy affair. Organist Jenny Smyth is herself caught between the band's music and its rueful subject matter: "The Organ's music sounds really happy and cheerful so I always get really shocked when people say 'your music is so sad and emotional' and I'm like really!? I think it sounds like la la la..."

With so much attention already devoted to The Organ's sound and presentation, there remains nevertheless a lasting captivation with their distinction as an all female band. "Other people tend to point it out," muses Smyth, "'Oh, an all girl band!' and I'm like, 'I'm a girl?'" "I'm just playing with my friends," says Sketch. "We wouldn't have cared if we'd found some really great boys to play with us, but instead we found some really great girls." Still, the distinction is not without significance, as drummer Shelby Stocks knows first-hand: her seventh-grade band teacher took her drumsticks away and gave them to a boy, informing her that girls don't play the drums. "There was a part of me that wanted to prove him wrong--that girls can actually play. What an idiot."

Friday, August 15, 2003


The appeal of chastity has waned considerably in the modern era. This is because chaste persons don't have sex--not even on their lunch breaks. The advantage to living chastely is that one is permitted to love indiscriminately all of humankind. This is not ordinarily possible, unless you own a king-sized bed. Chastity harnesses our baser impulses and channels them into mission and duty, even when we are off the clock.

There are not many people practicing chastity today. The commercial secularism of the industrial societies has all but relegated the concept an anachronism from more religious times. Most chaste people do not begin that way, but rather are driven to it by husbands who regularly quote dialogue from The Godfather. This is not always ideal, particularly if you don't enjoy other forms of cardiovascular exercise, like masturbation. Some people, hoping to find a happy medium, instead imagine themselves making love to Robert Deniro, or a young Marlon Brando, depending on the scene. Few people enjoy sleeping with Luca Brasi, as this accounted for half of all new chastity converts in 2002.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

On Poverty

For innumerable centuries, Christian tradition has extolled the benefits of poverty, chastity and obedience. Of these, poverty is by far the most popular today, and across all age groups. Jesus taught that in the Kingdom of Heaven, the first will be last and the last will be first--an important thing to consider if one is to get a good seat; or, conversely, if you are going to beat the rush to the parking lot after the show. Jesus also taught that the poor will inherit the Earth, and clearly this is true in many places already; however I am told that the waiting list for apartments in Manhattan is still rather long.

Jesus was not alone in placing singular emphasis on the poor. St. Francis of Assisi harbored such love for his "Lady Poverty" that he wedded himself to her, but suffered a sudden change of heart when his in-laws began discussing Italy for retirement. The final straw came when Francis predicted her father's appetite would guarantee a comfortable impoverishment for years to come. Being good Catholics, they would not permit a divorce, but they did sleep in separate beds through much of this period.

In contemporary times, it is easy to understand the appeal of poverty for so much of the world today. Poverty restricts and governs one's worldly distractions, thus allowing more fully the cultivation of the soul and spiritual pursuits. One direct advantage of poverty is that it bolsters community in an increasingly alienated world. It compels one to find the good in every unwanted corner of life. The disadvantage to poverty is that your wardrobe will suffer and you will frequently be self-conscious when leaving the unwanted corners of life to attend a wedding. Unfortunately, when you are poor, just as many people will be getting married as when you are rich. This is a depressing thought, but so long as the wedding is not Catholic, the occasion may be expedited, leaving you with the better part of a Saturday afternoon by the time you get home.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Never Shine On Me

Through the course of the night I laid with Maureen sleeping at my side. At least she was asleep; I was forever unsettled in the dark. I am not, after all, accustomed to sharing a bed with women, as doubtless you must readily accept, having ventured this far with me in our story. It is quite a different thing than sharing a bed with a younger sister on a family trip, for instance, or with another man for the sake of economy. No, to lay with a woman in this way is quite a different thing altogether.

As often happens in periods of sleeplessness, I was soon beset with a myriad of considerations. There were many things to observe in the hotel room at that hour, for one thing. We had retired with the windows open--the day had been unseasonably warm--and the sheer curtains of the room had at once taken up my cause, fluttering in tacit agreement. From without came the sound automobiles and the air brake reports from city sanitation vehicles. The Hudson river was however many blocks West of here; it could be seen from our window. The thought occurred to me that in my senior year of high school I would sit on the rock-face of Hook Mountain and stare East, across the river, at my very location now. But that was many years ago and I did not entertain the thought for very long.

Maureen's breathing was deep and steady. In the dark everything took on the grainy texture of old film stock. Her body was perfectly ghost-like beneath one white sheet. It was indescribably lovely, as you might imagine. My body was cool, too--and this was not lost on me: how often is one granted the opportunity to observe such things about themselves? Not often enough! Life would be much better lived with an artificial light source accentuating only our best curves and angles. I don't believe in the sun.

Saturday, August 09, 2003


The old parties are husks, with no real soul within either, divided on artificial lines, boss-ridden and privilege-controlled, each a jumble of incongruous elements, and neither daring to speak out wisely and fearlessly on what should be said on the vital issues of the day.

--Theodore Roosevelt, August 5th, 1912

Monday, August 04, 2003

It's Only Divine Right

That nobody likes Philadelphia is one of the reasons I've always enjoyed coming back to it. I'm forever coming back to it, on buses and on planes, late in the evenings; and in summertime it is always storming when I arrive. Secretly, it's very exciting. The streets are empty at night, warm and close, the oldest buildings are wet, and it is not unpleasant to walk alone, should you feel confident in the soundness of your route, or in the gamble one takes purposing to find a bus at some point along the way. You will find people at this hour, of course, many of them city workers, or those involved in the production and distribution of baked goods; but in all you are left spying your way without passing a single soul for many blocks.

When you are as travelworn as I was last night, however, you do not walk, least of all when you have arrived at the international airport after many delays and too few meals. Should you arrive at PHL after midnight, there will be no train to take you to Center City; not only will there be no train, there will be no attendant at the terminal information desks, there will be no attendant at the transportation information desks; there is only the unflagging insistence of airport signs and markers that you continue to baggage claim and ground transportation. At the Philadelphia International Airport, "ground transportation" is an extensive queue of taxis, limousine and van shuttle services, with a $20 base rate to escort your soon-to-be-shystered buttocks into Center City. It shames me to think that I joined this line of hapless sheep before resolving to find the SEPTA bus terminal for the airport--which is about as easy as finding a deadly weapon in Iraq, I might add. After some anxiety relating to changing large bills for the bus fare and being uncertain as to the frequency of the runs, I was able to catch the route 108 to 69th street and transfer all the way back into the city via the subway shuttles--net gain to me $22.40 including tip. Today I was able to buy milk.

Part of the excitement when flying into Philadelphia relates to my traveling companions. When you fly to Denver, it's a perfect fit: everyone is white, they wear canvas hats and sandals, the older women have long straight grey hair and deep wrinkles, they are fit and attractive. I understand the people traveling to Denver just by observing them. I know what the tans are for, and the sunglasses, and the white T-shirts, and the strappy backpacks and mesh accessories and the bottled water and the books and the hats--oh, the hats! Young moms and their ponytails; I'm forever falling in love with young moms and their ponytails.

But you'll never make heads or tails of people traveling to Philadelphia. They're either black or they're like me, unremarkable. There's no overarching selling point to define the culture of the city, so there's no particular commonality, no giant stereotype beating you on the cranium. I understand the blacks based on their families and their histories; but what the fuck are the white people thinking? There's no natural beauty here--no bristling seaport, no adjacent mountain ranges or nearby wine-tasting valleys; the humidity is high and the air is not clean, and neither are the streets. They must, like, live here or something. The warm hand of commercialism has not descended on Philadelphia so singularly as Denver, San Francisco or Seattle; as a result, none of us know what the hell we are supposed to be about. Put simply, we don't know how to dress.

Denver has been figured out commercially, if ever the point of commercialism was to determine what people like and sell it back to them at exorbitant rates. The supermarket--nay, almost every major franchise in the city--has polished wood grain floors, an espresso bar, and some sort of "library" and lounge area. (The supermarket also doubles as an art gallery and a night club where live bands perform.) Everything is purposely, self-consciously, unspontaneously designed to sell not just bread, but community.

My growing suspicion is that it's very easy to live in a place of great physical beauty, but hard to suffer the people--unless the place also happens to be poor; unfortunately we can't all live in Cuba. I say this because I live in a sweltering hole and would never be able to afford to live somewhere nice. Inasmuch as this is my station, please allow me to elaborate: A beautiful place is where everyone wants to live--and that's why it takes an hour to drive into San Francisco at practically any time of the day. The more people want a beautiful home secluded in the wilderness, the more their neighbors will surround them, pushing further back to get further away; meanwhile their supermarkets sell back the community that they don't want to pay for in taxes. Oh the humanity!

As for Philadelphia, well. There is something refreshing about poverty when the alternative is being badgered by dreadlocked trust-fundafarians in the all white Boulder, CO--easily the acoustic guitar capital of the world--for money and cigarettes. One thing I will say about Philadelphia though: it's a nice place to live, but I would never want to vacation here. That's just depressing.