27 August 2012

And when the memories of songs turn bad...

I suppose when I've written about memories of songs, I always tend on the side of the positive. I think about how one song reminded me of my first kiss or my first college romance or a tortured romance in my mid-30's; however, I usually always still want to hear these songs and cascade through the memories.

But tonight, I realized, sometimes, certain memories can ruin songs for you. It can be complex. Perhaps the song belonged to a certain memory, but somehow it became displaced by other narratives or plots or soap opera-like stories. And this is one of them (see below). Completely unfortunate, as I completely love this song and when I frequent the Cowboy Kewl, I have to hear it at least five times in one night. But despite the fact it'll remind me of those awkward June days of 2012, it'll also remind me of crust punks, the fourth of July, and "them or him." Where it was once the potential for thinking about the promise of getting married in a fever, songs can also adapt to remind us of unfortunate situations in our lives, those that can't be reversed from the song.

And then maybe it transforms to this...a song to forget about her before you make it halfway to Jackson.


15 August 2012

The Flight of the Sociologists

It's the flight of the sociologists. From near and far, many of us are finding our way to Denver this weekend for the annual American Sociological Association conference. It's much like what you'd expect. Crowded lobbies. Confusing directions to your next session. Awkward conversations in bathrooms, conference rooms, elevators, hotels, and after, too many drinks at receptions. Power Point. People talking in the back of a room during a presentation. People at the front of the room trying to figure out how to slip out in between presentations. Questions, comments, and critiques. New friends, old friends. Dinners. Coffees. Lots and lots of hand shaking and smiling. And finally, exhausted faces, as we flee the scene of the crime to make it back to our respective homes, just barely in time for the start of the next semester. I personally have the privilege of presenting on the very last day of the conference in the afternoon at a roundtable. I suspect we'll be packed with outsiders completely interested in our research!

This will only be my second ASA...and for some reason instead of working on my presentation today, I thought it might be fun to create a playlist of songs for the conference. I originally planned to arrange them by day, eventually to lead us to the need for a ASA "chill-out tent" by Day Three; however, much like many presentations I'll see over the course of the next five days-- I ran out of time.

Flight of the Sociologists #ASA2012

(Playlist listed above, in Spotify)


1. The Flight of the Bumble Bee: Harry James and His Orchestra

This is what it sounds like on Friday morning at 8am, while sociologists buzz around trying to locate the Registration desk, then proceed to the first session of the morning.

2. I Can't Get Next To You: Al Green

We all have academic crushes. You know, the scholars you cite numerous times, but have yet to meet. Or maybe, just someone you really admire for their work. Maybe it's just a big name listed in the program. This song is for when you are at the culture/social movements reception and you see "so-and-so" across the room, but yet, you never can quite get close enough to get pulled into the conversation or never find the time to actually introduce yourself, regardless of all the other things you  might be able to do. "I...I...I can run a structural equation model, but I can't get next to you..."

3. Tenuousness: Andrew Bird

Enough said. Tenuousness.

4. It's Not Going To Stop: Aimee Mann

Yes, it is true. Sometimes, it just feels like it's not going to stop. They've gone well over their allotted 15 minutes and it seems like it's never going to end. You know it has to end, but, sometimes it's hard imagining how it'll happen.

5. Spill The Wine: The Animals

Night One. Reception One. Be careful. Don't spill the wine.

6. Hang On To Your Ego: The Beach Boys

Good luck with this one. Those rooms can be full of ego, as evidenced by eyes directed at your...nametag.

7. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met): Bob Dylan

Yup. Just because you met someone several years ago at one of these events, don't expect them to remember you. It won't happen. So, be prepared to think to yourself, "Wow, she/he acts like we never met," when re-introducing yourself maybe for the third time to a scholar you admire...or rather you  might think this about your own colleagues from your university if you spilled the wine on night one.

8. Where'd All the Time Go?: Dr. Dog

It only feels this way when you are the one presenting.

9. Repetition: Charlie Parker

That's it. There will be lots of it.

10. You've Got Everything Now: The Smiths

"I am right and you are wrong...I would win and you would lose." Yes, it resonates at times, particularly for the 36-year old graduate student, when talking to the 22-year old graduate student who hasn't worked outside of academia. I suspect it might resonate throughout the entire conference.

11. Trying To Make A Fool Of Me: The Delfonics

Every presentation. Every question that is actually a comment.

12. Accidents Will Happen: Elvis Costello

Yes, your computer will fail. Yes, there won't be compatibility. Yes, the room won't have a projector to show your photos. Yes, you will stumble your way through what seems to make sense to you, but will inevitably make no sense to anyone else. Yes, accidents will happen. Besides there is always next year.

13. Goin' to the Party: Alabama Shakes

If you wonder what party I'm talking about...then you don't know about the blog party and/or Liz's birthday party. Yes, I'm goin' to the party...and I can't wait to celebrate the joy of success and birthdays of colleagues.

14. I Wanna Be Ignored: Ezra Furman and The Harpoons

After attending said late-night parties, you might want to be ignored. Plus, I absolutely adore Ezra and his friends, so I wanted to include them on the mix. But, there is no doubt, there will be moments during the conference, you'll hope no one notices you. You can just attend sessions, take notes,  leave and no one will approach you.

15. A Unified Theory: God Help The Girl

Ha. Right. I'm sure someone will try this.

16. Chillout Tent: The Hold Steady

I've been thinking about this tons in the last day....what exactly would a "chillout tent" look like for the ASA conference? Maybe we wouldn't need to go there because we took too many drugs, but maybe an overdose of session attendances...how would we recover in our chillout tent? Whiskey? Popular culture? What do you think? I'm open to suggestions.

17. The Death of Ferdinand De Saussure: The Magnetic Fields

Is this one of the sessions? And the lyrics seem just perfect for the conference.

18. Upright (Everything's Alright): Stevie Wonder

That's right folks. Just calm down. You don't have to go to every session. You don't have to wear heels. You  can just show up. Be alright. Enjoy your time, that's the best use of time while at the ASA.

19. When It Began: The Replacements

Of course, when it began, you planned to meet "so-and-so" and make impression on 806 different people, but you leave with 801 business cards. It's okay. There's always next year.

20. The Thrill Is Gone: B.B. King

And then we all return home, back to our homes. And the thrill is gone of #ASA2012. See y'all in 2013.

Every Little Step....to Denver...

A fella came to get a reading on the electric an hour ago, he was listening to this song. It was the first song I heard this morning...and now I fear it'll be in my mind. 

All. Day. Long. 

(On a side note, after seeing Bobby's wardrobe, I'm really re-thinking my ASA-Denver wardrobe).

02 August 2012

"And I know you have a heavy heart..."

Me and Bryson, pretending to be in Buffalo '66, circa  2003
"I got a flask inside my pocket, we can share it on the train,
And if you promise to stay conscious, I will try and do the same..." - Bright Eyes

Two days ago, I found out that an old friend of mine, Bryson Avery, from Charlotte passed away. The details are not only vague and contradictory at times, but I think also unnecessary. We, the community that I grew up in Charlotte, lost someone we deeply cared for and will miss dearly. In the last two days, I've watched as people on the FacialWorld have poured out their emotions, memories, pictures, and songs that remind them of Bryson. A memorial service is scheduled for this Sunday at one of the bars we all frequent, Snug Harbor. Unfortunately, due to financial circumstances, I am unable to make the trip down to pay my respects and to share with all those who knew Bryson our collective sadness over his loss, but also the joy that we have all experienced by having him in our life to whatever extent that might have been. And so, I thought the best way for me to have my own memorial of my friendship with Bryson was to do it right here, as I'm prone to do...with music and memories. I don't intend to write something that everyone will understand, but rather something that feels like something Bryson and I would have laughed hysterically over as we captured our own spanning of time. 

If there is one song that always reminds me of Bryson, it is this one...

I remember it from Mimosa Sundays at my friend, Jarod's house. We'd play it on the speakers on the porch, while we'd spend those long spring days, laughing and talking. But more generally, it reminds me of the friendship we had...a mutual understanding of heavy hearts and how simple things might seem in the moonlight, but not always in the day. 

And henceforth, the memories...for you, Bryson...

I remember meeting you from Carmen for the first time at the Jackson Ave. house. I remember countless evenings running around town, whether at The (old) Penguin, Thomas Street, wylin' at The Steeple, and getting our Freaky Wack on at Tonic. It seemed like we ran in packs at those times. I remember how pretty early on we decided to call each other "best friend." And even years later, I'd still say, "Oh, this is my best friend, Bryson," even though we knew we weren't really best friends. But we had our moments, our days, our years.

I remember at that one Freaky Wack, where I tried something new and we got separated until about 6:30am, when I picked you up in my truck at a mutual friends house, after some strange happenings. I suggested we go through a drive-thru to get some food, despite your insistence that there is no way I should eat. I did it anyway...and you were right. I wasn't hungry at all. After we made it back to my house, we laid on the couches for hours, watching The O.C., because we always loved that show. We watched until we both passed out until the early evening hours. 

I remember how you, out of all the people I knew in Charlotte, were the only one to tell me the truth about the fella I was currently dating at the time. You told me about the party. You told me about what happened while I was out of town. Because, honestly, I think you were one of the few people who had never been afraid of him. I also remember you did some pretty classic impressions of him that always brought everyone to tears with how insanely accurate they were. I don't think I ever got to thank you for telling me the truth, which inevitably led me to a much better place in my life. 

I remember when we took that crazy trip to Chicago to visit Jennie Ann. It was me, you, Carmen, and Darien (aka Smells). I remember how we all drove each other crazy on the whole drive. I remember on our first night in Chicago, you made fun of Jennie Ann's crazy-at-the-time-boyfriend and his shoes. I remember how when she left that night to drive him home, we sat out on the back porch drinking bottles of champagne and calling him names and making fun of his inability to tolerate certain things. I remember how our second night, we all went out on the town. I saw a guy I had a crush on that use to live in Charlotte and made you approach him before I would. He was "the architect." I remember how I knew there was the possibility that by the end of the night you might get separated from me, so we took a pack of matches and wrote on them, "If found, please return to" with Jennie Ann's address....because well, you and I were known for getting separated by the end of the night. I remember how we did get separated and you returned early the next morning, with a much lighter wallet. I remember that one little dirty pink sock that you left behind at Jennie Ann's apartment. I remember us taking pictures in the photo booth at the hipster bar and pretending we were the characters from Buffalo '66 and  laughing in between shots saying, "Pretend you like me. Pretend we are spanning time together. Let's span time together," just like Vincent Gallo's character says in the movie. 

I remember that one Christmas Eve Eve when I found myself in quite a predicament with a couple of fellas I had made the error of inviting out to the same place. I remember how at the end of the evening, I was at The Penguin wishing you were there to help me navigate the situation. You tried to advise me via text, but the desire to hang out was too great. I remember calling a cab company, in which I paid them $50 dollars to bring you to The Penguin...and how the rest of the evening, you protected me from the awkward situation in which I put myself in. I remember how you spent part of the night at my house later that evening. And I remember how my Old Navy credit card was sitting out on the coffee table the next morning and finding that $50 cab receipt too.

I remember when we were walking from a show to the car and you kicked a bush and said, "Nightlife." And how I texted you for years after that just saying, "kicks a bush and says "nightlife."

I remember when we got into a fight. We were sitting at a table at Snug Harbor. I was brutally honest with you. You got angry. You threw a pack of cigarettes at me. We didn't speak to each other for a year or two. And I remember when I saw you again after that at Snug Harbor a couple of years later...and we made up. Because the situation was different for both of us. And we hugged and called each other "best friend" and celebrated the evening.

I remember the last two times I saw you. I saw you this past Thanksgiving. We sat outside at Snug Harbor and talked politics, for hours. I remember being so excited that we were able to share that moment, because I never knew how you felt about those issues. We talked about how sometimes bricks are necessary. At the end of the evening, after you left, we texted about how much fun it was to see each other. We discussed you visiting Nashville in the coming year. In fact, we started to plan for when it could happen. And then, I saw you again during Christmas when I was home. A mutual friend of ours, Elon, was DJ'ing at some hipster bar in NoDa and I made my way over there to meet up with you. And it was a lovely holiday celebration. I just didn't know it would be the last time I'd see you. 

And lastly, I remember our last few exchanges over text. It was March. You texted me about a picture I posted. We texted back and forth until about 5am, laughing about you visiting Nashville and how a denied FacialWorld friend request at 5am affirmed the fact that it would never "be like a romance on The O.C." And that would be the last I would hear from you. I tried to text you in May when I was home visiting with my grandmother hoping we could get together, but I never heard back from you. 

These memories are only the tip of the iceberg...as I find that my memories of my dear friend Bryson keep popping into my mind at random times during the day. Someone else posted on his FacialWorld account today that they kept waiting for this to be some sort of joke and that he would post and all would be restored...and I can't help but feel the same way. 

See, I've felt this way before, when I lost another close friend in the same exact way exactly 13 years ago to the same day, my dear friend Dan. It's hard to lose someone, period. It's more difficult to deal with the repercussions of losing someone so young. And even more so, it's fucked up to lose someone in this way. 

So, with all those memories shared...I'd just like to say to you...
"Hey, best friend, I'll miss you. Pretend like we are spanning time together." Then I'll kick a bush and say "Nightlife" and raise a toast in your honor.

And so I leave you with two more songs that have been in my head all day while I've thought about how much all of us will miss you, my dear....

"They should have seen you, should have known you, should have known what it was like to be you..." 
-Rilo Kiley

And one more...

"It's these little things, they can pull you under, 
Live you life filled with joy and thunder,
Yeah, yeah, we were all together
Lost in our little lives...but sweetness follows" -REM