Wednesday, October 10, 2012

No one really knows who they are, maybe we never do.

I have been following the musical career of James A. Goodson for quite some time. In his early years, this was by default, for the fates had destined us to occupy the same bedroom. Shared clothes (when we were young enough for that to be socially acceptable), shared space, shared recreational accessories (although Barbie was never allowed to date GI Joe), but not always shared taste in music. I watched his preferences morph from only the soundtrack to A New Hope, on repeat, all day long (I admit I also shared this niche obsession for John William’s musical masterpiece) to Green Day’s Dookie, which upon discovery I swiftly swiped and then ratted him out, a decision I fear he might still hold a slight grudge about to this day. Putting that minor incident aside, I did not deter the rest of his musical career one iota. Certainly, the classic Moulin Rouge vs. The Misfits battle never did cease (Teenagers should never share rooms, ever), I watched him pluck his first bass with interest and was only a tiny bit grateful that I’d moved out by the time he got the drum set. I dragged friends along to his shows, all my friends who were not really into punk music, and took many pictures, gaining the extremely useful skill of capturing the artist in question in mid flight off his amp, legs striking a dramatic pose. I wished I could be so cool. 

But this is not about me.  Weird, I know. This is about Hold Tight!, and their new album called Blizzard of '96. It tells the story of young boys figuring out how to grow up, who they are and what they are doing. And let me tell you, it's rad. '96 perfectly encapsulates what it feels like to be that age, to be 18 going on whatever, realizing your own mortality and trying not to mess up too bad. It's a slice of life, a slice that most people wish they could forget, but the same slice that matters the most, which makes it suck so much while it's slicing. Being a teenager isn't the best. You're young, but too afraid of growing old to appreciate it, you're free but too worried about what's next to see it. You feel like you can do anything, but know you 'should' be doing something else. For those of you who weren't blessed with any practical career path, for those of you who always wanted to do something out on a limb, being a teenager can suck sometimes. But as '96 says, 'it sucks sometimes, but I know it could be worse.' 

However, while '96 paints this dire scene of youth with simplicity, clarity and beauty, ('we were invincible, that slowly burning summer') it also conjures something entirely different. This album doesn't make you want to slit your wrists, it makes you want to DO something. Everything that makes life hard in '96 is tinged with hope, friendship and even love. Puke, I know, but it's true. These songs are about figuring things out, but not being alone in the meantime. There is not a solitary moment in the entire album. To me, the whole message is that as long as you have your friends, as long as you're surrounded by people you love you and get it, everything will all be alright in the end. You can't help but be happy listening to this album, or at least I can't. If you're young, it speaks directly to you, if you're a bit older, it reminds you how far you've come and how much further you still have to go. If you're even older still, I hope it will remind you of that piece of you that will always be there, trapped in indecision and insecurity, because I've always believed that our past selves never leave us. They stick around, watching you form new identities and world views, chillin' in the back of your mind and waiting for that moment when you need them. Because you will.
The album opens and closes with these words: 'this is a secret, for when you need it.' And it's true. The entire album is a secret, for everyone who's a little lost, who's a little unsure, who feels afraid, and I for one really needed it.

I tried to describe to my friend how '96 makes me feel, and I said that I didn't know if I just really, really loved it, or if it was partially how intensely proud I am of my little brother for making something that touched me so powerfully. He said, 'does it really matter?' He's right, it doesn't matter. It's art, and art makes me happy. Sometimes I can't say why, but in this case I know why. Because it's really fucking good.

I'm starting to gush so I'll stop. You can download all their sounds for free at the links at the top, but you can also buy them, which I'd recommend. Go forth and get good music. 

xoxo Maria xoxo

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I'm a rock star.

 It’s October, and you know what that means. Halloween! The best day of the year! The day you get to be someone or something new, different, and if you live in the UK, scary. It’s Imagination’s favorite holiday, if you do it right. And by 'right' I clearly do not mean wearing as little clothing as you can in public, just because you can. Imagination hates nothing more than girls wearing just their underwear and bunny ears and calling themselves a bunny. Bunnies are cute; that’s just dumb.
I bought these today. 34 of them. All older than me.
The reason I love Halloween so much, which I’m sure I’ve written about a million times before, is because it’s the one day a year where it’s universally, socially acceptable to pretend to be someone else. For one magical day you are whatever you want to be (again, in the UK that can be anything as long as it’s zombified or at least involves fake blood) and no one can say anything. I’m sure I’ve blogged these exact same words before, but I’m not about to go re-read my own blog to find out. Heavens no. 

What I don’t believe I’ve blogged about before, however, is the power of pretending. I’ve discovered something amazing, something I’m sure most adults do every day. I’ve realized that it can be Halloween every day, that everyone can be what they want to be as long as they just pretend. It’s like ‘you can do anything if you just believe!’ but more practical and active. Wishing upon a star and all that jazz is all well and good, but wishing never got anyone a job or wrote a book. Pretending, however, sort of did.

Speaking of Halloween.
I’m basically ripping this advice straight from Neil Gaiman, whom you all know I love a great deal (Who’s seeing him talk about Fairy Tales with Phillip Pullman in London this month: THIS GUY!). He said in a commencement speech at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia this year that some of the best advice he ever gave was to just go into a job interview as if you are the perfect person for the job, weather you actually believe this to be the case or not. Just pretend it’s already your job and that you know what you are doing 100%. Ever since I saw this speech I haven’t been able to get that out of my head. He said a lot of other great this too, like how nothing he ever did for money was ever worth it, and how you should always make great art, even if your cat explodes, but the thing about pretending stuck with me the most. I mean, it’s pretending! That’s my thing. Why didn’t I think of that myself?
So this is what I’ve been trying to do ever since. Just pretend I know what I’m doing with my life, that I know how to write a book and apply for jobs and get those jobs and talk to people and all those grown up things that, as a child, I always assumed I’d just know how to do when I reached a certain age. It’s brought me success so far, I managed to get my dream (albeit short) job this summer, and before that I got to read in that showcase, so I think I’m going to keep it up. I’ll let you know when it fails, but I really don’t think it will. It’s all about confidence. I know I can do any job (as long as it doesn’t involve math or astrophysics), it’s just convincing other people that I can do the job that matters. So we’ll see.
I'm at the beach right now.

All I know is that pretending has always been my favorite thing, so that’s what I think I’ll continue to do. So right now, I’m a rock star. Not a real one, not really in a singing mood at the moment, but a writing rock star. I’m going to write the best cover letter I’ve ever written, and the jobs I’m about to apply for are going to gasp when they read it and say, ‘that’s it; we’ve found her. Ready my jet.' Because, yes, the jobs I’m applying for are that cool. At least I’ll pretend they are.

Peace, love and sandy feet,


PS- Minor point, but would someone PLEASE throw me a bone and ask their friend or family member or dog or landlord to follow me already? I've been sitting at 59 followers for ages and it's just a knife in the gut. Ok, that's a bit extreme, but still, I'm just asking for 60, just one more, that's all. I realize that I don't offer much, I hardly ever post and when I do it's of little substance, but still. Let a girl dream of being worth reading, and tell a friend.