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Perfume Genius- Too Bright

Someone has figured out what happens when you build a room with mirrors on the ceiling, the walls, and the floor and nothing else in it. The room is pitch black. Someone else stuck a light in that same room and the mirror reflected the light forever, like a hallway Einstein might have dreamt. When this physicist turned off the light, it appeared to go out and then out and then out on and on forever, just like what happens after we die. Somewhere out there, the light still has an attosecond, another has a picosecond, another has a millisecond, and so on. Just like what happens when we live.

When you put an object in that room, it is stuck like a portrait: cattle lowing at another dawn, the shrill wince of a silver bowl devoted to fruit, the cello-shaped woman whose back must hold her entire history. Still lives. Just like how we commit our memories, leaving them behind while we shine on.

Until now, the last post on Seamstress for the Band was about looking for something that may not exist and never finding it. In case this is the last post, I wanted to leave you finding something, even if it’s the same thing, again and again and again. A room filled with music bouncing off the walls, the shadows and angles of two women trying to write outside the box, a chair for you here, and the light left on.

Perfume Genius – Too Bright

posted by holly.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for reading. Thank you for being the light.

Bob Schneider- Changing Your Mind




The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization recommends when collecting evidence of his existence: “one should photograph each footprint individually. Place something common next to it, like a soda bottle or a pack of cigarettes to indicate size and dimension. Do your best to preserve the integrity of the scene. Try to photograph the prints in sequence, as they walked from where they were, to where they went.”

As with any myth or hoax, there will always be people who hunt for proof of its reality, swallowed as it may be in drifts of snow, or doctored by technology to suggest a thing far more important to any of us than the truth: what was, what could have been, the necessity of its lingering possibility.

Call us scientists. Call us seekers and fools. We’ll assert the existence of the Abominable Snowman by the glacier of ice melting like a crisis in the center of a puddle of water, the weight of Sasquatch sunk in the dirty depth of his footprint. He was here, but he melted. He was here, but he walked away. You just missed him.

But you emptied your pockets of their contents and scattered them around his print to prove how small they are. How close you were to him. You planted your soda bottle and your pack of cigarettes as proof of habits you’d quit, and you Photoshopped your own footsteps not hesitating toward the puddle. Your wish to remain theoretical is as apparent as the documentation of your attempts to be found and just as easily dismissed as a hoax. It’s better this way. To almost-exist is to be forgotten just enough to remain desired.

This way, you are frozen mid-step like a woman in a stained glass window affixed in a church wall. A sea snake licks at your bare feet which are pruned and blue. Your smile disappears into your right cheek, teeth coppery as flattened pennies on the curve of a railroad track through Missouri. This way, that red dress floats on the surface of the water, fluid around your neck and Elizabethan. This way, your head stays above water and the black hair slicked like seaweed around your face comes alive underwater in flocks like interrupted birds and shields your body. No one ever sees your nudity but someone out there claims to have proof, and he finds you everywhere.


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posted by holly.

Johnny Flynn & Laura Marling- The Water


Sinking has its own treasures, as you might imagine, if you don’t already know, and I hope you don’t. A boat sunk shimmers only because anything would under the pursuit of algae. Inside that ship blue dishes and yellow chairs still invite guests to dinner and serve only vegetables: moss and promises. It lies so still that life congregates around it and has a blue meeting about this object that seems unafraid of them, presents no signs of danger, and whose slow bubbles refute their religion which doesn’t believe in air, and then becomes their church. Long-nosed fish dart in and out the hole that sunk the whole thing, that hello-echo that opened a whole ear.  A claw from the sand reaches toward it, a better shell, and when it falls apart the crab learns to have faith in sideways. An eel slips freely inside its sockets. A predator discovers the home of all the creatures whose life depended on finding one. Over it, the ocean shrugs.

It is your fault that you can love someone only as long as the lifespan of her myth. It is mine that I can only love while I remain one. Whatever I was, my wings or scales or lungs have decayed and become a thing for divers: old plans frozen in time for slick people wearing masks and breathing from tanks who discover how much air matters. Think of every creature which doesn’t exist and how much they relied on air in order for no one to believe in them. That is how slim a sip I get.

I have loved you with the certainty of the freight on an unsinkable ship and with the blinking eye on the other end of the periscope on the lookout for icebergs. I have loved you also with the absurdity of chandeliers dangling over underwater tables. I have loved you amphibiously, with the legs of evolution and the scales of preservation. I alternated between those two things, and my heart became a beached shack set up for tourists who are hungry or want a souvenir just down from yours which offers the same fluorescent t-shirts. We advertise with competing banners flown in the wake of small planes off the coast toward those well-oiled people who either haven’t yet been burned or who think they can swim. I promise a free hermit crab with purchase. You offer a string of dissonant wind chimes made from their shells, and we make them choose a religion.


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Graham Nash- Sleep Song


At night, I banter with the zebra who has lost its bones and uses my bedroom ceiling to maintain its stripes through the blinds. The glass of water I’ve arranged in case I get thirsty sits in front of the digital clock, and I never drink from it; it has been poisoned like holy water by electric blue fingers: the smug tadpole tails of sevens, the top box of an eight, three resolving its psychic complex of being half of the eight like the twin of a stillborn. The zeros fill the cup and light up the room. I change my shape too. I am a ball. Then, I am a starfish who loves her space. I am a long smooth flute imagining which holes would make what sounds if some shadow were to come through the blinds and close them.

I still have things left to tell you, so I tell the whole room. Do you worry that death is black like sleep without dreaming, and still we are blind the whole time we are alive? Did you know that our bones will be called fossils one day? My foot has twenty-six fossils, for example. That foot sleeps. I think of our fossils when I’m not asleep, when I’m digging us back up, when I’m burying us, when I’m breathing into the mouth of the space that used to be between us and begging it to cough up the ocean.

I tell a story about us that never ends. We are protected by a red rope and a sign that says, “do not touch.” We are glued together. No one believes we really existed, but they marvel at the certainty imposed by our spines. Someone who has volunteered her time explains that we were discovered on the ceiling and it took a long time to put us together. “They had stripes,” she will tell a hive of pupils who have eyes that see in the dark. They imagine us having stripes. They dream we walked, that our bones didn’t need glue and stayed together by their own wet magic. These simple, stupid creatures were once awake and now with hollow sockets, they stare into each other. Skulls, the volunteer volunteers, referring to our time. Somewhere in water, you swim toward me in the shape of a three. I light up, half an eight.


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posted by holly.

James Blake- A Case of You (Joni Mitchell cover)


If I was looking for proof of us, our fingerprints would be on nothing. If they marked the skin of a tomato, we’d have cut it up and reduced it to juice for a sauce. If they were once on the window on the twelfth floor of that hotel room, housekeeping would have wiped them, and anyway it would have been only my palms splayed there. Your hands would have been on the square bones of my hips, those open windows. If they were on wine glasses we abandoned for each other, you’d have rinsed that evidence by morning while I cooked your peculiar eggs, a skill I learned quickly in order to demonstrate a case one wants to make but would prefer to keep circumstantial. If my fingerprints were on your body, you’d wash them even if I were in the same bath. Our crime is the absence of clues.

If we were looking for proof of us, we wouldn’t find a hair, though mine fall everywhere, stopping up your drains and dropping on your floors the thin map lines of a terrain that has a history of many names. I wipe them away best as I can, you know, so after I’m gone, I can meet you again without having just been seen in the sink.

If I were looking for footprints, I’d find none except where a certain pair of shoes has pocked your hardwoods all the way to the fireplace where I crouched to get warm, all the way to the piano where I plunked out the same three half-songs swearing I can finish if only I had the sheet music, all the way to that yellow chair  I imagined was a wild horse who would buck me off for leaning too far back, the chair I pretend I discovered and tamed, but eventually came to respect the rules of its balance. Then there are the places we can merely speculate I removed my shoes to confess: I’m staying.

If I had studied your case more diligently, I’d have known that the solution was the mystery, which is not the same as erasing a chalk outline the trapezoid shape of someone who clearly fell but insists she landed on her feet. If I’d not been so concerned with the accusation, I’d have left my fingerprints all over everything and hidden my hands. I’d have clogged your drains until the bath was as deep and unfathomable as the ocean. I’d have burned your eggs, unobservant of your customs, so that you would doubt my allegiance. I’d leave a trail of lipstick and hairpins like bread crumbs but I’d not wish for you to follow me. I’d expect you to keep them sealed and stored in case I came back and you could offer evidence that I left. Then I would pour them out as proof that I didn’t.


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The Low Anthem- Oh My God Charlie Darwin


I dislike people as a general rule. People are things ahead of you in line, stealing the cab you hailed, shoving past you, inflicting their neuroses upon you like black magic. I think most people dislike other people. It’s why we misuse car horns, our elbows and wear sunglasses in the shade. It’s also why people consider New York City to be the greatest city in the world. Everyone is bothered, and everyone suspects that they are bothering everyone else. There is a peace about that understanding, as there is in any understanding. Keep moving or be moved.

Sometimes when in a crowd I pretend I love everyone. I take in a deep breath and exhale like it’s a good spell. It hurts really bad like sunburn, or like not having skin at all. I played this game Friday night. Oh, it was a crowded and loud swirling soup of the worst chaos.  While I was still pretending that I loved everyone, the bartender pointed at me; I nodded over to the guy next to me and said, “he was here first.” Turns out, we were drinking the same potion. We knocked our plastic cups together. For that second, our only second, he was a member of my tribe. He offered a familiar gesture that acknowledged that I’m reasonable concerning the notion of fair.  I looked down from the balcony where the people had been shoving each other to see the stage.  If they were ever shoving–a hypothesis I now recant–they were now engaging in an act of using allotted space cooperatively in response to a shared stimulus. They were dancing.

Afterward, out on the street, a girl put her hands on the cab we had hailed. Her tribe got in a street fight with our tribe, and she shoved me. Then a civil war broke out in my tribe. Too much potion.

The next morning the sun was too bright, and I needed to walk. I couldn’t even think about my game. People were mass. There is a place in Union Square that I imagine belongs to me. I hated a slow man shuffling into the intersection while talking quietly into his wrist. I made up a mean story about him, a spaceship, and inadequate mental health care. Once he was out of my way, I saw that he was comforting  a green bird perched on his arm. Still, people were things buying young trees in pots and bottles of fresh cider, local honey and wine. People had short dogs that I almost stepped on. People were holding hands and taking up too much horizontal space. People were rising up on me like they were on escalators while I was trying to get down. Keep moving or be moved, I thought.

Eight hare krishna monks had folded their bodies on a blanket and were chanting with drums and tingshas.  A man wearing blue jeans and a saxophone stood by them and played jazz along with their hare ramas. They were from very different tribes, but there was only space for one noise. Imagine it, if you can, a sad sax working with happy monks, the discipline of monks cheering along the renegade of jazz. I stopped moving. I took off my sunglasses so I could hear them better. I needed a moment so desperately that I almost mistook reality for desire. I almost made up bad stories about cults and upside down hats meant for heads but beg for dollars instead. I almost forgot about pretend-love because nothing will make you feel so alone as letting yourself believe for a minute that you aren’t, and it hurts like sunburn–getting that close (or whatever word is so opposite to distance that space isn’t even implied) to light (or whatever word is so opposite to existence that you or I don’t even apply.) People captured the moment with cellphone cameras. Their hands raised up in the air like submarine periscopes so their future eyes could spy on the event without the threat of  having actually been there–the far left jazz player blowing at the ground to the monk at the right with the bells and his smile directed at the sky. Their whole human span, a crowd raised up their machines.  I just got really badly sunburned, and I wasn’t even trying to love everyone.

The slow man and the green bird strolled by like familiar aliens. The bird had a white ribbon tied from her foot to his finger.  She opened her wingspan full length but she didn’t try to fly anywhere.


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From the album, Oh My God Charlie Darwin: Oh My God Charlie Darwin - The Low Anthem


posted by holly.

John Prine- Hello in There


There is a woman who never had pets or children but she owns three brooms. Each broom serves a purpose. One solves the leaves in the fall and the pollen in the spring. One solves the grains of rice and the kitchen crumbs. And one keeps everything else out, things try to follow her in on her shoe soles and bits of wrapping she’s picked off the mouthwash, the dish soap, the juice–those proofs that no one else has touched the content of things.

There is this woman who has never petted her dog because she hasn’t the need for a dog. Petting a dog opens the dog. She has never had a lover. The body preserves itself, but a dent to the heart, that aluminum can of cream of childhood soup, can cause paralysis.

She tries to take as few breaths as possible. Trees recklessly emit oxygen. They’re always taking the carbon dioxide we grant by snoring away. So she daren’t sigh over a thought as it is misuse, a steal for a nearby tree. She does not allow anything to make her gasp. Once she took a city walk that lead to an underpass where someone had graffitied that last line from an e e cummings poem: for life is not a paragraph and death i think is no parenthesis. She sneaked a little extra air. She always liked cummings; he seemed to understand that capital letters and punctuation were inefficient seals.  But she caught herself. It wasn’t a full gasp, just the hollow event that suggests a gasp before the claws grasp the rim of the can. She had vowed not to give her air, her ethics dictated that she also oughtn’t take too much of it (no matter how altered she was at the suggestion that she wasn’t suspended in the silk of parenthesis.)

One broom, the one that solves the leaves and the yellow dust, ushered the projectile masturbation of her neighbor’s oak right into the center of her yard and made it have sex. She didn’t notice it for two years: a frail fawn, knobby-kneed, trusting the partners both under the seal of grass and beyond the seal of blue sky which asserts that the earth its own thing and not star-struck. You’d expect, now knowing more of herself than she does but understanding her commitment, that she’d chop it down like an invading weed, but she didn’t. She watched it for a length of time if time could be measured in wide miles and not the ironed clock-pleats of minutes. She watched it for stretches. It reached as tall as the eye of a spiderweb outside the lower right window pane. She watched through the woven fly before and after it was devoured. The spider dismantled her structure, or perhaps it just disappeared on its own. After a burying snow and its depletion, the tree was as tall as the top pane of glass.  She also cooked soup and soaped her hair, rinsed the suds, mopped linoleum, left a check at Christmas for the postman, went to the bathroom, scratched a bite, called a plumber, deposited checks and bought noodles. In other words, she wasn’t watching the tree, or observing herself observing the tree or observing herself overlooking a web. But soon she had to crane her neck. Then she had to squint to see its tip. All this nonsense had accumulated around it, droppings and moltings and movings on of its own doing, so she swept it away at the base until its trunk was flush with the grass. She beat down the ivy crawling toward its throat, batted away a woodpecker attempting to break its seal.



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posted by holly.

Nick Drake- Things Behind the Sun


A man pushes a cart down the sidewalk lifting the back two wheels over the patch of broken cement where the rain and the wet leaves collect. That swamp is there no matter how long a drought has lasted, so he’s named it Swamp de Leon as it comes just before the intersection of Briarcliff Road and Ponce de Leon. In the south, Ponce and Swamp almost rhyme. He calls the cracks by their names as they stump the cart, “well, hello to you too, harry!” “That’s a mighty firm handshake you got there, emily.” “Horace, it seems your family has grown since last time I saw you.” And so forth.

There is a dead cat in the bed of the spruce trees that give privacy to a condominium complex. Her mouth gapes three teeth, the crooked keys of a last chord. Someone had tucked her in with a kitchen towel which meant someone was sorry.

It isn’t time for popsicles yet, but there is a festival half a mile up the road filled with people and outdoor music and sloshy plastic beer cups that will all end up flat like lily pads in Swamp de Leon. He pushes on toward the music and the matchstick people who are just a little too chilly to crave a popsicle, but just hungry enough for spring to buy one. Most currency isn’t in exchange for what a person wants right here and now anyway, but for something from the time and place they wish they were, the closest thing they can get to what they really wish. Otherwise, someone would smooth over the sidewalk so it didn’t feel so much like rolling wheels over the surface of the moon. Someone wouldn’t have blanketed the cat who has no need to stay warm. Otherwise, the man with the cart would have no customers paying for ice. Especially the children want ice just like they want their faces painted like cats and ladybugs and a balloon from another man who has pushed his cart from the other direction. He names the clouds along his way and then sells plots of air in the sky.


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posted by holly.

R.E.M.- Wendell Gee


The Near Nothing Man was not always near nothing. Once he buttoned clothes, sat on chairs, rested the numb skin of his elbows on tables, touched things like objects and subjects, some subjects in triangular places that turned them into objects, drank from a cup and filled it depending on his desire and not merely what was available. You must imagine everything was available to him because it was, anything: absinthe, urine, breast milk, Coca-Cola from Mexico where they use sugar derived from the cane and not corn syrup, the syrup of anyone wearing candy, the content of anyone passing out wings and a mask.

Prehistoric Near Nothing Man once had a desire directed toward something that lasted longer than seven minutes, which is the average length of any desire that isn’t backed by one or more of the three real feelings. The three feelings (love, fear, and an untranslatable word–the vague certainty that one’s being is in costume and deserves candy) nest so snugly in the straw-brain that most people are oblivious to them, especially when one is pursuing truth, a dijonnaise that squats on the refrigerator shelf: always there in front, but out of sight when halfway through the preparation of a cheese sandwich.

This desire was for someone who had named herself. He had two of the three feelings for her, plus one additional feeling he invented solely based on the existence of her dimples. Incidentally, she didn’t care for dijonnaise. Too fattening, too thick, too lewd. She had a body, and it mattered much to her. He loved the body, but she didn’t: a stripper who knows she is beautiful, hates herself for it, and therefore uses it in order to be overlooked, right up front on a stage dangling from and turning upside down, fucking everyone in the room with the third feeling, a shimmery wetness that makes a cheese sandwich palatable. The tease and tickle of a bite of air with no swallow.

The Near Nothing Man, when he was near to her, was under a spell. She could do anything while simultaneously blinking and he would love her with yearbook superlative adoration. In other words, he could overlook the condiment and leave two dry slices of bread, a leaf of lettuce, and a perforated square of cheese on the counter. Who is hungry now, anyway, for that.

No one knows at what point the Near Nothing Man became where he is. No one knows if he attained enlightenment or became disillusioned. No one who knows him or has loved him invented this story. It may even be because of or in spite of this story that everyone wants to love him or to be loved by him. Costume without the promise candy. Or vice versa.

I loved him dressed up as myself, in need of a haircut and a straighter smile, with the flexible vertebra of an amphibian, with the skinny legs of an adolescent and the soul of a crone. I dangled in front naked and upside down on a stage. All while I filled his cup, while I made it overflow with anything he wanted, while I became liquid, while I contorted easily to fit, while I became a thing so apparent that I was overlooked, while I renamed myself with a sticky label, while I became cold, while I became a speck there in the back near nothing but the relishes and the colors.

Most everything here is a trick, a slight of hand, something coming from behind an ear that really has been housed under a sleeve.What if you lost the sleeves of your costume? And your wig and oversized shoes? The ghost hands flailing under the sheet? What if you lost your ears and had nowhere to manifest a coin? What if you believed in magic because no one ever told you how quick others were to able to maneuver their touch?

This is what it is to be in love with the Near Nothing Man. I handed out candy wearing the costume of Everything: military camouflage while waving my arms right in front of the enemy. He took peppermint, which isn’t really candy, but the wash of everything prior, the white clean of nothing ever happened, the red sting of everything that has, the wind that whistles and blows, moves everything, and no one ever sees.

MP3: R.EM. –

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posted by holly.

The Beatles- Obla Di Obla Da


This song never made me happy before I had a dream in which I attended my own funeral. I didn’t have the best seat and was under the impression that I was in a theater to see a Cirque du Soleil performance. Then this song came on and the lights went up instead of down. A parade of carnival characters came out from the stage entrances. It took four clowns to carry my casket which was covered in a white sheet. They lifted it over their heads and back to their shoulders like it was a tuba. Women with painted faces carried trays of food as they walked up the aisles. People reached over each other, mostly preferring the fruit. I took a slice of cantaloupe. It tasted like nothing. Initially, I thought it was tacky that they were serving fruit that is not ripe or in season. Then realized it was I who was no longer in season.

By the end of the parade, the whole crowd was standing and singing along until the body had left the room.  And all these years I’ve spent worrying that I am going to die were gone when I woke up. All the pressure to have done something important, all the determination to get over things that have caused me suffering seemed amusing–like when a child’s ice cream cone gets licked right off the cone and rainbow sprinkles swim in a puddle of pink bubblegum on concrete. Grown-ups exchange smiles over the child who cries over this. They know the secret knowledge: things get so much worse. This will seem like nothing. Also, there is more ice cream.

Well, that’s how my funeral felt after my life was over. It was a spectacle responding to spectacle. After everyone had  followed the song out of the theater, I went backstage (is that where you go? I didn’t know.) A man wearing a red and white striped suit was sweeping up flower petals and confetti with a janitor’s broom. He tipped his top hat  and smiled under his mustache when I passed him, and then I found a counter where a man was spinning pizzas on a series of turntables. He showed me how different albums sound if they are all played at the same time and on top of each other, how all the notes will mesh and then clash. I understood.  I took a number, pulled up a chair, and waited to order my remix.


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posted by holly.