All My Friends Who Play Guitar
I remember I liked Starflyer 59 before I’d even heard them. All the teenagers I respected had their shirts and even the band’s name sounded cool. I knew they were a Tooth & Nail band like some of the other bands I’d been introduced to, like MxPx and Ninety Pound Wuss. So I assumed it’d be something along those lines, but I was pretty surprised by what they actually ended up being.
I’d never really heard anything like shoegaze before. In a small town and an evangelical bubble, you don’t really have many opportunities to encounter it. But it immediately resonated with me. The sounds were similar to the grunge and alternative I’d heard on the radio, but being used in a totally different sonic purpose. It was loud and powerful music, but not aggressive or biting. It felt like a nice chaser to the punk music I was already deeply into. So I immediately became deeply invested in their work and have followed them for years since, even after dropping out of the faith.
As the 90s ended, the band began to expand and move to more complex territory taking what they’d used in dream pop and shoegaze into indie rock. 2001’s Leave Here A Stranger has all the dripping reverb from their earlier work, but it’s paired with distant organs and singing saws. It’s deep and evocative, but approachable. Doesn’t hurt that it was produced by the lead singer from one of my favorite bands growing up, Daniel Amos. I love all their albums for different reasons, but Leave Here A Stranger is the easiest to recommend.
I was already driving by the time the album came out and it never left my car. I don’t even know if my friends liked it, I just played it all the time when we drove around (sorry if you didn’t). And it’s still a staple for long trips for me. It’s perfect highway music. It sounds like recycled air smells.
One of my favorite tropes is ending an album with a song you could roll movie credits over. It fits the way albums can work narratively and also reminds you that they’re wrapping things up that they need to clean the theater. Your Company is the perfect credits roll song, typing up the musical and lyrical themes of the album. After the album, can just see the album credits scrolling down the screen as you listen.
January 25, 2021
Since March I’ve been slowly rewatching Star Trek series, starting with The Next Generation and carrying over into Deep Space Nine. They’re interesting shows to watch within a few months and I’ve really enjoyed relearning this shows from my childhood and adolescence. Deep Space Nine in particular has given me a lot to think about. It’s a show about navigating the borders where Federation ideology don’t have clear answers, but doing the most good you can despite this.
Sisko is best Star Trek captain. Unlike the more full formed, idealistic Picard, Sisko is still learning about himself and about what he believes. Adrift in grief, Sisko finds a purpose trying to bring the Bajoran people into the United Federation of Planets. Each Sisko focused episode is about Sisko encountering a challenge and using it as an opportunity for personal growth.
In finding the wormhole, Sisko stumbles into a Bajoran prophecy and becomes an important religious figure for all of Bajor; The Emissary for the Prophets. Though his science driven Starfleet background bristles at the title, he accepts it as a means to achieve his goal of enlisting Bajor in the United Federation of Planets. Several episodes hinge on his dual role as both a Starfleet officer and the Emissary; both uninvolved in Bajor’s governance and deeply intertwined with Bajor’s spirituality. Sisko shrugs off the Emissary’s duties when possible, treating it more as a ceremonial role.
In season four’s episode “Accession,” Sisko gives up the Emissary title when an ancient Bajoran poet is released from the wormhole, better fitting the literal interpretation of the Bajoran prophecy. But the new Emissary begins to use his position to enact regressive Bajoran beliefs, like a strict caste system. Sisko initially withdraws citing the Federation’s desire to stay out of Bajoran governance, though he laments that Bajor will not be admitted to the Federation if the caste system is implemented. As Bajoran society begins to unravel under the weight of 200 year old religious dogma, Sisko realizes that he does indeed have a place in Bajor’s spiritual life and fights to get back his role. When the aliens known as the Prophets declare that Sisko is the Emissary, Sisko returns to the station and gives a speech asking for a return to progressive, cultural growth, while also warmly embracing his spiritual duties.
If this were a modern TV show, this arc would have been a whole season of character growth instead of one episode of a syndicated TV show. The unfortunate reality of Star Trek’s format is that the episodes that are really rich and interesting are still just 45 minutes. Any future episodes can only make vague references to the events of any previous episode. But even so, I think episodes like Accession are what makes Deep Space Nine worth watching.
January 25, 2021
Thinking About Blue Thunder
I used to write a lot more than I do now. I maintained LiveJournals, DeadJournals, and even a Xanga at different times in my teens and twenties. Nothing amazing, but simple personal posts or thoughts on albums, movies, games, whatever. Most of it was bad. I think college kind of broke my habit by sending all my creative energy toward papers and projects. Nearly a decade since graduating, I’m going to try and get back into writing personally. So here’s this thing then.
January 24, 2021