A Hug from a Stranger: Saturday Night in Lower Clapton

I was waiting with Sonia at the bus stop, when she saw a man across the road collapse. I went over and he didn’t seem to speak English, so I waved Sonia over because he sounded Russian. He couldn’t get up, so I lent him a hand, but then he was having trouble standing. I had a bunch of his clenched in my fist, as he swayed back and forth. Sonia decided to call the paramedics.

He noticed me touching his back and threw his other arm around me, leaning into a hug, I thought to keep his balance, but he lay his head on my shoulder. I told him everything would be ok, but his hot breath on my neck was more intimate than I expected. He moved his head and I thought he was going to kiss me, so I moved my head back away from him. He stood apart and then embraced me again. I kept my head away from his this time and he started to walk away, but was unsteady, so I lead him to the bench in a bus shelter.

He sat down and after a moment, started bashing his head against the back wall of the shelter, with an angry intensity. I put my hand on the back of his head and asked him to stop, but he didn’t understand. After a while he gestured angrily that I should remove my hand, so I did. Three teenagers came up, waiting for a bus and told him to sleep it off. One of them said he was a rap star and would pay the man a thousand dollars if he quit bashing his head. The man listened and as soon as the kid stopped speaking, bashed his head with greater force.

A paramedic arrived on a motorcycle, which the kids ran over to flag down. The high-vis vests medics wear don’t look all that different from the ones the police wear and the man became more alert and said a few words in English, but ran out of vocabulary quickly. Sonia and I left them to it, but after a few moments, the man had enough and walked away as quickly as he could. The paramedic spent the next ten minutes filling out paperwork. We watched from the bus stop back on the other side of the road as a young woman approached and put on his motorcycle helmet, and sat on his bike, asking for a ride, until one of her friends dragged her away. Sonia’s bus came and I walked towards home, the feeling of the man’s boozy breath still tingling uncomfortably on my neck.

My life lately (is tl;dr)

Tuesday and Wednesday Last Week

A week ago Tuesday, I taught my module in Cambridge. The next morning, I got on a train to Birmingham for BiLE practice. I’m a co-founder of BiLE, the Birmingham Laptop Ensemble. We formed in February and we have a gig next week. The technical hurdles to getting a laptop ensemble going are not minor, so there has been a lot of energy going into this from everybody. We have got group messaging going, thanks to OSCGroups and I wrote some SuperCollider infrastructure based on the API quark and a small chat GUI and a stopwatch sort of timer, which is controlled with OSC, so there’s been a lot of that sort of tool writing. And much less successful coding of sound-making items, which will eventually be joystick controllable if I ever get them to work. All my code is written for mono samples and all of the shared samples people are using are in stereo, so I spent a lot of time trying to stereo-ise my code before finally mixing the samples down to mono.
I’m a big believer in mono, actually, in shared playing environments. If I am playing with other people, I’m playing my computer as an instrument and instruments have set sound-radiation patterns. I could go with a PLOrk-style 6-speaker hemisphere, if I wanted to spend a boatload of money on a single-use speaker to get an instrumental radiation pattern form my laptop, so I could just use a single Genelec 1029 that I already own.
Anyway, after the BiLE rehearsal, a couple students gave a group presentation on Reaper, which is a shareware, cheap, powerful DAW. I’m quite impressed and am pondering switching. My main hesitation is that I expect my next computer will be linux, so I don’t know if I want to get heavily involved with a program that won’t run on that OS. On the other hand, I don’t actually like Ardour very much, truth be told. I haven’t liked any of them since I walked away from ProTools.
After that we went out for socialising and instead of catching a train home, I went to stay on the floor of Julien’s studio. He lives way out in the country, up a lane (British for a single-track country road). It’s quite lovely. I would not be a fan of that commute, but I might do it for that cottage.


The next morning, Juju and I set back to campus quite early so he could meet his supervisor. I ran a couple of errands and got a uni-branded hoodie. I haven’t worn such a garment for years, because fabric clinging to my chest in the bad old days was not a good thing. But now I can wear snug woven fabrics, like T-shirts, hoodies and jumpers! It’s amazing! Also, I remember the major student protests about university branded clothing made by child labour, but this was actually fairtrade, according to the label, which is fairly impressive.
Then all the postgrads met in the basement of the Barber Institute to start loading speakers into a truck for a gig. We were moving a relatively small system, only 70 speakers, but that’s still a fair amount of gear to muscle around. Then we went to the Midlands Arts Centre to move all the gear into the venue and set it up. The gear is all in heavy flight cases, which needed to be pushed up and down ramps and down hallways and then the speakers inside needed to be carried to where they would be set up, as did the stands to which they would be attached and the cables that connect them. It’s a lot of gear. We worked until 6 or 7 pm and then went back to the studios at uni to get a 2 hour long presentation from Hans Tutchku about how he does music stuff. I tried desperately to stay awake because it was interesting and I wanted to hear what he was saying, but I did not entirely succeed in my quest.


Then, Juju and I went back to his place, 45 minutes away and then came back to the MAC early the next morning to finish rigging the system. We put up the remainder of the system and then people who were playing in that evening’s concert began to rehearse. I hung around for the afternoon, trying to get my BiLE code working. Kees Tazelaar, who played the next evening came along to see how things were going and recognised me from Sonology and greeted me by my old name. I like Kees quite a lot, but it was a very awkward moment for me and I wasn’t sure what to do, so I spoke to him only briefly and then mostly avoided him later. This was not the best way to handle it.
There were two concerts in the evening. The second of them was organised by Sound Kitchen and was a continuous hour with no break between pieces. The people diffusing the stereo audio to the 70 speakers took turns, but changed places without interrupting the sound flow. It was extremely successful, I thought. The hour was made up of the work of many different composers, each of whom had contributed only 5 minutes, but somehow this was arranged into a much larger whole that held together quite well, partly because many of the different composers had used similar sound material. A lot of them used bird sounds, for example, so that was a repeating motif throughout the concert.


After that, we hung around the bar for a bit afterwards. The next morning was not so early, thank goodness, when we went back to the MAC and then back to the uni for the BiLE hack day. The idea was that we would do a long group coding session, where people could write code around each other and ask for clarification or feedback or help or whatever from band mates. However, it started really late and everybody was really tired, so it was not entirely successful in it’s goals.
Then we went back to the MAC for the concerts. I was sitting in the hallway, trying to figure out why my BiLE code had failed so completely when I got drafted into being in charge of the comp tickets. It turns out that this is actually somewhat stressful, because it requires knowing who is supposed to get comped in, getting tickets for them and then distributing them. Which means approaching Francis Dhomont and speaking to him.
The first concert was curated by Kees Tazelaar and started with a reconstruction of the sounds played in the Philips Pavilion at the Brussels Worlds Fair in 1958. He found the source tapes and remixed them. Concrete PH sounded much more raw and rougher than other mixes I’ve heard. It had a gritty quality that seemed much more grounded in a physical process. I was surprised by how different it sounded. Then he played Poem électronique and a his own work called Voyage dans l’espace. I hope he plays these again on large multi-channel systems, because it was pretty cool.
I was feeling fairly overwhelmed by the lack of sleep, my lack of success with BiLE and getting stuck with all the comp tickets, so I was not happy between concerts. The next one was all pieces by Anette Vande Gorne, a Belgian woman who runs the Espace du son festival in Brussels and who has very definite theories about how to diffuse sounds in space. Some of them are quite sensible, however, she thinks that sound can start at the front of the hall and be panned towards the back of the hall, but sound cannot originate at the back of the hall and travel to the front. Hearing about this had prejudiced me against her, as it seems rather silly.
She always diffuses standing up, so they had raised the faders for her, with one bank slightly higher than the other, like organ manuals. She started to play her pieces… and it was amazing. It was like being transported to another place. All of my stress was lifted from my shoulders. It was just awe inspiring. The second piece was even better. I was sitting in the back half, so I could see her standing at the mixers, her hands flying across the faders dramatically, like an organist, full of intensity as her music dramatically swelled and travelled around the room. It was awe-inspiring. Then I understood why people listened to her, even when some of her theories sound silly. She might not be right about everything, but there’s quite a lot she is right about. This was one of the best concerts that I’ve ever been to.
The last concert was a surprise booking, so it wasn’t well publicised. It was Jonty Harrison, Francis Dhomont and Hans Tutchku. It was also quite good, but I wouldn’t want to play after Vande Gorne. Tutchku’s piece had several pauses in it that went on just a few moments too long. It’s major climax came quite early. It worked as a piece, but seemed like it could be experienced in another order as easily as the way it was actually constructed. I talked to him at the party afterwards and he said that the pauses were climaxes for him and ways of building tension and that he had carried them out for too long in order to build suspense. I’m not entirely positive they functioned in this way, but the idea is quite ineresting and I may look into it. He also asked me what I thought of his presentation for two days earlier, so I was hoping he hadn’t noticed me dozing off, but I think he did.
After the final concert, there was a large party at Jonty’s house. I got a lift from Jonty, so I was squeezed in the back of a car with Anette Vande Gorne on one side of me and Hans Tutchku on the other side with Francis Dhomont in the front. They all spoke French the whole way. I’ve been filling out job applications and one them wants to know about my foreign language skills and now I can say with certainty that if I’m stuck in a car with several famous composers speaking French, I can follow their conversation fairly well, but would be way too starstruck to contribute anything.
Apparently, the party went on until 4:30 in the morning, but I didn’t stay so late. I talked a lot to Jean-François Denis, the director of empreintes DIGITALes, a Canadian record label. He flew from Canada just for the weekend and showed up without anyone expecting him. He is extraordinarily charming.


The next morning, we went back again to the MAC and then there was a long concert with an intermission in the early afternoon. Amazingly, none of the concerts over the entire weekend featured overhead water drops. There were barely any dripping sounds at all.
After the concert, we de-rigged the system and packed all the gear back into cases and loaded it onto the two rented trucks. Then we went for curry in Mosely, which we seem to do after every gig. Shelly was talking about how it was her last BEAST gig and I wasn’t paying much attention until I realised this meant it was my last gig too. I really should have signed up to play something. I thought there was another gig coming later in the year, but it was cancelled. I’m seriously going to graduate from Brum having only played a piece at a BEAST gig one time and never having diffused a stereo piece. That is extremely lame on my part.


Juju was completely exhausted, so we left the curry early, so he could go home and catch up on sleep. The next morning, we all went back to the Barber Institute to unload the trucks and put everything away. Then we, as usual, went to the senior common room to have cups of terrible coffee. Their tea is alright, so that’s what I had, but most people go for the coffee, which could double as diesel fuel. I guess this was my last time of that also.
Normally, I would then gather my things and go home, but I did not. I worked on code and faffed and worried about my lecture the next day and then in the evening, we had another seminar. Howard Skempton came and talked for two hours about Cardew and Morton Feldman and his own music. It was quite good. We all went to the pub afterwards, but that dissipated quickly as people left to sleep it off.


I got the train home, finally and got in after midnight. There’s a large stack of mail inside my door. I woke up early the next morning to assemble my presentation for my module. As luck would have it, the topic was acousmatic music, so I talked about BEAST and played them some of the music from the weekend. I also pointed them at some tools. I was supposed to have them start their task during the class time, but a surprising number of them wanted to show their works in progress, so that didn’t happen.
As I was on the train back to London from Cambridge, I wondered whether I should go out to a bar that night to socialise when I fell completely asleep on the train. Drooling on my backpack asleep. I completely crashed. I woke myself up enough to get the tube home and then thought I would sort out my BiLE code instead of going out, but I couldn’t concentrate, so I just faffed around on the internet instead of sleeping or going out. Meh to me.


Then, the next day, which was Wednesday, a week and a day after all of this started, I got on the train for Birmingham to go to a BiLE rehearsal and to go to a seminar. I got my code working on the train and was feeling somewhat happy about that, but when I got to the rehearsal, it just gave up completely. I managed to make sounds twice during the entire rehearsal, one of which was during a grand pause. When I tried repeating the sound later, it wouldn’t play. Also, Shelly found a crash bug in my chat application, when Juju typed a french character. On the bright side, however, all of the MAX users got all the way through one of the pieces we’re playing next Thursday, which is quite encouraging. Antonio, our graphics guy got the projector sort of working, so I was able to glance at what he was doing a couple of times and it looked good.
We took a break and a bunch of the postgrads were dissing live coding, so I guess that might not be a good goal for the ensemble. They thought projected code was self-indulgent and only programmers would care. I need to link them to the toplap mainfesto. Actually, they were more dissing the idea of live coding, having barely witnessed any themselves. Non-programmers do seem to care and, while it is a movement that does require some thoughtful understanding to fully appreciate it, the same could certainly be said of acousmatic music. I like the danger of live coding, something that I think a laptop ensemble ought to appreciate. It’s a bit like a high wire act.
The presentations at the seminar were interesting and then we went to the pub. I was so tired biking home from the train station that I got confused about which side of the street I’m supposed to be on.


I slept until 2 this afternoon and I was supposed to sort out my BiLE code and fix up my CV and write my research portfolio, but all I did was send out email about Monday’s supercollider meetup and fix the crashbug in the chat thing. SuperCollider strings are in 7 bit ascii and fuck up if you give them unicode, which is really quire shocking and not documented anywhere.
Then I went to Sam’s to get Xena back and I wired up part of the 5.1 system she got for her daughter and sorted out her daughter’s macmini so that she could connect to it with VNC and so it was wired to the sound system and the projector and quit asking for the keychain password every 5 seconds. Then I came home and spent ages typing this up. Tomorrow, I will do my CV stuff for real, because I have to get it done and then work on my BiLE code. Saturday I’m going back to Brum again for a 5 hour rehearsal in wich we sort out the rest of our music for the gig. Sunday, I need to finish and job application related stuff and write my presentation for Tuesday. Monday is the job application deadline and a SuperCollider meetup. Tuesday, I teach. Wednesday, I need to get Xena back to Sam’s and then go to Brum again for a rehearsal and will be there overnight to practice the next day and then play the gig and then get stonkingly drunk. Friday, I go home. And then start sorting out the tech stuff for the next two pieces, which at least are by me and count towards my portfolio. And I need to sort out my stretched piece which is a disorganised mess and start writing a 20 minut piece, which I haven’t done at all and needs to be done very soon because I need to graduate and I have not spent all this busy time working on my own music, although the tools I’ve written should be kind of valuable. All I can think about now, going over and over in my head is all the stuff I have to do. And snogging. That thing about men thinking about sex every 7 seconds has never been true for me before, but it is now. And it’s actually quite annoying except that as the alternative is thinking about everything that I have to do, I actually prefer it.

My life lately

I had a houseguest from Friday – Tuesday, which is always nice. I tend to go out more when I have somebody staying over. Also, it’s an excuse to go do slightly more touristy things, or just go to a museum. (Indeed, if I know you in real life and you’re looking to stay on a sofa bed in central London, drop me a line.)
However, I used him as an excuse to procrastinate on writing my lecture. Fortunately, I was able to write the whole thing on Tuesday afternoon, in about half the time it normally takes me! I must finally be getting the hang of this. I went out on Tuesday night, feeling very pleased with myself.
On Wednesday, I presented the lecture and found out that it also seemed to take about half of the appointed time. My efficiency knows no bounds! I spent the second half of the class showing them MCLD’s dubstep patch and how to do some bitcrushing stuff, which seemed to go over well, so it was ok. I try to have emergency backup material in case this happens, but now I’m fresh out.
I also got a bit of feedback where apparently they want to learn more about how to do stuff, which is fair enough. Unfortunately, all of the really good how-to topics are in the past, so I may end up going back over them. I should probably ask if there’s any particular topic they wish they’d gotten more detail on. They seem to really be into break beat cutting and this might be because they already liked it or because I talked about BBCut. I gave them some how to program drone stuff, though, and nobody seems to be writing drone pieces.
Then I went to Brum, where we had a guest speaker who was talking about how to master electroacoustic music for CD. He said we could all get a very decent home studio for only £5000. It was like he forgot that he was talking to students. I don’t have a room that I could convert into a proper studio like that, and if I had £5k extra lying around, well, actually, music gear is probably my second priority at the moment, so that’s not entirely unreasonable. Until I get regular full time employment, though, it’s not on my budget. I guess I could mortgage my dog or something, but that’s risky.


I haven’t been getting much done lately, so I haven’t been going out much, on the idea that if I sequester myself at home, I’ll quit procrastinating. This doesn’t actually work. So Saturday, I decided to go out and ended up having a kind of a surreal evening. I came home at 4 am with 3 different hand stamps.
I skipped dinner so I could go to the FTM London meeting, which is once a month. It’s a support group kind of thing and only the third time I’ve ever been to a such a meeting in my life. I had some useful conversations and the people there are good guys, and I should keep going, but I’m not a huge fan of the support group format. I don’t actually understand what the parameters are about what I’m allowed or not allowed to talk about, so I’ll just say that it was good to be reminded that I have more surgical options than the ones presented to me last week.
After the meeting, several of us went to the Black Cap in Camden and had something to drink. This was the source of my first hand stamp, as they start charging a cover at some point after I arrived, so a security guy came by and stamped everybody already in the pub.
I ran into a friend there and she said she was going to something called Duckie at the RVT and asked me if I wanted to come along. It was packed to the gills. I’ve only ever been to Wotever-related events there, so I’ve never seen it so stuffed or so gay. It was 95% gay men, I think. I saw somebody else I knew there who was in to noise music and talked (shouted, really) to her and her partner for several minutes and then retreated outside with the smokers. We went back in for the stage show. There were two women dressed as tea ladies, stacking tea cups and pouring tea into them, on a table. It was already kind of surreal, as the music could have been part of the Leave it to Beaver soundtrack, and they had done some choreography that was supposed to invoke the idea of sexiness without actually embodying it.
Then, just in time for the last cup to be filled, the tea pot was empty! So, one of the women stood up on a chair, hiked up her shirt and pissed into the tea pot. Then, they dropped a tea bag into the pot, swirled it around for a moment, poured the contents of the pot into tea cups and both performers sipped at them. Thus ended their act.
I tried to suavely hide my look of open-mouthed-shock. I’m from a more prudish country and obviously gay men in London must want to go out and watch women do things with piss, and that’s perfectly fine. And anyway, it had to be faked, as she weed for quite a long time, so it was obviously some sort of water bottle or something hidden under her skirt.
The pissing performer turned out to be friends with my friend. Which is how I learned that she had been complaining a bit about the vast quantities of water she’d had to drink before her act in order to be able to produce enough fluid at the end. Um, wow. So I saw the liquid version of two girls, two cups. Awesome.
At midnight, I left to go hear Danse Macabre play a gig very near my house. The drummer had texted me the address and then said I was on the guest list. So I showed up kind of drunk and then noticed that she had gotten me on the guest list by saying I was doing sound for them.
They were playing in a straight, mtf-crossdresser fetish bar. So there were a lot of leering straight men around, being lustful. And a lot of middle aged drag queens in extremely fabulous cocktail dresses. The entire club was structured around the male gaze. I retreated backstage with the band and drank more.
Then they were on and I was in the sound booth. I’ve only done live sound once before in my life and it was a total disaster of feedback and mics crapping out. But the band said they’d already sound checked and I shouldn’t have to adjust anything, it would be fine. So they got on stage and immediately the feedback started. The person who sound checked them had no idea where it was coming from. I finally worked out it was form the mics for the backing vocals, but then somebody who actually knew what he was doing came charging back and asked me if I was actually a sound engineer. I said no, so he started twisting all the knobs on top of the board and not only did the feedback go away, but the band sounded way better. He then said things would be fine and wandered off.
The band had a new line up. They have a sax player now, who I could barely hear, so I kept pushing her mic hotter and hotter and she kept playing farther and farther from the mic. Arg. Later, I found out that the sound checker put her way too hot in the monitors, so she could hear herself blasting. Rather than turn that down, the woman told her to play quieter! So the saxophonist was on stage, trying to play sax quietly into a microphone!
I really should learn how to work a PA for public events. It would be a really useful skill.
Also, the male gaze is reaaaaly troubling.

Since I last blogged

I read too much BBCut documentation and got a handle on basic functionality well enough to teach it. That ate a lot of time. Then I got a reasonable draft of a new piece, which is, of course, not finished because everything could be better.
The new term started, so I had to treck up to Brum for the first meeting, which, actually, I thought was going to be more formal, or I might have skipped it. Meanwhile, I was quickly trying to tear through a 200 page book of critical theory about noise music, so I could give a good lecture.
Then, right away, we had a BEAST weekend. I came to Brum on Thursday evening to help rig speakers, but I showed up late and they got chucked out early, so I just went to the pub. Then I slept on Eric’s laminate floor and was up bright and early the next morning to help finish off the rigging. then I went to do fun things like pay my fees and talk to somebody at student records about having “Ms” as my title in the computer system. That last one caused some giggles from the person behind the desk.
Then, a afternoon concert at the Barber Centre, on campus. Immediately afterwards, we de-rigged and packed up all the speakers and put them onto a truck, along with about a hundred other speakers and took them over to the CBSO Centre. Somebody got the idea that we could so large, multi-channel systems at two different venues.
My bike has a flat tyre (AGAIN), so I rode the train into town. Or tried to, I waited more than 45 minutes in the rain just to buy tickets. And then more rigging! James now works for the CBSO and has keys to the building, so they didn’t throw us out at closing time. So we put up 90 channels of speakers and ran cables and the like late into the night. And then went to the pub. I spent the next night in a spare room at Shelly’s house, which had a bed in it! Yay!
And then back the next morning to tape down all the wires. There were 3 concerts Saturday night. And then we went to the pub.
Sunday just had an afternoon concert, that was possibly long enough to have been two concerts. And then we packed up all the speakers and all the cable and put it back onto trucks. This went shockingly quickly. Then we went to the pub. And then to curry. And then back to the pub. I got drunk enough where I kept asking Eric if he wanted to see my scars. The scars that are just rings around my nipples. He refused. And then, I thought it would be a good idea to break out my hip flask while walking back to where I was staying. (I think I might stop carrying it around, as I’d had the same idea after Sam’s birthday party and probably drank as much alcohol on the way home that I’d drank at the party. Not that I needed more.)
So the next morning, Monday, I showed up rather late to unload the trucks and put everything back into storage. But it still got done really quickly and then we all went for coffee in the Senior Common Room. This is an area with sofas that sells caffeinated beverages and pre-made sandwiches. I think the drip coffee there could be used as diesel fuel, in a pinch.
There’s a sort of amazing moment I noticed last time, when we go from being a team with a shared experience to just back to normal life. Like, this moment of togetherness that dissipates as people go to sleep it off or have meetings or whatever. I wish I could make a piece of music that does that somehow. This time, though, I missed that moment, as I had to go meet Scott, my supervisor.
I played him the piece that I declared done, and he had some good suggestions for how to change it. Bah. And then I played him my newer piece and he had many more suggestions for that. Since it’s just at a stable draft (good enough to try out at a gig, sort of stable draft), I expected those. Then, huzzah, he told me I could put some improv in my portfolio, so I might throw in some stuff from my last Noise=Noise gig. I really miss improvising and if I could get into a duo or something, that would be ace.
On the train home, I read many more pages of the Noise book and then logged into facebook and saw Mitch had posted his UK phone number. And I saw it was the 18th and thus his birthday! So I texted him and made arrangements to meet, for after I got Xena back from Sam. Xena was very happy an has been more energetic and spry since I’ve had her back. Clearly exposure to playful puppies is good for her.
Mitch and I went for curry on brick lane and had plans to go on to an improv show, but the curry went too late. It’s funny, because I tend to ask inappropriate questions and for whatever reason, people tend to answer them. But Mitch, who I’ve known for 17 years now, can seamlessly dodge such questions and change the subject through subtle slight of hand. Which is wise of him, and also funny.
On Tuesday, I collected audio samples for my lecture and got through most of the rest of the book. Then, I went to go to a SuperCollider meeting, but failed to find the meeting and so went home and worked more. That makes it the only day in the last week, where I did not drink any pints.
Wednesday, I woke up at 7-something to get out the door by 8:20 to get the train to Cambridge. I read more on the train and then in the few minutes before class. Last minute cramming, ahoy.
I talked a lot about transgender musicians, specifically Genesis P-Orridge. I could have done a much better job, I think. I was way short of sleep and some of the materials I read had wrong-pronouned him/her and so I started off by calling him/her, “he” instead of “s/he.” Meh, what’s wrong with me? Then I talked about Terre Thaemlitz, who I’m pretty sure goes by “he” and kept the digression of the crappiness of his “anti-essentialist” identity to a minimum. And then I talked about Venison Whirled, the band of Lisa Cameron, who is a transsexual woman from Austin who does noise music. I don’t think she’s really known outside of the Austin scene, but I figure binary-IDed trans people have a place in noise too. And I did all of this without disclosing, which, I dunno, I probably should have, since it was definitely sub-theme for the day.
Then, I got on the train to Brum and wrote a slide presentation about TuningLib, my SuperCollider quark, got to uni and then presented it. Scott noticed an error in one of my synthdefs in my sound example and then suggested I fix it in the piece. Which I had counted as done. (It’s not just changing a line of code, it’s re-recording the output and then re-mixing, etc etc etc). *sob* It was doooone. So I guess I have even less finished than when I started the day. And then we went to the pub and I drank a couple of pints without having eaten properly. Wheeee.
Today I woke up at noon and was able to resist feeling guilty about not working for about 3 hours. Not that I started doing work ater that. I’ve been dedicatedly faffing (mostly), but feeling bad about it.
In other news, I think I’ve fixed the problem with my phone that was draining the battery away. I ran top and noticed that the RSS reader was eating a ton of CPU. It’s, apparently, part of the OS, so attempts to kill it didn’t help. I finally blew away the preferences folder and it seems to be sorted out. My calendar, however, is still screwed up. I’ve discovered that it just never deletes anything. So if I schedule something to be every tuesday for the next 3 years and then move it to a wednesday, it keeps both versions. I don’t know yet if this is a problem with the phone or the free service I’m using to link it to Google Calendars. I so don’t have time to debug my sodding phone.
Anyway, today Mitch is done with his work in town, so we’re going to hang out. And do something, but I don’t know what.
And that’s most of what’s happened in my life except the stuff that I can’t mention on the public internet. Alas, none of the unmentionable stuff includes nudity.

Life and stuff

I’ve been kind of busy as of late. So this is just a list of things going on.
I had the follow up with my surgeon a few weeks ago. She was very pleased. And I had my second appointment at CHX for my next referral. I suspect the wait on getting an appointment may stretch into years, but we’ll see.
Paula’s father died, after a long illness. I went with her to the funeral, which was in a Saxon church in a picturesque village in Sussex. It was a bit dramatic.
I went with her also, in what seemed like the last day of summer, to the beach in Brighton. It’s been so long since I’ve been swimming that I found the elastic in my trunks has died of old age. (I’ll fix them in my copious free time). I applied sunblock and then lay shirtless in the sun, then went swimming in the channel. It was lovely.
Fossbox put on an openday, for software freedom day. We got a grant for a training suite, so we got some laptops and then put ubuntu on all of them and set them up to demo stuff. People ca e and we got good feedback.
I got a job as an hourly paid lecturer at Anglia Ruskin uinversity in Cambridge. I’m teaching a course on electronica. It is eating a lot of time. The target is 10 hours prep time per week, but I went way over that for last week, which was the first class.
Then, the day after my teaching debut, I got on a plane and went to Berlin for the SuperCollider symposium. First use of my new passport. OMG, the privilege! I breeze through border checks. Nobody looks askance. It’s amazing.
I brought my bicycle with me. Every morning, I chanted to myslef “bike on the RIGHT” but I still went the wrong way once. Cycling in Berlin is way better than London. Not just because of the wise cycle lanes and large numbers of segregated cycle paths, but because cars are actually looking out. There are bikes everywhere in Berlin. It’s great. Rent is still cheap. The arts scene is still thriving. I still am thinking about moving there.
At one of the concerts in the symposium, a familiar looking woman sat down next to me. It was Thea, Ellen’s friend who moved from Berkeley to Berlin last April! We met up later. She has an artist visa, which is apparently easy to get. She told me people only need to work part time and can spend the rest of their time composing.
I also saw Jörg, who is building mad-scientist – like devices in his amazing studio. He introduced me to his friend, who was also at the symposium. In Berlin, there are weekly sc users group meetings, which is amazing.
The concerts were mostly pretty good. The installations were incredible. There was a club night, where the sc-using DJs got to do their thing. I left at 3am. It went until 5. I think it was the loudest thing I have ever been to in my life. The subwoofers were making my nipples hurt.
Between my bike, my laptop and the book I’m plowing through, my bags were pretty heavy. The first day was a challenge, but I seem to have regained my strength. I kept telling people, “I can lift things!”
Some acquaintences failed to recognise me. This gives me mixed feelings. Very mixed. I know I’ve changed since I was in The Hague, thank goodness. But it’s weird when somebody doesn’t know who I am at all.
The sc symposium is always fantastic. Next time, I am going to present something. I have a research idea.
My composing time has been somewhat eaten by everything else, but I have energy and ideas and will get caught up shortly.

My Fantastic Weekend

I awoke Saturday morning to a text message in which Paula, my closest friend here and neighbour, said that her cat had drowned in the local pond. Indy was sweet and lovely and has spent many evenings curled up in my lap purring, or lolling about hoping for a belly rub. Oh no! I said I would walk my dog and head right over.
Paula's catsMy normal dog walking route goes right past the pond where the cat had died, and I was looking at it sadly, thinking of Indy when, with some distress, I noticed that Indy’s body was still in the pond.
I went around to get a closer look, in case there had been confusion, hoping it was some other cat. I couldn’t see his most distinctive marking, but I was convinced it was him.
Cat and Christmas Tree 1I went around to Paula’s and we tried to figure out who to ring to remove poor Indy from the pond. The RSPCA is only involved with living animals. I found the non-emergency number for the police and called them, apologising for ringing the wrong number, but explaining that I thought the cat’s body constituted a public health hazard. The police woman was annoyed at first, but then sympathetic and gave me the number for animal control and the department of environmental health, both of whom were closed until Monday.
Desperate for distraction, I shaved Paula’s head. However, Jara, Paula’s flatmate, was distraught about the thought of the poor cat bobbing in the pond until Monday, so we went back with a long pole, hoping to get him. And we tried a longer pole. And we tried tying two poles together, which succeeded in reaching him, despite being incredibly heavy, but not in bringing him closer to the edge. It started to rain.
LilypadsSome of the neighbours came by and said their porter could get him out on Monday. Somebody else suggested that we just wade out and get him. I went and got my toe shoes and some latex gloves, rolled up my trouser legs and jumped down into the steep-walled pond.
It was choked with algae, which wrapped around my legs. The bottom was squishy and weird. I waded over to where poor indy was, and pulled him from the algae and walked back to the side with his stiff body. I could see his markings then, and it was definitely him. I put him into a sack and then noticed that my gloves had somehow gotten torn.
Jara pulled me up the very steep sides of the pond. I went home and took a long shower and then tried to reach my girlfriend, but couldn’t.
Instead, I went to check my email and found a conversation on an email list that had been annoying me. The thread had grown. One guy organises a lot of events around here and makes a serious and thoughtful effort to be open and inclusive and does a lot of good things for the community. However, he was going on about innate and immutable gender differences, which rubbed me the wrong way and seemed quite othering. It contained a slur, clearly used without recognising it as such. Instead of explaining why I found this troubling, I flounced from the list.
Then I went to sleep and dreamt of Indy and being hit in the head by fourbytwos (known to Americans as 2x4s).
Hal and PaulaThis morning, Sunday, I put on a shirt that my gf gave me, as I thought I would see her in the evening. But first, I went with Paula and Jara and Paula’s friend to the anti-EDL march. The EDL is a fascist organisation, which had been planning on holding an anti-muslim march in the same area, targeting the East London Mosque, which is very near where I live. The EDL had chickened out at the last second, so the rally and march were peaceful and fun. I met a lovely anarc named Hal, who works at the Freedom bookshop. We all went with Joey and another woman to get a fry up afterwards. Hal may come to Wotever next Tuesday. It was all really good, although there were signs that unrest might be brewing among some other people who had been involved with the demo.
Incidentally, while we are at the pre-march rally, my phone rang and it was a friend asking if I wanted to come along to something. This is significant, because it was the first time that anybody that I’ve met in London (but not dated) has called me with impromptu plans. I’ve lived here for two years. I couldn’t go, because I was already at the rally, but it was very nice to be invited.
I went home and checked my email again and found out that I had very deeply offended the guy to whom I had posted my flouncing and that he had said some unkind things in return. I was distressed to find burned bridges, as this guy has gotten me gigs and getting involved in a row on a public email list connected to my section of the local arts scene is really not wise, especially as I’ll be looking for a job soon. Somebody said the whole group may have imploded in the aftermath, but I really hope this is not the case.
[EDIT: Um, I seem to have gotten this guy confused with somebody else, which is also embarrassing. He hasn’t gotten me gigs, but he is active. (25 June)]
Indy Feeling dejected, I tried again to reach my girlfriend, who said that we neeeded to talk. Uhoh.
The last time I had seen her, she had come with me to my pre-op appointment, where nurses took my blood pressure (good), calculated my BMI (low) and asked me questions like am I a vegetarian (yes) and do I have a will? (I do now.) I found that last question to be rather alarming.
She came along to ask questions about aftercare and to encourage scheduling that would coincide with when she had time off and would be in the area. My operation will by 1 July.
Then she went to a conference in Bristol and I hadn’t seen her since and was starting to get the impression that she was avoiding me. ‘Needing to talk’ was not allying my fears and I didn’t think I had the stamina to bike across town for whatever serious conversation she wanted to have.
And that’s how I came to be dumped via chat.
There was no fight, she just decided she didn’t want to be my girlfriend anymore. Five months of that was enough, I guess. It seems rude to go into details, so I won’t, but she had been idly chatting about moving in together a couple of weeks earlier, so I don’t know.
I decided to check my email again and found out that my proposal to play at the SuperCollider symposium had been rejected.
So to summarise: thigh deep in nasty, urban pond water, holding the corpse of a beloved cat in my bare hands, followed by flouncing, followed by getting dumped over chat followed by yet another professional rejection, of which I’ve had a streak for years, now, I think.
HaircutAt least the march was good and I seem to have some social stability. Which I’ll need because I won’t be staying with my exgf after my operation, obviously, but it will be a couple of weeks before I can carry anything and I’m not sure how much I should be left alone in the day or two after. I’ll be staying with Paula, which is super, but I don’t feel like it’s fair to ask her for everything, even if I cut her hair in return.

In my life

The band I’m in had a gig recently, on the night of the election. Helen wrote a song([MP3]) about the Tory party leader, who, alas, has become the new Prime Minister. I made a video for the song.
The gig went well.
A few days before that, I put together a last-minute set for a noise show. That gig was a bit unnerving, as I had a lot of technical problems. However, I got a surprisingly good review of the mp3 that I posted. The part that’s gone to my head says, ” . . . that digital squeal that’s the laptop equivalent of Hendrix’s burning guitar . . ..” (It was an analog chaos patch and not actually feedback, but that’s well beside the point.)
In other creative musical news, I actually finished a piece (pending seeing my supervisor). There’s a few different ways to finish a piece and one of them is to become so filled with hatred that “finishing” it is an act of putting a stake through it’s heart. This is one of those cases.

Other Stuff

I have a girlfriend, who I never blog about and whom I’m not going to start blogging about, except to mention here that she exists.
Um, I don’t know, when people ask me about my life, I just talk about what I’ve been working on. Apparently, this is common for PhD students. Speaking of which, I’m now officially going to be at uni for the optional fourth year.
I’ve gotten word of my name change to both my phone companies. My bank invented a law that says they can only deal with a name that matches government ID. Or maybe it’s a real law, I don’t know. I’m going to try opening a new account someplace else. I hate my bank. The last shrink I saw at Charing X said he would write a letter such that I could get a provisional drivers license learning permit what ever it is with the right gender marker, but I haven’t heard anything about that. My next appointment is next week, so I’ll bring it up then. It would solve my bank problem. Otherwise I have no idea why they want me to see another shrink. I’m still the same amount of sane as last time.
I still live in the same place with the same dog and go to the same university, so not much is changing, which is nice.

Now that I’m 34

I’m going to eat my vegetables; I’m going to go to bed and get up at a reasonable time; I’m going to finish my damn degree and graduate and find a job.
Birthdays don’t really feel like milestones anymore, just an excuse to go to the pub with friends. Or sometimes they feel like a yardstick, like by the time my parents were my age, they were actually kind of in the same sort of space I’m in now, so I guess that’s ok. Still, no PhD, no tenure track post, no CDs out. I might not be the young hot shot I thought I was.
My laptop has been broken for almost 3 weeks. Apple support in Europe really bites. I have borrowed a laptop running Ubuntu Stdio, which is very nice. But I miss having RAM. Also, I’m somewhat shocked to discover that the phone in my pocket is probably as powerful as the laptop I had before the current, broken one. It’s certainly more powerful than the one I’m borrowing. So I’m trying to compile SuperCollider on it. It’s very strange to be installing developer tools on my phone. I keep stopping with an overwhelming, “oh my god, it’s the future” feeling. And since the Brit police actually used a hovering drone thing to arrest some poor sod last week, it’s not the Asmiov future I’d wanted.
I’m sometimes kind of amazed by the date, like, holy shit, it’s 2010. I’m too young to be old. And yet.
The time is coming soon when I will have a 3rd date with a non-queer straight cis woman and need to disclose and I still have not figured out what to say. “Have you heard of Buck Angel?” seems like a poor opening gambit. So does invoking the pregnant man. I don’t know how well people here have heard of Chaz Bono.
I’m entirely assuming that people are cis though. I remember when I came out as gay to my highschool boyfriend. I agonized about it for some time. How to tell him? Would he be hurt by this revelation? I called him up. “I need to tell you something.” I said, and hemmed and hawed and finally, “I’m gay.” In a casual voice, he said, “Oh, me too.”
It’s probably somewhat more unlikely that disclosing my trans status will lead to a ‘me too,’ alas.

. . .

When my dad was 34, he married my mom. He asked her to marry him on the first date. She said yes on the third. I seem to remember that he told me that she had decided she was going to say yes even before he’d asked. They knew each other already, through a group for Catholic singles. Everyone in the group coupled off, which was, of course, the point. But in the mean time, there was group socializing, camping trips, bike trips, going places, doing things. The days before OkCupid seem like they were a bit more fun, or at least more likely to lead to lifelong friendships.

A Fab Photo Shoot

My Alarm went off at 6:30 am. I probably should have gone to bed earlier. Three hours sleep, then photos? Alas. I drug myself to the train station and started poking at the ticket machine. Brits and Americans actually use language in completely different ways. So the words were English, but the machine was not communicating with me. The ticket guy called me over and asked where I was going. I said London. He looked at the clock, furrowed his brow and asked if I had a discount card. I do not. “Ok, mate, it’s rush hour, so that’s going to be £123.” (For you ‘Merikans, that’s $250) For a two hour train ride. I asked for a receipt.
I was instructed, upon arrival in Lodon to get a black cab, which took me to the photo location. They offered me coffee, so I drank a cup. It was in Hackney, which is apparently a hip London neighborhood. The studio was carefully designed to look as if it was an extremely hip loft that somebody actually lived in. There was shampoo in the shower. More or less the normal furniture. I thought maybe someone did until I opened the refrigerator. If somebody lives there, they never eat there.
All the people working at the shoot were women. There was a makeup person, who described what she did as “grooming.” There was the producer from the magazine. There was the photographer and her assistant. And there were three of us to be photographed. The guy who arrived ahead of me was hung over, or possibly not. The groomer started plucking his eyebrows and he got mysteriously ill. So it was my turn to be groomed
She brushed foundation on and then some sort of powder making me look very orange. She dabbed stuff overly my freshly formed acne (when i saw a crop of zits break out two days ago, I knew the shoot would definitely go forward). And she carefully removed the dark rings under my eyes. I applied my own lip balm. The orangey stuff went on my neck too and even my ears. It was bearable. My eyebrows, which have been kind of filling in between them lately, were untouched. I closed my eyes and thought of Lee Adama. He does all these pouty pin up shots. If makeup is his ticket to being fetishized by millions of het and bi women, well, I can do it too. “When I open my eyes, I will look like Lee Adama”
I opened my eyes and I still looked like me, which is just as good. I had a cup of coffee. There was a bag of clothes for us to wear, but the bag was missing. The producer was madly on the phone, trying to find them. I drank another cup of coffee and chatted with the groomer about Yosemite. Finally, they had me put on some jeans and a bright purple flannel shirt. They blocked out where we would sit and took some test shots, emailed them back to the magazine and then wait for a go-ahead. I had a cup of coffee and chatted with the other two guys, who were also low brass players and uni students. The eyebrow bloke is a conservatory pianist.
They deiced I should wear my own shirt, so I changed. Then there was some other delay, so I had a cup of coffee. Finally, they had us groomed, dressed and blocked and had official approval, so they started taking the pictures. The producer came around periodically and tugged at our shirts, to keep them from getting bunched from us being in the awkward “relaxed” poses they put us in. The groomer dabbed more orange crap on us. The photographer alternately ordered us to smile or be serious. The assistant sat at her mac and made sure the photos looked ok on the screen. This sort of click click fuss fuss, “your serious look is a little too much like an axe murderer” went on for quite a while. Then they had us do individual shots. I was on second, so I waited and drank a cup of coffee. Afterwards, I changed into my own clothes, wiped off the makeup and got some of the lunch they had catered. It was the weirdest thing, but my hands were kind of shaking when I was trying to spoon up some rice.
Today, somebody called to read back my quotes to me to make sure they were factually ok. The questions the writer asked were really broad and I had just read the New York Times Magazine article on ftms, so obviously something on such an important topic would be many pages in this glossy mag. Also, it’s easier to blah blah blah about yourself than to write music and it’s cheaper than therapy, all of which meant that I sent her ten pages. Yeah, I’m so fascinating. She said she wanted really specific examples, so I cut and paste a bunch of stuff from my blog, where I recounted conversations I had and stuff. When the assistant read back my part, it was down to a single paragraph. That poor writer must have felt like she was drowning in my blahblahblah. Which would explain why, out of maybe 3 or 4 factual claims, one was substantially wrong and one was minorly wrong. So their fact checking necessary and good. The story will be out next Tuesday.

When in London . . .

After the photo thing, I walked to the Tate Modern. It’s big and free. They have a lot of stuff. I think it’s one of the best. But it’s still, you know, a modern art museum. Signed urinals. Bike wheel on stool. check. check. check. I heard some posh guy explaining to his female companion that judging modern art is entirely subjective. I wish I wrote down what he said. He thought that works had no “craft” component and that you wouldn’t talk about execution or even context, since they weren’t representational. Right. Well, call me when art has no craft or context and I’ll get back to you. He sounded so very sure of himself, though, that I thought I was overhearing art students are first. Ironically, part of what I love about the Tate is the excellent program notes and strong efforts towards arts education within the museum. It’s possibly the best modern art museum in Europe. But, alas, it’s still a modern art museum and I’ve been to way too many of them. After about an hour, I walked to my friend Paula’s flat.
London is so gigantic. Every time I go, I want to move there. There’s just all kinds of stuff. Going on. Everywhere. It’s way bigger than Paris, it’s more like NYC. And I don’t think I can afford to live in central London any more than I can afford to live in Manhattan below 176478921649 street. Not to mention the weekly train fare to school.
I got to Paula’s and her best friend was there. He stays over one night a week. Like her, he’s a crit theororist. And he loves sci-fi. He started talking about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and specifically the Doctor Who episode Genesis of the Daleks. ZOMG! The music on that episode is so so so so so good. There’s this prepared piano leitmotif. When I talk about incidental music on the original Doctor Who and how good it was, I’m usually thinking about that episode. I think I’ve even blogged about it. Anyway, we got on all right. (I want to conspire a way to surround myself constantly with queer, crit theory sci fi geeks.)
Paula popped open a bottle of sparkling wine and we decided to order food delivered because that would be faster. The food arrived about two hours later after we’d been drinking sparkling wine with no food. It was around this time that I decided maybe I should look at a train schedule. And then I called up my dog sitter, Um, gosh, I’m really sorry. No, it’s ok if she goes without food for one night. Gosh. Sorry.
Paula’s kittens slept curled next to my feet. So cute!
And the nice thing about a a £123 ticket is that the return doesn’t need to be the same day. Huzzah.
I’ll post a scan of the magazine a week from Tuesday, when it’s no longer the current issue.

What happens next

Ok, so the HOA was vengeful. you can’t do stuff without asking first. However, Ellen has been encouraged to work with the design review comittee (which includes an architect), to come up with a shorter version of the shack which is not nailed into the wall (big sticking point due to water penetration issues, which are really very minor, but you know . . .). Her plan, she told me, is to tear down the old shack and re-use the materials to construct the new one, which will keep her busy for a quite a while and hopefully will not fxck up her upcoming gig in Seattle.

Somebody on the HOA wrote an angry letter about the shack, condeming it and attacking me, saying that I had been asked to attend the meeting, but had refused. Indeed. I told everyone that I talked to that I would have loved to attend, but classes were starting. I’m sure that any other person in my compound would have skipped registration day and the first day of classes and bought a last minute new plane ticket, so I feel like quite a slacker. But there was this class I wanted to add, for which I had emailed the professor asking for approval, but she didn’t write back. I felt like attending the first session was necessary to get the class. It was a hard choice for me, since the class isn’t offered every year. Finally, my education won out, mostly because I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a new ticket and also have to pay late fees. Sharon would not beleive this, but so far, I have avoided all late fees. I have not even asked the grad office for mellon balls, although they often have cookies out and actually, one time they did give me mellon balls, now that I think about it. this is the difference that a big endowment makes.
anyway, I didn’t see this letter, since it went out after I left. But there have been many similar letters with neighbors denouncing each other during my time in that compound. I really like Berkeley. I live in nice area. I have neighbors that are actually very nice in social settings. Nevertheless, I’m very strongly thinking about selling after I finish with school. This would be after another 14 months at Wesleyan. a possible year in Germany after that (I hope) and maybe a PhD program, so not for a while. There’s some sinister similarities between homeowners associations and Maoism. The denunciation thing. It’s an exploitable part of human nature. I used to have a coworker at netscrape who said that the Stanford Prison Experiment showed that you didn’t have to train people to be concentration camp gaurds, you could just get them to do it automatically (I’m so glad I’m out of the software buisiness). I think that Maoist denunciations work the same way. You can exploit people’s natural tendencies to support your system. It’s prolly easier than capitalism, since it doesn’t require a gigantic media apparatus constructing rediculous myths and pounding people with them constantly.
I’m a good leftist. I want to beleive in a noble human character that would come out under a just economic system. People would farm in the mornings, code in the afternoons and write symphonies in the evenings, to paraphrase and mangle Marx. But there are people in the world (I’m no longer talking about my HOA, but more about political groups in Italy and the US) who are true beleivers in facism. There are people strongly dedicated to the other side. Some of these folks are paid by plutocrats. some of these folks are plutocrats. some are afraid of alien other. but there are some folks who just believe in facism. How do they get these ideas? How do you neutralize these ideas? How can you fight this tendency? Is it learned? Is it inborn? Is there some cultural meme that could be stamped out, thus leading to the utopian sisterhood of humans?


Anyway, this semester, I’m taking Mystic Voices, and undergraduate Medieval studies class that I didn’t know if I would get in to, Alvin Lucier’s composition seminar, a group tutorial in SuperCollider (taught by Ron Kuivila, my advisor), Colloqium, and Gamelan. Jessica told me that I have to take a different ensemble this semester and I can’t keep taking the same one. If this is the case, then I’m going to take Anthony Braxton’s ensemble, although I would need to ask him to waive the pre-req, which I think he would do. I plan to take his ensemble next fall, along with gamelan, and take fewer academic-type classes.
For the record, although I whine about back pain, I really like gamelan. The songs are groovy and the ensemble is low stress. We had our first meeting tonight. I played the gong, which is the most laid-back of all the instruments, since it only plays at the end of phrases that are 8, 16, 32, 64, or 128 notes long. Hypothetically, phrases could also be 256, 512, or 1024 notes long. There’s a cutoff somplace, the longest phrases ever actually written, but I can’t remeber if it is 256 or lower. I feel very ethnomusicologically-oriented when I play gamelan. Last semester, the ensemble was the grad student social club. this semester, there is a teem horde of undergrads and few grad students. There’s me and a small group of PhD students, but I feel good about it.
I’m sort of half TA-ing Ron’s Recording Culture class. I’m not officially assigned to the class and the last hour of it conflicts with the Mystic Voices class. Ron said this would be ok. There’s a parking garage in Middletown that plays loud Baroque music year-round in an unsuccessful bid to drive away youths from a coffee shop located in the first floow of the building. In the warm months, the youth hang around the coffee shop anyway. In the cold months, nobody would sit outside and get snowed on to drink coffee, but they leave the music on anyway. The parking garage is music is highly irritating. Somehow, Ron convinced the parking garage owner that his Recording Culture class should be allowed to do an installation there for 24 hours, where they use the Muzak system. He’s involved in curating a seperate event, called Rock’s Roll, at a museum where composers submitted stuff that’s supossed to be played on top of each other. Composer A’s tracks play at the same time as Composer B’s. Ron’s starting off his class by having them mix the submitted stuff, including things that were not picked for the museum. The submissions include works by Maggi Payne and Brenda Hutchinson (I think The Star Strangled Banner is among them). Maggi’s stuff sounds really cool. I haven’t listened to all the submissions yet.
I do not know if semi-TAs get to do anything for the parking garage, I’ll keep you posted. But personally, I think the owner should permanently cancell Muzak and let me install some SuperCollider patches. I could just stick a laptop in their PA system, which would not only be more economical than paying Muzak fees, but would also be much more interesting and just as likely to drive people away. I’m thinking about that thing I did a long time ago with virtual memory. I’m thinking about just intoned triads that might make people want to hurl themselves in front of trains. I’m thinking about fingernails on blackboard type sounds. Dubya talking backwards about terrorists.
I want to do more stuff with Dubya. I noticed a certain melodic quality when he said “In fact, what the terrorists have done is caused us to take an assesment of what’s important.” There’s interesting pitch material lurking there. It’s higher pitch than the rest of his speech. Insincere. Sing-songy, almost. I went to the WhiteHouse webpage and fired up AudioHijack and started capturing the State of the Union address. Only when he started tlaking about Hydrogen-powered cars, did I realize that I was grabbing the wrong year. If you can stand it, go listen to last year’s address. The text is very, very similar to this year’s. I didn’t get as far as weapons of mass destruction before I quit listening. For some reason, they haven’t posted this year’s address. I heard a rumor that Democrats applauded when he said that the Patriot Act was set to expire this year (thank god), so maybe they’re editting that out.
I don’t know what I’ll do for political audio-mangling if Dean wins in the fall. I guess I could use his Iowa roar thing.
So, except for Mondays, I have a much more relaxed schedule this term. I’m also only taking 4.25 units this semester, instead of 4.75. I might even have time to write music. I heard a rumor that Alvin will require us to write a string quartet. So I’ll be in the library with the score to Ruth Crawford Seeger’s String Quartet and the CD, trying to figure out how she did what she did.


Often hopeful (like right now), but with a tendency to slip in to anger or despair. In Berkeley, walking around often restored me to hope. Here, not so much. I’m speculating that it’s the cold + people often don’t bother shoveling their sidewalks, thus making the walks somewhat treacherous (what’s with my neighbors? they pile trash in their yards. they don’t shovel snow.). Also, in Berkeley, I felt a sense of belonging to a larger thing. I am a part of the universe, etc. Here, I feel rootless. I tell myself that I’m part of the universe, but I feel more like a Christmas tree, cut off from my roots and dragged to suburbia to eventually wind up being tipped over in the middle of the unshoveled sidewalk, next to garbage cans. I’ve got an appointment with Behavioral Health (aka: a shrink) on tuesday.