Tuesday, September 2, 2014

reading about people like me

Joshua Ferris, “The Breeze”

I was given a pile of old New Yorker magazines and read this story in the September 30, 2013 issue. I thought about this the same thing I thought about his novel Then We Came to the End
: he’s an excellent observer of what we think of as modern life, it’s just too bad that the thing he’s observing seems so unworthy. I mean, he’s so good as showing you what a young twenty- or thirty-something New Yorker acts like that if you were one you’ll feel shame, and if you weren’t one, you’ll wonder what the fuss was about.

The story begins with a young married woman noticing a lovely New York spring breeze. (If you’ve lived there, you know there are times when the weather is so heartbreakingly beautiful you wonder how you could live anywhere else. This happens maybe three or four times a year.) What follows the breeze is a series of “alternative endings”, each one a paragraph or two, different but very similar descriptions of dates the woman and her husband might have gone on. Some fun, most disappointing, all tinged with the damned difficulty of simply getting around in that town. I mean, the author nails it. He nails it like twenty-one different ways. The overall effect is “Yes, it’s hopeless or pointless to live and try to enjoy life in New York City, and trying to be part of a couple makes it even harder.” Basically the conclusion I came to while living there. I just didn’t need to read this. I’ll give the writer credit: I finished the story, he must be a good writer to tell a sad or really just frustrating story so many different ways and get me to keep reading it.

I admire Ferris’ style (I wish I had written this!) but I wonder how long he can keep making stories out of such tepid conflicts, or non-conflicts. I liked this story more than The Snow Queen, by Michael Cunningham, the last thing I read that was supposed to be about the lives of people like me. (And way more than the unfinishable A Visit from the Goon Squad.) I would like to read stories about people like me. I just see this excellent work not completely succeeding, because the subjects are so boring, and I wonder if it ever can.

Posted by David Rhoden on 09/02 at 11:57 PM

Sunday, August 24, 2014

five songs I hated as a kid that I love now

5. “Help Me”, Joni Mitchell.
I hated all those “dives” the song takes, you know “heeeeEEEELLLLLP me, I think I’m falling…”. But now I mind them less as I don’t suffer so much from 1970’s smoke-associated carsickness, and I love those weird strangled guitar solos. Mostly, though, I like when the back up singers say “didn’t it feel good?”. That part is great. This song sounds so much better on vinyl than it does on radio.

4. “Sara Smile” and 3., “She’s Gone”, Hall and Oates.
I thought this band sucked for some reason. They looked dumb to me. Their songs seemed to please everyone so much. It was gross somehow.
I think I just didn’t understand the sentiments, or the way they were being expressed.

2. “Fooled Around and Fell In Love”, Elvin Bishop Band.
Most things Mickey Thomas touches get covered in sticky goo (well, thinking of “Jane” by Jefferson Starship; actually I think I’m thinking of Marty Balin) but this is just a super vocal performance. I also love the guitar solo. I had to grow into it though. As a kid those descending opening notes made me go “oh no, here’s that guy who fooled around and fell in love again.”

1. “If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right”, Luther Ingram.
It was just one of those slow boring songs about nothing, or nothing I cared about. The words didn’t make any sense.
Now it makes total sense.

Hey, one more: Dorothy Moore, “Misty Blue.” I just like it.

Posted by David Rhoden on 08/24 at 03:52 PM

Friday, August 22, 2014

deciding where to live

I guess everyone who knows me well knows I love living in New Orleans. Though I’m not from here, it’s the closest thing I’ve got to a home. My mom lives here, she moved down because I was here. I came back here, after suffering through law school, a miserable unwanted divorce, and Hurricane Katrina (I ranked those by badness, by the way). I just really like it. I’ve never made friends as easily as I did here. I’ve had the most fun playing music here. I sold art here even when I didn’t live here. I love my yard, and my transplanted Bushwick tabby does too. I love my porch.

What I don’t love is trying to make a living here. I was really lucky to get hired at iSeatz before that job became impossible. It was a big pay cut for me, but it enabled me to move and not feel the pinch too badly. Unfortunately, we ran out of front-end work to do. Colin and Paul would ask me what I was billing hours to, and I’d just shrug my shoulders.  I couldn’t stay there, spending thirty five hours a week watching a clock tick (fooling around on facebook really).

After I quit that job, I did all right freelancing for a while. I built or helped build two Minimum Viable Products, one of which I built from scratch in Ruby on Rails. (It’s in private beta or alpha now; the other one was an actual working product that made the founder no money, and he quietly killed it, thereby thoroughly screwing up my portfolio.) Lately I’ve been doing the simplest web work, fixing old sites with a lot of tables in them. Maybe I should count my blessings. Maybe this is the perfect job for me. I make an okay New Orleans salary; it’s half of what I made in New York (it was three-fourths when I was at iSeatz). I work from home. It is easy.

Recently, though, I got recruited by a firm in Austin, and I wasn’t recruited by a recruiter spamming the southeast with emails. I got recruited by the creative director of the firm, and she was looking for someone with real tech skills who is also creative in his or her own right, preferably an artist. They flew me out for an interview, they just walked me around the office and let me talk to people and took me out to lunch, and basically made me feel valuable. I thought “why aren’t they looking in Austin? Is there something wrong with this firm?” but their Glassdoor rating is good, very good in fact. (Better than iSeatz, but who isn’t?) And they made me a really nice offer. So today I have to decide whether to take it.

I really like it here. I don’t want to give up my band, it’s the best one I’ve ever had. (Funny, that was the only thing that almost kept me in Brooklyn.) I will miss all my friends, but there are a handful of people I really don’t want to say goodbye to, people I depend on every single day; somehow I’ve hidden from myself the fact that if I go I won’t see them as much any more. I am pretty resigned to everything else. I just don’t think I can afford to not go where they want me. New Orleans is comfortable, mostly, but I just don’t think it can support me.

Posted by David Rhoden on 08/22 at 04:12 PM

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

strange thing on a palm tree

Anybody know what this thing is called? It seemed to burst from our palm tree all of a sudden. It has been covered with bees.

image by David Rhoden
image by David Rhoden

Posted by David Rhoden on 08/20 at 10:07 PM

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Iceman, for sale

“Iceman.” For sale, $300.

image by David Rhoden

Posted by David Rhoden on 08/19 at 01:22 PM
Page 1 of 284 pages  1 2 3 >  Last »