Tuesday, April 28, 2009

playlist 4/28/09

the verve - life's an ocean
k'naan - fire in freetown
amadou & mariam - je te kiffe
manu chao - primavera / me gustas tu
goodie mob - free
me'shell ndegeocello - andromeda & the milky way
digable planets - black ego
NASA w/ RZA & john frusciante - way down
U2 - until the end of the world
massive attack - man next door
gokh-bi system - kaesal (senegal)
ollabelle - see line woman
morcheeba - on the rhodes again
alice russell - someday
jane's addiction - summertime rolls
pigeonhed - marry me
the dirtbombs - trainwreck / they hate us in scandinavia (request)
the bellrays - black is the color / stone rain
jawbox - apollo amateur
afghan whigs - beware
john frusciante - second walk
jeff buckley - mojo pin
love - a house is not a motel
amadou & mariam - welcome to mali / batoma
the constantines - hotline operator
dengue fever - tip my canoe

Monday, April 27, 2009

trust fund slum

I was laughing this morning when I saw the link to this article

I lived on that street for a year because I had friends looking for roommates and it was a short walk from campus and downtown.

It was more or less a slum for rich white kids who wanted to have their own "Animal House" with old homes that were literally falling apart and yards that were littered with old kegs and red plastic cups. There was broken glass everywhere and blackened pieces of old couches that had been burned in the middle of the street. I get really mad when I hear people in suburban Cleveland talking about any group of "other" people bringing down the neighborhood, because their own kids would do a damn good job of it.

The city council called it a "blighted neighborhood" for good reason. And Peter Frampton's daughter lived a couple houses down from me. I was living there when the first College Fest went down, and while there were no riots with tear gas and pepper spray, it looked almost exactly like this. Really, it looked like this pretty much all the time.

We didn't have keys to the front door, just deadbolts for our rooms and it wasn't uncommon to come home and find a drunk high school kid standing in your living room wondering where the party's at and trying to tell you that he's 23 or someone you've never seen before passed out on the couch. The girls upstairs used to throw water balloons off the roof at people walking home from the bars. One time three strippers showed up at my door looking for Jimmy and I sent them elsewhere.

The year after I moved to more quiet and less expensive environs, kids from Akron used to come up and rob and pistol-whip people walking home from the bars because the combination of stupidity, alcohol, and money was just too easy of a target.

I got to hang out with my old roommate this weekend, and it says a lot about dorm life that living here was better, but also that we wondered how we ended up there, and how we thought that life was actually normal.

Friday, April 24, 2009

sun and cars

So after all the fun of this weekend, I haven't done too much really, and found myself dead tired on Wednesday night after a lack of sleep due to hanging out and watching Tanzanian music videos with the older brothers of the kids I tutor, and then them coming for guitar-playing and leftover pizza the next evening.

Back in my punkish college days, I used to think that when you get older and get a REAL JOB that your life gets routine and mundane, and that you never do anything. If anything, I'm much more freed up now than I was before, and I'm thankful that I live in an area where friends and places are within walking distance or on the bus line so that people feel cool with calling me up if they're in the area.

I have new neighbors downstairs and while it feels weird to have people my age in close proximity to me again, they seem like good people, and they're friendly. One of the things that I liked about the previous tenants is that there were always people chilling on the front porch and I'm glad the new people have continued that.

My car is evidently going to be implode in the near future, so I'll have to start looking for a new one. I feel at a disadvantage here, knowing nothing about the inner workings and being female. I wish I could be like Maggie in Love and Rockets and be awesome but she's not a real person and I am.

I'm going to be sad to lose the Sexy Saturn, as it's taken me on many adventures through the forgotten parts of Cleveland and carried all manner of people and things, but I'm not feeling like getting my engine rebuilt at this point, and I just want something that won't break down and that won't use too much gas.

I'll be meeting up with one of my lovely coworkers and my former roommate/very very good friend (and significant other) for a poetry talk tonight at CSU. I'm not sure quite what to expect, but at the very least it'll be good to hang with some of my favorite people.
As I explained to someone today, "I don't make plans, they just happen to me." I'm sure that will be in full force as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

playlist 4/21/09

radiohead - there there
twilight singers - there's been an accident
ride - driving blind
peter chemist vs the scientist - work to do dub
jamie woon - wayfaring stranger (burial remix)
metric - help, i'm alive
amadou & mariam - djuru
morcheeba - the sea
manu chao - por el suelo
wyclef jean - 24 e tan pou viv
sierra leone refugee allstars - seconds
nina simone - nobody's fault but mine
extra golden - jakolando
habib koite - cigarette a bana
kadda cherif hadria - djezair
cafe tacuba - eres
bole2harlem - bole 2 harlem
manu chao - mentira
viva voce - let's bend light
toubab krewe - bamana niya
rokia traore - koronoko
amadou & mariam - m'bife

Monday, April 20, 2009


So me and the roommate had a houseguest this weekend. My friend's daughter evidently thinks we're really cool so she hung out with us to do "girl things" on her spring break, which involved me taking her to the mall, eating ice cream, talking about boys, attempting to go and see the supposedly legendary karaoke night at Bo Loong (nothing going on there at all), and going on the swings at Lakewood Park on a gorgeous Saturday morning.

Then we went to the West Side Market and to volunteer with the kids. Vanessa had a book about this girl from Kenya that talked about fruit, so we bought bananas and oranges and read the story. The girls loved it and told me what all the names for the animals and fruits were in their language and said that the pictures reminded them of home. Then we went outside and played soccer and basketball and enjoyed the sun before I take a few carloads home. I get some interesting looks from other drivers as the kids are singing along to T.I. or telling me that this song by the Roots is good, and the older kids want pictures posing next to my car even though it's not remotely close to sweet ride material.

So I'm sitting out in the front yard with babies crawling all over me, helping her with my math homework while the kids are taking pictures of each other with my camera and the rest of us are talking and hanging out just enjoying being outside.

Then we went to see her uncle's band play and as before, they're fun to watch and I get those shivers you get when you hear a song that really hits you. And a good set of choice covers just sweetened it more.

I hung out at Swahili church Sunday afternoon, and I'm to the point where I can pick up some of the words or at least know what's going on, and I'm taking a class in it this fall, because I know I'm not going to pick it up as well if I don't have some structure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


If you're Catholic, you can't get buried during Holy Week, we had the funeral yesterday and the wake the night before. I'm more morbid than some, but I can't stand funeral homes. I thought it'd be hard to see her in a casket but it looked so much unlike her, it didn't even seem real. I didn't tell too many people initially because I hate going to those places and I'd hate to drag other people to them.

Even though I haven't been Catholic for about 15 years, I still know all the words to the mass. It's strange how that sticks, even if I no longer remember when I'm supposed to kneel.

I was glad I got to see the extended family. When I get old I want to be like them, still able to get around and laugh. I look around at all of us and I see what I'll look like when I'm older. We all have the same eyes and the same weird sense of humor. My great uncles (her brothers) are joking about growing their cash crop marijuana in the vegetable garden back home and asking us how we can stand living in Cleveland with all these people around. I forget that for many of them, Canton's a thriving metropolis.

We all went out for Polish comfort food (stuffed cabbage, kielbasa, noodles,passed on the czernina (duck-blood soup) that was on special). I was tired and it was rainy so I was glad to get home.

playlist 4/14/09

My playlist is at home, but here's what I remember. I'll fill in the blanks later (edit- now updated).

dj cam - he's gone (kid loco remix)
common - geto heaven pt. 2
see-i - why not tonight
pharaoh's daughter - yona
blockhead - serenade
martina topley-bird - sandpaper kisses
a. r. rahman - innisai
habib koite - i ka barra
boubacar traore - baba drame
funkadelic - maggot brain
mifune - be human
kokolo afrobeat orchestra - more consideration
extra golden - street parade
chambers brothers - people get ready (live)
love - 7 + 7 is / alone again or
rem - drive
cream - pressed rat and warthog (request)
love battery - dayglo / see your mind
the dirtbombs - earthquake heart
amadou & mariam - masiteladi
joe strummer - get down moses
zani diabate -

I've been so emotionally up and down the past week that I didn't even feel like coming in that morning. This has always been one of my favorite bits of guitar playing since I was 15 and use to listen to WMMS and WNCX on headphones prior to discovering the goodness of college radio. If you haven't listened to this, you need to RIGHT NOW.

I think it's an interesting indicator of the listening audience that I get a request for Ice Cube last week and one for Cream this week.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I didn't do anything Easter-related this year, really. I was alternating between mourning and trying to get everything done that needed to. On Good Friday, I came home after work, turned off the lights, and crashed on the couch, waking up to hear chattering in Kirundi in my front yard, and a couple of the guys who rode their bikes over to visit. "Why are you sleeping? It's too early!"

I invite them up and they hang out with me and the roommate, we're peeling oranges at the table, one of them is playing pinball on the computer and calling up random girls on my phone, and the other is playing my guitar. Unlike most people, he actually knew how to play and said he had started learning back in Africa but hadn't had a chance to really play in over two years. Both of them are dealing with a lot more than I've ever had to, and I was glad that we were able to give them a place to chill and just hang out and just be kids.

Saturday morning an old friend of mine from my Kent days came up to visit and we got pizza at Angelo's, caught up, and he got to hang out with the kids. We did an Easter egg hunt for them that they loved, and then I took off my glasses and earrings to play "no autopsy-no foul" basketball in the makeshift court behind the church before heading over to the east side for a birthday party and good times. I know that I need to laugh and be around good people to keep my sanity, and that's what I did.

Saw the family on my mom's side for Easter, went over to Kristy's for hanging out with Kent & Mukhtar and bad TV and goofy ping-pong. Got a phone call from Lindsey later that night and got to catch up with one of my favorite former roommates and hear about the awesomeness of Iowa.

I was feeling really down on Easter morning, thinking about death and resurrection, the E string breaking on my bass, the bass that used to belong to my uncle who killed himself when he was my age. Sometimes it seems like the sting is still there. I left right after music for second service and drove around a bit, ended up at St. Theodosius over in Tremont in the hopes that the building would be open and I could just go in there and contemplate.

It was open, and as they were cleaning it up after Palm Sunday, I was able to just walk around and think and soak in the painted walls, the icons, the stained-glass windows, the incense clouding in the dome. The priest there didn't give me a hard time and invited me to their Easter festivities, which are coming up this week. That small moment of grace really hit me for some reason.

I am thankful this week for so many interruptions and interludes that get me out of myself and the sadness that has been so easy to slip into. I am thankful for friends who've called, and who have let me just cry on their shoulders and haven't tried to say anything like "it'll be okay" or whatever.

Friday, April 10, 2009


For some reason I've been incredibly peaceful about losing someone close to me. I think a part of it is some kind of denial, like "she's not really gone," and then you go to the funeral home and you see this stiff body there with all the life gone from it, and it just hits so hard. I can't bring myself to delete her number out of my phone even though I know no one will pick up if I call. I haven't been able to bring myself to write about it even until now.

I wish I had some pictures to post here because she was beautiful and spunky and the two of us would giggle like we were the same age when I'd go over there and hang out with her. She had a hard life and didn't have the opportunities that her kids and grandkids did, but she and her brothers and sisters were some of the happiest people I've ever met.

When we'd drive back down to deep southeast Ohio, to the small town where she grew up, it was always the best family reunions, with lots of amazing food, people playing accordions, homemade wine, and my dad's cousins blowing off illegal fireworks on the back fields as the siblings would trade Polish jokes and tell us we were pronouncing my last name wrong, and tell stories about bailing their youngest brother out of jail in Wheeling for fighting, and my dad would talk about how he and his cousins used to play this game called "Vietnam War" where they'd go out in the cornfields and lob missiles of dirt at each other over the tops of the rows.

She loved to dance, and that's how she and my grandpa met, when she moved up to Cleveland to work at a factory and they would go dancing every weekend, taking the streetcars all over the city to dance halls from Detroit Road to Collinwood. They taught me how to polka in the basement, and unsuccessfully tried to show me how to golf. She and her sisters would watch golf the way most people watch football, and it was amazing. I had offered to move in with her to help her out, but she lived on her own until the end, still driving and getting around and sending me letters with beautiful handwriting.

I know she's in a better place, but I'm going to miss her like crazy. I'm going to miss her jokes and her phone calls and watching Wheel of Fortune with her and hanging out in the kitchen cooking Polish food on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

each hanging spiral

24 hours later and I feel better. Took some time to reflect and I'm sure that I will be up and down the next few days. I find the structure and routine can save my life sometimes.

And random snowball fights with the kids. Never thought I'd say that was the best thing that could have happened to me at this time.

I'm working Good Friday this year. I'll be finishing up the tutoring job, and going to hear a friend sing in a gospel choir Saturday night, playing bass on Sunday morning. The holidays seem to hit so quickly and I seem to avoid much of the chaos.

And this song is awesome.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

april is the cruelest month

Snow on my front porch this morning.

A phone call from my mom saying that my grandma passed away last night.

I've been in a daze, and I just want to curl up and for everything to go away.

playlist 4/7/09

I don't know where I put my playlist this morning but this is what I do remember playing. And it's mostly in order.

amadou & mariam - masiteladi
red hot chili peppers - we believe
jimi hendrix - 3rd stone from the sun
funkadelic - super stupid
extra golden - hera ma nono
manu dibango - africa carnaval
professor jay - zali la mentali
bole2harlem - ensaralen gojo
wyclef jean - if i was president
jamie woon - wayfaring stranger (burial remix)
damian marley - for the babies
amadou & mariam - sekebe
habib koite - cigarette a bana
the clash - kick it over
alton ellis - i'm still in love with you (request)
keith & tex - stop that train
de la soul - ring ring ring
nina simone - nobody's fault but mine
ali farka toure - savane
brightblack morning light - summer hoof

Thursday, April 2, 2009

something for the girls

I went to a wedding this past weekend, and my sister is getting married this August and occasionally in social situations people ask "well what about you?" and I always give them some halfhearted answer usually relating to haven't-met-the-right-person or I'm-enjoying-the-single-life and hope that someone changes the subject.

I find it ironic that whenever girls I know talk about how feminist or independent or radical they are, they are always the ones who end up getting married and having kids. I guess it's like being a college kid anarchist who eventually ends up working at a bank or something.

I thought that was just among my circle of acquaintances and friends who usually majored in something like English or Sociology and minored in Women's Studies, but evidently there are some high profile examples of this phenomenon:

Ani Difranco

Corin Tucker

Kathleen Hanna

I find it incredibly funny that Ms. Revolution Girl Style Now is married to one of the men behind this song:

Just sayin'.

On that note, here's some shoegaze/britpop bittersweetness for you all.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009