Len Damico

Finished reading: The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz 📚

Still cooks.

My favorite music of 2022

Lots of good stuff this year. Here’s a playlist:

My very favorites

Additionally, here are a few albums and singles I wanted to call special attention to. They’re presented alphabetically becasue I’ve choosen to ditch the “best of” framing I often go with; I’m not writing music criticism here, and I have no editor telling me what to do. I don’t even know how many things I called out, so this isn’t a top-ten list, either! It’s just What I Loved in 2023. Mostly captured for me, but if others get something out if it, all the better.

Album: Animal Collective: Time Skiffs

Their best group of songs since MPP, for my money.

Album: Big Thief: Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

A rare double record that never overstays it’s welcome, but rather creates a world I want to live inside, not unlike the White Album or Wildflowers.

Album: Destroyer: Labyrinths

After nearly two decades of dabbling, I have finally become fully Bejar-pilled.

Song: Gabriels: Remember Me

If you’re not moved when the full strings kick in at about 2:30, I don’t know what to tell you.

Song/Video: Ghost: Spillways

I have no commentary on this band or their schtick, but I do know a well-written sugary pop-metal jam when I hear it.

Song: Goose: Dripfield

The vapors of this song have seeped into my bones.

Song: Hammered Hulls: Abstract City

We all need a bit of classic Dischord sound in our lives, and this tune checks that box with authority.

Albums: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s entire 2022 output, specifically Omnium Gatherum and Changes

I am intimidated by this band. They are very Extra in the best sense of the word.

Song: Steve Lacy: Bad Habit

R&B from another planet. I dig. A lot.

Album: The Mountain Goats: Bleed Out

John Darnielle is a national treasure.

Album: Aofie O’Donovan: Age of Apathy

I’ve really been enjoying Aofie’s work since I fell down a deep Live From Here well several years ago. She truly brings all of her unique talents as a songwriter, vocalist, arranger and guitarist together on this record. (Related: this Tiny Desk concert is delightful.)

Song: Angel Olsen: Go Home


Album: Beth Orton: Weather Alive

Haunting, but in a different way. So great to have new music from Beth Orton.

Album: Plains: I Walked With You A Ways

This recrod gave me a lot of reminders of my mom’s early-90s pop country radioe phase. (I mean this as a compliment, obviously.)

Song: Maggie Rogers: That’s Where I Am

Another single that grabbed me by the lapels and demanded my full attention from its first notes.

Album: Will Sheff: Nothing Special

I couldn’t describe this record better than Sheff himself did in this wonderful interview with Fluxblog’s Matthew Perpetua:

My experience of art is like the wind in the trees. You blink and you miss it. A little bit of it is like “Did you guys hear what I heard?” It’s a very quiet, subtle thing that gets under your skin.

Album: Sister Ray: Communion

If I had to pick a “favorite” record of 2022, it would probably be this. Those that know me and my tastes will have no problem figuring out why.

Album: Soccer Mommy: Sometimes Forever

A nearly perfect distillation of my late-90s record collection. I mean this as a high, high compliment. Truly another one of my absolute faves on the year.

Album: Spoon: Lucifer On The Sofa

Their best since probably 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. All killer, no filler.

Song: SRSQ: Winter, Slowly

The first time I heard that little whammy-bar vocal effect on the chorus (starts around 0:50), something in my brain slipped loose and my thoughts still aren’t thinking right.

Album: Bartees Strange: Farm to Table

This is truly an Important Record, a call-to-arms, a statement of purpose.

Song: Tenci: Two Cups

Tenci came onto my radar after seeing them open for Hop Along in 2021, and I’m really glad they did.

Album: Sharon Van Etten: We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong

Much like the Destroyer record, this was the one that converted me from “hey, SVE is pretty cool” to a full-fledged fan.

Album: Immanuel Wilkins: The 7th Hand

A gifted arranger who can still layer sheets of sound with the best of them.

(✅ indicates that I’ve purchased the album on vinyl, for accountability’s sake. Support the musicians you love, folks!)

Playlist available on Apple Music, Spotify and Last.fm.

Finished re-reading: The Perfect Pass by S. C. Gwynne 📚

Inspired to pick it back up after the untimely death of Mike Leach late last year.

Finished reading: This Wheel’s on Fire by Levon Helm 📚

It was a bit disappointing to learn that a “plant-based sports bar” had taken over and destroyed half of the Elliott Smith wall, but I wasn’t gonna let that prevent me from a photo op.

This picture was taken at the finish line of the 2012 Beaver Stadium Run, seconds after Franco Harris (right) had admonished me to “Finish strong, son!” The Penn State community lost a great ambassador today.

Thank you, Joe Brandon.

(Get yours here: www.covid.gov/tests)

Perhaps one of the most important pages on all of Wikipedia: List of Sauces.

Twitter is rapidly moving away from “place I don’t want to spend as much time” and “place where I should not be publishing original thoughts” (as documented here) and towards “place I can’t really justify being a DAU.”

Christmas kitty.

This Bird Has Flown

I opened my Twitter account on December 27, 2006. I am Twitter user 307,983.

Over the past nearly 16 years, I’ve spent far too much time, energy and attention on Twitter. It has exacerbated my mental health struggles in countless big and small ways. It has absolutely changed the way I write and think by rewiring the way my brain works a bit, mostly without my consent. (To say nothing for the possible destabilizing effects it has had on our society and world.)

It has also been a lot of fun and led to countless personal and professional opportunities. It’s opened my eyes to a lot of things I never would have seen without it. Yes, I would even say it has helped radicalize me.

That’s why, despite all the negatives, I kept coming back. The good always outweighed the bad, on a personal level. But the events of the past six weeks or so have tipped the scales and made it nearly impossible to keep engaging as much as I do in good conscience.

I’m not entirely sure what this means for now.

I’m far from the only one having these thoughts. No, I’m not going to delete my account, although others have, for reasons I understand, and I’ve thought about it. Some folks are deactivating, some are allowing their accounts to go dormant, and some are trying to stay and fight the good fight.

Many have already fled to other “competitors” hoping to vacuum up the users (and their attention) that Twitter is hemorrhaging.

  • There’s Mastodon, a decentralized network made up of thousands of interoperable servers/communities. I’ve joined jawns.club, the Philadelphia-centric community run by Alex Hillman (of Indy Hall acclaim). It admittedly has a lot of “Twitter circa 2008-2010” vibes so far. (I mean this as a compliment, to be clear.)
  • There’s Hive, which seems to be trying to create a more “aesthetic” version of Twitter. After reading this profile, I doubt I’ll exploring Hive much.
  • And there’s Post, a VC-backed platform focused on “civility” which thinks treating net worth as a protected class is more important than basic accessibility. Their values are clearly not aligned with mine.

I want to suggest another alternative.

What if, instead of worrying about what crazy hijinks Elon Musk will get into next, or whether Post or Hive will take off, or fretting over choosing the right Mastodon server… what if we all went back to blogging? Write on our own websites, syndicate those thoughts to various networks, take advantage of those communities and relationships we’ve cultivated, and own our own posts on a domain we control?

That’s my strategy for now. My site, on which this post was first published, is running on Micro.Blog. It lets me post short notes (like tweets), longer pieces (like this one), photos, static pages, you name it. It also lets me syndicate those posts to a bunch of other popular networks (like Twitter, Mastodon and Tumblr, to name a few). This is known as POSSE (Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere), and is far from a new idea. But it makes sense to me.

So, for now, I’m going to refocus my efforts to write on my own site first. No time that one spends creating content for one’s own site is ever wasted. I’ll still dork around on Twitter on college football Saturdays, but I want to be much more intentional about how I prioritize my publishing energy.

I’ll syndicate to Mastodon, Tumblr, and maybe even LinkedIn or Medium when it makes sense. Micro.blog makes this trivially easy. And yes, I’ll syndicate to Twitter, too. This way, I’ll still have that reach and opportunity for reaction, but the original post will be mine in a way that my tweets never were.

And I’ll hope beyond hope that the Twitter we knew and loved survives this chapter. But I’ll be ready if it doesn’t.

Wishing a manageable Thanksgiving to those of us struggling with disordered eating.

You don’t need to “earn” your meal. You’re not “being bad” if you get another plate. And, what does or doesn’t go on your plate is nobody’s business or concern but your own.

I’m sure how good I feel today has nothing to do with doing morning yoga for three straight days. Probably entirely unrelated. Nothing we can observe or learn from here.

Equations Unbalanced, Riddles Unsolved

Listening to “Pony Express Record” this week, I wondered “where are the rest of the bands that did this?” Admittedly, they’re hard to find, but that led me to creating this playlist: Where post-hardcore, math and feelings meet. A mix of scenes, but admittedly DC-heavy, light on “emo for emo’s sake” if it doesn’t have mathy undertones.

Playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify.

The tools, protocols and culture of the fediverse were built by trans and queer feminists. The culture and technical systems were deliberately designed on principles of consent, agency, and community safety. It’s hardly surprising that the sorts of people who have been targets for harrassment by fascist trolls for most of their lives built in protections against unwanted attention when they created a new social media toolchain. It is the very tools and settings that provide so much more agency to users that pundits claim make Mastodon “too complicated”.

Home Invasion

“Too complicated” for whom?

The exterior of the Claymont Community Center this morning. Weather is beautiful and sunny. Many signs for candidates out front.

Did a Democracy this morning. Early voting is good.

Dudes Rock

A playlist vaguely inspired by 10 years of Celebration Rock, meant to be played loud while drinking ice-cold cheap domestics and shouting the lyrics back at your speakers.

Playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify.

Four Of A Perfect Pair

Collecting the work of King Crimson’s classic quartet, together and apart: Belew, Bruford, Fripp and Levin.

Playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify.

Missed My Connection in Heathrow

A playlist inspired by traveling for the first time in 2+ years and the attendant disorientation/depression that follows. (no, I did not go to London! it was just a vibe!)

Playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify.

My first guitar

While cleaning a bunch of stuff out of the attic in preparation for our move, I found my first guitar. It was a Harmony classical guitar, almost unfrettable from the day I got it.

As you can see, I treated it with great reverence. In addition to the sticker “enhancements,” my dad recreated the bridge after the original cracked and pulled off of the guitar (probably too many weird Sonic Youth tunings?) He also added a knob to the heel for a guitar strap.

I wish I remembered why I put some of the tuning pegs on upside down?

There she is, in all her beauty. Thank you for everything, and safe travels.

Currently reading: Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman 📚

Once time is a resource to be used, you start to feel pressure to use it well, and to berate yourself when you feel you’ve wasted it. When you’re faced with too many demands, it’s easy to assume that the only answer must be to make better use of time, by becoming more efficient, driving yourself harder, or working for longer instead of asking whether the demands themselves might be unreasonable. … And it becomes a lot more intuitive to project your thoughts about your life into an imagined future, leaving you anxiously wondering if things will unfold as you want them to. Soon, your sense of self-worth gets completely bound up with how you’re using time: it stops being merely the water in which you swim and turns into something you feel you need to dominate or control, if you’re to avoid feeling guilty, panicked or overwhelmed.

I’m only through the first chapter but I can tell this is going to be a corker.

My favorite albums of 2021

Once again, I pushed myself to listen to lots of new music this year. A full six of my top ten records were by artists who are either new or new to me… seven if you count Aeon Station, who are technically a “new” band. That’s pretty good, I think!

10. Dan Campbell: Other People’s Lives

I had foolishly dismissed The Wonder Years as kiddie emo that Wasn’t For Me (I was wrong!) until I read this piece on Campbell’s reasons for writing and releasing this record. Campbell has that rare gift for making the extremely specific feel universal.

9. Ani DiFranco: Revolutionary Love

I always have and probably will always have a soft spot for Ani DiFranco, and this record’s “Ani as funk bandleader” vibes really agree with me.

8. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions

She still manages to bring the same level of emotional devastation, even with full band arrangements on many tracks and a more produced sound.

7. Lunar Vacation: Inside Every Fig is a Dead Wasp

Right in my sweet spot: vaguely shoegazy indie with female lead vocals. (See also: Snarls from last year’s list.)

6. Grace Vonderkuhn: Pleasure Pain

An absolute ripper of a rock-and-roll record from my favorite Wilmington, DE-based power trio, and a huge leap forward from their last record.

5. Geese: Projector

There’s no way a bunch of teenagers made this record, right? Either way, Geese have spent a bunch of time with their dad’s Talking Heads records and their older sister’s Strokes records and turned out this impossibly tight, ambitious and mature record.

4. Aeon Station: Observatory

I could write a book about this record, which I’ve been waiting for, in a roundabout way, for about 15 years. I hate that it came out under these circumstances but I’m glad this record is finally available to the public, because it is a triumph. (I am still very eager to hear the Charles Bissell portion of what was to be the follow-up to The Meadowlands, of course.)

3. William The Conqueror: Maverick Thinker

An incredible Scottish swamp-blues record that sounds like a lot of things I love but also not quite like anything I’ve ever heard before.

2. Katy Kirby: Cool Dry Place

Hard to overstate how much this record came out of nowhere and smacked me right between the eyes. It has an emotional resonance for me unlike any record since maybe Bark Your Head Off, Dog.

1. Japanese Breakfast: Jubilee

Reading Crying in H Mart this summer was… a lot, but it helped me understand this record for the celebratory masterpiece it truly is. If joy truly is an act of resistance, this record is as punk as it gets.

Honorable Mentions:

Playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify.

Aeon Station on vinyl

My copy of the Aeon Station record arrived yesterday. It is very, very good and makes me feel very sad. In other words, it is exactly what I’d hoped for.

Currently reading: Work Won’t Love You Back by @sarahljaffe 📚

Good evening.

I do not usually get excited about ““delightful”” UI design but the snow flakes piling up on top of this window in Apple’s Weather app made me smile this morning.