Len Damico

I could stare at this photo for hours.

Finished reading: Everything Is Combustible by Richard Lloyd 📚

Downloaded this audiobook from the library after Tom Verlaine’s passing put me in a Television mood. It’s read by the author, which is usually great, but Lloyd reads as if the manuscript was written by someone else and placed before him shortly before the session began. His voice betrays no real attachment to any of the stories or people.

It seems very important to Lloyd that the reader know he did a lot of drugs and had a lot of sex. Less important, however, was sharing what his relationship with any of his bandmates in Television was like. We eventually learn that he and Verlaine fell out over money and creative control, but Billy Ficca and Fred Smith are treated like furniture in Lloyd’s narrative.

(Personally, I was also annoyed at how little insight was given into his time as a sideman for Matthew Sweet, but that’s neither here nor there. All we really learn is that Sweet loved video games and hated flying.)

Overall, there’s some compelling stuff here, but poor editing and Lloyd’s own tendency to dive into metaphysical non sequiturs (like his vivid memories of being born or teaching himself how to not breathe as a child) mean the reader has to put in a lot of work to find them.

Your local paper probably deserves your subscription money more than the New York Times ever did.

Because of the way campaign finance works (or doesn’t work) in America, it’s often much easier to understand a candidate’s priorities by understanding their donors rather than listening to their stump speech.

This rundown is… illuminating.

Finished reading: The Idiot by Elif Batuman 📚

One morning, on my way to a lecture on Balzac, it came to me with great clarity that there was no way that that guy, the professor, was going to tell me anything useful. No doubt he knew many useful things, but he wasn’t going to say them; rather, he was going to tell us again that Balzac’s Paris was extremely comprehensive.

I am shocked at how well Batuman captures the overwhelming banality of one’s first year away at college. Every experience is simultaneously novel, intense and boring.

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.