Len Damico

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.


Podcasts I Listen To

Because I’m lazy and get tired of writing bespoke answers to “What podcasts do you listen to?” I’ve captured my answers here.

Favorites

I won’t miss a new episode of these shows.

Also Great

Sometimes I get behind on these and let them pile up, but I’ll always catch up.

Pick and choose

I subscribe to these, but only listen to episodes where the guest or topic is interesting.

Long Tails

These are all series of podcasts that are not necessarily timely and hold up well to repeated listening and binging. You probably want to start at the beginning for most of these.

  • Cocaine & Rhinestones: Country music fans are lucky to have someone like Tyler Mahan Coe, who cares so deeply about their history and their stories.
  • Philosophize This!: A podcast that recounts the history of philosophy, trying to use modern examples as much as possible. Can be a bit white male-centric, but that’s says more about the recorded history of philosophy than the show.
  • Web History: More like an audio book than a podcast, this is Jeremy Keith reading Jay Hoffman’s Web History series, as published on CSS-Tricks.
  • Dolly Parton’s America: Dolly’s story is a fascinating one. Especially recommended if you enjoy Radiolab’s production style (Jad Abumrad is the host, so this makes sense).
  • I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats: John Darnielle is a gifted songwriter and storyteller. The first season is John providing additional context for the writing and recording of his 2002 lo-fi masterpiece, “All Hail West Texas,” complete with guests covering the songs.
  • Remaking Murdertown: My friend Zach created this podcast series in partnership with the Delaware Center for Justice. It’s one kid’s story of interactions with the “tough on crime” criminal justice system. Zach tells the story with compassion and grace, expertly knowing when to zoom in to the individual details and zoom out to the systemicatic failures that have led us here.

(NB: I listen to all my podcasts with Overcast, which is significantly better than any other podcast listening experience, in my opinion. I have been a paid subscriber since day one, largely because of one killer feature: Smart Speed. Smart Speed intelligently ducks silences in speech without altering pitch, which has saved me 217 hours of listening time as of this writing.)

Last updated: October 2, 2022


Public comment on SB 149

I’ve been taking part in community listening sessions for Delaware’s Senate Bill 149, which would amend the state’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBOR).

There’s another one today at 3 PM, but I can’t make it. You can (sign up here).

This is my public comment from the last session, published here for posterity:


Thank you for the opportunity to speak this evening.

My name is Len Damico. I live in Claymont, I am a father, and I am also a reliable voter.

I’m here tonight because I believe it is imperative for Delaware to pass SB 149 as-is, without amendment. This is unambiguously what Delawareans want and deserve and the only way we will truly achieve justice in Delaware.

I’ve been part of a number of these stakeholder sessions, and a theme I’ve heard from the law enforcement officer side of things is a desire to rebuild a positive relationship, founded on trust, with the communities they serve. In my opinion, everything we are asking for in SB 149 is in the service of improving that relationship.

To build trust, we ask for visibility and access to police disciplinary records. Including substantiated and unsubstantiated claims. Transparency. That’s how you build trust!

To build trust, we need civilian review boards that have true power. Power to investigate claims and truly discipline any “bad apples” they may find. Power to investigate unsubstantiated claims, to determine potential patterns of misconduct. And power to conduct their business without current or former member of law enforcement as part of the board, in order to truly serve the purpose of maintaining justice in our community.

We believe that civilian review boards are worthless unless those three conditions are met.

In conclusion, it is imperative for Delaware to pass SB 149 as-is, without amendment. To repeat, for clarity’s sake: As-is. Without amendment. This is the only way we will truly achieve justice in Delaware.


Spotify Wrapped is a fascinating case study in how much we trust AIs to identify our tastes better than we can identify them ourselves.


I’ve been listening to to The Jordan Lake Sessions, Volumes 3 & 4 by The Mountain Goats a lot lately. These sets were recorded live in August of 2020, before the third wave of Covid-19 ravaged the United States, and are fabulous (as are Volumes 1 & 2, of course.)

On my last listen, I was struck by this reflection from John Darnielle after “Against Polution:”

There’s this thing, when you play a song and if it really goes someplace really cool during this horrifying pandemic, you go, “Man, what a pity it is that we can’t play that in a room full of people who are excited to be there and everybody feels safe and all that stuff!” I’ve been working a riff like this for half my life, but… Basic things life safety, when you’re young, when you’re seventeen, and you hear somebody talking about safety, you go “Oh my god, you ancient person, you five thousand year old man, talking to me about safety. What do I care?” and then in a time like this you think, “You know what is awesome? You know what is truly spectacular? Like, really worth dwelling on? Safety.”


The young(er) king just got his first jab. Welled up a little as we were waiting, not gonna lie.


Citations Needed News Brief - Reconciliation Bill Negotiations: A Media Autopsy 🎧

These are human interest stories, right? Budgets are fucking human interest, but it’s never covered that way, it’s covered like a fucking receipt.

Nima Shirazi on the horse-race media coverage of the Build Back Better plan negotiations


One of the really intereting things about critiquing “right-clicker mentality” is that the ability to right-click and see how a site was built is how many of us learned to create for the web.


Hop Along at Anchor Rock Club, Atlantic City, NJ

Setlist


The “values and vision” of dead men

I am desperately trying to avoid weighing in on on the weirdo whose unhinged LiveJournal about Disney wokeness was published in the Orlando Sentinel this morning. For reasons that should be fairly obvious to anyone who follows me. However, it feels very important to me to address one specific point he makes in the piece, because it’s a point made over and over by conservatives and it’s really problematic so I want you to be on the lookout for it. It’s a hallmark of a bad-faith argument.

Read this sentence and tell me what it means: “The more Disney moves away from the values and vision of Walt Disney, the less Disney World means to me.” Because I have takes.

Here’s where my mind immediately goes:

The founders never intended for Washington DC to become a state.

— Rep. Mike Loychik (@MikeLoychik) April 22, 2021

As probably millions have quickly and correctly pointed out to Rep. Loychik, “the founders” did not intend for Black folks and women to vote either, yet those things are widely accepted as obviously good and appropriate.

“The founders” also did not necessarily expect the nation to grow beyond the initial 13 colonies, and yet here we are, standing with 50 states, on the precipice of adding another. Maybe.

So, back to our Disney friend. He holds up Disney’s attempts to modernize and update their theme parks as an example of “moving away from the values and vision of Walt Disney.” Hmmmm.

PUTTING ASIDE the, uhm, deeply problematic nature of many of Walt’s “values and vision,” why do we care about them? Why do we expect a company in 2021 to live by the values of a man who died over 50 years ago?

And PUTTING ASIDE the, uhm, deeply problematic nature of many of our Founding Fathers, including the fact that most of them enthusiastically owned slaves, why do we care about their notional intents for the nation they founded?

They’ve been dead for hundreds of years. The world we live in now is *unfathomably complex* compared to the one they inhabited. It’s implausible to think they could have had an answer to every issue we face today. Implausible.

Ultimately, it feels like an abdication, an excuse not to think for yourself. Or, more cynically, an excuse to continue to hold shitty, retrograde, anti-progress viewpoints just because Walt Disney or the Founding Fathers held them, too.

It’s garbage thinking, garbage rhetoric, and I hope this post made the case so we can all be more quick to call it out and publicly shame it.


Best of 2020 (The Albums)

I’ve done some sort of year end, “best of” list as long as I can remember. This probably hasn’t been the “best” year of music over that span, but it certainly has been the most important, to me. We’ve all had a trying year, to put it mildly. These are the albums that helped get me through it.

The Albums

10. No Thank You: Embroidered Foliage

A delightfully tight, punk-adjacent indie rock record. Would have fit perfectly on Kill Rock Stars' mid-90s roster.

9. Fiona Apple: Fetch The Bolt Cutters

It takes a lot of work to make something so meticulously crafted sound so loose and “messy.”

8. Laura Marling: Song For Our Daughter

A near-perfect singer/songwriter record.

7. Ellen Siberian Tiger: Cinderblock Cindy

As I noted on Twitter, this record stopped me in my tracks and lit my hair on fire.

6. Lianne La Havas (S/T)

The cover of “Weird Fishes” is perfect, and somehow better than the original, but this record deserves way more than to be remembered as “the one with Weird Fishes on it.”

5. Snarls: Burst

This seems like it was grown in a lab specifically to check my boxes: dreamy, almost-shoegazy mid-90s indie vibes with wonderful female lead vocals.

4. Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud

This was a slow burn for me, but really worth the time… just a perfect record for Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning, or almost any other time.

3. Empty Country (S/T)

Was never a huge Cymbals Eat Guitars fan, but this gem from former CEG frontman Joseph D’Agostino’s new project is a pastoral masterpiece. It’s made waiting for that new Wrens record a liiiiiitle bit easier.

2. HAIM: Women In Music Pt. III

The Fleetwood Mac comparisons work for me, not not necessarily because of the sound (although there are plenty of late-70s Laurel Canyon vibes here); it’s more the sheer relentlessness of the quality of the hooks in every. single. song.

1. Hum: Inlet

Dropped out of nowhere in the middle of summer and swallowed me whole. I can’t do justice to describe this perfect soundscape of a record, but Sebastian Sterling can.

Also great

The Playlists


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Vanity Fair:

I used to, frankly, abuse myself mentally about how I’m nothing. I realized that I need to choose myself because if I don’t, I’m just going to waste away. I’m just going to give up.

This one really landed for me.