Thursday, February 26, 2009

formula for focusing

nearly 6 years after graduating college i am still struggling to figure out how to focus and get work done. deadlines are meaningless. i need urgency to accomplish anything. i'll wake up early with hopes of having a productive day and then before i know it the sun is setting and i have nothing to show except a headache. but i know it's a process of a larger process. trying to finish an article today a couple weeks past when it was originally due. now it's urgent. time to focus.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

free at noon

in philly, you can see a free concert every friday at noon. sponsored by npr affiliate wxpn (based at upenn), the world live cafe hosts premium live music each week for free--usually touring bands playing in the city that night.

i discovered this the week i moved here. an increasing popular northampton band called the winterpills just happened to be playing there my second day in philly. lv and i walked the 15 or so blocks before arriving at this venue that feels more like a museum when you enter it than a music club. there is a little stage in the street-level restaurant where smaller, mostly acoustic acts play, but the free at noon bands perform downstairs in the music hall replete with full bar and the biggest sound board i have ever seen.

it's always disorienting walking in to this dimly-lit, windowless space from the sun of high noon, in addition to being at a concert in the middle of the day with a few hundred other people who are either unemployed or skipping work. but once your eyes adjust you can begin to appreciate the siutation.

at the end of january i had the pleasure of seeing devotchka who were so fun to see live with their vast array of instruments. i returned again yesterday for a concert featuring two songwriters i had never heard or seen before: john wesley harding and m. ward.

i use the word concert very consciously. i enjoy going to see free live music in the middle of the day on fridays as much as anyone else, but there's something detatched about the culture that stirs up an awareness and pride of my punk roots. it's a strange dichotomy: watching free music in a deeply commercial (even if xpn is "member supported") space. on the wall next to the stage where the bands play, the logo for comcast is projected underneath the xpn call numbers. the majority of musicians fall under the oxymoronic "commercial indie" genre, which for me is sometimes a guilty pleasure. i love devotchka's music but what is the significance of a band gaining noteriety from a movie soundtrack? and i know not every band can be fugazi, but i just feel like integrity is important. of course this won't prevent me from continuing to go to the free at noon concerts it's just things that i can't stop thinking about while i'm there...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

in defense of joel kovel

this week my alma mater, bard college, decided that it would not renew the contract of one of my mentors, professor joel kovel. this is undoubtedly a result of the college's unfortunate allegiance with the state of israel and joel's outspoken, principled critique of zionism and the escalating oppression of palestinians in the occupied territories. read his statement about the situation here.

the following is a letter of protest that i wrote to the president and vice president of bard:

Dear Leon and Dmitri,

As a Bard alum, I am writing to express my shock and disapproval of the college's recent decision to terminate one it's finest professors, Joel Kovel. Not only did I learn a great deal from Joel's classes, I considered him a mentor and a friend. He was an amazing resource for his students and was extremely supportive of those of us committed to political organizing on and off campus.

It is outrageous to me that Professor Kovel never received tenure during his 20 plus years teaching at Bard. Your decision to not renew his contract is an insult to those of us that gained so much from him. Furthmore, this unfortunate action undermines the values of academic freedom that the college was founded on and that both of you have claimed a committment to during your time there.

As similar letters pour in from around the world in support of Professor Kovel it should become uncomfortably clear what an egregious mistake you have made. I urge you to reinstate him immediately or to at least issue a public apology.


Matt Dineen, Class of 2003

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

back in philly (part II)

since i've been back in philly it's been like this: new room, up and down 48th st. in between here and lv's place two blocks away, applying for paid internship with the prometheus radio project, back to volunteering at the wooden shoe, starting to work with cristy road for aid & abet, crossing my fingers for tax refund to arrive before march rent is due, feeling more like i actually live here, grateful for the lack of ice or snow, no money but lots of love, can't wait for spring...

Friday, February 13, 2009

r.i.p. tj

when i visited my mother in new hampshire last week tj, the cat that's been in our family for over 22 years, wasn't doing to well. her health had gone down since my last visit a few months ago. her fur looked pretty ragged and her hind legs were wobbly. i'll spare you the more digusting details.

i talked to my mom today and she shared with me the bad news: she found tj dead earlier in the week, curled up in the closet with the cat door, tongue sticking out. so sad.

tj stands for tigger junior. my brother's cat tigger was hit by a car when i was 5 years and we got tj a few months later from someone that my mom worked with. i remember the night tigger died. paul was really devastated and he sat on the living room floor listening to "every rose has it's thorn" by poison on the radio:

every rose has its thorn
just like every night has its dawn
just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song
every rose has its thorn

i feel grateful that i was able to see tj one last time before she passed away. as my mom pointed out, "she's been such a thread connecting our family all these years." she had her cremated and will bury her ashes in the spring under a forsythea bush.

rest in peace, tigger junior...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

little glimpses

when spring actually arrives, for real, it will be so extrordinary. we're not there yet--not even in temperate, ice and snow-free philadelphia. when it does get here, everything will become alive again. it's the greatest feeling in the world. i've found that it's necessary, although frustrating, to have these little glimpses of the possibility of spring throughout the final months of winter. it keeps me going until the real thing makes it.

after a nice visit to boston i am back in philly, slowly moving into my new house. the possibilty of early spring is fueling everything right now. it's good to be back.

Monday, February 09, 2009

february visit

i've been back in new england for a week. when i left philly it was sunny and warm. spring was in the air and i was feeling good. soon after arriving in northampton the "snow showers" predicted by the weather channel started to fall on my old town. my nose started running within an hour of being back. sniffle. sniffle. emily opened up her apartment to me and let me use her car the next day to drive to evolution. i worked the lunch shift and got paid in cash. it kind of felt like i had never left, like the month of january had never happened. despite drinking heather's amazing conconction of raw garlic, ginger, lemon juice and cayenne, i felt sick and wiped out when i got out and just went to bed early instead of going out dancing at the basement. didn't sleep well that night, waking up dehydrated and blowing my nose.

wednesday morning i walked through town for the first time since december, but just to stop by the bank and then straight to the bus station. i made it just in time to hop on the 10:30 bus to brattleboro where my mom was meeting me. she could tell i was sick before i even got in the car and i basically spent the next two days relaxing at her house and taking care of myself. the first night there i realized that one year ago i was in the same place, surrounded by snow, house-sitting for her while she was on vacation in the dominican republic. one year later, i listened to a certain album that i associate with that week, filled with mixed feelings. it was all too weird and appropriate.

i felt a little better when i took the bus back to northampton friday. i got in just in time to work one more shift back at the cafe. i was reunited with austin and we trudged through a crazy night featuring a concert that made my head pound. it was all worth it for the free food and money. definitely my last shift ever though!

saturday was the first day that i was actually able to hang out and be back in northampton for real and it felt good. it was great seeing old friends again that i have missed a lot and i had so much fun dancing and running around town again.

i woke up early and walked to my old apartment building to make sure my bike still existed. it was securely locked up and even had plenty of air in the tires! my mom drove down before work to meet me for breakfast and paul came up with lee and her daughter too. it was really nice to see them all before i went back to philly.

this morning i returned to valley free radio as a guest on tony and keely's show parapolitics. we talked about the new administration and the forging of new activist strategyies with obama in office. i'm trying to write an article about it all using the inauguration as a metaphor for this dilemma and the lack of visible dissent at his swearing in, particularly compared to those of bush in 2001 and 2005. that's what i'm doing now with my last day here.

tomorrow, amanda and are going on a field trip to boston. i'm excited to see tyler after so many months since our last visit. then back to philly on wednesday. i'm looking forward to feeling like i actually live there, after a month of just visiting, as i will move into my own place. also can't wait to see my sweetheart who i miss so much...see you soon!!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

divided psyche

pour me a glass of paralyzing bad habits and distractions. pinch my nose and force it down my throat. every. last. drop. dreams colonized by the existence of reality tv. but not tonight. wrap me up in kleenex soaked in nyquil. fold my clothes on top of piles of pet dander. two days of being in elementary school again. press hard on the remote control. my desires are drowned out by static and commercial breaks. it's over now. i'm surrounded by hardcover books i will never read. let's crash the art show. pretend we enjoy photographs of sunrises as much as the free grapes and crackers. everything is in hibernation-mode. but still, they call this a warm front. here's a patch of my skin. keep it somewhere safe for the next time i leave. trust me. i'm not stranded. not yet.