of Maine

Nurture Through Nature Fall News

This is the first edition of “post titles from actual subject lines of emails I receive at work.”

– From the shocking coincidence department, I got around to watching Old Joy last night (which I wrote about yesterday… accurately, it turns out), and discovered that a clip of dialogue from the film is included in Why?’s album Alopecia, which I spent the bulk of Sunday writing about (link to come Thursday). The one unfortunate aspect of this coincidence is that one line of my review is about how all of Why?’s pop-culture references are too weird/specific/on-the-nose to get people to cheer along with them. I would totally cheer for an Old Joy dialogue clip at a show.

– The new album by Megafaun, which is kind of sort of a band that Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon used to be in, sounds great.

– Slate is publishing excerpts from the forthcoming collection State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America (out next week). In it, fifty writers tackle the fifty states (there’s an afterword on Washington, D.C.). Just some of the writers involved: the New Yorker‘s George Packer, William T. Vollmann, Benjamin Kunkel, Rick Moody, current literary heartthrob Joshua Ferris (Then We Came to the End), Dave Eggers, Alexander Payne (director of Election, Sideways, etc.), Susan Orlean, Jhumpa Lahiri. There are other familiar names too. Awesome. The volume is co-edited by Sean Wilsey, who wrote the pretty good memoir Oh the Glory of It All and this excellent essay/diary, which I highly recommend printing out (he also slept in the window of SPACE Gallery for a week the summer I moved to Portland).

– I hereby predict that by the time the next Okkervil River album comes out, the band is going to get even more popular and most of their torch-bearing critics are going to turn on him. They are getting seriously overheated, and these reviews read like old Decemberists praise. Remember liking them? Sure you do. The Stand Ins isn’t bad, though.

– And, bummer of bummers, one of the better music crit sites on the web has shuttered. Visit Paper Thin Walls for their preemptive singles and album of the year, complete with streams.

– I’m taking a week off from the election. Everyone’s talking and thinking crazy and, worse, talking to me about it.


Frank O’Hara
August 18, 2008, 1:22 pm
Filed under: Excerpts, Words | Tags: , , , ,

I’m completely blissed out from attending (and co-DJing) the most beautiful wedding. I nearly choked trying not to bawl audibly. After the ceremony – punctuated precisely by thunder – the skies opened through an extended cocktail hour. Dinner brought a rainbow. Dessert brought a full moon. Then Bam Bam (my DJ duo) brought the heat.

So we’re basking more than thinking this morning. I can’t stop listening to two songs I’ve put on this muxtape for you. They’re the two slow songs we played during our dance party. Both – Sam Cooke’s “Mean Old World” and Joe Tex’s “The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)” – should be unbearably sad but they hit these ears like acts of salvation. Though they teem with tragedy, they radiate hope. I think that’s called humanity.

I have, thus far, failed in any endeavor to find a quote to sort of surreptitiously dedicate to the happy couple, so in keeping with the spirit of those songs, here’s a Frank O’Hara poem that doesn’t represent them but I’m sure they’ll/you’ll appreciate. (Don’t expect more poetry here, and blame the season 2 premiere of Mad Men for it.)

“To the Harbormaster”

I wanted to be sure to reach you;
Though my ship was on the way it got caught
in some moorings. I am always tying up
and then deciding to depart. In storms and
at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide
around my fathomless arms, I am unable
to understand the forms of my vanity
or I am hard alee with my Polish rudder
in my hand and the sun sinking. To
you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage
of my will. The terrible channels where
the wind drives me against the brown lips
of the reeds are not all behind me. Yet
I trust the sanity of my vessel; and
if it sinks, it may well be in answer
to the reasoning of the eternal voices,
the waves which have kept me from reaching you.

of Maine: Danger Point!
August 14, 2008, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Excerpts, Hasty Music Reviews, Thorough Music Reviews, Visual, Words, Work

Thanks for coming. Welcome to of Maine. Consider this inaugural post a primer.

As you’ll learn by clicking “About,” of Maine is a blog that has little to do with Maine. I’ll be writing about music (mostly), books and periodicals, and the odd movie or TV show. Once I iron out a kink (namely, learning how to write “for myself” when I’m not getting paid for it), of Maine will be updated every weekday by 9 or 10 am. I’ll try to keep to that schedule immediately, but bear with me for the first week or two.

The blog’s title sprung from a serene mood I was in recently (with a hat tip to a friend suggesting I go with “of” instead of “from”), but I’ve come to think the title’s fairly appropriate. One of the benefits of my being of Maine is that most of you readers are (for now) of Maine as well. We inhabit a fine and increasingly vibrant turf, but we’re also a bit of a cultural backwater. I hope this works to our collective advantage, because a) I consume a lot of music reviews and blogs and like having fresh ears to share the goods with, and b) I’m only interested in analyzing the indie zeitgeist when websites I love disagree with me.

I don’t know quite how to summarize what of Maine is or will become beyond that, but look to the sidebar for hints. Posts will be categorized in one of the handful of topics over there. My only explicit goal is to publish one “thorough music review” (300+… who am I kidding, 500+ words) per week, about either an album or an artist’s discography. All of my posting ideas will invariably come from one of the links below that. For the uninitiated, a few to pay special attention to (you should visit all of them, though): The House Next Door is a New York-based blog focusing mostly on movies and television, and it’s frequently more thorough, readable, and thought-provoking than most major periodical reviews; Cokemachineglow is an unruly beast of a music review site, and their diuretic reviews have introduced me to a lot of my favorite musicians; I ripped off this page design from Floodwatchmusic, the rare music blog where every post is invaluable; and Wyatt Mason, the chief book reviewer for Harper’s, recently began a superlative literature blog called Sentences on the magazine’s website.

If you’re curious, the banner photo was not taken in Maine, but in Turkey. I stumbled upon it some months ago, and in helplessly googling “turkish photographer” I realized it was taken by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, whose acclaimed films (Distant, Climates) I’ve rented and neglected to watch numerous times. Plenty more gorgeous photos on his site.

Lastly, for now, promises, promises. Here are some posts to look forward to in the days to come:

– a hasty discussion of Chad VanGaalen, relating to “Willow Tree,” the first song from his forthcoming album, Soft Airplane (look for this Thursday, fingers crossed)

– a thorough discussion of Women‘s self-titled debut album, (probably not so) coincidentally produced by Chad VanGaalen

– a review of the Grizzly Bear performance I’ll be catching in Boston on Thursday

– an uninformed glance at modern classical music

– a contrarian piece on Fleet Foxes, the year’s most confusing band

– thoughts on Joseph O’Neill’s Great Gatsby-esque new novel, Netherland

To wrap up, a plea for your comments, suggestions, requests, recommendations, and – most importantly – help getting the word out about this little venture. The more feedback I get, the more fun I’ll have, the more I’ll produce, and the better of Maine will be. So get the word out now, and comment once I write something less solipsistic (and more succinct).

And until that time, do yourself a favor and go click on “Best Site” honoree Time for Some Stories. Uncovered for mainstream consumption by Gawker earlier this year, no whimsical link has ever made me so giddy, and I need help making “Danger point!” a common catchphrase.

Thanks for coming.