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Peter Sarsgaard as Mark in Garden State

I recently re-watched Garden State. Here was a film that had unmoored senior-in-high-school me the first time I’d seen it back on a dreary winter afternoon in early 2007. It must have been a Friday, one of those blessedly free slates to start the weekend I reveled in between the end of cross country season in November and the start of track workouts. Wait. Those started in January. Which is when I remember first watching Garden State.

Maybe this was how it happened. I’d gone for a run after school, gallivanting along the nearby trail to the nearby park, thus sating my need for physical exertion through a lung-churning, heart-rate-elevating ten-miler so I could collapse on a couch later and lose myself totally to a screen. A little college basketball. Some Winning Eleven 9. …


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When I’d go out for walks toward the start of lockdown last year, I quickly noticed a recurring theme amongst the signs that began peppering the windowsills of the homes I’d pass. “We’ll get through this!” “Stay strong!” “Shine your light!!”

It was a touch implicit, and it took my dumbass a short while until I understood the message. In the face of an unprecedented pandemic, and ever-shifting goalposts about how you, citizen, are being enlisted to help fight it, in the interest of national security you are henceforth reduced to a reactionary state; you can do nothing to change your circumstances except endure until you are told it is safe to come out again and enjoy society. …


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Photo courtesy of Astrid Lyre

In the cognitive dissonance where we made this record, there was no escape.

That’s what Dan Boeckner told Sub Pop about Wolf Parade’s new album, Thin Mind, which, in the tradition of every record released by that band, contains a couple of songs that I simply can’t get out of my head.

If I have a confession to make, it’s that I learned of Wolf Parade through Spencer Krug—or, more specifically, through listening to Spencer Krug’s work as Sunset Rubdown. That band became one of the soundtracks to a year spent abroad.

Just as you can’t recreate the feeling of bursting out of an alley into full view of the Pantheon with the Walkmen’s “In the New Year” coursing through your headphones, there are no words to explain the sublime serenity of being swept along the 6 line’s metro tracks, Paris passing below, to “You Go on Ahead.” …


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Courtesy of RCA

Whenever I’m uncertain of how to properly appreciate a new album, I check Pitchfork’s review of it.

Phew. All that awkward, icky uncertainty washes away, and I find myself floating in that serene state so endemic to modernity, having eschewed the painstaking process of cultivating your own set of opinions in favor of outsourcing to the tastemakers—I mean, they’re paid to do it! The only time I listen to music, anyway, is when I put on a Muzak-laced Spotify playlist at a dinner party!

But a life spent fumbling through unceasing numbers of reviews inevitably leaves one spread thin—butter, over too much bread, as a hobbit would put it—not to mention filled with a very specific sort of dread at the thought of reading more of these things. Eventually you reach an understanding, the kind Spencer Krug epitomized in his line from Sunset Rubdown’s song Dragon’s Lair: “This one’s for the critics, and their disappointed mothers.” …


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Turner, on the cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ 7-inch “Tranquility Base B-Side”

A few years ago I was walking in San Francisco’s Mission District when I noticed, to my right, a young couple exiting their apartment in anticipation of the arrival of the ride-share vehicle they’d hailed by phone. I approached them just in time to watch the vehicle breeze past where they stood on the sidewalk, nestling into an unoccupied space just ten or fifteen feet down the street out of the way of traffic.

Commendable, I thought. Rarely does anyone take the time to consider his fellow man’s respective fortune these days. The emphasis upon Ich, Ich, Ich has become so Ick, Ick, Ick. The young woman, however, did not share my approval. Oh! she huffed, ignoring her boyfriend’s pleas for calm as she continued to clamor. I had to chuckle, as I strolled past. I’d seen variations upon this scene before. There is just no room in the present for flexibility. …


The day before Easter break in my final year at Gonzaga, I headed to the basketball team’s offices to interview Jerry Krause, the program’s director of operations, for a profile that would run in the student paper. It was prove to be the most rewarding interview I’ve ever conducted.

I was prepared to do the standard twenty-minute Q&A for a snappy piece, but that notion was banished once Krause started talking. Two hours later, I looked down at my tape recorder in disbelief. I shook his hand, headed outside. There’s a special sort of feeling you get walking a campus on the day before a holiday. The students have mostly emptied out; it’s quiet as you amble along—even better when spring is in the air. …


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Courtesy of Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Kidding.

College basketball season used to be my reason for existence. Sure, I’d keep an eye on offseason events, following which players transferred where, and how schedules shaped up for the upcoming campaign, but that was all a pale substitute for the lightning-in-the-veins thrill that carried me on a Mario Kart star-boost from November ’til early April.

I stepped back from all that some five years ago, burnt out. But I still watch games, especially if I find out that Bill Walton is on the televised call.

Walton is enjoyable precisely because he remains blissfully unaware of the cult that has grown up around him. Appears to, anyway. So many analysts quickly recognize the stardom that has been associated with them, and like toddlers entranced the attention commanded by some cute act of theirs, transform into an agonizing caricature of their former selves. …


When Nick Cave takes the time to pen an impassioned defense of a song, you take notice. At least, I do.

The rock legend was roused into action earlier this week after learning of the BBC’s announcement that it would censor The Pogues’ song “Fairytale of New York” on Radio 1 out of an abundance of caution for the way younger listeners might receive certain lyrics.

I searched for a way to abridge Cave’s words, but in solidarity with his own convictions, it felt more appropriate to keep a section of his words—four paragraphs’ worth, in this instance—unabridged. …


OK—let’s play the old game again. How do you find out who really holds power in a chosen society. Easy question: who aren’t you allowed to criticize?

There’s a fantastic piece by Suzanne Moore in Unherd about this very principle. A lifelong feminist, Moore ran afoul of the trans community, much like J.K. Rowling’s own row earlier this year, and was never forgiven for it by the Woke crowd. Over 300 colleagues at The Guardian signed a letter that reaffirmed their unwavering support for the trans community and, without naming Moore, in one of those Orwellian tricks of this Information Age, thus implicitly leveled the metaphorical equivalent of a full battery in her career’s direction. She had no choice but to leave the newspaper. …

About

Alley Whoops

Game of life, with a twist—and shout. Twitter: @alleywhoops

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