NORBZ

Eric Norby is awesome. He was such a strange contrast to Marcus, and we made a quirky trinity of awkward jokes, weird beer, and enigmatic glances together. Norby came to Mizzou at a time when I didn’t think I’d be able to forge good friendships with new grads. I’m not sure why I thought this, but I guess I figured I was getting old and more distant from the newer grads coming into the program.

thumb_IMG_1385_1024“Goddammit, Greta!” Digital Drawing, 2014.

Thankfully, Norby proved me wrong and became a good friend.

Sometimes irascible, almost never empathetic, always intelligent, Norbz has a very particular personality that stood out from the other grads in our program. He had a strong work ethic, clear sense of the value of his time and work, and a love for the experience of music and beer that made for some of the best times I’ve had in recent memory.

IMG_1191“Janus Head Norbz (Two Faced Portrait of Eric Norby),” Instagram Photo, 2013

We began making beer together – those were some amazing nights. Sometimes they resulted in shenanigans like this:

Oh Jesus from matthewballou on Vimeo.

Norby would have thrived in any graduate program. His ability to adapt and his smarts would have made him stand out anywhere. But I’m glad he spent some time watching The Big Lebowski with me, discoursing on the qualities of Ween and Radiohead, singing some Lee Hazlewood, and exploring the meaning of the western vista.

Thanks a lot, Norbz.

thumb_IMG_5373_1024“It’s a Graying Out. (Portrait of Norbz),” Graphite on tracing paper, 8.5 by 3 inches, 2013.

“The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners.” – The Stranger.

The Best 23 Albums of 2011…

…a completely subjective, personal list that was based entirely on how much I played them and/or was inspired by them, and regardless of when they came out. So here they are – artist, album (conveniently linked for your perusal), and year of release.

m83 – hurry up we’re dreaming (2011) 

battles – gloss drop (2011)

broken bells – broken bells (2010) 

the national – high violet  (2010) 

doves – kingdom of rust (2009) 

tori amos – abnormally attracted to sin (2009)

bat for lashes – two suns (2009) 

beck – modern guilt (2008)

the shins – wincing the night away (2007) 

the national – alligator (2005)

radiohead – OK computer (2003)

the decemberists – castaways and cutouts (2003) 

yeah yeah yeahs – fever to tell (2003)

broken social scene – you forgot it in people (2002)

doves – the last broadcast (2002)

neko case – blacklisted (2002)

cake – comfort eagle (2001)

modest mouse – building something out of nothing (2000)

holly golightly – God don’t like it (2000)

soul coughing – el oso (1998)

alice in chains – dirt (1992)

the pixies – trompe le monde (1991)

tom waits – rain dogs (1985)

Now if I had to pick 3 absolutely essential recordings from this list, I think I’d pick the Tom Waits, the Neko Case, and the latest The National albums. But, then again, it seems to me that the whole “desert island list” thing is played out and – at least now days – ill-conceived. Right now I can carry pretty much every piece of music I’ve ever owned in the cloud… so let’s not say this is a desert island list, no. Let’s say it’s an electro-magnetic-pulse list. An EMP has hit the earth and YOU – you alone – have a way to play a select bit of music in our post-EMP world. What would you play?

Yes, I think I could survive with some Neko, some Waits, and some National. But, man, I’d really need some Shins and Radiohead…

What are your EMP essentials?

Keep rocking in 2012, folks! (image above taken by Jake Johnson)

Pyramid Song, Summer 2001

“Alone in the cabin, two in the morning… “black-eyed angels swam”* in the murk, delivering tinkling songs of love and death to our sleeping ears” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

“It has taken me years to process this experience. It was something that could not be known in the moments of living it, only remembered as a fleeting figment seen with the mind’s eye, felt like a dream but never realized fully. It was all ashes and phantasm, crystallized cataracts in the eyes of understanding. To aim for understanding of the ethereal encounter – to know it, integrate it, and interpret it – is the essence of foolishness; its distance from this world is so far as to confound all reckoning.” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

Music for Reading A Mnemonic of Longing

Music for reading A Mnemonic of Longing,

an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

THE OCEAN

by u2

FIRESUITE

by doves

FOX CONFESSOR BRINGS THE FLOOD

by neko case

BLACK MILK

by massive attack

HISTORY SONG

by the good the bad and the queen

MARY OF SILENCE

by mazzy star

PYRAMID SONG

by radiohead

WAITING IN THE KOUNTRY

by gram rabbit

HARES DON’T HAVE TEA, SILLY

by gram rabbit

OAHU

by menomena

M62 SONG

by doves

SHE’S GOT CHANEL NO. 5

by calexico

WILLOW SONG

by doves

SO TONIGHT THAT I MIGHT SEE

by mazzy star

KATMANDU

by cat stevens