Chasing Ghosts

The rains have returned to Southern California. We had two solid weeks of rain, then it got really nice for a week or so and now the water has come back, along with grey skies and temps in the 50's. I suppose this is a good thing, as it will keep people inside during a week the CDC is telling us we shouldn't even go to the grocery store if we can avoid it. They're saying the death toll is going to spike significantly over the next couple of weeks and we'll see the peak of reported cases. I don't know how they calculate these things, but I am thankful it's raining nonetheless.

It's a time of self discovery and Netflix. Of sweatpants and cookies. Trying to maintain some sort of balance in a desperate search for untapped sources of serotonin. I'm always towing the line between creative productivity and new levels of slothdom rarely seen on planet Earth. Luckily, my inner rhythm generally will not allow days to go by without some sort of action. Something to push the needle forward, even if just slightly. Yesterday was a day that didn't see my mojo awaken and I was feeling pretty defeated. I suspect the universe has it out for me some days. Too many things conspiring against me all at once. Nothing is coming easy. I'll allow myself to feel those feelings, then I'll remind my tortured psyche that a lot of people are feeling the exact same way. Where do we turn? How do we make money? The economy is tanking, will my job even be there when the fog lifts? Will I get a stimulus check? Why do we still have to pay rent when no money is coming in? Let me say that again, but a little louder: WHY DO WE STILL HAVE TO PAY RENT WHEN NO MONEY IS COMING IN? Here in California, it's mandated that you can't be evicted if you can't pay rent during this epidemic. I am of the opinion, however, that there should be a nationwide freeze on rent, mortgage and utility bills. If the population isn't getting any paychecks, neither should our landlords. Period. Ahhh, but a majority of the people making these laws are also property owners. So yeah.

Like most of you out there, I'm spending entirely too much time on social media. It's a lot like giving one's self a non-contact lobotomy. The utter ridiculousness humanity is capable of is truly astonishing, yet I can't seem to give it up. Twitter isn't my bag, so I don't make use of it very often. It's for people who can't go five minutes without being seen. It's a nose drug for megalomaniacs who are out of actual nose drugs. Instagram is my favorite, as it cuts down on the bullshit and is mostly about visuals. Facebook, however, is a damn garbage show. Everyone's ignorance is on full display, including my own. I find myself resenting people I otherwise like in real life. More often than not, a person's Facebook self does not align with their physical self. People who post twenty times a day are often more soft spoken and a little bit shy in real life. People who constantly use Facebook like a search engine (maybe try Google first goddamn) are often times resourceful in their professional lives. Those who engage in call out / cancel culture are usually open and compassionate in their personal interactions. The most sanctimonious offenders are usually down to Earth when you meet them. It's quite a duality we've built for ourselves. A collection of data only useful as it pertains to advertisers and political parties. It's a means to exert more control by way of fear and a carefully constructed sense of false self righteousness with a mob mentality. We're not chasing anything tangible, we're chasing the ghosts of what's really underneath our homemade masks (this reference will make sense later). At the end of the day, we're all generally a mess. I'll try not to judge your mess more harshly than my own, but some of you make it difficult to keep my mouth shut.

Moving on.

We all need things to ignite our synapses right now. Music, books, art, learning something new, cooking, yoga, so on. Motivation to not dive face first into a hole of despair and totally give up. And if I know one thing about the human spirit, it's that we love to tell other humans what we're into as if it adds to our mystique and radness factor. I am not above this practice. Following are some recommendations of things that have interested me as of late:

Books - I am reading a series of novels by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, a writer from Barcelona who's works are expertly and eloquently translated to English by Lucia Graves. The "Cemetery of Forgotten Books" series begins with "The Shadow of the Wind" and follows with three more installments. I'm on the second book now - "The Angel's Game". The storytelling is superb and the world he's created is rich and textured. Complex, believable characters navigating the dark corners of Barcelona with almost supernatural undertones. Highly recommend.

Music - Somehow, I have come around to liking The Weeknd. When he first broke into the spotlight, I wasn't feeling it. I didn't get it, like at all. I think that has to do with the deliberate way my mind wraps itself around new generational sounds. Every generation has its own vibes and it took me a while to come around to the current generation's collective manor of expression. But here I am and I get it now. The new Weeknd album is lovely. There are probably a couple songs I'm mostly meh about, but overall it's a worthwhile listen. Literally every song is about love, lost love, sex, etc. It's easy to write that off as pandering and unimaginative, but as a songwriter - I have to say that I've always found it difficult to write a convincing song about those subjects without it sounding forced or basic. I've been successful on occasion, but inspiration to write about romance is rare. What initially came off as a complete lack of depth is now something I am envious and appreciative of. On top of that, his voice is pure silk and he seems like he's probably a total weirdo, which I appreciate. We all need good music to fuck to and this falls into that category (sorry mom).

Now for some music that is decidedly way more under the radar. "Event Horizon" by Capo, produced by Buzzkill. It was just released two days ago and boy oh boy is it good. A hip-hop dream, both current in it's execution and classic in it's gravitas. Capo is a longtime friend and collaborator, so there is my full disclosure, but I'm not one to celebrate art my friends put out that I don't actually like. I'll stay silent instead of criticize it. This new Capo record, however, is delicious and moody in a right-the-fuck-now kind of way. Modern vocal patterns are executed with a nod to the Golden Era, while the gorgeous production invites lush, textural, sing-song hooks done mostly by guest artists who are good at those things (shout out to Daemon). Restraint born of age and expertise is on display throughout, but this isn't an old head record. It's new and fresh and absolutely worth an elevated presence in the hip-hop echelon. I've attached my favorite song from "Event Horizon" below. If you don't give it a listen, I'll judge you harshly and assume you're not a person with any taste.

That's it for today, friends. Short and mostly sweet. Stay well and stay sane. And watch "Unorthodox" on Netflix. SO GOOD.

Capo - "Chasing Ghosts" ft. Daemon and CeCe


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