Writer’s block

I’ve been completely remiss in keeping up this blog, something I blame on performance anxiety now that I’m writing under my own name. Also, since I think blogs ought to be more than condensation stills for diatribes, I’ve been trying to brace myself to write as trivially as possible.

The past week has been a fine time for me; I’ve been staying up late and having good conversations. I’ve been reading Alain Badiou’s book on St. Paul, which, along with Zizek’s The Fragile Absolute, has got me excited to write something later on secularized Christianity, or “Why I Am Not Not A Christian.” I’ve been listening to some new music, particularly The Crane Wife by the Decemberists and Don’t Give Up On Me by Solomon Burke. Burke is yuppie bait, since he is hazily remembered as one of the major soulsters from the days of Atlantic Records. If you actually listen to those recordings, they don’t stand out above the crowd. This more recent album does — the two most devastating songs are “Don’t Give Up On Me,” which gave instant depth and weight to the idiotic relationship between Sandy and Kirsten in The O.C., and “None Of Us Are Free,” which showed up on House, but equally important is a kind of sweeping “social” song (for lack of a better word) for which I’m increasingly hungry. It’s good to leave space on an album for the love songs to yield, if only for a moment, to a broader tenderness. (“Eleanor Rigby,” anyone?)

Anyhow, soul music. Confident vulnerability may be a paradox, but that paradox is what draws me. I can’t sing it, though; I’m much better at singing the huckster soul music of Elvis at karaoke. I’m even better at singing Dean Martin. As I told my friends, I’m not willing to shred my vocal cords, and that raspy sound is the whole secret of the Otis Redding effect. My reluctance is some corollary of not dying my hair, or getting tattoos, or doing a damn thing about Halloween. Know this — no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, I will always be squarer than you.

For about six months I’ve been trying to figure out what song plays in my head late at night, at parties, when I’m at my most blindly enthusiastic. I was even going to blog about it: “Does anyone know a heavy metal song that has these weird, off-rhythm drum snaps and guitar like a lava flow?” Well, I got it. “Enter Sandman.” So if you see me running through the apartment complex at three in the morning, and you’re wondering what I’m thinking, I may be thinking the same thoughts as your average neck-brace-wearing human bulldog.