I've Moved! by LD

Alert the Press, change your Feedly or Bloglovin' subscriptions, and crack open a bottle of bubbly: This blog has migrated to its new home on my website
Got that? Blinking Against the Brightness shall hereby be known as Laurel Dailey // Essays, and you can find it here. All the content's the same. If you signed my yearbook, "Stay exactly the same this Summer!" I'd look you up come September and be like, "Nothing changed, y'all!"

Nothing, of course, except for the NEW BLOG ADDRESS (this part's important). You can see the rest of the changes and familiarize yourself with the new space once you get there

Ok. We cool? I linked to my new blog address four times. Oops, five times. 

See you over there!


For You, Blue (vol. 6) by LD

Once again, it's that time of year for my annual Christmas playlist: For You, Blue. This blog has been quieter this year than past years. I'm aware. This year has been an interesting one, and while all seems calm on the surface, trust me: Big changes are coming to this space.

To be honest, I don't have much to say. Let's all just raise a glass together and celebrate the year that was. I don't know about you, but it's been a bit of a doozy for me. Personally, I'm hoping that next year feels different in some (hopefully positive) way.

In the meantime, enjoy For You, Blue (vol. 6), created and shared with love from me to you.

Mea Culpa by LD

...Or, The One I Wish I Could Re-Do Because Teenage Ennui Made Me A Dreadful Companion

Maps found here.

I've had a couple of conversations recently with friends who used the resources of their twenties to drive cross-country. In both cases, it brought me back to a trip I took with my mom, sister, and grandparents back in the mid-nineties. We flew to Arkansas, my memories of it soaked in green and lit by fireflies. From there, we drove in my grandparents' van back to Oregon, opting to traverse the northern states with our end point fixed on the Pacific Northwest. 

The van was one of those deluxe numbers, more lavish RV than fifteen-passenger youth group rig. What it lacked in mobile hotel room amenities, it more than recovered with its overt obedience to minor luxuries. There was a TV and it beamed images of questionably grainy quality into our skulls from the VHS tapes we fed into its rectangular jaw. Every square inch of the interior was swaddled in padded upholstery and the windows (themselves nestled in padded sills) had frilled curtains that recalled the trimmings of a stately southern manor. There was a ladder mounted on the rear door leading to the roof, though I never had the stones to climb it. 

Across the United States we cruised, comfortably ensconced in beige velveteen, my sister and I occasionally pillaging the passenger cup holders for the hard candy stored therein. By all accounts, it was a magical road trip. Our points of interest upheld the venerable first fruits of what the U.S. has for any tourist: National parks, wildlife, geological wonders, geothermal oddities, and the very best of roadside American kitsch. 

It's unfortunate, then, that this particular intersection of leisure and exploration had to sketch itself atop the convoluted map of my adolescence. I'd yet to mount an introduction between my inner joie de vivre and my outer surliness--eventually the two would meet and graft a mostly-agreeable persona whose calling card is wit. Like I said, eventually. In those early days of adolescence, however, the joyous nature of my increasingly complex and inscrutable self was effectively held captive and bullied into submission by teenage ennui. What some pass for sarcasm in their later years was instead delivered with the insolent sneer of a malcontent. I'm tempted to extend my younger self a flimsy olive branch of mercy, though, because what other than simmering rage can one expect from a girl who just found out that periods happen every month for the rest of time

Even still, when I think back on that road trip, what slices through the haze of nostalgia are the very real--and very embarrassing--memories of what a rotten, little pill I was. Despite what from the outside looked to be complete disregard of the entire road trip enterprise, I brought along a camera to capture the memories. A budding photojournalist was I, armed to the gills with a couple rolls of Kodak 400 and a black, rectangular point and shoot. Each and every time that camera was turned on me, I rewarded the frame with a fresh and wholly inventive new way to appear utterly stupefied with boredom. 

Understand: I spent the better part of that trip in an Olympian race--me vs. myself--whose ultimate reward was to accurately express the abject horror inflicted upon me by sights such as Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, and Old Faithful. To say that my expression bore a distinct frown is putting it lightly; that my forehead collapsed upon my eye sockets, in turn melting my jawline into a nebulous cloud of contempt is putting it accurately. In other words: were Pollyanna within the blast radius of my nuclear attitude, the only Glad Game she'd be playing is the one where she'd be glad when the radiation poisoning finally put her out of her misery. 

Nobody died. I was just thirteen. 

A rare moment of acquiescence to Give Peace a Chance. Notice also that Jody appears to be giving The Bird a chance. 

While wandering through South Dakota's one and only Corn Palace, a tawdry monument of kitsch that squared off with the rivaling Enchanted World Doll Museum across the street, my only goal was to sear the memories we were creating with my molten commentary. Perhaps that hokey agricultural chateau left more of an impression on me than I on it, though--it's exactly the sort of local-yokel haunt that'd send me into breathless correspondence with my Instagram nowadays. 

If anything, I was insanely privileged. Privileged to be able to enact the elaborate ruse of teenage dissidence from the beige lap of those velveteen seats. Lucky to shuttle across the Heartland with traveling companions whose memories are somewhat softer than the sharpness of my tongue. Grateful to have seen such a generous swath of America (on someone else's dime, no less). But at the time, if prizes and endorsements were given for withering glares, I'd have a gold medal and my phlegmatic visage on a Wheaties box. Not to put too fine a point on it, but there are a few moments of that trip I'd like to do again, and do better this time. 

In the meantime, I submit my mea culpa in the form of photographic proof that I once wore tube socks and men's bowling shirts. I'll consider the debt settled. 


Big things are coming to my little corner of the Internet. My website, my blog--the whole shebang. Since I know you regularly haunt this place to answer the ever-present, nagging question: What would Laurel do? I'll make it easy for you: I'd click below, sign up for my own newsletter,* and I'd answer the pressing third question with option C.

*Yes, I would sign up for my own newsletter. I promise at least 10% more wit and 23% more wry social observations, and for a limited time only, 15% less cynicism.**

**And at least 100% more lying. I'll still be cynical. Don't you fret. 

Here, There, and Everywhere by LD

If I had a dime for every time I was approached by some breathless potential suitor and asked, "Laurel, what is the sure-fire direct route straight into your heart?" 

I'd have zero dollars. Because that's never happened. 

But the answer I'd fire off if given the chance (or, let's be honest, the answer I'd like to pelt strangers with, unbidden and apropos of nothing) would be, "Whiskey! Adventure!" Then I'd follow that up with a laundry list of exceptions: "Unless we're flying Southwest. Unless it's on the West Side. Unless it involves baseball in any way, shape, or form. Unless you tell me we're going on a light walk but it's actually a white-knuckle trek up the unforgiving side of a mountain because your base level of physical exertion is Olympian and mine is to punch the nearest person in the face." 

We all have our limits. Mine are simply more nebulous than other people's. 

But adventure came a-knockin' this Summer and since I literally had nothing better to do, I answered the door. (Which is more than I can say for the kids selling magazine subscriptions to pay for their utter lack of ambition summer trip to Italy. Yeah, I see you darkening my doorway. I know you can see me watching Frasier on Netflix while simultaneously playing Settlers of Catan on my iPhone. I'm not getting up, and you're not leaving my front porch. Quite the suburban standoff we're having, isn't it? NOPE, I DON'T CARE IF YOU KNOCK TWICE. Not doing it.) One of the perks of my position as Dominant Alpha at Laurel Dailey Enterprises is the ol' Get Up & Go. Texas sounds like a fine time. New Mexico, I'd like to pay you a visit. Oregon? Sure, why not? And when the notion hits, it doesn't take much before I--you guessed it--get up and go. 

I know this space has been quiet for the better part of the summer, and you'll just have to trust me when I say that there are spec-tack-yewlar things in store for the blog and beyond. There are changes coming, and unlike most change which--real talk--scares me witless while simultaneously giving me an unnecessary air of insolence that reads as my basest angry, wild animal nature, these changes are good ones. Big ones. Wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am ones. 

But that's actually not what brings us together on this post today. I thought I'd check in and share some of my more recent adventures with the five of you who are still reading this blog (hi, dad!). All of these photos were taken with my trusty iPhone and appeared originally on my TOTALLY BITCHIN' INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT


Photo by Dustin Giallanza

Photo by Dustin Giallanza

Photo by Dustin Giallanza 

Gold Country by LD

I saw Mono Lake for the first time while driving back from Lake Tahoe a couple of years ago. We cruised south in that relaxed sort of road trip rhythm, while I allowed my eyes to rove over the scenery from the 395. There's a hypnotic fluidity to the way the land unspools from the car window, the Eastern Sierras on a seemingly endless loop punctuated occasionally with a shift in vegetation. When I saw the shimmering disk of the lake flipped like a coin into the ground, I took a mental note: Someday, I'm coming back here. 

Two years later, the tug of wanderlust set a plan in motion with my fellow up-for-anything adventurer friend, Darian. The proposal, delivered with crossed fingers over Google Chat on an otherwise dull work day, was essentially this: Are you willing to drive into the middle of nowhere with me for the weekend? 

"I've driven further for less," he replied. And so a trip was born. 

We recruited a rag-tag team of intrepid explorers, filled our water bottles, took advantage of Mammoth's Summer months to book a home base for the weekend, and set our compasses due North. The landscape along the Eastern Sierras is fascinatingly varied. The staggeringly tall peaks, toothed jawlines against the horizon, crept skyward until they devoured most of the view from our car windows. There are geological marvels to rival any cubist's painterly interpretation of life. The ancient bristlecone pines, at ten thousand feet, have calmly outlived any known signs of civilization on this continent. There are lakes upon lakes, verdant alpine valleys, sleepy communities, derelict shells of former residences, and more than one opportunity to sample exotic game in the form of jerky. 

And then there's the lake. Mono Lake, the luminous apogee of the trip, whose mysterious tufa towers array themselves like spires in King Triton's castle. Spending a consecutive sunset and sunrise on the south shore only deepened my fascination with the place. 

At the end of three exhausting days of exploration, the conclusion I drew while we left California's Gold Country in our rear view mirror was this: Someday, I'm coming back here. 

All photos are sole property of Laurel Dailey, and cannot be reposted or used without permission. 

On Photography: Sun, But No Shadow by LD

It occurred to me the other day that the conversation on photography has changed. Now there's a manifest statement, you're probably thinking, One as obvious and evident and omnipresent as the sun itself. 

Of course the conversation has changed. Of course The Internet has not only weighed in, but has, in fact, hijacked the entire dialogue and regurgitated the finer points in a new dialect that only bears passing resemblance to its former subject. This is like saying, "It is Winter, therefore it is cold outside," or, "I haven't eaten in eleven hours, and it occurred to me that I am perhaps hungry."

I came of age on the cusp of The Internet As We Know It. The World Wide Web turned twenty recently while I (also recently) enjoyed thirty candles on the proverbial cake. While some born a few years after me will testify to the all-encompassing warmth of growing within the belly of the beast, I have the advantage (if you're an optimistic sort) of remembering Life Without. (It bears mentioning that I am not the optimistic sort.) I also came of age as an artist in the company of those who had the audacity to ascribe value to the medium of Photography as Art (and not Photography as Commodity). I am well aware that in order to survive while tinkering away in a visual medium, I must embrace both ideas. I am also well aware of the fact that the democratization of photography--as heralded by the proletarian availability of its tools and its message--has been both a boon and a bane.

I've always felt that an image, when amputated from its source, has no more oxygen to prolong its life than a goldfish flopping on a waterless surface. There's a vitality to an object of desire (in this case, a photograph) when it remains tethered to its creator. This symbiosis perpetuates a conversation both about and with the object, and in doing so, ascribes value not only to the object in question, but also to the person who created it. It breathes. It goes on. What we're talking about are human beings harnessing their faculties for artistry and awe and imagination, and then--a miracle!--creating something out of it. A photograph! A communiqué to the rest of the world: I saw. I perceived. I interpreted.

What's more, a photograph is never merely about consumption. It is, at least for me, about a conversation. Not only that, it's a two-sided conversation, which is itself a novel concept in an age where self-reflexive, single-sided communication often takes the place of the gloriously unpredictable give-and-take of a real exchange between two gloriously independently-minded individuals. Wim Wenders writes in his (also glorious) book Once

"Taking pictures is an act in time,
in which something is snapped out of its own time
and transferred into a different kind of duration.
It is commonly assumed
that whatever is captured in this act
lies IN FRONT OF the camera.
But that is not true.
Taking pictures is an act in two directions:
and backwards.
A photograph is always a double image,
showing, at first glance, its subject,
but at a second glance - more or less visible,
'hidden behind it,' so to speak,
the 'reverse angle':
the picture of the photographer
in action.
The camera therefore is an eye
capable of looking forward and backward
at the same time.
Forwards, it does in fact 'shoot a picture,'
backwards, it records a vague shadow,
sort of an x-ray of the photographer's mind,
by looking straight through his (or her) eye
to the bottom of his (or her) soul.
Yes, forwards, a camera sees its subject,
backwards it sees the wish
to capture this particular subject in the first place,
thereby showing simultaneously THE THINGS
and THE DESIRE for them."

Did you read that quote, or simply gloss over it to arrive more succinctly at this paragraph? Go back. Read it again.

There is desire and humanity in every image that is created, yet these images are often consumed as objects stripped of their context. Images on the Internet (Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, Tumblr...the gang's all here) have found themselves guillotined from their source. The image stands alone, its value determined only by its own contents, a mirror reflecting on itself and back again, infinitely. This means, of course, that a person's attention span can only breach the distance between desire and disinterest for so long. It has nothing to do with the why or the where or the who but only the what. The sun shines on and on, but there's no shadow to infer depth or dimension or even context. 

I found myself on the receiving end of a vexing conversation recently, the subject of which centered around my work and how easy it was for the man on the other side of the tête-à-tête to subvert, recontextualize, and belittle my images until they were a pile of data--merely pixels arrayed on a screen, printed into the physical world, and then passed around as a joke. The very idea was odious to me on a number of levels, but the miasma I couldn't shake--even now, days later--is the fact that it's so very easy for this Nobody to render something I consider precious into utter meaninglessness. A gag. Simply a matter of clicking, dragging, and discarding. 

As I mentioned earlier, in order to be granted the immense privilege of doing what I love for a living, I am forced to interact with my medium in ways that I love and in ways that I loathe. I love The Internet. But I loathe the way it has affected the way we view photography. Images do not exist merely for your own consumption. They are an act of humanity, and they will always be extensions of the hands (and eyes, and mind) that created them. When we gobble up the product without paying any mind to its maker, we perpetuate the notion that thoughtlessness, ease, and immediacy will always trump the very real, very human qualities of perseverance, toil, and triumph. We strip art of its dignity, and in doing so, rob ourselves of the joy of experience. 

To make anything outside of oneself necessitates ceding control so that it can live, in some ways, apart. But make no mistake: Whether or not my name, my watermark, my shadow, is impressed upon my work does not diminish its value. The conversation on photography may have changed, but now it's up to us to direct its course. 

Fauxchella 2013 by LD

Last weekend marked the sixth annual Fauxchella Music Festival in the lives of my nearest and dearest. I say this because I realize there are technically other Fauxchellas out there, and they're probably more attuned to the musical acts haunting the stages of the polo fields, but we've been casually tossing the name around for so long, why stop now? 

As with other years, community music-making was at the fore of the weekend. Friends and strangers joined together with a singular aim and the result was, as it always is, stunning, meaningful, and generous. In fact, I was consistently awed at the level of generosity shared throughout the weekend. It made me proud to claim this yearly event and to say without reservation that these music-makers are exceptional talents, each possessing a rare measure of kindness and inclusivity. What I observed again and again wasn't merely a few people making music in the desert. It was kindness writ large, a sort of pervading benevolence that moved independently of whatever music was being made. Thank you for attending this year's Fauxchella, and thank you for sharing so freely your time, talent, and friendship. 

If I continue further, I will get weepy, and we all know that emotionally-loaded superlatives are the base-level form of communication in this day and age. I'll exercise my reticence so as not to contribute to the hyperbolic noise. I've said what can be said and I've said it truthfully. Now onto the photos!

Photo by Grayson Kemp

Photo by Grayson Kemp

Photo by Grayson Kemp

All photos, unless otherwise noted, are © Laurel Dailey and are not to be used or reposted without permission. 

30 by LD

The Peter Pan Complex has never made a lot of sense to me. I loved my childhood--and all the attendant references to cul-de-sacs and bike rides and made up games and imaginations run wild--but to me, even then, childhood merely paved the way for adulthood. In fact, my most imaginative and carefree moments were spent in preparation for an impending career (it helped, of course, that my chosen career meant doodling for a paycheck). I adored adults because they understood the nature of my humor and I understood their seasoned pragmatism. Most of the people I've known in life have gotten better as they aged. My parents have. Jody most certainly has (I cannot begin to describe to you the depths to which her nerdiness plunged on a regular basis, but I will say that there isn't a lot of social oxygen down there). Most of my friends only get better with time. 

Of course, let's all accept that I'm speaking from the misty hinterlands of subjectivity here, because I'm sure some of you might say, "Well my so-and-so just got meaner or hairier or battier or pickier as he or she got older, and I want to hold on to that Peter Pan feeling for ever and ever, come hell or high water!" I'll concede that this isn't true across the board. Or maybe it's that I'm far more a Wendy than a Peter. But I'll say that as I rounded the bend last week and entered the fourth decade of my time on this earth, I felt a sense of optimism because, like so many others before me, I feel like I'm just getting better with age. 

A worrier like me is well, well aware of the latent pitfalls that come with aging. If anything, any single day spent living is one step closer to The End Of It All, and for most of us, it's not a graceful descent. If I allowed myself the luxury of marinating in this concept, I would surely drown in it. The crows feet have faintly impressed themselves into the edges of my temples. My hair won't be naturally brown for much longer. Despite all the strides I've made with regard to my personal health over the past year, the fact that I guzzle Diet Coke like a fiend or live in the Here and Now or was raised in the radiant, microwaveable glow of hormone-injected corn-based food all my life will almost surely haunt me sooner rather than later. The world, as we're reminded every day, is and always has been, a volatile place to be. Maybe the eternal obsession with life on other planets is rooted in the fact that for all its gentle rolling fields and dew-dripping glades, Earth has a way of overturning the unnatural order of things again and again and again. At a certain point, one must be convinced that life elsewhere might be safer, more reliable, somehow more sustainable than what we have now. 

What we have now is fragile. But by the grace of God, I have been given thirty years so far. I have a mind full of memories of a life that I am grateful to say I've lived well. If I have regrets, they're immediate, ephemeral, and fleeting. I have known the kind of love that speaks of its Creator, of infinity and of mystery and of boundlessness. If I'm hopeful about anything, it's to know love more. It's to love better. If there's anything I can be proud of, it's the love I've known, the love I've learned, and the love I've given. If I have gained a debt in need of settling, it's the debt of gratitude I owe to the people in my life who have shown me kindness when I was wholly undeserving, mercy when I was self-righteous, generosity when I was withholding, patience when I demanded more, and a challenge when I preferred laziness. 

I'll leave you with a Steinbeck quote, because he has a way with words that I, in all my thirty years, can hardly approach--nor will I in thirty more, I suspect:

"A kind of second childhood falls on so many men. They trade their violence for the promise of a small increase of life span...And I have searched myself for this possibility with a kind of horror. For I have always lived violently, drunk hugely, eaten too much or not at all, slept around the clock or missed two nights of sleeping, worked too hard and too long in glory, or slobbed for a time in utter laziness. I've lifted, pulled, chopped, climbed, made love with joy and taken my hangovers as a consequence, not as a punishment. I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage." (Travels with Charley in Search of America)

In The Garden by LD

I got a text from my neighbor alerting me to the fact that an orchid living beneath our avocado tree was blooming today--today only, in fact: it's a single afternoon extravaganza. Our garden exists a lovely state of flux, changing not only season to season, but day to day as well. Here are some images I captured of the garden as it existed this afternoon, while the sun was slipping past its peak and the bees were drowsily circling the sweet peas. 

Dusty Boots! by LD

The themes I draw from for my mixes are generally siphoned from the same beat up tank: open roads, lonely characters, dirty water, kicked up dirt, desert heat. Add "one trick ponies" to that list, and I'll freely admit that this is not my first rodeo, son. Give me a westward wind and a ribbon of asphalt to point the way and I'll cruise that open road from here till kingdom come. Wayward thoughts of outliers and empty spaces are never far from my heart, despite the fact that my lifestyle postures itself in direct opposition. Call it a necessary tension, when the soul of a woman just can't shake the urge to let the rubber meet the road. I'll gladly assume the balancing act when I know I've got them both in perfect harmony

For those of you who've ever longed for something inexpressible, here are a collection of songs I've arranged into a mix lovingly titled Dusty Boots!

Git 'er HERE for a limited time. 

Calling All Backyard Adventurers by LD

I've extolled the many virtues of the extended weekend trip in my Get Outta Dodge series. But as I was filtering through my most recent Instagram offerings for an update post on this ol' blog, I realized that there are a few closer-to-home options worth exploring in Southern California. Herewith, a compendium of obscure, lesser-known, or otherwise tucked-away gems located in and around the Southland. Got an afternoon to burn? Here are a few ways to spend it. 

This post features images from my Instagram feed. Follow me: @laureldailey

Griffith Park Hikes
I know there are a number of trails to take at Griffith Park, but I recently took one that lead to a forested hilltop overlooking the LA basin. Before the slow burn of the Summer months set in, get out and see LA's varied native flora and fauna in full array--from cacti to jacaranda trees.

Sturtevant Camp
Tucked away in the San Gabriels, Sturtevant's Camp has been in operation since the 1890's. Accessible only by foot, the russet cabins dotting the mountainside and are available for rental. Load up a backpack with clothing and sundries (or have a mule do it for you), and hike the 4 miles along Big Santa Anita Canyon till you arrive at Sturtevant's Camp. The trailhead's only about 30 minutes outside Los Angeles.  

Police Academy Rock Garden
Tucked into the hills of Elysian Park, the Police Revolver and Athletic Club seems an unlikely destination for a lush jungle garden, but that's LA for you. The garden was designed in 1937 by landscape artist Francois Scotti, who is also responsible for the fantastically weird rock waterfall at Clifton's Cafeteria (itself an off-the-beaten-path spectacle of yore). 

City Hall Observation Deck
Here's a fun fact: Downtown's City Hall features an open-to-the-public observation deck that offers 360-degree views of the city and its surroundings. I loved the bird's eye view of LA's latest public space addition: Grand Park

Oak Tree Gun Club
Just call me Calamity Jane with her .38 Special. Located in the Santa Clarita Valley, Oak Tree Gun Club is expansive, with beautiful views of surrounding hills and forests. Bring your own firepower or rent it at the club, pack a lunch or enjoy a beer in the lounge. It's worth the drive and worth the ear protection. 

The Encounter at LAX
Imagine finding yourself nearly alone in this 60's-era alien-themed eatery, rattling around the dining room like an unwitting character in a George Jetson fever dream. Now order a martini. Yeah, that's about right. 

Cold Spring Tavern
Nestled in the verdant hills outside of Santa Barbara, this magical little enclave offers Santa Maria-style tri-tip, venison burgers, and stone walls heavily decorated with taxidermy. In other words: It's heaven on earth. 

The Earth Is My Air Mattress by LD

The above is a quote from a certain Charles T. Spahn, AKA Good Times Chazzy Boy, in regard to the joys of camping in the great outdoors. He has a point, though I'd counter that nothing beats a good night's rest on a proper camping mat, especially if one had previously spent all her nights slumbering on an off-brand yoga mat. As it turns out, the two are not created equal. Namaste, betches. So says the charlatan who was conceived--conceived!!!--on a backpacking trip. Apparently only the genes for prematurely grey hair can be passed on. 

Nevertheless, I've been clamped shamefully in the stocks of wanderlust as of late, like a town drunkard cursed to ride it out with arms akimbo. So flagrant is the wanting I feel, though I'm sure in reality my occasional yelps about planning a camping trip come across far less drastically. But I foolishly and bullheadedly wandered down an Internet rabbit trail this morning, by way of Tumblr and brought to you by the letter T, as in, camping is so Trendy right now. My wanderlust and desire for a tent and a campfire and some whiskey has been stoked so there's no going back. 

Herewith, some of my favorite photographs that I've taken while enjoying God's Great Earth with my nearest and dearest. I hope it serves to enflame your own desire to get an Adventure Pass so we can get the heck outta dodge, post haste. 

All photography by Laurel Dailey© 2013

Journal Entries, iTunes Edition by LD

I don't keep a diary.

I'll occasionally write a post on this blog that approaches soul-scraping Dear Diary levels of candor. But perhaps even approach is too strong a word. What I mean is that I'll occasionally write a post whose sincerity skitters up the steps of Diary House, leaves a flaming bag of poo on the landing, then ding-dong-ditches for the evening street--you know, dark and safely anonymous.

I have two Field Notes notebooks that I keep with me at all times, busted up, nearly full, pages splattered with scattershot notes, sketches, litter from my brain that accumulates during the day. No diary entries, though, unless you count shopping lists for cocktails I've made.

I communicate through my work, but even that eschews the detritus of everyday life in favor of a particular perspective--one that skews decidedly toward the ideal.

The closest thing I have to a diary are the monthly iTunes mixes I've been making for the last three years. Organized by month and year, the mixes vary in length and content--an aural journal entry for the music I listened to in a given month. Old favorites, new listens, repeat offenders, one-hit wonders; the gang's all here. For one of my first blog posts in 2013, I thought I'd share this month's mix with you. It's a mishmash of the stuff I've been listening to during these early days of January, as much a reflection of my own emotional landscape as it is of the season during which it's being presented. 

You can grab it for a limited time HERE.

Here's a track listing in case you hear something you like and want to pursue more (it's mixed as a single track):

Theme :: Jon Brion 
Strawberry Swing :: Frank Ocean
Get Free :: Major Lazer
Futureactive Kid, Pt. 1 :: Sandro Perri
Never Ending Math Equation :: Modest Mouse
Feels Like We Only Go Backwards :: Tame Impala
Silent Machine :: Cat Power
Shallow :: Beach Fossils
Lose the Baby :: Lost Animal
My Mistakes :: Eleanor Friedberger
Brains :: Lower Dens
With Just One Glance :: Nicolas Jaar
Breaking Vows :: Serengeti
Something Good :: Alt-J
50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (Pollyn's Re-Edit Remix) :: Paul Simon
Born to Die (Woodkid Remix) :: Lana Del Rey
I Come Apart (feat. Florence Welch) :: A$AP Rocky
Wasted :: Mazzy Star
You Look Like Rain :: Morphine

Adieu, 2012, You Casual Encounter by LD

I feel a 2012-in-remembrance post is obligatory, if only to partially demonstrate that I haven't forgotten about this space. No, no...but big things are in store for 2013, so that's all the apologizing I'll be doing today with regard to this blog. 

I would begin with a perfunctory little aside like, "Man, this year has been bonkers!" Except if there's anything I'm learning about adulthood, it's that those aphorisms are about as self-evident as espousing the benefits of oxygen on the regular. Like duh, in other (laconically inane) words. Of course it's been bonkers, for me and for everyone else, because we are alive and it is now and whatever and ever, amen. 

In fact, in lieu of further ruminations (of which, O dear children of the Internet, I have many), I'll rattle off a few commemorative thisses and thats before we sailors perched on the bow of the U.S.S. FutureTimes shake the salt water from our faces and steer the ship onward. 

Albums I Liked In 2012, Only Two of Which I'll Say Anything About Because Meh

Allah-Las, S/T
I was musing to a friend about the unexpected pleasures of an album whose only aim, goal, or ambition is to merely be solid. Possessing neither prolific intent nor the guiding hand of a musical savant, this album instead recalls jangling garage punkers The Seeds and crafts ten songs that are as consistently enjoyable in the background as they are the fore. 

Father John Misty, Fear Fun 
Say what you will about this ex-Fleet Fox's utter departure from both his austere folkster roots and the tender grasp of lyrical or personal earnestness. Josh Tillman's scathing send-up of neo-bohemianism and life in LA's storied canyons is as reflective of its surroundings as Fleet Foxes' first full length recalled a winter walk through a boneyard of leafless trees. 

Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits
Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel...
The Walkmen, Heaven
Frank Ocean, Channel ORANGE
Sharon Van Etten, Tramp

Photos I Took That Are Awesome

Six Instagram Photos That Are Better Than Yours Because 
They Aren't Of Food Or Your Feet Or Your Cat

Some Opinions I Once Held Fiercely But Now Have Changed Positions On

1. Coffee. I drink it now.
2. Broccoli. I eat that now.
3. Sugar. Screw you, Sugar. Get out of here.
4. Snorkeling. Turns out, it's not so bad, especially when your bad assery extends to high-fiving sea turtles:


5. Instagram. I have one now. It sort of kicks ass.
6. Change. I'm sorta okay with it these days. But don't get carried away. I still hate the West Side. And cats.

Books I Read That Blew Mah Mind

1. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
2. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
3. Travels with Charley in Search of America, John Steinbeck
4. 1Q84, Haruki Murakami
5. The New Testament. I know, guys. But just allow me this one indulgence: Reading it in eight weeks' time was actually pretty amazing.

If I Could Sum The Year Up In One Song, It Would Be...

If I Could Sum 2012 Up In One Image, It Would Be...

Photo by Angi Welsch

Groove Is In The Heart by LD

I may be contradicting myself here, offering a counterpoint to even my own holiday musical offerings, but if the onslaught of Christmas cheer has got you in a funk, may I suggest...a little funk? 

Just a little. A little bit of soul. A groove to keep the feet tapping. A devil-may-care attitude of seasonal joie de vivre. Trust me on this one, dear friends. This mix is made for parties and shindigs and hootenannies and cooking meals and togetherness and laughter and mirth and, finally, merriment of the highest degree. 

From my heart to yours:

This one's not mixed down into a single track, but I did take great care with the track order, so don't be the knucklehead who doesn't take the same care to organize once the iTunes import is complete.