Monday, February 26, 2007

beta is a mixtape (side 1)

By my count, I lost at least half-dozen editors last year. They all exacted a great toll (such as the firing of Chuck Eddy) but none was as devestating as the leaving of my third editor (and second editor of that calendar year) at City Pages, Lindsey Thomas. Which may sound odd to say, since I never met her and she was only my editor but for a few months before she moved to New York with her boyfriend, writer Keith Harris. It was his abdication that really affected me, as the move meant that he had hung it all up to attend law school here.

Harris (who I think I briefly met once) was a writer who simultaneously thrilled me with his clarity, wit, and insight and made me despair for the exact same reasons. Why would I even attempt to write about, say, Sleater-Kinney or Lil Wayne when Harris could bazooka me out of the pond? To have a mind like that arrive at the endgame of criticism was a clarion call of sorts, though it's nice to have a flash of him appear every once in awhile, as in this recent piece on Rob Sheffield's Love is a Mixtape.

I haven't gotten to read the Mixtape book yet, but look forward to such writing about music that connects to time/ space, to a listening that has emotional levity at its root. It's what I hope to accomplish with the paper I will be presenting at EMP this year in Seattle, about how overhearing a song in a Brooklyn bar conjures decade-old listening with my best friend from high school in San Antonio. And as I sit and listen to that song spin again, admiring how the turntable moves clockwise yet the spiral scratch moves counterclockwise, in the direction of the unconscious, I come to realize that my father and his best friend listened to the exact same song some thirty years previous...