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Side A , Side B

The art of the mix tape has been discussed in so many different places for so many years that it almost feels futile to spend an entire post writing my philosophies on the mix tape. Almost.

I spent a good portion of my high school career making mix tapes. Mix tapes weren't just for love interests; they were for friends, for relatives, and most often, for myself.

Mixes have changed the way I hear songs. I anticipate the order of songs now; or a skip in "The World Is Turning On" by the Pooh Sticks, all because of a mix. I associate The Swirlies with a black-and-white picture of a man bending over to get something out of the trunk of a car, because it was on the cover of a Swirlies cassette that someone once made for me. I spent hours on my own covers, finding the perfect page in a magazine to manipulate with scissors and glue.

There were so many mixes. Road trip mixes. Mixes for art class. Mixes for prom dates and birthdays. Mixes for play rehearsal. A mix called "A Mix To End All Mixes." I even once borrowed a mix tape from a girl named Beth, a tape made for her by Ryan, and used some of the songs on that mix tape to make other mix tapes. It got complicated.

Even once I thought I'd made all the mixes there were to make, I got creative. I started incorporating skits from my dad's old Firesign Theater records and clips from Charlie Brown cassettes between songs by The First Edition and Echo & The Bunnymen, or Neil Young and The Farm.

Selection was key. Nick Hornby characters have already devoted pages to this topic, so I won't go into it more than to say that picking the tracks that opened both Side A and Side B was crucial; as was finding a song you could squeeze in at the end (how heartbreaking was that "click," the sound of the tape shutting off before the song had finished?).

I thought I'd be making people mix tapes for the rest of my life.

Now, it's all changed. It's been years since I've made a mix tape. I've made mix CDs, sure, but that's a different breed. The same amount of dedication isn't necessary when making a mix CD. It's flippant. Whimsical. With a mix tape, once you included a song, there was no going back. I poured my heart into the effort, and so a piece of my heart was in each of those mix tapes.

So, this Valentine's Day, I've decided to make a Valentine's Mix for Mix Tapes:

(If that doesn't work, click here: Mix Tape, Will You Be My Valentine?. It's technically not a mix tape, rather, 50 songs in no particular order, with no Side B in sight, but it's the closest I could get on the internet.)

I hope the Mix Tape likes it enough that he'll make me a mix tape...

(Incidentally, the next book in my queue is Rob Sheffield's love is a mix tape, which takes this topic to a whole new level.)



Remainders? Remainders of what, you ask? You might have come to expect more from me by now. Philosophical notes on the way the sunlight hits new copper roofing, momentarily blinding me as I turn the last page of a book. Nostalgic ramblings on the smell of dill, or snow in the wind as it races around the corners of city blocks. But I'm slipping. (Or wising up - isn't that all just navel gazing?)

Each of these could be an entire post, but I'm hopelessly lazy today, and so I've condensed each into ten words or less and uselessly thrown them together in one post. Something compels me to post each day, even if it's no more than a link and smile. Which is what you get today.


8lbs. 2oz.

Nothing I write today could surpass the amazing feat of Mighty Girl's Maggie Mason going from this to this yesterday, while the rest of us went about our daily lives (including a walk through the park, a trip to the farmers market, reading Calvin Trillin, and singing along to both the Jesus and Mary Chain and Joni Mitchell while listening to Stephen Merchant). And though we may not know her through anything more than her words or her impeccable taste, she still allows the rest of us to share in her joy.

The internet can be a beautiful thing.


Sunday Zen


Tsoi lives!

After the saccharine taste of that last post (stationery? I just wrote a post about stationery?), I feel the urge to link to some videos by the gritty Russian 80s band Кино (Kino). They were hugely important to young people in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, William Gibson is a fan, and I'm slightly obsessed myself. I was reminded of them while writing Tuesday's post, and haven't stopped listening since.

Victor Tsoi has a unique voice, and it's not for everyone, but if you were ever into The Cure, Joy Division, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, or The Smiths (lyrically and mythically, Tsoi is very similar to Morrissey), you might find it at least interesting. The quality is pretty horrid on all of these (all YouTube links), but it gives you an idea.

Закрой за мной дверь, я ухожу (Close The Door Behind Me, I'm Off)
Группа Крови (Blood Type, English version)
Хочу перемен (I Want Change)
Видели ночь (They Saw The Night)
Спокойная ночь (Goodnight)
There. Stationery and gritty Soviet rock. Now I feel all steampunk.