pet peeve #84

Those who are incompetent when changing coals for the nargile pipe.  I will not be pleased if I wind up inhaling the large quantity of ash the previous coals left behind.  You clear all that ash off, not leave it for me to breathe in!

top ten.

I wrote an entry eons ago about my five favorite CDs.  My taste in music has matured greatly, I’ve listened to so much more than I had in 2007, so many traumatic incidences have wrecked my soul since then (this is a joke), and after reading a few others’ lists (not altogether creepily) I felt it only right to recompose my list and even expand it to ten of my most cherished albums.

A great deal of thought went into this; I even changed two of my top five!  What the hell!  I think the cosmos was upended for a few seconds there.  Without further ado I will list them.  And yes, I am going to number them.  So there.

10. “Blood On The Tracks” – Bob Dylan

My heart has gravitated to the mellower branch of the rock world.  Despite it having heart-hurting lyrics, I still find it an amazing collection of songs that I instinctively run to; “Tangled Up In Blue” is my current obsession.  Whenever I’m walking around Istanbul with my music in my pocket, this one will come up or I make it come up.  Bob Dylan’s vocals are iconic and raspy and screams: oh-well-I-don’t-give-a-shit/but-shh-I-really-do-and-it’s-crushing-me.

9.  “Mezzanine” – Massive Attack

Thanks to my friend Gareth, I’ve begun my foray into more instrumental, electronic bits of the music scene.  Trip-hop is his favorite: he’s expounded on his love for the genre, as well as his affair with Portishead.  This album is the finest slice for me, a haunting opening with “Angel” – and then the perfect vocals of “Teardrop” – then a delusional and delicious Ottoman-like sound of “Inertia Creeps”.  I can’t get enough of it; even when my mood is up and happy, I’ll listen to Mezzanine and still feel on top.

8. “First Impressions of Earth” – The Strokes

Most Strokes gurus would call this sacrilege, disgraceful, impossible.  I’d be shunned forever by most of my fellow fans.  I don’t care.  I love their previous two albums; hell, I had placed “Room on Fire” as my #5 in my last ‘top-album’ post.  Upon further thought, I found this album really gave me a deeper appreciation of the band, their willingness to branch out – to try something apart from their angsty, under-21, hormone-driven, 2-minute 30-second anthems.  I have to give them credit for pulling out “Ask Me Anything”, even though it’s not at the top of the list for me.  To get 14 songs is impressive (although I’d have cut out “On The Other Side” and “Fear of Sleep”).  They have matured, grown a bit existential in their ‘older’ age, have a bit more to say than the typical relationship woes – they’re still there, don’t worry!  Favorites include “Heart In A Cage” and “Red Light”.  I look forward to album four, hopefully out … soon!

7. “Pink Moon” – Nick Drake

Two of my favorite albums are by musicians who died before they should have.  Such a tragic story here of a tormented but brilliant mind.  It was so difficult to choose which album I loved more; in the end there was so much sadness but also subtle glory in Pink Moon that I had to select this.  The minimalism here brushes aside hints of the happy-go-lucky from Bryter Layter – which is why I almost chose that album instead of this one.  But I love Pink Moon to pieces.  I can’t kick it out.

6. “Boxer” – The National

Every time I make a collection of songs that I love at the present, one of theirs makes it onto the list, most of them being from this particular album.  It’s perfect from start to finish, philosophical in parts, political in eatable pieces, raunchy in others, sentimental and hurting from time to time.  So visceral, real, simple.  His voice holds to anyone; original and pained, years of undergoing the troubles he unleashes, taking the punches and giving a few.

5. “Little Joy” – Little Joy

The summertime anthem of the new millennium.  I can’t describe it better than this.  Perfect opening, bossa nova tastes, folk and tickles of country.  It seems as the Strokes’ solo projects are becoming more brilliant than the band’s three CDs.  The final two songs of this self-titled album epitomize what all three musicians stand for; it’s utterly glorious and a call to forget and sleep and let relaxation pour over you in that moment of pre-sunset freedom.

4. “Silent Alarm” – Bloc Party

Another where I’ve become addicted to the album, so much so that I had to change this from Bloc Party’s 2nd in my original list.  The spiky guitars rev me up too much; the drums have beaten many a tattoo onto my soul.  And Kele’s voice shouts about emotional pain, sex, insane women, superficial people, the future.  The spectrum of their lyrics and sound has branched out so widely in the next albums (some of which I liked and also some of which I heartily disliked).  I can’t get over some of this album though; I love it too much.

(The top three are still the original top three.  So what I wrote before will be what I will write now.)

3. “Grace” – Jeff Buckley

First time I listened to this CD was when I was falling asleep. It has that soulful and faraway sound that can lull you into a graceful slumber. It’s a shame he was unable to further his career. Life (and death) was, is, and will forever be a bastard.  His talent was incomparable. His voice is almost frightening. From the unexpected highs and lows and somewhat-steady tempo in “Mojo Pin” to the best cover in existence “Hallelujah” to the final (almost eerily prophetic) rasping notes of “Dream Brother” – you might think you’re in a dream the entire way through this album.

2. “( )” – Sigur Rós

An album I can listen through without skipping. The defining attribute here is the lack of any “real” language. It has roots in the band’s native tongue (Icelandic), but has its own melodic utterances, which the band coins as Hopelandic. The band leaves the entire CD booklet blank for listeners to fill in what they think the lyrics are. And you seriously, at times, make out some sort of words in whichever language is your forte. It’s ethereal and transcendental and one of the most brilliant groups of songs.  After watching their DVD, “Heima”, and heard the first track performed, I knew that there was something special about this band… they are too cool for words.

1. “OK Computer” – Radiohead

O.K. This sounds clichéd, but it seriously is the album I would have over all the ones listed here. It flows spectacularly from start to finish, with the not-too-fast, not-too-painfully-slow 12-song set – with an intriguing connection from the final song back to the initial one, lyric-wise. While unintentional, the band does admit the uncanny circle-effect song 1 and 12 have. I dig how the beginning of the CD starts with an odd cello-based sound, then morphing to an incessant array of instruments, beats, and vocal aberrations (“Fitter Happier”) – finally coming to a end with a light triangle ting to put a halt to the steady drumbeats at the end of “The Tourist”. “Climbing Up The Walls” is one of the most mesmerizing and frightening songs that I’ve ever heard. And I love it.

The uniqueness of this CD cannot be put forth in any better words; it seriously cannot be compared with anything else, except for slight nuances in their earlier and later works. I feel my luck could change… It’s going to be a glorious day.

the nose.

Smells should be destroyed.  There’s no reason why this area of Heathrow should smell similar to a waiting room at a pediatrician’s office:  the faint twinge of vomit mixed with something trying really hard to mask it.  Lilacs or freshly cut rosemary should be wafting around me right now; if not that, Sbarro or moo goo gai pan.  Seriously, why can’t the smell be that of pine trees or laundered clothes when I walk by this one pet store by a park near my apartment in Istanbul?  Instead I receive a hint of sewage intermingled with that everywhere-you-go pet store smell.

There’s no victor.  You can’t always choose the smells you want, and sometimes there are aromas that get stuck inside your nose for hours on end.  Or on certain objects.  And it will be inexplicably impossible to rid oneself of it.

The first odor I wish to discuss is garlic.  (If you are an amateur sous-chef, you can add onions to the list.)  No matter what I do, even if I use surgical gloves (a purchase for an old Halloween costume) to cut the cloves that I need whenever I cook chicken or sauté vegetables, that magnetic stench will cling onto whatever allows it to fester and remain for days on end.  Scrubbing, showering, peeling will not do any good; one must wait until a week at the earliest to rid oneself of that malodorous layer of epidermis that had to hold that poor clove of garlic as you diced it to microscopic pieces.  I love garlic, but I love it in my mouth.  To have remnants of any kind of food – even the smell of orange peels – let upon my flesh will begin a long and tormenting process that I hope will never end with me disliking the particular edible object in question.

Second on my list is one of the few foods that I despise.  If one doesn’t know me well enough, he or she might inadvertently expose me to a faint whiff of a particular fruit.  Odd as it may seem, bananas make it onto the list as things I’d rather not have shoved in my face.  The aversion part is one story; still, the smell also gets to me.  The riper the banana, the more pungent.  Try being force-fed these delightful mushy things when you are three and indelibly ill; your mother insists it will help loosen your bowels and make your stomach feel immensely better.  As a young, innocent person, my physical appreciation of some things was being honed.  Food likes and dislikes were at the top of the list for me.  So naturally, as these squishy, strong-smelling things were being ladled (more like forced down with the dull end of a shovel) into my mouth, my eyes were welling up with tears, my heart was shriveling, and my soul was breaking into unglueable pieces.  I hated it, hated every minute when I had to eat those things, as if one particular food would cure me of all the evil sicknesses that could attack me.

Now – sometimes the smell will bring me back to those haunting moments in the past when such atrocities occurred.  My face flushes and I turn in the opposite direction of where the repulsive fruit is being peeled, most likely with a skin peppered with brown, a few days after its more appealing green color.  The smell of green bananas doesn’t nauseate me.

Another delightful scent that has brought me weeks of nightmares is the smell of perfume.  We’ve – for the time being – left the realm of food and ventured into the indefatigable land of deodorizers.  I applaud those people who shower every day; not all places in the world do people have that luxury or use this luxury that they have!  Even when people are unable to lather up and scrape away the skunk-y odor of not washing for three days, there are deodorants, colognes, and perfumes.  Sadly, for me, an excessive amount of perfume will close up my nose (pretty helpful if someone’s devouring a banana or slathering shit all over my coat), it will make my eyes wetter than India during a monsoon, and I will begin sneezing.

Walking through any department store will trigger this unpleasant turn of events.  An hour ago I wandered around a Duty Free shop and ended up leaving with a faucet-like nose and people around me consolingly saying, “Bless you” whenever I belted one out.  So much stimulation for the nose results in my nose losing its proper functionality.

I haven’t begun to state more unappealing aromas that have made it onto my hate list; I doubt that you need to hear more.  Sure you have whiffs of freshly baked bread, the smell of grass after a spring rain, strawberries, chicken alfredo, Yankee Candle scents; but how long-lasting are these pleasant scents?  Even Glade had to create some kind of mechanism to allow their air-fresheners to last longer than a bleeping hour!  And we have garlic smell that lasts days on end!  And don’t get me started with shit.

In the end, if that one question ever has to become a reality and I have to choose the one of the five (or six if you’re creepy) senses I would get rid of, it’s the nose.  Chop it off.  It causes too many problems.  I’d rather be a snake and taste my food to see if it’s good.  I find my sense of taste a little more dependable.  Well, I won’t be chugging on my girlfriend’s bottle of Pink, and I doubt bananas will ever return to an eatable resource for me.  Let me have something that doesn’t last as long.  As long as I like it.