Frontier Psychiatrist

Archive for October 2011


Mayer Hawthorne

Anyone who has heard Mayer Hawthorne’s 2009 album, A Strange Arrangement, already knows what to expect with his newest release: more Motown-influenced retro soul delivered in falsetto. And while Hawthorne certainly delivers that, How Do You Do contains a few surprises, including one track featuring Snoop Dogg as you’ve never heard him before.

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Jim Knable’s Sons of Dionysus: a lusty novel of myth, mirth, and music.


Our freshman year dorm was only a small room with a bunkbed and a bathroom across the hall. There was enough space for two desks and two dressers, but just barely. It was a very old room in a very old building dating back to the 1800’s. There was a fireplace built into the wall that didn’t work anymore. The mantel piece over the hearth was a plain wooden shelf attached to the wall.

Early on we made a great discovery.

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For me, there are two different ways to go food shopping.  There are days when I head out with a plan, and I diligently cross each item off a thoughtful, well-rounded list as I drop it into my basket.  This is what I call responsible shopping.  Far more fun are the days when I go without a list, without guidance from a sensible version of myself, and indulge my impulses. (You may be wondering just how buck-wild one can go in a market; the answer is totally.)

Last week I went to the farmer’s market, a la shopping mode #2.  Especially at the farmer’s market, I find it’s better to go with an open mind.  For example, I’ve had Brussels sprouts on my shopping list for weeks, but they’ve looked scrawny and pathetic.  Only this past weekend did they appear in all their glory on sturdy green stalks.  Rather than going in with a plan, it’s easier and tastier to let the season and that day’s harvest guide you.  And this time of year, that’s a pretty effortless task.  End of summer tomatoes have evolved into end of October tomatoes, and bell peppers are mixed in with heads of cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage.  It is truly autumnal with squashes and colorful dried corn lining the walkways, and hot apple cider steaming out of to-go cups.  I saw a bunch of school field trips touring the market, with comments like “That red pumpkin is WEIRD,” and “I love cucumbers!” being squealed by groups of kindergartners. Read the rest of this entry »

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

I remember my first break-up.  Well, not exactly: I remember the anger, the isolation, and the despair, but I don’t remember the location where it occurred, or the time of day, or the time of year, or the course of the conversation.  I suppose I remember almost none of the specifics.  In fact, there is only one specific that I recall with precision: jumping into my car after it was all over, putting on Dinosaur, Jr’s “Freak Scene,” submerging myself in three minutes and thirty-six seconds of feedback-drenched catharsis, and, when it was all over, feeling that the song had saved my life.

Dinosaur, Jr. – “Freak Scene”

This is why, some twenty years ago, I fell in love with pop music.  I spend a lot of time writing about the influence of post-modernism on hip-hop and the role of ambition in the history of punk rock, but if the reason I spend so much time thinking about the disposable cultural trinkets that are pop songs is that I believe in the their power to uplift, to inspire, to imbue with hope.

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Jim Knable’s Sons of Dionysus, a lusty novel of myth, mirth, and music.

Arthur is a member of a group of debauched singers. They meet every Wednesday night at an old town bar called The Owl. They sit around a round table, dark knights of lechery. They call themselves the Sons of Dionysus. They sing songs about murder and lust, and they also sing spirituals. I have gone with Arthur to the Wednesday night gathering. I can’t sit at the table with them, but I sit with some other guests behind them on wooden chairs. They all raise their clay cups and drink and sing and sing and drink, like the dwarves in The Hobbit, like the angels who fell with Satan in Paradise Lost. They have a reputation on campus for being disgusting and despicable, but they’re very loveable guys.

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I have long trumpeted the virtues of the music video, an art form that sadly had its public outlet terminated 15 years ago just as it was reaching maturity.  The work produced in September 2011 justifies my efforts.  Throughout the year we have been conducting monthly music video countdowns, but no month has been quite like the last.  The volume of brilliant work was overwhelming, and each of the videos below could make a strong case for #1 in any other month.  As for the month’s top video, suffice it to say that, in a different era, it would have made stars of its creators. Enjoy the show. Read the rest of this entry »

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Listening To:

Sons of Dionysus

A Transmedia Novel of Myth, Mirth, and the Magical Excess of Youth.