Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lazy Eye

Silversun Pickups

Thursday, March 29, 2007

To Hell with Blogger - lnf

To hell with Blogger. I had posted this once, and then I attempted to insert one link - linking Gogol's name to a website about the author Gogol. As soon as I did that, Blogger cut my piece in half.

Nevertheless, I am still determined. Notwithstanding this stupid Blogger word processing system which has conspired to prevent me from posting my inner most thoughts, I persist.

What I was trying to say before I was previously interrupted was that I, for the first time, bought the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. It is amazing to hear how revolutionary and groundbreaking it sounds, for its time, and even for now.

The inside cover talks about how the Beatles wanted to do something different, something that would remake their music, and themselves. In so doing, they remade music itself.
It reminded me about when I was reading the notes to No Direction Home by Bob Dylan where it talked about the impact of Like a Rolling Stone. The combination of the music, lyrics, melody, the length shattered everything that was expected from a rock song, or any song.

As it said, nothing could ever be the same again.

These themes resonate with me because I am looking for my Sgt. Peppers, my Rolling Stone. Something which will remake me, my perspective, my existence heretofore.

In one sense, the birth of my daughter has already done that. But I feel as if I have yet to tap into my creative and intellectual energies.

I saw the Namesake last week, and the film really moved me. I cried from the beginning to nearly the end. There are many parallels with my own life: the Bengali immigrant story, the experience of having a namesake. But what moved me was first, the sense of home I felt in seeing this Bengali family on screen. The familiarity, warmth, intimacy, safety, comfort - things that maybe I don’t fully feel at home now. It’s better, but seeing the film made me reminisce about my growing up. That is not to say that my upbringing was some utopia. Far from it. But that’s for another story.

More importantly, was the quest of Gogol to find himself. He who was named by his father after the author Gogol. His father’s words echo in my head, Explore the world, you will never regret it.

For long, Gogol did not embrace his past, but his father’s death forces him to confront it, and then the breakup of his marriage gives him the jolt to go and explore his past, himself, and who is to be.

I am looking to find myself. I am searching to find what inspires me, motivates me, thrills me.

I am looking for my breakthrough moment which will liberate me or begin the process of liberation. Maybe it has already begun.

Finding the steps towards my liberation and having the courage to take those steps, that would be the greatest accomplishment of my life, the greatest accomplishment of any life.

And so what if I've been able to fix this post the way I like it, for this morning’s travails, to hell with Blogger.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Art Can Be the Way People Live

"We can approach our lives as artists, each and every one of us," he said. "It's a choice people have. You don't have to make houses the way people always have. If you choose to, you can make every action a creative act."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Your Soul to Keep

I’ve been hearing my biological clock tick since I was a small child. Not so much the negative pressure to have children before it’s too late that most associate with the clock, but more the positive yearning to have a baby in my life, a little wriggly thing for which I could care and watch grow into a little being.

I am an only child and this explains some of the yearning. I was an intensely lonely child and it seemed to me that only a baby brother or sister could pierce that loneliness. It was not that I was unloved by my parents, it’s just that I was alternately bathed in 125 percent of their gaze, concern, and attention and then lost them completely to the social-cultural work that they did nearly every weekend for a good part of my childhood. In my grand plan, I would win an ally, someone to divert parental attention while I did what I did on my own – read, listen to songs on the radio, watch TV – and who would give me someone to play with and talk to on the afternoons after school when my mom was not at home or at the church halls where my parents organized meetings and events for the Indian community. I think in my early vision of this eventuality, I pictured a boy who was like me in physical description and mental disposition but different too, perhaps a little more mischievous and garrulous.

At a young age (I seem to tie all significant occurrences in my childhood to when my dad was 42 and I was 8, for no apparent reason other than the understanding of age that I gained at that point in time) I used to ask my parents why I could not have a little brother. My mother – starting a mode of relation that would repeat itself over and over until the time that coincided with the start of my first adult relationship in college – revealed too much in response. In 1972 there had been another baby, a little boy, he had died in a miscarriage, caused by the stress on my mom imposed by her sister-in-law in New Jersey, and while my mom was in the hospital my father had gone to a family gathering celebrating his brother’s birthday (items 1 and 2 on my mother’s bill of particulars against my father). The lost fetus had no sex but I pictured a miniaturized boy like myself, lost in a puddle of human matter and blood. We had been so close and then things had gone terribly awry. I came to understand that my parents had been unable to conceive since then (again, too much goddamned information).

When we went to India in 1980, we decided to adopt a child. My mother’s sister in Bombay had adopted a little boy whom we all loved and she connected us with an agency. We met a social worker at her office in the central city and she interviewed each of us in succession. She was beautiful, modern, English-speaking, and she seemed to care and want the best for us and the little children that were in her charge. She asked me why I wanted a sibling, and I said I wanted a little brother, “someone to play with and stuff.” She gently explained to me that when a family already had a boy it was their policy to make a girl available for adoption. That was a new thought for me. I thought: What do girls do? Would she play with me? Yes, she too would relieve me of my loneliness. I would be a big brother and protect her and she would think I was the greatest big brother in the whole world. That would be pretty cool. (I would have read The Bridge to Terabithia by this point and may have thought of the sweet relationship that developed between the boy and his little sister in the novel.) I was on-board with having a sister and let the beautiful social worker know it.

The social worker came to visit my grandfather’s flat – where we stayed on visits with another of my dad’s brothers and his big, bossy wife – as a proxy for the home visit that she was required to make prior to adoption. My kaka and kaki had no children and had cared for my father’s mother while she was bedridden with arthritis for nine years until she died in 1976. Now they took care of my grandfather, who was quiet, authoritative, and quick to anger. But he was sweet to me and we had become very close when he had visited the U.S. for most of 1977. I remember leaning into the folds of his soft dhoti cloth, listening to his stories from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and taking in the not-unpleasant smell of snuff, which he carried in a little tin box with a flip-top. The flat was a somewhat dingy three rooms and a great blue veranda, sink in the entrance hallway, the toilet a hole in the floor with a wooden chair placed on top. My grandfather would bathe me every day using buckets of hot water that my uncle collected in the morning. The putative purpose of the social worker’s visit was that she was a college friend of my mom and wanted to spend some time with her. (My parents had decided not to reveal their plan to anyone until things were closer to final.) She sat in our living room and was friendly and observant. Then she left and we hopefully anticipated her approval of our application.

The little baby was tiny and my mother held her in the backseat with the social worker and my masi while I sat in the front and strained to look at her. She was wearing an old-fashioned pink bonnet and was swathed in a blanket. I think she was born small and fragile. We took her to a doctor for a check-up and then returned her to the social worker until all was final and we could take her back with us to the U.S. Later, my parents would discuss whether she was especially pretty or not: my mom would say yes, my dad would say no, not especially.

She never made the trip and we came back to our house in suburban New York sadder and a little more broken then before we had left. My grandfather had said that he would fast to death if we brought the child to his home and the immigration rules dictated that my mom would have to remain in India with the child for up to six months, which of course was long enough for my grandfather to bring his threat and curse to pass. My grandfather said that he was opposed because the child’s status was unknown and it was likely that she was born of a prostitute, thus lowering our family’s status in society (as if our extended family did not have enough degrading scandals under his leadership) and that he feared that the girl and I would have illegitimate relations at some point (again, highly ironic and ugly in light of certain family history in the generation before my father’s). My parents gave in then. It’s only recently that I have understood how they betrayed themselves and their marriage in that moment. You face a situation and make a decision, and it permanently alters and colors your life, until the moment you die. (When my grandfather died in 1994 when I was in law school, I chose to interview with corporate firms for a summer job rather than make the trip to India for the funeral.)

As I have aged into my thirties, a few of my girlfriends have questioned my desire, burning just under the surface, to have children. In my two most recent serious relationships, that desire has been perceived as undermining my feelings for them. Am I with them so that I could have children? Did I really love them? My unrequited yearning has collided with their feelings of anxiety about childbirth and their contemplated loss of self. It doesn’t help that I used a picture of myself with the infant daughter of a friend for my internet dating profile or that my gaze is drawn to every baby and child that we cross on sidewalks and in restaurants.

Many of my friends have had children (most are on their second now) but only one has given me an official role in his daughter’s life, as a godfather. Unfortunately, now three years old, she is across the country but I keep up with her (with a tender heart) through my friend’s blog. (Most recently, she got up from her big girl bed in the middle of the night and fell asleep on a pile of laundry in the hallway.) The couple above me just had a little girl and I hear her plaintive little cries when I am putting myself down at 3 in the morning, after a night of internet surfing or work or drinking with friends. It makes me happy to know that she’s there, above me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Who am I? Lost and Not Found.

I want to write a definitive statement of who I am. I don't like myself. That is not entirely true; I like my spirit and what that represents. But how that spirit manifests into my personality, crystallizes into human form, I don't like.

In realizing how I feel, I am apt to blame others - my wife, for presenting a difficult and challenging presence in my life, although I would face those difficulties and challenges nonetheless; - my parents, for not guiding me to understand my personality, my depression, and the fact that my happiness should be paramount. It is easy to blame, of course. But ultimately, I assume the final responsibility of how I feel.
And since I assume the final responsibility, only I can change and transform how I feel and myself. The problem is that the paths towards those changes and transformations are paths I don't know or don't see, and the ones that I do see are ones in which I stand paralyzed from taking steps.

That is why I feel like a failure; I don't seem to be able to get out of this paralysis. I think this is why people contemplate suicide, because they live with pain, and they can't bear it anymore, and don't see how the pain will ever end.

I have a daughter, and I know to her, I am no failure. But how do I live for myself.

I was really moved to start writing here after hearing a NPR piece about depression by someone my age, 35, who deals with it. He even analogizes the Matrix, which led my wife to question whether I actually was the author.
My wife, she is a good person. A rough personality, particularly for me, but a good heart and soul. S he deserves so much better, a loving, affectionate, enthusiastic husband, who is a good provider, all the things that I can't seem to be.

I probably deserve better too, the chance to feel better about myself. But how? How do you make that happen?

Writing is a release, a means, not necessarily the panacea. I am lost and not found.

The real question is who am I? Who is lostandfound? Attorney, intellectual, family man, political, community person, who am I? How will I remember my life and how will I be remembered?
As someone who suffered and in the process, helped a few folks along the way?

If I am not meant to do anything great, whatever that means, than should I not at least find my inner happiness? Isn't that the ultimate measure of greatness or success, even if you achieve worldly greatness.
That is why I feel as if I failed or am failing. I can't seem to find happiness.

So then what? I am lost and not found.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Why Three Burials - Redux

I'm happy to be writing now on this new site with my buddies. I may not be able to transfer my previous posts here, but I'll provide this link: Three Burials, and repost my first post plus the comments, including the fabulous rap by ganesh, as I continue my explorations here.

Originally Posted December 14, 2006

I chose Three Burials because I decided I would try to keep a blog around the time I saw the Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, the movie by Tommy Lee Jones. This blog is not a tribute to that film but I found the title to be an apt metaphor on which to choose a title.

That being said, I did find the movie to be well done. Some friends had good but not glowing reviews. I admired it as a testament to one man's devotion to a promise made to a friend and his own sense of justice.

For me, Three Burials represent the three times in my life in which I have faced major or near major depressive episodes. At least these were the three most identifiable times. Before the first time, which was a couple of years out of school, it is possible I had some minor shocks or episodes but I did not recognize it as such. The second time was two years into my marriage, and the third was earlier this year.

In this metaphor, each episode is akin to a death. Hence the Three Burials. But from those deaths, there is creation. And that is what I hope this blog will serve as - a forum for creative expression and thought, and observations about politcs, society, and life. That is being very broad, I know. But that's how I see it now.

So a burial need not be an endpoint, but a doorway to another realm. Some call it reincarnation, others see it as a resurrection, but in either form, it is creation. This blog is not meant to glorify or romanticize death by any means, particularly the notion of death as taking one's life. Rather, I am trying to look at how depressive times can be like one being in a cocoon, and as the time passes, something beautiful emerges.

Well, anyway, I may just go ahead and change the title if this whole thing gets too morbid.

Since this is my first post, I thank Ganesh at Brooklyn Masala and PJAddict for encouraging me to write, even if it is a few sentences. I hope I will continue to keep posting and not be one of those blogs (who have taken all the cool names) where the posts have stopped a few years ago, but the damn cool names are still taken.

See ya later.


Ganesh said...
right on, buddy! this is great, and you express yourself really well!
December 14, 2006 5:55 PM

lbc said...
you're the man. i've bookmarked your site and am now going to check it 20 times a day, like i do with brooklynmasala. it's nice to have talented brothers. . . .
December 14, 2006 8:29 PM

Ganesh said...
ok, i'll admit that i live on this site now. i've stopped eating and spend my days in prayer for more blog posts. keep 'em coming, big guy! ok, i'm ordering take-out now.
December 15, 2006 9:41 AM

Ganesh said...
take-out was tasty but not as tasty as more posts. yummm....D-lish, baby!
December 15, 2006 9:58 AM

Ganesh said...
This is what I wrote on the way to work this morning:

Yo, yo! One, two, one two.
Yeah, I'm a blogger.
I'm hip to that fact.
I can't paint worth shit,
and don't ask me to act.

I just write words
to make the ladies swoon,
profound thoughts
to make your mind go BOOM!

Now there're two fly gents
I'd be happy to see
Enter the Blogosphere

Yo, yo! One, two, one two.
Yo, yo! One, two, one two.

Hold it, man! What's that sound?
It's the new beat rhythms
of lostandfound!

My boy's tearing up
the blogosphere
Shoutin' out in Queens

But what the fuck's up
with that motherfuckin' name?
He ain't lost for shit!
My boy's in his game

with eloquent words
to express his day.
Instead of mere black and white,
he shows us the gray!

Respect the gray...Respect the gray...

Yo, man, spit out the ground
you just fuckin' licked'
cause sauntering over
is smooth PJAddict!

He gets his name from a Seattle band
that he followed 'cross the States,
singing notes in every land.

When my boy starts his blog,
he'll school us soon on songs.
Fuck that art and law shit, man...
Let's go right us some wrongs!

So these are my boys
in the GetFreshFunBunch.
We always meet for dinner
'cause we ain't got time for lunch!

Yo, i said we always meet for dinner
'cause we ain't got time for lunch!

December 15, 2006 11:50 AM

lostandfound said...
ganesh,that was awesome. i didn't know you wrote such amazing rap, but of course, rap is nothing but poetry put to beats, and poetry flows out of ganesh like honey out of a bee.

rap on! rock on!

lostandfound, maybe i'll switch to lnf
December 15, 2006 4:20 PM

Ganesh said...
post today, bro, even if it's just a few sentences.
December 18, 2006 9:27 AM

tamasha said...
OK, I just almost died laughing reading these comments.

The elephant-man is right - keep them coming!
January 1, 2007 10:03 PM

lostandfound said...
thanks tamasha, the elephant man (i like that name) has mad skills, an inspiration to us all.
January 2, 2007 12:50 PM

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Neon Bible

Been listening to Neon Bible on my way to and from work in my new (used) trusty Honda Civic. It's a pretty astounding record:

* Though (2) Keep the Car Running is rousing and urgent, the record really starts with the quiet and dark (3) title track
* Everyone has heard (4) Intervention and it is even better clean (and without the annoying DJ at the end!), the pattern of a build-up to an almost-orchestral close reoccurs on this record over and over and never gets monotonous
* (6) Ocean of Noise is the first great timeless song on the record, stunning musically and lyrically, even better than the excellent Crown of Love on Funeral, it sounds like the accompaniment to one of Ganesh's outstanding personal posts on Brooklyn Masala, ending with wailing, mournful horns and strings
* I hear the influence of Joy Division and New Order in (7) The Well and the Lighthouse, but maybe it's in the ear of the beholder, as the breakdown is more doo-wop than British postpunk
* Critics keep saying (8) (Antichrist Television Blues) is Springsteenesque, maybe it's the first person "Dear God I'm a good Christian man," the despair and desperation of a man losing his faith in the face of the conditions of his life
* (9) Windowsill is the second great timeless song on this record, anchored by the refrain "I don't want to live in my father's house no more," maybe the best song in circulation about life in the Bush years ("I don't want to fight in a holy war"), it's about leaving Texas and taking refuge in Montreal, the paradoxical power of modern music ("MTV, what have you done to me?"), with a simple metronomic guitar chime as its foundation, the lyrics rise and fall majestically, like seeing the valleys and mountains of the Canadian Rockies from the air

* Like Keep the Car Running, (10) No Cars Go is hopeful in the midst of the dark observations of the other songs, it is also rousing and compelling, reminiscent of Rebellion(Lies) on the last album, the multiple musical parts (including a fluttery flutist at the breakdown) are wonderful and create an aural soundscape for the escape ("Women and children, let's go!/orphans, let's go!"), closing with the patented chorus of AF voices and a lifting orchestral arrangement
* (11) My Body is a Cage is the third great timeless song on the record, fusing the personal and political themes of the record, despondent ("I'm living in an age/that calls darkness light") but hopeful ("My mind holds the key"), listen for the full power of the pipe organ at 2:10 and a final upward, swooping turn at 3:35 with a moving organ part that is a fitting end to this record

I want to compare Neon Bible to Joshua Tree, but it wouldn't be entirely correct. The great songs on NB are greater than on JT, though JT is a total masterpiece from first song to last and this record picks up steam as it progresses. Maybe it's more the lyrical content, the feeling beneath the songs, and the creative musicality (it would be a treat to have AF produced by Eno/Lanois at some point). I hope that when you get the record, you enjoy it as much as I do.