Written By: Ash Catcher
I think that is the most stupid generalized, over asked question someone has asked me. So I am gonna rant and rave all about it.
Like art, there is just a shit ton of music out there, for every person's interest, all walks of life, demographics, and languages, which I am listening to Ukrainian 80s synth pop, in a few mins I may be throwing on Mongolian throat singing, and or Japanese industrial music. It varies, and like my moods, that shit's gonna change, like time on a damn clock. I cannot recall a time where I did not have some mild form of social anxiety and musical ADD. I just let that shit flow. I keep reassuring myself if things were more open and you could have just one night out at a club things wouldn’t be so bad. Ya girl's just gotta dance this out. I am not stressed out, I just got something that is knowing away at my psych ya know. I am not sure what it is, but music really has been a saving grace.
On days I am not working, and nights- they’re few and far between, I really want more time to create. I feel like I have been manifesting this moment for a while now but I am pretty set on taking myself and my art further than I ever thought possible. I am very shy when it comes to sharing my art. It's something that I am trying to steadily get over, in addition I am also super shy about what kind of music I share with others as well. Music is such a personal thing for me that I feel like sharing it with another person is super intimate. That's just how I see things. I could sound crazy, bit when I tell other people that sharing music is pretty personal to me, because ya know memories and shit I can tell you for a fact I am not exactly open to sharing 100% with what I listen to with others, um cause some of it is weird as fuck.
I am sure I am not the only one who misses techno, and house music, all the music I have discovered when I was younger is also apparently the taste of a middle aged white man, so I am flattered and semi creeped out. Maybe I should try and branch out. I used to fuck with digital streaming music hard as a kid, my Apple Music library could satisfy me for weeks, and weeks. But after they locked my account I became super bitter about it, and immediately invested in vinyl. I have been collecting them for roughly 15 years now. I have I want to say 100 or so records, I have been obsessed with 7 inches lately. If it's not broke don't fix it. It works, I can find some weird original pieces, which I don't know why is really important to me that I don't have something that someone else has. I guess that is a squirrelly aspect of me I just need to accept. Nut up Ash.
For not being that inspired lately, I can happily say I woke up after sleeping in till about 9 am, fucking unheard of for me, but I just don't listen to music, I listen to my body too, and apparently I am listening to hella indie, and way way too much beach boys. Send help! But maybe just a song suggestion would suffice. Music is that personal additive, its like something a little extra that you add to your coffee that you don't tell your guest, and when they choke on the coffee gasping “Is that cinnamon I taste?” You reply back and say “No, that's the Newest E.P from Pup, it's just as spicy, but way less calories.” I am not sure my humor can translate via text very well.
Whatever I would be dead without music, like WAY more dead than I already am.
See ya next Weds!
I originally wanted to make this into a Things I Like video about Airborne Toxic Event's self-titled album for our YouTube channel. Then that idea was whittled down to just being about their hit “Sometime Around Midnight” (and I don't care if that makes my taste basic—the song is a masterpiece). Then that idea resulted into a flood of other ideas I thought would be a big enough deal to warrant an article. Before I get into it, I do want to talk about how much I love it, and I promise I'm going somewhere with this.
“Sometime Around Midnight” is a story compressed into a five-minute and four-second song. Basically, Mikel Jollett runs into his ex at a bar and realizes he's still in love with her. She's acting like she's having the greatest time in the world with some other guy, while he's remembering how she looked when she was his.
The beat starts off slow as he's describing the encounter. He starts getting bolder when he sees her leave with someone he doesn't know and his blood's boiling and his stomach's in ropes. Then in the most angst-filled way he shouts, “Then you walk under the streetlights / And you're too drunk to notice that everyone's / Staring at you / You just don't care what you look like / The world is falling around you.” Then he ends with telling himself over and over again “You just have to see her” even though he knows it'll break him in two.
Outside of the genius lyrics, angsty vocals, and master instrumentals, there was something else I liked about this song, but I couldn't articulate it right away.
Finally I realized I liked it because I had this experience too. This song was one of the things that helped me get through every past breakup. I felt understood. I couldn't imagine not having this song in my life at that time. Yeah, I'd survive it and move on, but there's something so special about a song that resonates with you when you need it.
Back in 2012 when I was getting ready to graduate, budget cuts to our arts programs (among others) were finally coming around—or at least, finally being talked about publicly. Around the same time my school was shoving the going to college route down our throats on top of pushing kids towards math and science fields. My family was also telling me to study something practical, instead of art. I genuinely think they both meant well. The school was probably just looking at stats and saw the growing need to fill those jobs in the next few years. My family wanted to make sure I could get a job. I get it.
Science and math make vital contributions to our lives on a daily basis that I am grateful for, but hear me out: Not everything you do is required to result in massive change that affects the lives if billions of people. That's a lot of pressure. By no means does art cure disease, stabilize economies, or save the world from meteors.
But that song might mean the world to one person. A poem might help that person put words to what they're feeling and help them make sense of what they're going through. That reassurance that we're not alone unites us. It's invaluable insight—especially now, in a social climate hell-bent on driving us apart and pointing out our differences rather than what we share.
A friend once made a comment that history was written by the winners—those who are first get to write how it happened. The runners-up just get to push the winners' narrative. That story is a recounting of what the winners consider to be important to pass on to future generations.
Art is by the underdogs. (There are some elitist jerks and gatekeepers who say otherwise, but this doesn't include them.) You want know what people cared about? What they were hoping for? Afraid of? Mull over the lyrics to that song, pick up a chapbook or a novel, or go to an art exhibit. Entire art movements sprout up because people want to be heard.
Art exists on the margins outside of statistics. The answers we give can't always be charted or graphed. What gets you through that breakup can't be found under a microscope. Your joy isn't always a result of careful calculation.
Sometimes you just need to be told, “I get it.”
I doubt that's the reaction to “Sometime Around Midnight” that Mikel Jollett intended, but well, here it is.
New year 2021! All new Ash Interviews good good! I am so excited to see what this year brings!
Next time you're reading something, or listening to a song, or watching whatever it is you aren't already endeared to, try writing down your thoughts. Not the ones about the last time you shaved under your arms or if you have enough cheese to make it to the end of the week, the critical ones. How ruthless are you when it comes to new entertainment? Are you looking for the positives or leverage to pull the content down beneath you? This isn't a trap. You very well could be open-minded or accepting. Better yet, imagine everyone in your life judging you in the same way you pass judgment unto others. Is that a scary thought to you or a reassuring one? If it's the former, this silly, pseudo-analytical, slightly hypocritical blog post is for you.
I get angry sometimes, because every time I check, I still have a pulse, yet I find myself stuck in David Foster Wallace's Hell. Everyone is hiding beneath seven layers of irony and eschewing potential in favor of picking the lowest hanging fruit, just to quip about how far down they had to bend in order to grasp it. We have pseudo-criticisms such as Red Letter Media constantly in pursuit of shlock and the propagandist brood of Jon Stewart's Daily Show clipping and recontextualizing news items before sidestepping any criticism sent their way, because after all, they are only comedians. It's criticism without accountability. That's to say nothing against those of us who enjoy our guilty pleasures (though the scripted pundit droogs can take their millions and piss off, considering the damage they've done to modern discourse via the snarkument style they've popularized and their bastardized narratives). I'm a huge fan of B-movies, bad songs, and think Mystery Science Theater 3000 has (or, had, I should say; I refuse to watch the latest seasons) some of the finest comedy writing in television history. At the end of the day, love them or hate them, RLM are successful filmmakers. Many people find comfort in their series and have enjoyed their original movies, which aren't much better than many of the films they lambast on their show, Best of the Worst. Rambling aside, my point is that they are putting their best foot forward and contributing something, even if that foot is wearing an ironic clown shoe.
I'm not sure when this trend (which I very well might just be imagining) began of seeing one's love seat as an authoritative throne. To acknowledge the obvious, yes, anyone can have valid criticism and everyone has the right to an opinion. We know. Some things are so abundantly clear they don't need announced, and some people are so dense they refuse to accept that until they are laid out plain and clear. My point is, if you're on the bench, you have no skin in the game. (I refer you to the analogy of the angry sports fan, beer gut and all, shouting at a famous player on the TV for missing a pass that this couch potato clearly could have caught had it been him.) I'm starting to see myself like a washed-up musician when I hear the sound of scoffing. "Where's your masterpiece? If you're so much better, where's your 'Bohemian Rhapsody?'" It's easy to laugh like you wouldn't make such a mistake when you'd never be willing to even put the effort forth. Maybe it is a diversion of my own but nobody reads my books, so, this rebuttal is never in relation to my personal works. One aside I can't allow myself to exclude is the post-modern trend of blockbuster movies not taking themselves seriously, or, if they dare invest in the stakes of its own narrative risk being branded with the modern scarlet letter of "humorless." The obvious example, as it popularized the quipping trend for modern audiences are the Marvel movies. (Once again, I'm not saying every one of these films is worthless; I enjoy a fair deal of them. I'm merely pointing to a cultural phenomenon with which they are associated.) At times, it feels as though the directors (or should I say, producers) are winking at the audience to say, "We know this is just a comic book movie. We're above it, too." They could take their storytelling more seriously but they're just too fuckin' cool. The issue with this constant quipping is that it's hard to accomplish anything if you don't try in earnest. Sometimes, to win big, you have to go all-in. I would say that Indiana Jones and Star Wars have a great deal of humor by way of quips but also know when to respect their material.
Remember way back, before I went on a schizophrenic tangent about pop culture, when I asked you to write down your thoughts on whatever you're listening to/reading/watching? Now, try making something of your own. See how much effort it takes to write a corny poem, how frustrating it can be to make a shitty movie, how many hours go into writing whatever song your friend posted on Bandcamp that you made fun of behind their back. (Hopefully that last thing hasn't actually happened to anybody.) Hard work is humbling. Behind many of your least favorite movies is a life spent loving cinema. Some of the bands you love to hate the most have gotten someone through a rough time in their lives. That book you pointed out has a typo also has sixty thousand words spelled properly. One of the best pieces of advice I heard for public speaking is that everyone in the audience wants you to succeed. They are on your side. Nobody wants to go to a bad show. Maybe every now and then you will get a heckler but to paraphrase Minor Threat, "At least [you're] fuckin' trying."
-Todd Daniel Crawford
A bridge, the gap. Give me the gist. What the actual fuckity fuck is going on?
P ace, of a god damn snail. It's lonely at the top, but the vibe is higher. Join me someday?
O bsolete that is how you always made me feel. I was never your priority.
L ackadaisical, I am so sick of that part of your personality, or is there someone else home, inside your brain house. Who has the keys? Who runs the shows?
O mnipresent, this maybe extraterrestrial of me but did you feel that? Just now?
G naw, some days are better than others, I don’t think about you as much- other times it's unbearable. Those are blanket days.
I diosyncrasy what do you have like 134723958346-093560 billion of these, and did not tell me.
Z ero in on the better times. I know there were more good times than bad. I try.
E eavesdropping are you? I can hear you. You are not as slick as you think, fish.
A bysmal, describes our conversational skills. We are killing it at silence treatments.
N epotism, fuck your fake ass friends.
D isingenuous, I am beginning to doubt everything you said.
M ayhem, in your head again, up again at 2am. I feel you not sleeping.
E lude my gaze, why can't you look me in the eyes? What did I do to you? What did you do to me?
A bandon, when I needed you, you would always cut, and run.
N ettles. Do you listen to the Arctic Monkeys? I can't stand them but they pop on my Spotify.
I mpasse, we seem to be at a stalemate. I am still not going to be your “friend”. Fuck that.
T haw out, come engage in convos again.The air is too dry, and still between you and I.
O mnipresent, I am everywhere.
K lepto, why did you just feel like you could take everything from me, who the flying fuck do you think you are?
A nd I think I have said all I can.
Y ou need to move your ass.
Ash Wednesday: Adventures in West Philly: Ditched Digs, a look at the expanding unoccupied homes of West Philly
By: Ash Catcher
There is something so beautiful about these abandoned buildings in Philly. They are some of the most mesmerizing and oddly attractive parts about the city that I live in. While I like finding cool places in the suburbs still, and in the mountains, there is nothing like finding something in your backyard. literally. I plan to highlight more abandoned buildings in my photography, as well as my artwork in the upcoming 2021 year. Here are a few shots I took of a row home in West Philly. It is for sale so technically it could be a great starter home or investment property, but given the surrounding area, many homes like these remain abandoned, but still very much “active”.
What I like most about these houses is the stillness, everything in this house, which has always been a very interesting concept for me. The thought of a perminiment home kinda sort of baffles me at times, I am pretty transient, and move around a lot. It's not ideal but it is what it is. I like these homes because at one point or another they housed a lot of souls. These houses have been the stage for weddings, funerals, fights, make ups, break ups, babies and more. A house isn’t a home until it's been broken into. These homes have been stripped of their details, and decor, and put on display. But the memories still remain. I like to envision whoever lived in this house didn’t want to part with it willingly. I am certainly not willing to part with this hobby of mine, I’ll probably continue to do things like this until I am no longer able to hop a fence, or point and shoot a camera.
It’s been super cold lately and one of my hobbies has once again taken a semi back seat due to inclement weather. I got a tip off a friend of mine about this house in West Philly. It looks nothing like Will Smith says it does so thanks Will, thanks alot. This house from what I can tell like most row homes in Philly, and I can happily say that once you have been in one Philly row home you have been in them all, was pretty cleaned out already. No sign of people squatting, it was relatively free of trash, and no squirrels much to my dismay.
I am a sucker for hardwood floors and exposed brick, I have a feeling in a few months this place is going to get scooped up and flipped for more than 3 times it’s asking price. I hope they keep some of the original charm to these houses, I see them all the time for sale when I drive around, even where I live now there are plenty of “condemned”” homes for sale. I wonder why they weren’t more popular. Aren’t we always in some kind of housing epidemic or another? All things to think about.
I really can't wait for warmer weather. There are a few places by me currently that I am trying to visit. A really cool house up the road from me is still abandoned and I am trying to get in that shit as soon as it's warm enough. Hoping there won’t be too much mold and asbestosis. I generally like to go in with as little gear as possible. My camera bag is heavy enough, and I do not want to bring too much in with me, it is always smart to go into these places with another person or thing, but I have been flying solo and doing this by myself for so long I often get super impatient with other people I am Urban Exploring with. It is a really personal thing, and taking on past energies is a big thing for me, I cant have someone blocking my signal, ya dig?
That being said, anyone who has some sweet spots that are still active please send them my way. I am always looking for my fix of abandoned shit.
Hope everyone has a good holiday. I'll be working Christmas Eve like every year haha!
Catch ya later noobs.
Ash Wednesday! My Covid 2020 Schedule: Why I have chosen to consolidate my 60 hr work week into 4 days.
By: Ash Catcher
Photos By: Ellis.
I am pretty sure this year has, like most people changed the way we view and do things in the world. This year, well mostly starting at the end of March I made a conscious choice to stop working longer, (I was pulling 7 day weeks and working 15 plus hrs a day) to work smarter. Here is what I mean, I now have a great schedule, well as great as one can have given all these weird and uncertain times: I have chosen to work only 4 days out of the week and spend the other 3 going off on adventures. (Smartly, masked, and socially distanced) I mean your girl likes living in a highly populated but I’ll be damned if I can't lose cell service out in the woods at least a few times a week. Disconnecting is healthy and good. We need to be doing it more.
So what have I been doing? Where have I been going? People have been complaining to me this year that there is nothing to do. I am sorry that's not how I see things like ever I am a scary optimist when it comes down to things. The woods, and beaches are open, you just got to cross over that no trespassing sign, and I love to read, but I love going somewhere restricted even more, ya dig.
Yesterday I went back to Ricketts Glen State Park (my 3rd time there) to go Ice Hiking, we did a 3hr hike where we were slipping down icy terrain, and left me to tell you that shit was beautiful. All the falls were still going at max capacity, and I honestly could breathe for the first time in awhile. I would rather be doing my own thing any day of the week, I was so happy to share this place with my cold family (myself and my 5 other roommates) . It was quite the party. I would and hope that we go hiking again before it gets WAY too cold, but thanks to global warming slowly creeping its head in December more people are out then ever. It is a little bizarre but I rarely ran into anyone else on the trail.
This made for a great escape from my hectic as fuck week, I stopped my night job due to the indoor dining restrictions put in place, so that was a nice surprise. In all honesty 2020 you were quite a year but as one of my roommates just said to me “ You need to take a hike” I just roll with the punches now and try not to act surprised when some new regulation changes my life in some semi glazed detrimental way. I know the woods will always be there, and there is still so much to explore.
Catch you next Wednesday!
Written By: Ash Catcher
Anxiety is something I used to really struggle with, as this year progresses and it gets closer to the holiday season I can see people tensing up, and getting anxious. My anxiety usually happens in social situations, thank goodness it's been over a year since I have had an anxiety attack, but my SADS certainly doesn't help with my anxiety. The ups are ups and the downs are downs so here is a quick tribute to my anxiety, it's just a apart of me but it is not the WHOLE part of me.
I'm miserable because of you,
making plans and not following through.
You have me feeling as though I am alone.
I don't feel safe unless I'm at home.
I see a stranger on the street,
want to say hi but too scared to speak.
What are they staring at?
Something must be wrong...
Is there a stain on my shirt?
Is my nose too long?
I'm shaking, find an exit, I must retreat!
Here they come! Here they come!
Quick, I must flee!
People keep telling me that I am fine
but I am not,
not in my mind.
A lump in my throat makes it so hard to swallow.
Pains in my chest consume me with sorrow.
I lay awake, restless, hoping maybe,
just maybe this will all be gone
Written By: Ash Catcher
I hope everyone had a thankful thanksgiving! I was thankful because I had the pleasure of getting out of Philly for a few days, and pandemic aside, I was safe and wore my mask, social distanced, and washed my hands like I have been preaching to all of and any kid I had the unfortunate fortune of teaching (both in English and in Russian) I got to get away, blast it past route 76 into god only knows country where it's clear the election is still in full swing still? Um guys I am not getting political this is as political as I am gonna get, but I think there was a clear winner. Just saying anyway let's do a take down break down of my pandemic travels: I also rocked out to hella 80s music. By the end of my travels I felt like I traveled back in time. I had a freakin blast!
The World's Largest Coffee Pot: There are few things I love more in this world then coffee and ever since I have parted my way with alcohol and reluctantly but thankful cigarettes on more than one occasion my addiction to coffee has been sky high. I drank way too much coffee on this trip, even slummed it a few times to Starbucks. I am not proud of who I have become. I was proud however to have visited the worlds largest coffee pot, to my fucking utter horror had no coffee in it at all, not even a cafe. Not cool world's largest coffee pot containing an administrative office, and an abandoned gift shop, not cool. The few proud dudes with rifles were a nice added touch tho, good job Bedford County, I can now happily cross this off my bucket list, and put this dream to bed.
Next on my list was I finally got my ass to Lake Erie, I visited the only beach state park in Pennsylvania. It did not disappoint. Presque Isle State Park did not disappoint, the bay side was warm of all heck, but the beach side. She was a cruel mistress. Windiest day of my life 3 jackets and two hats later and I can still not feel my feet. Oddly enough Erie was super genderfied in certain areas, but I expect that with most small towns. The rocks for my rock collection were bombs. Flattest thing I ever found, I just couldn’t skip them, the waves were TOO DAMN HIGH! Over 6hrs from my first destination. I saw a lot of PA, A LOT OF IT! I didn’t get a souvenir in Erie, the view from my room was enough for me!
On Saturday I went to see Pittsburgh, I never been but It was fucking practacly abandoned when I got there on a Saturday morning and I can safely walk across the street, in Philly I would have been ran over twice already. People are really freakin nice in Pittsburgh. The architecture is also something I was a bit perplexed about; it was like some little kid took a bunch of legos from different play sets and just built a freestanding city. Lots of bridges. I liked that alot and the Indian food I got for lunch was delicious. I liked this City but it was all over the place. 10/10 I would come back for a Penguins game or a baseball game. Idk why you guys are obsessed with pirates? The graffiti and street art was choice!
The last leg of my Gonzo Tour led me to somewhere my 6th grade self Fallingwater, If you don't know which I expect not a lot of people do, this was Frank Loyd Wright’s Summer home. This thing is a party house built into a side of a waterfall, I can only imagine the fuckery that happened here. I would love to have something like this one day. The arctcur3e was gorgeous and for the time to have a mostly cement house built into the side of a mountain with all the exposed bricks, grottos, doo dads, and a hilltop garage / studio this baby had all the bells and whistles and more. I got a magnet at the gift shop. It's on my fridge now and I get super jazzed when I pass it to get a snack.
I had a rocking time escaping to the beach, the woods, and another city. I love traveling as long as I plan to do so safely, and taking certain precautions during this year I will continue to do so.
I'll catch ya next Wednesday!
- Ash Catcher
Photo Credit: Shane Cochran.
See ya next Wednesday!