Skip to content
July 27, 2010 / chrisisgross

On Nostalgia

Over the weekend of the 17-18th I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite bands, Pavement,  play a reunion show(though in fact I cheated and saw them a month before in Berkeley) in Chicago.

Before going to see them I was on the record as not being a big fan of the reunion show phenomenon. Especially the recreation of an album in its entirety reunion sub-genre and truth be told I still think it’s a pretty odd artificial musical experience. In reality the bands who had come back before this were all one’s that I liked, but had never seen live when they started out. I had no live visceral connection to them. For me they existed in a personal recorded way that I am loath to share with others. However, with Pavement I had seen them a few times before they stopped playing and the part of me that wanted to rekindle that excitement of the live show still existed.

In many ways a lot of the excitement I felt 10+ years ago was still there during their set, but for me there was a disconnect. Maybe some of it came from the rumored fact that the band is not planning on doing anything new and this is strictly a reunion tour. If it was a one-off show there might have been the thrill of that one last time. In this case it is just one of many shows and in this case the set list was very similar to the one I had already heard. Some level of the performance seemed dishonest to my nostalgic memory of previous shows.

As I have thought about that show and specifically the concept of nostalgia I have realized that nostalgia is in itself a dishonest act. The memory that you have created, shaped, idealized and reshaped again is not going to be re-created. It is inherently dishonest of the viewer to expect the artist to even attempt to recreate the past. Evolution is not an expectation, but a norm in both art and humanity. The work is a representation of that moment and the movement of time makes it an impossibility to recreate the past.

Music is the rare art form whereby the artist is asked to perform the specific piece of art anew. Painters, writers and other artists grab onto the zeitgeist and translate inspiration into a form. Once that form is created the piece stands. The artist is not asked to continue to make the same piece of art again unless of course they are a musician.

Now having performed as a musician at one time in my life I can say from experience that a song or musical piece is never the same twice. So in some sense what I am arguing is still true for music, but it is only in music that the audience want the artist to try to mimic their art exactly. Musicians are not allowed in many cases to evolve by the audience. The concept of the Sophomore Slump that a bands second record is somehow weaker then the first due to artistic evolution, would be laughable in any other medium. Artist’s are expected to try, fail and grow. With a paying audience standing in front of  them the musician is caught in between the desire to please an audience and to grow as an artist.

Nostalgia is a trap that we as an audience have fallen into. We are now nostalgic for things that happened a month, a week or even a day ago. We are dooming artists to complacency; we are dooming ourselves to boredom.

July 26, 2010 / chrisisgross

Gonna do this again

Been thinking of doing more writing again. Gave me pause to take a look at this blog to see what has been going on since I abandoned it a long while back. Still clocking page views and to top it off I had an incredibly kind comment encouraging me to get back to writing.

So what that means in my usual verbose style is that I am gonna start using this site again for some long form blog posting. I intend on starting a tumblr to do more short link/video stuff as well. However, I this site will be for longer things in the future.

November 4, 2008 / chrisisgross

Barack Obama

From the time that I first saw him(at the time I was a Biden/Dodd backer), back in February,and felt the electricity of the man to now I can not even begin to say how happy I am about the results of the Presidential election.

This was the fourth Presidential election that I have participated in. I am 30 now, I first voted for Clinton at 18 and watched Bush steal two elections from the American people. My faith, belief and hope have been shattered over the last 8 years. The American Dream that brought my grandfather here felt out of reach to me. While I am still personally struggling the one thing that I felt from Obama was honestly, Hope.

Our standing in the world is going to be restored. Our belief in our self is going to be restored. I know it’s a slogan(and really Obama’s were exceptional), but this is change I believe in.

Good night and Good luck

November 4, 2008 / chrisisgross

I voted!

Another month another post….

So the lady and I got up early got some coffee got in line and voted. We got there a little after 7:30 to our polling place that was in the lobby area of the hospital next door. By that time there were already people voting on the floor, on couches and in the booths. They were out of booths and by the time we signed in they were out of the voting pens.

Not wanting to have my vote be invalidated I waited a little extra to make sure that I got the official pen though they were saying that any black ink marker would work( like a Sharpie). So I have done my civic duty. It took about a half an hour and at 8 a.m. I was already the 55th person to vote.

While the Presidential election was oobviously the big draw, but there are so many big ballot propositions here that the polls are going to be packed. The early voting numbers have been huge and today is a very exciting day.

October 4, 2008 / chrisisgross

Sarah Palin’s Debate Prep

Since life and work seem to be getting in the way of blogging it has been a bit. Don’t have a lot to expound on for the moment just found this and had to post it.

September 20, 2008 / chrisisgross

Not Dead Yet

Just very badly burned.

It’s been a bit since I have updated this site. Since that time I am working full time(temporarily) and I have been a touch on the sleepy side so blogging has not had a lot of room in the routine. A bunch of good stuff besides getting paid has happened. As of right now the Red Sox are one win away from making the playoffs again, the apartment has come together(we’ve even had guests), my tomatoes are dying, we are seriously looking at getting a pet and all in all we feel more a part of this city than we have.

Part of feeling like we are a part of this communit is participating in cultural events. On Thursday I went with my main man Zac to see(hear?) Junot Diaz speak at the Herbst Theater as a part of City Arts and Lectures.

For those of you unfamiliar with his work he is the author of a collection of short stories, Drown, and most recently the Pulitzer Prize winning, Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. His work is an interesting look into the worlds of the Dominican diaspora especially the effects of the Trujillo regime(particularly in the novel) on the Dominican, as well as the lives of outsiders in an outsider community.

Oscar Wao is the main protagonist of the novel though he is not the narrator. Diaz spoke eloquently about this during his interview showing the bright academic intellect that he is. It made me feel like I was back in class soaking in the ideas of post-modern fiction and academia. He spoke of informing the work with an unreliable narrator because one of the over arching themes of the novel is how easily we believe an authoritative figure. In this case the fiction of the dictator of The Dominican Republic was comforting to many of the people during his reign. The people comforted themselves by becoming a part of this fiction. By using the unreliable character of Junior to recite the story to the reader you as the reader are expected to do the work.

Or as Diaz put it in response to a question about the accuracy of the footnotes he uses(one of which tells you later that that one of the first footnotes was wrong) “Fuck. You’ve got to do the work Motherfucker!” I am obviously paraphrasing since I was only listening and not taping the presentation.

If you want to hear his language(coding as he referred to it) KQED runs the interviews on air(Diaz is 11/10), but to me it was a wonderful blend of Jersey with Academia that could switch into Dominican Spanish. He even spoke of the notion that he was not truly comfortable in either language having learned Spanish first and that starting and living in English since he was 6. He was always aware of the construct of each language having to think about his words before he speaks them. The natural fluidity of language is foreign to him.

There is so much more to explore, but to keep this from turning into an academic paper I will spare you, but if you want to know more get the books and we can chat.

September 5, 2008 / chrisisgross


About an hour ago we had a pretty nice bump. My second earthquake. Nothing else really to report it was only a few seconds. 4.0 on the Richter Scale