Moving through it

Moving through it

It is easy to find despair in all things right now. I know this is an exceptional bummer and a helluva way to start a newsletter, especially after writing about Elliott Smith last week which led at least three people to write and say "hey, you okay?"


But that's kind of part of being alive.

We don't always get to be okay, but we can sometimes choose how we move through it.

I think it's easy to find despair as our cups overflow. I, like many, have been reading the news out of Gaza every single day and every one of those days I feel broken and saddened beyond belief. That so many lives are lost to the violence we are witness to in videos and stills shared to social media platforms and what few news outlets are left to report the story on the ground. There needs to be an immediate ceasefire, Palestinian people should be granted freedom long denied them and the violence and ceaseless death should, must, end.

If you're wondering or perhaps overwhelmed with what you can do to help, can i recommend buying an eSim? It helps Palestinians stay connected, providing virtual SIM cards to connect people to the outside world, to communicate with their families, and to show what’s happening in Gaza.

You can do this through eSims for Gaza HERE

or the Crips for eSims project, a collaboration between Jane Shi, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and Alice Wong, HERE

So what do we do with despair?

I ran again this week.

last fall I got covid for the second time and it did a number on my lungs, which led to some issues with breathing and my capacity to do much of anything. But It was recommended to me by the various specialists I saw that I start to move slowly and carefully to regain the muscle and strength that I lost and after months of walking and elevate heart rates I decided it was time to start running again. And if it is time to start running it is time to make decisions about what is in my headphones as I move.

I wonder how it feels to be a D.C punk rock band.

There is a legacy hidden in those words strung together, the Fugazi of it all, the Minor Threat looming over dimly lit basements captured in stills and memories. There is legacy in so many things, and legacy can be a weight, or it can be a specter lingering in dark corners and I suppose this is something everyone has to learn to manage at some point. How to move through?

Ekko Astral has landed with their new full length Pink Balloons and made themselves known as an incoming force to behold. My feet were still finding their way on the pavement as "Head Empty Blues" rebounded a rhythm back into me, a reverberation of desire that moved my body to shift through the tightness in my chest and the difficulty of breath that used to escape my lungs so easily.

Despair, isolated and studied, can be turned into meaningful action, something righteous and kinetic. I am burdened but moving through it, I am strained but rhythmic. Jael Holzman's voice appears flanked by a fury of guitars and drums moving in perfect lockstep like a trickster god, taunting and teasing. A kind of post-punk fever dream, a band that holds a universe of its own creation in its hand.

There are days that I understand very clearly that my years of run down basements filled with minacious noise are behind me. This is what happens when you leave 40 in the rearview and become in your 40s. This is me now. Sober. Tired a little. Bad lungs. People like me don't go downstairs nearly as often anymore, but it doesn't mean our bodies forget and it doesn't mean we have ceased feeling the heat of bodies shifting in space and time with furious rhythm. We hold the memories and energy of our time in this place and even in our most broken and disparate we can still recall them, and maybe this is what I am taking away from this record as I try and fail to run like I used to.

There is despair that has driven the ideas on this record, but there is more than that. There is the memory of feet on the ground and arms in the air, there is the recollection of love and desire and action and that is felt in every guitar turned loud and every beat measured out by drums that hit like fists on the walls of your chest. Despair that has turned to a need to find how to move ever onwards, even when it is hard and even when it's easy to feel a little numb. This is when we need action, and Pink Balloons is a call to it.

pink balloons, by Ekko Astral
11 track album