SOUNDTRACK: SONIC YOUTH-“Rather Ripped” (2006).
When Rather Ripped came out, I was really excited by it. It rocked heavy, it was catchy and it featured a lot of Kim. I listened to it all the time, and would have said it was my favorite SY disc of this era. However, listening to Sonic Nurse reminded me how much I liked that one too, so I’m unclear now which one I like better.
Jim O’Rourke left the band, so they’re back to a 4 piece. And the overall sound of the album is more minimal. There’s less squalling feedback (although there are noisy parts). And the song structures are tighter. It sounds more like a punk album that a jazz album. It’s a great release.
“Reena” is so instantly catchy, it’s an amazing opener. And it’s followed by “Incinerate” which might be even more catchy. A simple guitar riff and a beautiful chord progression. “Do You Believe in Rapture?” is a delicate guitar-harmonics filled song. The only thing that keeps it from being totally poppy are the off-kilter harmonics between verses.
It’s followed by the screaming noise guitars of “Sleepin’ Around.” This has some amazing tom-filled drums from Steve Shelley which really propel the song along. It eventually morphs into a pretty straightforward chugga-chugga song until the noise solos in the middle. “What a Waste” is a lo-fi rocker with Kim singing angrily. It’s followed by Kim’s more delicate/sexy “Jams Run Free,” a rather tender guitar line. And, with Kim playing more guitar, I’m wondering if she’s writing these more delicate guitar riffs? They seem kind of bass-like rather than the complex lines that Lee typically writes. I’ll never know.
“Rats” is a noisy Lee song that I’m quite fond of. It’s immediately followed by an even more delicate Kim song, “Turquoise Boy.” This is a slow ballad that is quite surprising. “Lights Out” continues the quiet mood with Thurston’s own brand of sinister/seductive singing.
“The Neutral” continues Kim’s delicate singing. While “Pink Steam” is a beautiful six minute near-instrumental that Thurston reins in with great vocals at the end. “Or” ends the disc in a quiet frame of mind.
I’m still undecided if I like Nurse or Ripped better. But I am delighted by this new style that SY has been playing with.
[READ: September 17, 2009] Infinite Jest (completed!)
Hal is remembering the ’98 blizzard (which I actually tried to remember if I had been in Boston for and then realized that ’98 came after the book was written…Doh!)
It was the year that E.T.A. opened and they moved from Weston to E.T.A. The Moms was attached to the Weston house so she dragged things out.
And the carpeting in Hal’s dorm room is the Lindisfarne Gospels with pornography in the weaves. (See, Hal did like Byzantine porn–gosh, when was THAT discussed?).
Hal remembers the Weston house in stills rather than movies, as he doesn’t have Mario’s memory for detail. But when he thinks back to Himself sitting there, legs crossed but feet still on the floor, shaving with Noxzema, he can’t even comprehend him so much as thinking of a homosexual love scene like in Accomplice!
Hal thinks back to other things in Weston, like him eating mold–although he doesn’t remember it, it’s all from Orin’s story. And then he thinks back to another story Orin had told him. Back when E.T.A. first opened and Orin and his pals were like 15, they were caught with a good old fashioned porn videotape. James’ response was more of sadness than anger. He told Orin that he hoped he wouldn’t watch it until he’d actually made love to a woman, so that the porn wouldn’t impact his worldview of sex from this point forward.
Orin laughed because his dad thought he was a virgin. But Hal felt sad about the whole thing because James was actually trying to be honest with Orin–in a way he never was with Hal–and Orin didn’t see it.
Wayne pops his head in towards Hal. Hal thinks of Wayne as a machine, able to control his breathing and even his pupil dilation, which is really creepy on court. And he knows that the Moms and Wayne have been sexual since like his second week here. Then he imagines all the people he knows she’s been sexual with (and there are many, including Uncle Charles). And in each scene she lies there motionless staring at the ceiling, with the only emotion coming later when she tries to keep it a secret.
And then, because with twenty pages left we wanted a section about someone we didn’t know anything about, we get a brief story of addict Mikey whose temper prevents him from seeing his own son (who supposedly got his cast off, finally).
When JvD walks home (knowing that Steeply is following her) she sees the A.D.A. cruiser parked at E.T.A. Turns out that the A.D.A. is confessing to Pat that he needs to forgive Gately, the man who did THAT with the toothbrushes to him and his beloved wife. He admits that his wife had the OCD neuroses long before Gately violated them. In both of their best interests, in order to get past the events, he has to let Gately go. He has already agreed to drop Gately’s case, but he can’t bring himself to forgive him. Yet.
And then back to 11/20 and the party.
They are going to move the tennis matches to MIT’s indoor courts. And rumor has it that the Quebec team is really adults…. in wheelchairs!
Hal is getting his ankle wrapped up, his face alternating between hilarity and a painful grimace and all the while he’s talking like normal. The man taping him up is Barry Loach.
Barry Loach’s back story comes through. The mom of the super-Catholic Loach family hoped one of her kids would become a priest or nun. No one had so far, and Barry is last in line. His next older brother professed a desire to join the order, so Barry could pursue his dream of sports medicine. But then his brother had a crisis of faith.
In trying to persuade him to stay in the seminary, Barry agrees to an experiment: sit in a T station like a bum and ask that somebody just touch him. Nobody does (although he gets a lot of money). He stays that way for nine months, growing more and more indigent and homeless-like, including failing out of his classes for sports medicine. He is on the verge of spiritual collapse when good old Mario walks up. Mario doesn’t realize why he shouldn’t touch the creepy homeless man, so he does. And, long story short, Barry gets a job at E.T.A. despite not having finished his degree. No word on if the brother went back to the seminary.
And then we’re back to Orin. Orin is trapped in an upside down glass. The Swiss hand model, the wheelchair guy and Lurie P_____ are standing outside. This all parallels very closely to Orin’s own proclivity for trapping roaches that we saw in the opening scenes; then these AFR folks suddenly open a door and drop, ew, an unlimited number of roaches in with him.
Back at St, E’s, Gately is feverish. And so he floods his memory back to that final day with Fax. He sees Pamela in a tree outside their window. Then he sees C. out there too. C. busts the glass open and climbs in. C. surveys the scene, kicks Gately in the balls and then opens the door for the rest of his crew: punk Asians and trannies in leather jackets.
C. says they all know that Gately’s not responsible for what Fax did, so he should just sit back and enjoy the show. They put the TP back on the wall, remove the Flames video and insert a video of Sorkin in his anti-headache commercial. (Remember we read about them like 8 weeks ago?) His cranio-facial footage is a painting of him having his brain pulled out through the top of his head.
C. then busts out his favorite CD: a disc of Wings with all but the Linda McCartney backing vocals and tambourine removed. Gately thinks it is not only sad, but actually cruel to listen to this poor woman “sing.” C.’s men tie up and then tie off Fax and inject him with something (which proves to be an anti-narcotic to maximize the pain).
And they tie off each other, as well as Pamela, (who broke her shin falling out of the tree and is pretty much passed out). And they are all going to partay!
C. then injects Gately with Sunshine, which is even more powerful than the venerable DMZ. Gately is impressed with it immediately and he can’t help but watch it go into his veins. But then Gatley notices Fax screaming. They are sewing Fax’s eyelids open. He recognizes A Clockwork Orange tribute immediately. But it’s unclear what they are showing him…could it be The Entertainment? No, because that would tie up some kind of loose end, right?
Then C. gently lowers Gately to the floor and when Gately reopens his eyes, he’s on a beach in the freezing sand with rain pouring on him.
And that’s it.
That’s how it ends.
So, obviously, the first reaction is WHAT?
But realistically, when there was about thirty or even fifty pages left, it was quite evident that we weren’t going to catch up to the Year of Glad. The microscopic details of the November days were just too great not to warrant another two or three hundred pages. And so that also begs the question, were the pages that were deleted for editing in any way relevant to any unresolved issues?
And but so, yes. Infinite Tasks and myself worried so much about the Joelle timeline and then he goes and leaves a one year gap between the beginning and the end of the book. So, the question is: would the book be less frustrating of it didn’t include the Year of Glad stuff? Is that one year gap more frustrating than if the book just ended?
As for the ending itself, I do really like it. I like that it ends in this weird way with Gately (because, really how could this book actually end?) I just wish that it had ended that way after included a few more clues as to what had happened. (I mean, hell, the chronology of the story is so askew the Gately ending could have happened anywhere).
But I’m annoyed that:
- The Stice/moving items thing isn’t explained at all.
- We have literally no idea what happened to: Joelle, Orin, Mario or any of the other Ennet/E.T.A. folks (Pemulis? Kate Gompert? DFW has shown us multiple times that unless he explicitly states someone’s death, they probably aren’t dead, so did she view the Entertainment or not?).
- What about Avril’s involvement with anything?
To just scratch the surface of unresolved issues.
I’m going to write up a final post (in the next couple of days) [it's here if you want to read it] that talks about more of these issues and what I’m sure will turn out to be my overall positive experience with the book. But for now, I’m still a little bummed about the ending.