Forecast for the Future

"Every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself. The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact that he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. 

Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not that far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."

- Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Friday, May 30, 2008

It's summertime! Built to Spill mix!! (broken link fixed)

Hi friends,

It's summer time so I thought you should all enjoy this Built to Spill mix that I made, which Jayson Greene will either love or disown. I encourage you to love it!

Built to Spill mp3 Mix, zipped - click to download!
[NOTE: an XML file is included but the tracks are not tagged with any order, so after adding tracks to library, go to iTunes and choose "File, Import" and add the XML file.]

Also, as a bonus, here's a two song single they released in 2007 (their most recent release):

Built to Spill - They Got Away / Re-Arrange 7" - click to download

I said earlier this month to friends:

So what of these two particular songs? Well, I actually sort of enjoy "They Got
Away" and do not think it is the same song as always. Yeah, it's repetitive, but
it's also a reggae song, which is the point. I am surprised at how well
Martsch's voice works within the musical structure of reggae. It seems to sort
of fit the sonics and ideas of "You In Reverse" but works more successfully and
inspired than anything there except "Going Against Your Mind" and "Liar". As far
as "singles" go, it's not gonna do rock the world because it isn't a pop song,
but I think it's the kind of drony midtempo track that I would actually
appreciate mid-album. For some reason the fact that reggae encourages simple
repetition makes this song more acceptable and even welcome to me than the dirgy
and boring repetition on most of "You In Reverse".

"Re-Arrange" is
interesting in that it's the first Built to Spill song that sort of looks back
to the "classic sound" since Ancient Melodies came out. For this reason, I was
at least immediately welcome to hearing it. Unfortunately, yeah, a) the lyrics
make me kind of nauseous, b) the vox sound and even sound are a little Death Cab
for Cutie, and c) the best parts of the song, the softly humming guitar sighs,
are basically a redux of a rather unknown "Carry the Zero" b-side called "Now
and Then"--which is a much better song and, in my mind, truly worth holding

And Jayson Greene said:

"They Got Away" does almost nothing for me. This would be the portion of the
Built to Spill live show during which I completely zone out, where I notice that
my feet hurt and that I want a drink of water. Doug Martsch seems perfectly
content to play with the same guitar tone for the rest of his life and to play
his smeared-tone, noodly solos forever. This is the most flat kind of artistic
stasis. This is miles away from the Built to Spill that lit me on fire in high
school, the band that demonstrated new ways of songwriting and showed me that
lyrics need not be autobiographical or even specific to be work completely.

And "Rearrange." Pretty tune, promising lead-in. Then the
lyrics quickly veer off course. What the fuck is he trying for with this kind of
shit? Has he gotten so lax that he really thinks he can sing whatever the fuck
he wants before he starts up the spacey slide guitar again?

Sorry Ben,
sorry folks -- there are no "teeth" in these tunes. This is as fresh as
month-old bong water.

He's probably right.


Built to Spill covering the L. Skynyrd classic "Freebird", live! - click to download

You can find "Freebird" and a few other live BtS covers here.


Summer Summer!

Digg this

Week 21 No. 3, Home Improvement: Painting

Post-painting mess, Pt. 1: Garbage

Painting is almost entirely finished: kitchen, bedroom, living room. All that's left is a few finishing touches on the living room and VOILA! we have a new apartment.

Much much much thanks due to Miss Sweeetheart, Ben D and of course, the baddest of bad, E-BAD. I now feel like the walls of my kitchen want to envelope me whole.

Photos/recap to come, as soon as I can.

Post-painting mess, Pt. 2: Hair (note new yellow wall!)

Digg this

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Week 21 No. 2, Home Improvement: Cleaning and a Visit to Home Depot

Monday was lots of cleaning, including cleaning the bathroom spotlessly--difficult when the tiles have permanent marks all over them and the bathtub caulk is old and stained--washing all the dishes and beginning the more exhausting overhaul of straightening up and rearranging things, including specifically cleaning off the mystery stairwell-to-nowhere that has served as a storage space since I moved in.

After cleaning for awhile, I took a break. I knew that there was no way I'd do all the cleaning necessary because there was still a lot of stuff that needed to be done before I'd reach the finishing stages.

Chief among these, and the main subproject of this Hyperliving week, is to paint my apartment. I had been wanting to paint my room for a long time, but this week of home improvement gave me the idea that I could actually paint my whole apartment. I cleaned until around 5 and then headed to Home Depot to buy paint.

I didn't choose any of these, actually.

Your first question might be: where is there a Home Depot near me in Williamsburg? Oddly enough, there's a huge Home Depot tucked away in Bed Stuy, not to far from my home (by bike).

After browsing through a number of paint chips, I settled on three colors for my bedroom, the kitchen, and the living room. I gave my order to the guy above to get everything ready for me and was surprised at how expensive paint in. Argh.

I loaded up the cart with necessary supplies, including rollers, bluetape, paint trays, and energy-efficient light bulbs.

Once we had everything we needed, we paid and went outside to head home. Our original plan called for biking over and then dragging our bags and bikes on to the G train subway to get home, but I decided that we could probably just attach the paint cans to our bikes and not bother with the subway. And it worked.

E-bad looks disapprovingly on the idea to carry paint cans on bikes

The paint cans, attached to bicycles (up close)

We made it home just fine and immediately began thinking about the fun process of painting the house (a task I haven't actually ever had to do before).

The mind is percolating...

More to come: cleanliness continues / furniture replaced and / painting is begun on the kitchen and bedroom.


Digg this

Week 21 Home Improvement

The Glory of New Jersey

The cleaning and home glorification process is progressing along nicely. Bathroom is totally cleaned, and the house is being cleaned, reorganized and reconfigured. I also bought paint to repaint my bedroom, the kitchen and the living room.

Photos to come.

Digg this

Monday, May 26, 2008

Week 21, Home Improvement

Hyperliving, again.

This week is home improvement. We had a fairly decent-sized party last night and so home improvement week will begin with cleaning everything up to get ready for a week of painting, re-organizing and cleaning.

Not the worst mess in the world but a good place to start to clean from scratch.

Digg this

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Week 20, Day 1 Meditation: A Very Long Bike Ride (MORE TO COME)

i haven't posted in forever, so i'm putting this up before it's finished... will try to finish today...

Getting ready to ride

Hyperliving has been a little derailed lately by, well, a deraileur. But, while I can't deny that I've drifted away briefly from my quest(s), I feel like I've been getting on track in certain important ways that are good for me.

Chief among these, obviously, is my new obsession with biking, which began a month ago but already feels like three years ago. Obviously I'm excited about biking because I've felt like I've needed to be more active, but more specifically I've been disappointed in the way that I've struggled to connect with any of the number of exercise routines that I've attempted to adapt over the past few years. And now that I've found one that works, well, I guess my brain is pretty much running away with it.

The Montauk Bike Ride -- "65 mile" leg

This week is supposed to be a week of meditation. It hasn't quite been. But on Sunday I had what was easily and absolutely the most meditative experience of my life: my 69 mile bike ride across Long Island to Montauk.

View Larger Map

Full map including ride home

View Larger Map

As I said in my liveblog posts on Sunday, this "65 Mile Ride" turned out to be actually more like 69 miles. But either way, it was four hours and fourteen minutes of me losing consciousness of everything around me except the ceaseless movement of my legs, up and down.

This experience was profound in the way that it literally transported me to another place, a place of calm and stillness that I have rarely had acquaintance with.

But let me step back a few steps and mention two brief anecdotal notes from my past that have come to mind this week.

Anecdote #1
The first time I ever even thought about the idea of meditating came while I was a teen attending youth services at my Unitarian Church. My leader, the wise and magical Maia M, had us try some basic forms of meditation, and brought in a local Buddhist friend to give us an instructional talk. She also told a story, from either a book, or her head, or one that had been told to her when she spent time at a zen buddhist monastery in the Catskill mountains, one which has stuck with me for a long time.

The story was of a young monk who was struggling to find his place at his monastery, feeling like he was running through the motions and doing the right things, but neither satisfying his masters nor himself with his efforts--and most importantly, he didn't not feel like he was on the path toward understanding nirvana.

As life as a monk in a monastery is generally simple and contained, one of his responsibilities was to wash the dishes every day. There were a variety of other tasks that needed to be done, but he had been assigned to wash dishes--and try as he might, he couldn't get past the fact that he just hated washing dishes. The tireless monotony of it, the grossness of the plates, the fact that his only goal with them was to reset them to point zero--it all felt superfluous and unpleasant.

After a while, the monk finally asked his superior if there was anyway he could switch to another task, any other task, instead of washing the dishes. But his superior just looked at him and said slowly, "My friend, why is it that you wash the dishes each day?" The monk looked back and said, "Well, obviously they need to be clean so we can use them and eat off them. Also, if we don't wash them, the dirty dishes will pile up." His superior put his head down and paused, before speaking again. "My friend, I do not think you understand. There is only one reason that you should be washing the dishes, and that is: to wash the dishes." The superior let this comment hang in the air for a minute before continuing. "When you wash the dishes, you must only think about washing the dishes. Focus all that you have on washing the dishes, allowing each step to become one large fluid movement, all part of the goal of dish washing. Do not be tempted by thoughts of 'outcomes' or goals, do not dwell on thoughts of your life; think only of washing the dishes."

This story continues--the monk begrudgingly follows the instructions and then slowly begins edging toward low-level enlightenmight--but the basic point that has stuck with me is the idea that we as humans always think many steps ahead, causing our minds to race and making the idea of meditation basically impossible. Me "getting this" is a little amusing, of course, because anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I have one of the most criminally-hyperactive brains out there, and that it's usually thinking four or eight steps ahead of just about everthing at every possible moment. But still, from time to time I am able to find situations where my brain is able to just engage with a specific pursuit in a singular enough of a way that all of world is reduced to a simple glide of life.

It is a constant problem for me, of course, that these moments are too fleeting, and I don't know how to find them when I really need some calm. But that is why I am continuing to search for the answers.

Anecdote #2
When I was in middle school, the father of a friend was talking about bicycles and mentioned how on an optimal ride, a rider will pedal at almost the same rate the entire time, even while going up or down hills or shifting gears. This method would produce the best aerobic exercise to the rider, and would also be best for the body.

As I've taken on the task of cycling, I've thought quite a bit about both of these memories, because I've found that through some combination of the two ideas, I have been able to achieve while biking a type of relaxed psychic calm that is completely meditative.

Sleepy volunteers help with check-in at Penn Station. I do not believe that they are bikers.

Ok then, so back to the Montauk Bike ride.

My motivations for doing the 65 mile leg of the Montauk bike ride (alone) therefore boiled down to two factors: a) it would be a great physical challenge and would be good for my body, and b) it would give me a chance to spend some time alone and do some bike meditation.

As mentioned here previously, the longest ride I'd ever done before was 28.5 miles, just done the week before, so 65 (or 69 or 78) miles would be more than twice as much as my previous high. Some of my friends were skeptical that I would be able to do such a ride, but for some reason I just had a feeling that I would be able to handle it just fine.

Of course, after a few weeks of getting ready, when they day finally came I began it somewhat ridiculously: I woke up around 4:55 am, after having fallen asleep the night before at about 3:20. I can't really explain why in god's name I insisted on giving myself as little sleep as possible prior to undertaking one a physically exhausting activity like this, but part of it was nerves and part of it was just typical Ben sleep stupidity.

After waking, I got dressed--in bike shorts and jersey--and began packing my belongings--which I should have done the night before. As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, I had a bag on my bike for carrying items that I'd bring with me while riding, and then also a backpack containing things I'd want after the ride (transported ahead on a truck to the finish line). In the backpack I packed some clean clothes and a book to read on the ride home, and in the bikebag I packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, two Clif bars, my digital camera, my phone/wallet/keys, and a light windbreaker. Also contained in the bag was a bike pump, an extra tube, and a set of Allan keys for any emergency repairs I'd need to do.

Right before leaving the house, I remembered that I needed to reattach a toeclip that had come off to one of the pedals. I finally departed at about 5:40 and decided that I would ride to the Bedford L (stupid weekend construction) and ride it to Union Square before getting off and biking up to Penn Station where check-in was taking place.

5:50 am on the L train...

After waiting a while for a train to come, I finally got to Penn Station around 6:25, where there were already a few hundred people milling around antsily.

Bikers mull about at Penn Station waiting for the call to head to their train for Mastic Shirley

Check-in breakfast tables

After checking in, I loaded my bike on the truck heading out to Mastic Shirley and helped myself to a cup of coffee, a banana, a glass of orange juice, a blueberry muffin and some grapes and began poking around. At around 7:15 they finally signalled for us to head downstairs to the LIRR for our train to Mastic.

Bikers walk to the LIRR

LIRR map... Montauk at the very end on the right

The train had reserved the last few cars for Montauk riders only, so my traincar was entirely filled with them. I sat down next to a pair of women named Stacy and Amanda who were also doing their first lengthy bike ride, as part of Amanda's training for a triathalon in New York at the end of the summer.

Antsy bikers

The train ride took over an hour, maybe 90 minutes (?) before we finally got to Mastic Shirley. Everyone filed off the train and went off to find the respective truck carrying their bike.

I'm not sure what this guy is scoping out but the I'm very curious

Volunteers handing off bikes.

After grabbing my bike I went to wait in the ridiculous line for the bathroom. I had a sense in my head that I would want to ride without interruption, so I wanted to make sure that I got everything out of the way before I got going.

I had originally had the idea that I would travel with the "Escorted Ride Group" so that I wouldn't have to go alone, and so I could get some help with pacing and whatnot, so I waited until all the other bikers had departed to leave with them. As soon as they began though, I realized that the stated 12mph speed would be ridiculously slow and that I would neither have fun nor feel like I was pushing myself if I went that slow, so I just took off and went out looking for folks who might be more interested in traveling my speed.

The escorted ride group

The first two bikers in front of me.

The last time I paused for any length of time...

And then, I was off.

The first official rest stop, which I stopped at for thirty seconds to take one photo.

Scenery, snapped while riding

A bridge: it was beautiful. I cranked up it and went down it at 33mph

And then I thought my camera battery had died, so i stopped bothering to photo while riding.

I continued riding the entire way, with only three more stops.
- Slow down at 28 miles as my right leg became completely and totally cramped up... gliding and pedaling slowly using only my left leg.
- Stop at second rest stop at 40 miles for 30 seconds to do a brief live blog
- On last stretch of hill, without about seven miles left, I looked down to adjust my bike shorts and then veered to the right and hit a patch of sand on the side of the road, causing me and my bike to halt to a stop. Because I was going up a hill, getting started was going to be difficult, but it was even more so due to the fact that I was completely and totally exhausted. When I swung my leg back over my bike to get going again, it completely locked shut with a cramp and I had to stop and rest and massage it for a minute before I could get going again.

But once I did, it was straight home for the finish.

Tired, and exhausted.

Collecting delivered luggage

Eating some of the crappiest and most desired food in my life.

A woman who took this photo said she was a photographer and that she was turning the camera sideways to make the photo "artful". Erm, yes.

And now, onwards!

Digg this

Sunday, May 18, 2008

liveblog: Bike ride to Montauk -- FIN

i'm done, finished about 10 min ago. I am TIRED TIRED.

Total: 69.08 miles, done in 4:14:14.

in the words of the immortal Clay Davis:


Digg this

Libveblog: Bike to Montauk

first stop. 40.46 miles down. Been riding for 2:22 so far. Leg cramped at one but feeling groovy. Love, JB

Digg this

Liveblog: Bike ride to Montauk

We're off the train and now in line for the ever important "last chance to pee while not pedaling". It is absolutely fucking beautiful out. Sun and sun and sun, and temperatures I believe around 65 or so. There appear to be folks of pretty varying skill levels, though at least gearwise a considerable percentage seem to care about how they ride (really nice bikes, bikeshorts/jerseys, clip pedals etc). I slept for a solid 10 minutes on the train so that pushes me up around 100 min of sleep. Woohoo. ok, now i'm up.

Digg this

liveblog Bike Ride to Montauk

Ok, on the train to Mastic now where me and a hundred or so other folks will begin our 65 mile journey to Montauk. Some crazy souls already began their journey this morning at 3:45 am--those more constituted folk (like E-bad's father) are traveling the full 145 miles from Penn St to Montauk by bike. I'm saying right now to myself "Maybe next year?" But of course, first things first.

Digg this

Liveblog: Bike Ride

today begins a culmination of sorts of the phase one impact of Hyperliving Bike Week: the 65 mile Montauk bike ride. I slept about 90 minutes last night and am now at Penn St waiting to board a train for Mastic to start the ride.

Digg this


As Todd said to me today, Bike Week was the worst week of Hyperliving so far because it's totally killed what I've done since then. I have to wake up in three and a half hours for a 65 mile bike ride I'm taking tomorrow to Montauk. I think only of bikes.

I have scraps of paper with stuff i've written about friends on my desk and photos of them to post. Tomorrow begins meditation week. I feel like this ride is going to be the ultimate sort of meditative exercise for a man whose brain travels only at speeds of 70-120mph. We'll see. I'll try and photog as much as i can and rejoin you soon.


Digg this

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Black Tears (I Can See Them But I Can't Feel Them), or "I Know that I'm / The most enept / That ever stepped"

This is neither an excuse nor an actual follow-through, but merely a reminder that I'm not dead and I'm still trying to make my way in a world that I admittedly am in constant struggle with to understand and make ok.

So I'm here and trying to sort shit out right now, and it's a bit of murk murk and a lot of glug glug. But Hyperliving is still here, and will be "back on track" in the more registered, formal sense, soon enough. But, as my man says, "These things take time."

Digg this

Monday, May 12, 2008

Week 18: "Reading Week" Recap Pt. 1 (Bikes and Other Things and Not Books)

I have been alternating between massively gleeful and horrifyingly depressed. Life has been up and down for me lately, despite staying largely the same. Meaning, it's all been in my idea-overflowing head.

First things first: this past week must certainly be redacted in the Hyperliving annals as "Vacation Week #2", subtitled Mental Recuperation and Reconstruction Week.

So what happened for "Reading Week"? I didn't read. Or hardly read.

I needed to finish my book club book before we meet next week and I hadn't even started reading it. I ordered two copies (accidentally) but the first didn't even come until Friday. In between then, I attempted to read Ulysses (beyond hilarious, laughable, the perfect metaphor for the ways in which I almost force failure by overreaching on simple aims)--resulting in, essentially, opening and closing the book and then nothing. I moved on from there to Don Delillo's Underworld, but I also was unprepared to get into that weighty tome, and so I finally hunkered down with JG Ballard's Empire of the Sun, of which I read about 35 pages in a hour of reading on Thursday night before finally relenting and deciding to accept the week as another week off.

I mark Week 18 as a failure week for sure, but at least it generated some good: a big reason that reading was such a struggle right now, beyond my generally non-longterm concentration lifestyle, is that lots of things have been going on in my life and I've been feeling pretty great about some new pursuits I've been engaging in.

Chief among these "new pursuits" is that I've become completely obsessed with bicycling. I am not one to generally talk such talk, but I'd say right now that it's approaching feelings of "This might be my 'salvation'". I've been struggling for years for find some way to get myself back on a track of exercise and healthiness and I think I've finally found it.

Compounding my new interest in biking is the fact that last Sunday I got a "new" bike on long-term loan from a friend who's father had just gotten a new bike and wanted to pass his old one along, an early 90s Japanese racing bike. This bike is just completely amazing and has taken the experience of biking for me from great to "I need to be sitting on this bike every minute of every day." I will write more on this bike and my history of bikes later, as there's something there, but suffice it to say that right now I have a hunger to be on the road.

In the past week I rode (according to the bike odometer) 96 miles. My rides this week included biking to work on Wednesday and Thursday and then three particular bike journeys on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Wednesday Ride, 17.62 miles
Wednesday was the day of The Great Hot Dog Ride Photo Recapturing with Ben D.

View Larger Map

Ben has been taking a statistics course on his way to beginning a path toward becoming a physician's assistant and for a final project he decided to canvas the city to evaluate the hot dog cart pricing. He did this as a part of a healthy 32 mile bike ride, but forgot to bring the memory card to his camera and was therefore unable to take any photos, so I agreed to meet up with him and recapture some action shots. I rode to work via the 59 St bridge and then met him downtown after work at Houston & Broadway. I snapped some poses and then we went for a ride to his house and continued our discussions on the finer points of Photoshop editing.

Here's a few photos I took (amazingly he didn't eat a single dog on his first journey, despite stopping at over 100 hot dog stands):

Saturday Ride, 13.81 miles
On Saturday, E-bad and I went on a sweet little bike tour of Astoria:

View Larger Map

We left from Williamsburg and headed over the Pulaski, the same way I ride to work, but then headed toward the East River and rode along that, seeing some of Astoria's lovely riverbank greens. We stopped along the way at Socrates Sculpture Park near the Noguchi Museum to relax and see some interesting outdoor artwork.


We finished the ride by riding east across 20th Ave, the northernmost street in Queens, and then cruising down Steinway back toward the Burg. We'd hoped to find the Steinway piano factory somewhere along our route, but no such luck.

Sunday Ride, 28.19 miles

I am hoping to participate in a 65 mile bike ride on Long Island next week (more on that later), but I'd still never ridden more than 20 or so miles in a day, so yesterday I went on a long ride of 28 miles:

View Larger Map

I began in Williamsburg into Queens, over the 59 St bridge, north up 1st Ave eventually reaching 145 St, then back down and through Central Park on the bike/ride/walk loop, all the way down and then back up to the E90 St exit. I then rode down 5th Ave to Broadway, and then more or less (there was a street fair on part of Broadway) down Broadway to Canal and then over the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn and then home via standard Fort Greene route.

It was a great ride and probably the longest I've ever taken. Unlike the other two more leisurely rides, I attempted to ride fast and hard, and so my legs were basically exhausted by the end (including a few incidents of cramping, which probably could have been avoided had I stretched better and eaten a few more sugars before beginning). I will need to work on pacing myself if I'm going to ride 65 miles next Sunday. Laugh with me on that one, please.


So we're getting back on track--regular updates going once again starting today.


Digg this

Hyperliving Google Calendar, Click + to Subscribe