Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus

I didn’t watch the VMAs, and I don’t have much of an opinion on Miley vs. Nicki. I like them both and dislike aspects of this situation on both sides, so I’m sitting this one out.

I feel kind of the same way about Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz — there are things I like and things I don’t like. I can’t tell if it’ll end up being seen as a bold comment on fame and our culture’s obsession with pleasure or a fun side project that could have benefited from editing. (“Pablow the Blowfish” makes me think it’s somehow both.)

There’s one thing I’m not ambivalent about, though: “Lighter” is excellent.

When I was in college (or maybe this happened just after college — I can’t remember), a buddy of mine and I used to use the term “flammable friend.” A flammable friend was someone who would take whatever weird or spontaneous or destructive idea you had and run with it without hesitation. A decade later, it would be easy to look back on that idea negatively — especially because I’m not especially close to many of the people we tagged as flammable friends back then — but I can’t. I’ve always been cautious to a fault, and if the enthusiasm and recklessness of other people hadn’t rubbed off on me during those years, I think I’d have many more regrets than I do.

It was jarring to hear this metaphor articulated so similarly by a stranger — spooky almost — but I love what Cyrus and the Flaming Lips have done here. I like how the song unfolds gradually, with atmospheric elements that disappear and reappear the same way volatile friendships do. And I love the “I see a light coming towards me/Moving slowly but coming quickly at the same time/I think it represents what’s going on in my mind” passage — it bridges the sober/spacey profundity gap with such grace.

More than anything else, I’m grateful for this song for the same reason I was and am grateful for flammable friends: They make me reconsider my anxious nature, and not just in the “Maybe don’t worry so much” way. “Lighter” makes me think about risk tourism, and how many risks I pawned off on braver people over the years. About how being overly cautious opens the door to a type of selfishness that can erode relationships over time.

I’m sure some people will dismiss Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz as indulgent and non-serious, but it’s given me serious things to think about, and I’m glad Cyrus and the Flaming Lips shared it with us.

Miley Cyrus — “Lighter” [Soundcloud]

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CD Monday

Rilo Kiley

I’m pretty sure a post-mortem B-sides compilation is the most backwards route to becoming a fan of a band, but here we are!

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Lanikai

Lanikai

Did y’all know that world’s biggest ukulele brand is headquartered in Richmond? Isn’t that wild?

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Bob Dylan

Somewhere along the way, I developed a disinterest in gear that bordered on distaste.

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CD Monday

Carolina Chocolate Drops

For more than 20 years, with only a couple of interruptions, my family has done a summer beach week in the Outer Banks. We’ve rented houses all over the place down there (as I type I’m subconsciously rewriting the lyrics to “I’ve Been Everywhere” and swapping in names like Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, Kill Devil…) but we’ve spent the last bunch of years in Corolla. It’s become my happy place — as much a soothing thought as a geographic location. My favorite pizza place and bar are there, and it’s hard to get to, which is good, because it keeps us from making plans that would require driving.

What I didn’t realize until this year is how much of that happy place feeling had to do with the luxury of being a kid.

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brb

Beach Week

Took this at the turnaround point of yesterday’s run (back at the beach this week). This fence separates the rest of the Corolla beach from the northernmost 4WD-only part, which cracks me up because it makes me think of Jurassic Park, like the trucks and SUVs are going to break out and wreak havoc when they find out the fence isn’t electrified. Whenever I want to run a little further and need to wriggle through the cables, I half expect this to happen.

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#wrircon5

Commonwealth of Notions Vol 5 2

The Commonwealth of Notions is a reaction to the idea that good music is dead in the city of Richmond.

So starts the description of Shannon Cleary’s radio show on WRIR’s site, and every time I see that sentence, its meaning changes a little.

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