photos, Visual Journal

Post-New York Blues

September—I’m on the L train into the city and I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been reading a lot of James Baldwin, New York’s black literary hero. I’ve been living in Brooklyn for these past weeks, staying in a townhouse in Carroll’s Garden and then in a warehouse loft in Williamsburg. I love it all: the trash-lined sidewalks, the thick air, the cicadas buzzing in the trees. New York has always been somewhere on the vaguely familiar side of my soul’s navigation—I think I lived here in my past life. In a hippie life, I soaked in the fountain at Washington Square Park and spent my days crawling up and downtown across the islands. I sing aloud as I walk here. I walk with conviction and shove past people like I always know where I’m going—even if I don’t. I didn’t think the end of summer would cling on to the sticky summer heat. And as the muggy nights dull into muggier days, it dawns on me I don’t know New York at all. Yet, here I am melting on the subway platform, waiting for another F train to take me back down to Brooklyn.





















Vibe Journal

FIDLAR Ain’t “Too” Original

FIDLAR’s new album “Too” tastes like a chorizo burrito: it grumbles in my stomach and strikes my chest with heartburn. The LA band’s sophomore LP emphasizes their knack for producing punk-pop anthems (i.e. Wake, Bake, Skate), only this time around, “Too” groans like a fuckboy with a recently developed conscious.

It tells the tale of lead singer Zac Carper battling his addictions and gnawing his way to sobriety. Instead of “Too” being an exultation of life, Carper’s narrative hurts in many places where the feels thrash the most. Overall, it’s pretty damn tasty.

Even Ross agrees, and we all know he’s burdened with some inner guilt.

Nibble by nibble, track by track, “Too” is laced with the desperate expression of surmounting society’s pressures by getting fucked up. The entire album displays an overarching theme of the plight of the [white] man of constant sorrow. Sung in the same key as old country music, it reveals the troubled facets of life that also come with the freedoms of maturing into the [oversimplified] American male, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, general feeling of not belonging—features all capsuled in the hit single, “40oz on Repeat.” We’ve heard songs like these dozens of times whining over the course of American music.

To outline the (not-so) strange comparison, I juxtaposed my top five tracks off of the album with five notorious country songs from the early 20th century.

  1. 40oz on Repeat x There Stands the Glass ­– Webb Pierce

And I don’t care at all, I’ll drink some alcohol

It’ll make me who I really wanna be


Fill it up to the brim

Till my troubles grow dim

This album opener defines the nu punk pop rhythm of the entire album. It draws on an isolated emotional turmoil within the subject’s own insight. Webb Pierce’s desperate song, “There Stands the Glass” because these two songs the theme of vices eliminating reality’s strife. The only difference? It’s Webb Pierce’s first one today.

  1. West Coast x Ramblin’ Round ­– Woody Guthrie

I should try and get a life

But I don’t want that 9 to 5


I wish that I could marry, so I could settle down

But I can’t save a penny

As I go a rambling’ round, boys

FIDLAR is no folk legend like Woody Guthrie, but the two songs embrace the theme of the rambling lifestyle so oft explored in American folklore. Set in the West Coast, both songs feature a subject giving in to his temptations enough to make a mother’s knees sore from prayer. Both subjects are equally as likely to end up passed out in an Oregon gutter.

  1. Why Generation x Big Rock Candy Mountain – Haywire Mac

And all the kids all the kids wanna know

Where do I belong where do I go


I’m headin for a land that’s far away beside the crystal fountain/

So come with me, we’ll go and see the Big Rock Candy Mountains

While FIDLAR’s Gen-Y cry questions the motives of the “adult world” in the modern century landscape, “Big Rock Candy Mountain” provides an answer explored by both main subjects as they hike into a world of escape and euphoria: alcohol. The young-spirited hobo of the “Big Rock Candy Mountain” never lived in the scrutiny of social media, like FIDLAR’s Gen Y subject, however, each subject shares the despair of being outside of mainstream society.

  1. Sober x You Drink Too Much ­– State Street Swingers

And why do I have to figure out why I’m like this

And still treat you like a princess?

But what about me?

I’m a fucking princess too


I give you money to pay a bill

You come home smelling like a liquor still

I know, I know. I stretched the umbrella of vintage country music to encompass this Prohibition-era swing tune. The draw between the two songs, over 40 years age-difference, paints the classic portrait of man and wife quarreling over the man’s supposed duty to provide for his family, and the pressures that ensue this obligation to society.

  1. Stupid Decisions x Lonely Blue Boy – Conway Twitty

I didn’t talk enough

And I took too many drugs

And I drank too much


My life has been empty

My heart has been torn

It must have been raining the night I was born

In my final comparison, I used these two tracks to highlight the album’s generic feeling of hopelessness found in the depths of regret. These songs both effectively strike a chord that reverberates the doubt of man’s burden to make something out of himself. Whereas Conway Twitty’s subject feels as if he was doomed from the start, it was the [stupid] decisions that FIDLAR’s character led astray. This play details an argument between predetermined fate and free will, and which has the power to cause a man to succeed or fail in his life.

I like chorizo and I like FIDLAR. I like country music and I like alcohol too. But after countless recordings of countless drunken ballads—and after Sublime laid the 40oz theme to rest in the 1990s—it’s time for the fuckboy-meisters to refresh their material.

For more comparisons of FIDLAR’s “Too” and other favorite country songs, press play and follow this playlist.

– TB