Essential long-term travel material
So since my life completely fell apart, I have taken to the life of the wandering bedouin. While it has been very trying in many ways (constantly having to appeal to friends for space on the couch, recieving mail from my publisher, not having the security of a ‘home base’, not having cell reception in many areas), it has also been in many ways liberating. I have pretty much eliminated all but the most necessary things needed for semi-civil existence. I carry a back pack and a duffel bag from one place to another.
In my backpack I carry toiletries, two notebooks for journaling, as well as a small Moleskine used for jotting down random sentences that are hopefully going to be useful at some point in the future. I have also made sure to carry around 20 CDs, for those times when I’m actually near a computer or stereo. The albums are as follows:
Nirvana “Nevermind”: Pretty much a given for any “road” trip. Infinitely sing-alongable and great for getting drunk to.
Leonard Cohen “Various Positions”: I had to have at least one Leonard album. I went with this one because aside from two songs, I love it all.
DJ Shadow “ENDtroducing”: Changed everything in my hip-hop mindset. Reeks of cool.
Daft Punk “Alive 2007”: Takes all of their best tracks and re-invents them in front of a giant frothing crowd. You cannot be down while listening to this record.
Massive Attack “Mezzanine”: The most stellar album in a long history of stellar albums. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this album. It is orchestra for the 21st century.
The Cure “Disintegration”: Ive loved this album since I was an angst-ridden 10th grader. Still great for an angst-ridden 34 year old. Great for self-pity and feeling not alone.
Mix CD made for me by my estranged wife when I first started my nomadic existence back in September: Honestly, I cant even listen to this CD anymore. With songs like Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” (‘This song is you,’ my wife said.), The Flaming Lips beauty “Vein of Stars” (one of ‘our’ songs), and Regina Spektor’s “Samson”, its just too heartbreaking to listen to.
Pavement “Wowee Zowee”: This is the deluxe double-album re-issue. The sounds here are all over the map, which makes it great for schizo freakouts, of which I have no shortage.
Radiohead “Amnesiac”: It was hard to go with one Radiohead CD, but I chose this one because it has the most bang for the buck and I havent listened to it nearly as many times as I have “OK Computer.”
System of A Down “Hypnotize/Mezmerize”: Another double album, this one is filled with anger and insolence, therefor a must-have for anyone trying to keep the old head above water.
Eminem “The Slim Shady LP”: Recorded when he was still hungry, its also funny as shit, even when he’s rapping about murdering his wife while his toddler daughter looks on (“There’s a place called heaven and a place called hell/ A place called prison and a place called jail/ And da-da’s probably on his way to all of em except one/ Cause mama’s got a new husband and a stepson”).
DJ Irene “Live @ Spundae”: An incredible club banger.
Tool “Undertow”: My favorite album by Tool. Every song kicks fucking ass.
Sinead O’Connor “She Who Dwells”: Yet another double disc, this is filled with otherwise unavailable tracks on one disc, as well a second disc that contains a full concert. She ends every live set with “The Last Day of Our Acquintance”.
Love Is Ours [Demo] – Sinead OConnor
7% Solution “All About Satellites and Spaceships”: An ex-girlfriend of mine from way-back-when discovered this band and when we bought the CD, it actually contained two copies, which I thought was great marketing–one for you, one to give a friend. Unfortunately I never heard anything else by them. A beautiful, melodic rock album.
Sunny Day Real Estate “The Rising Tide”: I dont know why the fuck I carry this around. Every track reminds me of my failed marriage and depresses the hell out of me. But there it is, daring me to get rid of it.
There is nothing like having to dump off everything you own to force a person to know what is really most important. I have about ten pairs of socks and underwear, some warm clothes, hat and hoodie, a pair of clippers for cutting hair on the fly. Some nick-knacks that remind me of my kids, a copy of FUTUREPROOF in both P.O.D. edition as well as the current release from Harper Perennial (best paperback publisher on the planet–if you think I’m just saying that because they are publishing me, go to their website and check out their roster of current authors as well as their even more impressive back list.)
Since August I have traveled from ATLanta to Nashville to Buffalo, NY to New York City, back to ATLanta. After my Feb. 10 reading here I’m back to Nashville (permanently, as I cannot go another month without seeing my kids), and then in March I’m off to L.A. for a reading out there. Change like a motherfucker, right? Its non-stop. But one thing Ive noticed is that in all the places Ive been, the people who have been most forthcoming with–lets face it, its charity plain and simple–are people who own multiple pets. Not just a single dog kept out in the yard, but pets with free roam of the whole house, shedding and jumping up on you. Whats the deal with that? Ive come to the conclusion that it has to do with a certain care-taking type of personality. If a person cares enough about animals to let them take over their residence, even bringing two good-sized dogs into the heart of New York City, then they evidently also give a shit about a fellow human being. Pet owners of the world, unite and take over (apologies to Morrissey, though shop-lifting does have its merits.)