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“Goths” by the Mountain Goats (2017) is about growing up goth. Specifically it’s about growing up goth in Southern California in the 1980s. Musically, the album is about as opposite from intense as you can get – just goofy, lighthearted soft rock, a la steely dan, that you can do your work to. It’s a very ironic contrast to the dark, echo-ing music that we once wore as a tribute to our risky lives. As the lyrics to “Stench of the Unburied” go

And outside it’s ninety-two degrees
And KROQ is playing Siouxsie and the Banshees

And in “Wear Black”, an homage to the fashion that gaves us goths such a sense of identity:

Wear black when it’s light outside
Wear black when there’s no light
Wear black following the left hand path
Wear black but I get right

This describes a feeling I know so well, the power and shock-value of simply wearing black clothes, back in 80s California when, when Esprit and Camp Beverly Hills reigned and everything was bright and pastel surfer-preppy, but you dreamed of being in England where everything was dark and grey and there were old castles.

But Darnielle doesn’t just get the fashion of being a goth youth (though he gets it SO well). He describes the feeling of listening to the music – the bands like Bauhaus, the Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Mission, and of course the Sisters of Mercy. L.A. goth was not just fashion. We knew our music very well! In “Rain in Soho”, to a Sisters of Mercy beat:

The river goes where the water flows
But no one knows when the Batcave closed
The river goes where the water flows
But no one knows when the Batcave closed

and in true Darnielle fashion, travelling back into the 16 year old goth kid’s mind when he finally spies that black-haired soul mate who he can suffer through life’s torture with (though also sort of ironic, like a joking parent watching the teens at the mall):

There’s a club where you’d like to go
You could meet someone who’s lost like you
Revel in the darkness like a pair of open graves
Fumble through the fog for a season or two

Of course we all have to grow up, don’t we? And this eventually happened to all goth children. Because no matter how talented, or art-damaged, or alienated you are, even if you believe, like when John Cale in Half Past France, that “people always bored me anyway”, you will one day have to wake up to the alarm and go to work:

Crusty boots in the corner of the closet
By the tackle box
Once proud shining silver buckles
Safe behind the normalcy locks

Baubles and bangles
A lost age
Still all aglow with the radiance of the stage

That’s who I was (that’s who I was)
This is who I am (this is who I am)
Work to pay down the interest
On the mortgage
Used to get paid by the gram

And that’s how it is. You used to be on a collision course with death. You were surely going to end up a vampire living in the Paris Catacombs. But maybe instead, you just gradually outgrew the lifestyle and now you have a desk job, sitting in a cube with “Goths” playing on your earbuds. No one understands you. No one ever did, but now it doesn’t even matter.

Instead everyone goes about their own lives, like on the cover of this album. Everyone wears black. Everyone dies their hair funny colors for no reason. But you are still the only one who really feels the music of Sisters of Mercy, and Nick Cave, Bowie in his Berlin period, and you remember Gene Loves Jezebel.

A few more songs that deserve mention are “Unicorn Tolerance”. The lyrics aren’t my favorite. He kind of admits that it was all for show:

And when the clouds do clear away
Get a momentary chance to see
The thing I’ve been trying to beat to death
The soft creature that I used to be
The better animal I used to be

But that’s not how I feel! I still like bats better than unicorns. But the song is just so darn cute that you have to sing along (OK so maybe I’m not that goth either).

Shelved is great too. The last verse is what I really love because the music sounds like New Order but he’s singing about getting a job for a software company:

Maybe dad is right
I’m still young
And I can write C++ just as good as anyone
I know this guy at Lucasarts
He says they’re looking for hands
In fifteen years I’ll be throwing back beers
With my feet in the sand

So life starts out a wild ride, and ends up slowing down, like in Shelved:

The ride’s over
I know
But I’m not ready to go

But with albums like this to listen to, the aftermath does not have to be quite so boring.


Written by nattie

July 21, 2017 at 1:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Can we Repeal NAFTA? Do we even want to?

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Trump got elected on the promise that he will repeal NAFTA and bring American jobs back from China and Mexico. I thought that was boneheaded from the beginning. I mean, look at Chinese factory towns, like, do it, right now:








Do we really want to bring THIS back to America? And even if we think we can do it on “American terms” with cleanliness and standards, who are we kidding? The world  is addicted to a steady diet of rock-bottom prices. Nobody will buy goods that have been made in factories with Western standards.

But say we do bring them back, and we ruin our environment. Will Wal-Mart dismantle its whole supply chain to suddenly start supporting American manufactured goods? I doubt it. Chances are Wal-Mart will prevent Trump from making good on his promise.

Here is a good article that says basically the same thing. Promising to get us out of NAFTA was one thing, but actually doing it is another. Why American voters fell for this line of crap is a whole other article.

Written by nattie

November 23, 2016 at 1:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Listen to the Man

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After Donald Trump’s depressing victory in 2016, a lot of people have been feeling abandoned, depressed, and angry. Reading Facebook I see there is a tendency to blame the other side, the Republicans, the fascists, or whoever else comes in handy.

What makes me saddest is that Hillary Clinton took a real blow, and she really fought for us. The way Republicans smeared her is shameful. The whole “Hillary for prison” campaign was just hate mongering, and that offends me more than anything. Hillary would have been a great president! But it’s not time yet.

But the democratic party has a few lessons to learn.

And Bernie Sanders recently said something really smart that sums it all up, for me. Sanders said:

“It is not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me! No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies.”

Nailing it, as usual. Here is the full article. I totally agree with Bernie. The democratic party needs to stop pointing fingers and take a long, good look at itself. It needs to get over idenity politics. Are you black? latino? woman? jewish? muslim? transgender? That’s good, then run! But it’s not enough. Can you help lower college tuitions? Can you stop global warming, or create jobs that don’t pollute? Now that’s more interesting!

So Sanders, speaking with sense and tough love, says “it’s not enough just to have an identity. You have to tell us what you can do for all working Americans”. And maybe that’s what the democratic party needs.


Written by nattie

November 23, 2016 at 1:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Let her Speak!

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People always say Hillary Clinton has no personality. After watching last night’s debate, I can see where those rumours come from. Donald Trump was interrupting her and even yelling at her at one point. She had to use all her resources to maintain dignity and composure. Who can have a “personality” while they are being yelled at? He might have a personality, but it’s the personality and charisma of a crazy man.

But she got her message across, even with him yelling in her face.

Even if Hillary didn’t have to stand vigil against his craziness, I don’t understand why we are so obsessed with personality in politics. We elect people like Jesse Ventura or Arnold Schwarzenegger (wow did I spell that right? I DID!) and then they screw up the budget because they are basically ego-crazed showmen and not heads-down workers who knows the rules and listen to constituents. It’s like we just want to be entertained by someone who is diverting on TV. We don’t want to consider how they approach issues, because issues require paying attention and that is boring.

And how did Donald Trump address issues? My biggest issue is the environment, and global warming. My mom told me it was 103 degrees in California today. I don’t know about the rest of you, but that is too hot for late September. Growing up in California I remember the temperatures were in the low 70s this time of year. It’s pumpkin time! How depressing to think of a bunch of kids trying to trick or treat in 103 degree weather, walking around sweating in their costumes.

But Trump does not think global warming is real. At the debate he only laughed about climate change. In the first part of it he made a lot of noise about bringing jobs that have gone to China and Mexico back to America. I don’t know about the rest of America but I don’t want those jobs. They are polluting, dirty industry. In China they can’t even see 20 feet in front of them because of dirty air. Their lakes and streams are all polluted. And in Mexico rivers run green and kids get rashes after going in the water. That kind of pollution is the result of tax breaks to companies so they can expand unregulated and wreck the environment, digging up trees and dumping in rivers, creating a horrible reality for poor neighbors and workers. Those are the kind of jobs Trump is talking about and I don’t want them back.

Hillary did have a vision for growth, and although it was hard to pick up over Trumps repeated rude interrupting, it did come through. She wanted to boost small businesses, and provide tax incentives  for middle class people who are trying to start businesses, and tax the rich who have been getting away with way too much for a long time. And she wanted to create sustainable jobs in alternative energy. That sounds perfect. Collecting tax money from those who should be paying it and building the economy in a slow, sustainable way, protecting trees and the seasons instead of God knows what Trump would do in his short-sighted, backwards vision of Mexican style maquiladoras and tax cuts.


Factory in Yutian, China

I love Hillary’s idea of a sustainable economy – America moving toward the future, paving the way for China and Mexico to create green economies one day too. It is a vision and in a way it reminds me of the leadership of California Governor Jerry Brown, another “boring” politician who is a serious, behind-the-scenes hard worker, who got California out of debt following Schwarzenegger and takes the environment seriously.  Sometimes it’s the boring politicians, who know the rules and just put their heads down and work, who are best to have in office. In fact I’d say that’s true every time.

So Trump went on in the debate with some silly answers and some ridiculous back-pedalling about the Obama birther claims and his refusal to release his tax returns, and terrorism, and lying about how he didn’t support the war in Iraq, all important stuff too, but not as important as climate change (to me). But the most important and scary part was his promise to cut taxes for the rich and bring dirty polluting industry back to America. That is just what we don’t need. We have to move forward.


So I hope Hillary will win. I think she did beautifully at the debate in her quiet, somewhat stiff way. And a little stiffness never hurt anybody. She knows the rules, has a long-term vision, and makes good decisions, and that is more important than entertaining us on TV, although I think she will be able to do that once she is free of her abusive opponent.





Written by nattie

September 27, 2016 at 8:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Wearing Black – Punk, Mourning, and Victorian Manners

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I started a blog where I could complain about men on dating sites, but now I’m off all dating sites, and besides that seemed negative, so I will go back to posting random thoughts.

The combination of “victorian” and “punk” is well accepted. After all there is steampunk, and there is that Fall song about the Victorian Child. I’ll post the video, but I won’t post a picture of steampunk, because there are a million of those.

Lately I was thinking about punk, and goth, and Victorian culture, and modern culture. For one thing, people started wearing a lot of black in the 1980s thanks to punk. The hippies never wore black, nor did the yuppies. It was the punks, and the goths who started that. But you’d never know that today, because most themed movies, web sites, etc describe the 80s as a time of really bright clothes. But for some of us, it was a decade to start wearing black, perhaps as a contrast to all that Miami Vice brightness. I think the the beatniks did the same thing in the 50s.

So goths of the 80s wore black, and beatniks of the 50s. And then after the grunge era of the 90s everyone started wearing black, and of course we all do now.

But was wearing black really so rare before the last few decades of the 20th century? And if so, why? I think it was. I’ve been reading the 2nd edition of Emily Post’s etiquette book, from 1922, and she has an entire chapter on the subject of wearing black. It’s called “Funerals”. That’s when it hit me. Wearing black had a special place up until the mid 20th century. It was reserved for funerals! And I just thought of it as a good basic color that went with everything. But most people did not see it that way in 1922:

 Among those who come to the house there is sure to be a woman friend of the family whose taste and method of expenditure is similar to theirs. She looks through the clothes they have, to see if there is not a black dress or suit that can be used, and makes a list of only the necessary articles which will have to be procured.

Not that many women even had black clothes. They had to have them specially made for the occasion of mourning. Ms. Post continues:

Or the mourning departments of the big stores and specialty shops are always willing to send a selection on approval, so that a choice can be made by the family in the privacy of their own rooms.

A mourning department in a store! I’d never heard of such a thing. Back in 1922 black was probably a really powerful and rare color to wear. It meant death. It was a color you did not mess with. And it was rarely worn. I guess that is why the greasers and the beatniks adopted it in the 1950s, and the punks  and goths in the 1980s. Black was the color people always stayed away from, and countercultural groups wanted that power.

Black also had sexual appeal. In her chapter, The Very Young Widow, Ms. Post acknowledges the desirability of a young woman in black:

The young widow should wear deep crepe for a year and then lighter mourning for six months and second mourning for six months longer. There is nothing more utterly captivating than a sweet young face under a widow’s veil, and it is not to be wondered at that her own loneliness and need of sympathy, combined with all that is appealing to sympathy in a man, results in the healing of her heart. She should, however, never remain in mourning for her first husband after she has decided she can be consoled by a second.

There is no reason why a woman (or a man) should not find such consolation, but she should keep the intruding attraction away from her thoughts until the year of respect is up, after which she is free to put on colors and make happier plans.

I mean that sounds like something Nick Cave himself would write, or Lydia Lunch in a more innocent mood.

Incidentally, Ms. Post, who always advised against drawing attention to oneself,  did not approve of wearing fancy black clothes:

Fancy clothes in mourning are always offenses against good taste, because as the word implies, a person is in mourning. To have the impression of “fashion” dominant is contrary to the purpose of somber dress; it is a costume for the spirit, a covering for the visible body of one whose soul seeks the background. Nothing can be in worse taste than crepe which is gathered and ruched and puffed and pleated and made into waterfalls, and imitation ostrich feathers as a garnishing for a hat. The more absolutely plain, the more appropriate and dignified is the mourning dress. A “long veil” is a shade pulled down—a protection—it should never be a flaunting arrangement to arrest the amazed attention of the passerby.

“A Shade pulled down”. That sums up the serious of wearing black in past times. It had one meaning only, and that was death. Now black is just a practical color that does not get dirty in snow and always looks sharp. Today, it has been stripped of it’s meaning of death and  mourning.


But what will the punks and goths, who want to connect with the eternal and the power of death, wear now that everyone is wearing black?

How about wearing white?



Written by nattie

September 14, 2016 at 1:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized

A Random Post

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Today I will just write a post with no theme. I don’t know why you always need an agenda when you write, so I will write about anything. I have no idea why my 11 year old daughter is picky about lunch snacks. She never likes the chips I buy, whether it’s corn chips, corn chips with a “hint of lime”, potato chips, cheezits, or even pretzels. She just does not want them. And then she complains that I do not pack her a “crunchy snack”. WEll I’M TRYING. So today I popped some microwave popcorn and just gave her some of it. I think she was happy.

A post about nothing should also have a picture, so here is one. This seems like as good a picture as any. Disney girl with Alligator from Haunted Mansion. I may replace it with a picture of something else at any time.

And something I am really angry about. Why do old people have to share a blood supply wtth young people? I mean, old people need to just GET OVER THEMSELVES. Like your time comes, and then your number’s up. Is it really necessary to try to live to 100 or longer and especially by taking some younger person’s blood? Just go out and leave the earth to some younger people without making it totally crowded with your old-ass selves. I guess this upsets me because I live in NJ and it’s the most populated state in the nation, so crowds are part of my daily experience.

I’m going to California tomorrow. I have a lot of plans to see family, like every day. Hopefully we will try some good Mexican food too. Among other things we are going to Disneyland, well that is, if the Haunted Mansion is open. A friend told me that Disney is getting rid of all images of alligators in their theme parks, which means that they are changing (sob) that great picture of the girl with the pink parasol in the haunted mansion, on a tightrope with an alligator at her feet. I can’t believe they are doing this. Seriously, grow some balls Disney. It’s sad that little boy got eaten by an alligator. It really is tragic, but that is totally superstitious and lame. On the other hand I can sort of understand it. I would probably do the same thing in my home if I had a pet alligator and it ate a kid.

Sothis is the end of my post about nothing, which has actually been about several things.

Written by nattie

July 8, 2016 at 5:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Investing with the Princess

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I learned something very interesting tonight. Investing can be almost as fun as shopping. OK, almost, and I’m new to it so I’m talking out of my ass, I realize.

Still, tonight after work I did two things. I went shopping at Target and Kohl’s, looking for a vest. I didn’t find the right one anywhere and spent about 40 minutes digging through sale racks. I almost bought a furry black vest that said “FILA” in large blue letters, at Kohls, but thinking it was tacky, and as the line was long, I left it there.

When I got home I decided to invest (wow after after not finding a vest, I just realized that!), for the first time ever. I had converted an old 401K  into a rollover IRA a few weeks ago.

My bank kept telling me, “Now you have to invest it”, and emailing me this tool. They really love to email the tool. I have about 6 copies in my inbox right now. I thought “oh, they probably automatically invest it in something like the “Saving Until You Are Old And Decrepit” fund. Whatever man.

But tonight I was bored enough to do something about it so I called them.

Now I should say that Fidelity has the WASP-iest sounding brokers in the world, and they are all men. I’m picturing a bunch of Indians with really good voice training saying they are “Jim Tate” or “Jonathan Peterson” or “George Michael” but good for them and their nice acting skills.

I should back up a little. I had actually done my research and figured out that I’ll never be able to retire. If I want to have $45,000 a year by the time I’m 65, I’ll have to invest well over half my  monthly income in 401K. Forget it! Assuming that I’ll be still be a poor college student at age 65, I can at least do something good with my money because poor students always care about the environment and besides, who cares!

With that in mind I have been researching “social responsibility funds”. Because, for me, the quality of a fund depends on the types of companies it invests in, not how bullish it is (is that the right word?). And there are a lot of social responsibility funds but, as this article points out, they all decide what is socially responsible to them. Most exclude alcohol (I LIKE alcohol, alcohol is GOOD), cigarettes (I don’t care!), and weapons manufacturers (Now we’re talking. I like to exclude weapons manufacturers!).  So in the end you have to do some research down at the level of companies.


Based on this article, I decided that a good fund would be Parnassus. They are doing OK, they invest in public water (yay! I don’t like water bottles everywhere!), and Autodesk (CAD software – plus I used to work at Autodesk and they were nice).

So back to tonight. I called 1-800-whatever and spoke to a very knowledgeable man who explained about the difference between funds (a group of stocks) and stocks (individual companies). He said I could find out about the different stocks using the research tool that he’d be happy to email to me. They do love to email that tool.

He connected me to a trader and, after a brief hold, I seriously heard the following:


“Uh, I’m calling from the outside. I’m a customer” I said.

“Oh I’m sorry, I was not paying attention. Um. Uh.” (puts on a professional tone) “What would you like to do tonight, ma’am? Are you logged in?”

“Yes I am and don’t worry. I thought it was funny” (he’s probably snorting coke off a prostitute’s butt right now).

So after that he showed me the very complicated steps of going to the home page, clicking “trade” and entering the stock symbol and clicking “buy”. When I did it all without a problem he said “well look at you!”. Look at me! It’s almost as fun as shopping!

And that was my first experience investing. I may do it again. I definitely like the fact that even if recycling is a joke, I could possibly be supporting public water, low-cost homes,  vests in colors that I like, or any number of things that make a difference.

Written by nattie

March 4, 2016 at 2:56 am

Posted in money, Uncategorized