Monday, March 18, 2019

Vampire Weekend, Revisiting Old Lyrics & Amelia Earhart's Prenup

Weekly Update 2019-12: Consistently stellar music from indie pop darlings Vampire Weekend, recycling old lyrics into new songs and the very modern prenuptial agreement between Amelia Earhart and her fiance.

Music: Vampire Weekend
A band I've been following since their 2008 self-titled debut album, Vampire Weekend remains on my heavy rotation over ten years later. Formed by lead vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig, multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, drummer Chris Tomson, and bassist Chris Baio, all four of these musicians are at the top of their game. What results is a series of three absolutely stellar albums with the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal and Jerry Seinfeld gracing their music videos. The band's fourth album Father of the Bride will release on May 3.

Start anywhere, though you may want to work chronologically if you've never heard them before.

My bandmate Leon and I led the band this past week of band practice, the last practice until our leader Pato returns from Brazil. I hear he has made some solid plans for the whole band to go there next year - which I can't wait to do! All his photos and videos look so colourful, and what's better than going to Carnavale, but actually participating in Carnavale!

Vena sent me to VentureOut, a wonderful conference on improving diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. I loved everything about the conference, from the pronoun stickers given out with each nametag lanyard to the keynote with rookz, Canadian music executive to the touching land acknowledgement to the uplifting and informative content across many difficult subjects. There was even a session on making your design voice heard - something I often struggle with in my daily role.

My friend Nadia led an art crawl along this year's installment of Winter Stations on Sunday. We had a bit of sun to break the cold lake wind as we checked out the sculptural scenes against the beachy backdrop. The installations themselves were interesting, though I think I preferred last year's version a little more. All that to say, I relish the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of strangers, and it was really nice to meet a bunch of new people that Nadia knows. She seems to be quite the people-connector, and (self-proclaimed) very good at networking.


Tonight I'll be trying something I haven't done in a long time - yoga. My friend Laura invited me to try a class of hot yoga, which leads me to believe I'll be getting a little sweaty.

Spring has sprung (for me at least), and I've been biking every day in earnest. It's time to fertilize and repot some of my plants, which I'd like to do on Wednesday.

I'm giving over my Saturday afternoon to lots of artistic ventures: Ai Weiwei at the Gardiner Museum, a beading exhibition at the Textile Museum, and a stroll through Ryerson's Photography exhibit. These three art hubs are some of my favourites in Toronto, and Saturday will be a packed day!

The rest of my free time this week will be dedicated to marking - Thursday marks the last class of my second semester teaching at BrainStation. Another goal (though not for next week) is to start crafting a blog post abut my experiences as an instructor. It'll be good content for myself and for LinkedIn. I've never taken much stock in LinkedIn, but several different sources have been telling me to apply a bit more attention to it. But I'm still not downloading the app to my phone. I definitely don't need another social media app to get addicted to.

Random Thought: Lyric Callbacks
It's no secret that I love listening to music. I dare you to follow me on Spotify because I will always be at the top of your feed. This naturally means I have a lot of lyrics memorized. Upwards of 20,000 songs, maybe more. It's a hard thing to count. But at any rate, I have certainly noticed a small trend of musicians calling back to old lyrics from their past albums.

Britt Daniel of Spoon first sang about Jonathon Fisk on the band's 2002 album Kill The Moonlight. Fisk makes a reappearance on 2014's They Want My Soul (title track), twelve years later. Daniel has said in interviews that the 2002 song is based on his own experience being bullied in middle school. The bully later became a Spoon fan who attended, in Daniel’s words, “all of [Spoon’s] shows for about two or three years.” I like to believe this callback is a way of Daniel proclaiming his truce with Fisk "irl" as the kids say, and shows a little human kindness.

Vampire Weekend (hey, they sound familiar...) have done a similar trick. Lead singer Ezra Koenig sang those weighted lyrics "I don't wanna live like this, but I don't wanna die" back in 2013 on their Grammy-winning Modern Vampires of the City, though what could have made for a biting chorus was saved for the final 30 seconds of the song Finger Back. Now, six years later, Vampire Weekend is back and Koenig repeats his fated lyric on Harmony Hall

And a bonus; I've been on quite a Justice kick lately. I never gave their third album Woman Worldwide a proper spin, and my newfound appreciation for it brought me to their 2018 live album WWW. Justice's three live albums are, each in their own way, a true masterpiece in reworking of art into new art. As they add a new studio album to each live album, they mix and remix their own songs together, across albums and across their roomy expanse over the electronic genre-scape. And I love it. I know that with every new studio album will come a delicious new live album, in which they'll give new life to my favourite older hits as they mix with newer releases.

Inspiration: Amelia Earhart's Prenup
We all remember Amelia Earhart from our days in history class: the female pilot ahead of her time, what with her passion for aviation and wearing pants (both unheard of for women in the 1930s). Now, I learn a new layer of her true sense of modernity.

In the one-page letter written by Earhart to her fiance, book publisher George Putnam, Earhart admits that she is "reluctant" to marry, fearing marriage will "shatter thereby chances in work which means most to me." She then suggests an open relationship of sorts.

"On our life together I want you to understand I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly," Earhart writes.

In the end, Earhart asks Putnam to make her one promise -- that he will "let her go" in one year if they are not happy. The letter is featured in Purdue University's online Amelia Earhart exhibition.

Putnam himself also held pretty modern views on marriage. In an essay published in 1932 (one year after he and Earhart married), he wrote that he had few objections to Earhart's career and that he didn't "let" her fly, but rather encouraged it.

"Women who earn their salt are entitled to have what they want to put the salt on!" he writes.

Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and mysteriously vanished during an attempted flight around the world in 1937. But she continues to be revered as a feminist icon, and with a prenup like this, it's easy to see why.

I've been realizing lately that with our current political climate being as charged as it is, it's more important now than ever to recall on history to remind us how to move forward.

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