Thing of the Week: Living In the Material World, Trampolining to "Alex Chilton", The Bathroom at the 40/40 Club

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Living In the Material World by George Harrison

I listened to Living In the Material World by George Harrison for the first time a couple Sundays ago. I got a massage that day, and appreciated the irony of my using the money I make at a job that hurts my body to help soothe the body my job hurts. Later I bought a $200 dress at Anthropologie and then had a fucking meltdown about it. A chill meltdown, though. I was pretty grossed out by myself for spending that much cash on adorning my corporeal stupid self. I thought I'd be better than that, by now, and I was bummed to figure out that I wasn't. I sulked down the street wishing I'd never have to look at another building again and then started bumming even harder upon understanding that I'm not going to run away to India, like, tomorrow. I couldn't understand how I could see things so clearly but at the same time not see them at all. I couldn't understand why I couldn't get the pointless part of my ego that wants me to write books and move to London to go away. It was very distressing for me. But then I stopped into a used bookstore and bought myself a beautiful book about Hinduism. It cost a meagre $5.24, so there's a cool lesson in the true valuelessness of money for you. Holding it made me feel lighter and warmer. I opened it up to any page and read the first sentence, and that's the story of how I found my mantra. 

Before I went out that night I downloaded Living In the Material World because I was legitimately hoping it could provide me with some tips on living in the material world. I feel like I have not changed at all but the entire world has changed. I feel like when I look through my eyes I am looking out at an entirely different thing. 

"Don't Let Me Wait Too Long" was the first song on Living In the Material World I fell in love with. I will never, ever forget what it felt like to walk down my street on a chilly January Sunday and hear that song for the first time. It's so rare that you love a song to the full extent of your loving it from the very first time you hear it. It sounds like the Beach Boys and the Ronettes at the same time, if they were George Harrison. George Harrison in falsetto! And a smashy drum thing. At first I assumed it was one of those George Harrison songs that you think is about a girl but really it's about God, but this one's really about a girl. Only you know how to lay it down like it came from above, he sings, which I think is so beautiful. 

In the George Harrison documentary there's some really good footage where George is asking Ravi Shankar about how best to love God, or communicate with God, or demonstrate that God exists, and Ravi's talking about how he only really knows how to do it with music, how it's just so much easier that way, and I totally feel that. Words are too straight-laced to even begin to define the abstract God-concept that I am presently (and hopefully eternally) in love with. Music knows how to get at the light behind the air and sing it. Instruments are vessels for that energy. Words can't do it. They just can't. Unless people know exactly what you're talking about, their hear you as an insane person when you're saying it. But it's okay. People can think I'm going cuckoo if they want. 

The "Try Some Buy Some" vocals sound like a baby hound dog howling, and the music sounds like calligraphy. When he sings I opened my eyes and I saw you and the swirls start, gold on eggshell, it's not just normal Phil Spector ostentatiousness. I've cried at those notes a hundred times already. He caught some God in them. It's magic. 

I found "Living In the Material World," the title track, to be most enlightening. The one with the best advice. It made me understand that living in the material world is hard for everyone, not just me. Everyone who sees through it, I mean. I guess I kind of just assumed that I'm crappy at being at one with the Absolute and George Harrison was really good at it, but now it seems so obvious that the whole challenge of spiritual actualization is how difficult the material world tries to make it for you. It's the challenge. It's why it's challenging at all. The words to this song are all about feeling lost and confused in the middle of a creepy expanse but trying to stay clear-headed about it; I think I'm fated for the material world/ Get frustrated in the material world says it better than anything. He talks about feeling worn-out by the material world (sing it, sister), but then right away remembers that he met all his friends here in the material world- that's the exact sort of friction that it sometimes feels impossible to rationalize.  I guess it's sort of comforting to know that I might never be able to. 

And I love what a rocker it is, what a toe-tapper, a rollicking toe-tapper- it's so badass how he unapologetically writes lyrics like I hope to get out of this place/ by the Lord Sri Krishna's grace, like "Oh do the words Lord Sri Krishna make you uncomfortable? That's TOO BAD!" and then there's a little Sri Krishna whistle interlude sound effect and it snaps into My salvation from the material world, you want to punch the air, it's such an accurate context for understanding those words and how exciting they are. If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that rock and roll is God's music. 

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Jumping on a Trampoline to "Alex Chilton" by The Replacements

My parents got me a trampoline for Christmas and I love it. It's one of those one-person trampolines and my favorite thing right now is to set it up in the side yard by the juniper tree and jump and jump and jump while "Alex Chilton" by The Replacements plays on repeat. "Alex Chilton" is so brilliant for jumping up and down forever; I can't think of a better song about being a joyful fuck-up who loves beautiful music. And I don't know of any universe where children by the million sing for Alex Chilton, but I'm totally into it. Alex Chilton is my birthday twin and such a dream:

I'm also obsessed with this video of The Replacements playing "Kiss Me On The Bus" on Saturday Night Live in 1986. It got them banned from SNL for being drunk and sloppy but I don't know, I think it's perfect. I think they're so perfect.

JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: The Bathroom at the 40/40 Club

I went to the 40/40 Club on Wednesday. I've wanted to go for years because I love Jay-Z and he is a huge inspiration to me. I've never gone before I guess because I'm not a huge going out person - to like, really fancy sports bars anyway. It's a really fancy sports bar. Tom had gotten a coupon thing for it in the summer for a serious deal. It's expiring next week so, we went. I spent the day thinking about how we would 100% definitely meet Jay-Z and I would tell him how much the phrase "Can I Live?" means to me and did he have any idea how much feminist art he's inspired?! I'd tell him about how Megan even has "pueduo vivir" tattooed on her feet! I'd also somehow bring up pictures of the gigantic Can I Live? banner Megan and I made. He'd love it. We'd take instragram pix and become BFF. Weirdly, that did not happen! The 40/40 lay out is kinda weird for hanging with pals - you're all in a row on this couch thing that's bleachers also so it's hard to chat. The music they were playing was strange. Green Day, Incubus (?!), Next - Too Close. I went to the bathroom, mostly to check out the bathroom. I needed to whiz en la same toilette as Beyonce maybe. To get there you enter this terrifying nearly pitch black corridor that has tons of doors in it. I opened a door and it was this giant steel thing that took a minute for me to register it as a urinal. I thought it was like, a boiler. That was scary. Ok, next door. A tiny bathroom. It's all black tiles besides the toilet and the sink. The lighting is fabulous. I don't think I've ever looked as good as I looked in the mirror of the bathroom at the 40/40 club. I tried to take an upclose selfie in the mirror but it came out completely blurry. I think they somehow make you soft focus. I don't know. Can you even imagine how beautiful Beyonce looks in there? In real like I look like Willem Dafoe (not complaining, love him) in the 40/40 mirror I looked like Isabella Rossellini.  


  1. There's a bar in Portland called Bar of the Gods and that's the bathroom mirror I look best in. I love it when that happens.

  2. Next date night: the bathroom at the 40/40 Club. It sounds very romantic Jen. I'm 100% sure Beyonce had everything to do with that.

    1. they ARE unisex bathrooms. you should totally go on a date at the 40/40 club bathroom.

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  4. lj come to india!! i love you. i wish you were my cool chic elder sister.

  5. When you are talking about the bathroom and the black tiles it seems alike a script of horror movie.