Thought For The Day
Thought For The Day

I've been staying in too much. I've been focusing on a project. I haven't been buying many new books or records. I've been moving in ever-decreasing circles. Whatever. Then into my life comes a burst of freshness. That feels so good!

Spring is fresh. It's when new leaves come onto the trees. They're pretty much the same as the old leaves, but fresh.

The freshest thing in your house is the tap, that moment when you turn it on and see fresh cold water shooting out. It's probably processed and recycled, but it still seems fresh.

To me, right now, The Incredible String Band's third album is fresh. 'A Very Cellular Song', wow!

You can't help noticing, when you go visiting, that some people's shelves and tabletops are fresh and others' aren't. Some people have all these unfamiliar, interesting-looking books and magazines and CDs, and you're gobsmacked with the freshness of it all. Others have some weary, creaky old titles that everybody's heard of, fucking Sting or something.

Some people can't help saying fresh things when they open their mouths, others spout stuff you've heard a million times. It's something you can rehearse, freshness. You can decide to freshen up your act. Hell yes! You can pause a bit before saying something, and say something else instead that surprises you a bit. Without losing the thread of the conversation entirely, of course.

Mad people are a little too fresh. We're often interested in their ramblings but we hurry off saying 'I have an appointment'.

Fresh things don't have to be things you buy, or even things you see on your travels, although the great thing about travel is the high you get from exposure to freshness. No, you can load up with freshness just by looking around, and breathing deeply. You can put fresh on a charge card, or on a library ticket.

Go for walks in new areas. Bob along on a scooter instead of walking. Try some new style of foreplay, or mess around with someone of a new gender. Download fresh porn from the internet, or abstain from sex altogether, whichever is the fresher. Sex wants to be fresh, and it's so obvious we were designed for it. It's a system to freshen up the world and make new flesh.

Learn a language! Crack your gloom like an egg! Beat new pathways in your brain! Try a new cuisine!

I'm sitting in the Dumpling Inn on Eldridge Street thinking how fresh New York Chinatown is. Not only are the dim sum diners next to me, smooth-skinned Chinese girls fresh from school, babbling to each other with the exuberance of a Cantonese highland stream, not only are the repetitive forms of the dumplings themselves, still sizzling in their frying oil, a dollar for five, pork and chive, with brown crispy undersides and pale doughy puffed bellies, fresh and healthy and cheap, but outside on the street the riotous forms of fresh fish, fruit and vegetables cluster and jumble, offering to the eye of the passerby a squall of colour and form, while strains of Cantonese opera -- my next musical direction, I swear, the freshest shape of song I've heard all year! -- drift in from high windows, totally fresh in the unpredictable placement of drums and gongs and caterwauling human voices.

Grand Street on a winter's day, Chinese faces, bustle, a stationery store with stitched ink products of slashed red calligraphy, bound on crackly oiled paper!

Ezra Pound with his motto 'Make it new!' and his haiku 'In A Station Of The Metro':

The apparition of these faces in the crowd
Petals on a wet, black bow.

William Carlos Williams: 'I have eaten the plums that you were keeping in the icebox. They were delicious: so cold, and so sweet!' Harry 'fresh' Partch!

Boy bands and girl bands look fresh. But they aren't.

I've always liked those Japanese rooms with a heavy iron kettle steaming away, because you know the green tea in there is pretty fresh, and freshens you when you drink it. And the steam makes fresh shapes in the air, against the darkened wood.

Oriental things for me are freshest. I enjoy the fish, the greens, the Chinese vegetables on Grand Street, the flicker of bicycles and handcarts, the sheer number of events per second, the hustle and bustle derided by the dwindling, fusty ex-patriot Italians nearby as 'bringing this neighbourhood down to the level of the third world'. Well, fuck you, crusty old dwindling tenth generation Italians, make more babies if you want your neighbourhood to be fresh!

The Roman poet Horace, he was fresh.

The developing world is where it's fresh. That's where population pyramids are skewed in favour of the young, where there's poverty but high growth rates, where shining Chinese eyes contemplate a more fortunate future. What can compare with that dream of future success? Certainly not the net result: boring old affluence, stability, slowdown, ageing, complacency.

The orient is also developed, of course, tech-futurism: the fresh designs of DoCoMo cellphones, smaller, faster, more capable and connected than their US cousins, the freshness of Hideki Anno's manga-inspired camera angles in 'Love and Pop', the film I watched yesterday, choc-a-bloc with sailor-suited Shibuya girls getting paid for increasingly bizarre and innocuous activities, finally taking grapes into their mouths and biting them before a hentai collector deposits the fragments of fresh fruit in a petri dish. Can you preserve freshness? Hmm, now I'm chewing on a dried apricot.

Fresh is a DVD I just watched of 'Double Suicide', a 60s Japanese film in black and white, where a bunraku-derived Romeo and Juliet-like tale from medieval Japan is played out by real actors, but the dark-clothed, visored puppet assistants are retained from bunraku, so that every moment of the melodrama is watched by calm, surreal, fatal witnesses who both are and are not there, who intervene to turn up the corner of a blanket or draw a sword, as if the actors were still puppets and needed assistance. That sort of device hits new buttons in my brain, because I've never seen it before.

Unfresh is, obviously, Hollywood. Fuck off, Hollywood!

Fresh is hearing from Shizu that she's taken an apartment in Meguro, Tokyo, one stop on the Yamanote circle line from Ebisu, two from Shibuya and three from Harajuku, source of much sartorial freshness and crucible of Japanese youth culture. Fresh is knowing that through May, June and July that's where I'll be, listening to wind chimes and the cries of children in the playground of the primary school next door.

Fresh is having a new-born record label called American Patchwork! Send me fresh stuff, O glitch folk artists of the entire world! All you have to do is totally surprise me and you've got a deal.

Fresh is seeing 'Folktronic' for the first time, shrink-wrapped and blocky-looking, with its faux-folky spine type and its Arctic explorer-chic slipcase. Fresh is seeing three full-page photos of self and girlfriend (stripped to the waist in a Berlin hotel bathroom, freshening up) shot by fresh young photographic talent Ryan McGinley and spread across the new Index magazine, hot off the presses.

Fresh is the tailor, scissoring the first cut into a virgin bolt of cloth. Fresh is using the word 'scissor' as a verb! Try and stop me, grammar police!

Eternally fresh designer Charles Eames is on my DVD player, giving a lecture at Harvard, where he's poetry professor. It's called 'The New Covetables'. He's talking about freshness, too. He shows slides of:

A bolt of cloth ('The way cloth itself looks and packs and feels!' he excaims.)
A hank of rope ('You don't want to break into it,' he adds.)
A reel of line ('It comes in a package from the haberdasher or from the chandler,' il precise.)
A ball of twine ('Who would throw away a ball of twine?' asks Eames.)
A keg of nails ('When anything was broken into in our house, like a box of candy, someone would always refer to it as 'breaking into the keg of nails'.)
Reams of paper ('Haven't you dreamed of reams of paper? It's beautiful, beautiful, beautiful stuff.' The poet audience laughs at this rhapsody. 'What you do with a ream of paper can never live up to the paper itself.' Hearty laughter, applause.)
Boxes of chalk ('Chalk is never so wonderful as when it lays in boxes... it wasn't easy to find a box of chalk these days, sawdust and all.' A young Jeff Koons takes notes at the back.)
A Cord of Wood ('The first one to take the piece out makes it tumble, and before you know it the cord of wood is gone'. End of the lecture, or of the excerpt. Hit the Menu button to choose -- instantly! -- another of the Short Films of Charles and Ray Eames, Volume 4. Even this DVD gadget feels so fresh! Instant access, perfect pause. Commentary, glossary, index!)

Things are fresh because they circulate. There's something liquid about freshness. It's nice to piss after making love! Then drink tea and eat with a hearty appetite.

Freshness makes a lot of work for the garbage collectors eventually.

Art galleries are fresh because every time you go there they have different layouts, different images, different colours. There are new faces looking at the stuff, there's a darkened room off to the side with a selection of videos, curated by Steve Lafreniere, of the downtown scene in the 80s. They're by Nelson Sullivan, the Weegee of Reaganomics. The 80s used to be stale, but now they're looking fresh again. Give me an orchestra hit sample and I'll surprise you!

It's important to dress in fresh clothes. But expensive. So I go often to Domsey's in Brooklyn to renew my wardrobe with cheap secondhand stuff. I look ridiculous! But I like not knowing if people are staring at me because I'm famous, or because I'm ridiculous. Because you see when I'm no longer famous, I can still be ridiculous, and people will still stare! Nicholas, don't be so ridiculous!

Trips to Domsey's develop themes. One day I may be on the lookout for sky blue and chocolate brown, another for sailor gear.

The absolute antithesis of freshness is the Classic Rock station. Ugh! They hate anything you haven't heard a hundred times before. You should never, ever listen to them. Unless, of course, you never, ever listen to them, in which case listening to them is fresh. The first time.

Fresh is to do with churning up still waters, flinging things into new configurations just because you can. It's about arranging things above and beyond the call of mere necessity, like a fountain jetting water up into the air in pure ostentation. It's Delirious New York as dreamed by Koolhaas, a Frankenstein city where Coney Island's amusements sprout heads and become skyscrapers. It's the dream I dreamed last night of a bulb apartment, a glass globe on the slope of a hill. Fresh is of course about displays of somewhat wasted money, of luxuriant availability, of sperm and the new flesh it engenders, of new people coming into the world all babbling and excited, of mass production and the repetitive clatter of new forms. It's Edgar Varese arriving in New York (Fresh York! The Medieval made vertiginous!), hearing a police siren and putting it right into 'Ionisation'. 'Music' be damned, from now on this is music!

Fresh is promiscuous, capitalistic and unfaithful. Fresh is communism, pure and simple. Fresh is ravenous and recyclable. Sometimes it can be superficial, because stuff doesn't have to be profound to be fresh, and it's hard to judge the eternal truth of great works if you're forever scurrying off in search of the next fresh sensation. (Moliere is fresh as hell, by the way! Go out and get some Moliere!) But freshness should be admitted into your life at least once a month. In a rush of purgation! Otherwise people will tap each other on the shoulder, point at you, and say 'Sad. Needs to get out more.'

Oranges! Oranges! Buy my fresh oranges!

Avoid sugar with your freshness or you'll get an uncomfortable restless feeling after a while.

Drink lots of green tea. It will give you eternal youth like mine. Make sure fresh sperm rushes out of your body frequently, because it's a tribute to God's fresh Earth. Experience many, many orgasms.

If you want a lot of fresh music arriving at your apartment all the time, become a music journalist.

He who is not busy being born is busy dying. Keep a fresh head and always carry a light bulb.

That's it. I'm fresh out of ideas now.

Thoughts Index