Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Blake Miller
Together with Cats
Exit Stencil Recordings : 2006
[Buy It]

My hair is getting long again. I get it cut maybe three or four times a year. The asymmetrical style I favor starts tight and slick, then grows shaggy and amorphous. There's always an awkward period when it just sort of hangs over my forehead, until it gets long enough to tuck behind an ear. Eventually I begin to roughly prune it with cheap scissors - hacking out a section of bangs to give it some angle, trimming it off my neck, where it tends to flip up like a duck's tail when it gets too long. Now I have to wear a hat or pin it back when I sit on the floor to make things, so I can see. That means it's time for a trim. Yet I put it off. Is it overly dramatic to mention that every haircut brings us closer to the end of something? It is. And everything brings us closer to the end of something - of life, if you want to go that far. But for some reason, the haircut cycle draws me into a sharper awareness of the widening past and narrowing future than any of my other numberless cycles. I go in to the salon in one guise and come out in another, with a sense of eternal advance and retreat, a few steps foward and a few steps back....I find myself touching my hair a lot when I'm nervous, or anxious. It probably always looks the same to other people, but to me it looks different every day, depending on level of cleanliness, how I slept on it, how it dried after my shower. I don't even own a comb or brush. My blow dryer's only for drying paintings. I like to let my hair express itself. I look at it in mirrors and this is partially due to vanity, but not entirely.

How do you all feel about about your hair? Right now, I feel like my hair is a reflection of my interal weather, and right now, my hair feels like it's made up of different zones, like it has modules, separate modules that interact. It's modular. But I'm thinking about your hair too. It's not just my own hair I'm thinking about. I'm thinking about your hair and how it makes you look - it's making you look like some kind of person - and no, not everyone's hair is modular, but mine is, right now. You know how they say the eyes are the window to the soul. Well I feel like, maybe, for me, right now, it's....hair. (But when my bangs are long and it's too dark for sunglasses and I feel as if my eyes are giving away too much, I can let my hair fall over them like a curtain over a window.) So I was thinking about how my hair felt and this is how I got to thinking about how one's hair feels. For me, it feels like something that I can't quite put into place, something that's ajar, and that kind of reflects when I turn inward, that feeling of trying to smooth everything into place, but you smooth one thing down and something else - boing! - sticks straight up? That's why I'm thinking so hard about hair. It has important ramifications.

Bright Eyes
Letting Off the Happiness
Saddle Creek : 1998
[Buy It]

When I was around 7, I had a rat-tail; it curled in a little corkscrew, more like a pig's tail. In the age of Nirvana, I had that ghastly undercut style, where it's shaved on the sides and back but long on top - a weird mullet/bowl-cut hybird. Around the end of high school, I started coloring my hair with Manic Panic - blue, green, red, teal, and finally, black. I wore it black for quite a while. During this black period I got a tattoo on my back of a comic book character called Grendel, a ninja-black avatar of malevolence, bowing on my shoulderblade with menacing elan. I wore black t-shirts and a black leather jacket, black leather wristbands and black studded belts. I dropped out of college and graduated to permanent black hair dye, rich with exotic chemicals, and eventually developed an allergic reaction to it. My head broke out in supperating sores that didn't go away, for months. I kept going to dermatologists and they kept telling me to put a hot towel on it. No one suggested I might be allergic to the hair dye, which strikes me as gross negligence; then again, it didn't occur to me either. This was a terrible period for me. I was constantly uncomfortable and gross-feeling, my black hair matted with pus at the roots. This was the same time period during which my first semi-adult, "I love you" long-term relationship was unraveling. The woman I was with said the "head-rot" (that's what we called it, the "head-rot" - in this period of my life, all was black comedy to me) changed me forever. The head-rot finally went away after I shaved my head in desperation, and while my scalp corrected itself, the relationship did not. Now I don't even use any product in my hair, and I wear it natural - a dirty blonde, like a pale reflection of the blazing-white hair of my childhood.

Blonde Redhead
4AD : 2007
[Buy It]

Do you think about what you look like when you think about your hair? Ok, let me amend the question - can you? Can you think about what you look like when you think about your hair. You have to ask yourself that question. I can't answer it for you. If I could answer that, it would mean you where thinking about me. Not thinking about your hair, but thinking, what does Brian want from me? When all I'm asking you to do is think about what you look like when you think about your hair. And has it ever looked exactly the way it looks right now. Will it ever again.

Hair is obviously complicated - it's made of these tiny particles I can't even fathom and grows right up out of my head, like thoughts. But it's really simple too. It's hair. It frames your face. It signals your social proclivities. Gets in your mouth when you have sex. Now we are weighing hair's pros and cons. Pro: frames your face. Con: causes deep existential uncertainty. As far as I'm concerned, the hair, the face - all of it - are natural phenomena. I'm content to let those be. It's thinking about hair that gives me pause. I mean hair pertains across all social strata, but that's not really what I'm talking about. I'm not thinking, does my hair look cool? Is it fashionable? Or even, what kind of person does my hair make me feel like? I'm thinking about the fact that I'm cognizant of not asking those questions, I don't not know that I'm not asking those questions. I know those questions exist, and I'm not asking them. The question I am asking has something to do with existence and can somehow be expressed through the lens of hair, although hair is just the thing I've latched on to right now. Simple question: Think about what you look like when you think about what your hair looks like and how you feel about your hair. Tell me.

Latched on to, ha! More like it's latched on to me.

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posted by Brian