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November 30, 2011

It’s about time for another update. I’ve got nothing huge to report right now, but it’s been a while, so this one will be about an inch deep and a mile wide.

First, something. This blog doesn’t have a ton of readers, and the ones it does have, I suspect, mostly come here directly, whether because the have it bookmarked, saw it linked on my Facebook, or whatever. Those that come in through search engines usually get here by searching for me or the blog specifically, or by stumbling onto one of my immaculately tagged pictures. Occasionally, though, someone gets here by searching for something that doesn’t exactly exist anywhere on this site. So I just want to say, to whomever found this by searching for “feel life is aimless,” you’re probably right. I feel like Google is psychoanalyzing me, and I’m more paranoid than usual about how accurately it nailed me.

Moving on.

Generally speaking, I try not to share too much of what I’m saving for the book. This little bit, though, I found so enjoyable that I’d share just a taste.

If you were in Athens in November of 2003, you may have seen posters like the one below for a show at the Caledonia Lounge featuring a band called the Dutch Scrubber as one of the openers for the Ladybug Transistor.

The Dutch Scrubber poster

If you attended the show, you may have even noticed that the band was basically just that incarnation of of Montreal, sans Dottie Alexander: Kevin Barnes, Bryan Poole, Jamey Huggins, and Kevin’s wife Nina. Coming up with a name like ‘the Dutch Scrubber,’ though, takes an imagination like Kevin Barnes’s.

Touring bands often have a lot of time to kill in the van between shows, and many bands come up with games to keep themselves occupied. One of the games of Montreal came up with was, basically, coming up with the most outlandish acts of sexuality they could imagine. Here’s one of Kevin’s more surrealist contributions, as relayed to me in a recent interview with one of his bandmates:

‘The Dutch Scrubber’ involves a man and a woman, and it starts at night or whatever. The woman lies naked on the floor, on her stomach, and then the man ejaculates as many times as possible, all the way until it becomes morning, onto the woman’s back. Sometime in the morning, whenever the sun comes up. And then this man called the Dutch Scrubber will just appear, and he will clean the woman’s back. And then after he’s done cleaning the woman’s back, he disappears. That’s ‘The Dutch Scrubber.’

In addition to an encyclopedic recounting of the Elephant 6’s rich history, my book will also include 99 Tips to Make Your Man Melt.*

Moving on.

Whenever I hear a bit of news about something Elephant 6 related, my excitement as a fan is offset by a twofold anxiety as biographer/historian/writer. First, I think to myself, “Shit, how am I going to cram even more content into this book?” Then, I think, “Shit, is someone else going to start writing a book about this, too, and will they beat me to the punch?”

Luckily for me, that anxiety subsided pretty quickly the other day as I listened to a Weekend Edition piece on Neutral Milk Hotel. I say lucky because the piece contained no real new information. It’s a well produced piece and worth listening to for even the most knowledgeable NMH devotee, but it’s mostly a survey of the band’s history leading up to a review of one of Jeff Mangum’s performances in Baltimore last month (one that I attended myself). Specifically, it touches on some of the Neutral Milk Hotel-inspired pieces of art from the last few years, from a Mangum-centric RPG to a play based on Aeroplane to a shout out on one of the best comedies on television right now, NBC’s Parks and Recreation (video of which no longer seems to be available online, but if you can find episode 14 from season 3, it’s in there).

That Neutral Milk Hotel can be a reference on a primetime TV show should surprise no one who reads this blog, but it’s still pretty neat, and if it draws more people to the music, all the better. And if it makes people say, “Ew, Neutral Milk Hotel is too mainstream,” well, fuck those people.

Moving on.

Finally, I should probably share a bit of an update on my book progress. As I’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t make for good copy to say “I conducted a few interviews, transcribed them, and then worked them into my massive outline,” which is why I don’t post very often anymore. But it’s worth mentioning that things are still plugging along. I’m still conducting interviews and digging up secondary sources, and everything is on track. At some point later in the winter, probably in February, I’m planning a road trip to Lexington or Athens or both to tie up some loose ends, and I’m sure I’ll see some folks in the meantime, whether in DC, Philadelphia, or some other northeastern metropolis. Such progress will probably be relayed to you, the reader, through vague, coy blog updates. Strap in.


*Most of these involve ice cubes.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Carlton permalink
    November 30, 2011 8:32 PM

    You are awesome. I’ve been following for a long damn time now. The stuff you’ve unearthed is simply unreal. I never thought I’d see any walk so much untreaded earth with all these secretive bands.

  2. November 30, 2011 8:49 PM

    Some of us have you saved in our RSS readers, thank you very much.

  3. Rob permalink
    November 30, 2011 9:48 PM

    Beautiful story about–and photos and videos of–a Chicago Olivia Tremor Control, Music Tapes show:

  4. January 4, 2012 10:15 AM

    really excited to read this…good luck w/ the finishing touches!

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