Summer 2022//thief of fire

Lindsey Loberg is one of my best and oldest friends. They did not have a tape player, but I bought them a refurbished Walkman to listen to this tape, which they love.

I struggled a lot in the process of creating this tape. There were many different tapes used and discarded in the throes of creating it. The first version of this tape was about falling in love with someone who abruptly ghosted me after a month of pretty serious dating. Serves me right, I guess–I finished it while spring was still unfolding, so it was in every respect a cart before the horse situation. I’ve realized I get so jazzed about my spring tapes that I immediately launch into making a summer one when it’s still early spring–last year and this year there were also budding romances which ended up dissipating quickly coinciding with the springtime blast of delight and delirium. Last year, I didn’t remake my summer tape that I made in the spring, because I decided it was like the model of what healthy love is for me–the first model for it I’ve ever had. Instead of giving it to the dude I made it for who absolutely didn’t deserve it, I kept for myself. But I couldn’t have ANOTHER PREEMPTIVE EMBARASSING SPRING ROMANCE TAPE TO KEEP TO MYSELF!

So, what did I do about it? Well, first, I tried to tape over most of it and record a new tape, but with the same beginning. My tape deck said, “fuck that, we need a new beginning;” chewed the tape up. Into the trash it went. Two more tapes went into the trash before I realized my tape deck wasn’t just destroying tapes for important emotional and intentional reasons, but was jumping and eating tapes at large, because it needed to be cleaned out. I also needed a new stylus. (My tape deck issues didn’t totally resolve before I finished this tape, as you can hear with the sustained high pitch noise that appears at the end of the tape! If you like to be able to hear the LABOR that went into something, you’ll dig this weird reminder that my tape player is using electricity to make stuff happen, albeit poorly, at the time this was recorded.)

I started One Day: A Mercury Retrograde Sanity Mixtape Series to help me have a place to release all of my feelings, communicate with others, and impose a structure and meaning on a really challenging season in every aspect. As I processed my emotions through the tapes, it became clear to me that my focus this season should be moving on from love and missed opportunities and focusing on the marathon of music journalism I had to run. Lindsey had recently ended a long-term relationship, so this theme was also going to be much more resonant for them. While I was in the middle of making everyone tapes and having like ten articles commissioned in two months, I finally heard back from the number one press I want to publish my book about the historical development and enormous influence of punk and art rock in Northeast Ohio with: they asked for an expanded proposal. The music journalism marathon was about to expand out into a decathlon! This is also connected to Lindsey: they sent me a gift card to this press for my birthday, which is what made me realize it would be a great fit for the book I want to write. (And that I should make something really special for Lindsey, who I wasn’t sure I’d ever bought a birthday present.)

Lindsey is someone who I haven’t seen in a long time due to long distances, but they know me on a very deep spiritual level. We went through teacher school together in the same cohort, shared the same liberationist feelings and approaches to education, fought against Scott Walker in the streets of Madison, and we both ended up teaching at these small, radical, experimental schools within the Milwaukee Public Schools system, partially thanks to Lindsey’s gig working in the field placement office. I feel like this period of my life–when I was working full time and going to school full time to become a teacher–was the last time that I worked as hard as I have been working this year in pursuit of my dreams. In this sense, it’s fitting that this is what the tape for Lindsey became about: “here I go again, witness me now!”

Since Lindsey and I are both radical educators who indebted ourselves considerably to be able to share that fire of knowledge and passion and creativity with others, it also ended up being fitting that Prometheus Bound ended up being the central organizing theme of the tape, right as the national conversation about student debt reached peak absurdity. (Lindsey is very involved in the student debt cancellation movement; I hope this mixtape will inspire others to become so, as well.)

One rule for this year’s seasonal mixtape series has been buying one special thing for each tape’s art: a field guide to the southwest in the winter, a tarot deck in the spring, and a couple books from the Classics section of the used book shop for this one.

So, our complex and interconnected themescape for this season: fire, heat, the sun, racing, catching up on lost time, power and empowerment, light, lamps, knowledge, moving on, the magic of the moon in Joona/Jynuh, working hard towards your dreams, surviving challenges impressively, and being okay being alone.

Important notes on these tracks:

“Simple as That” by Death of Samantha is the first song that came to mind when I got asked for an expanded book proposal. I danced to it on repeat for a good while late at night. “Push and push and push and push and push until you faaaaaalllllll!”

I spent a whole day listening to “Hot Hot Hot” by the Cure on repeat as an important part of my heartbreak recovery process and I absolutely have no idea why all these critics threw shade on this absolutely perfect song when this album came out in the summer immediately following my birth. They’re all like “all of these songs are great, except for ‘Hot Hot Hot,’ we think Robert Smith can do better.” WHAT?! Someone told me this song is actually about heroin, but love is also addicting.

We’re very fortunate to live on a planet where there is a Fiona Apple song for every situation.

“Celebrated Summer” is the celebrated summer jam of anti-social people everywhere.

Three tunes on here were crowd-sourced via Twitter dot com: “Rushing (Mood II Swing Dub)” by Loni Clark, “Catching Up” by Francis Bebey, and Squirrel Bait’s cover of “Tape From California,” the latter being decided upon after reviewing many votes in the contentious debate around what the best Squirrel Bait song for my summer mixtape would be–the one about being too busy to hang out in real life due to a hurricane of activity, but being able to send someone a tape, obviously.

Years of the series have kind of connective things happening through them. Last year’s thing was art made with copies of The New Yorker and most of the tapes had a 15-20 minute long song on them somewhere (missed this with the first one, because there was no pattern established yet). This year, all art has been made from reference books plus one special thing per tape and each one has had a house music tune at or close to the beginning of side B.




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