This is maybe the best accidental find in the history of procrastination by means of diving into internet wormholes.
It all starts at the 1:50 mark.
That break sounds like the drum track of seemingly every early rap song I remember coming out. It seems like it’s part of just about everything and it gets embedded into your brain.
It’s the pattern I subconsciously finger-tap on the desk or the steering wheel in moments of boredom.
(Check out this list of people who sampled Funky Drummer.)
“It’s the continuing series of small tragedies that send a man to the madhouse.” –Charles Bukowski
When I think about my friend Matt Smythe I think of that line from Bukowski’s poem called The Shoelace. I’ve fished with Matt a few times and shared a Maker’s Mark or two with him and in my experience our conversations tend to sound exactly like his narration of the film he collaborated on called “A Deliberate Life.”
I call it Matt’s movie because I relate to it most through his eyes but it really came to pass via the joint efforts of him and Grant Taylor and the crew from Silo 4. By now most of you have probably seen the trailer posted above or watched the short version of the film at IF4.
I had the opportunity to view the full version and watching it reminds me of sharing a jon boat with Matt and realizing that he really did what the premise of the movie is about. It’s about real life, and holding that series of small tragedies at bay by following your passion. He actually did this, leaving the security of benefits and bi-monthly pay stubs that most of us cling to, to get after a life lived outdoors. And in doing that he actually did this, made a movie about five people who decided to go that way and see it through.
The cinematography is stellar and the subdued soundtrack enhances the reflective mood. Again, Matt’s narration sounds like having a conversation with him, while at the same time carrying a poetic rhythm that matches the visual flow of moving water. The film is in many ways set in the eternal present, this group of friends fishing together (in places we daydream about while typing on laptops) and talking to each other about how they all got to this point in their lives. I wish they all shared a little more about the before, about what they broke away from and some of the gritty details that led them to “a deliberate life.”
But then again, isn’t this what life was like before the dawn of social media, where everyone now feels compelled to share every detail about everything until mystery and discovery are choked away? This is what stories around a campfire used to be, revelatory yet at the same time incomplete. Maybe it’s enough to say, “I made a decision and I’m here.”
And the fact that they are “here” and not still “there” amidst the little tragedies–there’s satisfaction in that.
To get the full version of the movie, head on over to SILO4.
Punk rock was never my bag but when you peel it back, especially in its earliest forms when barely anyone knew what it was, you get glimpses of these kids exploding with raw ideas and you wind up with something like the Minutemen–one of the greatest American bands. Or, you stumble across two-minute snippets of a guy like Ian MacKaye, and his clarity of thought in what he says.
Schick sent a Hydro five-blade razor sample in the mail and I tried it. I still like the Gillette Fusion better and I still haven’t tried the Pro Glide with Flexball because I really don’t think I need my shaves to get any closer. We’ve made some pretty big leaps over the past several decades to get from straight edge to this point.
But getting the free razor reminded me of a great expose on the disposable razor blade industry that the New Yorker ran 16 years ago. The article stuck with me for several reasons. Partly because there are not many magazines out there willing or able to delve 14,000 words into razor blade technology.¹ It’s one of the reasons I both love and hate the New Yorker at the same time. I love it because it practices longform and literary journalism at the highest level. Hate it because often the people who like to talk about what they’ve read in the New Yorker seem to do so specifically because they like to show off the fact that they read the New Yorker. (As if that in itself is an estimable endpoint.)
But what I like most about that razor article is that it reminds me that if you write well you can write about pretty much anything. John McPhee demonstrated the same thing with his 17-pound book about Interstate 80.
But back to the razors. These things all have five blades now. Five. How will they top that? There’s got to be six or seven blades coming down the pike, maybe that you can wear in the form of some hip looking wristwatch. I hope somebody has something interesting to say about it.
1. I’m only guessing at 14,000 words but everything in the New Yorker seems to run that long. Except the cartoons.
Once in a post I likened the darkened bars on the gill plates of a smallmouth bass to war paint.
In the last issue of The Drake, I wrote an essay about smallmouth bass where I described the “dark bands on the gill plates popping like war paint.”
Many times when you write for print it’s as if you send it out via pneumatic mail tube, never to be heard from again. So it was gratifying to get a package in the mail from an angler from Michigan named Jon Lee.
“That stuck with me,” he wrote of the line. “I paint fish and couldn’t get it out of my head so I painted it.”
Thanks Jon Lee, to me that’s about as cool as it gets.