samedi, novembre 01, 2008

Affect and UnIntimacy at LeRex

When I got home last night, around 6h00, I found myself unable to get to sleep right away (maybe thanks to the all the vodka+redbulls), so I watched a bit of TV, read a bit, and then finally fell asleep at when the sun was already shining through the clouds.

So it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that I got up at around 13h00 today. I spent most of the afternoon re-preparing my Internal Review Boards protocol. As it turns out, you’re supposed to mash all of your work into one protocol, whereas I had submitted one for my nightclub fieldwork and one for my daytime interviews. Anyway, it took longer than I had expected to put it all together, so I spent a good part of the afternoon working on that.

After making dinner and watching a bit of TV, I wrapped up a bit of email replies, some reading, prepared the assignment for my English students, and then headed off to Le Rex for an event featuring DJs from the Kompakt label. I had been really uncertain about whether I really had the energy to go out, but finally I was glad that I did.

Kompakt Label Night @ Le Rex

I got to the club at about 1h00 after heading over on a Vélib bike. Already, there was a massive, massive lineup. In fact, there was a massive cash lineup, and a massive guest-list lineup. Well, hell.

I got into the guest-list lineup. I was on the “reduced rate” list, which I got through the Com2Daddy website (well worth checking out if you party in Paris). The deadline to get in was 2h00, so I was pretty confident I would get in under the wire. However, the guest-line line was still pretty long, and latecomers were doing the typically French/Italian/Spanish thing of cutting in line and clustering near the front of the line in a confused mess.

As I was packed in the throng, waiting to get in, I overheard a guy and a girl behind me chatting about their taste in music and recounting their most memorable nights out. I was struck by how detailed their knowledge was of DJs in the minimal techno/house scene; back in Chicago or Toronto, you would only have the depth of knowledge among a small group of aficionados, rather than two random persons meeting by chance in a lineup of easily 100 people.

I was also struck by the way in which they talked about the emotional character of their attachments to the music they liked. The woman, especially, went on and on about Ricardo Villalobos, claiming that his music “gets into my head” and overwhelms her. “The last time I saw him, I didn’t know whether to dance or cry or scream or whatever. I was thinking, what do you want from me?”

This is all really interesting for me because all of her accounts of the effect of his music on her were narratives that started with intense levels of excitement that where polyvalent or ambivalent. It wasn’t clear to her—even in hindsight—whether that excitement was euphoric, distressing, shattering, or enraging. Of course, if she loves Villalobos’s music as much as she does, the excitement his music incites in her must turn into some sort of pleasure more often than not. But it’s nonetheless possible that just the experience of coming undone (or being made to come undone) is a kind of pleasure.

Yes, this notion of the pleasure of coming undone has long been theorized in psychoanalytic streams of thought (especially that of Lacan), where there is a distinction made between plaisir (pleasure) and jouissance (bliss). Plaisir is the obvious kind of pleasure that is narcissistic and reinforces the ego, while jouissance is the sort of self-shattering experience that destroys the ego and makes you dissolve into “bliss.” But what I’m talking about here is more like Jouissance-Lite™. That is, having an experience that pulls you apart a little bit, just enough to be energized with the possibility of coming back together differently, and just enough to feel some relief from the pressure to repeat yourself (to be yourself and not someone else).

Anyway, I still need to develop this out more theoretically, but there’s something to be said for the pleasure of coming undone just a little, and what it does for the daily life you resume the next morning.

Another interesting moment I had in line was with a tallish guy standing next to me. Earlier on in the line, he had actually been speaking to the same woman behind me that I had been listening to. He asked, in a heavy English accent, whether he was in the right line. They had a short, friendly conversation about how long the line was, how excited everybody was to get in for the Kompakt label night, and how annoying the line-cutters were. As it turns out, he was Russian, but had grown up in London, England.

A few minutes later, the jostling of the line brought him in line with me, to my left. At the front of the line, the bouncers started calling out for people with presale tickets to come to the front of the line. The guy next to me looked confused, and then turned to me and asked for a clarification.

Clearly, I was still in Berlin clubbing mode, which means “avoid speaking English in line, and avoid being seen talking with anybody that doesn’t look/sound ‘native’.” This was apparently so because I answered the guy in French, despite the fact that he was clearly Anglophone and had trouble understanding French. I was polite and I took care to explain the situation clearly in French, but I was also doing my best to prevent any sort of connection in the lineup that might create some uncomfortable obligation at the door. This was certainly operating at some reflexive/instinctual level, since I had already heard that he was on the guestlist of the sound guy for the club. He wasn’t going to get turned away and neither would I.

I realized this once I got in the club and felt really bad about it. Later that night, I passed him by in the crowd. I made eye contact, put my hand on his arm, smiled and asked him how he was doing. We didn’t really talk that much, since he had drinks in his hand and I had to pee really bad, but at least there was a moment of contact to make up for my long moment of coldness in line.

Oh, and one more thing. As I was slowly inching forward in line and realizing that this was taking longer than I had expected, I gave some thought to calling my friend Molly, who works as a PR / booking person at the club. If she was still upstairs in her office, she might be willing to come down and bring me up to the front of the line, like she did last week. It took a while to punch the SMS message into my phone, and by the time I was getting ready to hit “send,” the people in front of me were let into the club and I looked up to see Molly heading into the club with two friends of mine and one of the DJs for the evening.

I called out her name and she looked over to me, recognized me, smiled and gave me this look that said, “There you are! What are you doing waiting in line when I was right here?” Next time, I’ll just call ahead, methinks. Anyway, we exchanged kisses and then she headed into the club.

When I got to the doorman, he was all smiles and friendliness. He looked me up on the Com2Daddy list, but then smiled again at me and down the stairway, “1 person!” Notably, he didn’t say “1 person, reduced rate,” which is what he should’ve said. So instead the woman at the ticket booth gave me a free pass and I got in without paying anything. I’m not sure what happened there, but I think Molly said something to the doorman before she went in.

Oh right, the DJs? Here’s the rundown:

Jennifer Cardini:
thankfully did a minimal set (rather than her less lovely electro sets), which was occasionally marred by some technical glitches (or bad mixing)
Reinhard Voigt:
very good live set. I hesitate to say “excellent” because he was really fond of high-pitched tones and Roland-303-style “acid” lines, which got old really fast. A proper minimal set, though.
Tobias Becker:
Great set, especially at the beginning. His first few tracks completely re-created the sound and ambience of my Berlin summer. The same sort of driving basslines, swinging house rhythms, sparse textures and clicky-glitchy sound samples. The set went south after a while, and my friends left, scandalized, when he dropped Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam.” I didn’t mind, but I left shortly afterward as well, around 5h30.

vendredi, octobre 31, 2008

Halloween, Paris-Stylee

Happy Halloween! I’m sad to say that I didn’t have the time and energy to dress up in costume this year. Mind you, the Parisians aren’t really into Halloween. Apparently, there was a fashion for observing the tradition in Europe about 10 years ago, but it’s fallen off now. On the other hand, the French do observe Toussaint (all saint’s day, Nov 1), which they usually spend at home with their family, much like Thanksgiving in the US / Canada.

So, don’t have much to show for Halloween, but here’s a picture from my friend Amy / SmittenKitten dressed as Bjork in the infamous Swan Dress.

Tonight, Fantômette was booked to spin at a club called Barramundi, which I had never been to before. Afterwards, she was booked at an afterparty called Jett about a 15-minute walk from the first club. I was braced for a long night.

I first went out with a friend for dinner at Les Trois Marmites, which was perhaps not the best idea. It was delicious as usual (I had rabbit in tarragon sauce), but the portions are also famously huge there, so I was feeling overstuffed and sluggish when it came time to go out. It also didn’t help that we drank two bottles of wine between us, which made me a bit sleepy. Nonetheless, I put myself together and headed over to the club.

Halloween @ Barramundi

I got to the club around 1h00 and it was still pretty empty. S. (from last night) and his girlfriend, D., had just arrived as well, so we checked our coats and went down to the main dancefloor.

Barramundi is a much swankier place than we would usually frequent for clubbing, and just the décor made us feel a bit out of place. Also, the confused-colonial style of the interiors—African masks in alcoves; batik patterns on the walls; Indian temple doors—marked the place with a sort of ostentatious privilege that didn’t quite go with the techno-kid style here; Parisian clubbers prefer to sublimate their privilege into shiny futurist interiors or gritty “underground” venues.

Anyway, you can go to their website for some prettier images of the space, but here are the pictures I was able to take with my camera. The flash horribly over-exposed the dark-brown interior, but the low and very warm lighting made my non-flash pictures come out really dark. Nonetheless, they’ll hopefully give you an idea of what I mean.

Anyway, you can imagine the irony that the security and bar staff were almost exclusively Black / Arab, and there was one diminutive Central-American guy who’s job apparently was to stand near the dancefloor and immediately clean up any spills. The empire lives! The bar and security staff were super-friendly, by the way, which made me feel only more conflicted about the whole thing; surly service might’ve reduced the discomfort of partying in some nostalgic memorial to colonial expansion.

0h00-1h30: DJ Gilda

This guy was spinning as we arrived and I only caught maybe the last half-hour of his set. I can’t say that I much enjoyed what I heard, though. In French, you might describe his set as pouet-pouet, which is onomatopeic for "honk-honk" and translates into something like “generic” (in a bad way), “mainstream” or “unsophisticated.” I’m not a big fan of dumping on the mainstream and invoking classism/elitism, but I’ll admit that I’m not much pleased when a DJ set sounds like a top-of-the-charts radio broadcast. While all of the records he was putting down were electronic stuff, they were a jumbled mix of styles, mostly clustering around a noisy—and, to my minimalist tastes, overburdened—trance and hard-techno.

1h30-3h00: Pepperpot

I see this guy’s name everywhere on Paris flyers, especially as a headliner for “minor” club nights and venues. I remember seeing one of his tracks feature on a MixCD of Matthew Herbert (Let’s All Make Mistakes, 2000), so I expected to hear some relatively pleasant minimal. His set was probably the best of the evening, with a solid selection of minimal house that didn’t necessarily blow me away, but certainly got me dancing. He occasionally trended toward coarser, more frenetic tracks, which didn’t work in the under-populated club space. The resto-club, with most of the tables and chairs stored away, could easily accommodate 200 people, and there were maybe 50 people at most that evening. So the extra-heavy tracks felt a bit out of place.

Fantômette and I talked about the difficulty of filling a nightclub space in Paris. On the one hand, it seemed like there was a lot of competition between various nightclubs, and there wasn’t the constant influx of European tourists flooding the clubs every weekend like in Berlin. Also, the cost of partying in Paris (10€ drinks, for example) makes people less likely to go out and party.

Fantô has been thinking about starting another series of club nights (after a break from Happy People Only), but she’s worried that the same thing will happen to her that happened here tonight. That is: organize an event, bring in a set of DJs, but only fill about 25% of the capacity. What I suggested was to start at a small venue, so that the people who do come get the feeling that the place is packed, and thus popular / successful. Then, as your attendance numbers begin to exceed the capacity of that place, you shift to a larger location. In my experience, there needs to be a certain “critical mass” density of people in a space before a group becomes a crowd and a soirée begins to feel like a party.

3h00-4h30: Jeff K.

I’ve heard good things about Jeff K from various sources, including Fantômette, but I was rather underwhelmed by his performance tonight. His set started out solid—if more on the thumpy, heavy side of techno—and soon lost coherence. It eventually became a similar sort of mish-mash of styles as DJ Gilda earlier that evening, with a heavy emphasis on trancey and hard-house tracks with lots of vocals. At one point, D. rolled her eyes, waved her hand and declared the sound to be généraliste; that is, unimaginative and banal. Ouch.

4h30-6h00: Fantômette and Alyotis

I don’t know if Fantômette had been warned in advance, but she found herself going a back-2-back set with this other DJ. It did not go well. To begin with, his style was all noise and thunder, staying within the territory of noisy, pounding “big-room” techno. So Fantômette would put down two finely-wrought, spacious and airy minimal house tracks, and he would follow with two tracks of thundering bluster. It also didn’t help that he was clearly not entirely sober, as he made several really obvious mixing errors (including a couple of total trainwrecks) and didn’t seem to be the least bit disturbed by it. Fantômette suffered through the experience with admirable diplomacy, but I don’t see her repeating a booking with this crew. Fantômette is, I think, in a position now where she doesn’t need to say yes to every booking that crosses her desk.

By about 5h30, we were all a bit tired and not feeling up to the afterparty. As D. pointed out, we probably would’ve been in finer form to keep partying if the main event here at Barramundi had been more fun and exciting. The awkward mess that was Fantô’s ping-pong set with Alyotis, however, didn’t leave us in a festive mood. We gave our best wishes to Fantô as she prepared to head over to the afterparty event, and we made our separate ways home (in horrid, cold rain).

jeudi, octobre 30, 2008


My daytime activities were thoroughly unexciting, so instead allow me to present this picture:

Voilà! This was taken a day after I got my new haircut, so this is Luis with an Election Beard and Jarhead-style haircut. I haven’t stopped getting compliments for the new look, so maybe I’ll stick with it for awhile. I’ll still go through the ritual of shaving the beard after the election, but I might let my scruff grow in a bit more from now on. I may not be a facial hair person, but if all my friends like approve, I’m not going to ignore ‘em.

Anyway, after an evening of being somewhat productive and having dinner, I headed over to Yono in the Marais around midnight to catch Fantômette and another one of my friends, S., who was making his DJ debut tonight. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was nonetheless impressed with just how many of our friends came out on a Thursday night to support S. Our crew made up at least 50% of the people in the bar tonight.

Anyway, S.’s set was great. He has excellent taste in music (or, to be precise, we have similar tastes), so I enjoyed every track he put on. He still needs to work on sequencing the tracks so that they follow each other in a coherent way and some of his transitions were a bit rocky, but all of that comes with time. Either way, I was happy to see another member of our group launch himself into the world of musicking.

mercredi, octobre 29, 2008

Of Affect and Apologies

I had an odd moment of passion (in the non-sexy sense) today.

On the way to work by bike, I was riding along one of the bike lanes with a guy in front of me that was pedaling at a rather leisurely pace. As we approached an intersection, where I would have more room to pass him, I started to approch him on his left. Just then, he slowed down, swung his bike idly to the right, then swung it back around to the left and started to make a left turn across me. I made a surprised sort of "Ep!" sound and slammed on my brakes, and he finally looked over his shoulder and saw me in time to stop as well. Our bikes slammed together as he pushed me against one of the metal poles that run along most sidewalks in Paris, but neither of us was hurt.

Eyes wide, he looked over his shoulder at me and said, "Excusez-moi" (Excuse me). I wasn't in the mood to make a big deal out of the incident, so I said, "C'est pas grave" (It's no big deal) and got back to pedaling across the intersection before the light could change. In the few seconds it took for me to cross the intersection, something must've clicked in his head, because he suddenly started yelling at my back, "Hey! Look people in the eye when they apologize to you! Don't just roll away like that!" and so on.

This was an odd thing to say for several reasons, not least of which the fact that eye contact in France is less often a gesture of forthrightness / sincerity and more often one of desire. Also, he made a left turn without looking over his shoulder and caused a collision that could've been a lot worse (especially considering that there were cars and trucks sharing the street with us); I could've yelled at him and made a big scene, so it was odd that he would decide—after a moment's pause—to get angry and yell at me for not doing enough to acknowledge his apology.

But, after some thought, I think it was precisely my lack of fury that sparked his. Most traffic-related incidents in Paris—however minor—involve shouting, cursing and hand gestures. I think that this guy expected me to yell at him, and then he would get to yell at me and we could both go on with our day, convinced that the other was an asshole. This is the transaction that he was prepared for as he looked over his shoulder at me, wide-eyed. His affect-systems were wound up in preparation for conflict, and when I dismissed the incident and left him behind with his enervation, his affect discharged along a different path; what should've been an argument over who was at fault for the collision became an attack over a lack of recognition. With all of this in mind, I think those few seconds of silence between "Excuse me" / "It's no big deal" and "Hey! Look at me when I apologize!" represent a confusion as to how to proceed, and the subsequent outburst reveals an anger at being rendered socially inarticulate.

Anyway, this whole episode reminds me of a line of thinking I had once been developing around apologies and coercion. Apologies (or rather the social norms we have for them) do not only express remorse but also place a demand on the wronged party. "Excuse me," "Pardon me," are both in the imperative mood in English (as they are in French). But even the phrase, "I'm sorry" carries with it an expectation that it will be answered with, "It's alright" or "I accept your apology."

Say, for example, that person A does something really shitty to person B. Person A apologizes, but person B is still hurt and angry and refuses to accept the apology. In response, person A criticizes person B for being unreasonable, petty, uncharitable or unforgiving. By the end of this story, person B has become both the victim and the villain.

Part of the problem, I think, is that the verbal formula of apology can be recited at any point after a damaging event, but the affective charge built up by the event takes its own time to dissipate (or harden). In other words, if you're still hurting from the impact of the event, you might not be in any mood to absolve the person responsible, and yet you feel social presure to do so.

As dramatic as this comparison will sound, it's worth considering the role of the apology in the archetypal abusive relationship. A beating one night is followed by apologies, flowers and tears the next morning. If you refused your abusive lover's apologies that morning, that would just become the excuse for another beating. It's hard to refuse the apology of one who can hurt you again.

At the larger levels of social justice / politics of greivance, an apology can delegitimize anger and pain in a way that is disempowering. Anger can be an important affect for political action, and an apology (espcially when it's not followed up with reparative action) can be seen as a strategy for robbing the aggrieved group of the moral right to anger and thus deflating their movement. A state may say, "Sorry about the genocide / colonization / slavery," and this leaves the addressees with the choice of giving up on their anger or being vilified as resentful and stubborn. "We said sorry, isn't that enough?" makes any ensuing oppression the fault of the faulted for not accepting those terms of conciliation.

Certainly, there's a lot to be said for ethical and religious arguments that encourage the release of anger (Buddhism is one example, but the Christian imperative to always forgive is similar), but anger can also be an engine for change—much like hunger, desperation and pain. Moreover, the coercive aspect of the apology that I'm outlining here is that it doesn't so much release anger (or pain) as force the aggrieved to relinquish and disavaow their anger.

I recall, several years ago when Zizek came to teach a seminar at UofC, he made a similar argument regarding the political importance of resentment. As he was passing through a tangent that touched on seemingly every war in recent European history, he suggested that sometimes the political expression of anger isn't a request for an apology, but rather a demand that injustice / harm be recognized as such. As he re-framed it, the political conversation went like this: "We feel guilty about what we did; accept our apology so that we can be unburdened" "Fuck that. We don't care about your burden."

So I doubt this gets us much closer to a path for resolving entrenched conflict or anything as grand as that, but maybe it helps explain why an apology sometimes makes things better, and sometimes worse. And it might also explain why that guy on that bike this morning found himself yelling at the person he nearly knocked over.

mardi, octobre 28, 2008


For realz, yo. There were other amusing things that happened today, but this is by far the most awesome.

Now, I don’t just mean that I made alioli with a hand-blender or something. I made it WITH A MORTAR AND PESTLE. That is how hard-core I am.

So just to review: alioli (or aïoli) is a sort of mayonnaise that is made with a clove of garlic as the basic emulsifier rather than an egg. Originally from the Provençal / Catalonian regions, this recipe was traditionally made by crushing some garlic into a smooth paste and then adding mustard and oil until it takes on a mayonnaise-like texture. Egg yolks are sometimes added to speed up the emulsion, but the “real thing” involves just salt, garlic, oil, with a bit of mustard and a bit of lemon juice.

Here is a more general recipe for the sauce (although I disagree with the author’s use of egg), but here is what I did tonight:

  1. Take 2 large cloves of garlic, peel then slice finely and throw into a pestle (in retrospect, one was more than enough)
  2. Add salt, a little splash of olive oil, and a half-teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
  3. Pound and pound and pound. The garlic should turn into a paste.
  4. At a certain point, the olive oil you had added will disappear into the paste. At that point, add just enough oil to cover the paste and start pounding again.
  5. As the paste absorbs the oil, repeat the previous step again.
  6. When the paste starts getting a bit stiff, add the juice of half a lemon.
  7. Pound until the juice is absorbed, and then start again with the oil.
  8. Keep going until the paste starts getting stiff. NOTE: It’s very hard to get the sort of “hard” mayonnaise emulsion you get from store-bought mayonnaise, so don’t push the emulsion too far.

Now, I threw the entirety of the mixture over a super-large bowl of mâche greens and called it an appetizer. I should’ve left the alioli to mellow out a bit before eating, as the two cloves of raw garlic were strong enough to make my mouth hurt. I’m a big fan of spicy food, but even I had trouble finishing. Also, I stank of garlic for the rest of the night.

lundi, octobre 27, 2008

Luis does military drag

Most of my day was pretty uneventful. There were really only two amusing or interesting things to mention.

The first was that I had forgotten about daylight savings time this weekend, so I got to bed an hour early than I needed to and I headed out for work an hour earlier than I needed to. This was actually a good thing, since I spent well over ½ hour looking for a place to park my Vélib bike. All of the stations around my place of work were full—all six of them. In the end, I dragged the bike down three flights of stairs to an underpass roadway called Chevaleret and parked at a Vélib station that is always free (because it’s on a street that is accessible by three flights of stairs).

Anyway, having gotten up an hour early meant that I actually got to work on time instead of nearly 1 hour late. Gah.

In the afternoon after work, I head over to a “coiffure masculine” (the French equivalent of a barber shop) near my place to get my hair cut. I ducked my head in, still drenched after biking home in the rain, and asked if the lone barber had an opening. He told me to sit down while he finished on the guy in the barber’s chair.

I was encouraged to see him work meticulously on the short-cropped hair of the guy before me. Although the guy was balding around the crown, the barber gave him a short and slightly shaped coif (pointed at the middle and the front) which didn’t try to cover the bald spot, but rather made it blend into the rest of the haircut. I don’t have a bald spot (thanks, parents!), but it was a good show of his skills.

Whenever I go to a new hairdresser—especially “masculine” ones—I’m always worried that I will get “Male Haircut #5” or some variation thereof. You know what I mean, the short-cropped, no-nonsense haircut that guys sport when they want to ensure that there is no chance that they are “gay” or a “sissy.” So when I finally sat in the chair and said, “I need this really, really short on the sides and back,” I was braced for disaster. As I always tell myself in these situations: I look pretty decent in a buzz cut.

Well, in the end, I got a jarhead cut. That is, the hairdresser gave me a military-style, somewhat rectangular haircut: buzzed to the quick on the back and sides, and just long enough on top to sit flat. To his credit, it wasn’t your basic jarhead cut, but rather the fine-tuned, shaped version of what a professional stylist would imagine a jarhead cut would look like. There were lots of fine touches, such as buzzing the areas above the temples a bit closer than the rest of the sides and back. I’m not sure if it’s exactly what I wanted, but it looks pretty good. It goes well with my “election beard.”

Oh right, my election beard. I should probably explain. I’ve never been a facial hair person; the last time I lived in Paris, I grudgingly conceded that a bit of scruff made my face a bit leaner. However, I had a moment of brilliance a week ago. During hockey playoff season in Canada, hockey team members as well as many of their fans let their beards grow for the entire time that their team is in the playoffs. When their team is eliminated from the playoffs or finally wins, the shaving of the “playoff beard” is something of a ritual. Anyway, it’s a superstition similar to wearing a team jersey while watching soccer or football.

So here’s my idea: I don’t have an “Obama” team jersey, but I can certainly grow a beard. As it turns out, I’m very good at growing a beard. Only one week after putting down the razor, I already have full coverage of my face. It’s rather itchy and kinda driving me crazy, but if there’s any possibility that it will edge an Obama presidency closer to reality, I’m all over it. I haven’t managed to take photos quite yet, but they are soon to come. I look like some sort of military “bear” type. I just need a few tattoos and a plaid shirt with the sleeves cut off.

dimanche, octobre 26, 2008

Research Ethics and Vermin

Following this weekend’s trend of lethargy, I didn’t actually leave my apartment today. I slept in, felt sluggish and tired, but then eventually put myself together and spent a few hours working on my Internal Review Boards. The IRBs involve a procedure for vetting the ethics of your research if you work on human subjects. This means, of course, pretty much my entire project needs to be scrutinized by a panel of ethicists.

While noble and necessary, the IRBs at U of C suffer from the same problems that similar processes do everywhere. They are tedious and time-consuming; IRB boards are soothed by details, so they demand to know what you will do to mitigate the damage of every possible eventuality, short of perhaps the apocalypse. The format of the application is geared towards medical and psychological studies; most of the questions asked presume that you’re doing to do something invasive to the person’s body or subject them to distressing situations—and yet I can’t simply say, “Come on, I just want people to tell me their stories!” The IRBs presume a private, quiet, controlled environment for conducting your studies; if you’re going to be speaking to people in noisy clubs where courtship and intoxicant-use are taking place, the burden is on you to explain why it might not be a good idea to be enacting the rituals of formalized written consent. What would you do if someone walked up to you in your place of leisure/play and whipped out a contract? How likely would you be to sign a contract from a guy you just met, when the musical community you belong to has a long history of being vilified in the press and victimized by the state?

Anyway, the process is in no way fun, but I finally just sat myself down and forced myself to get it done. Now my advisor (*ahem*) just needs to sign off on the protocols and I will hopefully get a green light for my work.

Another piece of news: I have a mouse in my apartment.

Actually, this isn’t completely news for me. I knew he was there, but we had an understanding. He’s normally quite considerate. He stays away when I’m around, and when he needs to do his business, he climbs into the bathtub and does it right next to the drain. A quick blast of water from the shower head every morning ensures that I don’t accidentally step in mouse poop. I keep my food in my (thankfully large) fridge or in a hanging basket that can’t be reached “on foot,” so I’m sure that he’s not getting into my food. I presume that he’s hanging around because one of my floormates doesn’t keep his/her kitchen clean. It could always be worse: it could be cockroaches.

However, we had something of a gentleman’s agreement: don’t let me see you. I could tolerate the occasional traces of his travels through my apartment, but if I was forced to see him in the flesh, I would feel compelled to do something about it.

Well, tonight he finally made a fatal miscalculation. He scampered out from under the fridge as I was sitting on my couch, only a few feet away. I don’t know what he was thinking; the lights and the TV were on in the apartment. Anyway, he dashed out and, reflexively, I jumped up and chased him back into his hiding place.

In the moment afterwards, I actually felt a sort of sad resignation. I don’t much like to kill things gratuitously, but I was aware that his appearance tonight meant that I would be shopping for mousetraps tomorrow.