CONVERSATION WITH THE KNIFE

The Knife announced their break-up yesterday. Like many devoted fans, I’m not happy about the knews. When I first heard the Knife, or just about the Knife, this odd brother/sister dance act from Sweden, I never would have expected to be sad to see them go. I thought they were too scary and weird to become a band I love. But I do. I love the Knife. I love that even their accessible tracks are still disquieting and weird. Take “Without You My Life Would Be Boring” from last year’s Shaking the Habitual. It’s easily the album’s poppiest song, and yet when I played it while drinking with my father, he said, “Brad, please turn this off.” I said, “No, listen to it, it’s good.” He said, “No. I won’t listen to it. It isn’t right. Turn it off, now.” I turned it off because I don’t like to make people listen to songs they find disturbing. My father then played Rammstein’s “Du Hast” two times in a row. You tell me which is more disturbing. 

Anyways, when I saw “THE KNIFE” on my ringing iPhone yesterday, I picked it up and our telephone conversation began the way it always does.  

I said, “Is this Karin or Olive?” 

“Olaf,” said Olive, who always pronounces his name weird. 

Brad: Oh. Hey Olive!

Olaf: How are you?

B: Oh you know. Another day at bradaustin.tumblr.com. It’s my busy season.

O: LOL.

B: Uh-huh. So, the rumors are true, huh? The Knife is over?

O: Yeah.

B: Goddammit. Yeah, I figured. Shit, man. It’s a bummer, you know? I really enjoy your music and, while I didn’t expect you two to keep this up forever, I really could have used one more awesome opus from the Knife.

O: Right.

B: Yeah. Woulda been great. Shaking the Habitual was great.

O: Yeah.

B: Yeah…hey, is Karin around?

O: Yeah.

B: Great. Put her on, please.

O: Okay. Bye.

B: Bye.

There was silence on the Knife’s end of the phone, and my heart  sped up at the thought of talking to Karin, who I have a weird crush on.

“Hello?” said I assumed Karin. “This is Karin,” said definitely Karin.

B: Karin! Brad Austin here.

K: Brad! Hello! How’s bradaustin.tumblr.com?

B: Oh, it’s fine, thanks. Posted something this week that got like seven notes, so we’re not sweating it over here, ha ha ha.

K: Seven notes, not bad! Well, I read it everyday.

B: Shut the fuck up.

K: No seriously!

B: I post on it like once a month so I find that hard to believe.

K: Well, I only got hip to it a few weeks ago actually, so I have some catching up to do.

B: Oh, that’s really nice.

K: Keep up the great work.

B: Will do! Definitely not gonna pull a ‘the knife’ anytime soon, ha ha.

K: Huh?

B: Pull a ‘the knife?’ Y’know, quit. The way you guys just quit.

K: LOL! Shit’s funny.

B: Yeah. Hey, Karin, listen, Olive said ‘LOL’ to me earlier as well, and I just think you should both know that’s not something anyone says in America. We write it in messages to indicate ‘laughing out loud’ but no one actually says it. You can just laugh out loud if something is funny on the phone, because I can actually hear you. Understand? I’d just feel guilty if I didn’t tell you. But please keep saying it, I think it’s so cute.

K: LOL.

B: So, why the breakup?

K: Well, Olive has been working more and more with his new rap band, the Pizza Boyz, and I love Olive, but I also fucking love the Pizza Boyz, and I think it’s time he focus on that. As for me, I might do another Fever Ray album.

B: Fever Ray is dope.

K: No shit!

B: I feel like I’m having a difficult time understanding you. Are you by any chance wearing the melting mask from that youtube video where you accepted the award?

K: Yes!

B: Thought so.

K: Yeah, sometimes I just put it on when I chill.

B: I’d do the same thing.

K: What’s your favorite Knife album, Brad?

B: Oh, Silent Shout, for sure.

K: Ha! Pretty boring answer. Everyone says that.

B: Yeah, well it just seems like a fact that it’s your best. There’s not really any filler on that, whereas on Shaking the Habitual and Deep Cuts, it seemed like you guys did more dicking around, even though I love both of those. But with like the 20 minutes of boiler room noise on “Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized.” I just felt like, fuck you, I’m not gonna waste my time with that shit.

K: See, I feel like if you were a real fan you’d dig that.

B: And I feel like you guys put that on Shaking the Habitual just to fuck with people. Silent Shout was very respectful of the listener’s time and every song is pretty strong. But Deep Cuts does have “Heartbeats,” which might be my favorite Knife song.

K: Again, that is a very typical choice we hear from people who we don’t consider to be true Knife fans. And you didn’t even bring up our debut album, the self-titled one.

B: Yeah, haven’t listened. Probably not going to.

K: Well, you shouldn’t complain about not having another forthcoming Knife album when there’s one you haven’t listened to. What about that opera thing we did?

B: Oh yeah. What’s that one called?

K: I don’t remember.

B: Yeah, me neither.

K: Yeah, you can skip that shit. Hold up, Olaf wants to talk to you.

B: Oh. Good.

O: Hello?

B: Olaf?

O: Yeah?

B: What’s up. Heard about the Pizza Boyz, sounds radical.

O: Yeah.

B: Yeah. What’s up, man?

O: Dunno.

B: Hey can you put Karin back on?

O: Yeah.

K: Hey, Brad, Karin here. Think I’m about done.

B: Hey Karin. Goddammit, I’m really gonna miss the Knife! You know? I feel strangely sad. It’s not like you guys died. You’ll both continue making music. But I dunno, I’m just bummed.

K: No, I get it. When Audioslave broke up, I was devastated, even though I knew I’d continue to follow all the members’ individual projects. But knowing I’d never hear another Audioslave album was sad. So I understand.

B: Yeah. I kinda have a weird crush on you.

K: Cool.

B: Well, I’m gonna put one last song by the Knife at the end of this article. I’ll let you choose. What’s Karin Dreijer Andersson’s favorite Knife song?

K: Hmmm, “Fracking Fluid Injection.” That’s us in top form.

B: Hahaha. No. I’m gonna put “We Share Our Mother’s Health.”

K: Very safe choice. Very “Brad.”

B: Love ya Karin!

K: Love you! Love the blog! When will we see you next?

B: Thanksgiving, probably.

K: Can’t wait.

B: Stay beautiful, baby.

K: Always, LOL.

B: Bye.

K: Bye.

There you have it! A great conversation between good friends. So long, the Knife. Thank you for stabbing our hearts.

APPLICATION TO WRITE FOR PITCHFORK

Dear Pitchfork Editor,

Love that logo. I’m writing because I would like to apply for the job of “writer” at your offices. I would like to come into the office monday through friday and write some cool stuff for you guys. I read on the website that if I apply as a writer then I should tell you about my area of expertise in music. I wish I knew a lot about a cool area of the musical landscape. Like “chillwave,” “shoegaze,” or “buzzfeed.” I don’t, though. I’m unschooled in “classic rock,” “record-collector rock,” or “dad rock.”  And my knowledge is sorely lacking in the categories of punk, ska, blues, reggae, soul, pop, jazz, country, rap, country-rap, hip-hop, comedy, metal, death metal, black metal, R&B, surf, synth-pop, goth-industrial, and skronk. You’re probably wondering, “Well what the heck does this joker have to offer us at P-fork?” A lot, sir. Plenty. Here’s the deal: I’ve met a few bands. Okay? And I have stories about them. Good stories. Interesting ones. 

Haven, for example. Ever heard Haven? They are from England or somewhere out there. Their first album was produced by Johnny Marr, who played guitar in the Smithereens or one of those 70s bands. It made zero impact in the US but we loved it at the record store I was working at. I met Haven at a show they played in Detroit. The singer took a picture with me and I thanked him and he said, “No worries, mate.” It was real charming. 

This is the kind of cool writing I could bring to pitchforks.org. A fun remembrance of a time I met this band called Haven. Fuck yeah. What if I had my own column on the site? Like a weekly thing where I share a fun remembrance like that one. Like, “Brad’s Remembrance Corner.” Sounds to me like the sort of corner your readers would enjoy visiting and chilling on. 

I also met a band called Stellastarr. Do you recall them, sir? Probably not, as your musical knowledge doesn’t run probably as deep as mine. They were part of that wave of New York bands like The Interpols and the Strokes and Coldplay except they didn’t become famous or liked. Anyways, I met them and they were nice. They were opening for the Raveonettes. I also met the Raveonettes briefly but I don’t have a remembrance of them to share. So I was standing behind the Stellastarr merch table with the lead singer of Stellastarr and we were watching the Raveonettes and as they were wrapping their set up I looked at the Stellastarr guy and I said, “Do they do encores?” He laughed and said, “Maybe one day we’ll get the chance to do encores but for now we’re just a lowly opening band.” You see, he thought I asked him if his band did encores. Stellastarr. But I was talking about the Raveonettes! I didn’t re-ask the question because I felt uncomfortable. My life is full of rich anecdotes like this one. To this day, I don’t know if Stellastarr ever got to play one encore their entire careers. I hope so. Probably not, though.

Or how about this one! Do you recall the album Source Tags and Codes by the band …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, sir? You gave it 10 out of 10 pitchforks. A perfect score! Did you write that one? Is it one guy who writes all the reviews at the website, or do you have like a couple guys? Maybe I could help out with some reviews if one of the guys needs a break or if I can’t think of a remembrance for that week’s Brad’s Remembrance Corner. Do you guys hang out with each other outside the office? Maybe we could organize a monthly bowling hang or something. I’d be happy to set up those hangs, no pin intended. Haha! But, like, is everyone pretty chill there?

Anyway, so I was gonna go see Trail of Dead with this weird guy Frank who worked at Harmony House, but I ended up not being allowed to go to the concert because my grades were bad and my parents grounded me. I was devastated! The day after the concert, Frank came into the store and he handed me a vinyl copy of the band’s “Relative Ways/Homage” single, and it was signed! And not just with the band members’ names but with personal messages concerning my plight with my parents. One guy wrote “Brad, study harder!” Another wrote “Brad, fuck your parents!” It was such a heart-warming gift, and I felt full of love for Frank and for the members of Trail of Dead and it was almost better than being there in a way, y’know? Because it was like, just for me. Anyway, that’s a pretty touching remembrance and I will stop there because I don’t wanna keep giving these puppies out for free. 

Let me know when you would like me to get started and where the office is. I need to give my dog-walker boss a couple weeks’ notice but after that I’m pretty much good to go, man. 

Sincerely,

Brad Austin

Writer at Pitchfork.net(?)

Ahhhhh sweet early 90s atmospheric jangle pop, you’re all I need!

THINGS I SHOULD DO I GUESS?

I don’t want to walk dogs anymore. It’s a noble profession that matters to society certainly as much as firefighters and surgeons, but it’s just not “me.” Not anymore! I’ve decided I will now be a grownup and have a career that I desire to have which also yields a lot of sweet money for me to use for any sandwich I want at any time of day. But you can’t just make this decision and then suddenly be sitting in the offices of Saturday Night Live writing a sketch that captures the American zeitgeist and leads to a movie and two sequels and retirement at age 35. You have to do things first. Ugh. I hate doing things. For example, I don’t even want to finish writing this post. I got bored after two sentences. But if I can’t finish writing this then I definitely can’t get a writing job or whatever the hell I’m looking for. So here are things I guess I have to do?

  • WRITE A SPEC SCRIPT. I once bought a book that teaches you how to write a spec script. I got really excited about it and moved to Los Angeles thinking I would write spec scripts all fucking day and be working for the hit TV show Parks and Recreation in a month. Once I got to LA I didn’t write so much as one word of potential dialogue for Amy Poehler to say. I went to the Writers Guild library, thinking I’d take a look at some scripts and get the formatting down. A librarian asked me, “What do you want?” I said, “I don’t know. Do you have Parks and Recreation scripts I can read?” She said, “Doesn’t seem like you know what you’re doing here. Maybe you can go home and do some research on your own and then come back with a clearer purpose.” I said, “Ok.” Then I went home and gave up on my unclear dreams.
  • AUDITION FOR STUFF. I think I kind of suck at acting but I could definitely ham it up enough for a commercial or some soul-destroying shit like that. I took an acting class and never got comfortable, and I’ll never pay for another one again. If I get some acting job where they’re like, “you suck and need to take a class and we will pay for it,” I’d say “ok.” That’s seriously how I think! I won’t take an acting class to learn how to act but if I get an acting job and they offer to pay for the class, then okay I’ll take a class. What a moron. I’m one of these dipshits who moves to the big city and pictures himself in a Manhattan high-rise with some vague, awesome career that I just got somehow. It was just given to me because I am talented and deserving of a sweet career. Good lord, I am doomed.
  • GO BACK TO SCHOOL. What if I went back to school???? Like, real school. Creative writing school. Is that real school? I mean, maybe if I got my masters in creative writing then they’d (who’s they? Dunno! Some asshole with glasses) let my creative writing appear on their websites. Or maybe they’d like, give me money to write a thing? I don’t even know what I think could happen or is supposed to happen from going back to school, but it seems like I’d have to walk even more dogs just to pay for school and afterwards I’d be a dog walker who just finished school. Fun!
  • JUST SUBMIT A LOT OF WRITING FOR FREE. I’ve submitted just five pieces in 2014. That’s very few. They have all been rejected, but then I put them on my personal blog and they get a decent reaction. So I think if I just keep submitting stuff, someone’s gonna have to accept it eventually. Probably not McSweeney’s. Maybe I should go after smaller game than McSweeney’s. Like, go after a website I know for sure how to spell properly. 

Anyway, there are more things I could do but I have to go walk dogs right this goddamn second. So, bye. Wish me luck. And good luck to you! We’re all a little confused, right? Yes? Are you kicking ass? Sometimes I see posts from people who I thought were making lots of money and they’re all, “I suck and my career sucks and I’m a failure.” And I’m like, “Huh? You’re living off your writing/acting/standup/whatever. Quit being an asshole. I walk fucking dogs! I’m almost 30! My own therapist is disappointed in me! Fuck.” So, if you’re living off what you want to be living off of, please shut up. But tell me how you did that. 

MY FIRST TWEET SINCE THE LAUNCH OF MY NEW WEBSITE

Yesterday I launched my website, bradaustincomedy.com. One of the tabs on the site is called “twitter” and it serves as a link to my twitter page. I thought it would only be appropriate to announce here on my blog my first tweet since launching my site (so many social media platforms!). Anyway, here it is. It was inspired by a commercial I heard today on spotify that told me to make lunch my game-winning meal. I hope you enjoy it I hope you like my site!

Hey. I have a website. I encourage you to check it out! Peace.

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Hello, and thank you for your interest in becoming the next President of the United States of America! 

Due to an overwhelming amount of submissions, not everyone will be chosen for the United States presidency. While we wish everyone could be president, the sad truth is that only one of about a hundred thousand applicants will become the president. With this in mind, please follow these submission guidelines to a tee. 

Please submit a 5-7 minute tape of you “being the president.” This does not NEED to be in the form of a public address. While we do tend to favor applicants who go to the trouble of putting a suit on and addressing the entire United States of America in a well-written speech, we are often very taken with applicants who do something a little more creative. In recent years, we’ve seen applicants submit tapes of the following:

-Being the president waking up in the morning (how does a great president wake up in the morning? How long does he/she lay in bed and stare out the window or at the ceiling, if at all? What kind of expression does a United States president have on his/her face right when he/she wakes up, etc.)

-Being the president eating a meal (What type of sandwich would you order as the president? Or, would you make a sandwich for yourself, as you are the president and should be able to make a sandwich. What would you do while eating a sandwich? Would you read a paper or handle official US president business, or would you focus on just eating, as this may be one of your few moments of free time?)

-Being the president at a party (how would you conduct yourself as a president in a party situation? Would you abstain completely from alcohol to show you are better than most people, or would you have 1-2 glasses of wine to show that you’re a man/woman of the people and can still have fun? What if you were offered pot or cocaine at a party and were the president? How would you handle this?) 

In addition to your tape, we also require a 500-1000 word essay. This can be anything. You can tell us precisely what your politics are (i.e. are you a “democrat” or a “republican”?) and what you plan to do as president (would things be better if you were president? Would America run more smoothly?). Or, similar to the video submission, you can get creative with this essay as well! The following topics are examples of ways to approach this essay.

-Describe a previous situation in your life where you acted particularly presidential.

-Describe a situation where you acted rather un-presidential. Tell us how you would handle the press and the American public if this story were to go viral and create a controversy.

-What if you were the president at a party and were offered pot or cocaine? How would you handle this?

We also require a headshot and a bio. Your bio should be tweet-length. A great president should understand the importance of word economy and be able to communicate succinctly. Use this bio to tell us unique information that would make you a special president. Are you currently or have you ever been the president? The vice-president? A woman? A homosexual? A black person who is all-the-way black? Please include your net worth.

Lastly, we require that you are a natural US-born citizen who has lived here at least 14 years and that you are at least 35 years of age.

Please submit your headshot, bio, essay and video (URL links only!) to nextpresidentoftheunitedstatescontest@gmail.com

We look forward to reviewing your submission! Please do not submit if you have already been the president twice.

I wish just once my old friend Shakita would tell me personal stuff. We haven’t spoken in ten years and all she wants to talk about is money that is available for college in my State CA. She doesn’t even know I live in New York now!! I mean, I’m psyched that I can use the money for online classes but come on! It HAS been awhile, Shakita. Guess why I haven’t been calling you! Maybe for once you can tell me how things are going with you or ask how things are going with ME instead of telling me about strangely specific amounts of money that are available to me for college courses I don’t have any desire to take in a state I don’t live in anymore. I’m just getting sick of this relationship and I’m not sure why I even maintain it!

I wish just once my old friend Shakita would tell me personal stuff. We haven’t spoken in ten years and all she wants to talk about is money that is available for college in my State CA. She doesn’t even know I live in New York now!! I mean, I’m psyched that I can use the money for online classes but come on! It HAS been awhile, Shakita. Guess why I haven’t been calling you! Maybe for once you can tell me how things are going with you or ask how things are going with ME instead of telling me about strangely specific amounts of money that are available to me for college courses I don’t have any desire to take in a state I don’t live in anymore. I’m just getting sick of this relationship and I’m not sure why I even maintain it!

REAL WRITING ADVICE FROM THE GREATS

"Don’t go outside, ever. Don’t. Outside is where you lose pens. I lost 27 pens last week running errands. Writing is hard, I tell you." - Ted Shlemp

"People are gonna try to get you to not do the thing that makes you think this is the thing I was put here to try so I can expose my pain to this place where I am currently and maybe it’s worth letting myself not listen to these people who are always trying to steal my bliss but you need to not listen to these people is what I think I guess unless you think they have a point is what I tell people." - Margaret Blossox

"Writing? Don’t even get me started! Seriously!! Hahahahaha" - Hank Crop

"I was nine years old when I published my first novel. If you can’t say that, Get. Out. Of. My. Face." - Lester McRobinsonian

"What you need to do is wake up everyday at the same time and take your dog for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, get a dog, and if the dog can’t walk because it has only two legs or something retarded then find some sticks that are of similar length and width to its two real legs and somehow fasten them to the dog and just make it walk. If you can make that dog walk every morning, you can write a novel, jack." - George V. Tawlerb

"Don’t write anything. Stay out of my fucking way. Do not become a writer, I will kill you." -  Gretta “Gramma” Nancy

"Anyone can be a writer if he is bold, persistent, well-read, good at writing, white, a man, industrious, a white man, careful, a straight man’s man who is white, and self-aware." - Clyde White

"Have fun!! Don’t use too many exclamation points though LOL!!!! ;)" - Betsy Quarfer

"The only two things any real writer needs are a cup of coffee and a rich uncle!" - Trent Egg

"AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" - Seth Clarence-Clarence

"Rejection is a bitch! I once wrote a story and submitted it to a magazine and it got rejected. I never tried ever again! Now I’m 59 and I work at Chase Bank and life is okay by me, jack!" - Homer Loaf

"This is the only piece of advice any writer needs. If you follow this, you will be alright, I promise. If not…well, don’t say I didn’t try to help you out…ugggghhhhh" - Zoe Plumper (her last words)

"

And I am only writing all of this to prepare you. In a world controlled by business why should we not expect businessmen to think first of business?

And do bear in mind that publishers of books, of magazines, of newspapers are, first of all, businessmen. They are compelled to be.

And do not blame them when they do not buy your stories. Do not be romantic. There is no golden key that unlocks all doors. There is only the joy of living as richly as you can, always feeling more, absorbing more, and, if you are by nature a teller of tales, the realization that by faking, trying to give people what they think they want, you are in danger of dulling and in the end quite destroying what may be your own road into life.

There will remain for you, to be sure, the matter of making a living, and I am sorry to say to you that in the solution of that problem, for you and other young writers, I am not interested. That, alas, is your own problem. I am interested only in what you may be able to contribute to the advancement of our mutual craft.

But why not call it an art? That is what it is.

Did you ever hear of an artist who had an easy road to travel in life?

"

— Sherwood Anderson in a letter to George Freitag