On the Day My Habits Catch Up With Me

Editor's note: this piece contains discussions of suicide,
depression, and alcohol and substance abuse.

on the day that Dennis Brown’s habits caught up with him school children sang in choir
and out behind the Chinese restaurants, guys were jumping into dumpsters
and the stench was overbearing
but they were past the point of caring
on the day my habits catch up with me, I’ll be down among the jumpers

Like many a fan, my main point of entry to the Mountain Goats was through The Sunset Tree. Who’d have thought an album containing some of the most harrowing songs John Darnielle had ever written that touch on his domestic abuse would make for such an universally loved record that introduced so many people to his work? Despite the heavy subject matter, it’s full of some of the band’s most popular songs, including This Year and Dance Music, two of the first that I ever heard. I first listened to them one October, and that Christmas I ordered myself a copy of The Sunset Tree and then fell in love with the band, the album, and with every song on it. Well, every song except one.

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Transmissions to Goat Mountain

In Tolkein’s “The Fellowship of the Ring,” four Hobbits set off from their home on an adventure. This is an unusual thing for Hobbits to do; they are notorious home-bodies and err on the side of caution when it comes to venturing out from their Hobbit Holes. These four Hobbits, though, are tasked with taking a powerful ring to a nearby town to meet with a wizard who will carry it from there to an Elfin stronghold where powerful people will deliberate on the fate of the Ring and of the world. On their way, the Hobbits meet a man named Tom Bombadil.

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Co-Written With John Darnielle

During my first year in college, my roommate and I, still barely more than strangers, discovered that we had remarkably similar though maybe unconventional taste in celebrity heartthrobs. We loved writers. One afternoon, as we lay in our own beds just three feet away from each other, we watched a video of one of our favorite novelists reading from his book. Not long into the reading, the novelist paused to invite the members of the band The Mountain Goats to join him on the stage. At the time, I was annoyed that my writer didn’t just keep reading. After all, I wanted to listen to him, not to some obscure band that I had never heard and didn’t much want to hear. Still, The Mountain Goats, all two of them, filed out of the wings and took their places under the bright lights on the large, empty stage.Read More »

Worse Things In Store

on “In the Craters on the Moon”

I was lying on the floor. I will lie on the floor. I laid on the floor. I will have lain on the floor.

(I’m on the floor, is what I’m trying to tell you.)

The floor is cool and dry and it sticks to my cheek when I lie here too long. My spit is pooling underneath me and I don’t know how long it’s been since you left. But you’re gone. You were going and now you’re gone. It could have been hours or days or weeks; I don’t have a clock. I don’t have a calendar. Read More »

The Geography of “Get Lonely”

I had a conversation with a former professor of mine once—she taught anthropology, if that lends any credit to what I’m about to tell you—about a suburb of Savannah, Georgia called Pooler. She said that if you took someone from any part of America and dropped them off in the middle of Pooler, Georgia, they would have no idea what state they were in. The apartment complexes, outdoor shopping malls, industrial parks and an air of pedestrian unfriendliness give Pooler anonymity. They make it exactly like any other suburb of the same size. They also mark it (and every other place like it) as patently American.

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