Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday Duologues: C.D. Di Guardia

me: good morning (it's still morning, isn't it?) - this is a spontaneous duologue request from MacKenzie Outlund. wanna?
lemme interview you!
C.D.: hey!
me: aha!
so are you down? i'm totally going to make this BBC month on my blog.
C.D.: hahah
me: great!
do you know what you're in for?
C.D.: I think so!
a verbatim transcript of the chat? typos and all?
me: yup, although if you use naughty language i have to bleep.
C.D.: wherein I shall try to be as inoffensive as possible?
me: oh that's not MY rule!
C.D.: what is YOUR rule?
me: just be as you as possible.
C.D.: got it
me: while i ask you wacky questions.
ready set go?
C.D.: done and done!
turn on the recorder
me: yay!
so. who are you?
C.D.: I am Christopher Dennis (Chris/CD) Di Guardia.
me: who are you when nobody's looking?
C.D.: Definitely a Jedi. Because I know the Force is going to work someday when NO ONE is looking.
me: nice. and how will you use it first?
C.D.: I am starting small, just trying to move objects by gesturing at them and/or reach towards them, a la Luke in the beginning of Empire Strikes Back.
me: are we talking remote controls across the room? or moving your car to the other side of the street on street cleaning day?
C.D.: Well, I mean, if you want to get into the spirit of the thing, then there really shouldn't be any difference, you know? Yoda and all that...
me: there is no try.
do you believe that?
C.D.: I think so, but then that would mean that anything you fail to do is simply a trained incapacity. Like you say "no way can I fly" so you can't fly.
According to Yoda's logic there, there is no such thing as trying.
I know it's supposed to be motivational, but it's actually kind of the opposite in a way.
me: exactly!
also. in high school, my boyfriend's best friend used that as a defense when he tried to kiss me and i told my boyfriend. he said, "how do you try to kiss someone? you either do or you don't." the sad part is it totally worked and my boyfriend didn't believe me.
C.D.: well see that subscribes to the notion that a kiss is a one-person activity
like the sound of one hand clapping. what is the sound of one mouth kissing? besides the classic loony tunes "kissing" sound effect?
or it could be argued that your boyfriend's best friend kissed you, but you did not kiss him. All in one action!
me: god i love looney tunes.
were you a philosophy major in college by any chance?
C.D.: masters of communication studies!
once I finish this current project
me: great! what's the project?
C.D.: it is actually about musical composition
basically asking the question have music composition practices changed in deference to the changes in media
me: have they?
C.D.: we're trying to find out! it's also a driving principle behind C.D. On Songs™, a daily feature on Boston Band Crush
me: (which i <3)
C.D.: you better!
but we ask the question of what is a song? is it its own thing? does it "belong" in its album?
think to records and tapes, remember there being a specific "feel" to the end of side I, the beginning of side II, etc.?
me: absolutely.
C.D.: where did that go when people started recording with CD's in mind?
me: and now mp3s
C.D.: right! now consider the mp3
a single song in which you can embed all sorts of information
kind of like a 45 back in "the day"
elvis didn't release records
me: the format is a conscious part of our discussion when we put together the songs for a cd (or the ep) and decide on song order.
C.D.: right! it's like a batting order in baseball
leadoff, cleanup, etc.
me: lyrically i still think in terms of the whole, so images belong to and run through a record...
C.D.: now tell me though, does the format get thrown to hell when you play live?
me: but i think my bandmates think i'm a little silly for doing that.
thrown to hell? like when we put together the set list?
C.D.: yeah
me: yeah we ask totally different questions then. including how drunk will people be at this point in the set.
(and thus how likely to be open to what we ask them to come along with)
C.D.: like when The Who has to play the song "Pinball Wizard" for an encore or something
me: mm
i think the mp3 has also affected the way we write particular songs, though.
C.D.: do you think it has helped make the songs stronger, per se?
me: i sometimes wonder how much nicer it would've been to know that people will sit down with the whole album and give it a dedicated listen all the way through. does anyone still do that?
stronger? i don't know.
i think it's like everything else trying to stay ahead of folks' shrinking attention spans.
a slow building song is at a distinct disadvantage in that way.
but those kinds of songs are some of my favorites of all time.
U2's Bad. Transatlanticism by Death Cab.
C.D.: Perhaps people will listen to the whole thing through, in order the first few times?
me: Slow Dance Slow started out as a 7 minute song.
C.D.: but then they start to pick their own hits and/or it gets lost to "Shuffle All"
me: we sped it up and cut verses and cut to the chase much faster because to try to account for the strange 10 second listen that people give to tunes they consider buying online.
right. and when i listen to music now, it's in playlist mixes, mostly.
unless i have the pleasure of getting obsessed with a particular album.
i'm a little obessessed with Angus and Julia Stone right now.
how about you?
C.D.: in terms of what am I listening to?
me: sure. do you have time to listen for your own pure joy or are you mostly reviewing songs?
C.D.: I usually do the song reviewing in the morning
me: can i ask a writer question?
C.D.: yes!
me: (sorry my conversation style is incredibly tangential)
i am actually also interested to know what you're listening to for fun, lately.
C.D.: Lately, it's been mostly Procol Harum and Elton John
But I draw a line in the sand with Elton John vis-a-vis early/late stuff
me: at a certain album or year? :)
C.D.: and if I can recommend a specific record I have been listening to, it's Chicago II
me: please!
C.D.: for the layman, the line is basically between discs 1 and 2 of "Elton John's Greatest Hits"
but if you want a general year, I'd probably say 1975?
me: gotcha
C.D.: I don't really keep up on "modern" music, like in the national sense.
that is what you guys (local bands) are for
me: so no Lion King :)
(oh, that belonged to the elton conversatio)
C.D.: haha
unless your new side project is called "Lion King"
me: that'd be interesting.
C.D.: "Lyin' Kings"
me: ha! someone somewhere is going to steal that.
C.D.: I hear a country protest/complaint rock thing
me: absolutely.
C.D.: something something something our leaders are kings who lie, etc.
me: yes!
oh the writer question.
C.D.: hit it!
me: one thing i really like about reading CD on Songs is that it seems the writing style - word choice for sure, but even the pace and rhythm of your writing - seems to be informed by the sound of the song itself. is that something you consciously cultivate?
C.D.: I would like to say it just happens, but one of my conscious goals is to make it fit, and make the person reading want to hear the song. Or better, need to
like the lester bangs review of van morrison's "astral weeks"
plus I have the song being reviewed on repeat as I type
me: yay! i wondered. i love it.
C.D.: checking my itunes, yesterday's song had 58 plays
me: do you know all the words?
C.D.: well no, but I am famously bad at remembering lyrics
me: i wish i could forget lyrics sometimes. put anything to a decent melody and i'll remember it. SO much space in my brain is lost to Air Supply lyrics!
C.D.: but I think I could probably join the band of the day and play at least that song! until the next day
me: sweet.
okay i'm supposed to be asking deep nature-of-existence questions and here we are talking about MUSIC.
ask me some hard hitting deep questions
me: sure. who do you think would win in a thumb-wrestling challenge: han solo or jean-luc picard?
C.D.: I want to quickly say Han Solo
but I don't know the specifics of Picard's background
but dealing with what we know, Han Solo makes his own repairs/modifications to the Falcon
does Picard fix the Enterprise when it breaks down? no way, he calls engineering from his comfy chair
me: in a really sexy way, though.
but you're right, Solo's probably better with his hands.
although i would like to point out that he relies on Chewie quite a bit.
C.D.: well what would you say to a chewie/riker undercard?
me: Chewie. no question.
C.D.: Riker, at his beardiest, wouldn't stand a chance
me: god you're so right.
C.D.: we are in agreement then!
me: word.
okay this next question won't be quite so intense.
what are you passionate about?
C.D.: excellence! I demand it
I want high definition, I want high quality, I don't want to compromise
like for instance, I run my hockey team's web site
and everyone is always saying "use wordpress use wordpress" but I resisted, because I didn't want it to look like a "blog" you know?
me: yup
C.D.: (trivia: matt sisto and I are on the same team, making it the official ice hockey team of spirit kid)
me: (is that noted on the website?)
C.D.: but I am always messing around with the format, tryign to make it better and better
no, this is a Mack-O exclusive
me: NICE
C.D.: I am also good at making up nicknames for people that no one will ever really use
me: i'm so glad nicknames exist. i have had a lot of them over the years.
on excellence: your approach sounds like some advice we got from the producer of our ep - "you just keep asking, 'how can this be more awesome' until you can't answer anymore."
C.D.: very good!
me: something like that. i probably shouldn't have used " "
but it was close.
C.D.: I was not confused by your structure
so it's a win for you!
me: thanks :)
C.D.: also
me: can it go too far, do you think?
C.D.: I think a pattern of excellence is more important than waiting for perfection
like when I used to work at the camera store, people would say "I'm not gonna buy this, because the price will go down/something better will come out."
to which I say "no kidding, of course it will. but get something you want/can be happy with NOW"
but I digress
me: did that convince people?
C.D.: only if they just needed those doubts erased. if they weren't buying then they weren't buying!
there isn't any limit on this, is there?
me: on what?
C.D.: on the length of this interview?
me: heck no.
C.D.: OK good! play on then!
me: what do you know for sure?
C.D.: not everything happens for a reason
people say this to reassure you, but it's just an empty reassuring thought, that somewhere there are these "reasons" and "rules" keeping the world in order.
me: reality is frequently inaccurate.
man. yeah.
C.D.: the simulacra is subject to change, yes
me: i was just talking about that impulse, recently. to reassure ourselves that there is some... structure.
we do it all the time.
C.D.: it's related to the concept of good luck/bad luck
me: how so?
C.D.: to paraphrase allannis (sp?)
it's like rain on your wedding day. people have decided it's good luck because otherwise it would be a total bummer
and then, you don't want people opening their umbrellas inside, because it makes a mess. so we declare that to be bad luck
me: ha
these little grasps at control.
C.D.: but I just majorly got very sick of hearing "everything happens for a reason"
when we lost our little one, we realized there could be no good reason in the world for this
and I can find a reason for lots of things. maybe not a good reason, but a reason
me: well there are reasons and then there are reasons.
C.D.: sounds like a good album title for The Lyin' Kings
me: cause versus purpose...
C.D.: another thing that has me bugged in today's vernacular is the overuse of the word "amazing"
me: it seems like it takes something that devastating for us to see how that "everything happens for a reason" crumbles in the face of reality. and it's utter chaos.
ah! its!
(either way, i suppose.)
C.D.: yes, it is not a fun place to be, and I don't wish it on anyone!
I can make a case for your apostrophe there
me: certainly not. and i don't in any way mean to suggest you're "lucky" for having that insight! i just wonder how much more evolved we'd be if we didn't so desperately need to believe everything fits into some kind of structure.
anyway. this is not my soapbox.
i apologize.
C.D.: oh no, this is a dialogue, right? or a duologue?
either way, it's not a monologue
me: :)
you're a very gracious person, i think.
C.D.: that is a lot of downer though; we're trying to focus on the positive now, you know?
me: you've done that several times in the conversation so far. it's a very kind impulse.
C.D.: well thank you! see, I just helped prove your point by thanking you
me: yup!
C.D.: done what? gone off on a ranting monologue?
me: no no, argued that whatever silly thing i was doing or saying (and sorta apologizing for) was a good thing to do.
like how you were going to make a case for my apostrophe!
C.D.: yes!
me: so focusing on the positive
C.D.: "it is total chaos" like the aftereffects and all that
Instead of holding on to the thought: "we only had 13 days with Emilia" I instead try to hold onto the thought that "we were so lucky to have 13 days with Emilia"
me: yes
C.D.: we got to get to know her, and we want to help other people get to know her too, especially if it can help us help the beth israel NICU
C.D.: yes we do!
Ashley, Katie and Sarah seemed to start planning it almost immediately, the sweethearts that they are.
they are champions
me: yeah it's so clear how much love there is for you and your family.
C.D.: thank you
it's so awesome. like I try to never "expect" any special treatment
me: do you want to talk about why you specifically want to give back to the Beth Israel NICU?
C.D.: but it's overwhelming (in a good way) to see how many people support us and our cause
Emilia spent all of her 13 days in the NICU facility (neonatal intensive care unit)
you would not believe the detailed level of care they give there
it was like they were working with us
we weren't "visiting" their space
and they so evidently cared so much for her
they are responsible, in our minds, for helping us have those 13 days.
let me tell you this: they were not 13 troubled days; aside from being extremely tiny, she was not sickly or in any trouble until that last day
but anyway, we basically have an infinite amount of gratitude towards them that we wish to express
me: yeah
it's really so incredible. a lot of people try (try, yoda!) to be glass half-full.
but your gratitude for those days is so clear.
C.D.: oh it's our driving thing now
me: my next question is usually: what do you believe in?
but i think we've gotten a taste of that.
C.D.: are you just trying to make me quote The Dark Knight or something?
me: uh no, but i'd love it if you did.
C.D.: it actually works in this case!
so then, I believe that whatever doesn't kill you, only makes you stranger
or something like that
me: :)
word again.
C.D.: so ask on!
me: what don't you know that you wish you did?
C.D.: are you trying to entangle me in another philosophical "if I don't know it now, how do i know that I don't know it" conundrum
or do you simply want to know i wish I could comp crazy jazz chords with my left hand during piano solos?
me: that'll do!
but for the record, it's not a trick question. :)
i don't set traps. at least not here. 
C.D.: OK! then definitely the jazz piano thing
me: although i'm also vehemently opposed to mouse traps such as the ones just set up in my boss' office.
did you know that Nate Rogers trains people around here to be humane in their experiments?
C.D.: what would be your humane alternative to mouse traps?
I did not know that!
me: no idea.
don't leave food out, i guess?
where are you from, originally?
(this question makes perfect sense. really.)
C.D.: Somerville, Mass.
I am the one person you know who actually is From Here.
me: yeah i think that's true, actually.
sweet! i finally met a local!
only 4 years...
C.D.: Gilman St!
aww.. I was going to show you my grandfather's truck drivers license, but it doesn't say "somerville" on it
me: aw man!
i'd like to see it anyway...
'cause that's just cool.

me: holy crap. can i include that in the blog?
C.D.: sure!
C.D.: Dennis Mahoney
me: awesome.
C.D.: My mother did all kinds of ancestry research and whatnot
because we're from nova scotia so we were like "oh cool, they must have been from scotland!" right?
me: right...
C.D.: but no, she found out they instead came to Canada from America
after fighting in the revolutionary war
do you see what's happening here?
me: huh
and what before that?
C.D.: they fought in the revolutionary war, but for the "wrong" side
me: ho-HO!
and here you are in Boston.
C.D.: keep it quiet eh?
I always worry i am boring people when i tell them about how target used to be bradlees
me: okay. just me, my mom, michael j. epstein, and some ex-types read my blog. but i'm sure we'll all agree to keep it on the DL.
i feel that way about my hometown too - and i tell people who've never even been there!
okay three more questions.
since i've just decided to make november bbc month on my blog, i'd like to ask each of you: what is so great about Boston Band Crush?
C.D.: so many things
it is ridiculously up to date
a good tool of social interaction betwixt artists and appreciators
I can't say I fully subscribe to the unicorn motif, hence the official "C.D. On Songs" logo
me: ha!
fair enough!
the last two questions you get to make up yourself.
one to ask me and one you'd like to answer yourself that i haven't asked.
C.D.: wow
I knew this was coming yet i am still so unprepared  
alright. if you had unlimited resources
me: (check!)
C.D.: and were asked to open a school/university/whatever with whatever concentration you liked, what would that school teach?
me: whoa.
how did you know?!
C.D.: are you opening the Outlund Institute?
me: totally.
i've always fantasized about opening a school.
um. could i open a school for Creativity & Awareness?
C.D.: can you teach creativity or simply encourage it?
me: well it would be structured very differently from schools as we think of them,
with a lot of opportunities for being creative and then a lot of opportunities to reflect - on anything and everything. but i love literature and philosophy, so probably there would be a great many books involved.
i've also thought often of opening a middle school.
not often but in some detail.
it's such a rough time.
C.D.: would this be a middle school?
me: i suppose it could be, but the middle school idea i had involved a lot more hands-on learning and community involvement.
there would be a recording studio in my school, either way.
C.D.: and what would your admission process be like?
me: ummm
everyone's welcome?
we do have unlimited resources
(above, i read it as "limited" which is why i said "check!" funny.)
i have been lucky enough in my life to come across some people who are extremely good teachers and very good at seeing and bringing out the best in people. i imagine i'd just call all those people up and say let's do this!
C.D.: oh hehe well, I guess I did make that one of the factors, didn't I?
the thing that bums me out
I came up with the best question ever last night to ask you
me: and?
C.D.: I am forgetting the big awesome one and only remembering the ones like "what would a mackenzie outlund-branded candybar be?"
me: yum.
okay well think of it in time for our super secret future project!
so now do we get to do the question we both answer?
me: sure!
C.D.: OK!
let's see...
C.D.: what/who is your least favorite band? and don't cheat here and say something like nickelback or something
me: nickelback??!?
oh least favorite.
i've gotta start reading better.
my least favorite band of the day is kings of leon.
although i haven't heard their latest.
maybe it's less offensive.
C.D.: tell me what you find least favorite about them
me: it's mostly the constant screaming vocals. it undercuts the emotional impact of a good shout well-placed in a song. and just ends up sounding like he's very constipated.
C.D.: is there a particular song that demonstrates this?
me: all of them?
on that last album
at any rate
we better wrap this up :)
C.D.: OK!
me: thanks so much for chatting!
C.D.: no problemo! I hope I didn't alienate the world
me: i'm sure you did the opposite. :)
C.D.: hahah you are too kind!
me: talk to you soon i hope!
C.D.: you better! ciao
me: ciao


Ashley Willard said...

I like how C.D. ducked answering the final question himself. Now we're all left with eternal wonder.

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