State Albums: Delaware

Jun 12 2020

Delaware: F1RST  

  1. Mrs. Mollie Brown-Rust and Her 2nd Grade Students Petition on Behalf of the Ladybug 
  2. 1209 North Orange Street, or, More Corporations Than People 
  3. The People that Kevlar Saved 
  4. Du Ponts, Lots of Them 
  5. New Sweden 
  6. Taking in Some Sun at Rehoboth Beach 
  7. Meeting a Lifelong Friend at a University of Delaware Summer Program 
  8. Miyagi Prefecture, Our Sister State 
  9. African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church and Connection 
  10. Trebuchets of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Contest 
  11. Joe Biden 
  12. Dover Downs, where Cars and Horses Coexist Peacefully 
  13. The 2,541st Consecutive Game that William McGowan Umpired 
  14. The 80 Years of the Penn–Calvert Boundary Dispute 
  15. Can You Name All the Counties of Delaware? Yes, I Can! 
  16. Annie Jump Cannon Learns the Sky 

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State Albums: North Dakota

Jun 05 2020

Carry On, North Dakota!

1. Sign Us In, Benjamin Harrison!

2. The Icelandic Festival

3. Talking to Your Grandma about Lawrence Welk

4. Lefse at the Lutheran Potluck

5. The Minot Symphony Orchestra Wills Itself an Audience

6. Robert Byrne Punches Out a Window to Save the State Constitution from a Conflagration, 1930

7. A Salute to Canola Oil

8. The North Dakota State Bison Go for Their 15th National Championship

9. At The Point Where Lewis and Clark Turned West, We Ponder Our Moments of Great Decision

10. A List of Things You Can Do in Wahpeton

11. Teddy Roosevelt, Did You Know Your Park is in North Dakota?

12. The Starvation Winter of 1886-1887

13. How the Fargoans feel about Fargo, Both the City and the Movie

14. The Three Votes Against the Creation of The North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party

15. Roughnecks Longing for their Distant Families while in the Bakken

16. Roger Maris’ Tombstone

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State Albums: Montana

May 29 2020

A Contemporary Mythology of Montana

1. Flyfishing the Firehole River

2. The Fort Shaw Indian School Girls Become Basketball Champions of the World, 1904

3. In the Alternative Universe Where the State’s Name is Shoshone

4. The Judith Mountains

5. 15 Smokejumpers over the Mann Gulch Fire

6. Snow

7. A Brief Tropical Respite in Consideration of the Kerguelen Islands, An Antipodean Landmass of Montana

8. More Snow

9. We Found Gold! Let’s Call It Gold Creek!

10. Friends of Your Parents, Who Retired to Whitefish

11. Come Pacifists, Come Conscientious Objectors!

12. Worrying Slightly while Observing the Largest T. Rex Skull Ever Discovered in The Museum of the Rockies

13. Bozeman, Sweet Pea Capital of the Nation

13. Chief Dull Knife College

14. Shelby Is Nearly Bankrupted By the Jack Dempsey vs Tommy Gibbons Heavyweight Title Fight (It Was a Good Idea at the Time!)

15. Norman Maclean, or, Contemporary Mythology of the Recent Past

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State Albums: New Mexico

May 22 2020

The Past Is Always With Us in New Mexico

1. Red or Green?

2. The Magnificent, Otherworldly Earthships of the Greater World Community

3. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680

4. Ojo Caliente, or the Ineffable Constancy of Things We Didn’t Build

5. The Albuquerque Isotopes Temporarily Become the Albuquerque Green Chile Cheeseburgers

6. Little Boy, Fat Man

7. Paula Gunn Allen and the Sacred Hoop

8. Adobe: Living with the Past Every Day

9. Smoki the Wonder Dog

10. An Inelegantly Brief History of the Long Civilizations of the Pre-Historic First Nations

11. Al Hurricane’s Eyepatch (feat. A Partial Cover of Weird Al Yankovic’s Albuquerque)

12. The Monastery of Christ in the Desert Establishes a Website, 1995

13. Questa, Where We Used to Mine Molybdenum

14. Turquoise Crafting

15. Zozobra, Who Lets Us Burn the Past Away

16. Article X of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

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Symbols

May 19 2020

So life goes on, as people eat brunch
and chat and twiddle on their phones
the concrete actions of life, their symbolic meaning hidden
from me. I am okay with, even comforted by, the concrete
but the symbolic is unknowable, even if I could hear
the conversations or hear the texts. What does it say, what
does it mean? Why do you mean it the way you do?
Why do we want such different things?
For we have what seems like cross purposes /
we are all trying to make the world better —
but with different goals, different ends, different means.
I wish in one way that we would all think similarly–
that there would be no conflict on anything, ever. And
so this, I suppose, is the way I grasp ineffability, heaven.
In another way, pragmatically, I wish we could all just agree
to disagree, to be kind to each other in concrete ways,
regardless of the symbolic meaning. But we don’t trust each
other enough to be okay with that: we humans love power
and that is a shame. We like to punish each other for not agreeing–
or maybe we don’t, and my skepticism goes to show a lack of trust.

so let me call it what it is: I don’t trust anyone to pull up
short, to say, “this is enough, thanks.” Everyone wants
everyone to think exactly as they do, and thus there is no
“enough” while we are still individuals separated by the frames
of these bodies, by the following of different leaders, by
the memory of different experiences uninterpreted by the same lens.
For we will never be the same, reformed to a single consciousness, but
we will be ourselves, interpreted by the same arbiter.
We all would like it to be the arbiter of our choice, be it
God or reincarnation or nothingness. Our choice of final arbiter
is how we structure the rest of our lives, as they keep going,
concretely and symbolically.

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State Albums: Wyoming

May 15 2020

Wyoming: The Equality State

1. Yellowstone
2. Women’s Suffrage!
3. Sugar Beets For Breakfast
4. The Magnificent Carbon Wings of the Proposed Turbines in Carbon County
5. Teenage Bottlerocket is Ready to Explode!
6. The Unexpected Dreariness of Cody, Birthplace of Jackson Pollock
7. For Matthew Shepard
8. Rodeo (After Aaron Copland, Who Probably Never Went to Wyoming)
9. Let Us Now Consider The Majestic Moose, While We Wait For It To Move Off the Road
10. In Which No One Injures Themselves Snowboarding in Jackson Hole
11. In Which Our Protagonist Injures Himself While Cross-Country Skiing in Rick’s Basin
12. #ThatsWY
13. The Solitude of Unnamed Places Along Empty Highways
14. Bighorn Medicine Wheel
15. The Legend of Josh Allen
16. Nellie Tayloe Ross, the First Woman Governor in the United States

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State Albums: Oklahoma

May 08 2020

Not the South, Not the Southwest, Not Texas: Oklahoma!

1. To the Five Tribes: Cherokee! Chickasaw! Choctaw! Muscogee! Seminole!

2. The Heavener Runestone, Which May or May Not Be Real

3. Reaffirming the Immortal Bonds of Friendship in the Balcony of Wilburton First United Methodist Church

4. Flaming Lips Alley

5. How to Enjoy the Inevitable Union vs. Jenks 6A Football State Championship Game

6. The Warren Theatre Withstands the Moore Tornadoes, 2013

7. The Train Bridge Sabotage of the Enid–Pond Creek Railroad War

8. Visiting the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum Before an OSU Football Game

9. The Tulsa Race Riot Refuses to Be Forgotten, or, The Inescapable Reckoning With Terrible Histories that We All Must Be A Part Of

10. Joining the Masses that have Received a Speeding Ticket in Big Cabin

11. 168 Empty Chairs

12. The Sound of a Whole State Learning the Rules of Basketball At Once

13. Bombs Dropping on Boise City, 1943

14. The Blue Whale of Catoosa

15. The Recent Development of Earthquakes, or, As My Mother Said, “Life’s Full of Tough Choices, Isn’t It?”

16. Not the South, Not the Southwest, Not Texas: Oklahoma!

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A Brief Statement of Introduction to the Track Listings for Imagined State Albums Project

May 03 2020

In 2005, Sufjan Stevens released Sufjan Stevens invites you to: Come on Feel the ILLINOISE, which most people just call Illinois. It was the second album of his Fifty States project, following Sufjan Stevens presents… Greetings from Michigan, the Great Lake State (mostly called Michigan). Illinoise was as far as he got in making 50 albums for 50 states before moving on to other things.

The album art of Sufjan Stevens' Illinois album, which features a stylized hand-drawn backdrop of Chicago, a picture of Superman, a picture of an old-school gangster in a pinstripe suit, a goat, and four alien flying saucers.
The Superman image was controversial due to copyright issues.

Illinois is an absolutely incredible album. It is an album that is by turns joyful and careful, celebratory and incisive, large-format and intimate. It has songs about death, songs about life, songs about family, songs about friends, songs about history, songs about the future. Its arrangements are powerful and also playful. It is the ideal form of a certain type of indie-folk. It placed on year-end lists, and even topped an “albums of the decade” list.

It is also unsparingly detailed in its attention to the good and bad of the state of Illinois–not just Chicago. (Although, of course, the single is called “Chicago.”) It looks at Illinois. It pays attention to Illinois. I don’t know how people in Decatur, Illinois feel about “Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Step-Mother!”, but I imagine it feels good to have your city’s name prominently featured in of one of the best albums of the ’00s.

When I was 18, listening to this record, I wanted Sufjan to complete the project so that I could have an album about Oklahoma. I wanted someone to look at Oklahoma the way Sufjan really focused in on Illinois. And while the Flaming Lips, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Sam Anderson’s Boom Town have since brought varying measures of attention to Oklahoma, Sufjan Stevens never did write an album about Oklahoma. He stopped at Illinois.

But what if he had written about Oklahoma? What if he had written about every state? What if he had followed his own hype? What would those track lists have looked like?

I don’t know what Sufjan’s albums would have looked like, but I can imagine my own. I’m picking up the mantle. Over the next year, I’ll be posting track listings for imagined state albums here at Gospelized. Will I get to all 50? I have no idea. I hope so. But as Sufjan found: there’s a lot of states.

A moment for the technical stuff: I’ve used a random number generator to pick the order of the states I’ll be writing about; the number each state was assigned for randomization was its order of admission into the union. I am choosing to stick to the following form: no less than fifteen and no more than nineteen song titles, all words must be either part of the album title or song titles, each line numbered as if it were a track. If you are reading this and want to illustrate any of these state albums in an album art / poster style, I would be absolutely thrilled: email me at statealbums@gmail.com.

My hope is that these imagined track lists honor the states they describe and the people within that state. May these efforts read as a bit of attention, a serious look at your state, a poem of consideration on the way it was and is and even could be.

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Internet: Firewalls 2.0

Apr 17 2020

I want the world’s most perfect OS,
a stable one that has no vulnerabilities.
the human system is working its way there,
our perfect righteousness already installed
but our sin continuously competing
for computing cycles.
yet we have a good designer
continuously patching and patching and patching
until one day (trumpets.wav) it is made stable
with a final great push,
no more attacks can be levied,
the viruses are all defeated,
and then we can go further up and further in,
with no more worries about firewalls

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Internet: Firewalls 1.0

Apr 10 2020

Moral development is a firewall:
a set of techniques that check viruses when they arise.

Spiritual development is a new operating system:
a new person who operates differently,
through fear and trembling
away from the sword of fire
toward the garden city
transforming
bit by bit
into what viruses cannot touch

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