Tue 26 Jul 2011
Here are three things that I learned yesterday:
Kim Gordon, the bassist and singer from Sonic Youth, was nearly thirty when the band released their first album. When they release their next album she’ll be pushing sixty. “Youth” has always described the band’s sound rather than its members, but it’s still amazing to think that Kim Gordon is older than my parents and only five years younger than Stevie Nicks, who I think of as a prime example of a “nostalgia act.” But Sonic Youth have been putting out new full length records about every other year for the past three decades, and each one sounds fresh and vital.
Here they are performing from their most recent album earlier this year:
While his television program Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was in production, from 1968 to 2001, Fred Rodgers did most things the same way every day. They were mostly small things, like the way he took of his shoes or zipped up his jacket, but because he did them the same way, every day, they began to represent something. Many of the other small things that Mr. Rogers did every day were kind things, and so the way he took off he shoes every day began to mean something about comfort and security to the children who watched his program. For their sake, he made sure to keep the way he lived consistent.
(Esquire ran a wonderful article about Fred Rogers back in 1998, and the part about his routine was excerpted here.)
Truman Capote famously told the Paris Review that he could not write at a desk:
I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don’t use a typewriter. Not in the beginning.
He gave that interview at age 33, and probably had recently finished writing Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He clearly had found a system that worked for him, although it’s tempting to wonder how things would have been different if he had stopped at the mint tea. At age 33 his life was already half over. Two books and several breakdowns later, he was dead from liver disease before he turned sixty.
Habits are actions that echo from one day down through a whole life time. I guess when they work out well we call them routines.