zerode – a sensibility


film, music, text, city, spectacle, pleasure

Music To Clean House By

In Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Science in the Capital” series (Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below, Sixty Days and Counting) – one of my favorite reads of the last few years – one of the main characters, Charlie, likes to do his housecleaning with Beethoven playing on stereos on both floors – as I recall, “The Pastoral Symphony” on the ground floor and the “Grosse Fuge” upstairs. Both at maximum volume.

I’m cleaning the house today and I was flipping through my iPod playlist trying to find the right mood music. I tried Neil Young – no good, too slow – then some late 70s/early 80s punk – too frenetic. Distraction is required, and volume, but pacing is also crucial. The Rolling Stones worked a bit better – I got some traction with Let It Bleed in particular. But predictably it was old school funk and r&b that served me best, James Brown in particular, like…

Get up Offa that Thing
Sex Machine
The Payback
Papa Don’t Take No Mess
Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag

Honestly, I don’t know why I faffed around with all that other stuff. I still want to try Charlie’s approach – it does seem like Beethoven might have the right stuff for housecleaning – but for now I’m still a funk soul brother.

I’m going to have to work up a proper playlist for this, though, rather than jumping over to the iPod all the time to skip tracks that don’t work as well. And I suspect such a playlist would have other uses – like working out at the gym maybe.

If you have any suggestions for songs to include on a “housecleaning” playlist – even if they stray from the funk fold – let me know and I’ll try them out. If you have your own “housecleaning” playlist, send it to me or post it somewhere. Much as I would wish it otherwise, housecleaning is one of those things that comes around fairly frequently and my playlists will need to be long and varied.

If you are running a James Brown deficit, there are a couple of collections that will give you what you need: 20 All-Time Greatest Hits! has as many of the indispensable tunes as you can fit on one disc, in their single rather than album versions; while the Star Time 4-disc box set has pretty much every major James Brown song you could ask for.

But not all of them, even on four discs – I was just looking through the contents just now and it is missing “The Boss,” originally from the Black Caesar soundtrack, a funk favorite of mine and a song which I should certainly post as my “Funk for Friday” one of these days – but here it is now, to hold you over:

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Creative Commons License
zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows


is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

tweeting my mind



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