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by Chaz Curet
The hit song “Slow Down” by Clyde Carson and The Team is not, as most seem to believe, mere frat party filth or ignorant radio fodder. Rather, it is a musical masterpiece, an avant-garde analysis of the human condition, and a testament to a lifestyle gone by. It is, therefore, a crime and a tragedy that college students everywhere are drunkenly dry-humping each other to the bass-heavy beat, unaware of the polished intellectual treasure that is masked by the catchy rhythm and seemingly mainstream, unintelligible hip-hop banter. Slow down, and look again at Clyde Carson’s subtly meaningful lyricism.
I tell ‘em
Slow down, you know you can’t catch me
I move too fast on the gas, don’t chase me
Slow down, slow down
Slow down. It is an idea and a way of life that few, if any, seem to embrace anymore. To slow down is to embrace the present, to stop and smell the roses, to take a deep breath and bask in the wonder and beauty that only the here and now offers. It is an idea that, through his music, Clyde Carson, as the leading emcee in this song, hopes to bring back to the world, to you, to me.
But then why do phrases like, “You know you can’t catch me”, and “I move too fast on the gas” give off the impression that Carson is boasting of his own “speed” or fast-paced lifestyle? What appears to be Carson’s cocky bravado is, on the contrary, a lament of his own inability to slow down. He, by nature of being a famous, prolific hip-hop artist, has been forced to assimilate to the high-speed culture prevalent in today’s society. Carson is a martyr, a man with a message, a hero willing to sacrifice his own well being for the betterment of his audience, and, most of all, a role model for the youth.
[Verse 1: Clyde Carson]
(I tell ‘em)
Ay, I’m on the case gettin’ sideways
Dolla fo’ five on the highway
You know a n**** state to state
On a dolo mission I got a date with the cake
For those less familiar with gangbanger vernacular, “dolo” can be seamlessly translated to “solo.” This, of course, begs quite a few questions: What is the word’s origin? “D” and “S” are right next to each other on a keyboard – was it initially just a typo? Why not just say “solo?” Valid questions, yes, but let us not allow digression to take us away from the more pressing matters here. Carson, in a moment of fragility and intimate vulnerability, reveals that he is alone in his journey. In fact, his mind is so preoccupied with this heavy burden that he accidentally mixes up currency and miles per hour ($1.45, as opposed to 145mph). He yearns for simple pleasures, for that which is sweeter, for the cake (often mistaken to mean “an attractive female”) at the end of his lonely, heroic mission.
Wide awoke, 3 A.M.
Prolly touch down when the sun come in
Ay, when them guards hit the gate I be tired as fuck after that 8-hour race
Carson’s inability to slow his life down haunts him. He tosses and turns at night, horrified by what he is being forced to become. His lack of sleep renders him so exhausted that he can’t even muster up the energy to properly say “awake”, or pronounce all of the syllables in “Probably.”
I come from the land where we swing our cars
Figure 8 Benz concrete leave marks
Call it paid, super-charged
Back to back race the Benz with the four-door Porsche
I’m tearin’ up tires in this luxury
In this section, Carson utilizes an intricate car metaphor. When he boldly states that he is “from the land where we swing our cars,” he is referencing automobile sideshows, and, more specifically, the most commonly performed stunt at these sideshows – the doughnut. A doughnut, for those less in the know, is an automobile maneuver in which the driver violently swings his car around in a circular motion, only to end up back where he or she started. Carson, in a swift move of lyrical cunning, is commenting upon the inanity of moving too quickly, or, in the context of this metaphor, doing doughnuts. Although he admits that he must submit to societal pressures and “tear up tires”, Carson notes that his actions have left indelible marks on his persona. Through this, he urges us, his listeners, to avoid the superficial appeal of his currently fast-paced way of living.
Hella smoke says she wanna f*** with me
Money on my mind ain’t nothin’ for free
Tryna keep up with me but it’s nothin’ to me
Carson is unconcerned with shallow, carnal pleasures, and is thus unfazed by the women who throw themselves at him. Having wisely observed that things cost money, he has decided that he would much rather devote his time, thought, and energy to establishing a respectable bank account, in the hopes that he may one day secure himself a life of “slowing down.” Others yearn for his lifestyle, but, to him, this part of his life is a mere stepping-stone to a brighter future and a final separation from all that he deems wrong with society.Tags: Chaz Curet
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by Van Tran
Anyone who’s tried to translate from one language into another will inevitably run into the difficulties. Connotations, syntax, and certain cultural ideologies often get lost in translation. Still, despite the difficulties that language barriers pose, Leonardo Wilson and I embarked on a quest to render the first ten lines of the Daodejing into English. Though ten lines might not seem like much, it took us hours to deliberate over subtleties in meaning and phrasing.
The Daodejing is a remarkably complex text. For those who have never heard of it, here’s some background information. The Daodejing was written by Laozi, a famous ancient Chinese philosopher. Even if you may not have heard of him specifically, at some point or another you have most likely encountered the religious and philosophical movement known as Daoism. Daoism emphasizes leading a life that harmonizes with the Dao, which roughly translates into English as the “Way.”
The Daodejing is crucial to Daoists, much as the Bible is to Christians or the Quran to Muslims. Of the chapters in the Daodejing, the first chapter is the most well-known. Though mystifying, it has a poetic force that compels the mind and moves the spirit. The debate over what it really means will probably never end, but in the meantime, open yourself through this translation to the Way.
The Way which can be weighed is not the everlasting Way;
The Name which can be named is not the everlasting Name.
From the Nameless arise Heaven and Earth;
From the Named promulgate ten thousand things.
So, always abandon desires to observe Creation.
Always embrace desires to observe Limitation.
Twins coexist, though emerge different after names.
Coexisting they conjure the mystery,
Mystery which cannot be undone:
The gate of many wonders.
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by Emma Townley-Smith
At Stanford, many feel like they rarely have the time to get out into the city. Between school, work, and friends, who has time? What is there to do, anyway? Eat somewhere, see that bridge for the fourth time since fall quarter. San Francisco’s identity as a big city is somewhat less defined in our minds than a place like New York or Chicago. After coming across something a little literary in the Mission District, I tried to capture a handful of the details that make up a day in the city.
Metrics in the Mission District
There is some delightful anonymity
In the back car of the BART, ordering
Coffee under a false name, entering
Thrift shops with purpose.
If you ever need to remember how wide
The world is, think of the two girls
In the next train booth, talking about the dog
That swallowed their tongue piercings.
San Francisco has no identity for you.
There is no Broadway, no subway,
No way for you to anchor here,
Sink to your knees in absent snow.
A shopkeeper in the indoor farmers’ market
Offers you “almond brittle, almond brittle,”
But you are watching a couple
Take engagement photos in the breezeway.
An assistant forces a mirror
Under the woman’s chin, trying not to catch,
In the back, a naked man in a cape
Crawling up the fire escape,
Two boys playing ukulele,
A homeless man pitching pebbles at
A little girl who wears down a crayon
Along the brick fish market wall.
You could disappear here, easily,
Lost shopping in a record store
Where the sun has bleached
The names on album covers white.
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by Brian Tich
When I was much younger (imagine—before I’d even tried to read John Ashbery!), I used to say, ‘poets are philosophers who don’t have to justify themselves.’ Don’t think that Ashbery was just me dropping a name; I wanted to make the point that, for this younger me, the formulation was not confined only to that poetry which most obviously resists reading. Don’t think, either, that by ‘poet’ I meant anything less than any author of whatever might, more or less controversially, be called literature (but if you press me on this distinction, my apologies, I’ll just hide behind my unsubtle earlier self). So my real impression was closer to something like: voices lyrical and narrative are freer to speak than voices philosophical when saying something that, in the end, means the same to us.
Now, more often than not, people tell me that the things I write make almost no sense. Really they’re being kind, I think, when they say I hide behind abstraction; the gist of it is, my abstractions are derived from things that aren’t there in the first place, so there’s nothing for it all to fall back on, nothing actual. It’s a spectacle without a palpable heart, and if I can’t find that heart soon, I’ll probably give it up. Because I believe that young Brian was wrong, or at least he was only almost right.
Which is to say: yes, a good poem is certainly capable of making me feel something much fuller than could be borne out in a piece-by-piece examination of its written contents on the page—that is, it can be more than what would be justified if a narrower voice were to say the same thing. But this, I have come to believe, is mostly a trick that skillful writers use upon us, knowing that we come to their work so readily with ourselves. Take this instance: as I was trying, unsuccessfully, to explain to someone how a certain poem ‘worked,’ I began to describe it as a kind of unanchored obstacle course, in which everything written down marks out a pattern of motion, a navigable route threading the margin of what the words can and cannot conceivably mean—but in this way, most of the poem is potential; where the words land depends entirely on where the pattern itself is set down. In two different places, the same motions mean differently, and so this poem I was describing was only a shell; the rest of it was me, because that’s where I put it. Smart writers know where we will put their words, or at least they hope they do, and so they can afford to depend a little on our own willingness to believe that we make sense. But this can end up feeling like cheating, because if we’re the only substance to the words’ spectacle, then we’re allowing what’s on the page—though it may not mean less—to be somewhat lazier than art.
So I will try to start writing things that actually make sense; maybe this is my first attempt. But maybe I will also regret that little bit of joy lost each time I read something that seems to contain a strange breed of wonder—only to realize I have been fooled, again, into thinking I was not reading about myself.Tags: Brian Tich