The National Institute of Musical Healing

The National Institute of Musical Healing

In the summer of 2007 I broke my hand by falling into a Jacuzzi. This mix is an indirect result of the injury, its effects and rehabilitation.

Read on for details on how I:

  • found out my hand was broken.
  • got my hand repaired.
  • made this mix.

pcdj-nimh-ny

Playlist

1-Rilo Kiley-The Moneymaker
2-Spoon-Don’t You Evah
3-The Shins-Australia (Peter Bjorn & John Remix)
4-Peter Bjorn & John-Young Folks (beyond the wizard’s sleeve re-animation)
5-Tegan & Sara-Back in Your Head
6-Au Revoir Simone-A Violent Yet Flammable World
7-Northern State-Away Away
8-The Mendoza Line-Mysterious in Black
9-The Most Serene Republic-Sherry and Her Butterfly Net
10-Stars-Elevator Love Letter
11-The National-Black Slate
12-Grand National-By the Time I Get Home There Won’t Be Much of a Place for Me
13-Low Line Caller-Over The Counter Kids
14-Iron & Wine-Boy With A Coin
15-Anja Garbarek-I Won’t Hurt You
16-Mono in VCF-Escape City Scrapers
17-Bat For Lashes-What’s A Girl To Do?
18-My Latest Novel-Wrongfully, I rested
19-Throw Me The Statue-Conquering Kids

download a zipped folder with individual mp3 files

The Whole Story

Mennu_HandsI broke my hand in the summer of 2007. Falling into a jacuzzi. (pause for effect) No sympathy, right? “Oh, boo hoo. What a hazardous life you lead! Filled with danger and peril at every corner!” But it’s the truth. I fractured my second metacarpal in a jacuzzi mishap. I didn’t take it seriously at first. I thought it was just bruised or something. And there was no way that I was going to spend my weekend in an emergency room in The Hamptons. And what about my insurance? I needed to make damn sure that my insurance would cover it. And it wasn’t so bad. I kept it on ice and that seemed to make the swelling go down. Beach houses usually have lots of ice around. I just draped my arm into a cooler every once and while, and I was fine. But by the time I got home, it had swollen up enough for my poker buddies to notice, and they suggested I “get it checked out.” I decided I would, but it would have to wait until after work on Monday, since there was a rally at the UN that I just had to go to.

At the rally, no longer with a bucket of ice beside me, my hand began to swell. A former student of mine said that I should elevate my hand, at least above my heart, so the swelling can go down. Seemed like a really good idea, but how would I walk around New York with my arm in the air for no apparent reason? But I was at a rally, all I needed to do was grab a sign and hold it aloft. I lowered my shades to my eyes and held my hand up behind a poster. Now it was really starting to hurt. So I had a very serious expression on my face from the pain, and I tried to hide my hand as best as I could. I could see people looking at me and thinking, “Wow, this guy must be so passionate. He’s just standing there holding that sign in the air.” I even got interviewed by a some college alternanews reporters.

Original cover art for "The National Institute of Musical Healing." It's an X-Ray of my fractured second metacarpal.
Original cover art for “The National Institute of Musical Healing.” It’s an X-Ray of my fractured second metacarpal.

That evening I went to Passaic General, which is now Passaic St. Mary’s. Or is it Beth Israel? No, that was last year. The first thing the doctor told me upon entering the room was that he wasn’t an employee of the hospital, and that he would bill me directly, and if I didn’t pay, that he would send it to collection. I asked him if I could refuse service. He said that it wouldn’t matter, he was already there. After looking at the X-Ray, it was apparent that I had fractured the second metacarpal on my right hand. I think I was more upset with the service than the diagnosis. It was a good thing that I had already made an appointment to see a professional doctor later that week.

That second doctor took more X-Rays and told me that indeed, I had fractured my metacarpal.

I asked how long it would take to heal, like, when would I be back on the racquetball court? The doctor told me that if all goes well, I should be good for November. He told me this in July. I would have to spend the rest of the summer in a soft cast on my right hand. I had to keep the cast dry, and each day I would have to wrap it in a plastic bag so I could shower. This aversion to water would make it difficult to do my usual summer which is filled with sea and sand and pools and fun stuff. Instead, I opted to hide out in Manhattan for most of the summer weekends, in the apartments of my friends who were off in the Hamptons. This gave me a good amount of time to sit around and listen to new music. Each week, my friend would return home and find a new playlist on his computer:

1. While You Were Away
2. While You Were Away II
3. Leaf People
4. While You Were Away IV

Over the month that my hand was in a cast, I learned how to do almost everything with my left hand. I could start my car lefty, drive left handed, I was even starting to write left handed. I moved the mouse of my computer to the left of the keyboard. I got so good doing things with my left hand, that it was trying to convince my brain that it was coordinated enough to carve a turkey. (Reason ruled that it could not, and Lefty lost the appeal.) I didn’t want to get slowed down because I was doing things in a sinister manner even though I’m generally right handed. So things like swiping a metrocard at a turnstile, using the ATM or opening the car door all had to be done at the same speed.

pcdj-nimh-i-come-in-peace
This picture is was taken when I met a friend at a Roy Ayers concert in park in Queens. He turned it into a fridge magnet that said, “I come in peace.”

But, by mid-August, the cast was ready to come off, and I had to start physical therapy. I sought a hand specialist, and I figured it would be worth going half a county out of my way to see a person that would help get my hand back into shape. As we began my treatment, he asked how I broke my hand. By this point I had heard all kinds of reactions, so I just said, “I fell into a jacuzzi.” We got into a conversation about what the beach house is like. He was fascinated by my descriptions of it. I wanted to know why my hand isn’t functioning the way it did before I broke it. He explained that “The hand contains something called an extension mechanism. Ha, ha. Tell the girls in the Hamptons about your extension mechanism.”

I knew immediately that the archives of music that I had been building up for the summer would soon be melded into an archive called “the extension mechanism.” (To see the full playlist, scroll to the bottom of this page.) I made this playlist as I was about to take a five hour drive down to Washington DC for a Summer Institute. During this Institute I would be away from most people I know and spending my free time alone in a hotel room. Walking from the hotel to the seminar gave me even more opportunities to listen to the extension mechanism. By the end of the seminar, I had the first draft of “The National Institute for Musical Healing.” I made a web release of it, but with my recuperating hand, there was no way that I would be able to make a CD release. So it languished away on my blog, and I continued my physical therapy, listening to the extension mechanism.

Turning the Extension Mechanism into the National Institute of Musical Healing

The Extension Mechanism became my go-to list for those last few weeks of the summer. This year, we managed to stretch the summer all the way out to September 16, when we spent the day floating around in our pool, heated to 104 degrees. It was like being back in the womb. All the while, we were grooving to the tracks on the Extension Mechanism. The archive was so well received that I thought of making a listener participation project out of it. The idea was, for my fans and listeners to spend some time with the Extension Mechanism, and whittle it down to a one hour mix of their own choosing. After all, there’s a lot of choice:

* 6 songs by The National
* 5 songs by Stars
* 5 songs by Spoon
* 9 songs that fall into that Gypsy Punk/Yachkee Voondachkee genre
* 8 versions of Peter, Bjorn and John’s Young Folks
* 3 songs by Fujiya & Miyagi
* 2 by Low Line Caller
* 3 versions of Amy Winehouse-Tears Dry On Their Own

Although I talked about challenging my listeners, none of them seemed up to the challenge. Indeed, in the months that passed before I actually pressed the disc, I had plenty of opportunities to make changes. I had taken in another 6 gigs of music, which is a lot. It’s like, a whole new music collection. So there were a ton of changes that I could have made to the mix since it’s original inception. I could have added some music, I could have swapped out songs. In the end it came down to this:

Additions

1. Calexico with Nicolai Dunger & His Band – Alone Again Or
2. The Mendoza Line – Mysterious in Black

I decided in favor of the former, but the latter is more frequently in my current playlist and eventually found its way into the “young old man” mix.

Substitutions

The National: Black Slate or Karen. As it turns out Black Slate, or Blank Slate is a remade B-Side of a previous B-Side of The National called “Keep It Upstairs.” I really like the song “Karen” which is the second track off their 2005 release Alligator. Particularly the sincerity of the first line of the sixth verse. But that wasn’t enough to get it on the mix. And instead of making the switch, I stuck with Black Slate.

Stars: Ageless Beauty (The Most Serene Republic Mix) or Elevator Love Letter. The original had the former, but I decided on the latter for the final version. Outside college papers, one seldom has the opportunity to use the words former and latter.

That’s not a whole hell of a lot of changes to make to a mix. So it was with full confidence that I released “The National Institute of Musical Healing,” or NIMH as I like to call it. So what do I mean by NIMH? During a conversation today with a pirate friend of mine, he suggested that NIMH was the National Institute of Mental Health. Who am I to say no? That’s the thing about art: each person has their own perspective of it. I had two things in mind.

I wondered why there were so few downloads of the mix. The most probable reason was I had already released four mixes that summer. The other was that I spent most of my summer as a hermit.

The Extension Mechanism Playlist

1-Au Revoir Simone-A Violent Yet Flammable World
2-Amy Winehouse-Tears Dry on Their Own
3-Das Pop-You
4-The National-Brainy
5-The National-Guest Room
6-The National-Santa Clara
7-The National-Black Slate
8-The National-Squalor Victoria
9-The National-Green Gloves
10-Stars-Soft Revolution
11-Stars-Life 2: The Unhappy Ending
12-Stars-Elevator Love Letter
13-Spoon-I Summon You
14-Spoon-Rhthm & Soul
15-Spoon-I Am The Key (Live La’s Cover)
16-Spoon-You Got Yr Cherry Bomb (Demo)
17-Spoon-Don’t you evah
18-The Shins-Australia (Peter Bjorn & John Remix)
19-The Poppy Family-There’s No Blood In Bone
20-The Most Serene Republic-Sherry and Her Butterfly Net
21-Frou Frou-Breathe In
22-Baris Manço & Kaygisizlar-Flower of Love (1968)
23-TV On The Radio-Dry Drunk Emperor
24-TV on the Radio-Young Liars
25–flashing
26-The Go! Team-Did You Feel It Too?
27-The Go! Team-Hold Yr Terror Close
28-The Go! Team-Phantom Broadcast
29-The Go! Team-Ladyflash
30-Vladimir Vissotski-Le Vol Arreté
31-Vladimir Vissotski-Les Poètes
32-Beirut-Fountains and Tramways
33-Boban i marko-AudioTrack 05
34–034_Boban Markovic Orkestar – Otpisani
35-Golem-Warsaw Is Khelm
36-Gogol Bordello-Start Wearing Purple
37-Gogol Bordello-Bordello Kind of Guy
38-Gogol Bordello-Supertheory Of Supereverything
39-Bat for Lashes-Horse & I
40-Bat For Lashes-What’s A Girl To Do?
41-Grand National-Drink To Moving On
42-Grand National-Joker And Clown
43-Grand National-By the Time I Get Home There Won’t Be Much of a Place for Me
44-John Vanderslice-White Dove
45-Peter Bjorn And John-Young Folks
46-Peter Bjorn & John-Objects Of My Affection
47-Peter Bjorn & John-Amersterdam
48-Peter Bjorn & John-Young Folks
49-Peter Bjorn & John-Young Folks (beyond the wizard’s sleeve re-animation)
50-Peter Bjorn And John-Young Folks (Cousin Cole re-edit)
51-Peter Bjorn and John-Young Folks (Punks Jump Up Special Disco Mix)
52-Peter Bjorn And John-Young Folks (OrtzRoka Remix)
53-Peter Bjorn And John-Young Folks (Tomas Andersson Remake)
54-peter bjorn and john-young folks (datashat remix)
55-Pete Yorn-Young Folks (Peter, Bjorn, and John cover)
56-The Knife-We Share Our Mother’s Health (Trentemoller Remix)
57-José González and The Knife-Heartbeats (Remix)
58-Jimi Hendrix vs. Jay-Z-Voodoo Problems
59-The Brunettes-Loopy Loopy Love
60-The Brunettes-Small Town Crew
61-Iron & Wine-Boy With A Coin
62-Deer Tick-Diamond Rings 2007
63-Northern State-Away Away
64-Calvin Harris-Acceptable In The 80’s
65-Múm-Now there’s that fear again
66-808 State-Pacific
67-Happy Mondays-Kinky Afro
68-Joy Division-Heart And Soul
69-Tegan & Sara-Back in Your Head
70-Tegan And Sara-Speak Slow
71-Tegan and Sara-The Con
72-Tegan and Sara-Dark Come Soon
73-Tegan and Sara-You Wouldn’t Like Me
74-Rilo Kiley-Does He Love You?
75-Rilo Kiley-More Adventurous
76-Rilo Kiley-The Moneymaker
77-Anja Garbarek-I Won’t Hurt You
78-Low Line Caller-its like i think were about to leave
79-Low Line Caller-Over The Counter Kids
80-The Radio Dept.-I Don’t Like It Like This
81-The Radio Dept.-Keen On Boys
82-M. Ward-Let My Love Open The Door (Pete Townshend)
83-Fujiya & Miyagi-Collarbone
84-Fujiya & Miyagi-Uh
85-Fujiya & Miyagi-Ankle Injuries
86-The Durutti Column-Otis
87-Uzeda-Track 08
88-Throw Me The Statue-Yucatan Gold
89-Throw Me The Statue-Conquering Kids
90-Throw Me The Statue-Lolita
91-Band That Fell To Earth-Starfight [Original 12″ Version]
92-Pete Yorn-Young Folks (Peter, Bjorn, and John cover)
93-Dan Deacon-The Crystal Cat
94-My Latest Novel-Wrongfully, I rested
95-Stars-Ageless Beauty (The Most Serene Republic Mix)
96-Stars-Elevator Love Letter
97-Greenland-Smallest Girl In History
98-Greenland-Breakin’ Down
99-Greenland-Sorrow in the Snow
100-Greenland-Forward Frame to Frame
101-Canada-Hooray For Shipwreck
102-Canada-Beige Stationwagon
103-Canada-Record Function
104-Frauke-CanadianGirlfriend
105-Boris-Flood
106-The A-Sides-Diamonds
107-Horses-Track 01
108-Horses-Funeral
109-Kiss Kiss-Machines
110-Mono in VCF-Spider Rotation
111-Mono in VCF-The Only One
112-Mono in VCF-Escape City Scrapers
113-Richard Thompson-Oops!…I Did It Again (live)
114-The Aluminum Group-Pop
115-Kathy Diamond-over
116-XTC-The Mayor Of Simpleton
117-Blonde Redhead-23
118-Amy Winehouse-Tears Dry On Their Own (Al Usher Remix)
119-Amy Winehouse-Tears Dry On Their Own (Nypc’s Fucked Mix)
120-Dolly Parton-Jolene