Radio Quarantine -Glorious Din – Closely Watched Trains (1987)

GLORIOUS DIN is one of those 80s post-punk bands that came and went without my ever having had an inkling of their existence. You could say they were too region-specific or whatever but this album made it from the West Coast USA to Europe and beyond. Who knows? You can’t have your finger on every pulse. My friends would describe me as a person with a broader knowledge of music than most, but there you go. It was only at some point last year that this Closely Watched Trains crossed my radar. Shame too, because this would have rocked my world in 1987. It’s a weird little collection. I think it owes as much to Neil Young and that sort of folksy sound as it does any punk or post-punk I’ve heard. It sounds sort of like what would happen if a hardcore band was beating about the studio with acoustic instruments. Weird effect. Weird vibe. Labels just don’t apply to everything. It’s been on a steady rotation here in Radio Quarantine since last summer though. Thank fuck for the internet.

Yesterday turned out to be an odd one, really. I busted my ass work-wise, just trying to get ahead of a flood of customer service related things. I was on a mission, but it wore me the fuck out. I felt kind of alone in the game and shit just wasn’t getting done otherwise. It’s a little frustrating. Beyond work though it was just an unpleasant day.

The verdict came down in the Derek Chauvin trial yesterday afternoon. Derek Chauvin is the cop that knelt on George Floyd’s neck in ten minutes of wanton hatred and violence, and killed Floyd. Despite that a guilty verdict was the only one that could logically be returned, it was still surprising when it happened. We all saw the entire video. The entire world saw the video. Yet the possibility that a white cop could be convicted still seemed remote, despite all the evidence.

It should have been more of a celebratory moment when all three counts came to guilty, but despite that it happened, it was about the most anti-climactic moment I’ve ever experienced. It struck me immediately that it doesn’t really mean anything outside the context of that case. It was what was supposed to happen. Celebrating would have been something akin to clapping when the plane lands. It’s fucking supposed to work that way! And the verdict was far more rare than a plane landing successfully. No laws and policy has changed yet. Not in Minneapolis where it happened or anywhere else. There have been proposals but everything that needs to happen to prevent such a horror from happening again is still lost in the ozone somewhere. To make matters worse, shortly after the verdict was read there was another report from Columbus, Ohio that a 15 year old girl who had called the cops for protection was shot and killed in the street. Details to follow at another time, but… but…


It all struck me in a weird way and really cast a shadow over the rest of the day and things remain darkened this morning. None of this shit is going away. None of these terrible things that should absolutely be the most rare, freakish events in the world but aren’t are going anywhere. We go to sleep with it, and we wake up with it. It’s not that there aren’t solutions being proposed, but the people with the power to make the change seem to be holding out, beyond any logic or decency. One side can say Black Lives Matter, but the people with the influence to make that so are either hesitant or ignorant.

Change is the hardest thing in the world. It’s hard enough for people on an individual level but it’s weird to have come to the realization that any group of people, a tribe, a race, a nation… really move and act like a single entity, as if they share the same terrified brain. Group think is no different than individual think. A nation is one terrified being even as the individual cells and organs battle each other.

Kind of deep and bleak for first thing in the morning, I know.

Blah. Is this justice for George Floyd? No, it’s not. Justice would be George Floyd still being alive and there is an easily identifiable reason that he’s not. It didn’t begin and end with him being arrested. This is a systemic failure. Yet another one. It is a level of accountability that we rarely see but it’s not justice. There is no justice for someone who’s been murdered by hate. Any kind of hate. No justice at all. We’ll take this as a win though but it’s like one of those old battlefield films with the tragic ending. The underdog side has won a battle that nobody every really believed they could win, and as they stand in the blood and filth amazed that they are still standing, they look up on the hill and see an army ten times the size of the one they just faced.

One battle won isn’t the war.

Where do you put these feelings when you wake up to them in the morning, but still need to carry on with the banal chores of daily getting by? When the bills still need to be paid… And I maintain that despite my ups and downs I am not a negative person. There is no day that goes by I don’t find some bit of beauty to celebrate, this album for instance, but I’m not full of shit either. I’m not going to pretend that everything is okay. I’m not going to go along to get along.

It’s kind of funny too because these feelings are the exact reason that punk rock drew me in decades ago. It’s a question of honesty, even if the genre was taken over by rich kids that just wanted to have tantrums driven by suburban anxiety. Even though it was adapted as mall fashion. The real stuff is still there decades after the rock classicists said it wasn’t real music. Silly bastards… Despite it getting largely watered down, the initial honesty was my first steps toward awakening. Being awake though has its own price. There’s a reason why so many people get to work having only been up a couple hours and wish they were back in bed dreaming. Being awake means just dealing with the shit.


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