17 Things I Love, By Neko Case

Music Features Neko Case
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Return to Paste 50 Neko Case Drives Us Batty.


1. Canada
(and the Canadians therein)
I just spent two months living in Toronto mixing my album. I sure did miss it! I haven’t lived there since ’98, so it was good to get back for an extended stay. The ladies who work upstairs in the studio had an election party. They weren’t kidding. Canada was voting Obama with bells on. People were crying and cheering, not just in our little corner, but all over the country. Canada was really rooting for us. I felt like the world still loved us after all. It was even more moving than I imagined it could be.

2. Honeycrisp Apples
Rock ’n’ roll is wild. Believe everything you hear about it.

3. My Band
What can I say?! They’re adorable.

4. Bats
There’s a bridge by my house under which live trillions of Mexican free-tailed bats. I walk my dogs down there a lot and visit them. If you stand still with a flashlight, they fly really close all around you and make excellent squeaking noises. Sometimes they’ll graze my arm with a damp little wing. I love that. They eat about 1,500 mosquitoes a night each! Bats are having a hard time, though—pollution, habitat loss and wind farms (huge turbines, also detrimental to birds and many other sensitive, threatened animal species) are really taking a toll. Imagine what would happen if we had no bats! Think of the mosquito-borne diseases that would explode—West Nile, malaria. You can help fight these diseases by putting up a bat house. Make sure you’re going green in a responsible way, and question things. The word “green” has become a major marketing catchphrase that’s sometimes used deceptively. Don’t jump on board for “clean” energy if it ruins other things. Wind power is great; wind farms are bad. Do lots of research and tell your local and national governments what you want. Bats and birds can’t type, so help them out. [si.edu/Encyclopedia_SI/nmnh/batfacts.htm andbetterplan.squarespace.com]

5. My Pets
Yeah, yeah, I know. You don’t wanna hear it. I can’t help it though; it’s been a tough year. One of my dogs, Travis, lost a leg to cancer. Funny thing is, he couldn’t care less. He’s almost as fast as he was on the track. It’s mind-blowing to watch a greyhound—even a three-legged one—at full speed! Dogs live for today. I love them for that. I didn’t make you watch any of this on YouTube, so we’re even.

6. Hobby Farms Magazine
Who likes to read about goats? I do! You know, the Caprine subfamily? Lowline cattle, anyone? Weeder geese? Guinea hens on tick patrol? Mini donks? Draft horse logging? That’s what I’m talking about.

7.Books I Read While Making This Record
You always need a book to accompany you on a journey, to put your own journey in perspective. Here are the books that kept me company while working on Middle Cyclone:

The Living by Annie Dillard
I love Dillard’s writing. Invisible to the story, she inhabits both men and women with no bias. I earmarked so many pages. I couldn’t help but go back and re-read all the flawless passages and odd, mouthwatering descriptions. It took me a long time to come down from this book, and its characters are still hanging around. The story takes place in Whatcom County in Washington state where most of my family lives. You don’t read many stories about this place, so I’m really grateful.

Watership Down by Richard Adams
This classic changed my life. It made me the ravenous reader I am today. It’s even better when you read it as an adult. Hazel and Fiver are always with me. Watership is based on a story about rabbits that Adams made up for his daughters on a road trip. It’s so intricate and engrossing. There are so many stories within the story; there’s even a mythology for rabbits. I wish he was my dad.

Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell
Little portraits of old New York, written in the cleanest, most matter-of-fact style. Mitchell is so dry and funny. The characters are vivid and salty, like potato chips. You can’t put this book down.

Flight by Sherman Alexie
Heartbreaking and beautiful. Sherman Alexie is pretty much my favorite writer. He says it all so plainly and poetically and goes to strange and funny places with such seemingly unlikely characters, and makes them the likeliest ever in the process. He just won the National Book Award for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Way to go, Sherman!

Wise Children by Angela Carter
Sally Timms of the Mekons turned me on to Angela Carter some years ago. They’re a lot alike, I think. Sally bought me a copy of Nights at the Circus, and I’ve never looked back. Carter is brilliant, nimble and hilarious. I cracked up in a lot of restaurants while reading this one.

What It Is by Lynda Barry
The most generous book my eyes have ever feasted on. Not only is it filled with nutritious information, it’s also crammed with paintings, drawings and collages. The book is based on Barry’s class, called “Writing the Unthinkable.” I’ve taken the class several times, and I can testify firsthand that this book does it justice. It makes you want to make stuff right now! It’s gorgeous, funny and bizarre all at the same time. If you ever have a creative logjam, Barry is the beaver to talk to about clearing it out.

Miss Nobody by Tomek Tryzna
This book was written by a Polish guy about being a young teenage girl. No kid’s book, it’s twisted and real. It’s the best description I’ve ever read of the shitty-ness of being a teenage girl. The politics, how it feels to be poor, how it feels to be poor in front of rich girls, friendships, double crosses and intrigue. It’s like The Living in that it has you by the throat long after you’ve finished it. It’s out of print, but you can still get it at AbeBooks.com for cheap.