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The Youth In Asia

The Youth In Asia
Created by: T-bag
Tracks: 19
Length: 01:15:27
Keywords 1. Mix Contest 19
2. Mix Contest 19
3. Mix Contest 19
Created on 2/15/08 02:06pm
Level 5
Points 2044
Total visitors 28
Unique visitors 23
This mix was ranked #13 out of 14 entries for this contest
It's not from a time in my life, but I was inspired to make a mix based on the David Sedaris excerpt "The Youth In Asia" from the book Me Talk Pretty One Day. The first song that came into my mind for the mix was Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens, the rest of the mix is more or less songs that evoke the same feelings that I get when I read the excerpt.

"Bring tea for the Tillerman
Steak for the sun
Wine for the women who made the rain come
Seagulls sing your hearts away
'Cause while the sinners sin, the children play

Oh Lord how they play and play
For that happy day, for that happy day"


1 Carter Burwell : Blood Simpler
Track 17 from Raising Arizona/Blood Simple (Original Motion Picture Sound Track)
Length: 00:01:21
Year: 1994
Track Description:
2 Blur : Coffee and TV
Track 3 from 13
Length: 00:05:58
Year: 1999
Track Description:
3 The Cure : Young Americans
Track 1 from A Thousand Virgins
Length: 00:06:23
Year: 1995
Track Description:
4 Jeff Buckley : Opened Once
Track 3 from Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk
Length: 00:03:31
Year: 0000
Track Description:
5 Radiohead : Morning Bell
Track 9 from Kid A
Length: 00:04:35
Year: 2000
Track Description:
6 Murder City Devils : Bride of the Elephant Man
Track 5 from Thelema
Length: 00:03:58
Year: 2001
Track Description:
7 Tortoise : Set My Face To The Hillside
Track 4 from TNT
Length: 00:06:08
Year: 0000
Track Description:
8 Syd Barrett : Terrapin
Track 1 from The Madcap Laughs
Length: 00:05:04
Year: 1970
Track Description:
9 The National : Fake Empire
Track 1 from Boxer
Length: 00:03:27
Year: 2007
Track Description:
10 The Beach Boys : God Only Knows
Track 0 from Pet Sounds
Length: 00:02:54
Year: 1966
Track Description:
11 Ratatat : Swisha
Track 8 from Classics
Length: 00:03:49
Year: 2006
Track Description:
12 Elliot Smith : Color Bars
Track 11 from Figure 8
Length: 00:02:22
Year: 2000
Track Description:
13 Royksopp : Go With The Flow
Track 8 from Royksopp's Night Out (Live)
Length: 00:03:13
Year: 2006
Track Description:
14 Interpol : Obstacle 1
Track 2 from Turn on the Bright Lights
Length: 00:04:11
Year: 2002
Track Description:
15 Peter Bjorn and John : Up Against the Wall
Track 6 from Writer's Block
Length: 00:07:06
Year: 2006
Track Description:
16 The Good, The Bad and The Queen : History song
Track 1 from The Good, The Bad and The Queen
Length: 00:03:05
Year: 2007
Track Description:
17 The Velvet Underground : That's the Story of My Life
Track 8 from The Velvet Underground
Length: 00:02:04
Year: 1969
Track Description:
18 RJD2 : Ghostwriter
Track 6 from Deadringer
Length: 00:05:17
Year: 2002
Track Description:
19 Cat Stevens : Tea for the Tillerman
In the early sixties, during what my mother referred to as the "tail end of the Lassie years," my parents were [...]
Track 11 from Tea FOr The Tillerman
Length: 00:01:01
Year: 0000
Track Description:
In the early sixties, during what my mother referred to as the "tail end of the Lassie years," my parents were given two collies they named Rastus and Duchess. We were living in upstate New York, out in the country, and the dogs were free to race through the forest. They napped in meadows and stood knee-deep in frigid streams, costars in their own private dog-food commercial. According to our father, anyone could tell that the two of them were in love.

Late one evening, while lying on a blanket in the garage, Duchess gave birth to a litter of slick, potato-sized puppies. When it looked as though one of them had died, our mother placed the creature in a casserole dish and popped it into the oven, like the witch in "Hänsel and Gretel."

"Oh, keep your shirts on," she said. "It's only set on 200. I'm not baking anyone; this is just to keep him warm."

The heat revived the sick puppy and left us believing our mother was capable of resurrecting the dead.

Faced with the responsibilities of fatherhood, Rastus took off. The puppies were given away, and we moved south, where the heat and humidity worked against a collie's best interests. Duchess's once beautiful coat now hung in ragged patches. Age set in and she limped about the house, clearing rooms with her suffocating farts. When finally, full of worms, she collapsed in the ravine beside our house, we reevaluated our mother's healing powers. The entire animal kingdom was beyond her scope; apparently, she could resurrect only the cute dead.

The oven trick was performed on half a dozen peakish hamsters but failed to work on my first guinea pig, who died after eating a couple of cigarettes and an entire pack of matches.

"Don't take it too hard," my mother said, removing her oven mitts. "The world is full of guinea pigs. You can get another one tomorrow."

Eulogies always tended to be brief, our motto being "Another day, another collar."

A short time after Duchess died, our father came home with a German shepherd puppy. For reasons that were never explained, the privilege of naming the dog went to a friend of my older sister's, a fourteen-year-old girl named Cindy. She was studying German at the time, and after carefully examining the puppy and weighing it with her hands, she announced it would be called Mädchen, which apparently meant "girl" to the Volks back in the Vaterland. We weren't wild about the name but considered ourselves lucky that Cindy wasn't studying one of the harder-to-pronounce Asian languages.

When she was six, Mädchen was killed by a car. Her food was still in the bowl when our father brought home an identical German shepherd, whom the same Cindy thoughtfully christened Mädchen Two. This tag-team progression was disconcerting, especially for the new dog, who was expected to possess both the knowledge and the personality of her predecessor.

"Mädchen One would never have wet the floor like that," my father would scold, and the dog would sigh, knowing she was the canine equivalent of a rebound.

Mädchen Two never accompanied us to the beach and rarely posed in any of the family photographs. Once her puppyhood was spent, we more or less lost interest. "We ought to get a dog," we'd sometimes say, completely forgetting that we already had one. She came inside to eat, but most of her time was spent out in the pen, slumped in the A-frame doghouse my father had designed and crafted from scrap pieces of redwood.

"Hey," he'd ask, "how many dogs can say they live in a redwood house?" This always led to my mother's exhausted "Oh, Lou, how many dogs can say that they don't live in a goddamned redwood house?"

Throughout the collie and shepherd years, we had a succession of drowsy, secretive cats who seemed to share a unique bond with our mother. "It's because I open their cans," she said, though we all knew it ran deeper than that. What they had in common was their claws. That and a deep-seated need to destroy my father's golf bag.

The first cat ran away, and the second was hit by a car. The third passed into a disagreeable old age and died hissing at the kitten who had prematurely arrived to replace her. When, at the age of seven, the fourth cat was diagnosed with feline leukemia, my mother was devastated.

"I'm going to have Sadie put to sleep," she said. "It's for her own good, and I don't want to hear a word about it from any of you. This is hard enough as it is."

The cat was put down, and then came the anonymous postcards and crank phone calls orchestrated by my sisters and me. The cards announced a miraculous new cure for feline leukemia, while the callers identified themselves as representatives of Cat Fancy magazine. "We'd like to use Sadie as our cover story and were hoping to schedule a photo shoot. Can you have her ready by tomorrow?"

We thought a kitten might lift our mother's spirits, but she declined all offers. "That's it," she said. "My cat days are over."

When Mädchen Two developed splenic tumors, our father dropped everything and ran to her side. Evenings were spent at the animal hospital, lying on a mat outside of her cage and adjusting her IV. He'd never afforded her much attention, but her impending death alerted in him a great sense of duty. He was holding her paw when she died, and he spent the next several weeks asking us how many dogs could say they'd lived in a redwood house.

Our mother, in turn, frequently paused beside my father's tattered, urine-stained golf bag and relived memories of her own.

After spending a petless year with only one child still living at home, my parents visited a breeder and returned with a Great Dane they named Melina. They loved this dog in proportion to her size, and soon their hearts had no room for anyone else. The house was given over to the dog, rooms redecorated to suit her fancy. Enter your former bedroom and you'd be told, "You'd better not let Melina catch you in here," or, "This is where we come to pee-pee when there's nobody home to let us outside, right, girl?"

The dog was my parents' first true common interest, and they loved her equally, each in their own way. My mother's love tended toward the horizontal, a pet being little more than a napping companion, something she could look at and say, "That looks like a good idea. Scoot over, why don't you." A stranger peeking through the window might think that the two of them had entered a suicide pact. She and the dog sprawled like corpses, their limbs arranged into an eternal embrace. "God, that felt good," my mom would say, the two of them waking for a brief stretch. "Now let's go try it on the living-room floor."

My father loved the Great Dane for her size, and frequently took her on long, aimless drives during which she'd stick her heavy, anvil-sized head out the window and leak great quantities of foamy saliva. Other drivers pointed and stared, rolling down their windows to shout, "Hey, you got a saddle for that thing?" When they went out for a walk, there was the inevitable "Are you walking her, or is it the other way around?"

"Ha, ha," our father always laughed, as if it were the first time he'd heard it. The attention was addictive, and he enjoyed a pride of accomplishment he'd never felt with any of his children. It was as if he were somehow responsible for her size and stature, as if he'd personally designed her spots and trained her to grow to the size of a pony.

When out with the dog, he carried a leash in one hand and a shovel in the other. "Just in case," he said.

"Just in case what? She dies of a heart attack and you need to bury her?" I didn't get it.

"No," he'd say. "It's for her, you know, her . . . business."

My father was retired, but the dog had business.

I was living in Chicago when they first got Melina, and every time I came home, the animal was bigger. Every time there were more Marmaduke cartoons on the refrigerator, and every time my voice grew louder as I asked myself, "Who are these people?"

"Down, girl," my parents would chuckle as the dog jumped up, panting for my attention. Her great padded paws reached my waist, then my chest and shoulders, until eventually, her arms wrapped around my neck and her head towering above my own, she came to resemble a dance partner scouting the room for a better offer.

"That's just her way of saying hello," my mother would say, handing me a towel to wipe off the dog's bubbling seepage. "Here, you missed a spot on the back of your head."

Among us children, Melina's diploma from obedience school was seen as the biggest joke since our brother's graduation from Sanderson High School. "So she's not book smart," our mother said. "Big deal. I can fetch my own goddamned newspaper."

The dog's growth was monitored on a daily basis, and every small accomplishment was captured on film. One could find few pictures of my sister Tiffany, while Melina had entire albums devoted to her terrible twos.

"Hit me," my mother said on one of my return visits from Chicago. "No, wait, let me get my camera." She left the room and returned a few moments later. "Okay," she said. "Now hit me. Better yet, why don't you just pretend to hit me?"

I raised my hand and my mother cried out in pain. "Ow!" she yelled. "Somebody help me! This stranger is trying to hurt me, and I don't know why."

I caught an advancing blur moving in from the left, and the next thing I knew, I was down on the ground, the Great Dane ripping holes in the neck of my sweater. The camera flashed, and my mother roared, "God, I love that trick."

I rolled over to protect my face. "It's not a trick."

She snapped another picture. "Oh, don't be so critical. It's close enough."

With us grown and out of the house, my sisters and I reasonably expected our parents' lives to stand still. Their assignment was to stagnate and live in the past. We were supposed to be the center of their lives, but instead they constructed a new family, consisting of Melina and the founding members of her fan club. Someone who obviously didn't know her too well had given my mother a cheerful stuffed bear with a calico heart stitched onto its chest. According to the manufacturer, the bear's name was Mumbles, and all it needed in order to thrive was two double-A batteries and a regular diet of hugs.

"Where Mumbles?" my mother would ask, and the dog would jump up and snatch the bear from its hiding place on top of the refrigerator, yanking its body this way and that in hopes of breaking its neck. Occasionally, her teeth would press the on switch and the doomed thing would flail its arms, whispering one of its five messages of goodwill.

"That's my girl," my mother would say. "We don't like Mumbles, do we?"


During the final years of Mädchen Two and the first half of the Melina epoch, I lived with a female cat named Neil who'd been abandoned by a scary alcoholic with long fingernails and a large collection of kimonos. He was a hateful man, and after he moved, the cat was taken in and renamed by my sister Gretchen, who later passed the animal on to me. My mother looked after the cat when I moved from Raleigh, and she flew her to Chicago once I'd found a place and settled in. I'd taken the cheapest apartment I could find, and it showed. Though they were nice, my new neighbors could see no connection between their personal habits and the armies of pests aggressively occupying the building.

Neil caught fourteen mice, and scores of others escaped with missing limbs and tails. In Raleigh, she'd just lain around the house doing nothing, but now she had a real job to do.

Her interests broadened, and she listened intently to the radio, captivated by the political and financial stories that failed to interest me. "One more word about the Iran-contra hearings and you'll be sleeping next door with the aliens," I'd say, though we both knew that I didn't really mean it.

Neil was old when she moved to Chicago, and then she got older. The Oliver North testimony now behind her, she started leaving teeth in her bowl and developed the sort of breath that could remove paint. She stopped cleaning herself, and I took to bathing her in the sink. When she was soaking wet, I could see just how thin and brittle she really was. Her kidneys shrank to the size of raisins, and while I wanted what was best for her, I naturally assumed the vet was joking when he suggested dialysis.

In addition to being old, toothless, and incontinent, it seemed that for the cost of a few thousand dollars, she could also spend three days a week hooked up to a machine. "Sounds awfully tempting," I said. "Just give us a few days to think it over." I took her for a second opinion. Vet number two tested her blood and phoned me a few days later suggesting I consider euthanasia.

I hadn't heard that word since childhood, and immediately recalled a mismatched pair of Japanese schoolboys standing alone in a deserted schoolyard. One of the boys, grossly obese, was attempting to climb the flagpole that towered high above him. Silhouetted against the darkening sky, he hoisted himself a few feet off the ground and clung there, trembling and out of breath. "I can't do it," he said. "This is too hard for me."

His friend, a gaunt and serious boy named Komatsu, stood below him, offering encouragement. "Oh, but you can do it. You must," he said. "It is required."

This was a scene I had long forgotten, and thinking of it made me unbearably sad. The boys were characters from Fatty and Skinny, a Japanese movie regularly presented on The CBS Children's Film Festival, a weekly TV series hosted by two puppets and a very patient woman who pretended to laugh at their jokes. My sisters and I watched the program every Saturday afternoon, our gasbag of a collie imposing frequent intermissions.

Having shimmied a few more inches up the pole, Fatty lost his grip and fell down. As he brushed himself off, Skinny ran down the mountain toward the fragile, papery house he shared with his family. This had been Fatty's last chance to prove himself. He'd thought his friend's patience was unlimited, but now he knew that he was wrong. "Komatsuuuuuuuu!" he yelled. "Komatsu, please give me one more chance."

The doctor's voice called me back from the Japanese schoolyard. "So. The euthanasia," he said. "Are you giving it some thought?"

"Yes," I said. "As a matter of fact, I am."

In the end, I returned to the animal hospital and had her put to sleep. When the vet injected the sodium pentobarbital, Neil fluttered her eyes, assumed a nap position, and died. My then-boyfriend stayed to make arrangements, and I ran outside to blubber beside the parked and, unfortunately, locked car. Neil had gotten into the car believing she would live to experience the return trip, and that tore me up. Someone had finally been naïve enough to trust me, and I'd rewarded her with death. Racked by guilt, the Youth in Asia sat at their desks and wept bitter tears.

A week after putting her to sleep, I received Neil's ashes in a forest-green can. She'd never expressed any great interest in the outdoors, so I scattered her remains on the carpet and then vacuumed them up. The cat's death struck me as the end of an era. The end of my safe college life, the last of my thirty-inch waist, my faltering relationship with my first real boyfriend--I cried for it all and spent the next several months wondering why so few songs were written about cats.

My mother sent a consoling letter along with a check to cover the cost of the cremation. In the lower-left corner, on the line marked memo, she'd written, "Pet burning." I had it coming.

When my mother died and was cremated herself, we worried that, acting on instinct, our father might run out and immediately replace her. Returning from the funeral, my brother, sisters, and I half expected to find Sharon Two standing at the kitchen counter, working the puzzle from TV Guide. "Sharon One would have gotten five-across," our father would have scolded. "Come on, baby, get with it!"

With my mother gone, my father and Melina had each other all to themselves. Though she now occupied the side of the bed left vacant by her former mistress, the dog knew she could never pass as a viable replacement. Her love was too fierce and simple, and she had no talent for argument. Yet she and my father honored their pledge to adore and protect each other. They celebrated anniversaries, regularly renewed their vows, and growled when challenged by outside forces.

"You want me to go where?" When invited to visit one of his children, my father would beg off, saying, "I can't leave town. Who'd take care of Melina?"

Due to their size, Great Danes generally don't live very long. There are cheeses that last longer. At the age of eleven, gray-bearded and teetering, Melina was a wonder of science. My father massaged her arthritic legs, carried her up the stairs, and lifted her in and out of bed. He treated her the way men in movies treat their ailing wives, the way he might have treated my mother had she allowed such naked displays of helplessness and affection. Melina's era had spanned the final ten years of his married life. The dog had ridden in the family's last station wagon. She'd attended my father's retirement party, lived through my sister's wedding, and celebrated the election of two Republican presidents. She grew weaker and lost her appetite, but against all advice, my father simply could not bear to let go.

The Youth in Asia begged him to end her life.

"I can't do it," he said. "This is too hard for me."

"Oh, but you must do it," said Komatsu. "It is required."

A month after Melina was put to sleep, my father returned to the breeder and came home with another Great Dane. A female like Melina, gray spots like Melina, only this one is named Sophie. He tries to love her but readily admits that he may have made a mistake. She's a nice enough dog, but the timing is off.

When walking Sophie through the neighborhood, my father feels not unlike a newly married senior citizen stumbling behind his apathetic young bride. The puppy's stamina embarrasses him, as does her blatant interest in younger men. Passing drivers slow to a stop and roll down their windows. "Hey," they yell. "Are you walking her, or is it the other way around?"

Their words remind him of a more gracious era, of milder forces straining against the well-worn leash. He still gets the attention, but now, in response, he just lifts his shovel and continues on his way.

Tag Board

The 250th Album Badge badge
The 250th Album Badge
This is the Mixtape Collective equivalent of the Purple Heart. Kind of...
awarded on 2010-09-10

Level 29
When I hear the name Tillerman, I think of a friend's cat named Tiller.

I don't even know what this contest was about, but this looks aces.
10/31/09 09:40am
Mixtape Contest XVII -- Third Place badge
Mixtape Contest XVII -- Third Place
The age-old tradition of Three Kings Day is to fill the shoes of good children with candy, while they sleep. Bad children get shoes filled with scorpions and other venomous creatures. Congrats on third place!
awarded on 2008-01-10

Level 12
I always associate Tea for the Tillerman with "Extras" now.
2/18/08 05:42pm
Team Robot Member badge
Team Robot Member
Despite the fact that TEAM ROBOT was crushed like a Pabst can at a frat party by the might claws of TEAM MONSTER, you are still deserving of a badge... Loser.
awarded on 2006-10-18

Level 40
You used Terrapin. You are a God sir!
2/15/08 03:04pm
The Patton Badge badge
The Patton Badge
Driving Lamborghini's and sipping on martinis. This badge is for those who express their love of Mike Patton through mixtape.
awarded on 2008-08-07

Level 27
david sedaris is a hack but this mix is lovely. with the exception of peter bjorn and john. ew. but terrapin makes up for it :)
2/15/08 02:53pm
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