12.31.2015

Star Wars: The Return Of The Return Of The Jedi

I started to write, and may get around to completing, a review of Episode 7. I want to see it one more time to make sure that my reaction was at least somewhat objective but I just had to post a link to this even if a million other people have.

Lucas put his foot in his mouth more than a bit with the "slavers" reference, but, besides that, all-in-all, a fairly sound precis of the new film. Read the comments if you want to see grown adults acting as if their pacifiers have been removed prematurely.



12.29.2015

White Sustenance

I can't help but think that the below is both the apotheosis and nadir of indie simultaneously. Look at The Guy. I both revel and revolt at his insidious a-professionalism. On the one hand, the obvious one, the one you use to write with a pen or throw a baseball, yes, well, there is something daring about the lack of polish, the casualness, the diffident insouciance. And yet. Even in 1988, there is something so obvious, so studied, so monomaniacally blatant, I mean, Calvin has tight abs and he wants to fuck you. And somehow, because he doesn't have a perm, it's alright.

Twenty-eight years later, the wardrobe is the same. And Jamie Principle is probably still broke. It's not as if nothing has happened since then, it's just that, well, I don't think that the necessary consensus has been reached to place all that has happened since then in proper context.

Po(o)p is progress.


Or:

12.21.2015

No Comment

Well. Not really. Barely Comment.

Still ill... that's all.



12.13.2015

Not Much To Say Again

Well. Yeah.

I dunno. 

Like.

Nothing.

But not exactly.

I miss doing this. It's pointless and human. Redundant.

Ugh let's start over.

I've been, well, every so often, I have been taking stabs at writing about the restaurant industry. In one case, the work is fiction and I keep coming so close to finishing and can't quite do it, though I will. And the other is non-fiction but I don't know where to start. Even the acknowledgements section is like two names. And if I'm already trying to knock that particular section out, then you know I am fucked. I should mention that I am laughing about this as I write. There are two of you out there who deserve apologies, though. I am self-sabotaging. It's a hard habit to give up. Thanks for investing time in me. I really don't want to waste it. It's going to take a while, though. Fuck. I'm still learning how to be my own parent. I'm making progress, but I did eat calzones after midnight twice last week. And I spent maybe two hours doing creative work, all of which involved making music. The calzones are not the problem, really.

Until I try and work up something more formal, here's something worthwhile not written by me. As another personal aside, I'll say that I am trying and failing to write about what the writer of the piece, Patrick Abatiell, is writing about and looking for others to write about. So maybe I have a few more months of being slightly ahead of the curve. Must hurry up. Though, actually, I'm not too worried. I don't see any burning desire among the middle class to "overcome" their alienation from the responsibilities their participation in consumer society allows them to avoid. I can't tell if that last sentence was grammatically correct, though. I don't want to write it another way.

Colloquialism. My writing would be a parody of itself if it existed to be parodied.

Another line break, another one-word sentence.

Yes.

Hah.

So.

I think one of the things that I would write about when it comes to working in the front-of-house (FOH) in a restaurant (FOH is all the people you can see, basically; all the people you interact with and who interact with you deliberately). I just ended that sentence prematurely due to too much writing being in parenthesis.

When I am waiting tables, or bartending, I am stuck with a question. Who is my boss? In the case of most jobs, this is fairly simple. In restaurants, not so much so. Why is this? Well, most FOH restaurant jobs pay a little more than $2 an hour. There are certain cities where normal minimum wage rules apply, but those places are the exception. I have not worked in those places. So. I make $2 an hour. And plenty more. In tips.

And those tips don't come from ownership. They come from you.

I think you are starting to figure this out.

I hope you are.

I think a lot of the writers I like are all, really, writing about the same thing. The loss of a value system. Certain writers focus on certain things, and, on some level, it would be foolish, say, to link them all together. That one writer, say, is sad about the dearth of innovation in street-level black culture, while another may lament the beliefs that actually lead to the creation of the ghettos that produced that cultural innovation (nobody I read laments the death of racism, but, maybe, just the civilizational coherence of Western values that, sadly, lead to that racism), invites the possibility of contradiction, of course. And yet. On a deeper level.

So I think one thing I want to write about is the move from fine dining to "casual" fine dining. There's a lot to that trend. Although I hate to give him credit, David Brooks, in Bobos In Paradise, got here way before many of us. I was still listening to techno, confident in the future when the book was published; Brooks was already talking vintage. Handcrafted. Etc. And what he captures, especially, even if he doesn't necessarily loathe it as much as I, is the disingenuous nature of it all. The way in which big money is spent on seemingly-modest things.

Like a lot of the writers I like, it's not necessarily that I want to return to that previous period. Rather, I want the present and future to be that which is extrapolated from that in which I value in the past.

To often, we lose the good stuff and keep the bad. 

There is a restaurant, for instance, here in Providence, that charges $45 for some of its entrees. While I don't idealize haughty, reservation-only service, or tuxedo-clad waiters, or menus exclusively written in French, well, really, in some way, that the prices stay the same but everything else is, well, crappier, you know, fuck you.

This is where the writing falls apart. It's hard to pull it apart. What are the semiotics of distressed wood tables? Mason jars? Craft anything? Fuck. Can I really spend a month trying to untangle all of that bullshit?

But back to the lecture at hand (Snoop Dogg).

For all of it's pretension, what I like, at least theoretically, about fine dining is simple: the expectations are clear. What good service is, whatever it is, is a set of objective principles that are, hopefully, understood by both the patron and the worker. Of course there is a bit of improvisation, but, ultimately, wine service is always what it is (or was).

You either had that, or you had some guy or gal at the local pub slinging cheap beer. And that was that.

Now, a lot more complex.

Not only because the lines are blurred, but because of you.

Going back a bit. To all those writers (you know who I read).

I think what a lot of what is being lamented is individualism and relativism. Sure, relativism is handy when you want to, say, expand the canon of great painters beyond those who lived up to a seemingly-disinterested aesthetic ideal that is not disinterested at all. But ideas have a way of traveling out into the world to be used in unanticipated ways.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that, whatever you care about, Marx, secular humanism, the Enlightenment, "good architecture", rap music, etc., or if you just wait tables, like me (and also I care about all of those things), well, these things worked at some point because there was some clear, seemingly-objective, principle at stake. Now there isn't.

Good service is what you think it is. And so is good music and so is a president and so is literature. So, actually, it's all the same thing. Or nothing.

So.

Good service is what you say it is. And you are the one paying me. You give me the tips. The IRS takes that $2 an hour.

And here is where it gets tricky. And here is where I get tired, right as I start to try and actually say what it is I am trying to say.

You don't have to tell me beforehand what you think good service is. You expect me to know. And I do, when it comes to the classic rules of service. But you don't always know those rules, and, whether you know them as rules, or just that which I happen to be doing at a particular moment at your table, you are entirely entitled to your opinion about them. At least you think so (I don't). But that doesn't matter. You are paying me.

But you are not employing me.

And my employer has rules.

Some of which contradict BOTH your rules and, in certain cases, the classic rules of service. Between your expectations, my training, and the expectations of ownership, my job is not to give good service, but to guess what good service is. Years of experience has made me decent at this. But still. It's bullshit.

This is a random stab out there, apropos of nothing, but I think there is an inherent conflict in the Left between individualism and democracy, once thought to be, well, related, at least.

Was the goal of toppling canons the chance to rewrite them in a better way? Or to eradicate them altogether?

I think the real challenge of the next truly great music critic would be to actually find a way to sift through the detritus of alternative culture, the canon of those of us with "taste", and try and actually distinguish...

Well, another aside. I think I'm borrowing from Nietzsche or whatever, but I've always made this distinction between positive nihilism and negative nihilism. Positive nihilism is "yay, nothing means anything and I can do what I want". And negative is, well, "I can do what I want but nothing means anything". 

I guess I am trying to draw the contours between what needs to be tossed from the canon and what to preserve, in order that there might be some sort of future again. What were the records that worked towards the democratic ideal of new canons and cultures, and what were the records that demolished the possibility of those cultures or canons meaning anything?

I still don't quite know what I am getting at.

What is good service? What are the principles? What are good records? What are the principles?

I don't want to leave it here, but I have to. I have to go back to work soon.

12.03.2015

Again Again

I'm not dismissive. I'm not inured. But I'm not paranoid.

First off, let's start with this, just a little clarity, especially compared to the mess of stuff over at The Guardian. I never thought I would quote the NYT positively in relation to The Guardian, but, well. I am. I was actually planning on pointlessly posting a pointless rant against the Guardian's editorial page a few days ago. But it was pointless.

So.

I'm going to say very little and all at the same time.

Ideally, I would live in a world where a few people who enjoyed hunting had rifles. And that's about it. There is virtually no gun control legislation I would find too restrictive (unless none of it applied to the police). But, on another level, I don't really care. I care about the death and the violence, not the guns. Yeah the two are related. But still. It may be that guns enable people to enact violence upon and exert control over other people, but, you know, so does legislation. No I'm not a closet libertarian. I promise. 

I'm going to back up to move forward.

First off, you are right, the Right is using mental illness as a means of deflecting attention away from gun control and the power of the NRA. The legislation mentioned looks atrocious. Of course. That being said, is there absolutely nothing to the seemingly-commonsensical idea that, you know, hey, walking into a public place armed to the eyebrows and shooting a bunch of people you don't know, well, I mean, can we call that mental illness after the fact and then find a different phrase for those of us who struggle with depression or OCD or whatever else but, who, nevertheless, entertain no fantasies of violence (ok actually I am lying about that one - I had a dream, once - it involved preternatural accuracy with a sniper rifle, a few fake passports, a copy of the Forbes 400 and a large Sharpie filled with red ink)? 

And secondly, I dunno, given the Times article above, exactly who is rationalizing what? Why isn't it using tragedy for political gain when the gain in question is gun control legislation. And of course, that is why there is such a disparity between the number of mass shootings in America quoted in The Times and The Guardian. And why I like The Times a little more today. There is something altogether too convenient about lumping gang violence and random shooting together. Ultimately, the problem with dismissing those who fire random shots into random crowds as mentally ill is that the responsibility for understanding them is no longer ours. And when shootings stemming from gang violence, from poverty, etc. are included as part of the same category as random/random, then even more responsibility is avoided. In a way, it reminds me of the debate on marijuana legalization. You can say poor, black, all you want, but racist cops, to use the vernacular, gonna lock motherfuckers up, regardless. But now white people can get stoned without worrying about having to put a felony on their college applications. Great. Nah.

It's not like things were so great before this started happening so often. But now people are scared. They no longer have the freedom to be indifferent. But they still have the freedom to be indifferent to what that indifference has wrought.

OK so I'm going into fuck-the-middle-class mode again here. I'm trying to not be so much of a cliche. It's not working. Sorry. I love you.

I guess one of the smartest things I ever read is that it's more radical to change people's desires than their behavior. But gun control doesn't even quite reach the latter goal, never mind the former. As, "lord" help me, Michael Moore noted in Bowling For Columbine, there's plenty of guns in Canada. And less people dying. Sure it's the guns, but it isn't. Not really. The guns aid in the realization of a desire. And what is that desire? Why does America produce so much of it? Answering those questions might require a different sort of response, may force us to acknowledge ourselves as part of, partially responsible for, the world we find ourselves in. 

Underlying the placid, but misguided, calls for gun control, the mean-spirited attacks on the mentally-maladjusted is a feeling, surely not unfamiliar to someone about to commit mass murder, that there is an unbridgeable divide between "us" and "them" that cannot be reconciled. And so the violence continues.

11.19.2015

Perspective

Well, I could talk about Paris but.

I think it's either, well, a tragedy or a tragedy and a tragedy and a farce. I mean. Can't help but be sad that people en masse for no reason, or every. Can't help but be aware that, at least in certain regions of the world, well, duh. I dunno.

The thing is, I feel like I repeat myself. Paris is/was beautiful, as Tehran, as Damascus, as Washington, fucking, DC.

The shooters care, the flesh-bags of former lives don't. Regardless of orientation. I'm not this cynical. I mourn and yet I'm sure lives were taken too-quickly for other, mundane, quotidian, reasons, too. The efficacy of automotive transport. Lead paint. U No. But back to.

Belief, meet non- and, vice-versa.

I'm actually not this cynical. It's just that, as much as my eyes tear over Paris, I also know that, gee, if I don't tear over Beirut or Manila too, well, then, Paris.

Most people are boring. They want to be middle-class. Let's let them already. As sad as it is. The alternative is worse (or is it?). Imagine ISIS. Now imagine ISIS trying to get money from someone watching Dancing With The Stars. So you see.

I mean, it hurts but.

It's never been good. Listen here.


Listen to God. Listen closely. There were always people talking amongst themselves. Peace and war. The background to gossip. Bob is sleeping with - whoa! Utopia and dystopia, nothing. ISIS and Marx. A fetish. Only one is lethal. Sadly. And sadly. Publisher of Radical Alterity, meet "radical alterity" and his/her new tattoo.

Ouch

I don't support ISIS. I don't support that ISIS is a surprise, birthday party of death. I just figure. Most people don't care. Should they go to heaven or hell?

Conviction would solve it all quickly, but which? And who? Not so far.

11.11.2015

35

Instead of complaining, I'm just going to say: it's now or never. I'm scared. Have I left it too late? Only one way to find out.

EDIT: I mean, what I am actually sick of, more than feeling like I am failing, is the self-obsession that goes with that feeling. 

10.30.2015

Cool

Being cool: the act of turning one's own fears into someone else's insecurities.

Edit: Or is it the other way around? Insecurities into someone else's fears?

Never mind the champagne and the tuxedo; I want to wander the streets of a New England town reeking of patchouli, stopping only to fall to my knees and whisper acid-drenched profundities to squirrels, at twilight, on the first warm day of the year.

SOS PT 2 or 300

On from this...

Oh man, I want a tuxedo, bowtie undone in a deliberate, calculated act of indifference, a belly full of champagne, and some empty streets.

How have I only heard this album for the first time recently (except for "Slave...", obviously)? Oops.

10.27.2015

Uh Oh Nostalgia

(none of the ideas below are particularly innovative but I am writing them down anyways)

Um. I think I like the 1990s again.

Does this mean I get to spend the next 40-50 years thinking about my teenage years? I hope not. Ugh.

It's maybe that, I dunno, there's something too subtle and self-conscious about most of the music I am hearing today. And also, I think, depression, angst, frustration, still not absent from my life (as if it ever is entirely for anyone). Most electronic music seems to be made by and for cool kids these days, outside of the small contingent of the young and alienated kids in the UK that keep ye olde 'nuum scraping by. 

This is not to say that I care about guitars again, or disown electronics, or anything like that. It's more like, hey, sliding into middle-age, I still find myself up at 5am wishing I had whiskey to go with my cigarettes. So, suddenly, I really like Alice In Chains, even though I didn't actually care for them when I was a pre-teen/teenager.

There's a lot to be angry about in this world, even beyond my personal life. Outside of whatever bands kids who shop at Hot Topic listen to, a smattering of more honest rappers, and, maybe, some decent metal bands, I don't really get the sense that anyone is speaking to that anger at all. And even amongst those who do, well, on the one hand, yeah, maybe I am too "cool" taste-wise, though not as an actual person, to ever love, like, emo or whatever, but, then again, the problem I think most music, "cool" or cool or not or not, seems to suffer from is, at least for me, an exhaustive sense of stylization. Maybe I've said this already, but I feel like we have reached peak mediation.

Probably I'm borrowing from Baudrillard or Debord or someone, but. What I mean by peak mediation is simple and really, profoundly depressing. If all media (records, books, film, TV, etc.) was, at some point, a document of some pre-existing reality or culture or whatever, well, what it feels like to me to listen to music now, well, I feel like I am listening to an attempt to recreate a document. A depiction of a depiction. What was it, the "precession of simulacra" or something like that? 

I dunno.

Why aren't the kids angry?

Let's just say that health is the new conformity and leave it at that.

Or not. Self-help, therapy, medication, self-actualization, advice, advice, advice. The necessary distance from emotions that allows us to "understand" them. Progress, but somehow scary, too. Self-mastery, not imposed by external force but by what may be lost by not achieving it (does Facebook mimic the real world or vice-versa?). Exhausting "normativity". Additional hypothesis: the precession of simulacra applies to people too. I can't prove it, not only because it is unprovable, but also, because, well, I am too alienated to be objective. Pathetic. Or not.

Really, what's particularly wrong with being alienated from this world at this time?* 

Which is why, again, Alice In Chains. 

*It's sort of annoying, I'll admit, to be in this situation at this age. More than annoying, actually. But the triumph of psychology, unfortunately, doesn't seem to understand the difference between a principled rejection of society and unfitness to live within it. A product of the psychological society, neither do I, on some days.

Anywho.



Pointless aside:
The 1990s weren't very good clothing-wise were they? Times are better now, though boring. I feel like we could all get away with a nice pair of jeans and a stylish hooded sweatshirt for another 1,000 years. Nobody is ever going to look like Prince and the Revolution in 1984 ever again, will they?

Bonus:
Even Primus seems angsty now. Jeez.

10.24.2015

At least I have you to talk to

Or so I think.

Listen, I mean, you remember this story.

It's: why do I insist on repeating it.

You've seen the results, or at least the polite version.

Again!

She's beautiful, suffering.

My hands still smell of her perfume but not her lips.

Maybe you hate Houllebecq, and maybe rightly-so, but, 
well,

we'll get to that.

Having an alcoholic for a mom really makes it hard for me to be a "man". To see suffering as a prelude to ejaculation.

There is a beautiful girl. Another smart one. 

Who has done more drugs in the last 24 hours than I have in my entire life. 

I gave in a little tonight. I smoked weed. Turned down the cocaine and the Klonopin.

I just came back from her apartment. 

Nothing happened between us. Well, actually, not quite. 

My emotions towards her deepened, concurrent with my anger at repeating the same mistakes.

But

her sadness 

well, it makes me care for her more, even while. 

I mean, I think, 
she wants me to fuck her, and 

I want to fuck her, but, 
somehow, not like this. 

Not as her eyelids grow more heavy with the weight of life,
not as the Utopia of sleep, of dreams, is falling upon her forehead

gentle caress.

She played a song for me tonight, on her guitar, and, 

inside of her is. 

The stupor of nihilistic resignation vanquished by the slight furrow of a brow focused on the task of salvation. 

As long as I want to run a thumb along her jaw, collecting the scent of her hair into the ever-increasing wrinkles of my skin, 
I am fucked, but not her.

I am a man after all, one who wants to take her from behind as she screams,
facing the abyss,
and yet,
I don't want to take the "her" she believes herself to be, the "her" of her self-hatred;
I want to take the "her" from which she is in flight.

I've always been the observer in the lives of those lost. 
Lost, myself, I am,
and yet. 

I am not. 

I know what I want, and I know that what I want is wrong.

I feel totally stuck: too normal to succor the lost, too moral to aid in misdirection, too strange to ever feel comfortable amongst those
whose sails have never been blown by
      an
            infernal
                  wind.

Houellebecq has said that tenderness is a deeper instinct than seduction.
And so I am fucked more than I fuck.
If I had asked nothing of her, demanded nothing more than no resistance to fingers ripping apart the machine-made eroticism of that which protects the salient, the cosmic, the unrepeatable orifice, then it would be done, long ago. And that is all she wants.

It's me, it's my fault. Or maybe.

It's not that I am, somehow, insufficient.

It's just that,
more than her body,
more than litany of unexplored angles to navigate,
the tastes to master,
the nerves underneath
silken
skin
squeezed
selfishly: 

I want her soul. 

I want to fuck her into a new ontology. If I can't, I won't.

I can't, so I won't.

This is all I know of love.

10.14.2015

The Big Meh

(this is the first piece I have written in a long time that may actually deserve an editor but who? and where would a I submit anyways? and who would publish?)

I'm starting to resent my alienation from mainstream political discourse almost more than I believe I am justified in feeling alienated by mainstream political discourse. Boring, this desire to throw rocks at television screens I don't own. Maybe I should. That would be an adventure, though probably a painful one.

Stupidly, I continue to hold on to the idea that there should be more to human existence than the challenge of achieving a sedate, middle-class life. Not that I am necessarily against marriage, or having children, or having a nice house with a nice backyard and maybe a sofa in front of a TV or whatever, but I can't help but feel that the pursuit of these pleasures, and their contingency as social "goods", allows myself, and certainly others, to evade a much more substantial question than "how best are these pleasures achieved?": fundamentally, what is humanity's dream at this point ( especially for those of us in the West who are not religious)? Of course, I don't really expect a politician to answer that question, to even ask that question, and yet, I can't help feeling that there is no moving on, no real notions of "progress" without an ability to re-imbue humanity with the special sense of purpose that religion used to provide. 

As far as I can tell, our purpose as a nation, at best, at least according to the most "visionary" of those politicians seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency, is to include as many people into this aforementioned vision of middle-class life as possible, which is why I found nothing to believe in while watching this evening's debates.

Perhaps one of the best essays I have read to address these concerns is, amusingly enough, not found on an obscure blog somewhere, nor in the published works of some social theorist or philosopher, but rather in the introduction to the music critic Ian MacDonald's book on The Beatles, Revolution in the Head. I won't attempt to summarize all of the insights contained in the essay, but I do want to at least offer a pertinent idea. According to MacDonald, the true revolutionaries of the 1960s were not the hippies nor the New Left, but rather, simply put, "ordinary people". To MacDonald, the revolution  in question was the throwing off of all the shackles of institutional demands, especially those of the church, to pursue a life of selfish materialism totally divorced from the cultural commons, a life suddenly available to millions after the modernization of production caused by World War II and the surplus of productive capacity now necessarily put to different use. 

In the context of MacDonald's argument, which can be read here, and which I find convincing, though incomplete (the author, British, underestimated the rise of the religious right in America), what passed for political debate this evening was, actually, profoundly anti-political. Rather than politics or government or a nation being called upon to achieve some profound feat that expands boundaries and notions of what it is to be human, what it is to live and to have a life (individual, social, national, global), rather, the usual and unusual, new and old, bugbears are brought forth as a list of reasons as to why those want to pursue a life dedicated to the pursuit of their own pleasure are unable to do so. Wether it's Wall Street or guns or racism or Iran, any issue raised is merely seen in context as something that prevents us from achieving the simultaneously modest yet profoundly nihilistic dream of simply not caring about anyone else and living our own lives.

I am eagerly awaiting, and expect I will be waiting a few more years at least, Rick Perlstein's sequel to The Invisible Bridge, the third in his series of books covering the rise of the post-Goldwater right in America, but I already feel as if I have a premonition of the symbolic value of Ronald Reagan's presidential victory in 1980, a topic I expect he will cover in his next book. More than a culmination of the demographic realignment of voter/party affiliations started during Lyndon Johnson's time in the Oval Office, a realignment hastened by Nixon and the tumultuous 1968 election, Reagan's true victory was his seemingly-permanent codification of the present language of national politics. After Reagan, there is no questioning of middle class values, no possibility of imagining a different world.

And so we get Bernie Sanders' tiresome fulminations against Wall Street, whose penchant for greed (or inevitable search for profit, necessary for the perpetuation of capitalism), is now only problematic because that search for profit has no longer yielded positive changes in the material conditions of the middle class (and there are probably structural and inevitable reasons for this, impossible to understand without explaining that globalization, and its attendant wars, may have been an attempt to extend American middle-class prosperity, not undermine it). We get arguments about gun control that, at best, mention mental illness, but, of course, never call into question what may lead to this illness, the empty a-spirituality of middle-class life, the relentless competition and conformity and dark hatreds that lie just under the surface of middle-class normalcy. We get the same platitudes about supporting our troops while not supporting war that evade both the enormous class difference between those who serve and those who are served, and the responsibility that, you guessed it, the middle class of the United States will never bear for the fact that, due to their votes, we fought these "wrong" wars in the first place. We get conversations about extending free college education to all Americans without taking into account that, amongst the middle class, a BA is now common enough to force many looking for economic stability to take on more debt to pursue Masters degrees, and that even more BA holders entering the workforce will force even more people to do the same. 

As for the environment, the most important issue, the discussion of which was instigated by a question from a voter, not by any of the moderators, this issue was handled the same way it always is: technology will fix it, you don't have to live differently. As wages have been, basically, stagnant since the 1970s, the entire expansion of the American economy has been based on people taking on debts to buy things they don't need. If people were to stop buying things they didn't need (and taking on debts to do it), the economy would collapse (and 2008 can be seen as the limit to the debt-financed phase of middle-class expansion). How, exactly, can this be reconciled with any (last-ditch) attempt to "save the planet"?

During the debate, the following question was asked "what is the biggest national security threat to the United States"? Sitting in a room with a few friends, I answered "the American middle class". My answer is easy to caricature, the flatulence of a disillusioned, self-hating, middle-class American Leftist. And yet, taking into account the answers given by the candidates this evening: we're in the Middle East to perpetuate middle-class life. We trade with China to perpetuate middle-class life, and our environment is a wreck because of middle-class life. Iraq is a mess: we went there out of middle-class fear and left because of middle-class impatience. 

(perhaps a good paragraph is needed here to provide a better set-up for the below)

My fellow Americans, we are not the ones we have been waiting for. I'm not sure we've even been waiting.

10.12.2015

"Being Smart"

According to all of the standardized tests I took when I was a kid, I am amongst the smartest of all humans extant. I am in the 99th percentile. Which means, actually, nothing, as there are thousands upon thousands of people at least as intelligent as I.

Yet.

Voice of authority.

Dear masses, if you are looking to me for guidance, I am glad to share my wisdom for you. After years of deep thought, after decades of self-examination, after torrents of self-doubt, after applying the most precise scalpel to all the joys and pains of human existence in order to directly contemplate them fully, here is what I have to offer:

Bourbon is delicious all by itself; no need to add a soda of any kind. I will admit that, sometimes, I need to add a bit of water or frozen water, also known as ice, to bourbon, to make it more palatable, and so I am, therefore, sympathetic to those of you who feel the same, but I must state, unequivocally, that adding anything to bourbon that changes the inherent flavor, as opposed to merely diluting said flavor, is inadvisable.

Also, capitalism will end. Sadly, for those of you on the Left who want to actually feel validated in your beliefs, capitalism will not end due to deliberate acts of moral depth. Rather, it will end so gradually as to prevent anyone for taking credit for its termination. The upside, of course, is that billions of future inhabitants of Earth will be saved from the suffering we all now feel so deeply in our hearts. The bad news, if it can be described as bad news at all, is that those of us whose sense of identity and purpose here on Earth is derived from "being smart" will never get any credit or social validation for being correct when it comes to our oppositional attitudes towards capitalism and the social formations that derive from this particular (and peculiar) form of economic and social organization. 

It's tough, I know. You are just going to have to find another way of getting laid. As smart as I am, I can't tell you how. Even I don't know.

10.09.2015

Same Old Shit

I would wait for you, if only I knew what I was waiting for.


;-P in desiring another lost soul shocker.

I think what I hate most about Providence, really, the only thing I hate, is that the city is simply not beautiful enough, large enough, to provide the correct ambience for my failures. I am a critic AND victim of mediation.

If your most profound means of self-expression is wandering, lonely, to the sound of the Blue Nile, then the city that enfolds you must aspire to the same grandeur. Surely.

10.03.2015

Dark Laughter

Cynicism is the armor of a wounded heart, and my armor is getting stronger.

Here are two things that made me "laugh" today.


and

"Over on the House side of the Capitol, feisty Bella Abzug of New York, eyeing a run against Senator James Buckley in 1976, publicized two government surveillance projects, code-named 'SHAMROCK' and 'MINARET,' run by a government bureau that was so secret most Americans didn't know it existed.... (The National Security Agency) had also, Abzug revealed, been monitoring both the phone calls and telegrams of American citizens for decades... (Subpoenaed private-sector executives) admitted their companies had voluntarily been turning over records and cables to the government at the end of every single day for more than forty years... Appearing in uniform, (NSA director) Lieutenant General Lew Allen Jr. obediently disclosed that his agency's spying on Americans was far vaster than what had (previously) been revealed... He admitted that it was, technically, illegal and had been carried out without specific approval from any president... He added that thanks to such surveillance, 'we are aware that a major terrorist attack in the United States was prevented'. He refused to give further details (on the thwarted attack)."

- Rick Perlstein, The Invisible Bridge

Um, two.

9.23.2015

Claire and the Grimes


I'm thinking. Maybe this has already been said, by me, probably by others but.

Part of the problem with genres or styles not disappearing is that it's really not quite possible to react to some problem within one genre without simply becoming part of another one.

How can there be a dialectic, or a narrative, when all is always all present?

Well, there can't be.

Like, lets say that you were in a noise scene and then became infatuated with pop music, not only because, you know, at least, aesthetically, it can be excellent, but also because noise just doesn't feel especially radical. Well, cool. But then, what if you feel that the post-noise embrace of pop has gotten a bit mediocre and it's all becoming too, well, pop, and that you want to do something more radical in reaction. Maybe you want to react against the strictures of pop songwriting, maybe you want to push sonically into more abrasive territories. Well, then, maybe you've gone and made yourself a noise record, in which case, your attempt to be, well, the negation of an assertion only leads you to assert the thing you were trying to negate in the first place. In rebelling against the conformity of the post-noise embrace of pop, you have now re-conformed.

There's no total rebellion without a totality.

How can a new social subject come to exist?

EDIT:

Another way of pondering:

Exactly what set of extrinsic principles are there to be valorized or refuted, celebrated or defied, by the actions of individuals?

9.02.2015

Single Of The Year?

And possibly, the decade, so far, at least for me (and the "official" release was only on 12/30/14, so forgive me if I am being a bit loose with "year" above).

I was a total Tri Angle obsessive a few years ago, so, so, it's amazing that this song escaped me upon it's original release, but, actually, not really. I'm glad I bought that Balam Acab LP instead. Snake RMX FTW btchz!

VIDEO NSFW!


If it's not true, then please, please, send me other ideas, because I have no idea what's going on out there. I just know this blows my mind. And I also feel vaguely disappointed. Not in terms of DJ Snake, but in terms of. 

I want to get back into DJing. Why can't the underground make records like this anymore? What are the other thirty records I need to play along with this one in a set? Last time I checked, underground house and techno were still stuck in the whole "some era in the past was always better and I only use analog synths" bullshit. Or "chords and convictions are so mainstream" bullshit. Dark and digital and emotive, that's what I want. I'm getting my turntables back from repair this week. Tell me where to start looking.

I'm guessing that none of the tracks you will suggest, just like this one I love so much, will be available on vinyl. Time to get over myself and physical media?

Love.

(Oh and yeah, MK organs and vocal snippets but don't front like it's a 1990s record, for fuck's sake)

8.15.2015

"No Doy"

As far as I can tell, this article could have just as easily been published twenty years ago, at least (via the still-magical here).

Unfortunately, I don't have time for a long post.

I don't think that when I was reading the New York Times as a teenager that I was part of the audience that those writing for the Times thought they were writing for, if only because those writers provided me with information that lead me towards having certain beliefs that they themselves would probably not have wanted me to hold at that time in my life. Namely, that higher education was bullshit.

I distinctly remember reading, somewhere around 1999 or 2000, in the year I took off between high school and college, an article about the things that parents were doing to secure places for their children at America's top schools. And those things were pretty disgusting. Though not actually. The things being done were good, but the end towards which another matter. Like.

An example: sending your teenager on a "peace mission" to Africa to "help communities" "over there". And all. I'm being pretty vague here, yes. But maybe you see the picture already. A bunch of rich kids going to Namibia ostensibly to build houses but probably to party with other rich kids at night. And even if they didn't, still. I don't think my parents had that kind of money lying around. Or did yours? And even then, even if it didn't cost that much, even if the idea of community service that only some people can afford to provide being used as a resume-builder on a college application doesn't quite get you, well, then, at least, the core issue. Well first, the article does mention how children are being forced to compete for status earlier and earlier in their lives, how meritocracy is me first, but does the author quite tie it together? Maybe I missed it, so I will. People, specifically children, are being taught to view good deeds in purely instrumental, self-advancing terms. And schools are rewarding this behavior with big, thick envelopes. Corruption begins at home.

And can't you just picture Chet, having gone to Africa at 17 to build a schoolhouse, at 25 landing a job at some big-time NGO helping developers tear that same schoolhouse down or advising local government officials that continuing to provide free education in that schoolhouse is economically unfeasible? Oh, madame, sir, I can easily picture that, and of course the money shot, the job interview whereby Chet cheerfully leverages his past for his future, "Oh you've already been to Namibia?" (Chet smiles broadly).

So already me and higher education were off to a pretty bad start before I even went (and the bad grammar in the first part of this sentence is purposeful, jerk). I'll admit some of it was petulant, childish, and that I was a snob. My whole "ideas first" principle just as much pretense. But I did believe, or at least I believed I believed. I wouldn't know myself well enough to know why else I was really miserable then until later. Though, really. I mean.

Right before I got to college I was assigned a book to read. One that all of us fresh-humans were meant to discuss at the outset. And what was it? I want you to guess. I want you to play your brain games. I mean, it's the year 2000 I am talking about. Would they go all 19th century canonical on us? Or post-modern multicultural relativism (i.e. choose a black author based on the color of their skin not on the character of their content). Or post-post-modern-relativism-fuck-it, like Moby Dick? And am I leading you down a blind ally here, forcing you assume fiction when it could have been something else? Some charming little book whereby a popular scientist explains the content and the character of the universe for laypeople without being insulting? Sounds nice, actually. Only that wasn't it. I would be flattered if you were to tell me you actually have a vague sense of anticipation right now, or have actually spent more than ten second trying to figure out the answer to this unimportant question.

So I'll just say.

Even without preceding prejudice, I knew I was fucked when I was expected to arrive at school having read, of all fucking things, Tuesdays With Morrie. A self-help book, and a maudlin one at that. Christ, at least it could have been a useful self-help book, like Here's How To Get Drunk Without Hurting Anyone Or Getting Hurt. I don't think that book exists yet, does it? If not, well, someone should write it. I can't 'cause I still don't have the answer, though, in the end, I only hurt myself, so I guess I'm doing something right, right?

I had to distract myself from what I was going to say to share that pointless tidbit. Though maybe it feeds in somehow. What was I going to say?

The author of the way-aforementioned article is right to point out that the decline in the share of those people studying liberal arts is a problem. That being said, I can't help but feel that the attitude I described way above may prevent students, even, yes, English students, from really benefitting from their contact with Good Ideas and all. Look around at the worlds of the Arts and Letters. You see the vehement dissent? The howls of protest against the world those sTEm graduates are building? Yeah, me neither. I'm guessing most Liberal Arts majors are just status-seekers attached to antiquated notions about where that status should be sought. 

Ouch. I am an asshole and I am going to stop there. Because my torrid belief in Ideas and Principle and all that, well, I have to go bartend right now.

EDIT: A better writer and thinker (not jealousy, self-criticism and objective honesty) on much of what I implied but couldn't articulate and, of course, a whole lot more...

8.13.2015

How Does One Become A Criminal Mastermind?

I'm only half kidding.

Like.

I've been watching a bunch of "summer movies" lately and there seems to be this guy in a suit who spends his time in a nice apartment, centrally located in the most photogenic urban region of whatever country offers the best financial incentives to the makers of action movies, accompanied by the finest women and scotch and furniture. In fact, he seems to already have more money than he could ever spend given that he has already spent millions of dollars on a plan to threaten some nation or government or community with certain destruction unless they give him more millions. 

Because, well, as for me, instead of spending millions on the high-tech gadgetry and mercenaries necessary to enact my evil plot, necessarily foiled, of course, by the nonconformist government agent who doesn't play by the rules but gets things done, regardless, wearing a leather jacket and a two-day stubble instead of a navy suit, well, I would just keep the apartment and the scotch and the women and the designer outfits and then hold on to my untold millions in order to keep my exact same lifestyle going into perpetuity.

If I pretend I'm going to release poison into Chicago's water supply, um, could you give me a nice pad in Hong Kong and a few perfectly-tailored suits to go with? I promise I won't kill anyone. Just send me the lease, the plane tickets, the aspiring actresses who should stick to modeling, etc.

Thanks.

8.12.2015

Something Pretty Instead

The Guardian has a nice series of photos of some impressively-futuristic looking TV sets in the UAE. Some of them actually seem to get closet to being actually futuristic as opposed to "futuristic" as a previously-contemporary aesthetic, if you know what I mean... Of course you do. Enjoy.

8.11.2015

Appeal To Authority

During the 1960s, a young black man in a university class described the Dutch painters of the seventeenth century as "belonging" to the white students in the room, and not to him. This idea was seized upon by white members of the class. They acknowledged that they were at one with Rembrandt. They acknowledged their dominance. They offered to discuss, at any length, their inherited power to oppress. It was thought at the time that reactions of this type had to do with "white guilt" or "white masochism". No. No. It was white euphoria. Many, many children of that day felt the power of their inheritance for the first time in the act of rejecting it, and they insisted on rejecting it and rejecting it and rejecting it, so that they might continue to feel the power of that connection. Had the young black man asked, "Who is this man to you?" the pleasure they felt would have vanished in embarrassment and resentment.
George W.S. Trow, "Within The Context of No Context"

8.08.2015

Bravo

Really necessary piece of writing by Neil at FUNK. I really wish he was still writing as many essays on big ideas as he used to when he first started the above blog.

I think Neil's ideas about the perceived mental ineptitude of "the wrong sort of fans" are especially valuable and valid.

I love, for instance, the album Gentleman by the Afghan Whigs and am quite aware that the lyrics can either be interpreted as misogynistic or as violently self-lacerating against the male ego (I and most critics tend to defer to the latter). That Kanye's perceived misogyny will rarely be regarded as having the same self-awareness that precedes self-criticism does reek of prejudice, especially when combined with the idea that somehow the fans might not be able to achieve that sense of distance, either from themselves or the music they love.

White rock musicians get a pass, I think, mostly because they are seen as aberrant in relation to their, especially lately, comfortable upbringings. This would be fine if it weren't for the unstated inference, that Kanye or others, are, well, not aberrant. Their "misogyny" becomes "natural" and not a purposeful transgression or exploration of preceding values. We're steps away from non-whites as "animalistic" and all that. Only with "proper" language.

What's tragi-funny too is, of course, how could white middle-class rockers and their "(un-)ironic" racism, sexism, whatever, be aberrant when it's really, you know, those type of people that have held the reigns for so long. Those of us who think of our societies as racist or sexist don't think of them as such because Luther Campbell has been dictator for seventy years...

I had a bit of an epiphany lately. I was listening to an old Malcom X speech (well, that word "old" is sadly, an entirely redundant word in this sentence). I love listening to him because of his confidence, because the truth, the Truth, is so self-evident and obvious to him that the idea of compromise seems ludicrous. Racism itself is, basically, really fucking stupid isn't it, a practically cosmological outlook that is even more dated than, say, pantheism (dated is an odd word here, but somehow, if we assume a linear narrative of progress, it should have been harder to disavow the notion that trees are not gods than to disavow the notion that black people are intrinsically inferior). While Malcolm takes the effects of racism seriously (obviously!), his impatience to move beyond it, to discredit it, to get to the future, NOW, it's so energizing. And, while I digress, what a witty man he was. Does anyone ever really talk about that? Fiery, intemperate, blah blah blah. Fucking boring. The archetype preceding and all of that. Malcolm X the wit, like, I dunno Oscar Wilde? Someday, someone else will get it (or maybe they have and I haven't read the right books)!

I digress no longer. But I do warn you, some essentialism to follow and to precede. Just for the sake of expediency. 

As if any culture is so homogenous. 

I'm certainly not an expert on the history of black thought in America. But, at least for a while, as far as I can tell, the big question seemed to be: to assimilate or not? And that question really reveals the pervasiveness of racism, doesn't it? I don't generally think people discuss that question in that way. It's a question, really, about what black people should do. But the unspoken part. What should black people do in relation to white society. White society is subconsciously instantiated as that which is presumed, the thing that will not or can not or should not or may not change.  It's a sad thought (really, why should black people have to do anything at all, you know?). And I probably came to it from another one, which is more topical given that I am here to respond to Neil's piece. The discourse around racism, when it comes not to what black people think black people should do (in relation to white society), but when it comes to what white people think white people should do, is that, again, it is what is to be done in relation to white society. When white people discuss racism, they are really just talking about themselves, aren't they?

(I wish I could be smarter about that last sentence, more academic. Longtime readers may have noticed my prose started off perhaps a bit more studied, haughty, even, and now, well, insouciant is not quite the right word, because I am not indifferent, well, not indifferent to the subject matter; I am indifferent to writing properly.)

I'm just going to say what I said before again and I want to to take this small idea and then look at everything again and then maybe you will realize it is a big idea and that it applies so universally that it's easy to miss.

When white people discuss racism, they are really just talking about themselves.

(And just for the record, yes, in that I benefit from white privilege, I am white, but, for fuck's sake, I've heard so many fucking nasty comments about Jewish people, especially here in New England, that, well, fuck you crackers, I'm a fucking kike, I'm not one of you, fuck off.)

When white people discuss racism, they are really just talking about themselves. If you start to think from this perspective, it all makes sense. 

Here I am in a liberal, tolerant university town that is even more disgustingly segregated than my hometown in Virginia. A place where "Black Lives Matter" signs hang in the windows of shops whose owners are so glad that downtown was cleaned up so that they could operate in safety. Exactly what, or, really, who, was removed from downtown just so that VINTAGE tchotchkes could be sold in shops no young black teenager would ever dare enter for fear of a nervous glance? 

Coke signs from the 1950s! Such a great decade. Coke signs and housing discrimination are not related exactly and yet maybe you should consider for a moment why there are some people who might not have the same relationship to the past you do.

And really this vintage thing has been going on too long hasn't it. 

The fetish for the rare and the obscure is (necessarily) the prerogative of those who can easily get their hands on everything else.

Wealth is more deeply implicated in its rejection than its celebration. 

The exact same idea can be utilized in a seemingly different context:

There's nothing that proves privilege more than the opportunity to disavow it. Yes I know that means me too.

Most of what passes for anti-racism amongst whites is really a class-based prejudice against other whites. 

Read that one again!

I'm not a great writer because I can't explain to you something that we both know is true, even if my idea is not one that had occurred to you before you read me write it. 

Damn. No column on Salon for me.

What I lack as a writer is authority. You need to be sure you are getting your ideas from the right people. If you repeat any of this at a party you'll have to say where you got it from. Your friends won't be impressed. 

The appeal to authority is a fallacy in formal logic.

You will only grow as a person amongst those more intelligent than you.

Therefore, you need new friends. 

I love Kanye by the way, though I don't love his music as much as I want to, especially lately. I guess it's just my ears and years of listening to electronic music. That last album, it could have been so much more. So close to the edge of epiphany without quite.

People seem to hate his arrogance. I mean, hasn't he said that he is the only person worth discussing? Or something like that? Well, isn't he right? Who else shouldn't have played Glastonbury? And would your answer be a matter of taste or something more?

I feel like I have a guess at Kanye's "attitude".

There is a great interview that The Wire published years and years ago. The interviewee was Juan Atkins, and Mr. Atkins basically stated that black people can be considered and accepted easily as entertainers but still, not really, as artists. Artist Artists, even. I think it's still true. Really. There's always an asterisk isn't there. Kanye is the only person worth discussing on his level. And yet. Will what he did ever be considered momentous? And if not, whose fault is it? His? No. 

You can't change the world without the world.

7.24.2015

#Consumerism #Depression #Change

At this point in my life, I understand two things:
1. I want to live.
2. I never want to be in a Bed, Bath and Beyond trying to find the proper vessel in which to dispose of snot-covered tissue paper while listening to Smashmouth's cover of "I'm A Believer" again.

Therefore, I must change my life.

But what next?

I'm not sure.

Until I figure it all out, I have some distractions.

Providence bookstores almost always have something I want to read, but never, ever, what I am actually looking for, so I placed an order with an online behemoth. At this point, I am so disgusted by Amazon's business practices that I actually spent the $10 extra dollars to go with Barnes and Noble, aka the Olsson's killers. Olsson's was the only bookstore I have ever worked for (in the music department, of course), and one of the greatest independent book/record stores to have existed in 20th century America. Yes, Barnes and Noble are now the good guys.

The what and why should be obvious to most readers except, perhaps, for Prague Fatale. I'll never, ever be a good literary critic (or maybe I could be the best one in decades) because I don't care about literary values. I've always read fiction from an almost sociological perspective and what I most value about my favorite novels has a lot more to do with the coherency of the human world described and the way that the beliefs and values of the actors within them approve and sanction actions, both their own and others, in line with or contravening those aforementioned beliefs and principles, has always been much more interesting to me than, I dunno, style, poetic descriptions, psychological "realism", etc. Which is all a roundabout way of saying nothing. 

When I don't feel like reading reading, I read hard-boiled fiction. Solitary nocturnal wandering around empty yet cosmopolitan cities, cheap and plentiful whiskey, male loneliness and moral ambiguity: yes. I tend to reread the same novels over and over again, and, actually, that is true for all books when it comes to my habits, so I haven't ventured too far behind the obvious: Hammett, Cain, Chandler. So take the following in context of the preceding: bearing in mind that he is working well within the conventions established by his predecessors, especially, I think, Chandler, Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels are a real delight, and, excluding the relative lack of innovation in comparison, I believe his novels belong in that rarified category of involving detective/crime fiction that doesn't insult the reader and offers real surprises in its smilies. 

So yeah, ordering from "an evil corporation", totally worth it. I actually felt a little, well...

7.03.2015

I guess what I am trying to figure out

Well.

I really haven't read as much post-1968 French theory as I let on. I am a bit of a phony, really.

So, while I intuitively understand that whole collapse of liner/meta-narrative thing, I guess I'm trying to figure out why it happened. Maybe someone has already answered. I have a book by Lyotard lying around somewhere. I'll get to it someday.

But.

My best hypothesis so far.

Well there's a few.

I mean, the rise of consumerist individualism.

But you knew that one.

Um.

More like.

That whole linear narrative thing had another thing attached, right. Progress.

Towards. The forwards that provides the past with agency.

And here's where I wonder.

What came first.

Did utopia die because the narrative died or did the narrative die because utopia died?

And why did utopia die?

The impossibility of a social subject?

The materialist conception of humanity?

Like, we're all just skin and bones and all. I mean You Only Live Once, but humans live forever?

Is our inability to "fix" the environment symptomatic with a general weariness with life?

Does that weariness come from feeling like there is nothing really to look forward to?

Why is there nothing to look forward to?

Because there is nothing to look forward to or because there is no forward?

6.21.2015

Music Music 3

Moar 4 Yew

Um

Well, this one... The Byrds are, like, overrated by the people who make music I don't like and underrated by the people who make music I like. Hmm.


Another HOUSE masterpiece, one of those divisive records, the ones whereby, if you like, you are down, if not, well, not... Summarizes so much for me...


I never really got into Erykah but I always feel like I should have.  I guess it's not too late but every time I try, I am not surprised. This track, though, as pop more than art, really connected with me when it was released...


Amusingly enough, I came up with another one that is so obscure there there is actually no Youtube video. What do I do now?

EDIT:
Whoa how could I post that Badu track and then not post this?

6.14.2015

Music Music 2

Oh so much more.

Oh so much more.

Masterpiece:


Fuck that one is good. Seriously. Like Sentimental Education good.

More?

OK.



Oh and.



Too obvious again?

If I take all of the obvious ones, maybe you can tell me something I don't know. Because, believe, I am bored with what I do know.

I mean:

He tried pretending
our dance is just a dance
but I see

Isn't that the line that justifies every dance music critics' career choice to their parents?

Or?



Might as well post "Rock Around The Clock" but I won't.

Perpetually "Uncool"

Ok.

I may be just me and all but here's something.

Right now, Simon is soliciting your ideas regarding your favorite music about music, and, for some reason, in my brain, another idea was sparked on the back of his.

What are your favorite songs that won't be revived?

Perpetually "uncool" is how I have described it above, but I want to make a distinction between perpetually uncool and the guilty pleasure. The guilty pleasure usually involves some committed rockist admitting to loving a pop song. Perpetually uncool is something different.

I will try and explain.

Beer with me.

Ok.

So.

As far as I can tell, there are two versions of being cool. Number one is being "cool", being detached, being aloof, turning insecurity and defensiveness into virtues. Number two is being passionate, emotive, ardent, and not caring who notices or what anyone thinks.

What has been know as alternative culture has warred within itself for decades now about which definition of cool should be the predominant one. I have, and still, choose the latter, the ardent, the unashamedly passionate. But, there is no, and there has not been, for many years now, question in my mind as to which version has "won" the debate. The other one. Detached. Ironic. Superior. The qualities of the victor. My side lost.

But the war went on for a while.

And so now, what I mean to ask.

Now that "cool" means one thing (detached, defensive), what are your favorite songs from the other side? What are your guilty pleasures when guilty means rooting for the passionate, ardent side of alternative culture against the other, more detached side? When "guilty pleasure" means picking a record just as obscure as the music you are "deviating" from?

Forgive me, I am a bit drunk.

Perhaps I am not explaining myself well.

Let's try again. Never mind your "pop" guilty pleasures, what are your "alternative" guilty pleasures?

Here are two picks.

Number one is "Joey" by Concrete Blonde. A heartfelt record about alcoholism and failure that can't possibly resonate with those generations weaned on craft cocktails and micro-brewed beers as legitimate leisure options.


Number two is... well, fuck, I just forgot, because I am drunk. See above.

Actually, wait.

Number two is anything from Greg Sage's solo album. Nerds will know Greg Sage as the lead singer of The Wipers, a band fated to be perpetually underrated even as their music deftly avoided the aesthetic cul-de-sac of American punk music while establishing a creative vocabulary not contingent upon the innovations of their British contemporaries. Those first few albums are unimpeachable. Yes. And. Yes. Not really, well, loved. I mean, you can walk into any record store in Brooklyn and those Wipers reissues will be waiting for you, sealed, and yet, well, yet, I mean, to put it bluntly, loving the Wipers in 2015 will not get you laid, just the respect of the bespectacled clerk ringing up your sale. 

And as an aside. If any straight men have ever wished they were gay, it was certainly: the guy buying Youth Of America and the guy ringing him up for the sale.

...And that's still the Wipers. I'm talking more obscure, here, folks.

Way back in the early 1990s, Greg Sage put out his first solo album, and, well, I think it is great. It's ultra-earnest. And there's a drum machine. And it's not house or techno. Just a brilliant singer-songwriter doing his thing in the studio with no other live musicians there to interfere/improve. Loving this album can't be a guilty pleasure because, you know, it's fucking Greg Sage and the album in question probably only sold a thousand copies or so and yet, you know, it's not cool, not because it isn't cool, but rather because it is actually too cool for cool people. 

Yeah.

Dig this!


So what are your picks?

Make sure to leave a comment or something... I want to know your thoughts and I may not know you or your blog...

6.11.2015

Music Music

I feel like there are a lot of these sorts of songs/tracks in dance music. I will try and think of more, but here are some obvious ones from the disco era:






6.03.2015

RIP

How'd I miss this?

Lord-like.

Fuck.

Louis Johnson - most likely, you've never heard his name before, most likely, he's one of your favorite bass players. Certainly, I love his work.

Fuck.

RIP



Personal, sentimental favorite:


Edit: As far as I know, Louis Johnson only played bass on the above version of "Silly Love Songs", which is from the soundtrack to Give My Regards To Broad Street, Macca's weird attempt at a dramatic film/extended music video that I fell in love with as a child. The soundtrack of the film involved the re-recording of many Beatles and Wings and McCartney solo works. Ringo played on some of the tracks, and George Martin, and possibly, Geoff Emerick were involved, as well as Linda McCartney. Everyone else: crack session musicians, including some members of Toto (!) and, of course, Louis Johnson.

And, of course, the fucking masterpiece:

Slower, isolated:

Play-along:

As someone who makes music (at nowhere near this level), it's infuriating sometimes how little is understood about... it's like, we can all appreciate a good tune, but, still, what it takes to get there is not understood. In my own case, having recently completed something better than anything I have ever done (but not quite good enough, still) it's all the hours I spent mixing the track, hands trembling over faders to get certain parts to sit just right even as the music was changing dramatically over time. Just so that nobody would even notice the mix when offering their critiques. And I suck. If you really, really, have ears, if you've heard thousands of hours of r&b from 1977-1983, you should hear it: the above bass line is genius. Not black genius or music genius or pop genius or whatever bullshit qualifiers in front. Just. Genius.