Ok so maybe this post was more a summary of trends over the last few decades. Seemingly, the right-wing rank and file might get some of what they want, and during a Democratic presidency, instead of during the time when Republicans controlled the executive and legislative branches. Ironic? Nope. Not even if you've barely been paying attention.

And not ironic for two reasons:
1. The obvious issue of Obama not being a progressive, or even a liberal, or even really a centrist given, say, Nixon's domestic policy.
2. It always seems that the party that doesn't have the executive branch has the testicles. Will there even be a US anti-war movement again until the day after Jeb Bush's inauguration in January, 2017?

C'mon Now

Libya a humanitarian intervention? Silber says "please" ie "bullshit". Also, give the man some money if you can. I plan on doing so in April; I hope you will too.


Friends of D

Nice post regarding "what is to be done" by Leftists in regards to the Democratic party (comments good so far too). I just wanted to note that, in some ways, Republicans aren't really getting what they want either. At least not "our" counterparts.

It would be better to talk of four groups (at minimum):
1. Socially liberal financial/political elite (gay marriage OK as long as we can keep outsourcing entry-level white-collar service jobs)
2. Conservative-leaning financial/political elite (gay marriage not OK and also we need to secure more oil)
3. Conservative to right wing working- and middle-class people (all the cliches)
4. Liberal to Leftist working- and middle-class people (all the other cliches)

Depending on which party is in power, either group 1 or group 2 have more influence on policy, always to the detriment of groups 3 and 4. Group 1 needs group 4 to get elected and plays to them when out of power, only to ignore them when in. Group 2 needs group 3 to get elected, and still, at least, pretends to act in the interest of Group 3 while in power. But, just as Group 4 has plenty of reasons to be disappointed when it comes to Group 1's progress on core values, so does Group 3 have every reason to hate Group 2. No prayer in schools yet. No constitutional amendment to ban abortion yet. No real vanquishing of existing gun control legislation yet. In regards to economic matters, while Group 3 government intervention out of fealty to a concept of negative freedom and individualism, Group 2 takes advantage of that sentiment to advocate for the positive freedom of the companies they are involved in or represent, further imposing corporate control (and therefore government control [get that through your heads, Tea Party!!!]) on the lives of Group 3.

Bottom line is that rank-and-file Republicans aren't getting what they want, and, if they could bring themselves to read books by Leftists, they would understand that they are just as fucked as "we" are even if their desires were to remain opposed to ours.


Segregation in Cities

Article here.

I'm surprised that DC did not make this list. And I didn't even feel surprised until I reached the end. I shudder to think of what it is like in the cities that did make the list. I live in one of them, yes, but, as the article mentions, New York is a little different due to density. And Brooklyn even more so. Except for Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights. Fuck those places.

But DC... I have spent a total of weeks, maybe even months, sitting at L'Enfant waiting for the Yellow Line train to Huntington (Virginia). And for the years after the Green Line was built but before the appearance of screens displaying the arrival times of the next few trains, the easiest way to tell whether the next train coming was a Yellow or not was... the color of the skin of the majority of the people on the platform. That there are worse places... sad.


Still Sad

Well. IOZ rightfully points out that what Herbert imagines as contradiction is actually quite consistent. But I am still sorry to see Mr. Herbert go (see bottom of page). Yeah, he is not quite the model of a rigorous Leftist intellectual, and still seems to believe in a concept of America that had and has nothing to do with oligarchy, imperialism and crony capitalism, one that may have always existed only on paper (though certain decades are better than others), but I always felt like he actually, really, has the interests of average Americans at heart. I never got the impression that his populism was slick and exploitative, like that of politicians, and he certainly never had the intellectual distance of Krugman, who will believe that justice exists only when his pie charts tell him it does.

So thanks Mr. Herbert, for giving a shit.


Oh shit :-(

Honestly, I kept hoping she would have her well-deserved revival in popular culture and make a bit of money and live happily ever after for a bit longer but...

Loleatta Holloway RIP

Her voice was truly inspirational to millions and it will be missed dearly.

Time Is Running Out

I promise if you vote in my poll I won't bomb innocent civilians, no matter who or what wins!


Eighties Sixties Revival

Simon asks whether "revivalisms from the past no longer seem so culpable"?

It's a good question. I got invited out to see a band this weekend whose sole reason for being is supposedly to recreate pre-Rollins Black Flag. The person who invited me, someone who actually listened to and participated in the American hardcore scene back in the 80s, feels a little uneasy about going to see this band. I'm sure he can imagine his teenage self laughing at his capitulation to nostalgia, viewing seeing this band as not especially dissimilar to seeing the Stones in the 1980s.

All I could say to him was that it only made sense to look down on this sort of thing when there was a new, viable alternative. If there were some music movement right now that, in terms of aesthetics, did not sound like punk but did actually work towards the same ends, to dismiss that in favor of historical recreations, would be pretty crappy. As far as I can tell, that movement doesn't exist.

So I guess, at least to me, the revivals that happened in the 1980s, which did deny the viability of newer, better, music, are still pretty culpable. I don't know what it was like to be in Britain. But the idea of myself in the 1980s being some jerk listening to one of a long, forgotten list of bands that, post-punk, tried to reconnect with some specious vision of American roots while considering house, techno, hip hop, and synth-driven British post-punk as all aberrant, flashes in the pan, is pretty distasteful.

That revolutions don't usually achieve all they set out to do doesn't mean they shouldn't be fought. Nor are we, knowing this to be true, somehow absolved from sitting around and doing nothing instead.

Anyways, here's some excellent source material for the eighties sixties two thousands eighties sixties revival:

Don't Vote For This Person


It's almost getting entertaining at this point. Like it's one thing to fuck this country continuously in uncomfortable places, another to break out so many different moves that the Kama Sutra is shamed. That deserves a perverse kind of respect. Only, I fear for what orgasm constitutes in this analogy.

Park and Fifth!

I guess I have been wondering lately. Who the hell are the people at the very, very, very top of our elite? I mean, the kind of people who judge each other on exactly what street on the Upper East Side. Exactly what town in the Hamptons. Exactly when in Martha's Vineyard. Exactly who in DC. The higher up you go, the more subtle and significant the gradations. Better to have a townhouse mansion or a triplex on the park?

Who are the most exalted amongst the exalted? The billionaires that intimidate the other billionaires? Who is the top? Are they lonely? Even with all that Bordeaux?

What could possibly motivate these people? Who so desperately needs to climb one position, from nine to eight, out of 300 million? What kind of soul could throw men and women, young and old, healthy and strong, off the side of a sinking ship only to achieve the momentary satisfaction of having the last piece of dry deck before death? Who will look over floating bodies in the moonlight, feet mere feet from the cold, smiling, glowing; post-orgasmic bliss?

If it is the case that all history is the history of class struggle, then it could also be seen as the story of a challenge: to find a way for psychopathic narcissists to satisfy their ambitions without destroying everyone else.


Toddler or 85?

I find myself increasingly cranky, overly-sensitive (I swear, if the phone rings while I am typing this my blood pressure will rise significantly), and I need a nap. The process of becoming poorer is interesting because the ambitions that one cannot quite achieve also become less costly. The vacation I used to not be able to afford was a trip to Europe or South America. Now, I would love the opportunity to simply find myself in the middle of a field somewhere, far from civilization, so that I could just scream until I didn't need to anymore. And I don't have the cash, if only because, by the time I got to said field, I would be far enough from home to require some place besides my own apartment to $leep that night. So.

Fuck Off!
Fuck Off!
Fuck Off!
Fuck Off!

PS Don't forget to vote


I don't know why...

...but today seems like the most depressing news day in a long time. As an equal-opportunity cynic, it doesn't seem wrong for me to both feel anger towards the launching of another military adventure on behalf of "freedom" and also towards the predictable array of people, myself included, saying the same thing as myself and the same thing that they usually say and the same thing over and over again.

Exactly when were we going to stop bitching about the pan being too hot towards jumping out? I lost my E-vite.

The ease with which we all lump any new event into the same old formulations does not mean those formulations are wrong but it does mean that we have all of the evidence we need to justify any positive action towards change. Are we just going to keep reading the newspaper and feign outrage even while we know that there is nothing that those in power could do to shock us, bar offing themselves en masse and placing their money in a trust to which only the homeless have access?

I'm sort of bored with playing court taxonomist. Aren't you?

The fact that anarchists, communists, progressive apologists, "liberal" hawks, moderates, neoliberals, conservatives, paleoconservatives, fascists, etc., all put the same events into different boxes does not change our relationship to those events, nor theirs. While political belief is much different in nature to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc., don't you think that, ultimately, internecine squabbles between different groups of anarchists over their own visions of moral purity are, functionally, for those in power, exactly the same as the fights between working class whites and Hispanic immigrants? We distract ourselves with the "narcissism of small differences" and they distract themselves with renovating another house in the Hamptons.

But a thought came to me recently. What good is it to say one is moral without ever having been in a situation where one's commitment is tested? So what if you or I would never have attacked Libya? Exactly when did we have the choice?


Not quite cold turkey

My computer at home is not working anymore. I am not going to fix it for a while in order to ensure that my time away from work is spent more efficiently. I am still going to waste my time at work, of course!

I guess I really haven't commented on current affairs in a while. Suffice it to say:

Japan - It's a tragedy. I'm glad to see that the people I don't know but whose blogs I read are doing well but that I have not had to suffer a moment of sadness is obviously no consolation for anyone, including myself.

Nuclear power - At the risk of seeming to view this problem purely from the perspective of money - as any vintage synth enthusiast can tell you, don't buy something if you can't afford to fix it. Doesn't matter if it works 99% of the time.

Libya - Well I guess some people are happy. As for me, I am too conscious of the larger pattern to feel excited in any way. If life gets better for the people of Libya, the majority of them; if Western bombings somehow lead to the worker's paradise, good for them, really. Still, it's the same shit here, innit? President in hating constitution shocker. Just war, etc. Just war, Inc.

Anyways, I've put up another poll. I appreciate your vote.



Foul Mood

I guess there are a few different reactions to feeling trapped. I can think of three right now but I'm sure there are more. The first is to simply make the best of a bad situation, the second is to lament that situation, and the third is to try and break down the walls.

Mostly, and for various reasons, I have oscillated between the first and second, but now I am trying the third and I am immediately reminded of why it has been a while since the last time I have tried. Getting out is a fucking hassle.

More specifically, looking for work is a hassle. A fucking hassle.

There are a lot of tragedies that have come from the current financial crisis, or rather, the most recent dredging of the river upon which money flows to ensure that it travels more freely to its destination, the pockets of the wealthy. I wouldn't consider my situation tragic at all. I am employed. Yes, I am unhappy, but that's just "adulthood" for the majority of Americans. But part of the "new normal" that is going to make "normal" suck for all but the most well-adjusted type-A personalities out there is that the relationship between employer and employee has changed, I think, permanently. The scarcity of jobs, and the fact that so many of the new ones that are being created and will be created, are crappy, just means that us beggars will have to beg more intensely for less. And I wonder where that places me.

I really haven't found my metier, or at least one that feeds me. And I worry that my life will be a succession of jobs that will never be fulfilling and, by design, will never quite pay me enough to escape. I know that running a small business could be a way out, but the start-up costs, the loans, oh my. And the price of that self-determination would be a massive increase in the time I would have to dedicate to work. I could do something I wanted to do, but so much more of it that I'm not sure I would want to do it anymore. One hundred hours a week of poring over the details of my cozy little bar might make me nostalgic for the fifty I now dedicate towards tedium, or at least for the other fifty hours I have to recover from it.

There is no ending to the story today, no epiphany and no insight. The weekend is almost here.


Last Solo

I dunno. I just haven't had anything to say about anything for a while. So here is some good music. Guitar solo. Yes. Enjoy.


Too Bad

I guess it may not happen. Sarah Palin might not be our next president (according to here via here). And just last weekend I came up with the perfect campaign slogan*:

Because the tension is unbearable... Apocalypse Now!

*perfect, at least, for disillusioned Leftists! Actually, dear President Obama, I will vote for you. All I ask for is two NM first-press copies of every Talk Talk album on vinyl, a Sequential Prophet VS keyboard with working aftertouch and spare EG chips, $10,000, and citizenship in any one of the fifty or so countries that have nationalized health care, affordable education, a superior Gini coefficient, and nightclubs that still have rotary mixers in their DJ booths. Thanks.


Introducing Sociology

Following on from the themes brought up at BLCKDGRD today, especially that of the moral corruption of our elite, I thought it might be nice to give credit to Stanley Kubrick's underrated film Eyes Wide Shut, which seems to track the contours of our particular decline very well, even if decline and moral corruption are far from unprecedented events. Whether you feel tempted to (re)watch the film or not, the excellent essay, "Introducing Sociology", that assisted in my own re-appraisal of the film, is really, really worth your time.


LOL (GTR P3 of ?)

Anyways, I was thinking about the following song all day yesterday, thinking about strategy, about when I might break this particular one out. All under the assumption... well, whatever. But, coincidentally, I heard this song at a bar last night, even subtly drummed along on the bar, and became rapt, beatific at around 2:52, and then, of course, uncontrollably overjoyed at 3:21. Perhaps posting this song now is like playing the best note of your guitar solo in the first bar, but if there's nobody else in the band...


Guitar Solos Pt. 2 of ?

I'll add some more links tomorrow but tonight you get this, one of my favorites, and though I have no citation, I vaguely remember reading an interview with Ian MacKaye where he stated that this is one of his favorites as well. What I love most about this is the way the articulated notes are constantly threatening disintegration.

Weekend is here

I don't care how "irresponsible" I look leaving at exactly 5:30. And neither does Bez.


... fine so more anger and/or self-abasement in music again, yes? But remember, twee was a reaction to the violence of hardcore scene, and a necessary one. Is it really necessary to have to face flying beer bottles, mosh pits, etc., just to have good music/shows again? Premonitions of misogyny...

Oh that's why I like dance music, heh! Intensity, yes and being punched, no.

EDIT: Ok misogyny maybe a bit too much of a word to bring out but.... maybe more like... a focus on bringing back masculine-coded values might negatively impact some of the progress that women have been able to make in music. Yes, there are women who are capable of holding their own in the first few rows of a standing room only concert in 1994 but they shouldn't HAVE to be if they don't want to be.



At the risk of being even more "me too", as I always feel like I am whenever S or C have something mean to say about music, yeah I hate this shit.

This stuff has been around for a while now - I think some of it at least ties into the whole "Pet Sounds is the greatest album ever" feeling that seemed really prominent a decade/decade-and-a-half ago. I feel this stuff more akin to that than Beat Happening or Talulah Gosh. Beat Happening opened for Fugazi, you know?

Anyone who wants to truly have reason to hate can read this thread here at ilxor.

I didn't participate in it myself, but I think I would have described this music as such: Newlywed couple in Subaru with Obama 2012 bumper sticker is driving to Ikea to buy a Christmas Tree whilst wearing matching sweaters, silently listening to NPR still not quite disabused of the notion that people of the opposite sex have cooties.

When I hear this music, I imagine that the listeners have gone through some sort of incredibly intense childhood trauma and that they are living out the most intense form of repression that they possibly can.

But it probably isn't that. I think it more comes down to something Terry Eagleton wrote. He wrote something like: the world could best be divided into two groups; those who think everything is fine bar a few issues, and those who think everything is fucked bar a few good things. I think a lot of us who got into "underground" music partially due to belonging to the latter group are still not quite used to the fact that there are so many people part of the former group now turning all our childhood angst into something cute.

Anyways, I doubt many of you will be able to read the whole thread linked to above, so I will quote the best post I can remember.

Weingarten: "really makes me yearn for the days when indie meant this"


Food Court

The internet is just an excuse. I think most bands have had good record collections since the beginning of records. It would be pretty foolish to be, say, a rock guitarist and not listen to Django Reinhardt, or Grant Green, or Sonny Sharrock, and I bet a lot of the great guitarists who don't sound like any of the aforementioned artists only don't sound like them because they were able to synthesize what they were able to learn from them into something new.

The whole eclecticism racket is just a hedging of bets, an unwillingness to have an opinion. It's being so afraid of being wrong that one ceases to be; one is overcome by influences instead of fighting through them.

I think critics like these type of artists because these artists are like critics in the worst sense - striving for "balance", always "objective", meaning non-committal, never willing to take a risk lest they lose the minuscule amount of cultural cache they have gained.

I know Simon called this attitude "record collection rock" years ago. While he was most likely thinking of it in terms of a band's willingness to show off their taste through their music, there is another way of thinking about it. A record collector, as opposed to a music fan, buys records he thinks he should have based on some sort of external criterion. A Detroit techno collector has all the releases on Transmat, a classic rock collector has every Doors record, and to them, it doesn't matter if they don't like "The Groove" or LA Woman. With creativity, deciding what something will be before it is made is the easiest way to ensure nothing new will take place.

Miles Davis: I'll play it first and tell you what it is later
Sonic Youth (the band most likely to be called "curators"): Kill yr idols

Guitar Solos Pt. 1 of ?

Well Simon has invited Carl, and anyone, to post some of their favorite guitar solos. I'll make a few contributions, though I think most of mine will be pretty typical. Thread so far (let me know if you posted about this and I missed it):
4 - it's worth noting, and is noted in the comments, that, according to Our Band Could Be Your Life, the caller is a pathological liar who called the show often

As for me...

The earliest music I can remember is mid-80s soft rock. Though my father mostly did it, occasionally my mother would drive me to work and she would play DC's soft rock station, 97.1 WASH-FM. Considering she listened to some damn good music in the 1960s, I don't get why this is what I was subjected to. I assume she was just tired. She usually worked until eight or nine at night and her commute took her around 45 minutes each way.

WASH-FMs playlist was fairly diverse given the constraints it imposed upon itself. It was an interesting mix of post-new-wave pop (Wham, Belinda Carlisle), survivors of earlier decades and movements (Phil Collins, Starship), and even some "yacht rock" (Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins). What most of the music seemed to have in common is that it featured artists who were more famous for something else they had already done, with other people, but who were now coasting on the fame they had gained from those earlier endeavors. The dreaded solo careers so prevalent in that period.

Most of this music is pretty tepid, and I am fairly distrustful of the attempts to re-appraise it. There is a difference between listening to music that is nostalgic and listening to music because one is nostalgic. And though I don't look down on the latter, I don't know what one's owns memories have to do with any objective claim one might make about a piece of music.

That being said, the music I heard then did leave it's mark on me. Certain records have certain effects, affects, and they are inescapable. I leave it to you where to place the following song in the cannon of one of the most successful bands of all time. I just like the guitar solo, a weird impression of Glass/Adams/Reich-style shifting arpeggios that brings this emotional record to its peak and conclusion. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, the best artist WASH-FM played when I was being driven to school in the mid-1980s, Fleetwood Mac, and "Gypsy".


Job Summary

stop doing that thing I told you to do because I never told you to do it even though I did you are doing it wrong because you are doing it the way I told you to do it but I didn’t tell you to do it that way so do it the way i told you not to do it the day i told you to do it but not that day the day before but not the day before the other day before



The coiner of the phrase now has a case. I'm sure he'll get through it.

The process of becoming more frustrated, more strident, more despairing, more demanding, etc., that I have gone through over the last 11 years is about 25% due to coming into contact with all the typical 20th century French and German influences, and 75% due to the fact that it's not that people don't know the truth; they don't care. And so vanished any aspirations I had towards some sort of brilliant career in academia. Because I wanted to change the world, not my status in it (though, fuck, vacation time!)*. This blog is basically a hastily-written and rarely-edited version of what I think I would have accomplished had I spent a house I don't have on a few degrees, ie fairly little. Even if I were a bit smarter due to reading those same "Frogs 'n' Krauts" with smarter people and a better writer having my papers edited by better writers, well, the result would be the same, still.

;-), aged: visibly, writer of numerous liberal complaint books and obscure essays in obscure academic journals, has died of a heart attack. His writing was ignored by most, except by other writers of liberal complaint books, who often took him to task over slight disagreements towards marketing their own liberal complaint books. Some people agreed with him completely, and did nothing about it. He is survived by his collection of Jameson and Jameson.

But writing takes the bullshit out of my head so that there is enough space for the new bullshit, the flow of which will never abate. In the interest of not exploding, I persist.

*I'm not saying anything about anyone else and their brilliant academic careers. Just saying - how many authors of liberal complaint books can there be, and, were there an insufficient amount, who would think I the best person to pick up the slack?