American Exceptionalism

The belief that American lives are worth more than others has cost more American lives than it has saved.


Budgeting for infinite desire just got easier. I now only need $1 trillion minus $350.

Two amazing LPs are being reissued on vinyl. They are prohibitively expensive used.

It's fucking awesome news.

For me.

For another blogger.

I hope for you too.






Well Foraminute

And a few more when I BUYBUYBUYBUYBUY and maybe

listen ;-)


Not and Nuts

Of course the Skrillex track sucks. Of course. It's not the extremity or even silliness of the sounds but the way they are deployed and arranged. It's intense like a war movie not like war. But I found myself at the RA forums reading (mistake one!) and I still stand by the idea that "the opposition" is bullshit. Everyone there taking great pains to say how they either used to or never listened to crap but, regardless, they have been saved by X. Whereas X is usually something tepid and overrated. Whereas the Skrillex track below is overloaded, filled with every effect that producer can muster, your typical "I like real music" record nowadays is completely bereft of ideas. Berghain Techno. Detroit House. It's all pretty horrible. Boring drum patterns. Flat textures. I don't even know what's going in the world of micro/minimal. Last I checked, as mentioned here a few years ago, it just sounded like prog for "edgier" people.

I'm starting to think that DJing is done. Or maybe it's just that I'm done with it. I am totally losing the desire, never mind to proselytize, to share. Perhaps this is just the end result of spending all my time in an insular scene. But I don't want to play my best records. I don't want them to be available to the maw. The endless mouth digging for food and chewing and spitting out as soon as it is found. It's a weird situation for a sometime-DJ to be in. I just can't help feeling that the same records that once may have galvanized the collective now break it into ever-smaller pieces. I may have the facts wrong but I think the feeling is right.


A Different Ten Year Milestone

I am actually tempted to go out and buy a copy of Spin for the first time since late 2000 when I was tempted out of another hiatus from the magazine by an article in this issue regarding UK garage by, of course, Simon Reynolds (no offense to him but it does seem a bit silly that there were so few writers covering dance music with any intelligence back then and only a few more now that I have to keep bringing him up any time I write about dance music!).

The reason for the temptation? Apparently, rave is back, and not just the bullshit circa-1999-trance-pop that passes for popular music these days. Of course, it could just be other bullshit. But how could I put it down? All the things I could say about Skrillex I could also say about Rufige Cru, right? Nasty drug noise. Lumpen teens. Tasteless. Blah blah blah. I like "Terminator". Really, all the defenses of the 'nuum against the complaints of the Chicago and Detroit folks could easily be turned around and used to defend "brostep" against 'nuum purists. I wonder if anyone appreciates the irony.

As for me, I'm still stuck in my prison of tastefulness, enjoying the records I enjoy but staring longingly out the window all the same.

Maybe I will have more to say when I read the article, but some random ramblin' shit, voila:

1. It's not getting old, it's getting experienced. Seriously, how many thousands of dance records have I heard at this point?

2. Is music the only realm of human endeavor that values youth and inexperience over age? Or am I being ageist against myself? I can hear some kid saying "you just don't understand". But rather, it's really the opposite. I understand so my mind is closed a bit more.

3. "Dumb" noise is just as conservative amongst kids as tasteful chords are amongst adults. Listening to the Smiths alone on a Sunday evening is just as isolating for me now as it was 15 years ago but the nature of that isolation has changed a bit, hasn't it?

4. Just as before in, say 1994, I'm guessing that nu-rave is isolated from and unaware of ye olde Detroit and Chicago traditions. On the one hand, I don't care. I could get all sad imagining that none of "the kids" care about "Strings of Life" but "Strings" is older than the kids themselves. And fuck it, they need their own anthems. On the other hand, I can't help but feeling that dance music in America has suffered because of it. Whatever directions the 'nuum has traveled in, it always seems to be the same core community, people, geography, etc. In America, trends come and go and that's about it. I'm reminded of, forgive me, a quote from The Big Lebowski: "Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos". Which is not to say anything about UK Junglists or whatever, it's just: American teens like dance music. Why? That "why" only makes sense if the music is part of a culture instead of just stuff.

4a. US rave kids isolation from Detroit and Chicago creates two problems: (1) unlike in the UK, the template of the native innovations was never expanded upon enough domestically to become an actual, vital musical discourse and those that are partial to those original sounds are completely stuck in their own ghetto where they (we) have to choose either fealty or (usually empty) innovation, folk culture or Vegas; (2), that ghetto is the ghetto of tastefulness that is so imprisoning. It's the endless repetition of pieties from the original and old audience for those records and also the perpetual re-discovery of "the classics" by those hipsters who are refugees from the "lumpen" culture for all the wrong reasons. The former are undervalued, I think, because of the schisms of the 90s between "proper" techno and rave, and also, between Americans who got into dance music as an American music versus those who got into via Europe and who therefore feel that purism as an insult to their early rave memories. The latter are overvalued, of course; torpid elitism, an unwillingness to belong or to participate directly before or without the mediating factors of social and critical acceptance; this is the stuff that kills culture. The American techno/house legacy in 1999 was dead because nobody gave a shit. Now, it's because of the unending stream of reissues of marginal crap.

4b. Again I want to mention the irony. Skrillex is probably not "real" rave to ravers who still probably feel hurt for hearing that "rave" is not real techno back in 1994.

4c. So yeah, I guess I am in the purist camp but not happy about it, as said above.

4d. The thing that really sucks about the split from binaries to multitudes is that entryism doesn't really exist any more, does it, as an option for trying to infect pop discourse with something other, or vice versa. I guess what I am getting at is that, as opposed to tensions existing within a genre, which could just as easily be called a narrative or a history, each tension just creates a new scene. There's no "conscious" side of "dumb party music" to keep it honest, nor a real hedonistic edge to the "proper" parties to keep them fun. Rather that creating an imbalance of meaning, meaning is flattened. Of course it's easy to say "brostep" lacks one, but the preservationist house and techno culture, with little new blood except for dribbles of chin-scratching connoisseurs, reverent all, by trying to hold on to old systems of meaning, only consigns itself to irrelevance. I guess I am part of the problem but Deadmau5 isn't the solution.

Music and "music" and etc:


A Decade Ago

Don't have much to say about today. Something tragic happened a decade ago. Almost immediately, something seemingly very discrete became something else. And that something else is still happening. I say seemingly because I feel I was naive before 9/11. And certainly not alone. Smart bombs. Just war. Sanctions. Surgical actions. No-fly zones. I think I might have thought that nobody really died. OK I wasn't quite that stupid. But everything was more abstract. I had read plenty of Leftist thought. But I was still somehow a liberal. Actually, it was really Iraq, not even Afghanistan, that pushed my beliefs towards where they are now. Not that I was ever gung-ho about Afghanistan.

Anyways, since today is all about "stories", here's mine:

9/11/01. I was in school. When the first plane struck I was in a class called "Earth Transformed". We got out early, though not because anyone knew what was going on. I went to the student center to get a snack and saw the burning towers on the TV screens. I thought it was a movie. I was quickly disabused of that notion. I went on to my next class. It was, of course, cancelled. The name of the class? "Utopian Visions".


Heh... Urgh

If I didn't work overtime, I would not even be able to afford to work at my job. OK that is a little dramatic. Better put: if I didn't work overtime, I would have virtually no discretionary income. Almost all of the income from my first forty hours of work each week goes to subsistence. Overtime is records, beers with friends, my weekly delivery of Chicken Tikka Masala (which I had to forego this week towards train fare to CT to see a friend). I eat lunch at my desk to assure myself a little more overtime. At the end of the day I have to decide what is more important: my mental health (leaving) or a bit more stuff (staying). Because everything I have earned up to that point in the day is already gone.