Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Late Night Addendum

what i'm listening to right now: Peek-A-Boo by Daniel Johnston

It's another one of those nights where my body and my mind are disagreeing on bed time. My body's been tucked in, but my mind is restless, staring at the open refrigerator. I'm going to go ahead right here and say this pretty scattershot, and it might get some revising in the morning. So, there are a few things that I just wanted to touch on in addition to the subjects covered today in my blog.

So, this whole Hillary/Celine Dion thing... still, not cool with me. If I had seen this video that she put out in anticipation of the announcement of the song, I would have given her points for the first time in a long time. Well, scratch that, I did give her points for yelling at Wolf Blitzer for the ridiculous nature of the whole "raise your hands if..." hypothetical questioning. But points for putting Wolf Blitzer in his place at this point is like points for getting upset with the tour guide at Monticello for breezing over the whole sex with slaves thing.

So, here's the video in question...

All in all, it's a funny video, pretty brilliant, and nowhere near as bad as the "funny" video that the Edwards campaign put out

But again, Hillary loses any cool points that she could have gained through this great video that her people put together. Any cool points she even got for getting Johnny Sac to make an appearance, any cool points for making Bill Clinton walk like Tony Soprano, all gone. Because she picked a Celine Dion song that was written for an airline commercial.

I will say that she's not all bad. There are issues in which I have HUGE differences with her, and reasons that I can't bring myself to support her. I guess if push were to come to shove, and she got the nomination, I'd have to support her, it's not like I could vote for Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney. Giuliani would probably divorce his Vice President, and Romney would just be biding his time 'till the Angel Moroni came down and filled the Dream Mine with gold and jewels*. He'd probably quit on us after that happened. Oh, I also wouldn't vote for them because they're Republicans. That'd be more of a reason than the other ones.

*Here's an aside about Mormons. They're crazy. They believe stuff like
this. They believe that Jesus came over and hung out with the Sioux and
Cherokee. They think Eden was in Wisconsin. These are things that mainstream
Mormons think about every day while they're riding around on bicycles wearing
white shirts and black ties. Mitt Romney is one of these crazies. Also, they
won't drink caffeine. How productive can these people be if they can't drink
coffee? "I'm sorry, President Putin, we can't get President Romney on the phone,
he's too tired... I'd get him some coffee, but, you know... yeah, I know, it's
this weird made up religion that is like Christianity with even crazier bullshit
tacked on at the end." Imagine that. The end of the world. Because Mitt Romney
wouldn't have a cup of coffee.

So, here's another point I wanted to cover. Over at Amanda's blog, she's seriously bothered by the appearance of our favorite book, Middlesex by Jeffrey Ugenidies on Oprah's book club list. The book is an amazing epic of incest, hermaphrodites, love, life, family and history. It sprawls over the wars between the Greeks and the Turks, immigration to Detroit and the city's growth and decline, the weird sexuality of San Francisco at it's seediest. Essentially, it's a book about America. But, I'm afraid that it would just straight up blow the minds of the average Oprah Book Club reader. The thing that upsets Amanda is that this book that's been so important to her, this book that emotionally devastated her, this book that changed her life, is being commodified by Oprah. She likes Oprah, but not as much as this book.

This brings me to a conversation that we had just yesterday, Sonic Youth are going to release a compilation of their songs as picked out by various celebrities and musicians. The surprising thing about this is that it's going to be released exclusively through Starbucks. Another iconoclastic bastion of something outside of what could still be called the "mainstream". (I kind of feel like going on another tangent here about how mainstream almost doesn't apply anymore. The mainstream has been so diverted by the internet, DVDs, the easy availability of new technologies etc. But that'd take a lot longer than the time I've allotted myself here before I want to try and go back to bed. But it's a good idea for another post.) But these things, Sonic Youth and Middlesex are things that have been personal, in this way that it's not part of this huge consumer culture. At least not to a degree. Sonic Youth are fairly popular to an extent within the constraints of "indie rock" and "alternative" but if I were to ask my mother what she knew about them... But the point is that these things by their nature seem more important to their adoring fans because of the need to go looking for these things. The lack of universality of a thing makes it's personal importance more intense. And when something like this book and this music gets on the shelf of universality, it seems like it's being taken away.

But doesn't this seem a little selfish. Keeping all these great things to ourselves. Wouldn't it be great for some kid to pick up this Sonic Youth comp at Starbucks and have their whole world opened up, like mine was when I first heard Washing Machine when I was a teenager? Wouldn't it be great if all these people read Middlesex and they get so moved, and maybe become a little more tolerant to other cultures, to other lifestyles?

And what's so bad about Starbucks or Oprah. Starbucks treats their employees pretty well. Much better than most corporations I can think of. Sure they put coffee houses out of business. But those are usually the not so good coffee houses. Just look to Hillsborough Street and see how Cup A Joe put that Starbucks out of business. See how Third Place thrives surrounded by at least three (probably more) Starbucks at a mile to two miles away. And Oprah, she's kind of an egomaniac, but she does a lot of stuff that's really great.

I guess an argument could be made that both Starbucks and Oprah are signifiers of the middle of the road. Most Oprah Book Club books are mediocre drivel with inspirational hoo ha. And a lot of the music at Starbucks is mediocre, ranging from Paul McCartney to ad infinitum seasonal compilations with mumbly singer songwriters. Is this the middle of the road trying to co-opt the intellectual, the noise, exceptional? Are we not so dangerous anymore? Is there some band that puts microphones inside of industrial machinery that should be blowing my mind, and I'm just completely missing out on this? Have I lost touch. Or is Oprah getting some touch herself?

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