Thursday, July 26, 2007
The Alaskan Peninsula And My Friend's Physiological Changes Serve As A Metaphor For The Diversity Of My Friends
So, speaking of weird, after my last post, I met myself halfway on my plan to walk to Whole Foods and get some pluots. Instead I walked up to Third Place to get some coffee, read, and listen to the ipod. Once I got there I ran into my old friend, Casey. I've known Casey since the first day of high school. Intermittent periods of not seeing each other filling in lots of gaps over the past nine years, months to years at a time. What's nice is that whenever we see each other, we pick up the conversation where it was left off. We were fairly close in high school, before I lost my shit, and she probably lost her shit too, I reckon. What was weird about seeing her today though, was she had changed physically. I should mention that Casey is a lesbian. She's always looked manish in her own way, mostly through the clothes she wore, haircuts etc. Butch would be the operative word. It's been a couple of months since I've seen her, and since then, the distinctly female characteristics of her have all but disappeared. There's hair on her legs, her jaw line is sharp, her voice is deeper than ever, and her chest is flat where it wasn't before. It didn't come up in conversation, probably because the porch at Third Place wasn't the right place to talk about it. I think she's probably taking hormones, though. Which, I mean, good for her. It's just weird to see someone you've known for such a long time make such a drastic transition in the period of a few months. It would probably have been less noticeable if I had seen her regularly, but it's a pretty drastic change. The difference is what strikes me more than the action.
As I walked home studying the pings of Joanna Newsom's harp on "Emily", I got to thinking about how drastically my group of friends has changed since that time in high school. My friends were (outside of the scattered punks and stoners) mostly black or homosexual. The latter moreso at the first high school I went to, Wake Forest-Rolesville. Which always struck me as strange, WFR was much less tolerant and much more rednecky than my second school, Wakefield. Now my friends are almost all white, I have no black friends. I miss that diversity in my group of friends. It has a lot to do with where I work. For the most part, my friends come from my surroundings. School at first, then workplaces. Glenwood Grill is the first place I've worked without any black or homosexual coworkers. Not that it's all white, we've got Colombians and Mexicans. It's just different, and I never really thought about it until tonight.
Where does the title of this post come from... god it's familiar... oh, shit, it's a part of that ridiculous "Lizard King" suite by the Doors. Well, it's a pretty sweet title for what it is.
I'm off work this afternoon and the whole of tomorrow, so there is the possibility of some heavy blogging or absolutely nothing at all
My plans of taking a walk down to Whole Foods for some pluots* seems to be disappearing as I'm sitting around waiting for songs to download off of Soulseek. So far, I've downloaded the first Adolescents album, which I got turned on to by a collection of Brian Walsby's cartoons. He's a Raleigh guy since way back in the late 80s hardcore heyday, when The Brewery wasn't a hessian headquarters. I'm loving his cartoons, parts in love with music and snidely making fun of everything about music.
I've been listening to the new Spoon album pretty much non stop. The one thing that I love about them is how everything they do sounds so effortless. How it seems so natural for them to be making the best Supremes or Billy Joel songs you never heard. The ideal of what people who appreciate Billy Joel... what it sounds like to them, we're hearing the same thing when we hear "Big Shot", but one of us hates it. And yet, "The Underdog" on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga sounds like a Billy Joel song, just perfect in every way instead of the trickle down rock economics of Billy Joel, the president of soft rock in the 80s.
*Oh, so I wanted to explain the pluot to the uninitiated. It's a crossbreeding of the plum and the apricot. The pluot tastes like the idea of a plum before you eat it. Sweeter and less watery. The one perk of working at Whole Foods two years ago was the free produce I got to graze during my shifts. That and I could listen to my CDs while I was in the back cutting up fruit trays.
I've been following this whole Attorney General farce very closely, and it's getting SO exciting! So many other things are coming up out of this investigation. The best part of this is that the administration is just getting itself in deeper trouble. Really, if Alberto Gonzalez went out and said that he fired these US District Attorneys, because he could, and he had the power, given to himself by himself when he snuck something into the Patriot Act part II, to replace those people he fired and not get them cleared by the Senate. I'm sure this would be less of a problem for them. And yet, (gleefully for me), AG is a dissembling fool, or plays very well at it. He's catching himself in all these lies, and now, the Senate is getting themselves a Special Prosecutor to look into Gonzalez's perjuring himself to Congress. Which is as much as a crime as perjury in a court. The kind of perjury that Republicans swore the impeachment of Clinton was about.
THEN there's Bush telling his aides to ignore the subpoenas of Congress. Not showing up to testify when subpoenaed is a crime. But not as big of a crime as telling someone not to appear. That's a felony. And, who's committing a felony?! Bush!!! Oh!! This is soooo hilarious! Of course there's the seething anger. Of course, Bush is trampling all over the Constitution. But it just makes me so happy that he's doing it so clearly! There's no amount of "is is"ing that can diffuse this. Bush has clearly committed a felony. Gonzalez has clearly perjured himself. There's going to be a court battle over both of these things. Outside of Bush escorting his aides down to Congress to testify under oath with a transcript, this is going to go to court, probably all the way to the Supreme Court. I've been spending a good amount of time at Talking Points Memo and all of it's satellite sites, and it's done the best job of comprehensively reporting this. (In fact it was the site that broke the whole AG firing escapade to begin with).
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Giuliani gets all worked up, cusses, later he incites a police riot. Thousands of off duty police officers damage cars and shout racial epithets. Awesome. I expect more about this whole thing to come out soon, below is a contemporary article from the NY Times shedding a bit more light on the subject.
Friday, July 20, 2007
The concert is part of this Don't Look Back series from the people behind the All Tomorow's Parties festivals. Bands go back and play their penultimate albums, Sonic Youth plays Daydream Nation, Slint- Spiderland, and GZA does Liquid Swords. I thought I'd be in love with this idea, it sounds like something right up my alley. I LOVE Daydream Nation and Liquid Swords. I've had plenty of conversations with music nerds about how I'd love to see this or that band back when they were making this or that album. And it would have been amazing to see Sonic Youth closing out a set, in the end of the eighties, with the Trilogy. It would have been amazing to be in a youth hall when Fugazi were working out the songs on 13 Songs, or Black Sabbath in an abandoned Birmingham movie theatre, playing stuff from their first album. These bands revisiting those great things now, I'm not sure how great that is. (Though, I've given this a lot of thought, GZA doing Liquid Swords would just be great, no matter what, even if he played a tape of ODB on "Duel Of The Iron Mic"...) I'd love to hear Sonic Youth kick into "Cross The Breeze" in the middle of a contemporary set... I guess what I'm getting at is that this idea turns these albums into museum pieces. To play the album without any context of the ensuing years since the album... it's the closest indie rock gets to playing the $5 BBQ Fest concert with Glenn Fry at the ampitheatre. It's a nostalgia trip with an ironic title.
Okay, dinner's ready. I'll stop there, but one thing quickly that's related. On the deluxe reissue of Daydream Nation, there's a cover of the Beatles' "Within You Without You". It's amazing. I was expecting b-side wankery, I was gladly proven wrong. Okay, enchilada time.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Last night I went to see a band that I’m madly in love with. Parts & Labor. I struggle with myself when writing about this band, trying to resist the temptation of comparing them with a small race of Supermen who’ve come to lead us out of the musical woods. Of course, in a live setting, Parts & Labor did little to dissuade me from such hyperbole. It would have been so much easier if they humanized themselves, not being able to replicate the sounds of their album or expound upon those themes. They also could have been terrible jerks, pretentious noise rockers with little time for fan boy record reviewers. But they weren’t. If I could marry a band… okay, maybe that’s taking it too far.
Mapmaker opens with what has been getting plenty of nominations for song of the year, "Fractured Skies". Christopher Weingarten's drums come charging through the gate while little robots made out of VCRs lie in their wake, letting out their death cries. Weingarten freaks out and plays even harder until the horns come in. Oh, those horns! Horns that bring to mind Steve McQueen, jumping over a fence on a motorcycle. It's a shame that Weingarten is leaving the band after their show at the 506. He completely makes this song.
"New Crimes" builds up some kind of Celtic drive reminiscent of last year's "The Great Divide" and it’s bagpipes. Singer Dan Friel told me that he was trying to get the guy that plays bagpipes with them in New York to go on tour with them. While "Ghosts Will Burn" is an impossibly danceable number with death metal bass trampling over the twisted debris of a wrecked 18-wheeler carrying nothing but Casio keyboards. Like a Decepticon dance party. My favorite song on this album, though is their cover of one of my favorite bands of all time, The Minutemen. "King Of The Hill" has been on repeat for me more than any song I've listened to for years. I've kind of gotten away from the whole teenage phenomena of listening to a song over and over again, and yet, this one does it. It's a fairly faithful cover, Parts & Labor's twisted, exploded keyboard sounds replacing the guitar and trumpet of the original, collapsing under it’s own momentum with the sound of disintegrating flutes. The idealism, wit, and instrumental acumen of The Minutemen are the perfect parallel of Parts & Labor, down to the proletariat band name and the egalitarian boutique label they run out of their van. Their cynical take on indie-fame, "Camera Shy" recalls The Minutemen, a mere 68 seconds before on the record. Blasting by in a minute-eight, replacing the customary punk sneer with a laugh at the ridiculous tropes of the world.
When I listen to Mapmaker, I think, how can anyone not be floored by this band? How are Parts & Labor not as big if not bigger than other indie heavyweights, like Arcade Fire or the New Pornographers? I think I stumbled upon the answer looking at the turnout at Local 506 that night, Parts & Labor are of a scene that’s never been the most popular on a wide range. When I mention noise rock, formless sounds, strung together with verbal diarrhetics come to mind. Such has been the devolution of noise since it hit it’s zenith with Daydream Nation. Parts & Labor sound recalls the bands that formed or survived the aftermath of hardcore, the beginning of noise. Husker Du, The Minutemen, and Sonic Youth are all easy touchstones in describing the sound of Parts & Labor. The nuts and bolts of their sound are what set them apart. Using toy synths and keyboards, they add modern noise affectations to the classic formula.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I read the reviews, read what the new Smashing Pumpkins album was all about, and without hearing a second of it, dismissed it out of hand. How could this sound good? And wasn't I totally done with Corgan's annoying, whiny schtick? If I were to hear a band today, chanting "despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage", I would roll my eyes, right? And yet, I immediately went to the other room and grabbed some old Pumpkins records. And this shit is not bad. Dammit. So, have I been denying myself something great for the past handful of years that I've dismissed this band? What I love(d) about the Pumpkins in their prime was their eclectic nature, shifting effortlessly between some caustic faux-metal and what was my favorite ballad of the nineties, "1979". Though it doesn't really sound like a song about being a twelve year old, Corgan's age in 1979. I also hate Bryan Adams for that shit with "The Summer of '69" (he would have been 10).
I was really into the Smashing Pumpkins in middle school and the beginning of high school. I bought that box set of the Mellon Collie singles, I listened to them all the time until I became aware of Sonic Youth and Fugazi. That was the last time I actively listened to Smashing Pumpkins. I have to say that this is refreshingly not as bad as critical hindsight makes it out to be. The new album sounds like it could be a different story. If the whole album is like "Tarantula", I don't think I'll be able to hang with it. I can only take Corgan's hard rock singing for a short span of time, it needs to be interrupted, there needs to be things happening in the song besides rocking out as hard as you can, to prove you can still do it. There are about ten seconds at the end of "Tarantula" where things get spacey, only to be interrupted by that god awful guitar solo.
Just for a trip down memory lane, here are some of those great Pumpkins videos from (cliche alert) when MTV actually played videos...
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Back over at Marco's blog, he pointed out a video on YouTube of a Bollywood version of Superman. Superman is flying around with Spiderwoman, who apparently, and for no discernible reason, can also fly. I mean c'mon!! She's a spider, not a... hawk, or a creature from a dead planet, whose powers are caused by the yellow sun! A little bit of realism here, people! I then went to a Turkish Superman video, much more along the lines of an actual Superman, (no dancing.)
From there, I came upon what must be the greatest thing that I've ever seen on YouTube, Turkish Rambo, Korkuzus. Watch, we'll discuss once it's over.
So, this is crazy, right? He's certainly not carrying all those rockets around with him. So, apparently, rockets are like so many dandelions in the Turkish grass. Hopefully, you aren't reading this before the video's over, because I'm about to ruin the surprise of the inexplicable scene where Korkuzus is about to bludgeon the implied bad guy boss with the business end of his rocket launcher, when a homely woman with blow dried hair starts talking to him from heaven/the Psychic Friends Network Studios/Glamour Shots. A moment of hesitation, then BAM! Bad guy dies from a couple of scrapes on his face.
So what is it about these poor translations of American entertainment? Why are we laughing at the fact that a toy with a cape on is held in front of a movie screen to imply flying? Is it because it's honestly funny? Or are we're just being imperial douchebags, laughing at the misguided foreigners who don't even have computer graphics? Or, is this thinking inherently douchebaggy to begin with? I think it's the latter.
I recently read a book by Chuck Klosterman where the entire second half of the book was like this. Hypothetical and aloof, not taking sides in the most passive aggressive "I'm writing this book to secretly judge you" way imaginable. Never before have I been so infuriated with an author that I like so much. Oh wait, Chuck Palahniuk. Dude's lost his game. Completely. Lullabye sucked, Haunted really sucked, I couldn't get through the first two chapters of Rant. The ratio of good Palahniuk books to bad is almost even, if not tipping towards bad. That's really too bad. I've been reading a lot lately. Right now I'm reading three books. (And I know that I'm completely leaving the boundaries of the original premise of this post, but I don't feel like starting another one, and this won't be long, I swear. Then again, aren't I making it long when I put more than one sentence inside of parentheses explaining how something won't be long?) I recently picked back up The Adventures of Kavelier and Klay, which for some inexplicable reason, I put down for a couple of months. Oh, wait, I know why, I started it after I finished Middlesex, and it's documented as impossible to enjoy the next book you pick up after you finish Middlesex. You won't enjoy it because it's not Middlesex. And nothing ever will be ever again. So, yeah, I'm reading Kavelier and Klay, and it's amazing, Chabon's just completely conjuring this visual world of comic books with his words, so fucking descriptive. That, and I'm reading The Land That Never Was, which is a nonfiction book about this guy, Sir Gregor McGregor, who was a Scottish Knight who made up a country in Central America in the early 1800's and sold land and perpetrated this enormous hoax that had all these people leaving behind their lives in Europe and move to what was really an uninhabitable swamp. There are about three other books that I'm taking turns at reading also right now, but I'm not going to go into them. (Thankfully.)