Saturday, December 01, 2007
But enough beating up on them. Schjeldahl was right about this: "The major product coming out of art schools is artists' statements." After seeing one conceptual installation show several months ago I was moved to write that "art needing lengthy explanation probably isn’t good art. ...Perhaps some of these folks should focus on writing statements full-time."
I say this from the perspective of a self-schooled artist (now "retired") and musician who taught myself drawing and piano and singing and composition because I loved doing those things and I wanted to be really good at them. Back when I was really into drawing, I did it purely from the love of creating. Want to make statements? Start a blog. Write letters to the editor.
Too much emphasis on theory, "concepts," and self-referential-statement-making at the expense of actual craft or substance, turns art into onanistic self-parody, the so-self-serious butt of jokes by regular folks who, despite their lack of sophistication, have a point. Kudos to Schjeldahl for reminding the emperor to cover up before he catches cold.
Friday, November 09, 2007
It was the late '80s, my freshman or sophomore year in high school, when house exploded. While I grew up appreciating lots of different types of music (pop, classic rock, hip-hop, R & B, easy listening, classical, and on it goes), I didn't like this house stuff for several reasons:
2. It was also a clique/conformity thing: You see, I was a bougie. My family were like the Huxtables, okay? I was well-educated and "proper"-speaking and spent most of my life around white and Asian kids. I was also kind of Urkel-esque to boot. I didn't fit in with the "real black people." And as they were all into house, I had to be against it.
4. I couldn't dance. Since house is made for the express purpose of dancing, I didn't see the point.
But back to Borders. After "The Music Got Me" goes off, I head into the store. Lo and behold, there's a book on pop songwriting by one of the masters, Jimmy Webb. (Title: Tunesmith.) And in that book Webb quotes Dick Bradley on the black influence in rock music, and practices that served to create "the abandoning of the tradition of melody which had characterized earlier light and popular musics in Europe and America."
Sunday, October 28, 2007
You gotta hear it to believe it.
Friday, October 05, 2007
(DISCLAIMER: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS CERTAIN "911 TRUTH" MEMES I DO NOT NECESSARILY SUBSCRIBE TO, SUCH AS THE NOTION -- VERY CONTROVERSIAL WITHIN THE MOVEMENT -- THAT WORLD TRADE CENTER LARRY SILVERSTEIN WAS "IN ON THE PLOT" AND EVEN WENT SO FAR AS TO ADMIT I T ON NATIONAL TELEVISION. I, FOR ONE, DON'T THINK THAT THAT'S WHAT SILVERSTEIN MEANT WHEN HE SAID HE GAVE ORDERS TO "PULL" BUILDING 7. I DO, HOWEVER, THINK IT'S QUITE OBVIOUS THAT MODERN STEEL SKYSCRAPERS, SUCH AS BUILDING 7, DON'T JUST FALL DOWN -- AND THAT WE ARE STILL OWED A REAL EXPLANATION OF WHAT REALLY HAPPENED ON THAT DAY.)
Thursday, October 04, 2007
On message boards like this and blogs like this a lot of black punk-rock kids vented their indignation that a bunch of crunk-rappers would dare rip off, and thus cheapen, their social signifiers and costumes without understanding the profound meaning behind it all!
On a blog at "Unofficially Afropunk," Chachalila gripes:
"I just hate the fact that the same
Cinnamon_girl complains that because of this trend:
"What's the noticible difference between me and the average 'rockstar partying' hoodrat these days? Pretty much just my double 0s til I open my mouth."
"F@$K posers and the Hot topic they came out of!"
It's amusing how 20-year-old kids are yelling about how “the mainstream” is going to “destroy our culture”! To a Gen-X-cusper like myself, this is the same hair-tearing that was going on back in the early ‘90s over the mainstream "taking over" “alternative culture.”
The funny thing (to an ancient 33-year-old such as myself) is the tremendous importance youngsters put on music and fashion choices: for all intents and purposes it takes on religious significance. Might I suggest that these folks are lacking something that bands and costumery can’t supply?
This is not to denigrate rock, or punk rock, or the afropunk community -- heck, I'm at least an associate member: I listen to punk rock, I've been to an Afropunk party, I joined the Afropunk message board. That's why I know about these sites to begin with. But this highlights the difference between people who view music as entertainment, and those who view it as identity.
BY THE WAY. As for the actual song "Party Like a Rock Star," well, I know one shouldn't expect too much artistically from crunk rap. But still, I can't be the only one to notice the half-assed way they try to signify "okay, now we're doing rock" by pasting a single looping electric guitar riff over an otherwise standard crunk beat. But the riff is one of those minor key, faux-classical things that have been R&B/rap cliche for the last ten years. In other words: the kids making this music are all mixed up; as one might expect in this subgenre, their musical vocabulary is trapped around preschool level; and they don't even know what rock 'n' roll sounds like -- they're just aping the sound everyone else in the rap game is putting out. They wouldn't know a blues scale from a coke scale. (Which might be appropriate, actually.) If you asked them, they'd probably tell you rock 'n' roll is a white music form and always has been.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Kool Keith & the Gang
Little Cliff Richard
Johnny Cash & Eddie Money
Mos Def Leppard
Notorious B.I.G. & Rich
Teena Marie Turner
Vanilla Ice Cube
Johann Sebastian Bacharach
Hal David Hasselhoff
Olivia Elton-John Oates
New Mint Condition Edition
Rick James Taylor
Widespread Panic! At the Disco
Modest Mouse on Mars
Stray Cat Stevens
Boy George Michael W. Jackson Browne
B.B. King Crimson
Pink Pink Floyd
Lil Wayne Kramer
Gang of Four Tops
Right Said Freddie Jackson
Master P.eabo Bryson
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Yeah Yeah
TV on the Radiohead
Smokey Robinson & the Miracle Cure
Living Colour Me Badd
Henry & Sonny Rollins Band
Broken Social Distortion
Roger "Muddy Crystal" Waters
Velvet Underground Revolver
The English Beatles
The OK Go! Team
Loretta Lenny Kravitz
Right Said Freddie Mercury
New York Dolly Parton
LL DeBarge J
Swing Out Sister Sledge
Blood, Sweat & Tears For Fears
Weird Al Jarreau
Kill Hannah Montana
Go ahead ... Create your own!
Sunday, August 05, 2007
If that's true -- and I don't doubt it is -- the members of Groovelily must be real screwed up. The name might conjure up the girl in the peasant dress doing the twirl dance in the parking lot at the Phish show, but they’re anything but that. They are just a high-quality pop band fronted by a girl who's a great singer/violinist (and who also happens to be a hot redhead), who make incredibly musical music without a lot of artifice, without trying to be arty. They take their art seriously, but not so much so that they forget that it's also fun. I discovered their site a few years ago while searching, I think, for the name of a long-lost friend. I don't know why I've not written about them until now.
While we're at it, here's some more violin rock to piss off rock purists.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Late afternoon, after all the students tucked their black portfolio folders away, their chins pointed this way, curious to see what this big-mouthed Asian girl with an American accent has to show. I looked at my hands. "...I don't mean to be difficult." Then continued, "but I have nothing to show you. I left my works." And went on, "I am not an artist, and I don't know why we make art. For decoration? To sell? For the class? To make ourselves happy? To change the world? What does it mean?"
After a brief pause, someone asked, "Then why are you at an art academy?"
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I agree with you that the Backstreet Boys shouldn’t be ruled out because they’re good-looking or mainstream. But they’ve “got a better beat”? Than who? Than Axwell? J Dilla? Kennedy even?
Musically, I’m about as as poptimistic a populist as there can be, but by that I don't mean jettisoning standards; I mean the standard should be "is the music well-crafted, creative and enjoyable?" rather than getting all sidetracked in image and social signifying. So I dislike the Backstreet Boys and the like, not because of their image but because the quality of their music is closer to recycled plastic than platinum.
I’m the most passionate defender of “beautiful” music there is – whether it’s Debussy, or Bacharach/David and their contemporary disciples, show tunes, phenomenal R & B and disco and soulful pop by white boys, whatever. Body-moving polyrhythmic beats -- certainly beautiful. But the plink-plunk Backstreet Boys crap, and most of the other product of the Swedish assembly line that could be produced by any five-year-old in possession of a Casio keyboard, or the hot “minimalist” (i.e. lazy) producers of the moment -- the Timbalands, the crunkists -- I just find irritatingly vapid.
Pretty does not automatically mean dumb. Jewel is a pretty girl, I think we’ll all agree, but also possesses astronomical talent and integrity and writes her own stuff. Feist is another pretty girl who makes beautiful music, including covering the Bee Gees. Miho Hatori, okay, she's a bit more of an acquired taste, but she's pretty but also fun and – how often do we hear this quality in mainstream pop? -- unpredictable.
Britney, in contrast, makes crap and thus has to give us a million dancers and pyro and fog and peekaboos of her junk in order to make up for her lack of – perhaps not talent, but judgment as to how to use it.
As for Kelly Clarkson, she's not only hot (though I liked her better when she was a little chubby), but vocalwise she can blow away most female pop singers. If she keeps on honing her writing chops she'll have my respect 100%.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
fashion-queen co-hosts of this show are woman-hating, slash-happy hair vampires. All they ever want to do to women with long, beautiful hair is lop it off. What is it with the “Fashion” universe's fear of feminine women?
Long hair is one of a woman’s most beautiful attributes -- especially for those not especially gifted of face or figure. They are proud of their flowing locks. You'd be hard pressed to find a heterosexual male, at least, who doesn’t like long hair on a woman -- even long and plain.
And then they have to ruin your face. Even for women whose real faces are beautiful, the show’s default position is that every woman must be painted up to look like a generic store
mannequin rather than just be their naturally beautiful selves. The one redeeming fact about Stacey and Clinton is they are not sizeists; even they have the sense to not totally alienate their audience, which is composed of real women (and men who like real women).
Today’s victim, Lynn, got nicely dressed up (although all the Paris Hilton-worthy gear was totally inappropriate for her job, which is nannying) but the foundation they slapped on washed out her face. Happily, she had the cojones to say no, firmly and repeatedly, to the hairslasher.
“I took a stand,” she told the camera proudly. “I’ve always considered myself to be a unique individual ... at the end of the day, this is who I am.”
Well you go girl. Who knows. One day this being-who-you-are thing might actually become ... fashionable?
Saturday, June 02, 2007
And on the other side of the street creepin' my way is this black Toyota something-or-other, and inside is this white chick with ghetto-braided hair and those oversized bug-eye sunglasses -- you know, the ones that make you look like a giant fly.
And she's got her system boomin' away to some Unk or something like that, and she's jukin' like crazy in her seat. And she sees me lookin at her and she hollers at me: "I'm the illest white girl you eva seen!"
I just smile.
"The illest!" she shouts again. "And the crunkest!"
The light turns green and she drives away and I laugh like a maniac.
* See 1:04 on Kevin's video ... hilarious.
2010 UPDATE: Garry's new home is WGN, weekdays from 3-7 (when not pre-empted by a Cubs game). Still smart as a whip. Check him out.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
I have never laughed so hard at a rap song. (The link is to the mp3.)
Monday, May 07, 2007
AS JOHN CUSACK'S character Rob Gordon muses, pop music really has screwed up entire generations with its pictures of "heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss."
As I listened to a local oldies station recently, I realized even the "innocent," saccharine teen love songs of yesteryear were completely disempowering to boys trying to become men. Just when they need to be developing confidence and strength in themselves and toward women, what did popular music give them? Emotionalism, heartbreak, desperation. Begging, pining, weeping, whining. Promises to do anything to win her heart or get her back, up to and including cutting off their genitals and handing them to her on a silver platter. The message to would-be men: you get the girl by acting like a girl.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Friday morning, I feel moved to scour out the interior of my car, including the edges around the door frame, dirtied up by countless muddy shoes. I have a strong feeling that some new lady will be gracing my passenger seat tonight. (Not old friend Annabelle – as she will tell you, I don’t clean for her.) Who could it be? I had emailed Laura the schoolteacher, inviting her to tonight's Pilsen gallery walk; maybe her? In any case, I'm sick of the filthy car, so I clean it up and take it for an oil change.
So that evening, I leave work in the South Loop. I'm all set to head for Pilsen to the gallery district. But first, I figure, I may as well stop by the Fine Arts Building -- which itself has a formidable list of galleries and studios of all kinds, and is only two blocks away from my office.
At the FAB, I first visit Anita Miller, and then Barton Faist, whom I engage in some convo because I really like his art. He’s really into the Great Masters, which is obvious in his work. He goes on and on and on and on and on about light and color theory and how he obsessively layers colors to create translucent, vivid verisimilitude. Also he lectures me about the color wheel, color opposites, how he sees shades in what the normal person would label a plain white wall, how colors change according to the light level, how even the glow cast from a light bulb lights the air around it; how to make blacks look blacker and whites whiter.
Feeling like I’ve just earned an art degree, I go downstairs and pass by the studio of Barlow, a brotha I visited last time I was here. I remember that his pop-art collage style was not exactly my cup of tea, but still I peep in hesitantly to see what’s new. He sees me and waves me on in. And who’s sitting there but two ladies I know. The first one’s name I can’t even recall – I know her from Columbia College. But the second – who’d’ve thunk! –
Jane is a striking, high-cheekboned, chocolate-skinned beauty. She's been a model, dancer, and entertainment editor for a Hollywood publication, but also taught at some of Chicago's toughest schools. She was named one of Ebony’s “25 Most Alluring Bachelorettes” back in the early ‘90s. A Chicago political blogger posting her pic described her as a “stone cold fox” -- one of few such individuals who ran for public office in Illinois last year. Of course, she didn’t stand a chance, being a Republican in Chicago.
I met her nearly ten years ago now, at the youthful age of 23, while working as a public relations assistant. I was helping produce an awards dinner where she was one of the awardees. Afterward, a bunch of us went out to a Hyde Park lounge. A lot of cute flirting ensued: she told me I was "young and adorable" and "cute as a button" but I just needed "a little more experience."
I was intrigued. What ever could she mean?
"I'll train you very well," she promised, a mischievous twinkle in her eye.
But she waited for me to make the move. When I could afford it, I finally invited her out. Our wide-ranging conversation included her claim to have psychic powers inherited from Hopi shamans on her mother's side. I imagined a pineapple, and I challenged her to guess what I was picturing.
"Well," she said, "it's more like I can read feelings, intentions. Not that you could think about, for example, a banana and I could guess it exactly."
"Close," I said. "It was a tropical fruit."
I drove her home, and she invited me in for a drink. By and by, I announced it was time to go, said good night, exited the house and went to my car. But my keys were missing.
I turned back and went up the steps to find Jane standing in the door, wearing a Cheshire cat grin --with my keys in her palm.
"Hey, how --"
“I told you,” she purred. “I'm a magician.”
You don't need to know what happened next. Let's just say I ended up staying a bit later than I'd planned.
Tonight, however, Jane does not recognize me. I am wearing glasses and I don’t have the goatee I sported ten years ago. Maybe she wouldn’t have remembered me anyway. After at least three drinks for Jane and one for me, the two of us end up walking down Michigan Avenue. Taking advantage of her memory lapse, I manage to fool her into thinking I’m psychic by pulling out little facts about her that she had told me years ago: the fact her father had been a jazz bandleader and producer, or that she had lived in Hollywood and danced on "Soul Train" and "American Bandstand." She seems mystified and even a little spooked.
She is thirteen years my senior, but she’s not boring in the least. Between cracking on me about my supposedly boyish appearance ("How did you get here, on a tricycle?") and me crackin’ back about what a great job they did on her dentures, we crack each other up quite a few times.
Well. Jane ends up in my car – the car I took such great pains to clean just for her. Or for "Jen," if you will.
I take her to Lobster King in Chinatown. She has another drink and by this time, her already goofy, dramatic personality plus the alcohol has her acting silly like a thirteen-year-old girl, cracking more jokes at my expense.
I end up dropping her off at her home. Unlike our first date 10 years ago, she does not invite me in, nor would I have accepted. It’s 1 a.m., and I have to be up at 8:30 for work.
p.s.: One reason why we had only one date way back 10 years ago was that I strongly suspected, based on her family background -- and family research I was doing in advance of a family reunion that year -- that she and I were, apparently, distant cousins. She got a little bit freaked out about that. I thought it was cool, but she thought it was somehow perverted.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
"We are offering a free room for a woman who is willing to provide breast milk for consumption to the household...."
You gotta read it.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
YESTERDAY WAS AN INTERESTING DAY. First, in the morning I had to think about what snacks to buy for the kids. (I work at a youth media nonprofit.) I kept thinking about hummus, but I didn't have enough money to buy some.
Later, after work, I scrape together the dough to go to the Schizowave show. I somehow got onto this chick's email list, and liked her style and have been meaning to go see her for the longest time.
I go to Reckless on Milwaukee and thumb through CDs looking for some bargains. I go to the listening station and check out Shock G, and then grab a disc by my old high-school and college classmate Sharkula -- but then upon popping it in I realize this is the same one I just bought from him at his show two weeks ago.
I'm thinking of asking one of the clerks whether he's been by the store today, since he's a fixture up and down Milwaukee. But I put that thought away and keep listening to Shock -- and then who should stroll up in the place but Shark?
We say what up -- and then, on the down low, he tries to sell me another CD. (Because Shark is just a CD-selling machine -- you know that.) But I don't have cash; I can barely make this Schizowave show, I tell him. He wants to go with me. So we leave the place.
Along the way, Brian (that's his Christian name) tries to holler at a cute girl also leaving the record store, named Carmen. But as he tends to do, he tries way too hard and scares her away -- and ruins what could've been a chance for me.
Since the show's BYOB, we grab a six-pack and then head up to Elastic Arts, where we check out the Schizo show. (This lady is different -- check her out.) Lena's performing in nothing more than a little nightie, which makes things even more fun. Beer is drunk, Mexican food is scarfed, maybe even a blunt smoked. And at one point -- sans any prompting by myself -- Brian goes: "Man, I wouldn't mind having some hummus."
You and me both, brah!
... your lawn is your garage and your bathroom.
The owner of the car and tub, Sarah, (aka Stormy), calls herself a redneck -- and in her Jeff Foxworthy-worthy way, she takes pride in it. And ain't nothin' wrong with it. I love rednecks, as long as they don't have a problem with me. I'd much rather hang out with somebody with a bathtub (or other assorted appliances, furniture or vehicles) parked in the yard than with folks so uncreative as to think that a yard is just a place to park a bunch of grass.
Sarah is a fascinating lady. One of nine children, she lives in the Ozark hills of Arkansas. She buys and resells both horses and cars. She's also pretty crafty. A few years ago, when she was 18 or so, she and her brothers and brothers-in-law built a one-room log cabin for her, and she took to living off the grid. Two of her friends are named Amoz and Jed. I know her through an MSN group for Messianic Christians that I joined several years ago but have not really participated in. (Long story.)
Thursday, April 12, 2007
it’s like looking in a mirror
but just like your reflection and you
maybe twins aren’t meant to come together
drinking Earl Grey warms the body
thinking you, warms the soul
and your body: a thin cup of tea
that, well, grew on me --
but your soul, spirit, mind
had my attention from "go"
you coming through these doors
would be like cold lemonade
or cool sprinkler spray
on a hundred-degree day
i would hug you tight like a sister
--though you belong not to me,
but to my brother
we would sit
and share strong-as-mud coffee
in your island home
knowing, being known
glowing like a light on a darkened path
soulmates in a city of strangers
speaking and laughing
in perfect unison
a soul duo following invisible cues
and you'd grin your goofy grin and exclaim:
i wish for the crowd as for me
that they could see the synergy
That they could feel these ties hidden from human eyes
we could discuss so much more than the weather
yet we find ourselves separated by 500 miles of it
a little thing called
a wedding ring
Sometimes you meet your twin
It’s like looking in a mirror
But just like your reflection and you
Maybe twins aren’t meant to come together
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Friday, 10:33 a.m: I’m watching The Buddy Holly Story on VH-1. Buddy’s mom is telling him over dinner, “we let you sow your wild oats, playin’ your rock ‘n’ roll …”
A moment later I flip to MTV, where on “The Real World” the black brotha’s in the health food store looking at Wild Oats products.
One hour and one minute later, in the movie: Brash, bold Buddy corners the beautiful dark-haired Puerto Rican girl, surnamed Santiago, and says to her: “If you won’t go out with me I wanna know why.”
My mind flashes instantly back to 2000 -- seven years and a few weeks ago --to a phone conversation with a beautiful dark-haired Puerto Rican girl, surnamed Santiago.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Where to start?
1981: Hall and Oates release a song called “Private Eyes.” (Am I working Hall and Oates into every other post lately? I guess so, but only because they are tremendously important.)
This #1 single is the first Hall and Oates song I recall from childhood and would begin a lifetime of H&O addiction for me. One of the few non-original tunes the duo recorded, its writer was Warren Pash.
early '90s at Columbia College Chicago: I study music, one of my instructors being the acclaimed jazz musician and composer Bill Russo.
A couple years later as I became more politically aware, I hear of author, tax protestor, artist and musician Tupper Saussy. Eventually Saussy puts up a web site and I manage to get hold of his last book Rulers of Evil. (I still need to get Miracle on Main Street, although I've read later books along the same theme such as Edward Griffin's The Creature From Jekyll Island.)
I contact him by email, and in our correspondence, not only find I have many similarities with this person twice my age, but that he had studied under the same Bill Russo (years ago, at th School of Jazz in Massachussetts).
Last week: Saussy dies, just before the scheduled party for his new CD The Chocolate Orchid Piano Bar.
IT'S THOSE KINDS OF things that give me a kick. You know there are like souls out there, people whose existence seems to parallel your own, and it's always a thrill to run across one of them.
The important thing to say about Saussy, however, is that he was that rarest of individuals in our time: a true Renaissance man, a true talent, a true philosopher (which is different from one who merely academically studies philosophy), a true independent thinker and actor, a true member of "the Remnant" and -- if his own and others' testimony about him are honest -- a true follower of Christ.
I was sad to hear of his passing, because I wanted more Tupper Saussy books -- such as the one he was working on, Gods For the Godless, about the hidden deep-political and spiritual underpinnings of 9/11. At least there's plenty of his music around to enjoy.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
MOMS RAWK. If you're not aware of the burgeoning "mommy rock" phenomenon, it encompasses groups such as the Motherlode Trio, the Mydols, Housewives on Prozac (well, it's rock 'n' roll -- you gotta have drugs), and of course, a festival called Momapalooza.
Not long ago Housewives and Momapalooza founder Joy Rose read an essay on NPR wherein she related her overnight transformation from SoHo punk rock queen with a gold record to . . . "happy baby pig" (her words, with emphasis on "baby" -- implying that making babies turns a woman into a pig). As the reality of motherhood set in, she quickly tired of the artist's life. Navigating the walk up four flights of stairs with kids, baby bag and toys in tow proved too challenging. So she and her "partner" (alternaterm for "husband") opted for -- gasp --
THE SUBURBS -- !!!
Denizens of insular urban bohemias think differently, to say the least. In some ways, for the better. But in that hothouse environment, there's also that contempt, even terror, for anything and everything perceived as bourgeois: a notion that the traditional family is for the dull, the bland, the conforming -- the people who go to megachurches and shop at Wal-Mart. Marriage ("partnership," whatever) is a transmitter of the patriarchal oppression virus. Children are not only unhip; they are a burden, a disease to be cured by the abortionist. In some circles these beliefs are held quite literally. Traces of these memes are evident in the self-punishing language Rose employs when relating her journey from moshing to mommying. She sounds sheepish and apologetic, as if to say: I'm really sorry ... I know I'm not supposed to enjoy this exploitative subjugation to an artificial gender role forced upon me by the Oppressive Rapist Patriarchy ... but dammit, I'm lovin' it!
It makes me sad that Rose spent so long steeped in a milieu where doing what nature made you to do makes you a "baby pig," but rejecting motherhood to satisfy ambitions often externally imposed by your subculture, and spending your time and money on yourself, makes you not an "anti-baby pig," but strong and progressive.
Yet even punk rock chicks like Rose continue to apostacize from the cult to obey the call of nature to do what they -- perhaps too obviously to need to point out -- are uniquely equipped to do. Rose had to give up her "me"-centered lifestyle, but didn't give up her love of rock 'n' roll -- at least not forever. She continues to rawk, even in the suburbs. (While moving to the burbs is a tradeoff, not all suburbs fit the stereotypes of blandness, homogeneity and cultural barrenness. And as things are today, a good suburb is a helluva lot better environment in which to raise kids than the big city.)
While I don't know all the details of Rose's rock career, I admire her tremendously for simply desiring to be a real mother. And I'm glad to see the new wave of mommy rock. It refutes the notion of a huge conflict of rock and roll vs. home and hearth, of fun vs. family, of art vs. adulthood. It shows that artistic expression is not exclusively the province of nihilistic, solipsistic singles in their teens or twentysomethings. The movement may inject some much-needed perspective into a scene that needs to be reminded from time to time that it actually is not the center of the universe. Definitely, it will inspire creativity, since rockers who are mommies automatically have a whole new world of material to draw from. And with little ones depending on them, they have even more reasons to change the world.
I was spending a good portion of the time wedged on a too-tight-to-move lounge space, getting knocked around by big breasts. … It seems to me that they are everywhere these days – and that single (and not-so-single) men in this city have it much too good … How did they spawn? How come all of a sudden it’sI began to notice the same phenomenon several years ago on the first warm day of spring. I was in the yuppie center of Chicago, Lincoln Park -- my first visit to that area in a couple of years probably -- and I marveled at the new epidemic. It was as if an “Instant Inflate” button had been pressed and everyone in the area had magically gained two sizes. They were bouncing around -- or more accurately, sort of gliding around -- everywhere, especially on a certain species of skinny twentysomething blonde commonly found jogging along the lakeshore or walking around the park toting their hamster-sized dogs. Sure, they catch your eye for a second. But then you realize you're looking at plastic, and you look away, in search of something real.
become the industry standard to have glammed-up boobs in this city?
Thursday, February 22, 2007
I'M PROBABLY THE biggest fan of Hall and Oates on this planet (Oates especially), and I know they’re old-old-school, but -- c’mon. How do professional entertainers, who presumably have managers and PR people, let a couple of clowns such as this one and this one steal what oughta be their MySpace pages?
I gotta admit though, the second one is funny. And the first guy, when I first visited a few weeks ago, has this wacked out hip-hop-swing-marching-band song from these Brooklynite goofsters. But now he's got this redickulous remix of the Muppets' "Movin' Right Along" ... (Haven't heard this song in about 25 years, but I'll be diddly-dong danged if I didn't recognize it after about the first four bars.)
* POSTSCRIPT: Somehow, since I wrote this post, it seems that the real Hall and Oates have managed to claim this myspace page for themselves. Now that's good news.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
What the hell were the Clash singing?
I was eight when that song came out. I only knew the word "Casbah" because my big sister told me that was the word. (She couldn't say what a casbah was, though.) I knew "kosher" because I had Jewish friends, and I could make out a few other really obvious parts, like "on the radiator grill" or "degenerate the faithful." But as for the rest, between Mick's mush-mouthy, British-accented delivery and my unsophisticated grasp of Middle East politics, I was pretty lost.
So what did I think they were saying?
(Now here are the real lyrics.) By the way ... A live version of this song featuring Mick Jones and someone named Rachid Taha, singing in Arabic. Cool.
Now the kid he told the boogie bear
Ya got to let the robber drown
He oiled down the desert wind
Has 'im shakin’ to the town
He shaky drove his Cadillac
He went a cruisin’ down the real
The prison guard's a standin’
On the radiator grill
Cheri don’t like it
Rock the Casbah
Rock the Casbah
Cheri don’t like it
Rock the Casbah
Rock the Casbah
I ordered up the profit
You better prove your sound
Degenerate the faithful
With that crazy Casbah sound
They better when they brought out
The electric cattle drum
They look and get to thinkin’
that he’s goin’ ta break his thumb
Soon as the Cheri cleared the square
Babe began to wail
I'm over at the temple
Oh, they really packed the rim
Think I say it’s cool
To take this child teen thing
But as the wind changed direction
And the temple ground’s on fire
The ground got a will
Oh that crazy Casbah chiiiiiiiiild
The king called up his jet fighters
He said you’d better run your planes
Drop your bombs between the minarets
Now the Casbah way
As soon as the Cheri goes surfin’ outta there
The jet pilots tune to the captain radio blare
Soon as the Cheri gets outta their hair
The jet pilots wail
Cheri don’t like it
Rock the Casbah
He thinks it’s not kosher
From the mental retardation
You know he really hates it
FROM THE CLASH to ... America? Why the hell not?
America's “You Can Do Magic” is a perfectly crafted pop song in the smooth vein of late '70s/early ‘80s yacht rock.
Now, for some strange reason, something told me last week to record a “ghetto bounce” R&B version of this song, just for fun. Last Sunday I slapped together a demo, complete with six parts of vocal harmony. It actually doesn't sound that bad. I'm wondering why someone hasn't already thought of doing this. Maybe someone like that Usher-sounding kid -- what's his name? -- should try it. It's a hell of a lot better song than "She's Like the Wind."
And whaddya know? I go on YouTube and this song has been resurrected thanks to some Harry Potter fan who’s put this song to captured video of evil warlock Snape.
While we’re talking about great songs of 1982, how about F-Mac’s “Hold Me”?
I loved everything about this song: its dreamy otherworldliness, its piano tinkling, its driving beat, its plucky guitars and percussion, the echo that makes the guitar solo sound like it was played in a canyon, the five-note scale (which is Oriental, but at the time actually made me think of American Indians), and the way McVie, Buckingham, Nicks et al. came off like an unruly, unpolished children’s choir rather than a precision-engineered pop group. I love musicians who are obviously having a lot of fun, and FM were certainly having fun in this song, or at least made it sound so.
But for me, the videos tend to spoil these images -- especially America's original video for "Magic." I'm kinda like Jade, one of the kids I work with in an after-school program, who prefers books without pictures. Just like Jade, I would rather make the pictures in my head.
Monday, February 12, 2007
The man was Steve, husband of artist Alice McMahon White; the studio was one of many in Chicago's fine Fine Arts Building: a stately, storied old edifice that originally served as a Studebaker carriage and wagon factory and now houses a variety of artists and related organizations. (For a few months during college I had worked at the art-house theater that formerly occupied the first floor; when not busy I was always snooping around in the building's nooks and crannies.)
Still clutching a half-drunk glass of red wine from the last gallery, I gazed appreciatively about the small studio, crammed with intricate wall- and easel-mounted works, mostly portraits in pencil and pastel. I told Steve I thought it was about time for realism to stage a comeback.
He let me know that a comeback, of sorts, is happening right now.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Bukowski wastes no time in this novel. By the time you get to the bottom of page one -- and it's only a half-page -- you've already got great descriptive writing, you've got man vs. the elements, you've got poverty and down-at-the-heelness, you've got a bit of mystery about who's this protagonist and where's he going and why he's in this situation -- and most intriguing, you've already got sexual tension. Interracial sexual tension, at that.
If you're gonna write a story, you may as well start with a bang, I mused while reading.
The Bears started out with a bang last night. It turns out, though, that they only had a couple of rounds in the chamber.
THE AIR FORCE is aggressively hunting new bomb fodder with the help of commercials run during the Super Bowl and on MTV. They're all about action, speed, excitement, boys playing with cool toys and enjoying teamwork and manly camaraderie and the self-realization of belonging to something bigger than oneself. War as a kind of extreme sport.
Of course, these exciting, adrenaline- and testosterone-releasing images and messages are the stock-in-trade of military recruitment ads. And such techniques are common to advertising in general, which works on the emotions rather than logic and usually hypes the positive while omitting the negative. So is the USAF being an exceptional liar? By one standard, perhaps not.
But to bring a sense of perspective to it, one might argue that the higher the stakes involved, the less defensible the lie. Most ads, fundamentally dishonest though they may be, aren't selling you a product that inherently includes the risk of getting your arms, legs, face or man parts blown off, or getting turned into flame-broiled hamburger -- or having to do the same to other men, women and children you've never met and in most cases will never even see. Or perhaps taking part in "domestic surveillance" against fellow Americans. Seems to me that military recruitment ads ought to be required to provide, oh, I don't know, maybe just a smidgen of actual reality?
Even MTV has "The Real World." When are we going to see "The Real World: Iraq"?
Speaking of which, I salute this guy for exhibiting a kind of bravery they don't seem to teach in the military.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
And the message:
Ahoy there Fellow!
I be the homeless one w/ a Howard Hughs' story. - Now again;
w/ out a place to lay my head in a few short days.
Hughs' attention for his generosity -apparently didn't help attract an eye for diliverance.
I'd like to generate intrest in a group living siduation like the 12 Tribes, but the possibilities are weak. Please inform as to your caution.
What was I to make of this?
Ahoy there matie! True to your e-mail address, your message was quite enigmatic. Could you explain yourself a little more? Who are you? Where are you from? Where'd you get my e-mail address? Are you associated with the Tribes? What does Howard Hughes have to do with your situation? And by the way, would you be related to one Minor Aguilar of Chicago?
This person wrote back. Marie Aguilar was the name given this time. She was of a certain age, which she wasn't eager to tell. She was from the Sarasota area. She had at least one daughter. She was somewhat of an artist (an "illistrator," as she put it), but also had experience as a personal trainer, but was hoping to find work as a doula. And she was in some sort of dire straits, the nature of which she was never at liberty to fully explain. And no, she didn't know anybody named Minor Aguilar.
But how had she obtained my e-mail, and why'd she write? Turns out she had seen an article authored by me in an online Christian newsletter. In that article I mentioned certain spiritually based intentional communities, and one of these was a quasi-Messianic-Jewish group called the Twelve Tribes. Marie had an interest in such groups, and she e-mailed me, perhaps thinking I was involved in one. She told me that she was of marrano Jewish ancestry and was searching for her Jewish roots in Messiah. Currently, she said, she worshipped with a "home fellowship" rather than a typical corporate church.
As for the homeless bit, I speculated she was fleeing some sort of abusive relationship. Since she was reticent to share many details, I didn't pry. But she was safe for the time being, she reassured me, and staying with friends. She was trying to get a deal on a mobile home for $8000.
She made quite an e-penpal. Her handle, enigmarie2000, proved apt. In subsequent emails, she continued with her quirky colors, formatting, punctuation, and colorful spelling ("inishally," "unfourtunatly," "uncertion," "perswations," "simmilor," etc.). She called e-mails "E-s." ("Guess I started looking forward to your E-s...")
Sometimes she'd sign her name:
And sometime she'd use totally off-the-wall subject lines, such as:
-1 + +1=*
I'd ask her to explain these, but she never did. I figured: okay, eccentric artist type, I get it. But as poor a speller as she was, she seemed a very joyful, optimistic person in the face of all her trials, and always had something to share: a Bible verse, an inspirational poem, a bit of advice.
In one e-mail I apologized for not writing for so long because I'd been overwhelmed and struggling with various projects, and also, with a female person in my life:
The more I get to know her, the more I'm convinced we are really twins who were separated at birth. We are so alike in so many things (including favorite brand and flavor of tea) it's scary. ... Yet, we've had a little falling out over a communication problem and her mood-swing problem, which sometimes gets in the way of having a normal conversation. But I still care for her and I'm praying for her. ...
Marie wrote back:
Hi ya, _____ :) good to hear you sounding well. The girl, however much your ditto, may be a type of distraction. Use caution. Seek first His Kingdom so you have a safe Haven. I'm sure of your wittness, but as humans our biggest drawback is the glove attached to our soul. You are accepted in The Beloved & greater is He in you then he that's in the world. Keep yourself clean in His Word & approach her as a lover of the goodness & faithfullness of God before direction your affections too hastilly.We carried on occasional correspondence for over a year. I even called her a couple of times: she had expressed interest in a marketing business I was involved in at that time, so we talked biz as well as personal and spirichal stuff.
Too much to say now. I'll have to give you a couple of E- forwards to catch you up w/ me.
I love you my brother. God is working mightily in you! I look forward to the wonderful things He has in store for you
But then her messages became scarce, and when they did come they were abrupt and created more questions than they answered. She was again homeless, she said, writing from libraries. She was on the road. With Olivia. It sounded like a dire situation. She asked me to pray that her vehicle didn't break down. Where was she headed? I asked her. Was she running from the law? She couldn't say.
Soon the emails stopped coming, and mine no longer received replies. So I said prayers for her, and life went on.
But I couldn't help but care about the well-being of this touchingly zany lady. Every now and then I'd try to Google her, plus her email addresses, trying to find any tidbit of information. Nothing came up.
After several months, on Nov. 17, 2002, she sent a message out to a list of friends, including me, with subject line:
Famous"in his words, this man used his influence to abduct Olivia Salisbury
To the message, she had attached a Google search page full of page hits concerning Enrico Wallenda. Yep, that's right, of The Flying Wallendas, of circus highwire fame.
That's when it all started to come together. She had been Mrs. Wallenda. They divorced and he got custody of Olivia. I don't know the circumstances or the justice of this decision; it does appear that Wallenda is a "famous freemason," and by many accounts, a Mason in court has a much easier time getting his way if the judge is also a "brother Mason," as many are. Whatever the case, in January of that year Marie Aguilar, or rather Edith Salisbury, her real name, had whisked the 7-year-old Olivia off on a wacky cross-country caper that culminated in San Diego.
But as part of a national law enforcement program, Olivia's face was plastered on "Missing Children" cards sent out by a direct-mail marketing company. As a result, when she and her mom were spotted at a San Diego homeless shelter in September 2002. The law was notified and soon Olivia was back home in Florida.
The latest news is that Olivia's training to be part of the next generation of the Flying Wallendas. I haven't heard from her mom lately. I hope by now she's out of prison.
[* last name changed.....]
Thursday, January 25, 2007
This nostalgia barrage is a trap, yes -- but such a sweet sticky one. Who doesn't want to relive his formative years: the years when life was simpler, when everything -- especially music -- was just better?
In addition to transporting us back to carefree youth, the retro resurgence does us another favor by setting us up as guides -- elder statesmen of cool, you might say -- to all the MySpacing iPod kids who've never owned an analog sound recording and are just now discovering '70s and '80s music.
KID: Dude! R & B artists actually played real instruments back then? They had bands? Get out!
ME: Well, yeah. That was pretty much the norm until the mid-'80s.
KID: What's that thing their voices and instruments are doing? It's weird. But it makes me ... it makes me feel good!
ME: I believe you're referring to the melody and harmonies and chord progressions? Musicians used to know those, but they kinda went out of style in the '90s.
KID: Thanks to bands like the Killers (who I was into way before anyone had ever heard of them, by the way), I'm really discovering a lot of really cool, totally underground bands from the '80s who influenced them. Like New Order, the Cure, Duran Duran...
ME: [Erupts in peals of laughter.]
KID: What's so funny? Hey, do you like my ironic Hall and Oates t-shirt? [Glances around nervously, then whispers:] But just between you and me, I really like those guys!
ME: You know, some of their best songs were never even released as singles. You have to get the albums. Did you know they go all the way back to 1969? You know, Daryl Hall used to sing backup for all these Philly soul guys -- ever heard of the Delfonics? Anyway, he was with this band called Gulliver for a while. They put out this crazy album that sounded like the Beatles, with a little more soul. I might let you borrow my CD ...
KID: [Stares blankly.]
It's little perks like this that make growing old a little more tolerable.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sadly, everyone hasforgotten Walter Payton's clearly superior song "Together As a Team."
Together as a team, we have a dream
Everyone can win together
If we hold hands in this great land
We can make life a whole lot better
‘Cause the people of the world, we are the ones,
Everyone should get involved,
If we hold together aloft our hands
Our problems can be solved!
By the way, what was that I heard about the '85 Bears returning to the studio to record a "darker" album?
AND MUSIC BY MUSICIANS is the new punk rock.
Yes! So I have proclaimed it, and so shall it be.
While googling the term "art about art" (because I got tired of encountering art about art ), I came upon this site.
"So long as most of humanity is permitted to compare and decide for themselves, Truth and Beauty, the twin sisters of the human soul projected through cyberspace into millions of homes, are certain to prevail," writes Art Renewal Center chairman Fred Ross.
Interesting. I leafed back a few pages in the journal sitting in my lap as I sat reading Ross' words. There it is -- something I wrote a couple of weeks ago:
BEAUTY + TRUTH ... are 2 sides of a coin, created by the same Creator. Truth is his Word and beauty his Work. But too often those given to Beauty neglect and scorn Truth, while those seeking after Truth give short shrift to Beauty.
At least, so says the British tabloid the Sun.
Or rather, so the Sun says of the Scientology source's saying so.
Ugh. I'm getting my typing fingers all tangled up.
Plus, I do not like to make fun of the mentally challenged.
I will stop here.