Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Of shoes and ships and ceiling wax

While Marty McFriend and Satisfied are delving into dark areas I don't have the guts to think about (mainly for fear that my impressionable and occasionally feeble mind would succumb to them), I have a few things on my mind that I'd like to air out as well.

1) Larry "Bud" Melman
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Who the fuck is this guy? I have a vague notion that he has appeared on or is some kind of target/butt of jokes for a late night TV talk show host, and I'm sure I could easily find this information via Google, but I don't really want to. What I want to say is that unfortunately this man's image and persona frequently invades my thoughts. Why? Why? And is he famous for something other than being a joke?

2) I did a Google image search for "not fucking around," and this is one of the results:
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Then again, so is this, and well, that's just creepy:
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3) I took exception to a post from Y2 regarding music.

Y2: I would have posted all this into the comments of your blog because it is, after all, a comment, but I just have too much to say.

You're wrong when you say that there is a right opinion and a wrong opinion about music. In music, as in all of life, opinions are subjective and dependent on the experiences and aptitudes of the listener. (I don't really want to belabor the point, but I say aptitude because I don't think that everyone is on an even playing field with interest in or ability to appreciate music. Just as some people don't really care about music, I don't care about, say, how computers work.) I hate to say it, but I think you're succumbing to the limited worldview of a youngling. (And that's not to say that I'm so old and wise, but maybe slightly older and probably a lot more cynical.)

You see, there was never a time when the majority of music was good. However, there was a time when you were young and impressionable and a lot of things that you'd never heard expanded your horizons and took root in your brain. If hits from the mid to late 80s sound classic and like authentic and good music to you, it's because you hadn't been exposed to anything like them before. All modern music is derivative to some degree, and of course the same goes with visual art and literature. In any current climate there are people who are creating things that are good and will stand the test of time, and there are things that may seem good at the time but turn out to not be so great after all, and then there are things that just downright suck. (Think of what we're hearing from someone like the Killers now -- I'll be the first to say that I enjoyed that album, but I'd be naive to not realize that all they are is an updated New Order. And all New Order is is an updated Gang of Four or ELO, and so on and so forth. You can also extrapolate from the Kings of Leon if that's more your style.) So when you refer to a time that music had meaning, and then got cheesy, and then returned to having meaning again, and then turned to shit, I have to say, frankly, that I don't understand what time periods these are that you could be talking about.

When it comes down to it, good music is music that makes you feel, um, good. Music that resonates somewhere in your soul, or if you don't want to get too philosophical about things, music that, for lack of more sophisticated terms, creates a warm space in your guts. Sounds that you're drawn to. So for some it's a little more evolved than for others. Bottom line is this - you can encourage people to stop obsessively following tabloids or overindulging in burgers (ahem), but you just can't force people to listen to music they don't enjoy. It's just too personal. And besides, if we define pop music as music that is popular with the general public, it is wildly unfair to characterize all pop music as shit. Sure, pop music is Jessica Simpson. But pop music is also the Beatles, or if you want something more current, Outkast. This kind of brings me to what I hate about hipsterism, but that's not a post I'm ready to tackle tonight.

4) RAVE: Shoe shopping and finding exactly what you're looking for. It's almost better than sex.

5) As of right now: I love L.A. (But not the Randy Newman song.)

6) What is the deal with podcasting? It's getting a lot of press lately, and I just don't get it. From what I gather it's not even music, it's like talk radio shows and other spoken pieces. Is anyone actually downloading pod casts and listening to them? Who wants to listen to talk radio?

Thank you.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Addendum - GEEK

Just received this magnificent, off the cuff piece of writing from my dear friend Bobo in NYC. A gentle soul is Bobo. She had to step in and clarify something very important. To wit:

a nerd is a smartypants who is of a brilliant mind, no doubt, but who also longs to be socially accepted, loved, "one of the guys" and whatnot. i tend to think of a nerd as the guy in class who didn't show off his intellect, even though it was clearly superior. he saw it, in some ways, as a wall between him & the others. he was reserved. he wanted to "belong" but didn't know how to go about it. many ached for him .... wanted to take him under their wing and boost his confidence. and so the nerd would go on to succeed, yes, but without much glory ..... a brainiac was he, but with his low self esteem, he would never make the strides that his cousin .... the GEEK....... would go on to make.

the geek did not have the hangups our good friend, the nerd, had growing up. he couldn't give a rat's ass what people think of him. he has never been side-tracked by a longing to be "one of the gang" ... never wasted a moment wondering if he was well-liked. he is not quiet about his genius. one could say that he shows off his brilliance whenever possible to boast or brag - but really, he is so oblivious to and unconcerned with social accpetance that you can't even really accuse him of trying to win praise ....... he's just a big geek and facts and figures are all he has. he is socially retarded but has no issue with this - he may not even know he is socially retarded. the nerd, however, is very aware of himself and of other's opinions of him.

the nerd is a feeler. he is very conscious of his awkwardness. he is anxious and insecure.

the geek is a machine. he is not easily wounded .... he knows little human desire ...... his complete social ignorance allows him to go through life never realizing that he is awkward ... never realizing that people's eyes glaze over when stuck in conversation with him ...never realizing that he dresses pretty funny ..... never realizing that he is a geek. and because he has no hangups and does not suffer from low-self esteem which will certainly limit the nerd's achievements, it is the geek who will really change the world.

My mind is officially blown. Zod bless her. Bobo - what think you of this pic for a geek?
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Various and sundry

A few things:

I can't help but read an article like this and think that someone should have blown up the entire room.

Further chemical/physiological proof that music is the absolute shit.

Pull quote from this fascinating article:
"a new study conducted found that half the men in most parts of the world don't know what is expected of them in society"


Friday, June 24, 2005

Asshole vs. Douchebag

There's a disturbing new trend in music.

As if Ashlee Simpson, Good Charlotte, Maroon 5 et al weren't bad enough, there's something even more nefarious proliferating over the airwaves and the world wide interweb...the mash-up.

I guess it started with Dangermouse's "the Grey Album," an album that mixed music from Jay Z's "The Black Album" with music from The Beatles "The White Album." The result, which I thought was 90% unlistenable blasphemy and 10% clever novelty, was widely (and inexplicably) heralded by music mags and hipster blogs as brilliant and revolutionary, and for a period of 2003 (or was it 2004?) it was ubiquitous in the dives of the east village of NYC. The success of the Grey Album pushed Dangermouse, then an unknown fellow UGA grad, to fame and fortune and now he's become one of the Gorillaz. (With Damon Fucking Albarn!)

And, more to the point, it spawned a really annoying new genre of music, the mash-up. A mash-up is a song created on some DJ's mac using Garage Band, and is basically a mixture of two songs. The typical mash-up uses music from an 80s classic (the more ironic, the better) with lyrics from a current hipster anthem. Perfect example - there was one called "Somebody Told Me Sunglasses at Night" by The Killers vs. Corey Hart. (Surely you can figure out what that means.) Another example: Veruca Salt vs. Yaz - "Don't Seether."

Now I'm not trying to be a hater. But the result is just irritating drivel. Five minutes that ruin both songs, assuming either was any good in the first place.

Case in point -- today I was driving home from work and happened to turn on Indie 103.1, which I have made a point to avoid since destroying it in the comments of this recent Aquarium Drunkard post. As it so happens, they have A WHOLE FUCKING SHOW devoted to mash-ups. (I was so right about that horrible station. It's dead to me.) But it's not even full's like 20 minute chunks (does the use of word "chunks" here bring to mind vomit? I hope so) of music consisting of about 30 seconds each of various mash-ups. It's a schizophrenic, unlistenable, thoroughly unpleasant way to exit the work week. During the three minutes that I was tuned in today, I heard Britney Spears mixed up with the Pixies' "Monkey Gone to Heaven."

Now that's enough to destroy your weekend.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Dorks vs. Nerds

I'd like to take this opportunity to clarify something important.

There's a difference between dorks and nerds.

Although most people use these terms interchangeably, there's a very important distinction. A coolness factor.


This guy is a nerd:
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This guy is a dork:
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Guy #2 wears briefs. He has a six figure job in insurance, watches Sportscenter every night and his idea of getting wild is having a few beers and a shot of Jaeger with his boys on Friday nights. (He spends Saturday nights watching Bruckheimer movies with his girlfriend, who he's been dating since college.) He loves Creed, he thinks Jay Leno is hilarious, his mom still does most of his shopping for him, and he's vaguely uncomfortable around homosexuals or anyone with a tattoo.

Guy #1 has developed an innovative new technique for sequencing DNA. In his free time he's into horticulture and collecting original Star Wars memorabilia. He's never had sex but has a porn collection that includes chicks dressed as valkyries. In the moments when he's not thinking about ways to up his standing in Magick: The Gathering, he's busy devising a plan for converting his house to run purely on solar energy. He once designed a bionic arm.

So who's cool? Who's going to change the world?

Nerds rule.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

An Evening at the Greek

Went to see Wilco for the fourth (or fifth?) time last night at the lovely Greek Theater in beautiful Los Feliz. (Or is it East Hollywood?) This was my first show at the Greek, which is sort of like a more civilized (read: less drunk) Chastain. Seeing Wilco is always a treat, but this setting really made the show exceptional. It was a breezy, clear summer night and the vibe was really mellow. The hipsters were out in full force, and the celebs too -- caught James Spader, Pat O'Brien, Toni Colette, and, according to Satisfied '75, the midget from Alias. (He seemed of normal stature to me.)

Highlights of the evening:
Shot in the Arm, Jesus, etc., Muzzle of Bees, I am Trying to Break Your Heart
Also when, after singing "Hummingbird", Jeff Tweedy jumped out into the pit and grabbed his youngling and smothered him with kisses. I worship Tweedy already, but that just put me over the edge.

Shout outs:
  • BROOKE!! Thanks for hooking us up with the rock star parking and hospitality access
  • Hot hipster dudes at the show. Yummy.

  • Monday, June 13, 2005

    Those jokers over at CNN

    I've been reading pretty consistently for as long as I've been on this here world wide interweb. I like it because it's a good way to quickly find out what the media would consider the top story to be at any given time of the day. (CNN employees call the the top story T-1.)

    And I think it's a good example of a very pared down, user friendly design for a news website.

    But sometimes the headlines and polls featured are absolutely ludicrous, and would not be out of place in The Onion. Case in point: the poll featured today (before the whole Michael Jackson debacle, which I'm not even going to get into) was:

    "Would you change your religion to marry Tom Cruise?"

    This is apparently a question of national concern.

    Some People's Feet Really Freak Me Out

    Just sayin.

    Sean Fanning is Such a Douchebag

    Article from Reuters, 6/13/05:

    Snocap opens up to independent artists

    The online music service Snocap said on Monday that it would allow independent artists and small record labels to register their songs to receive payment when they are traded over Internet "peer-to-peer" networks.

    Snocap, the latest venture of Napster founder Shawn Fanning, uses digital "fingerprint" technology to identify songs that are swapped online.

    Peer-to-peer networks can use Snocap to block unauthorized copies of songs and replace them with protected versions that can be controlled by their owners.

    Only one peer-to-peer service has signed up to use Snocap so far, but the company says it is in talks with others.

    Snocap officials hope that existing peer-to-peer services like Kazaa and LimeWire will turn to Snocap as a way to end their legal battles with recording companies and convert the millions of songs that are copied over their networks into a steady revenue stream.

    Three out of the four major labels -- Universal Music Group, (EAUG.PA) Sony BMG (6758.T)(BERT.UL) and EMI Group Plc (EMI.L) -- have registered their songs with Snocap, as have larger independent labels like TVT and Rykodisc. Snocap said it is in talks with the fourth major label, Warner Music Group Corp. (NYSE:WMG - news).

    Snocap founder Fanning first shot to notoriety when he turned the music industry upside down with Napster, the first software program that allowed users to copy music from each others' hard drives for free.

    Napster has since been relaunched as an industry-approved download service.

    Really, I want artists to get paid just as much as the next person, maybe even more so. For a long time after the collapse of Napster I stopped using P2Ps at all because I felt so guilt ridden about it.

    But I can't help but feel that Fanning is such a loser for developing Snocap. I hate to use the term sellout, but, well, what else is he?

    Current song obsession at work: Okkervil River - "For Real"

    Sunday, June 12, 2005

    Your Mom Would Drink Until She Was No Longer Speaking

    My latest music obsession is Neutral Milk Hotel. I heard "King of Carrot Flowers" for the first time a few weeks ago and it took root in my brain almost immediately. I didn't realize how much I liked it though until Saturday, when it came on loud and I listened more closely to the lyrics...I highly doubt I could say anything that hasn't already been said about this crazy genius, but the whimsy and surrealness (not sure that's even a word) of the music and the lyrics just blew me away.

    Being the internet nyerd that I am, immediately went online and did some google research of the band and its reclusive lead singer, Jeff Mangum. Neutral Milk Hotel is one of those bands that I've always meant to check out but never got around to, and I was only vaguely aware that they are from Athens and that after making a classic record they have sort of disappeared into thin air, giving them an almost legendary reputation.

    So I came across this interview with Jeff Mangum that Pitchfork published in 2002, four years after "in the Aeroplane Over the Sea" came out. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised after listening to the music, but I was struck by what an insightful read it is. Mangum has some really interesting things to say about songwriting and the creative process in general, and it was, in fact, something he said in the article that prompted me to start this blog. (This is my third blogging attempt -- the other ones obviously didn't make it.) Here's a quote I found particularly interesting:

    "I think the biggest obstacle for people with their creativity is that they feel they have to sit down and create this finished, polished product. Especially nowadays, it's so easy to have a library of two thousand CDs, books and records. So many things. We're used to having all of these finished works of art in our life that seem to arise out of nothing. I think that so much of the creative process is a fragmentary one, and then it's about just allowing your intuition to put it together for you. It's funny how you create something and you think you're going in a million different directions, and then the thing you end up with is the thing that you wanted to create your whole life, but you're just as surprised by it as anybody else."

    Truer words were never spoken. I think I feel it even more acutely because I've always been drawn to creative types, and I've been known to beat myself up for not stepping up to the plate with my own writing and just putting stuff out there.

    So here it is.

    And about the title.

    1) I have, of late, been hanging out with a motley crew. Satisfied75 has been calling us the "fun hoggs," but you could call us the Deadbeat Club.
    2) I am a person that gets obsessed with songs and listens to them over and over. This is highly annoying to other people so I try to keep it to myself, but you can still ask anyone who's been close to me at any point, and they can probably give you the names of a few of these songs. The Deadbeat Club by the B-52s is an early example, although there were definitely a few gems from the 80s that I could add to the list. (This is actually something I intend to do for another blog post...a sort of a chronological journey through my life via music. Not that you really give a shit, but on the other hand you are reading my blog.)
    3) I'm being all ironical and whatnot. We're not Deadbeats. None of us.