What a delightfully snarky little evisceration that review is. I tip my hat to A. O. Scott. Mind you, I haven’t seen the film in question (I gave up on film a couple of years ago, for the most part), but having seen the ads I’d guess that his/her characterization of it isn’t too far off.
Now I want you to imagine that it was an album review. Can you think of a major publication – newspaper or magazine – that would run something like that? Because I can’t. For one thing, none of them would want to go that far out on a limb and risk pissing off an advertiser. Although come to think of it, movie studios spend a hell of a lot more money advertising in the Times than any record label would even consider. I don’t imagine those full-page ads they clog the Arts & Entertainment section with come cheap. But I don’t think you’re gonna be seeing any of the Times’ music writers taking apart an album with that same sort of gleeful reckless abandon anytime soon. Why is that?
And if some mag or paper actually did run such a review, people would be running to their keyboards in such a rush to be the first to call it “elitist” that our nation’s emergency rooms would be full of broken-fingered hipsters faster than you can say “Clap Your Hands Say Yeah”.
How did things reach such a pitiful stage? Why are music critics so severely handcuffed while their film-watching counterparts run free? There comes a time when, to do one’s job as a critic, it becomes necessary to point out that not only does the emperor not have any clothes but he also cuts his hair funny and has an embarrassing tattoo on his ass, as well.
Bullshit dogma doesn’t allow that anymore. All music is now of equal worth, and music critics have been reduced to auxiliaries of the marketing departments of the various record labels, cheerleaders for whatever’s on offer this week. Think about it – when was the last time you read a review in a music publication that wasn’t positively glowing, to one degree or another?
A dedicated reader can find a critic whose taste closely matches their own and go from there, but the casual reader is gonna get duped a few times into buying lackluster CDs that have been hyped beyond their worth. At that point, “criticism” loses whatever worth it may once have had. I'm all for remaining as positive as possible in a review, but sometimes you just have to fling a little shit in order to get your point across.
As for me… we’ve got some funky something or other in one of the ducts here at work. The one directly over my head, as a matter of fact. It’s been spewing toxic mystery spores all over me for months, and it’s now catching up with me: within fifteen to twenty minutes of sitting down at my desk, I experience headache, slight nausea and a low-grade fever.
I mentioned this to the woman who’s here during the day, and she said she gets the same thing, to a lesser degree. In the movies, this is where the mad scientist shouts "Eureka" or something. Off we went to see the boss, who (to her credit) took immediate action. The duct is now shut down, and will be cleaned (or at least examined) tomorrow afternoon.
Within 20 minutes of the heater being shut off, my symptoms subsided somewhat. Magic! I’m still not 100%, but at least I don’t feel like yakking into the trashcan anymore. So that’s a step in the right direction.
Hey, y'all need to run over to This Ain't The Summer Of Love and check out the first post from one of my collaborators. I'm really happy to have Caryn on board. I think she's a fantastic writer and, on this particular occasion, she nails to the board a certain worm who's been sliming the intarweb... just go read the essay.
Just for the record: I've never been to New York and have been a Patti Smith fan from day one.
This just left me speechless. Not the performance itself; it’s just Al lip-synching on Soul Train. No, what floored me was Al’s rather… striking ensemble. It takes a brave man to go on national (if syndicated) TV wearing pirate boots, black patent-leather hot pants, a lavender halter top, a big-ass gold chain the likes of which would’ve crushed the mighty Mr. T, and the baddest fuzzy red pimp brim this side of the afterlife. That, my friends, is not the outfit of a shy or retiring man. Few and far between are those who would think of putting it together, much less making it work. It is inexplicable and uncompromising. If Al is indeed tired of being alone, perhaps it is because others fear his sartorial savoir faire.
Just a note to say HI and I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN YOU… sorry, no need to shout, I guess. I haven’t forgotten you, it’s just been way hectic at work lately, and I’ve been grinding out something for TATSOL during the few unencumbered moments I have left to me. (That’s This Ain’t The Summer Of Love, for those of you who don’t already know.) It might even be done before the night is over.
Also really digging The Heartaches' fine fine blend of full-on punk and straight-ahead rock & roll. Definitely worth checking out if you like it loud & snotty (and if you don’t, you’re in the wrong place).
Also also, I direct your attention toward Jingle All The Way, a brief meditation on the commercial aspect of music these days. That’s commercial, as in advertising: “My real worry is this: What does it say about our culture when commercials have better music than our major mass-media sources? When it's nearly the only way for great new, original rock and pop to reach your normal, non-Web dwelling person? When advertising executives clearly have keener ears than top-flight record executives?” Good questions all. I go back & forth on the use of actual songs (versus specifically written jingles) in advertising. I want the bands I like to be able to eat, of course, but I have to admit that hearing an otherwise beloved tune in an ad often kills it for me. It’s not a position young bands should be put in, but it does seem to be the way of the world right now. (Link via.)
A fair amount of the snow that fell Wednesday night is still hanging around. There’s been some melt-off, but not all that much – mostly because the temperature didn’t get much above 30 degrees all weekend. Plus, it snowed again on Saturday. A little. Just by way of freshening things up, you might say. And it’s supposed to snow yet again tonight, up to 2-3 inches in places. Of course the rain is supposed to kick in around 10 tomorrow morning, so that’ll be the end of that.
It’s actually been kinda fun, having the snow stick for so long. We have icicles hanging of the back deck! OK, if you live someplace where it snows all winter every winter that’s not gonna mean much to you, but for me it was a trip straight back to my childhood. My grandparents had a cabin up at Lake Tahoe, where we would often go for Xmas vacation. Lotsa fun. Seeing the powdery snow falling off the tree braches had the same sort of effect. (Usually the snow we get here is really wet; this batch was dry as a bone. As Science Girl noticed, when it melts whatever was underneath it doesn’t get wet.)
Ahead: more boring talk about the weather. Feel free to skip over this, or surf on someplace else if you must. My life is dull and my brain is engaged elsewhere for the moment, so it’s weather or nothing. Your choice.
It started snowing yesterday around 3:30 PM and continued, off and on, for most of the night. Tiny, dry little snow flakelets that barely accumulated on greenery and cars. Mostly it just blew around a lot and made the streets wet. It was fun to watch it falling, but somewhat disappointing in its ephemeral nature.
Given that black ice is a problem around here sometimes, I took the major arterial route home, as opposed to the infinitely more interesting (but potentially treacherous, under the circumstances) route I usually take. The snow was still trying to do something and failing miserably. Given the huge build-up in the media that accompanies winter storms (and if you haven’t seen it first hand, you wouldn’t believe it if I tried to describe it to you – it approaches toddler anticipation of Xmas in its intensity), I was prepared to just write the whole thing off as just another news-frenzy dry hump.
Just in case things got interesting overnight, though, I parked the car one street down the hill, where it’s relatively flat. It’s just off the main thoroughfare – the one that always gets sanded. As I walked up the hill toward home, I could see a light dusting of snow covering just about everything but the streets and sidewalks. Oh well.
Alrighty, kids, listen up: the seventies blog I threatened you with has come to pass. Please give a warm welcome to the newest addition to the Big Green House family of questionable endeavors, This Ain’t the Summer of Love.
And yes, I am as serious as a heart attack about wanting collaborators. Don’t be shy.