One of several emails like this received today:
"The tsunami in southern Asia and Africa may be the worst natural disaster in recorded history. More than 116,000 lives were wiped out within hours.
Americans are generous and ready to step forward, but the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration have made a weak initial contribution to the effort—first offering $15 million and then $35 million when they came under pressure. Clearly, we can do more.
To put it in perspective, the US is spending $35 million in Iraq every 7 hours. The Bush administration is about to ask for another $80 billion to cover the next installment of the occupation.
Let Congress and the President know that Americans are supporting strong leadership on this relief effort here.
And remember—togetherness eases suffering.
Here's hoping that whatever you were hoping would happen has happened. If perhaps you did not get these—
which are shit-hot right now—I am hoping you got one of these,
as they are very popular with the under-70 crowd. If you still feel like Santa or God or Banana Republic let you down, here is a gift, and this gift is about another gift, the best of those gifts that never stop giving. Books 1, Money 0.
"I am not bragging, but some people say my hair is like an umbrella, because of all the puffy stuff."
From the upcoming pamphlet 2004 and What You Can Do About It In Your Community:
Unlike Cam'ron, who admits his inner rapist—nay, who cross-promotes his inner rapist with Subway—Nas is a Raelian sex cult dude who makes you tithe your paycheck to his non-profit foundation while buttfucking you with an Oxo scrub brush and reading aloud from his Kinko-style autobiography.
Chris Ryan doesn't know it yet, but he and I have started a new blog called Understanding Through Rap, which will be about improving the rate, and quality, of understanding each other by listening to rap. Together. The hatred must stop or, if it doesn't want to, it can go on and on indefinitely. That's OK. Talking about it together will give us the feeling of sweet reggae unity. Another part of our Blog is that it will be the first pay-per-view blog. I am trying to get the night guard at Citibank to show me how to do Paypal but he keeps telling me to "chill" and "get busy somewhere else," which is a complete contradiction. I think his is a fake guard, so if you see him, call him a "fuard."
The thing about Bobby Bare, Jr. I find most fresh is that even if Paul Westerberger had not jumped the shark and gone all Shrimper on that that ass, he still would have been more maudlin than Bare, who is channeling "Unsatisfied" through the Townie Van Zandt plug-in and holding together one of those falling apart bands white people like me enjoy so perennially.
2005: The Year of Softness. Catch it!
And while I am head-spinning about the mega-not-reading-the-words-ness, let me remind you. None of this is about, say, whether Green Day is really punk or not. These are examples, just like John Kerry is an example of a Democrat. You do not need to like him or hate him for him to be a useful-but-not-absolutely-necessary frickin' tool in striving to understand what has become of the Democratic party, a project the goal of which would be not to express your opinion about John Kerry but to think about the present and future of Democracy in the United States (that sound you hear is God laughing...).
Listen: I am striving to make a little set of ideas that hang together about the nature of vital musical genres. I am doing this because I want to participate in a conversation about a topic that sometimes makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but is important to people I really care about and also to me.
I would like to have a useful thought in relation to many but especially the revered J-Shep's recent and real furies about misogyny in hip-hop. I said this at the beginning.
If you don't want to engage with stuff other people think, but are looking to talk about the bands you identify with because you can then always find yourself in the conversation, check this out!
Okay, here's the last proposition, which I hope will bring some relief to Franklin:
Given that social content is always turning into sonic formalism, a genre—to stay vital—needs to find cunning ways to maintain a wealth of social content.
There are basically three ways to do this.
a) Have incredibly sturdy social content, so solid that it erodes into sonic formalism very very slowly.
b) Bring in new social content...without becoming a new genre in the process.
c) Find ways to convert sonic form back into social content.
Okay, those are the Five. I'm going to come back soon to ponder some implications of the five taken all together in relation to hip-hop, and then I'll begone, because I can feel The Master Of This House stirring with the awakenings of an early spring, and I am happy to get the frick out of his way. But here are some things I'll be wondering about:
Is the use of terms like "bitch" and "ho," and even dalliances with woman-beating, part of rap 2005's social content, or sonic form? Or sometimes one, sometimes the other?
Is the musical inventiveness and pleasure of, say, Timbaland and the Neptunes a sonic formalism or a social content for hip-hop?
Is it useful to think about what's happening in these terms?
What is hip-hop's social content, anyway?
If a genre has the most loaded social content, is it inevitable that it will draw the most intense and compelling sonic form-makers (we call it maize. we call them producers)? And vice versa?
I still like Red Vines; ship'em if you got'em. It's Christmas time in Hollis, Queens...
Deciding whether to keep a CD or rip it to MP3 and sell it is a little like deciding whether, given the option of having sex with a certain person any time you wanted to, you would continue to have an emotional relationship with that person.
I didn't think this was going to be confusing, but since it apparently is, here is a clarification: I am not Felizitas. I am not Adorno's wife, nor am I Joshua Clover, who is posting here under the name Felizitas. As you have seen, the frequency of my own posts has been diminishing. A week ago or so, Joshua asked if he could guest blog, and I said yes. All of your kudos and bones of contention should be directed at Jane.
Have a nice weekend.
Greetings, it's Felizitas, back from the oral surgeon. Don't call it a comeback, it's just two gotdamned extractions and a world of pain, spelled v-i-c-o-d-i-n (though that is not as legend would have it a contraction of "Viking" and "Odin," even if that would seem quite logical. Boy am I happy about this Goo Goo Dolls cover of "Give A Little Bit," and now want The Verve Pipe to reappear with "The Logical Song."
By the way, wasn't "Give A Little Bit" the fugly beige G*P sweater theme song a couple years ago, with Liz Phair amongst others doing the damn thing? Do jackass literock songs have to pass through an Express Advertising Phase before they can be resurrected as Sop 40 subsmashes? Is Baba O'Reilly ripe for a remake now that it's the theme of CSI: Sinise? Well, Dave Pirner, what are you waiting for? A girl can wonder...)
Anyway, back to the propositions, getting odder as they go:
It can be difficult to distinguish social content from sonic form.
Here's one little example. It would seem that "IDM" (that would be "Intelligent Dance Music," if you've been busy dealing with something else for a little) is all sonic formalism at its most distillated edge.
Ahh, but something rankles. Something almost always rankles with genre names, and in this case it's the case of the excluded, as in, well, what's the unintelligent dance music that allows this name to have meaning? Now it would be very lovely to pretend the answer was "techno," or "disco," but I'm having trouble really buying it. This could be because I am sort of old, and remember the material roots of techno: hucking around with turntable and sampler. I remember that early turntable/sampler music—that would be rap—was not only denounced ad endlessleam as unintelligent, but was in fact explained at some length to not be music at all. That was the main thing that high-SAT-scoring white-ass gatekeepers said back in the day (and if you would leave your coast for a fortnight you would discover that lots of people still manage to think this).
And then one day, fucking around with a turntable and a sampler turned out to be music, and even art. That was just about, uh, er, exactly when the youthier high-SAT-scoring white-ass gatekeepers started recording and performing with said instruments-now-though-they-weren't-instruments-last-year. The addition of "intelligent" and "music" to the category of original music composed and performed largely through cut'n'paste reproduction strategies is the history of the bleaching and bourgeosification of the tradition, and meanwhile I am still waiting for something as intelligent or musical from Sean O'Hagan (or Squarepusher or Shadow) as "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel." As for "dance," don't make me laff, it hurts my jaw.
There is a social content to IDM—produced entirely by the drama between sonic composition/production technics and the name itself!—and that social content is racism, and particularly the racism that takes the form of the most traditional, desecratory narrative of denial, recuperation, piracy and despoilage one could imagine, one that's been played out not just in artistic genre but in, hmm, the history of colonization?
Please recall I am simply developing a theory of genre, and how one might think about what's content and what's form, not trying to disrespect the undoubtledly substantial artistic contributions of the Aphex Twin.
"OMG, that beat is sick! It's incurable!"
Holy pepper flakes on a pleather jock strap—it is hella assedly cold.
I keep dropping PSAs and cock-blocking the pedantix, but this craigslist jr stuff is v. efficient in the dance. I have a brain-squeezingly bad email problem. Before I pay someone to come over and fleece me for a dose of nerd juice, I thought I'd prevail once more upon the generous and faithful readership. (Thank you for all the doctor tips. And I'm fine—this is a maintenance issue.) I know I owe everybody. I will try to make good on my debts.
Here's the problem. When I try to send an email, I get this message:
A message in your Outbox could not be sent using account "XXX." The server did not recognize the recipients or the server refuses to allow you to send mail.
I've done some obvious stuff. I called Microsoft support for Entourage X, and I called Roadrunner. They both think everything's fine, though I don't entirely trust Roadrunner. My account works fine through Roadrunner's webmail page, and the Entourage works fine if I go out of the house and use an off-site wireless spot. All the SMTP settings and passwords are fine. I've even recreated the accounts several times.
Is this a port issue? Some kind of hardware thing? There were no changes made between Entourage working and not working. I am running Mac OS 10.3.6 on a Powerbook G4. Using a router to send cable signal to two computers. Hooked up to an Airport Base Station.
If anyone has a doctor (general practitioner) downtown—or anywhere—they trust and like, let me know.
Being the third of five propositions on genre, humbly submitted by one of the many fine guests to blog on the site of the future king of all the known world, Coronado Anaxamander Paulo Freire-Jones, or just plain "CoJones" to his Cointreau drinking buddies.
Over time, social content becomes sonic form.
And at some point, so much social content has escaped into sonic form that the genre is dead. Or at least, for some bands, the social conteent is converted to sonic form, and they no longer have a legit claim on the genre.
So, to stick with punk rock as an example genre since white dudes are so good at talking about it almost all the time and thrice on (Taking Back) Sundays, Green Day has a graciously refined sense of punk rock sonics; you can tell because they sound like Buzzcocks, or else like Bram Tchaikovsky after huffing a third rail of Jolt Cola. I ran into Billy Joe in a wrecka stow once and asked him what he thought of Bram Tchaikovsky, and it took him about three minutes to successfully enunciate the name. This was before he became a dad.
But "unlike" Good Charlotte, Green Day endeavors to say the things one is supposed to say in a punk rock world view, or at least a-British-punk-rock-1976-1981-
that-mattered-according-to-major-cultural-sources-world-view. They probably believe them.
Still, if the social content of punk rock is, in part, a big fucking NO to the shimmery tungsten cage of boredom that appears around us viz corporate transmutation of every border of daily life into some kind of slick product we are free to buy or not to buy, that is the (only) question, then Green Day can't really qualify, now can they? 'Cause try as I may, I just can't find that NO anywhere in what they do, in any serious way. Them things they say are now just part of the stylistic performance of the genre, and tough they seem not to be the astounding creeps one might find in Good Charlotte, they nonetheless share with that band an incapacity to engage at once the two elements that must be present and in drama with each other in a vital genre. Green Day, I am saying: not punk rock, just formalists.
But they're kind of good. I am not saying Green Day sucks. I like them. I like that song "Warning" a lot. Historically apt punk formalism can be a blast, and historically apt disco formalist is good for dancing, and so on. This is not about what band does and doesn't suck. Nor is about calling out poseurs. (By the way, in the case of music, "poseur" is a contraction of "all sonic formalism, no social content.")
It's about genre.
And the thing is, if you reverse Prop 3 -- I mean, if you assume it to be the case and then swim backward through time -- you come to realize that a lot of the stuff that you might accept as sonic formalism in a genre started as social content. My elders tell me that the guitar sounds on Bollocks were supposed to be hard to listen to, like Metal Machine Music, were supposed to make you take sides, were supposed to set up inclusionary/exclusionary boundaries between the lovers and the haters of the slick, easily consumable item -- it was a clique track, in a manner of speaking. By the time of Green Day, that sound is a slick, easily consumable item, and so the social content of the sound is lost, or rather, falls into sonic formalism. Like I said.
What does this have to do with rap, race, and misogyny? Everything. But let me figure out how to put into blog-words the five propsositions first. Thanks for your patience,
Being the second of five propositions on genre as confabbed by Felizitas with the assistance of the many (or is that "too menny"?)
Vital genres move forward amidst a perpetual drama between sonic form and social content.
[By the way, "social content" doesn't just mean "what the lyrics say." But more on that later, wait for Prop 3 already!]
So, like, you don't get to be, say, punk rock just by the way you sound. But you don't get to be punk rock just by being all smash-the-state or whatever. I understand your temptation, but The Coup n'is no way punk rock. That's not to say they aren't something at least as rad and yeay!; it's only provincial dimwits who think punk owns (or even describes) the category of social rage + systemic critique.
Some thoughtful and enlightened person is bound to call Good Charlotte "punk rock" and this has something to do with, whatevs, guitar sound and chord changes and melodic simplicities and a particular style of expressive singing. But that alone won't do it, because there's no whatchucall dialectical drama, just style, just sonic formalism. This delightful band* totally fails to have any social content that punk rock would recognize. To be a vital part of the genre, the drama of the two parts pushing against each other has to be in play.
* Hey: how come no one points out that "Good" Charlotte's first and biggest hit is, in the words of Axl Rose, "straight up racist"? Because I listend to the lyrics? And, like, it's supposed to be an ironical and bothered-up dig at people who get rich and famous who complaain about the strictures of fame and are fuckheads who don't deserve the time or attention that our lame celebrity culture lavishes uponst them. And yet --- gee, how come the only examples given are, uh, two African-American men (that would be O.J. Simpson and Marion Barry). Really? Those are the dudes scamming a gullible and poor populace and winge-ing about it? Those are the ones who stand in for the whole category "rich and famous," and who deserve to be robbed? Dude, what is so so wrong with this picture? As it happens, I've seen the actual TV show, and it did not exactly feature black men every week, unless you count Adnan Kashoggi.
I wonder if the fact that no one saw fit to mention this in reviews is simply an indication that whatever genre that is that Good Charlotte inhabits, is pretty much vitality-free.
Being the first of five propositions on genre by your semi-official guest, Felizitas.
As long as it can get one person to say "Fuck rap, you can have it back" a genre is still vital.
We here at Dauphin Alex dot com note also how passing strange it would be to say "Fuck pop, you can have it back," or even for some of us to say "Fuck indie rock, you can have it back." Which leads us to a lesser proposition, or Sub Prop: Genres where ownership seems still up for debate, rather than invisible or totally visibly locked in place -- also still vital, double vital, double dutch diva vital.
More on the funkentelechy as it develops; stay tuned!
My name is Felizitas, and I like Red Vines! Also, I am helping Alexander the Boy Prince with his run-down blogged-out feeling. So until he's blogged-in again, or I get das boot, I will be guest hoisting up in this soi doisant spot.
And of course I feel all hyped up (like Latifah. Remember when she was hyped up? Remember Barney Miller? You know I got rhymes like Abe Vigoda) to climb onto this extreme bullet train of debating on rap misogyny. You can find an all-important broadside from The Poodle Among Cowboys here.
So that's all very Phaze One, calling bullshit when it wants calling. If it has a question, it goes "What the fuck is wrong with that punk Calvin?" But as we all know and some knucklehead is bound to say anyway, just going wack-a-mole on a Snopes Dog n'is hardly a thing, since some other woman-hater will pop forth from some other hole exactly 7 seconds later.
That leads to Phaze Deuce, big pic action—not just placing upon blast "misogyny in hip-hop," which remains a showy subdivision, but dropping bombs on the whole city. That's why the mighty Poodle directed us, through Lynne's site, to an essay by bell hooks tossing some major context. The question that shines behind Phaze Deuce is, "Why we, out here in culture at large, pay Calvin et cet to be that kinda punk, anyway?"
Both Poodle and hooks (that's my new pilot for a mid-season replacement and ABC, heard?) are super-ultra-on-it, and I would be seriously false if I claimed I could shine Phazes One or Deuce even at all. They are tight. But I wondered if I could speak for a minute on the next Phaze, trying to reconcile what seems all-but-irreconcilable (check it: I learned those words from Jon Caramanica, peace to Harvard class of whatever year that was!)
If hip-hop is so down with the sickness, just so much mud flung from the wheel of white capitalist patriarchy, why does it just happen to be the place that some of the most geniused-up music freaks in the world wreck their craft? My question that kicks off Phaze Trace is, basically, "Okay, so why does the funkentelechy reside in hip-hop even now?" And if you think that's a made-up word, a fauxnoun, well it is! But don't call me on it; dial George Clinton. "Funk" is pretty self-evident, like a truth we hold to be; check entelechy. It's where the vital force is at, like Paris for theory 1955-1975, like post-War New York for painting and sculpture and poetry, like Seattle rock city 1989. Those places just had the vital spirit, it was all happening, right? And now hip-hop, if that's a place, has it, and has had it on lock for a severe while now. So this is shit that seems to me like it has to be confronted, and I am just the person not to do it! Sacha Jenkins is probably the person to do it, or Jeff Chang, or Elizabeth Mendez Berry.
So instead I mean to throw up "The Five Propositions," some thoughts on musical genre: one a day, I hope, for the next five days, taking as a starting point the Boy Prince's proclamation, "Fuck rap, you can have it back." There will also be photos, yeah, more damn photos. Clap back, Feliz.
"Re: Barry & The Dope: the substance in question is called 'the clear.' which, if you want to go there, seems a little fishy. as such, it seems that neither sheff nor bonds wanted to go there, so until it's proved otherwise, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. but still, guys, come on, it was called 'the clear.' as in, the coast is...
yeah, it's all rather bizarre in a way. I'm ambivalent to the larger steroid issue - the game is wacky enough these days with coors field, low mounds, etc - do steroids explain the overall boost in power numbers? bonds' hand-eye precision? how we'll probably never slash ERAs to 1968-like levels? no. to me, those who dope pay the price - if not immediately, somewhere down the line. history remembers the abusers as solitary pings - caminiti, brady anderson, canseco, etc. that's the small faith I place in things.
that said, this whole affair will only trouble me if it involves a wider swath of players. I'm willing to accept that a few enterprising sluggers put the blinders on and rubbed some not-yet-illegal cream - when mcgwire came clean on the creatine (that rhymes, by the way) I was like, Okay whatever, it's all just entertainment and artifice. if, though, it comes out that the steroid use is rampant - that all statistics, not just a few, are tainted - then that might F me up in a major way.
one last bonds thought: unless dude is cursed with Everest-sized hubris, he *probably* has not been doping the last couple of years. perhaps he did once, unknowingly, in the dark, alone, in a fit of absolute desperation, juice up. but I doubt he did last year or the year before, as that kind of flaunting of scrutiny would be awesome. and not in a good way. so hopefully this will all be resolved somehow and you won't have to turn to the archival photos of mustached eastern bloc women as explanatory tools for your kids."