And what better way to celebrate than with a picture of what I was up to thirty-three years ago, plus some links? (Hundreds, actually.) So out goes "When I'm Sixty-Four," and icumen in is "New Morning," a piece on Conor Oberst and his pop combo, Bright Eyes. There is also an online-only interview with Conor Oberst, where I ask the hard-hitting questions that need asking. Example: "Do you like Björk's new album?" Fearless, I tell you. (POSTSCRIPT: One of the songs mentioned in the piece, "When The President Talks To God," is available for free at iTunes right now.)
"We are totally going to crush Dance Dance Revolution. Emo Tap rules, OK!"
"I love your yellow tights."
"I love your top."
"Are there any boys in our band?"
"One ringy dingy. Two ringy dingy. Coco Puffs?"
"Yes, Rosie Nose."
"Are we edgy enough?"
"You don’t like my slides of buttfucking unicorns and cocksucking sailors?"
"Eh, it's so Todd Haynes. Let's get a French rapper to wear an Indian headdress and do human-beatbox-imaginary-tap-dancing."
"Yeah, and then he could do actual rapping in French."
(Why are all the guys saying "I love you" tonight? Oh, there goes a girl. "Rock out with your cock out?" "Just show us your balls?")
“You’re gonna have to come to my hotel room for that.”
(Why did I say that? That is not my program.)
(Where’s my screwdriver? Ah, here. We’re kinda killing it. OK, dude, you know the B-sides. I get it. I am sure you’re bumming out your date with the heckling. Oh, you’re on a bro date. Now I super get it. This is how bros love bros—teasing.)
“This next jump-off is called…"
Here is an interview with Jay-Z, a rapper who apparently owns some stuff.
Holy crap! Butch Morris is playing every day in February. You want to move to France, go right ahead.
Of The January 29, 2005 Issue of The Billboard Hot 100 Chart and Its Attendant Particularities:
Songs with "baby" in the title at positions 68, 69, 77 and 87.
#57: "Mondy Morning Church," Alan Jackson.
#58: "Sunday Morning," Maroon 5.
THEE WEIRD SHITE:
Shania Twain's "Party of Two" falls undeservedly from 72 to 81. This is perhaps because it can be consumed wither with "Billy Currington Or Mark McGrath," but not with honey mustard. In the new Greatest Hits comp, you get a promo insert for Febreze's totally softcore Scentstories™, a disc that "plays" five different scents. Take that, Duc Jean des Esseintes!
One-handed typing = shorter entries. Yay.
It is hella obstructed out there. We just came back from one trip. I think that was enough. Cars are, like, "Woah, feeble and hubristic treads."
So Björk married a cat. That's the deal with Björk. I wondered what the deal with Björk was. That's the deal with her. She married a cat.
I have "tennis elbow," which makes it sound like I was all "match, point, set," but I think the injury came from posting pictures of dirt and Xmas lights and typing out Slim Thug lyrics. I totally have to lay down my cocktail sword and embrace the sweet reggae silence. And, like, not type.
There are a couple of problems with that, but a sling ain't one. We got that on lock.
"The stupid people are back! Why are they spreading all that stupid salt? They're ruining all the fun for people."
Tuesday, the boiler burst and we lost heat all day. (Still have the oil smell, though.) Our radiators just went curiously silent. Please, Heatmiser, not again.
Two-inch magnetic recording tape is no longer being produced. This news came through while we were in the studio, printing to two-inch tape. The record's stayed on tape so far, but now that we're out of money, I assume we'll finish vocals on a hard drive somewhere. Nobody is particularly worried about this.
The new MU album, Out of Breach, makes me feel like I am a string of Christmas lights being lassoed around by Teri Hatcher in an ice rink patrolled by Black Panthers. I don't want the feeling to stop. The new Daft Punk album, Human After All, makes me feel like I am stuck in a [some kind of machine that does something over and over in a maddening way, even though that's generally our kind of thing] machine. I need the feeling to stop. The not-so-new but very wonderful Alter Ego album, Transphormer, makes me feel like I am listening to a new Daft Punk album. I cannot let this feeling to stop.
Is the Ying Yang Twins' "Wait" the first rap tune to be delivered entirely in a whisper?
I only have the clean version, so I can't tell if one of the lines is "beat the pussy up" or "beat the bitch up." (A pause to reflect that, in 2005, there can actually be a difference between the two.)
As was the case with "Jigga What, Jigga Who," I am assuming that the elision in the chorus ("wait till you see my _____") will work better than whatever it is covering. "Can I get a FUCK YOU?" is a low point in the Jay-Z hook book.
Here's one of his high points: "I'm not rhyming, I'm just thinking real loud*," from "Brooklyn (MB Mix)" on the new Mick Boogie tape, a rhyme apparently recycled from the "Storm" remix.
*Is this Jay's Bill Clinton via Borges re-un-post-apologia? "It depends what you mean by 'rhyme.' I am still not retired. I did not have a creative relationship with that microphone. That is an old rhyme and I am not officially rhyming, as the rhyme itself is about not rhyming. Catch me if you can, empiricists."
[Walking down a street in the West Village, brushing the snow off ledges and walls with our hands. We discuss the properties, and tenacity, of dirt. Shoes versus mittens, absorption.]
"This seems like a more privater space, I'd say. This doesn't sound like a street. It sounds like a town."
[Train ride, discussion of numbers. Inside, everyone warmer, the next activity can begin. Dad tries to move right arm, but once again it hurts too much, and he surrenders to a chair. Time passes.]
"Dad, somehow we've gone from making cupcakes to making a whole cake. I thought you'd like to know."
Do folks really not know the difference between a mashup and a blend? Do we have to have a picnic for that, too?
Yesterday, I suggested that maybe nostalgia was the critic's heroin. Before moving to some responses, I want to suggest that I built the question on shaky ground. Is any reference to the past nostalgia? Does carrying a set of beliefs for more than a few months constitute a nostalgic act? What is the difference between the qualities inherent in a thing and that thing? Is celebrating the elegance and polyrhythmic force of "Al-Naafiysh" the same thing as going around playing the song to death? And though he doesn't always recognize a Dreminem lyric, my friend Joshua often asks good questions, and here's one now: Are you thinking or remembering?
I don't think that maintaining a set of principles, experiencing the tug of preferences, or recognizing that your consciousness has been shaped by one song more than another is necesasarily nostalgia. Nostalgia—here begins the freestyling, writtens depleted—is probably less about you and your particular engagements than it is about you and your desire to think magically and make parts of the present go away.
I also imagined heroin was like any drug: good and bad. Helpful and not helpful, but in which ways? Michael posits the critic's cocaine as seeing the present as just an enhanced version of the preferred past, which would position cocaine as a sort of modified heroin. I think this means you would be letting your preferences blind you to historical breaks. (The Other Handist replies: Or, your historical perspective helps you to see cyclical repetition and formal tendencies.) Matos suggests that crit blow is "being the first on your block, e.g. "I discovered grime!" Mike suggests that cocaine is righteousness, which often feels icky the next day.
Mike's correct that righteousness is a cheap high, but is there anything good about it? Wouldn't the proper drug analog both enhance a part of critical thinking while dulling another? Is it possible that, like Stay High 149, the critic should stay high? Is critical thinking like sit-ups, or like operating the Jaws of Life, i.e. something everything should do or something very few should do?
I look forward to an expanding pharmacology.
1. How great a piece of music is "Waiting Room"? How much information can Ian MacKaye put into that modified Hetfield muted rhythm part? How dope is each break?
2. How much do I wish Beyoncé was still writing lyrics like "Independent Women"?
To deal with one of these questions, I am listening to 5-7-99 Kilkenney, Ireland: Friary Hall, one of the twenty CDs available from Fugazi Live Series. Garden variety flashbacks and mental housework: Did we seee them at The Marquee or The Academy? Neither?
Rhythm, foreground, independent parts, dub, bits of paper.
Interrogating Destiny's soldiers will take more time.
Last night's book party for Martha Cooper's Hip Hop Files was another memory wrench. I walk in and "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight" is playing. There's a big photo of a full-car Dondi piece in front of me. I see Teddy Ted and Special K of the Awesome Two walking around in those leather jackets with other bits of leather stitched to them. (Not those quilted shits, or the baseball logo freakout ones—just like Sesame Street-type letters all over the place.) My immediate sensation is not "Oh, when I was young and vibrant," but "Oh, when the living room rug was blue," a stabilizing feeling that graffiti and b-boy electro is my safe zone. I feel more juiced and geeked to be alive RIGHT NOW, but I need these sounds and images to return me to some sort of tape counter zero.
My friend Molly and I try to get drinks but, as a recipient of Bacardi's largesse, the party is serving only drinks using Bacardi Vanilla, which is English for "ree-volting." We nurse the cough syrup in urine sample cups and try to spot famous b-boys. There's Lee Quinones with his kid, Crazy Legs with another kid, wait, there's Henry Chalfant. "Looking For The Perfect Beat" starts playing. I feel warm and calm.
I see two kids, maybe five or six years old, toying with uprock moves.
"Are they gonna battle?"
Molly says "Yes, look."
They've started routines. The first kid does the heart-beating-in-shirt move, the dead man, the pendulum arm. The second kid has faster leg moves on the floor. Neither can really feel the beat yet—that will come in a few years. Then a girl, maybe 17 or 18, crosses her arms in battle stance. The first kid finishes another routine and looks at her with a "What?" response. She she starts in, definitely old enough to hear the beat. Moves fluid and sweet, she ends with a backflip, lands in b-boy stance. They're arguing, talking, flirting, taking care of each other. If you added up all three of them, they'd still be younger than me.
"This is just better, it's just better," I start babbling.
Nostalgia is the critic's heroin: enables you to focus on your core interests, but blocks out the world. So what is the critic's cocaine?
Yes, the 2004 list is still fluxing. I can't speak for anyone else who gets paid to listen, but I can't fit one year into one year. Just getting to Arcade Fire and the full-length Estelle now. And everything below 20 is just a jumble—don't email me some angry kack about Masta Killa or Kylie being better than Christina Milian. It's all love.
Oh, waah waah waah. You just want videos of women who act like chickens and make fun of millionaires. Fine.
When I was an intern at Blast First in 1988, I had a lot of fun (making bad cappuccino, getting an advance cassette of Daydream Nation, meeting Big Stick, taking home the 12-inch of "Macbeth") while being mercilessly exploited (assembling the Lydia Lunch press kit one more time, making bad cappuccino). I sure hope the practice continues.
If early '05 R&B is any indication, we'll need to squeeze another year out of that Ciara record: Omarion is just another way to spell "No, Mario"; and Brooke Valentine should be checking out Hollywood Squares quick fast, BloodShy or no BloodShy.
The name of this blog made me really happy for about twenty minutes. (Haven't read the site.)
I am pretty happy with how my slice of this came out, but I must point out one (only one?) massive error. The sentence that begins "Most of the important figures in pop criticism.." should read "Some of the most important figures in pop criticism..." Read as published, the implication is that there is a total of five pop critics. That is not the case, nor are the writers listed thee most important critics in the existing field, swell as they are. Further complicating a pretty lousy sentence, there are lots of good critics who wouldn't fit in that list only because they are secretly musicians. This is an unfair and useless distinction, as the reader doesn't learn what the writer, guarding "the truth," is taking into account but not revealing. The editor, Daniel Levy, was thorough and patient with my 11th-hour ass: This mistake is all mine. Driving for the basket, many are fouled.
Monday night, while reading Darcey Steinke's new novel, Milk, I missed the Canal Street stop and rode the Q all the way to Dekalb Avenue. I have not done that in so long that I can't tell you exactly when it was I last did something like that.
In other continuous reading problems, I have no desire to stop, and as a result have not stopped, reading Jeff Chang's monstrous new book. Here is a less empirical and more diagnostic take on the book and its possible effect on the hip-hop library:
The elephant, meaning no harm, enters the playground. The woodchuck is happy to see the elephant. As he is nearsighted, he has never been exactly sure how big the elephant is. He seats himself on one end of a seesaw, and invites the elephant to play with him. The elephant, happy to see the woodchuck, accepts the invitation and sits on the other end of seesaw. This makes the woodchuck—who is surprised—fly through the air and land on a remainders table, where he eventually learns to enjoy the quiet life. The elephant, surprised and a little sad, waits for someone else to come and play with him.
When I was about 12, I saw the poster you see pictured above and, soon afterwards, the play it advertised. Both got stuck in my head, and a band was saddled with that memory for thirteen years. (John Peel was one of the few radio DJs who could pronounce the name correctly. Not a great sign.) Another important, non-band-name-generating theatrical experience came a few years later, when I played a fireman in Max Frisch's The Firebugs, a play we need much more now than we did in 1982 (and we needed it then).
That same year, when I was 15, I read a review of the Bad Brains by Gregory "Ironman" Tate (scroll down until you see red) in the Village Voice. (Just heard about the whole blog thing, what? Free content, what? You telling those bloggers before you excerpt and link to them, what?) This was the moment when I discovered that music criticism could make me feel almost the same way I did when I was listening to music. (Tate's 1982 piece, "Hardcore of Darkness," is available in Flyboy In the Buttermilk.)
I think it is possible we need Ironman right now even more than we did in 1982.
If you think you couldn't possibly be a worse parent, go see A Number at New York Theater Workshop. You may have ignored perfectly reasonable questions, been short of temper when it was your job to be patient, and valorized your emotions over those of your dependent and less-developed child, but you didn't stow the kid under the bed and clone him when he started bugging you. Or did you?
Why hasn't anyone noticed that turd hair salesman Nasir Jones, in a fit of "my brane will never win!" jealousy, jacked the album-by-album narrative of "The Takeover" for "(U.B.R.) Unauthorized Biography of Rakim." Dude—knowledge me this: even at his most boring, Rakim was a party rapper. You, my myopic mellow, are just drull.
I tried to link to Rhythm Division in Bow so I could say something obvious like "Go buy Kano white labels," but every time I enter the URL, my fancy pants proprietary Mac browser throws a crispy and flatlines. Silly war of the platforms! So '00!
Morton Feldman's Triadic Memories: that's that shit.
If you are only starting to learn the English language's idiosyncratic rules, you might well think "Café Wow" is pronounced "Café Woah."