Choose a major artist. Then choose a cover of that artist's work. The cover must either Kill (be killingly good, perhaps good enough to stand alongside the original) or Own (redefine the song and steal it from the author). For example:
The Feelies, "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey."
Gilberto Gil, "When I'm Sixty-Four"
Jimi Hendrix, "All Along The Watchtower."
Joe Cocker, "With A Little Help From My Friends."
No hatch, no chess-playing computer walkie-talkie, no submarine—John, what's really good?
"How many songs has he done about me?" Mathers asked Miss Jones. "How many interviews has he done where he's talking about freedom of speech? I do a couple of interviews and he's crying like a little girl."
I am puzzled by Kevin Guilfoile's response to my judgment. "The perception that genre fiction is never more than a guilty pleasure" is not a perception I perceived, nor is there an implication in my comments that I am slumming by reading a genre novel, a type of book to which I do not "condescend." (The only book endorsed in my review is "Layer Cake," a genre novel if ever there was one.) Because I don't believe in the concept of "guilty pleasure"—it is one of criticism's many Easter Bunnies—that phrase does not appear in anything I've written, nor does the suggestion that there is such a pleasure.
Guilfoile uses me as straw for his campfire, even though he eventually acknowledges that I chose Atkinson over Pynchon, and that I don't usually look down on genre-ness (eew word, my bad). This is true—I don't do it at home, and I don't do it as a guest. Acknowledging a genre, or genre-ness, is not a beard for dismissing a work in that genre. "Predictability" is the harshest potential crime I accuse crime novels of, though I use the term in a purely descriptive manner. You'll find no evidence that I think predictability is always a crime.
I focused on genre because my reaction to "One Good Turn" hinges on how Atkinson adjusts to the demands of the policier, demands which definitely exist. It's ridiculous to think there aren't "baseline quality requirements” for genres. It would be ridiculous to assert that a Nashville pop single can accommodate a two-minute instrumental breakdown. It would be ridiculous to assert that a crime novel can omit a) a murder; and b) an investigation of that murder. Many, many people buy crime novels precisely because they expect the pleasing dialectics guaranteed by the genre—sneaky manipulator vs. cagey old police chief, sympathetic criminal vs. her own base instincts—and will read many different authors within that genre as long as the genre agrees to pony up and act like itself. Atkinson, unless she is heavily medicated, knows this.
It is also a painful stretch to assert that every novel is a genre novel. Genre is both an aesthetic and commercial category—see below—and though I did not enjoy the three fucking hundred pages I read of Thomas Pynchon's "Against The Day," I would be hard-pressed to say what genre those pages belong to. (Historical fictions buffs might be real bummed to see the Pynchon arrive in the mail along with the new Elizabeth Chadwick.) Take "The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon." It is, roughly, a memoir, but people don't often say to booksellers, "Where do you keep the diary-like collections of unrelated thoughts by women who lived in 11th century Japan?" There is, however, a "Crime" section in many bookstores. "The Pillow Book," like "Against The Day," is a non-genre book, and nobody in my house says that's better or worse. Two of my favorite pop genres—commercial country and hip-hop—are deeply bound by genre rules, especially now.
If I have a snooty aversion to genre or predictability or whatever it is I am apparently snooting over, why did I say that "I would rather have read either a more obvious but emotionally resonant novel" than the book Atkinson wrote? Especially when I praised several aspects of her writing? Even though I am apparently condescending to her? (Punctuation?) Wouldn't an encouraging nod to the "obvious" indicate that, at the very least, I am comfortable with predictability and do not see it as antithetical to Good Things; and, at best, I might find the constraints of genre partially responsible for the Good Things in Good Art? (For a superbly thorough discussion of these themes, see Robert Christgau's essay on Martin Phillipps and Robert Cray.)
(I know little about krumping but I don't think krumpers krump to Nas. I didn't see "Rize," though. Maybe Nas is a hero to all krumpers.)
If there is condescension on offer here in the Tournament of Books, I think it might be found in a paragraph of Guilfoile's that begins: "I much admire Sasha’s music criticism, but..." Music, sure, but books now, rabbit? CDs are short, and critics get to talk to friends and drink at shows. That's not like having to read a whole book—you've got my admission that, at least once, this was too much to expect of me—and understand abstractions like "genre" that enrich critique.
Admitting to not finishing the Pynchon, a fact that would have been easily hidden, struck me as necessary, but admitting this has made someone want to "bonk" me with "Against The Day," ostensibly for the critical irresponsibility my bailing represents. Fair enough. But Pinkyhauser, M.D. will have to haul that doorstop around and bonk Lipsyte, too, as he didn't finish "Against The Day," either, and waved the book on. I also sense an implicit admission here that Andrew Womack did not finish the Pynchon. Pinky is going to get a serious tricep workout this week.
Gorgeous two part DJ set by WASTED PORTLAND YOUTH CRU up at wasted Philip Sherburne's site. Long stretches of the set are entirely free of beats. And you thought techno children were slaves to the rhythm.
Not all kind. This kind, absolutely. (Link found at Tomorrowland, where today's post mentions a record by Chandra Oppenheim, who I went to school with. I never bought the record, and that seems dumb. The very enjoyable rarities offered within this post either appeared first on Waxidermy, or are co-hosted by same. I can't tell.)
In my house, the only posted rule is this: "Any kinda eggs u want!"
"This is my first birthday with two syllables."
"You have to wait four years to get to three syllables."
"Do you want me to sing 'Happy Birthday'?"
"No, thanks. I'm good."
The rest of my year will be devoted to answering this question.
Enjoying these Tago-Mago sammiches very much. Tago-Mago is not a Can cover band, but the working name of Bruno Sugai, a musician who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is "originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil by way of Greenville, SC."
I am posting this Lady Sovereign video because I like it. I also am posting it as evidence that 'boards provides higher resolution video than YouTube, though their default viewbox is smaller and the content is not embeddable.
(It's a Krautbeat moment: LCD Soundsystem, Fujiya & Miyagi, Battles—must be others.)
"Does that pillow have feathers? Why can't it have coins? Then we could rob a pillow. We wouldn't have to rob a bank."
"I don't want to go to Battery Park City. I don't want to go to anywhere I can spell."
Please go to this fine site and download Andrew Weatherall's remix of "Soon" from 1990. What makes me feel old? That this remix was released seventeen years ago? No: that none of the posts discussing this mix mention that Weatherall flips the guitar intro from Gang of Four's "What We All Want." Yup—when your "canon" is revealed as a photograph you've mistaken for a fact, you know time has passed. That's fine. But please listen to the Gang of Four song if you haven't recently—the live version is one of my favorite sound recordings ever ever ever.
If anyone has a 320 rip of the Weatherall, hit me.
We want to reach the children—this explains the vestigial MySpace link to your right. (Add us as friends! Pal up with ghosts!) We got caught in that ambient deskjazz traffic jam, and then broke up just as indie got its dance card back. Good timing, yes? (The fact that we never toured: our bad.) My Wiki stub doesn't even mention Ui—that ain't right.
Today's new mini-crush: Blitzen Trapper.
"Here we are,
stuck by this river,
you and I underneath a sky that's ever falling
down, down, down,
ever falling down.
Through the days, as if on an ocean,
always failing to remember why we came, came, came:
I wonder why we came.
You talk to me as if from a distance,
and I reply with impressions chosen from another
time, time, time,
from another time."
Brian Eno, "By This River," from Before and After Science
In my role as "Lost" Zombie, I must disagree mildly with my colleague J Shep. I think "Lost" may be losing steam for the exact same reason "The Sopranos" did: Abrams, Lindelhof, Bender, Cuse et al are leaving behind the main family and introducing too many characters we don't give a shit about. I will defer on Shep's parsing of Hugo's ethnicity. (In terms of plot and character, I found Cheech coming back to sex up moms and get the loot amusing if diffusing. ) I was very sad to see Eko go. Watching Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje not talk is as riveting as watching Stephen Colbert talk. (Thanks to Nick, I saw a Colbert taping yesterday. SC hit everything in one take, except for a short intro. He is a complete ninja of The Saying of Words.) But I didn't/don't think Michelle Rodriguez can act and wasn't bothered to see her go.
None of this changes the facts that "Lost" is the BEST TV SHOW EVAR.
Remind me: What does Not Snitching achieve beyond trading the putative protection of one militia for another?