June 13th, 2005

flavored with age

(no subject)

Oh boy, an exciting day of exciting posts about my exciting weekend. But first of all, here's an idiotic poll.

Poll #512005 Leh me aks you free kwe-shuns

Assume you happen to enter a public restroom, say at your place of work or a public park. In the course of selecting an appropriate urinal, you happen to notice a fat, well-fed mosquito perching along the edges of one of the urinal cakes. What do you do?

I do nothing. All of nature's creatures have the right to exist and live as they please. Fly away, little skeeter, shoo.
0(0.0%)
Sorry, mosquito, but you must now die burning in my searing waste fluids. Drown, bloodsucker, drown.
17(54.8%)
I select another urinal so as to avoid this moral dilemma altogether.
3(9.7%)
This would never happen, as I do not use public restrooms, or I only use them for anonymous homosexual encounters.
0(0.0%)
I am a pretty lay-tee.
11(35.5%)

What could possibly be as awesome as Mike Tyson saying he was "fading into Bolivian"?

Mike Tyson saying he was "worth a Brazilian dollars".
19(61.3%)
Mike Tyson blaming his failed career on his "lack of a decent college Ecuadorian".
2(6.5%)
Mike Tyson saying he really likes that one song "Ain't Miss Bahamian".
2(6.5%)
Mike Tyson lashing out against racists who think "all black people like is fried chicken and Guatemalan".
5(16.1%)
Mike Tyson being arrested in Boys' Town for "beating up a a Paraguayan".
3(9.7%)

When I express skepticism over the writing careers of people like Vendela Vida, Asia Argento and Moon Zappa, am I just being a sexist pig?

Yes.
2(7.1%)
Absolutely.
0(0.0%)
Definitely.
0(0.0%)
Without question.
2(7.1%)
Probably.
24(85.7%)
flavored with age

Also, a dopey meme

Because I can't say no to doraphilia. I will follow my normal routine of overthinking meaningless memes and pick seven of my all-time favorite songs, rather than just ones that strike my fancy at the moment; I will also try to do each song from a different genre in order to make it more challenging.

List seven of your favorite songs and then pick eight people to do the same:

- "Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul", Charles Mingus (jazz)
- "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts", X (punk)
- "Allison Says", the Vulgar Boatmen (rock)
- "Black Metal", Venom (metal)
- "Love's Gonna Getcha (Material Love)", Boogie Down Productions (rap)
- "Get Along Home Cindy", Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (country)
- "Le Sacre du Printemps. Part 2: The Exalted Sacrifice", Igor Stravinsky (classical)

I'm not pickin' nobody to do this because I have enough people who hate me. Feel free though.

If you're still of a musical mind (like the people reading this who can't get into the Spitgroove this morning...), here's a project you can help me with: I'm trying to put together a CD of "anti-spirituals" -- songs whose theme is atheism or the nonexistence of God. I'm not looking for songs about how God sucks and Satan is awesome; more songs that posit (a) the nonexistence of God or (b) the nondesirability of God existing. Also, please no suggestions of Joan Osbourne's "One of Us" or John Lennon's "Imagine", got those covered already, thanks a lot.

So here's what I came up with so far:

1. "God is an Atheist", Ill Bill
2. "Dear God", XTC
3. "The Virginian", Neko Case & Her Boyfriends
4. "God Isn't Real", Robbie Fulks
5. "Christianity is Stupid", Negativland
6. "Deus", the Sugarcubes
7. "God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)", Randy Newman
8. "Filler", Minor Threat
9. "Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus", Robyn Hitchcock

So what else is there? What else should go on a CD of anti-religious songs?
flavored with age

And now: BANALITY ON PARADE!

Okay, so, my weekend. And a long one it was, albeit also largely a pleasant one.

THURSDAY: After doing a load of laundry very early in the morning – a course of action I highly recommend, as it is the time when the laundromat is freest of drunks, abusive parents and people trying to sell you used socks – I headed north to St. Cloud, MN, to attend the wedding of my girlfriend’s sister. The trip up was lovely and generally uneventful in the renovated ChickWagon, which, equipped with a shiny new engine, now purrs like a kitten with a severe and debilitating respiratory condition.

One fun moment from the trip: at a rest stop near Portage, WI, I spotted a whole ton of soldiers in full camo gear – not in itself an unusual circumstance, as there’s often military convoys on the 94 when I hit the north. The fun came when, at the opposite side of the rest stop, a van pulled in and from it disembarked about a dozen Buddhist monks: full-on Shaolin motherfuckers, rockin’ the saffron robes, the shaved heads, the meditation beads, and in at least one case, the painted head. As usual, I didn’t have my camera handy, but more than the amazing visual juxtaposition, I think, it was the philosophical ramifications that made the whole thing so amazing. Because here, after all, was the conflict of the modern age writ small: the military vs. the pacific, the west vs. the east, the aggressive vs. the contemplative, the technological vs. the spiritual, the interventionist vs. the isolationist. Unfortunately, as is always the case, the ones of the side of the angels were both outnumbered and outgunned. I left before the whole thing had a chance to break out into a bad kung fu movie.

I got the directions to St. Cloud from the internet, having inexplicably forgotten that the internet is stupid. The directions placed me a good 60 miles of boring state road away from the wedding rehearsal, so I just met my girl at her sister’s apartment. We put Li’l’ Duce to bed, and then thought about watching DVDs only to discover that her sister doesn’t have a DVD player in her bedroom. What is this, the 12th century or something? Anyway, we somehow managed to survive until…

FRIDAY: Wedding day, crazy stress day, Leonard is given the task of wrangling toddlers for several hours day. We met ninafarina’s parents and other sister at their hotel (a gargantuan Holiday Inn grotesquerie with indoor volleyball courts right outside your room and six hundred thousand swimming pools), and I pulled the job of keeping Li’l’ Duce entertained while the womenfolk visited the salon. ninafarina (who, as I may have mentioned every time I post, is awesome and brilliant and the best girlfriend in the world) came back sporting this snazzy ‘do of Carolingian provenance – she described it to her hairdresser as ‘medieval’, but unfortunately, this was not taken in the complimentary spirit in which it was offered. I meant to get a few pictures of the coif, but by night’s end, she just got sick of it and dismantled it (an hour-long procedure) – not surprising, given that it containing a total of sixty-five (!) bobby pins, enough to armor-plate several humvees in Iraq. (I will spare my girl too much public embarrassment here, but allow me to say that she looked very very hot in her bridesmaid get-up.)

The wedding itself, well, I didn’t see too much of it because I was busy trying to keep a two-year-old from singing the theme from “Elmo’s World” at the top of her lungs during a prayer. But I’m assuming it was lovely and it seemed to go off with a minimum of hitches, like say Li’l’ Duce deciding to pull her shoes off seconds before doing her flower-girl duties. The reception involved me being in a room full of people I don’t know, and you know what that means: yes! I drank ten Tanquerays on the rocks. At the very least, I did get to dance a couple of dances with my awesome girlfriend (who, man, you get a few drinks in her and stick her on the dance floor, that’s some honey-baked ham right there). I was, fortunately, able to avoid the Chicken Dance by virtue of the fact that I am a professional music writer and if I were to be seen doing the Chicken Dance it would result in disbarment, censure and loss of livelihood. If I ever get married, never_fear, the gig is yours, because I know you’ll do right by me.

Congratulations to Laura and Chris, like they’ll ever see this.

SATURDAY: After a highly amusing early-morning visit from Laura’s cokehead neighbor, who came into the apartment and babbled for five minutes before realizing we weren’t Laura and Chris (and then babbled for 10-15 minutes more), we headed back to the Twin Cities for a family get-together at Shauna’s parents’ house. Li’l’ Duce rode in a canoe for the first time, which she enjoyed, but not as much as she enjoyed pouring water from their planter fountain down her pants. I played croquet, and given my rate of success, the time would have been better spent pouring water down the front of my pants. Famous Dave’s barbecue was eaten, and is actually pretty damn good given that it is barbecue made in Minnesota by a guy named Famous Dave, rather than my preferred type (made in North Carolina made by a guy named Rufus or Fat Jocephus or Ex-Con Billy).

SUNDAY: ninafarina, Li’l’ Duce and I visited the newly renovated Walker Arts Center, where we saw many things: a dude shortchanging the waitress in the café; a bunch of art I’ve seen before at the MCA; some cute-creepy Japanese sculpture that freaked out my girlfriend; a bunch of films by Chantal Akerman, which were of surprising interest to Li’l’ Duce, thus bolstering my theory that she would really like a DVD of Dog Star Man for her birthday; and a really good piece by an Ethiopian-born American artist that I really liked. It was a large, somewhat abstract blueprint-style technical drawing of an unidentified, semi-non-Euclidean building, over which was superimposed a really well-done, evocative pencil drawing of a wild natural landscape done in the style of those monochromatic Japanese landscapes from the 16th century. Naturally, I have forgotten the name of the artist, as I always do when I really want to remember something.

Then home to write this entry, which I have been doing for the last 13 hours. A swell weekend with swell weather and a swell gal to enjoy it with: my mailbox got spammed with 2400 e-mails while I was gone, but you don't see me not smilin'.
flavored with age

As long as I'm in a posting frenzy

Ever since Lileks split his blog in two, keeping the personal/cultural/'funny' stuff in the Bleat and isolating the cranky right-wing political stuff to the Screed, I've actually enjoyed the former a lot more. Not because he's gotten funnier, or because, with the political reactioneering removed, he's a lot more enjoyable -- no, it's better because he's giving himself free reign to really cut loose with the squeaking and show the world that he's capable of being a crank about a lot more than politics.

For instance, today's Screed is pretty boring boilerplate stuff (American torture techniques against raghead detainees aren't so bad because the torture is really mild compared to, say, the rack or thumbscrews or car batteries on the nuts, and besides, these are bad people probably so it's okay to mildly torture them) that you could get from any Town Hall or Little Green Footballs affiliate. But the Bleat! Whoo, lord.

Jimmy watches "Underworld" and discovers a nasty little festering resentment that chicks don't dig balding stay-at-home dads with an ax to grind against Howard Dean:

Watched "Underworld," a vampire movie. I hate vampires. They’re just mosquitoes with backstories. Oh, but they’re so romantic, being damned and all! Feh. Women like the Eastern European accents and brooding looks.

Jimmy further resents the snotty attitude of these made-up fictional characters:

I can’t stand their annoying superiority – oh, you mere mortal, behold me, who is stronger and will live forever, barring any accidents involving photons or stakes.

And then he finally gets to the heart of his hatred of vampires: they never accomplish anything, they're arrogant and snobby...they're just so...European!

Have you guys ever accomplished anything besides striking poses in red velvet smoking jackets? You’re the worst sort of European: our most compelling advantage appears to be our ready access to antique furniture, over which we may artlessly sprawl in dank mansions.

Worst of all, vampires don't contribute anything to the economy:

Hey, Fangboy: Ever invented anything? Tell you what: fifty of us against fifty of you. We’ll bring stuff humans have invented. You bring your teeth. Meet you at high noon at the semi-conductor factory, Euroskeeter.

Moving on to the snoreworthy Kevin Spacey vehicle "Beyond the Sea" (a biopic of Bobby Darin), Jimmy lets his misogynistic jerk side shine through a little more, this time at teenage girls who failed to appreciate Kurt Weill on the profound and subtle level on which he did:

In the Valli pub there was a 45 of “Mack the Knife” on the jukebox; I came to hate it, because it played three times a night, and it was a swingin’ finger-poppin’ version of something creepy and corrupt, and because the insufferable bastard in me wanted to shout at the sorority girls YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO LOTTE LENYA WAS!

And, of course, it wouldn't be Jimmy if he didn't tell us how much he hated the late 1960s and 1970s:

Bio pics of this period always have a certain aesthetic arc, from the pre-WW2 look of the artist’s childhood (cluttered, messy, comfy) to the 50s and 60s appearance of his rise (clean, sharp, monochromatic; shaved necks and thin ties) and the ghastly look of the latter 60s and 70s, when the artist is either drugged out or on the comeback trail.

Jimmy just can't contain his rage at that charlatan Darin, suckered by the free-love hippies, employing religious Negroes to sell his message of commie-coddling:

Hence we have the sight of Darin in Vegas doing one of those blowing-in-the-hammer type protest songs while the uptight audience titters and grumbles – but then he introduces that All-purpose Infuser of Instant Moral Authority, the Robed Black Gospel Choir, and soon the audience is standing and clapping along! Because by gum that’s a Gospel Choir up there! In robes! Their moral position on the war must be unassailable! Of course they’re singing “Freedom” over and over as the Darin sings about Not Wanting Any War.

Of course, Jimmy has no problem with claiming that a moral position on a war is unassailable if it's accompanied by standing in front of an American flag or a picture of the Twin Towers and yelling "Terror" over and over. Anyway, moving on, Jimmy next seems to imply that the VC were big Bobby Darin fans, and that it was better for us to massacre about a hundred thousand Vietnamese than allow them to live under the cruel yoke of Uncle Ho:

Well, freedom for some, but not the little yellow friends, I guess. Into the camps with you, and don’t be criticizing Mr. Darin; he’s so committed to this cause he’s appearing in public without his toupee.

I'm afraid we had to destroy that village in order to save it, Jimmy. At the very end, he remembers somewhat shamefacedly that he was going to save this sort of hackwork for the Screed, and backs off as pathetically as possible:

I’m being too hard on the film, which is otherwise enjoyable if you like that sort of thing.
flavored with age

I don't know WHAT this is

I. Ambition, greed, desperate passion. Love turns sour and falls into death. A great city wipes its finger nervously through the dregs and muck, giddily anxious to see what will come up. It is the thing about which everyone is required to have an opinion. Strapped to one leg, secret and all-seeing: the next day, her twitching body, once the object of lust, is now the subject of a morbid and displaced vengeance; alive it was of less value than dead.

II. Poverty, hunger, a relentless tide of bad news. Those who survive in spite of it all: they cannot say why they want to live, but they do. She is only thirty-two years old, but her face is a hundred and her heart is a thousand. All those lucky enough to escape the grinding despair scramble, hectic, to explain why none of it is their fault. Depression: a time you live, a thing you are, a place you were.

III. Wars and rumors of wars -- revolution -- revolt. It is often difficult to say whose side one is on, for what one is fighting, who is in charge in one's immediate area. People come from all over the world to write pretty passages about what is happening, and meanwhile you have a bullet in your lung. Picasso paints a picture. The horror, the futility, the ultimate defeat: it belongs to you alone.

IV. Evil has a shape, a posture, a way of speaking. Portrayed as comic-opera buffoons, tinpot delusionaries, men out of central casting. Sometimes the things they say seem trite, rote even, so stereotypically menacing are they: other times, a phrase or a paragraph or a point made with shaking fist or rising voice is enough to seduce agreement. They are fortunate to live in a time when the death of millions can be an abstraction. It is sometimes hard to believe that real living men did this.

V. The power of a symbol. It comes at hideous cost but to question it is the worst kind of self-aggrandizement. It says: here is the truth; we defy you to question its meaning. Call him drunken Ira Hayes, he won't answer any more. It was all worth it, it was: a pure good, a thing that will soon be extinct.

VI. The first media moment. The first post-modern myth, an impenetrable stew of vengeance, patriotism, tragedy, conspiracy, squalor. The man who looks like the shadow of an implacable progression shatters the stomach of the man who looks like he has finally been found out. "You all know me". It ends badly (it has no other choice): a patsy's patsy or a lunatic pornographer, his body eating itself as he sits in a cell and imagines the screams of millions three feet of concrete below him.

VII. The young and the innocent -- or the strange and the terrifying? America's heart has been broken and her soul has been pierced; her salvation comes from the mother she'd long since fled. They are the spirit of something, but no one knows what it is. A billion words will be written about them and everyone will bear their germinal influence for a hundred years. They are joy and novelty and danger and menace and fun.

VIII. It is the most amazing thing anyone has ever seen. It is the flipside of the Holocaust, a proof that once something has been done it can never be undone, that human beings are quite capable of anything. It seems to exist as a contextual metaphor before it even happens. Unconquerable, determined, stupidly brave: with inconceivable technology and unthinkable resources, they stand there where nothing should be, shooting the breeze, spieling banalities, playing games. Did this thing really happen, and did we really respond the way we did?

IX. In some parts of the world, they still take their religion seriously. Politics do not enter his mind (though they are ever-present in those who witness): he knows only that so many of his countrymen are dying. A decision, none can say not that of a rational mind, that the world as currently constituted is not worth living in. His life is his own, to keep or take: suicide is the most primal and essential act of power. The soldiers come from across the water, drop bombs from the sky, beneath him is earth, around him is fire.

X. The entire war is insane now; everybody says so. Mere anarchy is unloosed in the streets and now the only masters served are impulse and force. Innocent, guilty -- what's the difference? -- bad things have been done and someone has to pay for it. Pull him off the streets, give him the gun, provide motivation for the men in the field, a cheap thrill for the folks back home. The tone for the future has been set.