July 20th, 2005

flavored with age

Jimmy Li-Li

My nemesis from the north has a new feature on his SquealLikeAPigBlog: he reads the Strib's letters page and picks out some liberal squeaker to demolish. Not so different from what I'm doing to him, here, actually, so I have no room to criticize, but I am going mock his stupid, ill-informed arguments just the same.

In service of attacking a woman for daring to suggest that the civil rights movement was a product of liberalism, Lileks goes on another of his "modern culture has ruined everything" tirades:

I suspect that the ideas Kersten addressed came from the sort of liberalism that swept out the old anti-communist pro-America greatest-gen types in favor of internationalist radicalism that sought to remake nearly every social, intellectual, artistic and political institution in the culture. In order to get the new utopia into place, nearly everything traditional had to be detonated.

Now, who's he talking about here? He's talking about his favorite target, the meddling-kids liberals who designed public housing, initiated the welfare system, and pushed increases in anti-poverty social spending. In other words, he's talking about the cabinet of Lyndon Johnson. That's the people pushing "internationalist radicalism" and insisting that "everything traditional had to be detonated" in order to "get the new utopia in place". LBJ.

The symphonic tradition gave way to atonalism

This started happening around the turn of the century, and some of the harshest criticism of the atonalist tendency was directed at Stravinsky's Rites of Spring. Lileks knows this; he's bitched about Stravinsky himself in the Bleat. The Rites of Spring debuted in 1913. So why doesn't he blame William Howard Taft for the decline of Western civilization?

Beyond that, of course, is the inherent absurdity of complaining about how the symphonic tradition has given way to atonalism. Even leaving aside the fact that there's still a whole lot of people writing in the "symphonic tradition", whatever that is, it's ridiculous to pretend that atonalism has some kind of malevolent stranglehold over our culture. I would guess that a good 75% of American adults have heard plenty of traditional symphonic music in their lives, but would be hard-pressed to even know what atonalism is, let alone identify a piece of atonal music or name a composer who specializes in atonalism. This is a frequent trick of the right, to beef about how our culture is dominated by things (atonalism, postmodernism, relativism) that are in fact only known about, taught to, and appreciated by a handful of academics, but its constant reiteration doesn't make it any more convincing.

the classical architectural vocabulary was jettisoned for acres of bleak concrete bunkers

Here Lileks means public housing. The formulation seems to imply that before LBJ and his reign of social welfare tyranny, the poor all lived in classically designed architectural masterpieces the equal of any fine country house in England, rather than in miserable slums and tarpaper shacks on the edge of town. One suspects that Lileks isn't so much pissed that the poor are crammed into bleak public housing blocks, but that they're crammed into unattractive high-profile buildings that are hard to ignore.

But he's also ignoring something else: the vast majority of bleak concrete bunkers and featureless glass monstrosities in our urban areas -- far outnumbering those used for public housing and other government programs -- were built not by the feds, but by corporations. Big business is far, far, far more responsible for the pitiful state of public architecture in American cities than are these mythological Demo-Commies. I agree with Lileks that our urban areas are increasingly becoming architectural nightmares, filled with unattractive eyesores. But in the vast majority of cases, from samey big-box stores to unspeakably dull skyscrapers to endless identical condominiums and tract houses, the culprit is not government meddling, but corporate ambition. Why doesn't Lileks point his scolding finger at big business? Could it be because he's more interested in scoring ideological points than actually solving problems?

dead white males were swept from the ciriculuum

Here again is the "tyranny of academia" complaint. And it's true! Why, today, who learns about any dead white males in college?

and the family – well, it could stay, as long as it wasn’t granted any particular importance over other social models.

And as a result, of course, we live in a society in which children are not important at all and there are no institutions designed to support them, no laws meant to protect them, no social benefits to having them, no advertising directed at them, and no cultural manifestation of their prominence in our society. It's a tragedy, really.

If the idea that the 20th century didn’t see nearly every traditional expression of Western culture get attacked by hairy little termites, then you might think there’s a natural and direct line from Raphael to Jackson Pollack, from Brunelleschi to brutalism, from Beethoven to John Cage.

Huh? Is there a clause missing in this sentence? I don't quite understand it, so I'm not sure whether he's defending or attacking the very sensible idea that there IS a natural and direct line from Beethoven to John Cage.

Note, again, this whole screed was inspired by one line in a letter to the editor, claiming that liberals were largely responsible for the civil rights movement. It seems these days that even the smallest stimuli will cause Jimmy to wax wroth about how much he hates everything that happened after 1950.
flavored with age

Now that's a handsome monkey

The news today that photos exist of the Scopes 'Monkey Trial' is shocking enough, but even more shocking is the further revelation that defendent John Scopes, on trial for teaching evolution in a Tennessee classroom, was himself a monkey! Which leads to the inevitable question, who will play him in the movie?

Marcel the Monkey from Friends hasn't gotten much work lately. But he would only fit the part if they decided to go for a more comedic feel.

Personally, I'm rooting for the Indian monkey from Outbreak. We know he can convey tragedy and quiet, struggling nobility of purpose. Just look at that face!

If they decide to do an animated version (Pixar, I'm looking right at you), they could use this New York Times cartoon as a body model. He's a natural showman! As for his voice, I dunno, what's Kevin Spacey up to these days?

I was going to suggest that if Peter Jackson's King Kong is a hit, they could use the ape from that movie to play monkey-Scopes. But since there don't seem to be any pictures of the KK ape online yet, all a Google image search yielded was shots of Jackson himself. However, it occurs to me he wouldn't be a bad choice by any means, having as he does a sort of fat stoner orangutan look going on.

How about this dame whose socks have been rocked by Orlando Bloom? She's not a monkey either, but I found her picture while I was looking for shots of Marcel, and I think she's a natural. Plus, today, about a million public school teachers in Tennessee look like this.
flavored with age

I'm very, very sorry

Look, folks, I wish I had something more interesting to give you these days than monkey pictures and my endless war with some house-nerd from Minneapolis. But between deadlines and moving, I just don't really have a lot going on right now that's worth talking about.

If you're desperate to read things I wrote that are even duller than this LiveJournal, you can head to the latest issue of UR and see tiny excerpts of my pieces on Kid Koala and beer-centered road trips. I also have a piece and a couple of new restaurant reviews up in the latest issue of Time Out, but they recently made their online content subscriber-only, so I can't show it to you. (This is one of the downsides of paid freelance work.)

If you're desperate to hang out with me and hear me tell stories even dumber than the ones on this LiveJournal, please do come to my patio sale this Saturday and Sunday (which will also be beer-centered), and don't forget that next month, I'll be reading at the hugely successful and always a bunch of drunken fun Funny Ha-Ha 4Ever (Hideout, Aug. 10th, sponsored by megablogger Claire Zulkey and hotshot novelist John Green).

Other than that, though, alls I got is more damn IMDB message board excerpts.

Thank you, Penn Juliet, for killing something I loved

This joke is sacred to many people including myself. Often considered the single funniest joke in the world, much of that is due to its SECRECY! It is to be told to a private audience, in a casual setting, not to any average american idiot who wants to pay their 9 bucks to Penn Juliet so that they can hear 100 of the biggest names tell their version. thank you, Penn, for destroying something sacred to me and many other fans of comedy out there. You have killed something beautiful.


My opinion: I'm sure Kurdt's death wasn't a suicide. The documentary Kurt and Courtney speaks for itself. Kurt had taken a lot of heroin a couple minutes before he supposedly pulled the trigger. How can someone have good enough judgement to do that while they are on heroin? There were no fingerprints on the shot gun. And if he used his foot then why were his shoes on? It was said he used his right hand to shoot himself, but he's left-handed. And it's also said the "suicide note" was actually a letter stating that he was leaving the band Nirvana, and the bottom part was somebody elses handwriting. AND Kurt and Courtney were planning to get a divorce soon, plus Courtney's first album in her band Hole was released the same week Kurt died. "El Duce" who was a friend of Courtney's claimed she asked him to kill her husband for $50,000 by shooting him in the head. He thought it was a joke. After this statement, he was soon killed. All of that was in the documentary. Yeh...I think that's enough to say Courtney is a bish that needs to die. Patoo.


If u had the chance to be naked on a derserted island with any celeb, who would it be?

I would probly have to pik Scarlett-HOT, and Jessica Biel-great body
flavored with age

Meanwhile, poverty, despair, racism, terror, environmental destruction, etc.

Professional busybodies urge recall of GTA: San Andreas.

Leaving aside the essential waste of time that this is, and leaving aside that in addition to the clear "mature" marking on the ratings box you get carded for buying this game (I did, and I'm 35), and leaving aside that there's no chance in hell Rockstar will recall this game as long as it's making them piles and piles and piles of money...

Leaving all that aside, isn't it awesome how a game where you can literally butcher everyone you see with a chainsaw, a game where many of your missions involve shooting people, blowing people up and setting people on fire, a game in which the whole point is to become the most ruthless, savage killer you can -- the parents' groups and pandering senators only REALLY get het up when they discover there's a possibility that while playing it you might get to see your character have sex with his girlfriend?

Man, I tell you. I never get tired of defending GTA, because it's the best game ever. But it's become the new Piss Christ. Carl Johnson is the Karen Finley of the new millennium.