Friday, October 16, 2009


Sometimes, it's difficult having so much better taste than everybody else....
Here's an example. Recently, I heard this band, Blacklist, and thought they were pretty good. I can't say I'm 100% behind them, though. The music is good, sweeping, swirly epic anthemic stuff than I'm always a sucker to hear. On top of that, they're smart people, graduates of the New School, and the singer is also a writer, and references a lot of somewhat left writers.
But, musically, they're actually more limited than what I like. They don't have the depth and variety of emotions that a band like Silence is Sexy or Pandora's Box or Workers can conjure up easily. Lyrics-wise it's a lot of intellect, but where's the connection? Where's the resonance?
Politically, though I'd say they are fellow travellers, I cannot really get behind somebody who sides with Christopher Hitchens.
So, I like them, honestly I do, but I still prefer the others. Maybe the guys in Workers are grad students, I don't know, and certainly cannot tell from their lyrics, but I feel a greater sense of real humanity from them, a more direct connection, and I feel better listening to them. ( I push the comparison between the two bands because the sound is very similar. Check out the music on myspace from Blacklist and the same from Workers)
I don't mean to set myself in opposition, so much as I just really am a bit different, so my tastes and desires are different. If I'm in opposition to anything in the arts it's this:
I suspect you're far more likely to hear about Blacklist than any of the others bands because they're based out of New York. They have the far more expensive haircuts and outfits. I suspect they have a publicist. In other words, however left-leaning the lyrics may be, they definitely have stakes in the machine. That machine is what I'd oppose. It's not about taste: it's about manipulation, and not even external manipulation because we often do it to ourselves.
So, as always, I would ask: how much longer must we tolerate mass culture?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Radio, Radio

So, the majors are arguing about who you will pay to listen to music. You know what real "radio without restriction" is, there, Dave? It's the model we had for a few years, between 1968 and 1980, in FM Radio. It's the model pirate (or offshore, or "Free") radio follows. It's peer to peer, and it rarely has an advertiser. Basically, Dave, it's when suits like you aren't involved. That much is proven, even by suits like you. Ask France.
So, I've got a simple plan for the music Business: adapt or die. Either learn a new audience and artist friendly way of distributing music, or die off, and let's watch the existing channels of doing that flourish.
Oh, and Elvis has something to say. And the Beastie Boys agree.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh, by the way

For a "pop culture" blog, you might notice that I'm "ignoring" some stuff in popular culture. I don't care about who David Letterman is doing, who is making money from Kurt Cobain or Michael Jackson's legacy, or which teen movie actress is on Cocaine, this week. It's not that I'm ignoring it, exactly; it's that I think it's much more relevant to talk about the good, less saturated stuff. I'll bring up mass culture, from time to time, but my main thrust is to show how there is no need for mass culture at all.
There really isn't, by the way. I could watch about 50 hours of TV without ever turning on a TV show shot for a major network, every week. I could listen to about 100 hours of music, every week, without even once listening to a major label product. I could read 5 or 6 books without going with a chain bookstore. I could watch 2 or 3 movies without Blockbuster or even Netflix. That's every week, mind you, and this side of the fence is growing. So, again, how much longer must we tolerate mass culture?


Like me, you probably have run across Vice magazine, at least once. It's a freebie, so you probably even picked it up. A mixed bag, I'm sure. You might have been creeped out by the sleaze factor, or you might have read an insightful article. The ironic hipness might be off putting, or you might have liked the photography. Regardless, they have created a small empire beyond just the magazine. There are releases on the music label, TV shows on the station, and books on the shelves. Absolutely everything is a mixed bag, and you probably suspect, just like I do, that it was their intent to make things that are a mixed bag. Every time they annoy, befuddle, or offend you, it makes them feel a tiny bit superior. They are young, so it's still crude enough that you can see through their games, unlike the big boys at Time/Warner.

For a magazine, you'd be far better off with the Big Takeover, Chunklet, or even Blurt. But, the TV shows are a little more unique. Some of the TV shows even display a little quality. I mean, check out this one. Listen to some of the interviews at this show. Maybe, watch this. Fairly high quality stuff, perhaps despite the Vice involvement. Yes, there's some real garbage, but, I guess you have to cherry pick everything. Until there's more high quality TV online (I still have high hopes for Mania) Vice may be your only choice.