Sunday, May 16, 2010


So, I finally got an Ipod. Not an Mp3 player, no, the apple product. I'm still a PC type of guy, but, apple really does have the superior product with the Nano. In some ways, it's an amazing product- 600 songs easily stored, right? Oh, and a few pod casts, and maybe a few photos, and did I mention it's also a video recorder? But, on the other hand Itunes is clunky, and difficult, not to mention invasive. Also, the product is a bit of a magic box- you cannot customize how it works, and you cannot so much as replace the battery, yourself.
All in all, though, it's good.
This is how it relates to this blog, though- it's encouraged me to listen to a bunch of music I had in the collection, not explore new stuff. In other words, a lot of review. As with any review, it's only interesting for the new connections. So, I leave it on shuffle a lot. I discover things like The Mescaleros' "All in a Day" blends nicely with The Tubeway Army's "Are 'Friends' Electric?", and I discover just how narrow my tastes really are- it turns out there really isn't that much space between Billie Holiday and Spearhead, nor is there all that much difference between Willie Nelson and Mark Lanegan. So, I'm still processing this new information. I am re-evaluating much of my tastes- not changing those tastes- but re-evaluating- I'm realizing that I'm much more of a rockist than I thought, that I enjoy keyboards more than guitar solos, but I love guitars more than voices (Except Mark Lanegan's voice, which is still a perfect instrument. No, I don't have a man-crush on him, I just love his voice. The man, himself, seems a bit of an Ass.) I'm realizing that the only real use I have for lyrics is aphoristic, and that a sweeping melody means more to me than a well-turned phrase. All the same, Joe Strummer's words are some of the best poetry I will ever hear.
There is a value to reviewing beyond analysis, however- the connection between the present and the past becomes more transparent, and, if you're at peace with who you are, that can be a comfort, and in those areas where you are not at peace with yourself, that connection can serve as inspiration to achieve that peace. (Incidentally, this is one of the three reasons I cannot be a Buddhist. I believe that the past is real, as well as the future is knowable- I don't believe we're in an eternal present. The other two reasons? I believe in an external god, and I believe that the full, absolute truth is both real and unknowable.)

But, it's not entirely been about the Ipod- I've been watching a couple of movies, listening to a couple of Cd's, and reading a few things-
The movies? What we do is Secret, Raising Arizona, and Feast.
The less I say about What we do is Secret, probably the better. I have people who know me who knew Darby/Bobby/Jan better than I ever will, and I don't want to offend them with my impressions. What I will say, however, is that I only saw him as Darby, and only saw him at shows, and even so- the biography drawn up in What we do is Secret is far too kind to him, far too harsh at people who deserve better, and far too neat to be anything like the truth. At best, it's the impression that his friends might want to give their kids. However, if you take away the non-fiction aspect, and view it as a myth, or a story, it's well done. It's a slightly more true story than your average biopic, in that while it does show that drugs were bad, it shows more clearly both the ambition, and mental anguish that were the reasons for the drug use did the real damage.
As for Raising Arizona- What can I say? I like about half of the Coens' movies- this one, and Miller's Crossing are my favorites-and it's a modern classic. The distillation of cartoon slapstick, Guys and Dolls-esque patter, and redneck mysticism has a legion of imitators, but none offer up such a sincere, genuine heart. Well worth your time.
Finally, Feast. Yes, the project greenlight horror franchise. Again, what can I say- it's not really a "horror" movie- it's an extreme slapstick comedy with low budget special effects. That's how I see a lot of these things, and that's what I'm a fan of watching. I do like a real "horror" movie, and I don't like torture porn, but slasher-style gorefests? They are their own kind of comedy. I don't wish harm on (nearly) anyone- and it's only because I know it's special effects that I can view it that way- and I think Feast is more fully aware that it's not real than most, hence I can enjoy it more.
The Cd's? The Bronx (III) and Isobel Campbell/Mark Lanegan's The ballad of the Broken Seas.
The Bronx have mellowed out from from their start as a hardcore band, without genuinely changing their style. Basically, what they do is a somewhat metallic version of the garage punk that a band like Rocket From the Crypt did, or that The Riverboat Gamblers still do. That "garageiness" is the appeal for me. They sound like smart guys rocking out after a few beers, aware of both how stupid they are, and how little they want to give it up, nonetheless. In that respect, they are the Cynics for the Jackass crowd.
As for the Belle and Sebastian girl, singing with the former Screaming Tree- yes, it's gentle, ramshackle ballads, but informed by a Gaelic ( not "irish" sensibility) From Richard Thompson to Glasvegas, I'm a sucker for the Gaelic lilt and reel. My belief is that Rock and Roll is based on two things, equally- the "rock" of African rhythm and the "roll" of Gaelic harmony. I think the "blue note" of the Blues traces ancestry directly to Scotland, and the high, lonesome of Country swing traces directly from Wales. So, this is still a rock and roll record. That's what lends it swing, and heft. What makes it pretty are the two voices, but what makes it cool is the Gaelic ghost underneath it all.
Anyway, this is long enough, I'll continue later...

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