Friday, November 23, 2012

Scott Walker Bish Bosch

I find it's best to never fully believe an Artist. They'll tell you the truth, but it'll be "their truth"- it will be heavily subjective, and from a perspective that isn't yours. Such is definitely the case with Scott Walker, and if you follow me, it'll strip away most of the enigma from him, so, only read this if you want the mystery gone.
See, he started out as a crooner- more aligned with Perry Como, Neil Sedaka, Burt Bacharach and so on than the Teen pop he was identified as being. Then, he took the crooner style to an anti-confessional style just as confessional singer-songwriters got popular. Along the way, he got a knack for delivering lyrics that were astute "slice of life" kitchen dramas of the the minute moments of pathos in every day British life. Then, goes the myth that created the mystery, he retreated and became surreal. I don't think that's it at all- instead, I think he wanted to get even more concrete- he abandoned narrative, he abandoned pop song structure, and pursued a more and more accurate depiction of what "real life" as he saw it, occurred. Our thoughts don't follow a narrative, so why should his lyrics? Likewise, our lives don't have a pop soundtrack, so his songs are not melodic, but evocative. You cannot simultaneously be an observer and the observed, so he became reclusive and removed. I don't see any mystery in his method.
So, why listen to Scott Walker? Because just like real life, amidst the cacophony and chaos, we create order   in our minds, we come up with harmonies in our head. So, I'd like to think that what my brain does with his perspective is to add my pleasant delusions, and thus, I hear far more pretty things in my life than he does in his.
It's certainly not "easy" listening, so I don't blame anyone for hating this, but this points out the other side of "truth"-don't fully trust critics, either. They're only able to give you their perspective, as well. Ultimately, you have to trust your ears, eyes and mind. That's the value in mentioning any of this-to get you to trust me a little less in my aesthetics, and a little more in my philosophy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saw Anthony Bourdain

So, my wife likes reality TV a lot more than I do. She likes the house hunting, Travel and "ghost" type of shows as opposed to the Kardsahian, bored housewife or beauty pageant type of shows. She also reads a lot of Food network books. She also loves the bluesy type of garage rock that Jon Spencer plays, or the Black Keys pursue so, Anthony Bourdain is a natural fit for her. I have become a bit of a fan by osmosis. I have a bit of the oppositional nature of my teen aged years, still, so I still divide the world up a bit as "with us" and "against us". In that very false dichotomy ( there is no cultural "them" in order for there to be an "us"- people just have tastes) Bourdain would, by image, consistently come up on the "us" side of the equation.
However, I've worked in Entertainment, as a broad category, so I'm choosing my words very carefully, here.     I no more know what Tony Bourdain really likes to listen to at home, or what clothes he wears when going to the market, nor how he keeps his home than I know how he was as a chef. But, in that  "Reality" of TV, he has featured Josh Homme, The Black Keys, Sleigh Bells and his theme music is by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. His books have a slightly Hunter S Thompson gonzoid edge, and he dresses like a relatively rich guy who has been at the back of clubs I've gone to, as well, so, again, the image is of a rapidly aging hipster, much like most of my friends, so, yeah, that would seem to be sympathetic to my cause, at least. Therefore, the guy got me to listen to him. Now a fair percentage of the TV shows he's done trade in the same kind of cheap exoticism that was Bourgie and imperial back when Oscar Wilde was a hot topic, but some of the message- about trying to appreciate everywhere for simply being what it is, about travel being its own reward, and about just being friendly- I can get behind that, no problem. No, I'm not a total hypocrite nor am I unaware of how much of a jackass I can be, so, yes, I can be bourgie and imperial and worse as well. I don't have to support things that are against us though, right? So, it wasn't until Anthony Bourdain went against Paula Deen that I could get behind the guy. Simply put, I more than share the belief that a large portion of American culture is designed to kill people, and sell them crap to make that slow death more palatable, so I'll gladly support someone willing to use their celebrity, however false it may be, against that process.
So, I was glad to go when my wife bought tickets. It was basically the same show as this guy saw. It's very well-rehearsed, but pretty funny, and fairly insightful. We got VIP passes, so it was nice to see Benn and Rachel from Atomic were partially sponsoring the event.  The mirage of "Us" is always better maintained when you see friends are involved.
I even got a book signed ( To "Max Van" 'cause that's how I roll)  and I can report that, up close and personal? While I still have no clue as to who Tony Bourdain is, "Anthony Bourdain" is definitely "one of us"- he might be a bit self-involved and aging badly, but he is trying to raise the flag for beauty, truth, art and culture. That's an "us" that doesn't need a 'them" for justification, right?