Wassup Rockers


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the other people’s blogs category.

A Mishmosh of Topics.

(1) Javiera Mena‘s new album is just gonna be called Mena, and the new single is “Hasta la verdad.” When Super 45 kindly uploaded the song I lost two days just hitting play over and over. It’s a solid lead single. I absolutely love it though I’m not sure how someone just being introduced to her music would feel. I can only hope they would dig it as much as I do. And I really want there to be enough buzz about her over in the US so that she’ll finally get to tour here.

(2) Lost ended. I liked the finale a lot, but it was incredibly flawed. I held on for a while but I finally cried when Sawyer and Juliet connected.

Yesterday my Token Twee friend and I went to the Vilcek Foundation which has a small exhibit on Lost (until June 5th!). There were a lot of visitors when we went! The props were totally cool, like the Dharma van and Faraday’s notebook and Ben’s fake passport that identifies him as “Dean Moriarty.” I think the majority of the pieces are up for the massive auction that’s coming up. The best part though? Reading the guestbook. I can only hope that whoever keeps the guestbook uploads the messages in it, they were so funny and cute. Most of them, you know, quote lines from the show, or mentioned favorite characters and moments. Like someone actually traced their hand and wrote “NOT PENNY’S BOAT” in it. Others wrote about how much the show had impacted them. As my friend and I laughed our way through the book we relished the catharsis and closure that people must have felt when they wrote these messages.

(3) I joined Twitter and it’s overwhelming but generally really fun getting a glimpse into the virtual lives of people I dig. Turns out they’re just as lame as I am. It also has this theatrical absurdity to it–when Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper died I was bombarded with over 100 different versions of the same story: “RIP.” Like they were all saying the same thing, but they were all trying to say it differently, so the fact that the substance/sentiment of this message was the same, it all felt like… noise.

Unfortunately I’m guilty of just making noise, too. I was trying to show restraint and just post relevant stuff, but it’s no use. Now I’m only putting only enough thought to it by asking myself, “Will I be embarrassed to have the Library of Congress archive this message for posterity?” If not, I go for it.

If nothing else, below is an amazing rant about Twitter, courtesy of Lee Mack. Actually, the argument that ensues is absolutely hilarious. After hearing it I thought maybe I shouldn’t have given up on So Wrong It’s Right so quickly. Josie Long’s contribution to the argument is great. Not only that, I like Mack so much more than I already did!

(4) On Twitter I had a lot of people on my feed talking about Eurovision, so after an hour of watching these people mumbling about it I was like, “Well, why the fuck not, let’s tune in.” After all, the Eurovision final is like, the most important evening of the year for The Singles Jukebox. Like an idiot, I realized just a few months ago that The Singles Jukebox is still alive and so I’ve been going through every song they’ve covered since they reopened their shop (as long as they get at least a 6.00). It’s been incredible and I’ve found some amazing songs on there, many of which aren’t even the type of music I would have tried on my own. I’m so happy TSJ didn’t die with Stylus and that they’re still so enthusiastic about pop music.

But yeah, Eurovision was gaudy and over-the-top and I really enjoyed the spectacle for the first time, even if I didn’t understand the voting completely. My connection was piss poor, too, but when things got out-of-control tacky I was glad to be missing out, haha. The Norwegians made for really good hosts, and as far as I could tell, the show ran really smoothly. I was rooting for the Romanians, and I actively disliked the eventual winner, Germany. What can you do though? I’m not one to boo and hiss like many did to Russia (I admit I LMAO’d when it happened!); I get that it’s just pop music and I’ll just patiently wait for this German singer to drop into obscurity. At least in the US (I’m pretty sure) she doesn’t even have a chance to penetrate our musical landscape, so I’m not too bothered. I felt bad for Belarus for a long while, but they finally got some points and in the end the UK was last place, which is where their song belonged.

(5) I ended up buying the Jónsi, Jamie Lidell and Janelle Monáe albums from a chain. I still have to sift through these–they’ve all offered up some dense material. I also bought Sandman #8, finally completing my collection.

(6) Simon Amstell, he of former Never Mind the Buzzcocks fame, is coming to NYC. He’ll be performing at UCB, of all places! I don’t even know how he got a visa to perform here, but kudos to him, and I’m looking forward to seeing his stand-up act. Let’s hope it doesn’t suck!

(7) Until yesterday I thought Matthew Barney was British and that he’d been, y’know, a futbolero. My Token Twee friend explained to me that, in fact, he’s some nice, handsome Midwestern boy who used to play American football. I was shocked! And felt real stupid about this confusion.

(8) This vid is off the hook:

On a final note: I am one of the few people who still watched Law & Order, and I’m sad that such a New York institution met such an undignified end. Especially to be substituted by some offshoot in LA? Por favor. Upset about the loss of job opportunities for the local theater community. Sigh.


Why So Serious?

“Somewhere deep down is a decent human being in me—it just can’t be found”
– Eminem (1)

Oh man. I must explain myself a bit. Recently I’ve been obsessing over British comedy, and in particular I’ve been very puzzled with myself as to what makes me laugh. This has been a question I’ve wrestled with a lot since a lot of the comedians I like can be quite offensive. In fact, I love it when comedians can offend me and make me laugh all at the same time.

Take Frankie Boyle.

It really pains me to read all this press he’s gotten recently for some jokes he made about people with Down Syndrome (2). In particular, a woman wrote about her experience seeing him live, and how, as a mother of a child with DS, she felt his jokes were unduly cruel. Of course the whole situation blew up when she called him out on it.

I want to state a few things in his defense. First, the woman knew of his comedy style, she enjoyed him on Mock the Week. She paid for a ticket to this show, which is part of a tour called I Would Happily Punch Every One of You in the Face. I’m assuming she was laughing along just fine until it got to a subject too close to home. It’s like he routinely does jokes about pedophilia, rape, etc. So no surprises, you know?

Second, I have no doubt he felt real shit about it, especially to the point that he felt he had to explain himself. Usually he handles heckles well, but she definitely had enough of an effect for him to admit it was the most excruciating experience he’s had on stage.

I’ve read interviews he’s done and he definitely has an “off” switch. Even though I personally don’t think he has the best command of the stage, at the end of the day, what he does is a performance (3). His onstage persona is not who he is as a whole. If it’s unfair for him to view people with DS in such a two-dimensional way, it’s pretty unfair for us to see him that way, too. If he was as despicable as he makes himself to be onstage, I’d demand that his children be removed from his home. There’s plenty of lines he spews out that don’t seem to have any function other than to offend, but he’s shown just as many flashes of decency and understanding (4). When I first encountered him just a short while ago, I didn’t know what to make of his humor, but reading these interviews really made me appreciate him and understand his thought process.

That said, the nature of the jokes seemed particularly nasty, at least from this woman’s account, and apparently he didn’t do a particularly good job at defending himself (would love to hear an official statement, but apparently Bigmouth Boyle ain’t talking). I don’t mind controversial subjects, but the way they are approached is key. For me, the cardinal rule is: don’t make fun of those who have less power than you (5). It’s unnecessary, cruel, and worst of all, it’s too easy. That’s one of the more annoying things about this whole hullabaloo. Boyle is really funny and really smart, and in the past he’s made exactly that point about his own work, that it targets people worth targeting. I don’t know what happened on the evening this woman attended; because of that Herald Scotland interview I want to say he was just improvising and unfortunately relying on really broad punchlines because he couldn’t think of something better at the moment. Sigh. Regardless, I don’t expect every joke (inappropriate or otherwise) to reveal some fundamental truth about the human condition, but at the very least it shouldn’t be based on such empty stereotypes.

I do see the need to tackle taboo topics. Somebody has to fill the court jester role, and I think it’s more than honorable for an individual to say what others are too afraid to say. But from this woman’s account, Frankie’s jokes weren’t the result of the buffoon speaking truth.

I do want to raise some complaints about the complainers, though. Please don’t act all sanctimonious about Frankie’s sense of humor, tutting away saying crap like “What an outrage! IS THAT ANY WAY TO BEHAVE?!” It’s like some people want a fucking medal for feeling offended. Newsflash, you dipshits, you should feel offended! Calm the fuck down  and stop huffing and puffing about how you want him to be brought down. If anything, I’d be deeply worried about the state of humanity if people weren’t offended by his humor.

Let’s just hope that the people who laughed along weren’t doing it out of malice and that they were laughing nervously. There’s nothing worse than someone who laughs at offensive shit like this because they prescribe to that world view. (For example: the difference between people who loved Archie Bunker because he was bigoted, as opposed to those who loved him in spite of his faults.) Or at the risk of sounding like I’m dripping in schadenfreude, let’s hope they were laughing at Frankie—I seriously wish I’d been at the show just to see the woman cut him down. I mean I love him, I love his sense of humor, but he knows better!

I leave you with the words of another ex-alcoholic Scotsman:


Footnotes:
(1) One of the very few hip-hop albums I actually own. Obviously I was one of the millions who bought The Marshall Mathers LP when it first came out. For some reason that line has never left my mind, even though I couldn’t even remember the title of the song. I just re-listened to the track for the first time in like eight or nine years, and it was really fucking good! Too bad Eminem is so irrelevant because the talent was so there.

(2) I was speaking to some of my friends about this situation and someone brought up the whole hoopla about Family Guy recently.

(3) Fuck, the clip from Alan Carr: Chatty Man got taken down, but he literally says “the act is an act.” By the way, he hates doing live shows, which he also mentioned on Chatty Man; this may explain his weird stage presence. From what I’ve seen, he’s not particularly brilliant at doing long-format stand-up. Shouldn’t we commend him for having the sense of retiring in the near future?

(4) See this appearance on You Have Been Watching.

(5) Here’s a great example of this, on the subject of rape.


No Nostalgia Here.

Hm, I haven’t been to Super 45 in a while so I’m a week late on this post on the worst songs of the 90s. It’s a pretty interesting glimpse into what sort of stuff was big in Chile.

I was quite offended that they included “I Will Always Love You” in the list; I wish they’d included notes on the songs and justified why they were included on the list. Like if they’d said “Whitney butchers the song, ¡que viva Dolly!” I’d be willing to accept the song’s inclusion on this list. But the song itself? Beautiful. Dolly Parton is a brilliant songwriter-amusement park owner-plastic surgery enthusiast, okay?

The other thing that surprised me was the lack of Laura Pausini. As a little girl I fucking adored Laura Pausini but let’s face it, she’s made some incredible mediocrities and she’s a huge star in Latin America, which I would expect to mean she’s a pretty obvious target. Totally should have been on the list. Then again, Celine Dion is on that list, and for some reason I mentally put them in the same category.


Broken Commandments.

Shakira’s vid for “Lo hecho está hecho,” watch it here while it’s still embeddable, hehe.

This is a recent post from the new Idolator.

Like many, I’ve been pretty irked by the recent change of editorship on Idolator. One of the cool things about the site was its seriously in-depth look at the music industry, and much of the fun for me was reading about all the different ways the music industry has been imploding this past decade. Another thing that I loved about their departing editor, Maura, was that she was so pro-Sugababes and pro-Amerie. I’m a huge fan of both, and knowing that there was a high-profile ally out there made me feel less alone in digging them.

The posts so far have been pretty ho-hum, and I’m still trying to figure out whether the Idolator n00bs are just trying to mark their territory and settling in, or if this is just the way things are gonna be. I see that the topics of choice have been relatively similar–lots of top 40 shit, including a lot of American Idol stuff. Which would be fine, but…

Please refer to the aforementioned link. That’s not analysis. Saying, “I don’t really dig Shakira’s hair like this, I like it more like Taylor Swift’s pretty straight white girl hair,” is so superficial… Never mind that as a longtime Shakira fan, I’m very very touchy about her hair. I mean seriously, there’s no reason I should be so consumed and busy scrutinizing a stranger’s hair, but there you go, here’s my confession: the blondeness? Listen, to me, the blond hair is still a bad dream. Okay? Like, I’m still waiting for the dark hair to come back with a vengeance. I’m getting stressed out right this second just by posting about it. You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve talked to who see this light mane as a symbol of selling out, of conforming to American beauty standards, of of of (I’m just gonna say it!!) good hair. Not that Shakira’s hair is naturally kinky, but it sure as hell ain’t that light, and it’s curly, you know? I know that pop stars have to change constantly, but the controversy that her blond hair has brought through the years distresses me to no end! I’m so conflicted about it, about how it looks, what it means, why I should give a damn…

So I’m sorry, Idolator blogger lady, I’m sorry Shakira doesn’t look like a complete güera in the Letterman performance. FYI, it’s not even the first time she’s dread-ed her hair (and that link is a more recent example, too).

Jesus, I just reread my post. Why am I so angry? I need to sleep and calm down and stop trynna start shit. It’s not like the new blogger was implying anything in terms of race… or was she? Ack! Fuck it, I don’t ever wanna talk about Shakira’s hair ever again.


I’m Not Ready to Give Up.

Um, it’s Independence Day and I’m home. My parents are already asleep. They both worked today. I have my window open and I can hear people in a nearby house partying. I’m six floors up, but it’s impressive how well I can hear them. If I looked out I could probably see them, even. Well, in recent days I’ve been bumming around reading blogs and there’s been a lot of (fabricated) buzz about how reggaetón is dead. I don’t know about that. The people partying were just blasting “Lo que pasó pasó,” and I found myself singing along to it–and hilariously enough, I could hear people trying to shout along to Daddy Yankee. I could even hear them tripping along to the lyrics, since Daddy Yankee has that rat-tat-tat delivery style. Sure, it’s an older song, but the enthusiasm for the track is still there.

Ooh, they’re listening to a remix of “Qué tengo que hacer” now.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be so worried about reggaetón being dead. I don’t get where this is coming from, or why we’re worrying so much about it agora. It’s true that the sound of reggaetón has changed, it’s even more club ready, yeah? More synth-happy, less reliant on the dembow beat, and so on. But it’s like, don’t you want your favorite genres to grow and develop? I sure as hell don’t want my favorite musicians to get lazy and for their music to become stagnant. Like, I can’t wait to see 10 years from now how much the genre has changed. This is a great time for reggaetón: the novelty is over for the masses, but that is just invitation for innovation, don’t you think?

I think the weird thing, too, is that calling a music genre “dead” just invites nostalgia. See, the problem with nostalgia is that a set of people will grab onto this genre and proclaim that it can only sound “pure” if musicians stick to a set of rules. If people make reggaetón-by-the-numbers (FruityLoops, anyone?), it barely leaves room for creativity. And maybe less brave musicians will settle for this, probably at the suggestion of their label peeps or whatever, but you know that only the ones who expand on the sound will really shine.

Anyway, I guess this is my quite unfortunate semi-response to the following folks: W&W, Unfashionably Late, Marisol LeBrón, Raquel Rivera, and Racialicious. Clearly these posts dwell on all sorts of aspects in regard to the demise of reggaetón, and I haven’t really responded adequately to any of them in any sort of timely manner (then again, no one asked me to). But I do recommend that y’all read these posts if you haven’t already. Really thought-provoking, and I feel like they bring up questions relevant to all genres of popular music, not just reggaetón.

Aw, the music is being drowned out by all the (illegal) firecrackers. Okay, off to my continued non-celebration of my nation. Hope y’all have a good weekend.


MoCCA Fest 2009.

[Edit: My friend from work wrote a li’l something on MoCCA too. Clickety click here. Also, I was lurking around a day or two ago looking at other people’s posts, and someone mentioned how annoying it was that there didn’t seem to be any trash cans in the fucking armory. I agree! I kept looking around for a place to dump my trash, and eveeeeentually I found a receptacle.]

Went to the MoCCA fest, which was moved from the Puck building to the Armory between 25th and 26th Streets. The space was striking, absolutely massive–everyone fit under one space, instead of having to split the exhibitors into several large rooms. On one level it was easier to have everyone under one roof, but on another level it also felt a little less personal. I don’t know what could be done about it; the fest had long outgrown its former space, and the move was necessary. The one thing that actually sucked was how humid it got, people were just sweating left and right.

It was just overwhelming to have so many exhibitors and fans in there. Even though there was a floor plan, it was easier for me to just get a feel for the space, so I literally walked up and down every aisle to see who was there and what they had to offer. Then, once I finished doing that, I just returned to the tables that really caught my eye, which was mostly the international artists.

It remained crowded almost all day, so I didn’t get a good glimpse at certain tables. As it happens every year, I saw Adrian Tomine, and his buddy Seth was there, too. I didn’t get anything signed by him, but seeing Adrian was comforting, like, “There’s a familiar face!” Haha. Jason showed up and signed shit, as well as Tom Gauld and I think Kurt Wolfgang too, among many many others. Everyone was so friendly and eager to engage in sweet conversation while enticing us common folk into buying their creative output and in my head I was like, “AHHHHH TOO MUCH I CAN’T HANDLE IT!” but mostly I just smiled politely, said hello, glanced at some of the comics here and there, and just moved on.

Listen, I was on a budget, okay? I really wanted a copy of Joann Sfar’s Piano, but by the point I saw it, I was down to less than $30… And the book was going for $40. There were some other really cool from L’Association and this Belgian publisher named Bries. Bought a couple of titles from the latter.

I was hoping (it was a wild and futile hope, really) that maybe they might have Papa est un peu fatigué but they didn’t. I bought another Ville Ranta comic instead. Bought some other comics from the Scandinavian contingent. I got a mini-comic signed by one of the artists, and I thought he was just gonna give me his John Hancock but he was nice enough to draw me a little something. So I just want to declare this artist, Simon Bukhave, as totally awesome for taking the time and effort to do so.

There was also a Romanian table. I shit you not. Like, of all the random places… They were featuring a series called Hardcomics and I bought a couple, including one that wasn’t even translated. But that’s okay, because I really love the artwork.

The one panel I attended was called “Scandinavian Comics 101,” and the panelists included: Åsa Ekström (Sweden), Mattias Elftrop (Sweden), Johanna Rojola (Finland), Thomas Thorhauge (Denmark), Ib Kjeldsmark (Denmark), Erik Falk (Norway), and one more artist whose name I didn’t catch (also from Norway). If you know his name, or if I misspelled anyone’s name, please let me know! The panel was moderated by Steffen P. Maarup, who is Danish. As soon as I saw how many artists were participating in the panel, I realized we weren’t going to get too far into some deep dialogue from the artists of the various countries they represented. The allotted time was just too brief to get very far… However, the panelists were all very charming and made some great points. For example, I had no idea that so many of them were deeply influenced by French and Belgian comics as opposed to American ones. There was a curious audience member who posed a really interesting question about race and whether the POC in the Scandinavian countries were active at all in the comics scene. The panelists didn’t have much of an answer other than that POC are not really visible. Honestly, there was plenty said during the short time and I’m sure someone who took more copious notes will hit every bullet point discussed… but unfortunately that someone isn’t me. Sorry!

Dude! I do wanna give props to MoCCA for putting out refreshments at the panels!! I feel like my admission money mostly went to good use. Hehe. I had fun, and I got some really cool comics that I’m probably never ever gonna see again, so… it was worth it. Hope all the international artists are able to come next year, too!


Serious Talk About a Guy I Can’t Take Seriously.

[Edit: Jay Smooth finally made a little video about Asher Roth, and as you’d imagine it doesn’t really have to do with Asher Roth himself.  Click here for a more level-headed and eloquent discussion about Asher Roth than whatever my post says.]

I should tell you about my latest morning routine.  It involves watching music videos.  I flip between VH1 and MTV, and watch whichever channel is showing the less annoying video.  And if they’re both annoying, I flip to the morning news–which is pretty frustrating to watch, too.  In between videos one time, they showed a commercial for Asher Roth’s album, with a snippet of “I Love College.”

I was amused by it, but I didn’t think much of it.  I thought it was just a fun and breezy song that will probably be forgotten soon.  So recently Jay Smooth asked on his site whether he should talk about it, and I was surprised by the strong reactions from people.  As you will see if you click on the post, I traded some comments with one guy in particular.  What the guy was saying was that he felt weird liking Asher Roth partly because of the crowd it attracted; although this commenter saw (some) merit in Asher, he felt like Asher is emblematic of a certain type of person who might like shit like “I Love College” but don’t really care to delve deeper into hip-hop, and the commenter worried that he might be seen as one of those people, too.  I mean I know how painful it can be; I love love love music and it really upsets me to meet people who claim to love music too, but they eventually reveal that for them it’s just a superficial thing.

But I told the commenter that he shouldn’t really give a shit what other people think, because if you like (or love!) something, you can’t help it, so why not just enjoy yourself?  If you feel a spark–and you know those sparks don’t come often enough–shouldn’t you just let go and not listen to what other people say?

Well, tonight I (kinda) retract my statement.  Although I firmly believe that if you love something you shouldn’t get it twisted worrying how other people think of your likes and dislikes, I am starting to see why people don’t like Asher Roth.  Or rather, don’t like Asher Roth’s public persona–who the fuck knows what he’s like in private.  This Racialicious post delves into the several stupid things he’s said.  (Make sure to read the comments, too, since the readers bring up some great points from all sorts of angles.)

For me, the main issue is whether to ignore his musical existence and hope he goes away, cos what if we do ignore him and all he does is fester like a cancer on us? I’m very conflicted about Asher Roth, as you can see, and I’m also very conflicted about making this post.  Because my word count keeps increasing by the second and most of me is thinking, “Um… do I really give that much of a shit about this guy?”  I really don’t want to seem like one of those crotchety folk who are think that whatever latest thing is like, the work of the devil or whatevs.  I see him strictly as a novelty, it’s really not worth it to get so worked up about someone who’ll most likely fade away.  (If I end up being wrong about him fading away, though, I’m gonna be worrying a bit more, for sure.)  Anyway, that’s why I haven’t really researched much on him.  I know, I know.  That’s like a cardinal sin when talking shit: if you’re gonna talk shit about someone you should know everything about them so you can talk shit accurately.  And yet… just a few clicks here and there show he’s been saying some real wack stuff and it makes me averse to learning more about him.

So what did he say–out of all the dumb shit he’s said–that got me mad enough to write about it?  In this article, he is quoted as saying:

Roth addresses poverty and greed on the song “Sour Patch Kids.” And at his fans’ behest, Roth uploaded to his MySpace page “A Millie Remix,” a freestyle rhyme over Lil Wayne‘s “A Milli” beat, criticizing rappers who boast about having millions of dollars but “don’t share, don’t donate to charity.”

“When I dropped that … (I thought) ‘You guys are always going off about how much money you have. Do you realize what’s going on in this world right now?’ All these black rappers — African rappers — talking about how much money they have. ‘Do you realize what’s going on in Africa right now?'” Roth says.

“It’s just like, ‘You guys are disgusting. Talking about billions and billions of dollars you have. And spending it frivolously, when you know, the Motherland is suffering beyond belief right now.'”

So I read that and I pretty much gasped.  What is he thinking?!?!  “All these African rappers…”  My dear bro, lemme tell you something.  Most blacks in the US were like, kinda born and raised in the US?  Like, their ancestors might have been African but most of them are not.  Of course in recent years there’s been a new wave of immigrants from Africa (like Obama’s papa!), but what I mean is that you can’t just generalize and be like, “Y’all are African!  Why don’t you take care of Africa then!”  The quote is also ridiculous because the “suffering Motherland” needs help from all of us, we’re all implicated and we are all responsible for helping, so I don’t see why Asher’s singling out rich black rappers to donate their money away.  Since he brought up the subject, I think it’s fair of me to ask him what he’s done for people who are less privileged than he is.

And this brings me to another thing that bothers me about the quote: where does Asher get off thinking that just because a rapper is boasting about having a shitload of money, that the rapper really does have a lot of money.  I’m gonna guess that most of the rappers Asher listens to are mainstream rappers on major labels, and believe me, when you’re on a major, most of the cashflow ain’t going to the artist.  Oh, Asher, you’re on a major, don’t you know?  Steve Albini is a consummate asshole, but he sure knows his math.  After you give money to your manager and your lawyer and your producers and after you pay for the album manufacturing expenses and to the music video director and after all the payola* your label will pay for you to get radioplay and even to your stylist if you have one… well guess what?  You need to sell a shit ton of records to make millions of millions.  And believe me, I don’t mean like, 62000 records.  So don’t be preaching about “black rappers gotta do this and black rappers gotta do that with their money,” cos God knows how little they’re really making even if they’re boasting so as to make it seem like the rapper lifestyle is mad glamorous.  Let’s face it, the label honchos probably told the rappers to say that boastful shit because it sells…

(*About the payola comment: like steroid use in sports, nobody likes to admit it happens.  But don’t you find it odd that this guy seems to come out of nowhere?  He’s not particularly gifted as a rapper or a musician, and he’s obviously not winning over that many people with his charm.  I mean maybe, just maybe he’s been toiling and struggling and maybe all the stars aligned properly to give him so much luck, but I find it suspicious.  Maybe for some strange reason, his label thinks he will be profitable and they’re just pumping a looooot of money in all sorts of strategic places and they’re just manufacturing his popularity.  What’s the best way to get more hits on a YouTube vid?  Make it seem like the video has already gotten tons of hits so that it’ll pique people’s curiosity and make them wonder what they’re missing.  Same concept applies here.)

Anyway, even though I’m clearly seething, I try to tell myself that there are privileged people out there who get it.  So I leave you with the words with someone who gets it, and I can only hope that he will forgive me for quoting him so extensively and won’t feel offended that I’m bringing him into this silly post about some nobody who will be forgotten in about a month.

You have been trying to tell us to change for a long time.  You lecture us about the social pathology of the inner city and how we need to become more like you.  We need to move to the suburbs too.  We need to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and abandon our “undesirables” the way you abandoned us.

We need to do this.  We need to do that.

We’re not the ones who did the most to create the problems.  We’re trying to face the problems you left us with.  We’re staying behind and trying to make things better.

We think the suburbs are what needs to be changed about America.  We think the suburbs are bad for America.

Socially, they intensify segregation and mistrust.  Culturally, they erode the sense of history, narrow the outlook, and dull the imagination.  Economically, they intensify inequality by isolating the rich and poor.  Then the poor lack access to good schools, hospitals, businesses, police, transportation, city services, concerned neighbors, and any of the things that would allow them to alleviate their situation.  The rich lack access to reality and any sense of proportion.  They run around in a comfort warp, taking everything for granted and misusing what they have.

– Upski, Bomb the Suburbs.

(Sometimes when I feel infuriated, reading Bomb the Suburbs makes me feel better.)

I’m sure it wasn’t Asher Roth’s idea to grow up in the suburbs and I’m not going to assume that his life was easy peasy.  But I think his words reflect a lack of comprehension of the world around him.  It’s like, he’s being challenged to think critically for the first time in his life about privilege, and instead of trying to learn and grow and understand, he’s kinda stuck in a defensive mode.  He obviously doesn’t have the vocabulary to talk about race because he hasn’t really had to talk about it before–not to the extent that people have been pushing him now that he’s a public figure.  The question is, is he willing to learn?

Oh, and by the way: I finally listened to what “I Love College” was really saying, and I was like, “Wait… he’s not extolling the pleasures of reading Aristotle and Zizek and writing papers where you get to use all those big vocab words you learned for the SATs?”  I feel like such a geek, but I’m damn disappointed that the whole song is about partying and not about like, learning and shit.  Haha.

Ugh, what am I doing still typing up this post?  I gotta catch me some sleep.  Will I wake up tomorrow and find out that this post makes no sense?


Some Notes.

Part I

I just read this post on Moleskine Literario (¿otra vez? ¡pos sí!) about Julio Cortázar’s former spouse selling the rights to three unpublished stories. Iván wrote,

Está claro que Cortázar no decidió publicarlos en su momento por considerarlos equívocos, pero no importa, nadie espera demasiado de esos textos, lo interesante es el legado. Eso sí, el libro será de ultra lujo: solo 100 ejemplares a 260 euros cada uno.

That is, “It’s clear that Cortázar decided not to publish the stories at the time because they weren’t right, but that doesn’t matter, no one expects much from those texts, what matters is the legacy. That said, the book will be an ultra luxury: only 100 copies at 260 euros each.” (My emphases. Also: not a literal translation.)

What really annoys the fuck out of me is that it seems ridiculous to charge 260 euros to get your hands on three unpublished stories. Honestly. This woman couldn’t donate (or even sell!) the works to a museum or a library? Turning the stories into a commodity, a very expensive commodity at that, pisses me off so bad. My dearest hope is that the people who get their hands on this ARE establishments such as museums or libraries that will allow the masses to have some sort of access to them for free, rather than having the copies go to private individuals who, for all we know might use the stories to wipe their asses with them (o lo que sea). Argh. 260 euros! And none of it going to the fucking author, cos he’s dead. So why is it so fucking expensive? Supposedly, it’s just how much it’ll cost to bind the stories in a beautiful volume, and that the publisher won’t be making a profit. Pffft. Okay, even if that’s true, for the consumer, it becomes much more of a “haha, I got one and you don’t” situation. I don’t see why Cortázar’s former wife couldn’t just make it available to a wider mass of people so that we could get a better sense of his writing process and the like.

“What matters is the legacy,” right. But why should Cortázar’s legacy touch only a select few who can afford it? I hope at least one of the people lucky enough to buy the stories just scans the fucking thing and leaks it onto the internets.

Musical Interlude A

“Soch na kya,” from Ghayal, which is a reinterpretation of “Llorando se fue,” better known as the song that inspired “Lambada.” Further proof that this song is bangin’ in pretty much every language and arrangement. Just recently I noticed that “Llorando se fue” actually has Japanese lyrics, which I noted from the use of the words “anata” and “watashi.” Yay for rudimentary Japanese language skills. Anyway, as soon as I realized that I thought, “Geez, I never knew were Peruvian.” It’s just that whenever I think of big Japanese populations in Latin America I think of Peru and Brazil. Heh. But Los Kjarkas are actually Bolivian. Regardless of where they’re from, I’m curious as to why they sing in Japanese in the first place. ¡Qué misterio!

Part II

Words Without Borders updated! Its theme for February is “The Graphic World,” and there’s some sweet translations of comics available. It’s also worth checking out their archives for older translations of comics. For example, there’s an excerpt in English of Fuguet’s “Road Story.” Good shit!

Musical Interlude B

I never made a list of favorite albums of 2008, and I’m so glad because I only listened to Utada Hikaru’s Heart Station recently and I’m loving it. I’m kinda dreading her forthcoming English language album, mostly cos I listened to her newest single and it’s dreadfully boring. But Heart Station is undeniably awesome.

Part III

How do the Kindle fiends do it? How can anyone stare at a screen and just read for extended periods of time? I had a hard enough time wanting to read Colson Whitehead’s “Wow, Fiction Works!” I mean, I opened the page and it loaded in like, five seconds, and then I… proceeded to not read it. Jesus. For like hours and hours I was like, “Oh, let’s put it off for a bit until I’ve finished watching this stupid youtube vid of [insert your favorite pointless youtube time-waster of choice here].” Finally I understood that I wasn’t going to read this essay unless I printed it. Because if I printed it, I wouldn’t be distracted by other open browser pages, not to mention it felt good to have something tangible to read. And it didn’t hurt my eyes to read it! In fact, I was pretty giddy about it. Whitehead is so gleeful in his delivery that it’s infectious.


Back to Class.

A couple of years ago I took this fun class at school called “Writing New York.” The professors teach it every Spring and, unlike back when I took the class, now they have a blog for it too, so if you’re feeling geeky and want to learn more about NYC by reading awesome books and watching awesome movies, you can actually follow along and join in the discussion here. That specific post I’m linking to has a syllabus and everything. A lot of the reading for the first half of the semester includes a lot of non-copyrighted stuff, so you could probably just look it up on the internets and read it for free.

It’s weird, I recently watched Gangs of New York for the first time, and I was shocked by how much information I’d retained from this Writing New York class. I mean, I was a pretty lousy student, but having taken this class made it so much easier for me to watch the movie and understand it in context. Wish the movie had resonated a little more though, LOL. Definitely not Scorsese’s finest, even though I loved his little cameo.

Anyway, you don’t even have to be interested specifically in NYC to enjoy the texts. In the end, I feel like I learned so much about cities and urban life as a whole.


Extreme Makeovers.

Ohhh… I’m just buggin’ out right now. I realized that I hadn’t been to the AV Club site in a while (which I think coincides with the fact that I haven’t watched a lot of TV since Pushing Daisies died in its ass), so I promptly went over to the website only to be assaulted by a … NEW LAYOUT! Dun dun dunnnnn!! Change is frightening. And yet, I think I will like it, mostly because the comments system was upgraded. Yay.

Fuck, now I’m anxiously waiting to see how the new Super45 layout is gonna turn out. There’s just so much that could go wrong. The hilarious thing is that the Super45 posse has been nice enough to ask for their readers’ input, but I really can’t think of what I want. It’s more like, I know what I don’t want.

One makeover I’m happy about? The construction work for the new Alice Tully Hall is reaching its end. I’ve passed by the Lincoln Center area a couple of times, and I gotta tell you the building looks pretty swanky. They worked on it pretty quickly too, and without closing stuff like the Walter Reade. Hurrah! Now that’s what I call efficiency.


More Random Goodies.

(1) Some comics I finished reading include The Bottomless Belly Button, Crickets #1 and #2, Eightball #22 (Ice Haven), Heavy Liquid, Nocturnal Conspiracies, and a while back, Watchmen. So even though I haven’t gotten started on my reading challenges I’ve been on a pretty sweet comics streak, not to mention I totally got a copy of McSweeney’s #13 for 64 cents. Yup yup! Okay, so the McSweeney’s book is totally missing a few pages (WTF) but most of it is pretty intact and as great as when I first read it. My supplier says he will get me more comics which I’m really excited about.

(2) Alberto Fuguet upgraded his blog(s)! Now they’re just one blog located at his official website (click here). Filled with a bout of bravery–or maybe it’s just stupidity–he’s decided to allow comments!

(3) Speaking of other blogs, The Complete Review did a little survey of the past 100 reviews they’ve done in order to answer “How international are we?” Sometimes I grumble to myself that they “never” review the shit I’d like to know more about, but seeing stuff like this survey makes me appreciate the site so much more. If only other sites were as conscientious about giving well-rounded coverage to all sorts of lit in all sorts of languages from all sorts of places.

Another thing, in Three Percent, Chad Post wrote recently about doing a radio interview in which people submitted questions through mofuckin’ Twitter. !!! I’m telling you, until the moment I read about this, I really had no sense of Twitter being useful. I understood that it could be interesting, but I didn’t see how useful it could be. Except now that I see what its capabilities are, I wish EVERY fucking Q&A session ever would require the average civilian to Twitter in their question… if only because whenever I go to a Q&A, or hear one on the radio or whatever, the questioner just tends to meander while setting up their question for like three solid minutes and then finally asks a really dumb or shallow question that can either be answered in one word, or is way too fucking complicated for the recipient to answer it concisely. Ugh. Where has this 140 character limit been all my life!

The radio interview that Chad did was kinda “meh,” mostly because the host of the show didn’t seem very up on the concept of literature in translation. It made for awkward interview exchanges.

(4) Um, you can read Eunoia on the internets for free. Amazing! Incroyable!

(5) Okay, confession time. I have a shitload of records that have been left unopened for years (it’s a long story), and I finally finally listened to some of them, including the first album by The Evens. I have a love/hate thing for Ian MacKaye, so it was a pleasant surprise that I really liked it. Dude, I’m on their Wikipedia page and it says that Ian and his fellow Evens lady friend Amy totally procreated. Now, y’all know Wikipedia don’t lie, so it must be true. Can you believe it? There’s a mini-Ian ready to wreak havoc on the world! Haha, I kid. I’m really happy for them, actually.

(6) The latest issue of Bomb magazine is titled the “Americas Issue,” even though it mostly focuses on the Southern Cone. It’s kind of annoying because I’m so sure there must be some great artistic scenes in every country in Latin America that we just don’t know about. (In their defense, they did include a reprint of an interview with Guillermo Cabrera Infante.) I’m not complaining too much, though, because they included a feature on Nicanor Parra as well as an interview with Babasónicos, which continues online here.

[Edit 1/14: Haha, I didn’t realize that the Americas Issue is an annual issue focusing on different areas of the Americas. So that’s why this particular issue focuses on Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago. My bad!]

(7)

I watch this video, and I see how big Karen Carpenter’s smile is, and I watch how skilled she is playing the drums, and it bums me the fuck out. I listened to my Carpenters CD recently and I hated that the vocals are so far up in the mix. I wished I could hear the arrangements better, especially when they included parts where she’s drumming. What I really like in this video is that you can tell she studied drumming, the way she plays is more akin to a jazz drummer than, say, some kid in a punk band just functioning as a timekeeper.

By the way, if you haven’t seen Todd Haynes’s Karen Carpenter biopic (?), Superstar, starring a handful of Barbie dolls, you should just watch it on Google video here. And for this, I thank god that the internets exists. It’s actually a really good movie, I learned a lot about anorexia and I also learned that the Carpenter siblings weren’t such big squares in their private lives.

(8) Dude! I started rewatching Mad Men and it’s most excellent. Especially after having devoured the two seasons and knowing what’s gonna happen, it’s cool to go back and see certain hints that were dropped along the way that were very revealing about the characters. I’m also stunned by how fresh the writing feels, even though I’ve heard all the lines already. Can’t get enough of Pete and Peggy.

(9) My guitar is dead. Broken. I hadn’t picked it up in a while so I don’t know what happened, exactly. But I’m still fucking sad because it’s irreparable.