Thursday, November 27, 2008

...And Justification For All

So y'know how I got all, "Yeah, I do music a bunch," a couple of posts ago? I wasn't kidding.

This is the lead track from a new EP called Yeah, Well, Coué's Dead - digital release this coming Monday, December 1st, courtesy of the good folks with golden ears over at SVC Records. 'Cuz the fourth-quarter clusterfuck of rush releases wasn't crowded enough already. That's right, I'm taking on Beyoncé, Axl, and Kanye! That ain't a windmill, Sancho, that's my awaiting throne of rock supremacy. ¡Andale!

So that brings 2008's total to two full-lengths and one EP - so I've yet to match either Frank or Anton's maximum annual output, but still, markedly more productive than the usual one-LP-every-2.5-years cycle.

Gosh, look at me, patting my own back... arrogant bastard, eh? Yeah, well, three releases within eight months and exactly what laurels on which to rest? Just enjoy the damn tunes! I wouldn't share 'em if they weren't worth hearing. I'm not a complete asshole, after all.

Now They Tell Me

Are they fucking kidding me? The motherfucking Jesus Lizard - one of about two bands I never saw that my wife can needle me about having seen - are reforming four months after I leave this goddamned continent? And Sleep? Fucking hell, I'd like to know why this couldn't have happened within the past sixteen months. It's already been five years since the Pixies made reunions de rigeur for defunct Gen-X bands. Maybe being in Chicago and seeing "Yes We Can" plastered across very available surface for the past eleven months inspired them to bite the bullet.

Obviously, they're doing this exclusively to piss me off.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

I apologize that activity here has been slowing down more than the global economy. I'm actually racing in top gear towards an event horizon of fair significance, so real world responsibilities & preparations take precedence over any self-important pontificating around these parts.

I've also been feeling a li'l conflicted, funny, in a funk about the purpose this site serves. Recently, when I was trying to explain why I enjoyed something that would normally skirt the edges of my interest, a friend interrupted, "You know why you like it? 'Cuz you're a blogger." As though this meant something. As though this were some official title or legitimate vocation. Of course, it can be: Markos Moulitsas, Ariana Huffington, Ezra Klein, these are people whose primary allocation of time and source of income is blogging. But me? I'm not a fuckin' blogger.

As trite a folksy dictum it is that a man ought to be known for what he is, not what he thinks he is, it's pure egotism that leads a person to define themselves primarily by something other than what they spend most of their time doing. Without exception, every "writer" or "photographer" I met within the gaijin community in Tokyo paid their rent as a language teacher. Another acquaintance, who defines herself as a "self-employed visual artist," spends 8 hours a day, 5 days a week teaching disinterested teens how to make clay busts of their own puberty-despoilt faces. This is as delusional as any gas pump monkey who'd call themselves a "musician" because they play bass in a Black Sabbath cover band.

I'm not saying it's an exquisite thrill to define yourself by your work. True, there are those whose work is actually a pleasure, to whom I doff my hat & offer my envy. Were we all so beautifully fortunate, we wouldn't need antonyms like "play" or "fun."

However, to define a person lump-sum by whatever they devote the most time to is insufficient, as demonstrated by studying two odd species within the worker genus. What of those who spend less than half their waking life working and still bring home the bacon? Odds are you're either a pillage-via-paperwork "little Eichmann" & a right prick, or the most together motherfucker on the planet.

How about those who similarly spend the minority of their time actively employed, and yet their meager means & material wealth reflect this lack of remunerated labour? You know, those often referred to as dossers, derelicts, slackers, scumbags, bums, layabouts, losers, and welfare queens? Identifying them by their vocation (or, rather, lack thereof) necessarily labels them nobodies, mere gristle sizzling in sacrifice upon the altar of capitalism. It's dehumanising, unfair, and inaccurate besides.

Is it a matter of the import of one's activities? Then by what measure does one job matter over another? I, happily, spend most of my time instrument in hand and earmuffed by headphones during a mixdown, so it would seem fair to title myself a musician & audio engineer - but is it really, given that it's brought me as much renown as if I'd been mopping floors at Seven-Eleven? And what precisely is less noble about custodial work in a convenience store than writing stoner rock songs slagging off Australians?

But perhaps that's wandering too far afield from the topic of blogging. What makes blogging a unique medium is the power of the audience to dictate its form without the classic incentive of cash to bait the content provider(s). Obviously, commercial blogs exist, but whereas independent musicians or filmmakers can remain steadfastly oblivious to the whims of their public, a blog's content - or at the very least its tone - can be steered as much by the readers as the writer.

It's a double-blind date in which a blogger & their audience engage. As much as the blogger can shield, edit, or affect their online persona, the readers can remain even more anonymous or obscure; after all, they're not the ones in the spotlight. Further, a blogger is never as in control of their public image as they imagine: what if they're weaker on the page than in conversation? What if they make a bold statement on a subject one of their readers happens to know much more about? What if a merrily ironic aside, easily understood by the blogger's close acquaintances, is misread as an ill-informed opinion, a solid-as-Swiss-cheese straw man, or mordant anomie? It's always too late to take anything back once both the blogger & the reader have realized whether they're sitting across the table from Prince Charming or Ted Bundy.

So maybe blogging is less a blind date or fireside chat, than a blindfolded waltz across a fog-blanketed minefield. Sometimes it works out. The best blogs, with informed & lively exchanges between writer & reader, have the intellectual tone of salons or symposiums. The worst are a Stygian mire of thundering idiocy and petty hatred, all windmilling fists and flying spittle - a fate that can befall any of the better blogs too, should the tone of the comments thread deteriorate too severely.

Me? Well, I often feel like some bloviator glued to his favourite barstool, drawling on to no one in particular, who is occasionally dragged into "Yer so fulla shit"/"No, yer fulla of shit" ping-pong matches by some crank seated at the other end of the bar. (Hi, Andrew Stevens!) This is a useful forum for fleshing out half-formed ideas, talking myself towards a better understanding of my own views. But it's a bit discouraging, and reveals a lot about the going rate of online communication, when I (unintentionally, I'll add) kick-started the most thorough back-and-forth in the recent history of this blog by saying Republicans could "eat a bowl of dicks."

A statement by which I still stand, by the way. But when that is the jump-off, the landing won't be pretty.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

There Oughta Be a Law

This is what happens when you let a man who dresses like an extra from TRON design footwear.

And this is what happens when you let that same man comment on the so-called "right" to privacy.
I'd hate to be the guy who tells him that, in fact, that is the legal standard in America: an appearance in a public forum provides de facto consent to documentation of a person's public image. That's why it's called the public image. Should a paparazzo "DRIVE RECKLESSLY ON FREEWAYS, JUMP OVER FENCES AND INVADE PRIVACY ALL IN AN EFFORT TO GET THAT 'MONEY SHOT'," well, Mr. West, there are already plenty of laws against reckless driving, breaking & entering, trespassing, and the like. Press charges, dude.

Ah, but there's no visible signage to inform people where or when they've exposed themselves to prying lenses! Because that's precisely what we need: more public signposts, placards, marks, emblems, and instructions that treat us like infantile numbskulls. Y'know, the same weak-minded entreaty to have our behavior policed by some legislative supernanny that labels paper-towel dispensers with warnings that "MISUSE OF PRODUCT MAY RESULT IN SERIOUS INJURY OR DEATH."

Some people call it a tragedy when, say, some dude dies in a motorcycle mishap because he was sending a text message with his feet up on the handlebars. I call it evolution.

Needless to say I won't be attending Kanye's Nov. 28th concert at Colorline Arena here in Hamburg. There's only "SO MANY POSITIVE UPLIFTING MESSAGES" shellacked in auto-tune I can stomach.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Duh-Duh-Duh-Deutsche Unit!

Dear Jessica,

Yes, Peter Fox is what passes for domestic hip-hop here in DE (not, however unlikely this may be, to be confused with Delaware). The pisser is that Fox is as good as it gets, and easily has the most musically sophisticated production. Here's the most popular *ahem* hip-hop group in Germany, Fettes Brot (Fatty Bread), from Hamburg:

And you thought anyone who still thought "Whoop! (There It Is)" is the bollocks was now confined to sharing a padded cell in a Miami psych ward with Luther Campbell. At least, contextually it renders the fact the Bloodhound Gang still have a career in this country a little less flabbergasting. But I don't give a shit if Thom Yorke rates 'em, Modeselektor are persona non grata on my stereo just for producing this tune.

Meanwhile, here's Berlin's godfather of gangsta, Bushido:

Ignore the fact that he nicked the backing synth pads from Madonna's "Power of Goodbye". And finally, here's Sido, who I've heard is supposed to be Germany's answer to both ODB and Jay-Z, but you tell me how that works. Actually, just tell me what the hell this guy's on about in the first place. Here's your RDA of WTF:

Of course, here I am slagging off Deutsche hip-hop when I'm about to move back to Japan. Bless the Japanese, man, 'cuz they can outdo anyone at garage-rock hissy-fits or brain-burning psych-noise, but they can not fucking do hip-hop:

So there's the second big backslap of the week, my Yankee comrade: y'all elected a liberal-leaning black intellectual, plus you're still the only nation on the planet that does hip-hop properly.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A Trey Parker Understatement

What better way to cap off a historic & reaffirming week than bitching about frivolous tripe?

Quick show of hands while you're still in the voting mood, people: who here would've ever thought that "Spielberg & Lucas gang-raping Indiana Jones" could qualify as a malefic piss-take not taken far enough? Well, then which of these bastard Frankenstein monsters do you find to be the greatest violation?

Or, dare I inquire, is there some fresh filmic horror I've not yet heard of, waiting to bust aneurysms in film-lovers' brains everywhere?

Ah well. At least this gave me a good solid chuckle. (Via the AV Club's Friday Buzzkills.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Chilling So Hard My Ass Almost Froze Off

Man, I am gonna sleep like a baby on a morphine drip tonight...

Were the alternative results a fact, I'd simply have pointed you all ibidem to the master of bilious visual parody, Tim Krieder. Thank fucking god I don't have to do that.

Of course, what with all the discussion about "accelerationism" raging around a certain blogipelago, the question begs to be asked: wither all the McCain endorsements? Yesterday would've stood as the ultimate test of accelerationists' integrity. After all, if we're serious about running this crazy neoliberal corporate-militarist train right off its blood-slicked rails, isn't a McCain/Palin administration the shortest distance between here and oblivion? Or is that too Bakuninist a version of Give 'Em Enough Rope, one that invites a degree of violence we don't wish to see exacted on innocent civilians? Or is it that we un-Amerikaneren don't want to risk getting nuked on principle by putting Palin - better suited to Twin Peaks than DC - within reach of kick-starting a fission-feuled Rapture?

Last night, it crept into the pre-dawn hours here in Hamburg as the tallies began to trickle in. I called a dear friend at whose house I attended an election party four years ago - at which we all drank ourselves through the shellshock with an endless supply of Cuba libres. (The specific choice of drink, much like voting in the '04 election, was a defiant yet ultimately empty gesture that left us feeling gutted & raw the following morning.) This time, though my friend was in considerably better spirits, her celebratory mood was owed chiefly to the modest relief that the next four years won't be as totally shit as they could have been.

I'm not, nor have I ever been, under the illusion that, at long last, all the problems will be solved. Obama is several supersized strides to the right of where my ideal elected representative would be; nah, scratch that - my ideal political rep would probably refuse even to consider joining as compromised & cynical an enterprise as a late-stage capitalist democracy. In fact, given the genuinely weird array of soft-scabby Culture War-wounds that have been ripped back open in the last couple of months, I'm feeling bold enough to wager the Balkanization of America will come in my lifetime - a prediction seconded by the friend I phoned last night.

"I don't expect miracles, especially not from a politician," she said. "He's a charismatic guy with a good head on his shoulders and a hell of a learning curve; he's campaigning and talking to people better now than he was even three months ago. A messiah? Gimme a break. But he is a catalyst for all the ugly shit that's been festering within this country for the past three hundred years. Basically, he's the guy I think can best talk America through whatever tragic and difficult, but necessary schism is coming in the near future."

Three cheers for Barack Obama, divorce-counselor-elect!

Update (about 12 hours later): Y'know what? Fuck it. I'm happy. I'm fucking ecstatic. I am THRILLED that, thanks to the choice made by the American electorate, I can stave off point-of-no-return misanthropy for at least another few years. When was the last time the US told the rest of the globe that it actually gave a shit and kinda meant it? Have I revised my expectations for the coming Obama/Biden administration? Nope. My ideological differences persist, and blah blah blah... I don't care right now. As long as air strikes aren't launched against Tehran between now and January 20 (which *sigh* remains a distinct possibility), at the very least civilization will collapse at an organic rate of decay, as opposed to with all the grace & austerity of a shotgun blast to the face.

And to all those who actually cast their vote for the Republican ticket... suck it, losers! You had six years of unmitigated control in Washington, every one of Leo Strauss' oligarchical wet dreams came true, and what did all that get you? Small gov't? Fiscal responsibility? An end to "nation-building"? Growing wages? Financial security? Transparent domestic policy? The overturn of Roe V Wade? Federal protection of the sanctity of marriage? The capture of Osama bin Laden? Victory in the wars on terror, drugs, and poverty? The restoration of honour & dignity to the White House?

In the immortal words of Ice-T: y'all can eat a bowl of dicks. Good night and get fucked.