Monday, July 13, 2009

A New Coat of Paint On An Old Perversion

Nestled within the flesh of Christopher Weingarten's virtuosic rant on the decline of music criticism, a particularly chewy bit of gristle was the truth - accept it, however grudgingly! - that several-thousand-word homilies aren't necessary to show appropriate enthusiasm for music/film/literature/[insert cultural commodity]. A skillful wordsmith can indeed convince someone to seek out (or avoid) a work of art in a mere 140 characters.

If career writers & critics are legitimately fearing for their survival amongst the twit-plague, then what the fuck are the rest of us hobbyists and amateurs doing wasting our time clacking away all this self-indulgent twaddle? In a world where people can pass judgment on Shaquille O'Neal's choice of breakfast as he reports on the masticatory process in real-time, is there any attention left for lengthy diatribes that pass their expiration date while being written?

Life is what happens while you're blogging about it, so I accept that a number of posts I've been working on are already irredeemably irrelevant. For example, I'm going to follow up Ads Without Products' withering "K-Punk's New Clothes" piece, but since that fracas is already (gasp!) several weeks old, I doubt anyone will even bother reading it. So it goes.

Similarly, I'd begun crafting a article inspired by another of AWP's posts - about the libidinal link between sex and violence, specifically when the two are wrapped in a sweaty embrace with global Big Finance - back in fucking October of last year. Then a record, the holidays, moving across the planet and re-rooting intervened, so here we are a full nine months after the fact. Mooted! In the interest of keeping your interest, I'm including two topical playlists I made for a mix-tape swap this past spring; click on the titles below to download. And not wanting to let any labour (however late) go to waste, here's what I was writing at the time...

Talking about the globalisploitation flick Boarding Gate, AWP wrote:
The first-thought thing to say about films like this, that wrap financial activity in sex and violence, is that they are allegories of the violence that works off-stage in the real world to keep the business running. A simple furniture import-export business is really a front for murder-for-hire and heroin dealing etc etc etc. ...And every sexual act is tinged with the aftertaste of violence and ill-gotten gains.
Which, to be sure, is a romantic exaggeration. Despite whatever mirages may manifest in the mirror, I doubt very many hedge fund managers actually sustain the violent portents of of Mr. Blonde while nailing guileful femme fatales like Asia Argento. "Somehow," AWP wrote, "the world wants investment banking to be a task populated by the feral, the oversexed, the trigger-pullers. But it is not."

But not for lack of trying! If the world of cut-throat young Turks swashbuckling across the seas of int'l finance is a mere tenth as amoral, decadent, and libidinally propelled as films like Wall Street, Boiler Room, 25th Hour, Glengarry Glen Ross, or American Psycho would have us believe... then the keys to the kingdom have been handed to some of the most debased sociopaths ever to roam the earth. This is in keeping with the stories I've heard from folks who've worked within any proximity to a stock exchange. One friend, who used to work at a record store in the basement of the TSX, lost track of the number of times he'd walked into a stairwell or bathroom to find brokers bumping blow or speed, engaged in an act of self-love, or indeed getting each other off. (The gender of either party was of secondary importance to frictional expertise. How socially progressive of them!)

And science supports this view of hormonally-imbalanced psychos snorting lines off the back of our portfolio: Harvard researchers found a literal link between men with elevated levels of testosterone and men who'd willfully gamble away money on a coin toss, enthralled by the sheer fuckoffness of chance. The deeply disturbing next step is to consider, in tandem, that testosterone insufficiently counterbalanced by serotonin is a biochemical hallmark of serial killers. Granted, most notorious murderers are too emotionally unstable to play the clean-cut professional as well as Ted Bundy, but the neurology suggests that a monster like Patrick Bateman is less unimaginable than inevitable.

A lot of talk about the (now obviously & woefully ineffective) bailout has argued that it amounts to a bloodless coup by a fraternity of financial oligarchs. The fatted calf being sacrificed on the economic altar isn't merely taxpayers' money, but democracy itself. The difference between state-corporatism (fascism) & state-capitalism (despotic "communism") and contemporary America is that the locus of the masses' libido is not Dear Leader, but the "free-market" economy. As David Sitora wrote:
We have become a country that has one national religion: presidentialism. That's the religion that says the president is an all-powerful deity - and the Oval Office is a position that is the only one that matters. That this outlook is fundamentally undemocratic and offensive to the principles of our Founding Fathers seems completely forgotten. We have embraced czarism with the zeal of cult worshipers - and now this zeal has global economic forces at its back.

We are trying to economically compete with anti-democratic forces that can make financial decisions without any public input at all. As we saw with the debate over the bailout bill, the transnational corporate elite tell us our democracy and its careful deliberations are hurting our ability to make quick decisions in this global market - and therefore that democracy must be subverted to the will of capitalism.
A noted war criminal once intoned that "power is the greatest aphrodisiac." Hideous though it may be to contemplate, this appears to be vomit-inducingly true - especially when expressed via one degree of displacement through cash-grabs, imperial incursions, sexual debasement, or some obscene confluence of any of the above. No wonder Republican & Tory sex scandals are always the most titillating.


1. Black Flag - "Slip It In"
2. The Birthday Party - "Fears of Gun"
3. Jane's Addiction - "Ted... Just Admit It"
4. The Billy Nayer Show - "Billy's"
5. Melvins - "Boris"
6. Messer Chups - "I'm Psycho Bitch"
7. Dudley Nightshade - "All the Colours of the Dark" (Instrumental)
8. Sex - "I Had to Rape Her"
9. Lil Wayne - "Mrs. Officer"
10. Brainbombs - "Lipstick On My Dick"
11. Flying Lotus - "SexSlaveShip"
12. Oxbow - "Stallkicker"
13. David Lynch & John Neff - "Go Get Some"
14. Sonic Youth - "Lights Out"

Songs the Recession Taught Us

1. The Flying Lizards - "Money (That's What I Want)"
2. Madlib - "Pyramids (Change)"
3. The Steve Miller Band - "Take the Money and Run"
4. Mos Def - "Fake Bonanza"
5. Guns 'N' Roses - "Double-Talkin' Jive"
6. Ennio Morricone - "Money Orgy"
7. Tricky - "Money Greedy"
8. The Fall - "Middle Class Revolt!"
9. Hilton Sutton - "I Will Destroy Them Economically"
10. Soul Coughing - "Collapse"
11. The Birthday Party - "Guilt Parade"
12. The Jesus Lizard - "Countless Backs of Sad Losers"
13. Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention - "Can't Afford No Shoes"
14. Enzo Scoppa - "Recesso"
15. Harvey Milk - "A Maelstrom of Bad Decisions"
16. Johnny Greenwood - "Future Markets"
17. Wu-Tang Clan - "C.R.E.A.M."
18. Pissed Jeans - "I've Still Got You (Ice Cream)"

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