Random Thoughts

I’ve been doing a lot of writing at work, so lately it’s hard to get excited to write stuff.

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I know lots of people hate Creed, and I’m not going to try to convince anyone not to, because I only heard them a few times and thought they were bad enough that my mind blocked their music forever, and I couldn’t even tell you what their songs are.  You could play Nickelback and I’d be like “oh, OK.”  I actually don’t know Nickelback’s songs either.  I do recognize the Foo Fighters.

At any rate, singer Scott Stapp seems to be on a very bad path either on account of addiction or mental illness and that’s not funny.  I hope he gets better.  In general, it’s fucked up to laugh at the misery of people who make music you don’t like.  Seriously, it’s just music.  The only artists that deserve condemnation for their art are propagandists.  Leni Riefenstahl, for instance.  Or really racist ones.  But there’s no reason to hate someone for putting out cheesy music.  I would say that even if I weren’t someone who makes cheesy music.

I haven’t heard anything from Kesha lately and since she’s fighting with Dr Luke, a guy who is behind a ridiculous number of pop hits, maybe we won’t again.  This makes me very sad, because Kesha is my favorite pop singer.  And there’s no one to replace her yet.  I am bummed about this.

This song is so good and the video is great.  Super lo-fi.

I love how Kendrick just wanders into the shot like a lurker and starts rapping- you wanna see a dead body?  Where does that voice come from?  He’s amazing

Some thoughts on rioting, police brutality, other stuff

White Riot I Wanna Riot White Riot Riot of My Own

The Clash are one of the best bands ever, but let’s be honest, this line shows a lack of imagination:

Nobody wants to go to jail

There’s a lot worse things that can happen to people to riot.

Every time minorities get out of hand in this country there is a group of people tut-tutting about them rioting.  I… am going to be one of those people.  Because I don’t want to go to jail either for rioting or for urging people to do something I am not willing to do myself.  That being said, some of the criticism is rich, especially coming from white people.  Let’s be real, white people have rioted a lot, and a lot of the time, it worked.

Quick quiz:

What kept the Chicago Housing Authority from trying to integrate Chicago Housing Projects:

Hint: the Airport Homes Race ______s.

I’m just throwing that out there.

What about “black-on-black” crime?

What about you shutting your face?

No really, this is just something people say to distract.  But since I have the day off while I’m waiting for my car to be repaired, let’s answer this stupid question.

I grew up in a small town.  It was surrounded by lots of fields, miles and miles of them.  People sometimes lived “out in the country” i.e. between the fields, but for the most part people lived in town, because it’s convenient and because to build next to a field you usually have to own that field.  So there were all kinds of people living together, not really by choice, but because if you wanted to live in the area, you pretty much had to.  In a town of 5,000 or so there were some nice neighborhoods, some very nice blocks where upper middle-class people lived.  There were some not as nice blocks where lower middle class people lived.  There was a trailer park where poor people lived.  There was a housing project where other poor people lived.

The reality for black people is that, for a variety of reasons both historical and current, they live in neighborhoods with people with wider range of incomes.

“Blacks are segregated and even affluent blacks are pretty segregated,” says Logan, who analyzed 2005-09 data for the nation’s 384 metropolitan areas. “African Americans who really succeeded live in neighborhoods where people around them have not succeeded to the same extent.”

What’s my point here?  Like my town, black people are stuck living in places with a lot of poor people.  But I suspect that like in my town, they learned to manage that, to some extent.  If you lived in a nice block on my town, sure your house could get robbed.  And sure, your uncle could drink too much and decide to murder everyone.  That could happen anywhere.  But if you didn’t want to get in a random fight, you’d probably stay out of the trailer park, the honky tonk and would probably not park your car on certain blocks.  And if you didn’t want to get shot, you probably do that by not joining a gang or dealing drugs.

None of these are fool-proof, but they’re at least things you can control.  You can minimize your risks.  You know what you couldn’t control through your own personal behavior?  Police.  Because they patrol everywhere in town.  That’s their job.  So if there were a corrupt cop, he was everybody’s problem.

And the only way for a town to deal with a corrupt cop is for people to get together and petition town government to do something.  That’s what black people are trying to do in America- deal with corrupt police.

Gettin’ Old, Gettin’ Grey

So I was reading Steven Hyden’s AC/DC buyer’s guide and one thing stuck out at me in his review of High Voltage:

Bon Scott was pushing 30 when this LP was released; he was willing his denim-covered ass out of the pub and down the road to immortality

I never knew that.  I knew he’d been around for a while when they hired him, but I didn’t know he was that… old.

OK so thirty is not old, but it’s pretty old for a rock and roller.  I was trying to think of rock and roller who “made it” after the age of thirty.   Here’s what I came up with:

Ian Hunter

Ian started fronting Mott the Hoople in 1969 at the age of thirty, but they weren’t a commercial success until 1972 after David Bowie basically rescued them by offering them All the Young Dudes.  So he was about 32 or 33 when he finally made it.  His biggest solo hit after leaving Mott the Hoople was probably Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Ronnie James Dio

Let’s be real.  Ronnie had lots of things work against him.  Lack of conventional good looks, age, short stature and a receding hairline when he joined Rainbow at age 32.  I should say allegedly at age 32, because even that age is subject to some dispute.  But the voice could not be denied.  My personal choice for greatest heavy metal voice ever.  As a bonus, watch him talk to the crowd here- just seems like the coolest guy

Meat Puppets

In a case similar to Ian Hunter’s, the Meat Puppets were more or less pulled into fame by Nirvana covering a couple of their songs and bringing them on stage to play with them during Nirvana’s Unplugged appearance.

They only had one big hit, but were pretty influential for 90s grunge bands

Sharon Jones

Sharon isn’t a rocker, per se, but Soul music is pretty close to rock and roll.  And she’s not exactly a household name, but I’m going to add her here.  At any rate, after decades making sporadic appearances as a backup singer, she’s finally made it

 

Random Thoughts

So, uh, on Ferguson, did anyone think things would go any different?  The grand jury seemed like nothing more than an ass-covering exercise than anything else.  Or worse.  Who knows.  I just know I didn’t really think it would end any differently than it did.

I don’t have any particular thoughts on police.  I don’t know how they should do their job and I don’t know how the police system should be organized, or how it could be reformed.  I don’t have strong thoughts on the security state, whether or not drones flying over are a bad thing, or cameras.  If things were presented as- you can have 98% less crime and police brutality but no privacy ever, would I make that choice?  Who knows.  It’s never really presented that way.

At any rate what I saw happen in Ferguson wasn’t right, and I don’t know how that can be swept under the rug, though maybe it will be.

This new Ty Segall album is amazing.  I’ve been listening to it for weeks

It’s got pretty much everything I like- 70’s glam, dual guitar leads, falsetto singers.  So awesome.

One thing I wonder about sometimes is how people think the people running a business will always make a choice based on money, no matter what.  I don’t buy this, because it seems like business people would make the occasional choice based on weird personal reasons.  Because people are weird.

Taking children to a fun center is, to borrow from Tolkien, a quest (that) stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail.  It never makes sense to me how a child can go to this place that’s supposed to be a ton of fun, but lose their mind when some little thing goes wrong.  Like a machine eats one coin out of like the 50 in their pocket and they FREAK OUT.  Or they didn’t get to exchange their tickets for the exact toy they wanted so their day is ruined.  Some things about kids I will never understand.

Trial in the court of public opinion

A rare two post day!  Look at me!

One thing I find hilarious is how people will try to apply legal principles to everyday life, usually in the defense of something stupid.  Like when people say “I’m just exercising my First Amendment Right!” when they really mean “stop laughing at what I said!”.

I bring this up because I made a joke about Bill Cosby today on Facebook, basically about how I think it’s terrible that he raped women but that I enjoy the fact that it’s evidence for my theory that self-righteous people probably have something awful they’re trying to hide.

And without fail someone came along and said “He’s innocent until proven guilty!”

Yes.  In the legal sense, he can’t be sentenced to jail time until someone proves he raped them, and probably nobody ever will because the things he did took place long enough ago that the statute of limitations has run out.

And sure, I suppose I could be sued for libel for not appending my joke with allegedly.  If Mr Cosby or someone from his team wants to sue me for that, well fine.  This is all a joke!  You can’t sue me for joking!

At any rate, the point is, that I’m not going to send him to jail, so I don’t have to prove him guilty in my own mind in order for me to think he’s guilty.  That’s for me to decide because the legal system doesn’t reach the inner recesses of my skull.  Yet.

The other thing people bring up is- well his reputation might be ruined.  Yeah, apparently it is.  And a good part of his earning potential, but the man is 70 something and I’m sure he’s not relying on Social Security to pay the bills.

But the broader point is that people in the public eye are faced with an unfair burden- the public can turn on them at any moment if someone makes spurious charges.   I’m going to engage in a fairly glib line of questioning here, but here’s goes…

So what? 

Seriously, so what if the public turns against a famous person for reasons (possibly) beyond their control?

Let’s take this one step at a time.  First of all, the so what?

Actually, I don’t have that much to say about it because I don’t care.  If Bill Cosby loses his place as America’s Loveable Grouchy Old Man I couldn’t give two shits.  Don’t care any more about that than I care about the weather on Mercury.  I don’t care and you can’t make me care.  So there.

Second, really, so what?  Shit, people turn on famous people all the time for no good reason.  Do you think it’s fair?  Life’s not fucking fair.  It’s not like there’s always some great reason why the public started admiring someone in the first place.  Half of the celebrities in the world you can look at and think- what on earth are they famous for anyway?  If they disappeared tomorrow would you cry?  Would you hold a candlelight vigil?  No, you wouldn’t.  You’d move on with your life, only pausing to think – I wonder what happened to that guy like every ten years.

Finally, and most importantly- I am being serious here- we do not want to set the bar too high for people losing their reputation.  Because it’s fucking high enough.  Just think about all the terrible things that famous people have gotten away with.  Just the other day I was listening to this song:

and thinking- it’s insane that the Beatles could just casually mention wife-beating in a song, with no fear of any repercussions.  Now think about people like Jimmy Savile, a man who was able to molest hundreds of children, for decades and died before the truth was widely known because no one wanted to believe his accusers because people liked him.  Maybe most importantly, because he knew people wouldn’t believe his accusers, he was worse than he’d have otherwise been.  Or someone like Roman Polanski (whose movies I do enjoy, so yeah, I’m a hypocrite) who is a convicted child (as in, convicted in a court of law, i.e. proven guilty) rapist but still works.

The thing is, famous people have lots power to convince people they’re something that they’re not.  And that makes them dangerous.  I mean, not all famous people are dangerous, obviously, but celebrities can get away with terrible things if they set their mind to it.  And when they have wealthy, powerful people protecting them, often the only leverage the public has is to say “we won’t be your fans anymore.”  I’m kind of an amoral person myself and I believe in having whatever power I can accrue, and I’m not giving this one up.

So yeah, tough luck Bill Cosby.  Court of public opinion made you what you are and now they’re taking it away.  Oh well.

Why do I have bad taste? II

So there’s another reason why I have bad taste.  It’s that I don’t think the ability to do creative things should be limited to the technically talented.  And if I’m being consistent, that means I have to find imperfect things and enjoy them.  And I pride myself on being consistent sometimes.

Partly too I grew up somewhere that forced me and my friends to make a lot of my own fun.  Basically, I am part hick and so I don’t have the refined taste that others do.

Also, things that are done by people with limited skills and limited means often can push the limit in ways that talented people who are being paid lots of money really can’t make Pink Flamingos- someone will talk them out of it well before any checks are signed.

Although those Jackass! dudes tried.  I take it back, someone might be able to make Pink Flamingos, but it would be hard to find any talented person to want to act in it.

Basically, I don’t take things too seriously, even my own taste.

Why do I have bad taste?

Way, way back I was hanging with some friends at my seldom-seen co-blogger’s house and his older brother had some tapes sitting on a shelf.  One tape in particular caught my eye.  W.A.S.P.’s Inside the Electric Circus.

I made to listen to it when one of my friends asked me a question that gets to the very heart of who I am as a person.

Why do you like everything bad?

I don’t know why I like everything bad.  It’s something I’ve puzzled over for years.  Decades really.  Embedded in the question was a plea- please don’t subject me to any more crap.

My friends have all experienced it.  I become obsessed with things that no one else gets or likes.  I’ve made them listen to the cheesiest punk rock, the dumbest possible rap songs, watch terrible movies- in one of the more terrible things I did to my friends I made them sit through two John Waters movies in a row.  Why?

I don’t know.  It’s not because I’m trying to be mean to my friends.  It’s that I really like some things that, for whatever reason, society doesn’t see that same value in.

Let’s talk for a second about what’s bad.  By bad I don’t mean I don’t like it.  90% of all arguments could be averted if instead of people saying “____ sucks” they said something more like “It’s just not something I’m into”, because that’s what they really mean.  Also, by bad I’m not making a moral judgement, i.e. saying something is bad for society, or even sillier, bad for the children, because for the most part moral judgements aren’t interesting to me if they involve the finished product.  If, for instance, a child molester makes a song that I like, say this one:

that’s moral problem, because if I buy his record I am possibly giving material support to a bad person.  If, however, someone writes a song encouraging people to join the Church of Satan, I don’t know, I just don’t care.  It would have to be something truly egregious for me to care.

When I say bad, I mean something just didn’t come out right.  I don’t think W.A.S.P. set out to write a song that cheesy.  It’s not even a song that’s bad to listen to.  It just didn’t succeed in some important way, in this case, it sounds like they were trying to be menacing and it’s just not that menacing.

But I’ll admit that badness is subjective.  For instance, Dio holding a sword like he’s swinging a baseball bat should make me think this is a bad video

But I can’t say that.  It’s an awesome video.  Because Dio was a strange little man with an amazing voice and I can totally see him being a dirty barbarian swordsman.  On the other hand, that dude from Def Leppard swinging a comically huge sword?  I’m not even sure what they’re going for here:

Then again, maybe something can’t fail at a metric that I can’t establish.

Maybe one explanation is that I learn from failure.  Something that doesn’t work has moving parts that I can pick apart and understand.  On the other hand, something too perfect is impossible to learn from.  What would you learn from something like this?

I’d learn- give up, writing perfect pop songs is way too hard.  Really, that’s it.  There’s nothing to pick apart in this song, because everything works.  Really.  There’s nothing I would add or take away from it.

That’s not to say that I like it all that much, or listen to it in the car, because it’s just not relevant to my life.  It’s not my thing.

And maybe more to the point, there’s nothing to take away from the song because it’s a perfect whole.  There’s not any one thing that sticks out.  Contrast that with, say Mamma Mia

It’s not a bad song by any means, but not all of it works to the same degree.  I like the guitar lick that Bjorn does.  I like pause when they sing just one look and I hear a bell ring.  Little things.  I can take something away from listening to the song that maybe I can use in my own life.

To be continued