Friday, January 22, 2010

Elwood Joins The Tea Party Movement

So this blog long ago became a music-only thing. Exceptions were made in 2008 because of the spirit and vigor of the Obama campaign. After the inauguration a year ago, I went back to writing about the music scene as I came across it. But as the Obama Administration devolved from the Hope that inspired people to the pragmatic, deliberative, and contemplative administration people grew to fear, the backlash reached a fever pitch that cannot be ignored anymore.

After Tuesday's results in Massachusetts, it is clear that the Tea Party movement in America is a legitimate force to be reckoned with. It is a movement about America and being angry about what is happening in America . It is also about being angry about what is being done about what they are angry about. It is about being angry about what they voted for in the first place and being angry about what they voted for in the second place. They are angry about government stepping in and about government not "doing something about it". Bluntly stated, they are just plain angry. But give them credit. For what started as a paranoid conspiracy theory over the President being a secret Kenyan-born Muslim al-Qaeda agent who also managed to be a militant Black Christian and a probable atheist at the same time has successfully and maturely evolved (if they believe in evolution of course) into a revolt against government, private industry, the super rich, the super poor, the upper middle class, the lower middle class, gays, straights, liberals, moderates, Republicans, Democrats, independents, capitalists, communists, socialists, anarchists, totalitarians, immigrants, native born, and anything that isn't mom and Apple pie and angry.

So after at first rejecting the anger of the Tea Party movement, and scoffing at it as being "inconsistent", "incoherent", and "frankly, looney tunes", I've decided to embrace it. Or rather, I've decided the Tea Party movement insufficient in the scope of its anger. Yes Mr. and Mrs. Angry American, you are too narrow-minded and limited in your view of what to be angry about. You are so busy complaining about your high insurance premiums and then about what the government may try to do to lower those premiums, you're leaving some important stuff out. While you are frothing at the mouth over a lack of jobs and then spitting blood over stimulus programs designed to create those jobs, whole categories of outrage are passing you by. So rather than join you, Oh Angry Ones, I am asking YOU to join ME. Expand the movement! If we're going to be angry about what's happening in America, let's REALLY take our enemies to task!!!!

Aren't you angry about...

Reality Television? And those who watch it? I don't know about you but I know I get angry knowing that this device spitting images at me has devolved into a mess of competitions and "real life dramas" among America's indigent populations (the working poor, the non-working poor, spoiled teens, the overweight, Guidos, and washed-up B-list celebrities). Low production values seem to go hand in hand with these concepts and that is doubly aggravating. What started out as a nice show called Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which showcased the vast majority of us to be randomly dumb, turned into personality-driven contests over forced marriages, business partnerships, and eating roaches drenched in snot.

Speaking of overweight, how about what goes on at the gym? You try to run on the treadmill in peace when some overzealous, brainless twit decides they are the ONLY PERSON in the vicinity so they stretch their arms out and smack you in the face. Or "WOOOOOING" loudly because they are so proud of themselves for doing what everyone else around them is doing in silence. I don't want to call these people un-American traitors to the country, but I will call them for what they are - IDIOTS.

Back to reality TV. American Idol? Really? We need this? Every year we get a gong show of morons trying to get famous for being inept at singing crap songs then we get a "serious" competition among boring Lite-FM yokels still singing the same crap songs? The only good thing to ever come out of this show may be that recent old guy doing the "Pants on the ground" song because it ties in to another cause of anger - guys with the pants on the ground. But the only way I can see resolving that crisis is walking around with sticks and having them - OOPS - poke something. Or wearing well-worn tightie whities and saddling up to these guys and going "ME TOO!!!!". GET ANGRY!

And on an issue related to American Idol - why aren't people angry about melisma? Why does every note need to be dragged out? Baaaaaaybaaaaaay. BABY! Baby dammit! Unless you are Al Green, stop it! And auto-tune! Auto-tune?! On everything?! I need to hear Baaaaaybaaaaay sung by T-1000? ARGH! Al Green doesn't need no damn auto-tune!

I know the tea party people are angry with the media for distorting everything. And I agree. Well there should be more to it than that. What's with the constant scrolling of news on the bottom of the TV screen? Who can read that fast? Why would you want to? Why is what the person just said repeated in a quote below them? Why are all the segments only 3-4 minutes? Why is everything a "developing" or "breaking" story despite the fact that nothing new has occurred in hours or days? Why are hosts of certain shows brought on as guests on other shows and given credits on the screen as if the viewer wouldn't know who they are?

The rapidity in the news is also blood-boiling in movies and fictional TV shows. The screen is constantly jump-cutting in movies these days. No shot seems to last for more than a few moments. When the camera does stay on one view it is bobbing up and down. There is loud music over the dialogue. Why? No one who is angry over how "fast" things are happening in Washington can not be angry over this. Seriously. We're peas in a pod on this. I know it.

And why has the font become so small in movies? Especially Indie dramas. I can't even read the credits anymore on my TV. What is the aesthetic purpose of this? We cannot afford to let this continue.

What is with the blasting of cell phone ring tones on subways like they were boomboxes in the 1980's? Are these jokers serious? I'd rather hear them snap the bubblegum in their mouths over and over. Actually we can do without both and we should not tolerate this.

And what is with the pole huggers on subways? You have to hug the whole pole? Other people have a right to use it, especially when it is crowded on that smelly thing facing inevitable service cuts. Stop being a selfish communist and let us use the damn poll we're paying taxes for!

I don't know why a one-sided cell phone conversation is more annoying than a two-way audible conversation between two presently vocal idiots but it just is. Cease and desist!

Yes I am very impressed with your loud story to your loud friends on the subway about how you were just about to beat the shit out of someone for some minor verbal offense at some point in the recent past. What's good, son? Your braggadocio, son. Shut up.

And speaking of loud, loud is the new keeping your arms crossed and looking bored at shows. No fooling. It used to be that the standard fare among yuppies, hipsters, and the yipster hybrids was to stand with the arms crossed looking judgmentally on the performer. But at some point in the last year or two, the custom has changed to just crashing show after show for no real immediate reason having to do with the artist and using it to talk loudly to your friends about stuff you could talk about any other time. The best is when the band gets loud, so these people get louder to talk over the music. Of all the things making me angry these days, this is possibly the new number one, replacing...

Bad bartender and waiter service. If you hate it so much and can't bring yourself to serve customers, let alone serving them nicely, QUIT. In this economy there is someone out there perfectly willing to take your job if you don't want it. I'd blame managers and owners for not firing these obnoxious, slack-jawed space cadets except they're the same way. You'd think a bad economy would not be the time that dining and drinking establishments would become a culture of laziness and not caring to impress but this is what happens when these places are founded or operated by trust-fund brats with nothing to lose. The same seems to go for most of the clientele I notice, including, but not limited to, the Stroller Mafia that think their babies belong anywhere, anytime. I am going to drink my drink and maybe go catch a movie. If I see a baby at either setting, there will be Red-White-and-Blue hell to play.

And now let's talk about the real crisis in America. The one that takes the cake. The one that should raise the ire of any red-blooded American more so than anything that Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly or Keith Olbermann or Al Sharpton could bring up. I am not talking about any sort of plan to remedy the health care that people dislike. I am not talking about any sort of job-plan for people who need jobs. I am not even talking about gay marriage or religious persecution or other cultural divides. I am not talking about mom-and-pop stores vs. Walmart or Joe's Coffee Shop vs. McDonalds vs. The oh-so-cute cupcakery owned/operated by a person with a Geographic body of water for a first name, and who is dressed like Weird Al Yankovic circa 1983 but who has none of the amicability. I am not talking about the suburban/rural perception of the city as a half-slum, half-Ivory tower hellhole that doesn't know that MOR Arena rock and country music are the only kinds of music that count. I am not talking about the urban perception of the suburbs as the ultimate in barbarism, a place of people who wouldn't know the difference between a big-sunglasses/converse wearing laptop musician living in a million dollar loft on their parents' money and drawers-dropped, sideways ball-capped-with-the-sticker-of-purchase-still-on kid from the projects. Man, I am not even talking about profiling or security or terrorism by organized force or terrorism by a lone madman.

I am talking about walking etiquette.

Standing at the top of the steps blocking the way. Zigzagging for no discernible reason or disability. Pushing and playing around and therefore knocking into people (and before you think I must be talking about hoodlums, this happened to me and it involved a grown yuppie man and his older well-to-do mother). Blocking doorways. Putting fliers in my face. Trying to stop me to sign up and give money to an organized political machine. Get. Out. Of. The. Way. Now I know this cause may be a bit foreign to most of the teabaggers because as typical Americans, they walk only from their door to the car to a door to the car to the first door they walked out of that morning. But I know that in spirit, these Real Americans can join me in fighting this most horrible pox infecting America. I hate people who can't walk properly so much, that I truly do consider they may be the Fake Americans Sarah Palin was talking about.

Now I know this may have all seemed conflated and irrational. Either my complaints are petty or I am not taking them seriously or the Tea Party's real qualms seriously. It's all serious. These daily hiccups cause as much disruption to the fabric of our society if not more so than any long term plan by any stuffed-shirt-"out of touch"-politician. I don't want any teabagger reading this thinking "Hey! This guy just basically said I am no better than a hipster or some street thug!" I want these patriots to know they have a friend in me. An angry friend. So come join me. Our first stop is to help Conan O'Brien against boring old Jay Leno. What? Conan is too edgy you say? You prefer Jay? He's what Real Americans are talking about?! What?! HOW DARE YOU?! I'M WITH COCO! THAT'S IT! I AM ANGRY! I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Basia Bulat @ Professor Thom's

Basia Bulat
@ Professor Thom's
New York, NY - January 21, 2010

First review of the decade!!! And this is exactly how it ought to be (sort of). Canadian singer-songwriter/autoharp fanatic Basia Bulat made her long awaited return to New York with a 4-song solo sampler of what's on her new record, Heart of My Own. By all measures, it seems to pick up where Oh, My Darling left off and in fact may be even more potent with serene beauty and painfully crafted longings and laments. It looks like she may even match the perfected bliss of "In The Night".

But what she cannot match is the douchebaggery of yipsters. Despite the fact that this was a record-release party and small performance, it appears the back-half of the very packed crowd were there because they either just wanted to crash the secondary bar in the joint or were told this was the place to be. Despite the efforts of the real fans up front and the singer herself, no one listened. In an anthropological moment, it seemed the only time a Yipster will quiet down is when the amp goes out and the mic is off. Somehow this works. Strange. And so it happens for the second show in a row and I find myself writing more about crowd antics than the show itself. This is a bad sign for the new decade...but it is a sign tempered by the likes of masterful, graceful artists like Basia Bulat. It's performances and artists like this that keep me going.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jay Reatard

29 fucking years old.

His surprising and impressive opening for the Ponys at the Bowery.

His CMJ 2007 performance as part of the In The Red bill at the Merc.

The infamous Toronto 3-song punch-out. (Related piece)

Post-firing the band, opening for the Pixies.

Labels: ,