Sunday, December 31, 2006

Talking Points Memo

The Culture War continues.

By the way, I can't wait until they start calling it "The War On Culture," which will be both apt and hilarious.

Please read the article, it's why it is still and always will be acceptable to discriminate against southern white men.

My favorite lines:

"Earlier this month, Baker conceded that the Muslims probably aren't after his land, but he said he had to go through with the pig races because 'I would be like a total idiot if I didn't. I'd be the laughingstock now because I've gone too far.'"

Oh, and:

"Resident Susan Canavespe said the pig racing wasn't mean-spirited -- 'It's just Texas-spirited.'"

Yes, I'd say this perfectly encapsulates Texas.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

On Music Blogs

Here, a guy named Chris Ott came out as the writer of a blog called Gerard vs. Bear.

Earlier this year, Ott wrote a piece for the Village Voice tearing into Colin Meloy's stage presence, basically. Why bother reviewing the guy's music, I guess. Anyway, I assumed it was just this guy trying to stir shit up and make a name for himself, and couldn't have given a shit about what he said in this column. I don't care if a lead singer is hypersensitive or kind of a douche bag - look at Lou Reed, Johnny Rotten, Paul Westerberg, well, it's a never-ending list.

To this self-outing post, where he again takes time to justify his attack on Meloy, and I guess implicate him for Google-alerting his own name (who gives a flying fuck?): Aside from all of the verbal tics vomited on the page, this post (and the original piece on Meloy) reminds me of people who have friends of friends who say that some musician is a douche bag: who cares? Ott's self-importance and self-righteousness - "which is in all likelihood more than I’ll ever sell of anything, but after some complicated math it still adds up to Not Enough Money for Anyone in the Band to Survive On for More Than Three Years" - is endemic of what's wrong with music criticism today. Hey Ott, shut the fuck up and write down some thoughts about a record you've heard recently. There's a novel idea.

And, what the fuck does this mean: "NY1 news briefing, 4:55PM, 03/24/06: “We have some breaking news for you, a writer for the Village Voice has been fired for fabricating a story. More at 5:30.” The fervor with which both “serious” news outlets and blogger nobodies attempted to turn RIFF RAFF’S OOPS into a self-righteous springboard was without question the most offensive situation of 2006. I have a list here, and most of you are on it."

It's a reference to Nick Sylvester, on whose blog this screed appears, who wrote some kind of expose of a dating book from a year ago... ah, all that shit's boring - the point is, he made up most of the article, fabricating interviews with people who he never really talked to. Gawker made a big deal of it. It was news (schaudenfreude) and hilarious because Sylvester is a Harvard grad, and a number of them seem to be having trouble with the ethical boundaries of writing both fiction and non-fiction. Oh, and Boris sucks. Still, what the fuck does that section mean?

So yeah, Ott is a self-important twat and will never be Greil Marcus. We don't need another one, anyhow.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I Guess This Means I Need to Grow Up

Regarding the "Feminist Brawl" on Slate this week between Laura Kipnis and Daphne Merkin: Kipnis is a ditz, and Merkin is a humorless crone.

Far be it for me to criticize feminist theory - I am but a humble narcissist - but maybe there are things that matter more than lambasting the of utterance the phrase "get laid," yeah?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More Stuff On Music

I read Idolator pretty often, and I still don't have a fix on what kind of tastes it's posters have. Anyway, there were two items they had up today that I found kind of baffling. This one is about a year-end list by a blog, which had some "egregious" choices, such as Final Fantasy, Xiu Xiu, Silversun Pickups, and Guillemots. Guillemots, which I have and have listened to a number of times has some cheesy-ass lyrics, so I understand that. The Pickups I don't know much about. Xiu Xiu I never got into, but they have a following, and it's not like they're Audioslave, where choosing their album as a "best-of" is a truly offensive choice; Idolator has joined the bandwagon on challenging bands before, like The Knife, whom I find to be self-serious and cloying. The biggest question mark is the slap at Final Fantasy, who had an album as gorgeous as anything Andrew Bird has produced, which is no knock on Bird. But their commentary on the album - "Final whatnow?" suggests... what? That Final Fantasy is but a trifle? This is kind of baffling since they're a music blog, and Final Fantasy is an indie band, and Pitchfork and their likes champion indie bands, and whether they want to admit it or not, Idolator knows or has heard of every album on Pitchfork's Best New Music section. Hm. Guillemots were featured in that section, too.

It gets tiring, too, to wade through the mess of people who proclaim themselves leaders of the backlash. Pay attention to how Clap Your Hands and the Shins' new albums. Maybe music criticism has to be a self-conscious endeavor, but it gets a little tedious for reviewers to point out their own limitations, then trumpet or blast a band as if they have the last word on the issue.

The other interesting item is this line: "Obligatory Pitchfork dig: When it comes down to it, we'd rather read about livestock than the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah album." Well, that's just dumb. Unless they just mean they'd rather read about livestock than the turgid prose that is sure to greet the new CYHSY album.

So, anyway, I'm beginning to doubt Idolator's plaudits.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stuff on Music

The whole "Natalie Portman (or Zach Braff) approved"-Shins critical hobby horse needs to die a violent death. I most recently read this epitaph (that's what it's meant to do, right - a sign off on the Shins?) in an article from the LA Weekly, quoted by Idolator, but it's all over the place (google the phrase Natalie Portman-approved. You'll need the dash. They always use the dash). The Zach Braff thing, while pointless, is at least more honest than the Portman one, since she was, you know, playing a character in a movie when she recommends the band to another character in the movie. More to the heart of the matter, all of these critics, whether they know it or not, are attributing the Shins' critical worthiness to their appearance in the soundtrack to Garden State. I think you can interpret this backhanded compliment as an implication that anyone who listens to the Shins is a sheep because they only like the Shins because Zach Braff included them... ah whatever. It shouldn't be particularly notable or surprising to say that the Shins would be popular had they not been included on the soundtrack for a solipsistic movie that desperately wants to be taken seriously. I guess the real problem of this write-off is that it's incredibly lazy of the reviewer, and would be even if it wasn't repeated by so many of them. It's like a sports commentator who frequently cites a player's "intangibles" as the reason he's so good. What this write-off also suggests is that the reviewer had not heard of the Shins before their appearance in Garden State, that they were not familiar with the enthusiasm the indie press greeted "Oh, Inverted World" and "Chutes Too Narrow" with, that their popularity is only attributable to their appearance in the movie, and is a sign that they have done the most odious cliche in the reviewer's chapbook - they have sold out. I have to go now. I have to read a write-up of the Decemberists, and I'll bet you five bucks that this review includes the words "thesaurus," "Neutral Milk Hotel," and, "Unlike every one else in the Universe, I never understood the Decemberists Popularity. That all changed with [The Tain/Picaresque/The Crane Wife]."