Kanye West makes good triumph songs.
For sheer urgency and against-all-oddsness, you really can't beat "Through The Wire." The dude does not care that he has his jaw wired shut, he is going to continue spitting bravado and shaping the sound of America's favorite music. Even all muffled and swollen, he is still producing probably my favorite sound to hear: somebody who knows they're great in the act of being the sort of great they know they are. See also: every Jay Z song ever.
On the day Hammerkatz was about to do our first ever show at UCB April of my freshman year, a girl down the hall had just loaned me "College Dropout," which had just come out. I was putting on deodorant and shoes when I first heard "We Don't Care." I'm not black and poor and I never sold drugs or bootleg tapes just to get my cake up, but the mood was just damn right. If you're a young white comedy nerd who's only been in the city six months, doing a show at UCB is kinda like getting your Roc-a-fella chain.
Today, I listened to "Touch the Sky" full volume on my way from one job to another. It was that kind of day. gotta testify/come up in the spot lookin' extra fly. The kid I babysit told me I he wished I'd get new shoes because mine are old and dirty. Fly is a state of mind, kid. It was a good day.
To quote 'Ye, in complete opposition to my usual impulse not to get too too excited lest I incur the wrath of the gods: we major.
When I'm done with school forever and I never again have to bullshit a paper about a book I haven't really read at the zero hour, I will feel the same kind of regret as retired generals who were veterans of brutal, bloody wars.
It wasn't that I liked doing it, but dammnit, I was good at it.
See also: Franco-German War: Nationalism and Maturity in Guy Sajer's "The Forgotten Soldier" by DC Pierson, a paper I finished just a minute ago.
Casualties of this war were a cup of deli coffee, a Take 5 bar, and an evening of sleep.
Liner notes by DC Pierson
Additional research by Handsome "Gary" Tornado
The legend of the genesis of The Electronix is that they forged an instant bond when, in a second-hand store in Amsterdam, they all simultaneously reached for the same used drum machine. Like most legends, it's half true: they were all strangers at the moment they all reached for that drum machine. But the fateful moment that would seal them in the fellowship that would become the Electronix came a second later, when they all simultaneously offered the others drugs if they'd let them keep the machine for themselves.
They all laughed. Then simultaneously went, "Seriously?"
They were a band.
Three hours later, they were zooming on coke and pills.
A year later, they were the twelfth biggest thing in the genre of Eurodance. (They were still zooming on coke and pills, but different coke and different pills).
Amsterdam in the early nineties was to eurodance music what New York was to punk in the late seventies: a place to stab your girlfriend. (In an echo of Sid and Nancy, Funk Approval's lead singer Soulflower Craig ran his girlfriend Erin through with a bronze Space Needle replica after she said their song "Stayin' Alive, By The Bee Gees" was derivative.) It was also a breeding ground for new bands and sounds: future stars like DeeeLite and Eiffel 65 were making the scene, as well a couple revolutionary young beat-smiths who would go on to cater for Daft Punk.
The band's lineup consisted of a young Englishman, DJ Trailmix, visionary producer and architect of the group's sound, which he described simply as "shit," because he wanted to be in another group, Michaelangelo's Rave-id, thought they would not have him; the group's lyricist and male dance presence, a perfect Aryan specimen from Munich who succumbed to the ironic German youth fashion of the mid-nineties by christening himself Ari Goldstein, and the group's singer, who was actually two people, a fat black American woman, Keisha, and a Portuguese girl so skinny she resembled a matchstick, named Fosforo (Portuguese for "Matchstick.") During the band's live performances, Fosforo would lipsynch and writhe provocatively onstage while Keisha sang all the parts from the wings. The group certainly would've faced accusations of racism, sexism, and image-ism, were it not for the fact that for the duration of the group's existence, Keisha and Fosforo were lovers.
DJ Trailmix was the philosopher. Ari Goldstein was the poet. Fosforo and Keisha were the girl. The band was ready to conquer the world. Even if they never actually did conquer the world, there was this one time where they were ready.
Times were not easy for the young Electronix. Sometimes they were so poor they would go out dressed only in plastic wrap, and would dream of the day they would be rich enough to afford nice clothes so they could still wear plastic wrap only now it would be ironic. What little money they made, they spent on prescription meds and the vogue drink of the day, a German minimalist reaction to the martini, the appletini, and the lycheetini. Called simply "the 'tini," it was straight vermouth in a dirty mug, served with a scowl. At the hip rooms the young bohemians frequented, a 'tini cost the equivalent of fourteen American dollars.
On the Amsterdam scene they met and befriended the godfather of the Polish "maximalist" art movement, Baltazar Yup. For a while the band crashed on Baltazar's enormous couch, but when one of Baltazar's gigantic pieces did not find a buyer, it afforded the band a unique housing opportunity. The piece was called "Skating In The Hinterlands Of Consciousness, Revisited." It was a giant martini glass. The band took refuge from the harsh Amsterdam winter inside the martini's fiberglass olive.
Intra-band tensions informed the song "What You Gonna Do With The Groove?", as they do many great songs (U2's "One," The Ramones' "The KKK Took My Baby Away," Nirvana's "One Of Us Will Blow Our Head Off With A Shotgun, One Of Us Will Found The Foo Fighters, And One Of Us Is Krist Novoselic"). Inside the giant martini glass, arguments raged over what should, in fact, be done with the groove. For one sublime moment, the strife congealed into a song so perfect it had the youth of Europe asking themselves, "What WILL I do with the groove?" and the youth of America asking themselves "What will I do with my LIFE?" and by the end of the song, coming to the decision that what they would do is stay in Europe after their Study Abroad program ended and move in with their skeezy photographer/heroin dealer fling in Prague until their parents stopped sending money.
Unfortunately, the song, while brilliant, did not bring the band any closer to deciding what to do with the groove, and subsequent singles "Well What Do YOU Want To Do With The Groove?" "If You're Going To Do THAT With The Groove We Might As Well Not Do Anything With The Groove At All," and "Fine, What Do YOU think, Keisha? (Passive Aggressive Mix)" all failed to chart. In 1998, the band's second full-length album, "The Spice Girls," did not fool enough record store clerks into shelving it with the popular Brit girl group's records, and the album moved a scant three copies (Fosforo had renounced currency and refused to buy one like the rest of the group). The group's final release, a single, is also a "Let It Be" style document of a band in the final stages of decay: "When My Lawyer Is Done You'll Be Lucky If You Get Custody Of The Groove On Weekends And Holidays." The B-side is a seventeen minute recording of DJ Trailmix drinking.
So where are they now?
Ari Goldstein married his high school sweetheart and moved to the suburbs to teach industrial arts in a junior high and raise two beautiful daughters, and, to symbolize his growing past the cynical irony of his youth, he started going by the name his parents had given him, Hitler Von KillBot.
The b-side on "When My Lawyer..." ends at the seventeen-minute mark because at that point, DJ Trailmix's head hit the "stop" button on the mixing board. He was dead. His alcohol problem had accelerated to the point where he was consuming his own lethal variation on the 'tini, forgoing the vermouth entirely and just drinking the mug. He is survived by his gigantic sunglasses.
Forever battling with youthful idealism and clinical depression, in 2002 Fosforo renounced animal by-products, dyed clothing, and hope. On the evening of February 13th, 2002, she washed a handful of pills down with a glass of cheap red wine, climbed inside Keisha, and has never been heard from again.
Keisha is a customer service representative at Best Buy.
For more Derrick, check out this video: Rejected TV Theme Songs. If you spent a great deal of time watching cartoons in the early 90's, you will enjoy this.
Oh man this week is some kind of crazy shit.
I had what could easily be One Of The Momentous Days Of My Life on Tuesday, or it could very well be nothing, I won't know for a little while.
Hammerkatz NYU had auditions all week. There are very many talented people at this school. They should not make indecisive people (me) make decisions.
I'm bored of being The Man for at least a little while. By The Man I mean the man who when he enters the room has to tell people what to do and where we're going and who will be where on Saturday and things like that. I could use a couple evenings of being The Kid. This would involve beers and making out and sleeping through something important the next morning. I could use that. Wreaking havoc would be nice. I'm bored of wreaking organization. Actually, you can't really "wreak" organization, you "work out" organization, or "apply" it. Because it's boring. Things you "wreak" aren't boring. You "wreak" while The Flight Of The Valkyries plays on high and you go WOOOP WOOOP WOOOP with your shirt off. And nobody ever got anything organized that way.
On the other hand, I'm a big fan of applied vigor. Sustained effort in a direction. It's the German in me, I guess. (PS: My oompah/beerhall music mp3 blog, Der Hotness, is going SO WELL.) I feel like, if you wake up and try, you are a step ahead of ninety eight percent of people, whom I imagine wake up, think about trying, call somebody to consult whether or not they should try, hoping this person will talk them out of trying, which they do, and they agree to grab lunch later and both of them show up late so they're just a weird sort of on time.
But I also know that James Brown is called The Hardest Working Man In Show Business and now he's crazy.
Kanye West sends a lot of conflicting messages on the subject. He hated it at college because "everything I want I gotta wait a year, I'll wait a year." Waiting=bad, right? Don't wait. Of course. Do, now. Simple enough. Then we have the new album on which he and Paul Wall instruct me "don't rush to get grown/drive slow, homie" (I am supposed to drive slow because I might meet some hoes). So I'm confused.
I guess, as in all things, the answer is moderation.
So I'll be moderate as soon as the hustle has made me rich and famous enough to afford that luxury. 'Till then the grind is in full effect, with fifteen minute breaks for beer and makeouts, as per union rules.
Another thing I love about The OC is my beloved hometown (Phoenix) is constantly referred to like a punishment.
Oh, Jimmy you don't wanna move to PHOENIX!
Are you really gonna move to PHOENIX?
The bile in Peter Gallagher's throat is audible when he speaks about the cradle of dude's birth.
And I'm not even kidding. Anybody can compliment you. Only those you really love can insult you and make it sexy.
And I really love The OC. My professor decided Gilmore Girls was a comedy so he dropped it list of options we had of shows to write spec scripts for and added OC. You're damn skippy when I read that e-mail I pounded the desk in front of a Tisch lobby computer terminal much like this one and whooped.
So now I've been watching four episodes (one disc) of Season One an evening in order to be caught up and make sure the idea I have isn't an episode already. This is pretty much all I'm doing right now, besides 80 other things that are even less interesting to read about that watching television in my underpants with headphones on, if you can believe it.
Ben McKenzie only really has one expression. It's the head-cocked eyebrows-teepeed go-ahead-you're-going-to-hurt-me-too worldweary hangdog expression. It is like the producers found this dude making this face and built a show around it, like a Frank Lloyd Wright house using and accentuating the rocky mountain it's built on. Don't get me wrong. It's a good expression. My expressions are 1) hungry 2) tired 3) sexually frustrated. They all look pretty much alike: brow furrowed staring straight ahead like the music on my iPod is simultaneously awesome and also describing in graphic detail the atrocities in Darfur. This is my sexy face.
Remember: real bad boys move in silence and violence, and watch five hours of TV and eat peanut butter before going to sleep.
My homework is watching television.
Netflix is the new campus bookstore.
My life is so fucking weird.
I don't believe He exists, but if you want to find a benevolent beaming God, I'm pretty sure he lives inside The New Pornographers' Twin Cinema.
also: Private to New Pornographers: when I see you in October, if you come without Neko Case, you might as well not come at all.
PS: What am I saying? You could have a saw-blade-gargling Fran Drescher sing all the girl parts and I would still be yours forever.
PPS: Please don't test my ability to be yours forever by inviting Fran Drescher and having her gargle saw blades. Just trust me, like we trust that God is there and loves us even though we can't see him. On power-pop records, anyway.
The game don't stop 'till the casket drop.
Went to the beach on Long Island yesterday. We were out there to shoot a video sketch, but when you get to go to the beach, it’s important to recontextualize your whole trip as a journey to do just that, no matter what your actual purpose for being wherever. It makes you look like a gentlemen of leisure, like somebody who properly values throwing oneself into some waves for an hour or two on the nicest weekend of the year. Sure I spent eight hours afterward in a bed in ridiculous pajamas and glasses portraying a British child. But it was by choice, dearest. Purely by choice.
The beachfront residents, who were nice enough to let us use their house to shoot in, said it was the clearest the water has been in a while. When I went to pick up a weird transparent thing on the sand, Gregor informed me it was a piece of jellyfish. Even though it would've been harmless, it just shows how I'm barely a couple steps removed from picking up random things and putting them in my mouth just 'cause.
While we're talking about recontextualization, I'd like to pitch my general immaturity as a movement: Stay six. Don't just be in touch with your inner child. Keeping your inner child inner is like letting him stay inside on a beautiful sunny day. Force him out even if he doesn't want to go. Let yourself be excited about staying up past nine and watching grown-up TV. Get in meandering, broken-kid-logic arguments about the rules of foursquare. I would like for this movement to catch on, and see a whole legion of middle-aged Stay Sixers sticking their fingers in electrical sockets out of naked curiosity. I'd like to see account executives at Price Waterhouse throw tantrums over orange juice and Digimon.
Six year olds are like us in that they want stupid stuff for stupid reasons, often going so far as to claim they need it, and fooling themselves in the process. The difference is six year olds are honest about it. Breath-holdingly shin-kickingly honest.
They have runnier noses, though. In general.
Almost exactly a year ago Gregor had a party at his parent's place on Long Island. I believe I dropped an ice beer on the living room rug and talked to Rina a bunch in the Seventies-style conversation pit. I probably made several wifeswapping jokes. The next morning we all came back into the city to shoot a video. Yesterday it got posted on CollegeHumor: Got Your Girlfriend. You get to see me in the bathtub playing with a rubber ducky, to tenuously tie together the Long Island/video shoot/six year old vibe of this whole entry. You also get to see a Fozzie doll who evidently talks to much in one of Hammerkatz's greatest non-sequitirs.
This is something I was wondering the other day: there are non-sequiturs. Are there sequiturs? Does somebody ever let loose with a really good sequitur? (I refuse to look this up on dictionary.com. As much as I love the Internet, it really did take the fun out of pointless speculation, since you can end 99 percent of musing on whether or not something exists by googling it. Answers are unsatisfying.) My dad taught me what a non-sequitur was with the example of Chevy Chase turning to the camera on Weekend Update and saying, simply: "Ten thousand nuns and orphans." Good band name. So is "Chevy Chase's Degeneration Into A Bitter Unfunny Specter Haunts Every Young Comedian."
Unrelated to everything but today (yesterday's) anniversary:
(I)t's very simple... there is only one requirement for any of us, and that is to be courageous...
That's from David Letterman's monologue on his first show back after 9/11. I don't think Letterman's terribly funny but funny ain't everything all the time.
Photo credit: Meg took that of dude before he did stand-up at Liquid Courage at UCB on Friday night.
If you feel like we might like some of the same music or you just like clicking links and watching download progress bars crawl blue across the screen, daddy has been doing some serious Mp3 blogging over on the Hammerkatz NYU blog New Long Winters song? Don't mind if you do!
Walking around on the first day of school thoughts:
- Goddamn but a lot of people go to this school. There are a trillion people all trying to get into this building where I have my 11 o'clock class. I got very used to walking around the Village like eighty thousand kids would never again converge on her grounds, all talking loudly on their cellphones in the stairwell. It would appear I was naive.
- I am quickly becoming convinced that if a subject is worth teaching, it is only worth being taught by a salty old professor who is simultaneously hard-bitten and very understanding and friendly. Nobody under sixty-five should teach. No one who is trying to teach me anything should have heard of bands that I've heard of, or have remotely the same notion of popular music, or for that matter, modern hairstyles, lingo, who the president is, whether the automobile is a sensible invention or a dangerous nature-baiting gambit. Basically, I want a crusty sea captain teaching any and all Liberal Arts courses I take. The friendly-if-lame old man teaching my WWII class will suffice in the interim.
- Hey! I saw you during the summer at a roof party when you were high on cocaine. It's okay, we all seem less adventurous under noonday sun when there's class to be gotten to.
- Hey! You are a girl I flirted with fruitlessly in a dining hall Freshman year when I saw you were reading Raymond Carver. Why is it I remember your name and I don't know who half the people in my phone are?
- Fran says all the dudes who went abroad to Italy came back wanting to maintain their "Euro-ness." Basically they want to be Charlton Heston on the Planet of the Apes, anachronistic, unique, and rougish, only instead of a rebellious spirit and an un-monkey bone structure, they want to have feathered bleach-blonde mullets and giant sunglasses. Either way, it is acceptable for the authorities of this planet to capture them in nets.
- Yes, it WOULD in fact kill the cashier girl at Other Music to smile. Thank you for saving her life by not giving her any cause to do so.
- Disappointment is assuaged by the purchase of a new record. In fact, Morrissey's whole career is staked on this premise.
More gallows humor: I'm not sure he still works there, but I kinda hope my ol' Dramatic Writing buddy Alex Pareene wrote this crazy, sad, incisive, funny Sploid headline. Either way, kudos to whoever did.
Summer is officially kaput.
Today was the first day of classes but I ain't have to go because I don't have class on Tuesdays. I do have a class tommorrow at 11. It's about World War II. And then at 12:30 I go learn how to write one-hour TV shows. My life is made of spongey golden cake.
"Hammerkatz" is now the number-three most popular "tag" on the movies section of CollegeHumor.com. We have officially surpassed "Hurricane Katrina" (which includes the Kanye freak-out and a couple of weathermen throwing hissy fits. We hear a lot about how this crisis has affected the poor refugees of New Orleans, but I think the real untold story is its deleterious effects on ultra-wealthy rapper/producers and well-coifed meteorologists. Where's the outrage?) though we have yet to pass up "Stunts" and "Dangerous." In order to mount this hill, we're planning to shoot a video of a dangerous stunt, wherein a man leaps several flaming school-buses on an equally flaming motorcyle. The man on the motorcycle? Kanye West. (Just 'cause we've passed up his video in popularity doesn't mean we don't to intergrate his drawing power into our own attempt at the summit.)
To complete the effect and heighten the "danger," Kanye will also be on fire. (Were he white, instead of "on fire," the media would describe him as "nobly attempting self-barbeque.")
Seriously though, you gotta watch the fucking Kanye freakout video if you haven't seen it. The sad thing is how dead-on and honest he is for the most part. Comedy is context: say "George Bush doesn't care about black people" and you're making a political statement, say "George Bush doesn't care about black people" right after Mike Myers has finished calmly reading copy off a cue card and turned to you hoping you might chose this moment to go back on-script, and you don't, causing NBC to cut away to the bewildered star of "Rush Hour" and "Rush Hour 2," and you, sir, are making comedy. However unintentional and heartfelt, whatever good points are being made about media predjudice, however much I loved your first album and the time I saw you at Cornell, whatever albums you have just released that I still haven't heard.
Ways In Which My Life Is Like The OC:
- I was whisked away from a life of petty cartheivery to a high-class beach wonderland by a do-gooding public defender with huge eyebrows
- I have been dating my jerky Hollister-catalog boyfriend since the fifth grade and am oblivious to his near-constant seaside infidelities
- The private school I attend is so posh I am constantly referred to as a "geek" despite my quick wit, TV-perfect looks, and Urban Outfitters wardrobe
- My cotillion was ruined by a fistfight about embezzlement
- My new adopted grandfather's hot model girlfriend made out with me while I was reading a comic book
- After witnessing the boy I am secretly enamored with making out with his new adopted grandfather's hot model girlfriend (unrelated to my new grandfather and his hot model girlfriend who made out with me, see previous) I hopped in my jerky boyfriend's big truck and subsequently gave up my virginity to him, and admitted to my hot-as-shit best friend the next day that it was a summarily unsatisfactory experience
- My dad told me over the phone my mom was divorcing him, so I took a bunch of pills and washed them down with tequila and passed out in an Tijuana alleyway
- I carried the girl whose mother will later insist I have caused her to try and kill herself out of an alleyway in Tijuana where I found her passed out (unrelated to previous, different girl, different Tijuana)
- One of the most commonly used phrases in my lexicon is "Daddy's credit card"
- I have unlimited access to my mother's Range Rover
- One of my favorite bands is Death Cab
Ways In Which My Life Is Different Than The OC
- The beach I live on is much, much nicer
- I am allowed to show boobs
If you are planning to participate in the "How My Life Is Like The OC" bit in the comments, and I would be delighted if you would, please refrain from doing any bits that reference things that happen after Season One Episode Eight. Disc Three is on its way.
It is a fucked situation down there in NO, beyond fucked. What do you even say?
I am a child of relative privilege and comfort, I'm the least qualified person ever to say a damn thing.
But I love you guys. Every second we have is goddamn precious. Things can go FUBAR instantaneously. Every second with water and power and friends is blessed.
I think we're all gonna do our little bit. Stay safe out there and stay sane out there.
Of course, this from a guy who spent the evening in his underpants and a leather jacket competing in Cagematch as part of the improv dude-legion Ching Chong Bundy. I guess I gotta agree with Julian Sanchez today:
guess I should confess, as I blithely sit here typing in the comfort of a distincly non-submerged cafe, that I actually bought a couple CDs and then callously went out for drinks with a couple friends last night. Not even some sort of charity benefit for New Orleans—just a plain old bar. Obviously, I'm hellbound.
We shouldn't be made to feel (or make ourselves feel) sick with guilt about living the life we're able to while we can. Do what you can to help, obviously, but once all that's left to do is fret and empathize with no real effect, it's over. You have a responsibility to enjoy yourself to the best of your abilities. Maybe that sounds callous but it's what I'd want if roles were reversed (I think). It's like a poem I once read in The New Yorker when I was babysitting (it wasn't my copy of The New Yorker, y'all know me better than that), which I found the full text of here. Money quote: We must admit there will be music despite everything. But read the whole thing.
On the night of the day I die, you should be blind-drunk, listening to loud music, and fucking someone pretty, and that's an order.