Posts Tagged ‘music

25
Mar
09

The Kills Are Awesome. That Is All.

I was looking for an excuse to publicly declare my affection for The Kills, but I couldn’t find one. Granted, there’s a month-old story about their bus driver getting arrested for the hilarious crime of “sudden snatching” (huh?), but really there’s nothing.

Why am I thinking of this, all of a sudden? I spend most days with 5 other Spaniards in a small office with one set of speakers for the computers. Normally, the guy who’s been here the longest uses them, puts on some radio station that plays lounge remixes of “Like A Virgin” (or worse), and I just bow my head in silence (and giggle fits). Yesterday, though, in said elder’s absence, a new guy snatched them and proceeded to inundate my poor ears with a cavalcade of horrible Lite FM pop. It’s not that they have horrible taste in music; it’s that they like American music, but they don’t know what to listen to.

Today has been instructional, therefore. I got in early, “suddenly snatched” the speakers (book me, Dan-O), and have been schooling these poor bastards on what America is capable of, all the while reflecting that this music thang is indicative of our problem as ex-pats in general: The exported image of the U.S. is largely not as good as the reality.

We are not all fat, imperialist, willfully-ignorant, pop-star-loving blowhards. Yes, some of us are. But some of us are also perfectly nice, kind of bright, and not at all interested in whether or not J-Lo releases another album. And it is these people of whom I’m the most proud, and who tug at my Patria-loving heartstrings when they get pulled.

So no, it’s not apple pie that I miss; it’s knowing whether or not Beth Ditto is full of shit, what Charlie Kaufman’s latest movie is like, and whether or not I should invest in Junot Diaz. Yes, I know I can find out about all that through the miracle of the online community (as I said earlier), but I miss the camaraderie of the coffee shop, the brotherhood of the travel-hungry drunks.

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18
Feb
09

He’s Just Really That Into Him

I love Kanye West.  Let me get that out of the way.  Seriously, I am just forever tickled by him and his antics.  His music is a wee bit on the Hammer side of the spectrum for my taste, but, oh, the ego on that guy is just. fucking. amazing. He is a never-ending carnival of self-promotion, self-fellation, and self-obsession. Why do I love this? Ah, it goes back to the ol’ parents, as we all knew it would.

I was recently discussing with my husband our disparate upbringings, and how they’ve fashioned us as people. Specifically, my parents were of the belief that a nice stiff shot of modesty was always in order. This is certainly not to say they weren’t openly proud of us or effusive about said pride; it’s just to say that it was always tempered. My husband’s parents, on the other hand, were unconditionally hyper-proud of their children’s accomplishments, to the point of sometimes, shall we say, stretching the truth about the reality of the situation. We were talking about this because we are still trying to find a happy medium as a way to raise our daughter. (Ask me about her milestones, and I’ll say she’s almost standing by herself and can kind of crawl a bit; according to my husband, she’s walking and talking.) I’m still not sure how to happily marry the two parenting philosophies, and I probably never will be (hey, you gotta screw up your kid somehow, right?), but I know one thing: People who turn out like Kanye West absolutely fascinate me.

I hate to break it to Kanye, but he’s not alone in his land of self-delusion. There was a musician in Baton Rouge (Tabby Thomas) who used to fascinate me the same way. If you asked that guy, he’d tell you that he not only introduced John Lee Hooker to the “geetar,” but also taught Etta James to sing, trained our local middleweight champion boxer, and served as the inspiration for tort reform. OK, that last one was a joke, but the rest are part of what he considers his bonafides. Needless to say, it’s doubtful any of these things are actually true, but it’s got to be wonderful to live inside that head. Really. To think that you are just the greatest thing that’s ever happened to your greatest passion in life.

Me, I’m still of the Groucho Marx philosophy, never wanting to belong to a club that would have me. But I still look in on the clubs–with the people inside who swear they invented the club, fashioned the lounge chairs, and hand-rolled the cigars themselves–with wide-eyed wonder and no little amount of both admiration and amusement. This is the long way of describing how I felt when reading Kanye’s latest interview with Details (is that still around?) magazine:

Put this in the magazine: There’s nothing more to be said about music. I’m the fucking end-all, be-all of music. I know what I’m doing. I did 808s in three weeks. I got it. It’s on cruise control…Someone could be a better rapper, dance better. But culturally impacting? When you look back at these four and a half years*, who’s the icon at the end of the day? Who broke down color barriers? What other black guy would a white person use as a fashion reference?

*in Kanye’s world, 4 and a half years is a “generation.” This is why he’s the voice of a generation, and not just a popular singer in the last half decade or so. I admit: it sounds better his way.

Plus, I will always always always love him for generating the most visibly uncomfortable moment in Mike Meyers’ career: