I'm off to the land of these folks for what I've been promised is "the social occasion of the summer." If there's something I shouldn't leave Denver without doing, please speak up...
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Pitchfork's summer reading list includes the new collection from rock critic Frank Kogan, Real Punks Don't Wear Black:
What sets Kogan apart is his deep, sincere, wildly enthusiastic embrace of (scare-quote alert) "crap." L'Trimm and Teena Marie and Toby Keith and Spoonie Gee and Sophie B. Hawkins get the same obsessive rave-treatment as the Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan or Lifter Puller, whose greatness Kogan documented before just about anyone else. Kogan is also as likely to dote on fan-magazine letters from teenage girls as on actual lyrics and he actively despises what he calls the "PBS path" of indie rock, the canon-building impulse that flattens out tangles and turns consensus into accepted truth. But it's not a pose: If you doubt Kogan loves L'Trimm with all his heart, the spun-out joy in his writing should be enough to dispel any such foolishness.
Posted by escapegrace at 9:54 AM
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Slate examines the mystery around Thomas Pynchon's Amazon page.
Was this a hoax? A jump-the-gun glitch? A hype? In any event, one Amazon customer must have gone through his Web browser's cache and reposted the thing on the customer discussion board, touching off an instant classic of that kind of chatter where M.F.A. meets LSD. The following comments are fairly typical: "I am saying that the blurb is Pynchon parroting Pynchon … viral-marketing or, more hopefully, a Swiftian self-parody and critique of Internet subcultures (a sort of new, updated Tale of a Tub.)" Whee!
Also at Slate: A survey of bloggerdom, a review of Joseph Epstein's exposé of friendship, and a look at how need to vanquished have to, must, and should.
Posted by escapegrace at 9:18 AM
Monday, July 17, 2006
I once applied to write a monograph on J.G. Ballard, and while I'm glad I wasn't saddled with that project before I had even completed my dissertation, I still have a soft spot in my heart for him in all his perverse complexity. John Foxx of Ultravox does, too.
From the late 70s to the early 80s, it seemed that most “post-punk” artists were happy to claim Ballard as an influence: Numan, Siouxsie, Ian Curtis, Cabaret Voltaire, yourself… Why did Ballard have resonance for such a particular group of musicians back then?
I think some of this may have been an attraction to the new modes of physical and intellectual violence on offer and to the uncompromising outer edge stance. This attraction naturally alters as the ‘mode of the music’ changes. Many other writers have since begun to colonise what JGB established, and elaborated that grammar to deal with new technological events, but it’s still essentially the same stance.
He was the first radical and relevant novelist of this technological age in Britain. You had Burroughs and Philip K Dick in America but they were connected to the beat movement, using drugs as a lens, reflecting an American landscape. I always enjoyed JGB’s Englishness, living in a middle-class suburb writing about a new landscape we’d only just come to live in – more akin to McLuhan’s academic/romantic take on the unrecognised present.
I think what Ballard maps out so well is that moment of surrender to the terrible. A total, inevitable, final embrace. After Hiroshima we really had no choice. It was impossible to pretend that the world would ever be the same again. We all sleep there every night, now. Ballard blueprinted all that like no one else I’ve ever read.
Posted by escapegrace at 8:30 AM
Friday, July 14, 2006
I'm a longtime fan of John Hodgman, so I can't help but agree with Seth Stevenson that the new Mac ads backfire.
Meanwhile, the PC is played by John Hodgman—contributor to The Daily Show and This American Life, host of an amusing lecture series, and all-around dry-wit extraordinaire. Even as he plays the chump in these Apple spots, his humor and likability are evident. (Look at that hilariously perfect pratfall he pulls off in the spot titled "Viruses.") The ads pose a seemingly obvious question—would you rather be the laid-back young dude or the portly old dweeb?—but I found myself consistently giving the "wrong" answer: I'd much sooner associate myself with Hodgman than with Long.
Now VH1 has come out with a series of parodies that underscore Stevenson's point. (Link via Old Hag from whom, in a nice neat little circle, I won a copy of Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise.)
Posted by escapegrace at 7:51 AM
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Posted by escapegrace at 7:27 PM