Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Beatles, not fucking Pavement

I was never a huge fan of Oasis. They had some good tunes but for some reason their records never made it into the colossal, admittedly retarded, 51 CD changer home stereo that was the center piece of my teenage bedroom. Maybe it was the constant drama surrounding them or their obnoxious declarations of how great they were that had me convinced they were less a band I should pay attention to and more a traveling side show famous for its non-musical elements.

A recent interview with Noel Gallagher, who I presume is the more talented brother, appeared in a local weekly, the Portland Mercury. The interviewer asked him a few questions on the state of the music industry in general and guitar rock specifically.

When was the last great band to appear from either of our countries? A truly great band? Don't mention Oasis—that's a given. I'm struggling to think of one great band that will come out of the digital age. It's all about personality and celebrity now. The biggest stars in the world are all singular people like Rihanna and Lady Gaga, fucking all that mob.

I don't think [guitar music] will ever die. I base all my thoughts on record sales and charts. There are great bands playing in pubs—they're playing somewhere—but who gives a fuck about those? Guitar music as a force for being the biggest shit in the world is fucking over for now, you know what I mean? In the mid '90s there was Oasis, Nirvana, fucking you name it. Radiohead are still going, but you know what I mean. My battleground is the charts, and guitar music at the top of the charts is virtually nonexistent unless you fucking count Green Day, which nobody should.

Interviewer: Why put so much stake in the charts?

Because that's what counts. Popular culture is what counts. Anything else is just—who wants to be a cult band? Fuck that. You know what I mean? There are a thousand great records written a day that nobody owns. I still think bands should aim to be the Beatles, not fucking Pavement.

 We live in a world with more good music being created on a daily basis than ever, but you wouldn't know it if you only observed top 40 radio. So many bands and artists operating today in relative obscurity would have been superstars thirty or forty years ago. Plenty of blame can go to the general public. As we become dumber and more ignorant as a culture, and consequentially prouder of our dimness, the various expressions of culture are likewise lowered. The professionals who should be the gatekeepers against rubbish, critics, often give in to popular opinion over acts like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga so that they appear connected and "with it". In more troubling examples like gangster rap, they refuse to point out the wildly negative messages of casual violence, misogyny, and outright nihlism because of political and social correctness.

Going back to Gallagher's point, I'm not entirely sure bands aren't trying to be the Beatles instead of Pavement. I'm pretty sure Pavement dreamed of Beatle's like successes. I think every band out there, even the ones most high on their own "indie cred" self-flatulence, wants that.  They want their records to be both brilliant and popular. If anyone is letting a misguided sense of hipster culthood get in the way, it's many of the fans of these remarkable acts because there is admittedly something special about knowing what most others don't.

The artists, however, want to communicate their beauty with the most people they can while remaining true to their ideals. They seek recognition of their talent and hard work in a marketplace where the consumer rejects the mediocrity handed to them and seeks out excellence. Unfortunately for them and all of us who enjoy their work, we don't live in that world anymore.

Friday, April 6, 2012

In the year of whiny pants-wetters

Can we please, for the love of reason, stop with the CE and BCE nonsense?

I first heard about the alternative designation in High School and somehow, at 14, I was bright enough to see how moronic it was. Apparently, BCE and CE stand for either Before Christian Era or Before Common Era. This is idiotic in either case.

What exactly is common between now and, say, the year 107 A.D.? If there is a start to a common era, wouldn't it be the Industrial Revolution? And isn't even that becoming an alien age of smog and 14 hour work days compared to contemporary western life?

Nor does calling it Christian Era make any sense. I don't think we could recognize the western world as being Christian until Roman Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity in the early 4th century after purportedly seeing a giant cross in the sky. Prior to that, Christianity was an oppressed, minority religion whose practitioners were often put to death.

Even using Christ's birth to demarcate the beginning of a Christian Era makes little sense. Jesus of Nazareth didn't found his sect of Judaism until his early thirties and those who followed him considered themselves Jews. The idea that their religion was separate and distinct from Judaism took a few decades to coalesce.

The root of the change, it appears, is to be sensitive to people who aren't Christians. I only ask, do these people also get their panties twisted over the names of months and days, all of which are derived from various religions?

And for whom is the latter notion ridiculous but the former not?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Black Spider-Man

That sounds like an awesome, intellectual property infringing blaxploitation movie. But I forget, he's not black; he's half black, half hispanic. Do the pc minded guys who came up with this not even know that latinos seriously dislike the grouping "hispanic"?

I don't particularly care that Spidey is black. The Ultimate universe should be a place for different things to happen. Also, I kinda quit caring about the Ultimate universe when the Ultimates drove off a cliff. I mean, Captain Iraq? I'm not making that character up. They gave us Captain Iraq. Ultimate X-Men was garbage pretty much from the first issue. Ultimate Fantastic Four was great. At least what I read. Ultimate Spidey was marvelous, but for whatever reason I quit following it. I guess they killed Peter, which seems like a moronic thing to do.

It's in that same moronic mindset that they've run off at the mouth congratulating themselves for turning Spidey into a guy of mixed race.

Brian Michael Bendis: "It's certainly long overdue. Even though there's some amazing African-American and minority characters bouncing around in all the superhero universes, it's still crazy lopsided."

So why not create more amazing characters of varying race, creed, and color? Sacrificing Peter Parker to the diversity gods is cheap, lazy, and more worthy of people far less talented than you, Mr. Bendis. The reason why Marvel succeeded is because the heroes themselves were the interesting characters. And a hero is distinctly tied to his true identity. Spidey is who he is. Piggy backing on Spidey's colossal success may make you high five your politically correct buddies, but it's hackery. It seems to me that starting from scratch would prove the point that America is a more diverse place. Which leads me to Marvel EIC Axel Alonso:

"What you have is a Spider-Man for the 21st century who's reflective of our culture and diversity. We think that readers will fall in love with Miles Morales the same way they fell in love with Peter Parker."

How exactly was Peter not reflective of our culture? That's utterly insulting, not to some misguided value derived from my skin pigmentation, but to my intelligence. And we'll fall in love with Miles the same way? So he's basically the same guy but with a new paint job? Shouldn't he be different in a meaningful way? Where's the fun in that? Why bother killing Peter off in the first place?

Hell, just outright making Peter a black man would make more sense and prove more useful.

This is worse than that time they gave us that new ghostbusters team with a vegetarian and an invalid for members.

And yes, Donald Glover would be great as Black Spider-Man.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A few words.

As I head further down adulthood's road, I recognize that no artist touches us in quite the same way as those who affected us when we were young. Takeshi Miyaji died a few days ago, a co-founder and designer for Game Arts, a sort of second tier Japanese game developer. Only second tier because Japan's rigid culture demands second placers and American game fans at the time seemed to follow Japan's lead on who were the greats. The truth is that Game Arts produced some of the finest games made, often innovating over the steadfast giants of the era.

Takeshi was the principal creator of a game called Grandia. A game that, despite its often crude and malignant translation--I have no idea why Working Designs didn't shepherd the game to the states, but they didn't--communicated a profound sense of fun and adventure and heartbreak and loss like few others. It started you off as a youth, clumsy and playing at daring, and let you follow him, watching him truly mature into his role as the savior of his world. A tried enough narrative, but rarely done so in a way that made you feel a part of this other world, this other story. I distinctly remember a stirring sequence when the protagonist finds a note from his mother after he'd snuck on a ship sailing across the ocean, revealing she knew his intent and decided to let him go.

The largest shame outside his passing is that so few people played the game, for whatever reason--I make no claim to playing every important game out there. I'll remember it fondly. I hope he's landed in a good place. His work means a lot to me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


How come vegans and vegetarians insist on identifying themselves as such by way of their car bumpers? I never seem normal people with a sticker reading OMNIVORE.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Portland Douche Nozzle Proves Portland Ripe Target for Satire

This is from a very real exchange I witnessed on facebook*.

Rodney B: Got a call from the Portlandia crew. They are looking for a chicken coop to film for season 2. Anyone have a coop they would like featured?

Jordan F: don't support those exploiters

Rodney B:
I like Portlandia and am happy to support them

Jordan F:
they ridicule us with no wink to the effect that we are right. they make money off of the hipness of our town. they mock feminists, foodies, librarnians in our community but ignore the realities of toxicity, mysogeny, stoggyness. i think they are ultimately containing us and our culture- making it ironic and helping comodify and destroy it.

Devon H: The main gal lives here...maybe goes to show she likes it. I think it's hilarious - if you can stand laughing at yourself.

Jordan F: she's from seattle but lives here now. it's not an issue of laughing at yourself, but folks like the producers of that show found out 30 years ago that a great way to shut down any open discussion of what coolhunting is and how exploitation of culture works is to say "haha don't you have a sense of humor?" i don't think making fun of feminists or local food advocates is wrong, but where is the redeeming message? in portlandia, feminists are just crazy and rude and manish. local food people are two steps away from joining a cult in the woods. i don't have to laugh at that.

Rodney B:
Geesh! To me it's nothing more than a parody of a city that is ripe for mocking and I see no reason why it should have a redeeming message. I love Portland, I love the show and I love the crazy, rude, manish feminists.

Jordan F:
and you think this will be good for our city? it's like an immune response- this city is offering the country one of the few rays of hope and optimism- might as well attack it and make it just another puddle of meaningless postmodern signifiers. If you have any background in semiotics, critical theory, or just plain anthro i hope you can see what this does to a culture.

Greg B:
Jordan F. is my new favorite character on Portlandia.

Jordan F: Not very nice, Greg. I think these are real criticisms and concerns. If you'd rather insult then discuss then you are making my point for me.

Lack of self awareness says what?

*I edited out unnecessary comments and merged some of douche nozzle's where he tactlessly responded after his own responses.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Quakers & Progressive Portland

Yesterday I was taking a walk down my city's great North-South divide known as Burnside St. and saw a curious place marked as the American Friends International--a one time Quaker organization, apparently--which had posted this ridiculous sign:

I didn't realize stoning rape victims was a progressive value.