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I'm reading a dictionary of styles, movements and isms called The Culture Vulture, which isn't bad except for the defs of political movements which are potted, and seem out of place in the book generally. Now I'm hot to denominate a new movement, found a school, link a style inextricably to my name. Reading back over this week's posts the words avant-tard leapt to mind. The eight-hundred some hits that google already yields for my pseudo-neologism are disconcerting. My claim to founding the movement begins on shaky ground. I must persevere then in the strategy of inextricable linkage. Praxis over theory. This should so not be a problem.
I originally heard Tegan and Sara's song Walking With The Ghost last week while I was driving to visit a friend in a mental hospital. Now it's true that I was particularly (desperately) susceptible to any kind of life-affirming sign during that ride, but I don't think I was wrong to be thrilled and to seriously wonder for the first time in a very long time what exactly it was that was coming out of my radio.
I got to the hospital before they ID'ed the song so I didn't know it was Tegan and Sara right away (I had only the slightest inkling of their existence, anyway--I'd caught a brief MTV2 profile of the pair months ago). I thought it might be some manhattanized japan-pop with its electric guitars, synth and double-tracked lolita vocals. My curiosity was only intensified by the fact that it was playing on the WXPN, the UPenn radio station which specializes in musical euthanasia of the NPR sort (it helped originate the Adult Contemptible format.) Here was a song with an actual spark of life, a sweet, sexy heartbeat, what mischance had won it a spot on the playlist? When I got home from the cuckoos nest I googled the refrain to find out what I had been hearing.
Few times in my life has a mystery been solved so quickly and satisfactorily. Tegan and Sara are, you see, lesbian twin sisters and Canadian and singer-songwriters. The twin sister bit is gravy since they already overqualify eminently for NPR pop stardom as Canadian, lesbian, singer-songwriters. XPN was triply duty bound to play them. An affirmative action success story.
You can watch an acoustic performance of the song here. It's ok, but I wouldn't have been nearly so knocked out that first time If I'd heard this stripped down take. Always bring the electrics, girls. You'll notice that there is not much of a song there. It's pretty much chorus, chorus, chorus, verse embryo, chorus (repeat). That's part of the appeal. I recommend the tune especially to Mickey Kaus, who seems to have a weakness for throw-away pop music sung in teenage-vixen voices. But then who doesn't.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Captured By the Game
I don't know if Hunter Thompson's early 70's journalism holds up. I don't care enough now to give it a second look, but I was certainly under his spell when he first feared and loathed. His too public, and so publicly enabled, decline lays like a coating of grime on all his work. He was a dead man typing for twenty years (at least) when he killed himself for good on Sunday.
The booze-soaked and drug-burned Thompson gets a kind vengeance on the second, third and fourth raters who collected around him at the long, slow end. The ones who found his dissolution charming, when they weren't finding it heroic. The ones who made up the foot-stomping audience for the Thompson's decades-spanning, stumbling tap dance. He got them hooked on shit worse then anything he dosed himself with. What Thompson was pushing, and they were buying, was the acute self-pity, hyper self-righteousness, and mega unself-awareness of the dedicated drunk. So they were mainlining the distilled precipitate of a life-long bender. It's like Bin Laden in a pill. Binlaudenum.
Update: I think I take it back. I find myself in the ghoulish company of Stephen Schwartz, The Weekly Standard's freelance grave digger/score settler, and I feel shame.
The buzzards claim that Mr. Schwartz snacks on his customers before he plants them. Hunter's last meal mustn't have agreed with him. Maybe he'll choke on the hip replacement.