I hate 91% of people who discuss things on online forums, mainly on imdb. But I always read them when I look up a movie, even when I know someone's comments will be really, really dumb. Actually, especially when I know that. But once in a while a thread will start rolling when some anonymous person asks a legitimately stupid question, and people follow up with some great put-downs.
This made me ell oh ell last night:
I love hearing people swear and then apologizing for it immediately afterwards.
Especially when it's a 'hardcore gangsta rapper':
"I'm right here, straight out the hood just like an alley cat
Since everyone's a king, where the fuck your palace at?
Me, I got callus on my hand, I can handle dat
It's no problem, baby, I so got 'em
It's just a victory lap, baby, I'm just joggin'
And I ain't even out of breathe - the motherfuckin' best yet.
Sorry for cussing."
With age we're told more and more how we need to erase high dreams from our radars, or at least compromise what we're dreaming of. They begin with encouragement and end with discouragement. Dreams are one of the few things that are really out of your hands, dependent on yourself and others.
They're something that idealists have in abundance, and 'realists' have in scarcity.
But at either spectrum and every point in between they're something that everyone can connect upon having, as much as one may deny or simplify.
I saw Man On Wire tonight with my girlfriend at Park Lane, and it was incredibly inspiring. Inspiring in a way that isn't specific to any sort of interest, but in just a 'get up and do it' way.
The movie tells the story of Philippe Petit, probably the most famous tightrope walker. At the age of 17 he opened a magazine and stumbled upon the concept art of the World Trade Center. The buildings hadn't been built yet, but his vision was set; his dream was born. He needed to walk between these two buildings.
Why this would enter someone's mind immediately and so positively is a bit puzzling, but the fact that it did with such prominence is something to bat an eye at. Dreams fill up in kids' minds and they're hard to shake off for some; ideas of rock stardom and film directing still latch onto my calves like kids pretending to be koalas. I'm proud of that analogy. What's hardest about dreams like these is that they're so intangible until you actually obtain them, and the only way to obtain them is through believing that they're tangible.
I'm 18 now, a year older than Philippe when his dream hit him, and it still hasn't hit me. I'm waiting and waiting, filling my brain up with more and more glittering dreams, but I'm still not fully inspired. I'm becoming more open to the 'realistic' dreams floating around, but still can't find a fitting one to grab onto.
'til then I'll be waiting for the day to open that magazine and find my World Trade Center.
I hate getting really into an artist and then finding out they died young in such saddening ways. There are so many examples of these people, but I keep stumbling upon three cases which are just depressing.
Marvin Gaye had an incomparable voice, sounded like he couldn't possibly go out of tune. He wrote about love, with love, for love. He was shot at the age of 44 by his father when he tried to stop his parents from fighting.
Marvin Gaye - What's Goin' On/What's Happenin' Brother
Sam Cooke had amazing confidence as a singer because he really had soul. Watch the way he comes up to the mic already singing and then just bursts into the words "I love you" without hesitation. He was shot when he was only 33 by a motel manager.
Sam Cooke - I Love You For Sentimental Reasons
Dennis Wilson was the drummer of The Beach Boys. He brought great energy to every performance and always had a smile when he played live. But not unlike the other Wilson brothers, he had his problems. He became an alcoholic early on and after many years with the band his will to live broke down. In 1983, age 39, he drowned. That day he was quoted as saying "I'm lonesome. I'm lonesome all the time".
Dennis Wilson - Thoughts of You
Yet people like Ozzy Osbourne and Axl Rose still manage to keep themselves alive. Siiigh.
Time for a classic.
David Bowie is an all-around amazing guy. This is obvious. He really deserves a full on, well made biopic on him, and not just this horrible, horrible movie.
Earlier tonight his song China Girl appeared in my head and wouldn't stop playing. So I listened, and it's still stuck there. I found out though, that originally it was released by Iggy Pop years prior, but just wasn't really anything special.
What warms my heart about the whole thing behind this song, the reason for this post, is that years after Iggy Pop's release, he was bad into drugs, his career was disintegrating (more than it was before), and he was close to bankruptcy. His life was so much in the gutter that his chum, David Bowie, couldn't stand around and watch. He basically told him to clean up, and to help Iggy out he'd record China Girl and give him the royalties to that song. What a strangely hospitable act for a rock 'n' roll star. Only Bowie...
It's especially messed up when you've got Ziggy Stardust telling you your life is getting out of control.
David Bowie - China Girl
I won't ramble too much for this song, it stands on its own. It's by the musical duo from Mali, Amadou & Mariam. The music is produced by the infinitely talented Damon Albarn (of Blur, Gorillaz, The Good the Bad & the Queen, annnd Monkey). Pop rarely sounds so full of life, fun, beauty, and purity all at once. Lisssen!
Sabali - Amadou & Mariam
I was just about to begin another brief post on another crappy rap song I’m listening to; or, another guilty pleasure I’m indulging in, in other words. But I found something that was such a delight, I felt like aiming higher than that today.
An artist I can’t get enough of is Momus. Nick Currie (aka Momus) somehow remains the best-kept secret around the world. If I’m trying to introduce someone to his music, I unfortunately always have to warn with something like “now, he’s a bit odd”, “it’s pop, for sure, but just take it with a grain of salt maybe?”, "you might not like him, he wears an eyepatch" because he’s an artist who can so easily be misjudged. Or maybe perfectly understood, just, not accepted in the way ring tone artists are nowadays. And that’s anything but bad.
I admit I admire him on many levels. He’s an amazing, absolutely original artist in the sense that he can take ten different songs that he loves, fuse them together, and create something of his own that is perfectly distinct.
He’s also a journalist, he travels around the world, he loves everything Japanese, and as I just found out a few minutes ago, he happily talks to his fans...
His blog is always worth reading, and he talks about whatever he’s up to or thinking about at the time, or just shares some new music. It’s one of my favorite blogs to look at because it feels so much more cultured than others I take a gander at.
So the other day I worked up the courage to comment on one of his posts, curious if he would ever take notice. I tried my best to sound as cool a person can talking to their mentor across the world through a computer screen. I gave a red-faced comment, and banged my forehead in embarrassment after reading what I had just written in stone on his comment board. But that was that! And I got on with my life.
Until I checked the same board tonight and low and behold, thinking, “oh muh gawd… he pretty much like.. talked to me.”
He modestly thanked me for the comment, and now I’m star struck by someone I never even met.
It made me realize though how amazing technology is getting. Blogs are really simple, convenient things, but when they can help you to communicate with someone across the world, beyond you, you have to think, what a world we live in nowadays.
Then I started thinking about if this technology existed years ago. Tupac would be blogging to his fans about Catcher in the Rye (which was an old favorite of his, apparently), Kurt Cobain would be posting doodles he drew the day before.
The possibilities are endless. And I’m left feeling like anything is possible, as I finish this post and reluctantly get back into my homework on Martin Luther and the Reformation. Maybe some day I’ll be in snowy Japan, responding to some kid who admires me and my music…
Momus' blog can be found here
(thanks to Gerry Visco via flickr for the pic)
About is a Dutch laptop musician who will be my new hero in no time. This song has pretty much everything I love in music right now: too much distortion, catchy melodies, kickass drums - they're really chopped up, it's not something i've really heard before in such a way.
You can get the mp3 right here:
A viral suicide epidemic is quickly overtaking the entire world. It's called Lemming Syndrome, and the only cure is... weird, Japanoise music?
Sounds strange, but it's the stuff M. Night Shyamalan could only dream of.
“Eli Eli Lema Sabachtani?” stars the boundless Tadanobu Asano who is able to play a sadistic psycho killer in one movie and a reserved samurai in the next. The movie follows two band mates of a fictional avant-garde rock duo whose music somehow is protecting their health from some weird infection that is making everyone snap and kill themselves unexpectedly. The virus infiltrates your body and makes your brain think it needs to self-destruct. A rich dude’s granddaughter gets the virus and he finds out about the band and wants them to heal her.
All this “plot” description is really unnecessary though. It’s the atmosphere, the music, and the visuals that are what set this film apart from all the other weird movies coming out of Japan.
The mood is in constant flux - or maybe in the same sense it's always on one ambiguous note, like a Lynch film. There's really no saying. It doesn't allow you to put your finger on it. One scene feels like an old mystery film, the next is like a youtube video an experimental artist posted. How it refuses to even come close to genre distinction is part of what makes it incomparably beautiful.
The music is something I’ve been listening to on and off for a while now. In brief, it’s noise. Some musicians say the noise acts as the subconscious of society and a kind of pre-cursor to the future as a whole. Either way, it’s something you’d feel embarrassed about if anyone walked in on you intentionally listening to. In this context though, it’s more beautiful than it ever could be sitting in your basement, listening to on its own. I think this is because it’s the kind of art that requires ease in its welcoming – otherwise you’re just going to poop your pants from how terrifying it sounds. But if this film doesn’t make the noise music scene seem appealing to you, probably nothing will. It’s beautiful because you get to watch someone sit down and run a bow over a piece of metal that is somehow connected to a guitar amp through three effect pedals, producing something so manipulated yet organic - so natural yet unnatural to the human ear.
You get to see that there actually is method in their madness.
The visuals are minimal; they comfortably contrast the harsh noise and make the experience well rounded, somehow. The shots are always open, welcoming all the space that can fit within the frame. It really feels like there’s freedom in the whole film, in every way.
If the movie fails to convince you of the magic of noise, it’s the very end of the movie that should reward your patience and tolerance. The last few minutes float in utter, much-deserved silence.
It shows that my boy Frankie Valli was onto something, silence is golden, and through noise we can come to appreciate whatever silence we can get nowadays. If not to listen for the noise, listen for the silence, in that sense it’s immensely rewarding.
I get the feeling that on the Tuesday after next I’ll be the only one buying Kanye West’s new CD, 808’s & Heartbreak. He decided to do autotune and use strictly beats from an 808 drum machine on every single song. Not sure if it’s a good thing or bad, but to me he can’t really do anything wrong. He could record a bluegrass song with just a banjo and spoons behind his voice and chances are I’d still love it.
Everyone seems to hate the new sound though. I can understand where people are coming from, it’s a drastic change for sure. And I bet that if it was just some new artist’s CD instead of his, it would get a lot more respect, but I just see it as a totally new direction. Like Sufjan Stevens going from electronic to nice, folky stuff.
But this, this is just another day at work for mista West.
For the first time in what feels like 70 years, I don’t have an essay to do for an entire week! So I’ll be savoring the weekend via movies, girlfriend, friends, and more movies.
I’ve found tons of great stuff the last couple days.
First of all… these sugary sweet sneakers
I need a (good) Lil’ Wayne t-shirt like nothing, just a strange urge for some reason. I think I’ll ask for this one for Christmas (but in a small. Because I need the polar opposite of a long tee if I’m going to be reppin’ a rap artist.)
And I can’t wait to get my new jacket ASAP
Also, the Crystal Castles CD is kicking my ass currently.
And I’m indulging in a lot of guilty pleasures this week:
T-Pain – Chopped N Screwed (I feel like I should never blog about T-Pain again, this is getting embarrassing)
Tupac – Ambitionz Az a Ridah (I probably like most that almost every single track on this double album is spelt wrong).
And I’ve been thinking all night how I want to write a short story about a parallel universe in which Biggie Smalls and Tupac made up before they both died in reality and made a quadruple-album that became the best-selling CD (tripling Thriller's sales) in the entire world and the magnum opus of rap in general. This leads to companies wanting to cash in on the success and trying to make huge albums with super groups and it ends up ruining the entire music industry and making every major company go bankrupt. All because of Tupac and Biggie.
It’ll never be written.
The Cool Kids have been rocking my world for the last little while, here's a favorite of mine right now:
Another favorite is Jay-Z's new track from his upcoming album The Blueprint 3:
Rap is slowly getting a more epic, orchestral sound to it in general. Which also brings me to my next favorite song of the day:
The good/bad thing is that every time I listen to certain songs like the last two is that more and more people are name-dropping Obama and trying to discuss politics in their songs. Obama I think really will be as awesome as he appears to be, but now that all of the sudden there's a black man in the white house, faster and faster every rapper is becoming politically charged and democratic and even sounding like they.. care about stuff?
I don't know, it may just be an illusion. This all just feels like a flash back to the golden age of hip hop though, it's nice.
Especially when I was thinking Soulja Boy was literally going to be the first to pull the trigger on hip hop.
The 80's seemed to have been amazing and horrible at the same time. I'm both glad and disappointed I missed them. I can't help think of them as the generation of puberty; always appearing a bit unnatural and uncomfortable, trying to figure itself out (mostly resulting in failures), but it's still something so distinct and universal, everybody can recognize it.
90% of the music is pretty rotten, and the movies are no exception either.
The 80's movie that comes to my head immediately every time is Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan. It came out in '89 and it should signify the closing of the decade, but it looks and sounds like the very essence of the 80's.
Amazing how much 8 sequels can change a concept.
Actually, on second thought, not that amazing.
I thought it would be a good idea to get my own blog so I could tackle some universal issues, like the ethics of stem cell research, and the state of the war in Afghanistan.
Most of my posts will probably be about the latest weird movie i've watched, a cool CD I found, or what Kanye West was wearing the day before.
So I think the ideal place to start is with T-Pain's new music video, obviously.
There are so many great things to note in this video, some of which:
1. T-Pain apparently can rap (and.. really fast?)
2. T-Pain apparently has a human's voice, not a premature robot's.
3. T-Pain does not wash his hands after he uses the washroom.
4. DJ Khaled is becoming more recognizable for saying "We the best!" and YELLING than actually creating the music rappers.. rap over.
5. Lil' Wayne is REALLY busy. Like, too busy to make an appearance on his best friend's music video (who name drops him).
6. Akon is hilarious (if you can make it to the very end).
Anyway, I hope other people get as much enjoyment out of that as I do, but I truly doubt it.
I have to begin so.. much.. homework.
I'll be bahck.