Thursday, May 17, 2007

Old men, young men

Somebody once said that everyone who came before us is naive and everyone after us is a phony. With that in mind, I just checked out two bands - one from the olden days before me, and one from today.

Parliament's Mothership Connection is perhaps the high-water mark of seventies funk, right before disco came and swept it all aside. The album was released in 1974, and includes some songs you hear on the radio today (or in TV ads): P-Funk, and We Want the Funk.

I was really impressed with the musicianship. The drums are hot, the guitars are red-hot, and the bass steals the show. George Clinton's vocals haven't aged as well. He sounds a little corny when he says "That's the law around here. You got to wear your sunglasses."

But look past the surface, and these guys were living quite a wild life. In fact, despite the crudeness of our contemporary sexual culture (see Paris Hilton), we really aren't in the same league as the P-Funk boys. Quite sobering.

Meanwhile, while TV on the Radio is clearly following in Parliament's footsteps, along with those of U2, they're forging their own path. They aren't poseurs. I haven't enjoyed a rock band this much in quite some time. It's the singing. People don't sing like this very much anymore - as groups.

The vocals really drive the band, but the freshness of the sound can't be missed. There is a realism about the band, but without the fatalism of a lot of today's angst-ridden stuff. They come off as more mature than Parliament, even as they have equally wild hair.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nowhereland isn't all that

Vinita, Kansas
World's Largest McDonalds
Originally uploaded by blueroot.

I'm reading a book on consumerism and place, by a geographer interested in how consumerism shapes the spacial aspects of our minds. That may sound strange, but it's really straightforward.

Look at a McDonald's restaurant along the highway, for example. When you exit and head for the golden arches, you're not in a particular place. You're not in Vinita, Oklahoma (above), for example (even if you are in real, physical terms-below). For all practical purposes, you're in the nowhereland/everywhereland of the Interstate services world.

map loading...

Anyway, the author (Robert David Sack) makes this point:

Postmodernism assumes that the consumer's world is total.
Instead of postmodernism, I would say cynicism; rephrasing Sack, I would say: The cynic assumes that the world of consumerism is the only world there is; that there is only show, and nothing authentic.

That may be a bit unfair to all the cynics out there, but hey. I played with cynicism for a while. Then I grew up.

It is my observation that the humanity of humans bubbles to the surface, and can't be dissolved, even when community is fragmented and everything is for sale. I challenge cynics out there to look a little closer, and you'll find authentic action, rooted in local place and culture, humming along.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

See you at Cornerstone!

I have been invited to speak at this year's Cornerstone Festival, something I am really excited about. I'll be in the Imaginarium, a sort of forum on the arts and culture. It'll be a three-day series of speakers, films and music, unified by the topic of coolness and community.

Other speakers will address critical aspects of cool, like Elvis Presley, paranoia and youth rebellion, Japanese pop-culture, horror movies, cool advertising etc, which will free me up to speak on what life could be like after cool.

I should be all, well, cool about this, and act as if a three-day speaking gig was nothing at all for me, but I am excited as can be.

see you there. And if you're going, and you're in myspace, add me.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

How do you like this poster?

I'm making improvements to my Myspace page, which is admittedly a little amateurish, compared with some of the nicer profiles. Check it out; friend me. I'd love to hear your opinions.

anyway, I was also trying to plug my book through myspace, by creating a poster. Here's my first draft; do you think this works?

Blessed Are The Uncool