|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
In what was an error of EPIC proportions, the ex-girlfriend in the post below tagged ANDRE from the first MTV RW, not NORM. Sheesh, and I call myself a TV-phile.
Monday, August 01, 2005
I'm sitting here watching The Last Waltz on DVD, and it's getting a little dusty in here with Dylan and Robbie Robertson crashing guitars around the verses of "Forever Young."
"May you build a ladder to the stars, may you climb on every rung / and may you stay / Forever young."
I saw Dylan in my junior year of college at Michigan State, buying tickets for my then-girlfriend, my dad, and my dad's hippie buddy to come up and see their musical idol live and in person.
Neither had seen him before, which I found absolutely astonishing for two guys who came of age right around Vietnam, and who had spent doubtless countless hours arguing the lyrics to "Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat" in cafeterias and coffee shops or something with their affected disaffected friends.
I watch this DVD, which is fantastic by the way, and I get jealous. Jealous that for as fresh and vital as this sounds pounding out of my stereo, it's still a time capsule, still something that doesn't really belong to me or my generation. It's like my infatuation with jazz, or the books of Richard Wright, or the periodic re-watching of This Is: Spinal Tap. It's not mine, it never really was.
Better people than me, with more time and energy to really dig into this stuff have probably written hundreds of pages talking about how art is supposed to be such that it can be appreciated for generations to come, and there's truth to that. But better people than me, with more time and energy to really dig into this stuff have also written that when art and popular culture intersect, it's the product of a point and time and as much a time capsule of a moment as an enduring work.
I see Van Morrison in a jumpsuit, Neil Diamond in huge glasses, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young all singing backup to Dylan on "I Shall Be Released." That moment belonged to the Band, to the event, to the Winterland Ballroom. That same crew up on stage together now is a seminal moment because of the era to which they belonged. The movie closes with a perfectly folksy piece of twelve-string inspired classical orchestration played by the members of The Band. Empty theatre, maybe a soundstage even, but it's a musical movement that swells through the credits and is a dirge almost. The type of thing you might hear in the background of an immigrant movie set a few decades in the past. It's supposed to be closure, this is, after all, The Last Waltz.
It's as if they played while the museum glass was being lowered around them and hermetically sealed.
Dylan belongs under glass too. At least live. Jimi and Janis had the good sense to OD, Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane left when things were getting good, and despite the wishes of money grubbing rat bastard record executives, The Notorious B.I.G. left just the right canon on this planet before getting smoked. Ashes to ashes and "Machine Gun Funk." Seeing Dylan was about "seeing Dylan." It wasn't about the music. Hell, for the four or five songs he trotted out that I actually knew, I still couldn't understand what was going on. It was like seeing the emus at the zoo. "Look kids. Big Ben. Parliament." There was an icon on stage who could have been mumbling the Hindi translation of "Louie, Louie" for all I knew, and all I could think about was "I'm going to tell my kids I saw Bob Dylan in concert."
And it sucked.
I'll leave that last part out. Mainly because my old man and his hippie friend really dug it. My then-girlfriend? Not so much, but this was the same bitch who chewed me out for bringing her soup (as she requested) when she was sick, and bringing the "wrong kind." CHICKEN NOODLE. Yeah, fuck that bitch. Then again, she fucked Norm from the first MTV "Real World," so by some weird Kevin Bacon game, I've basically felt up Hawaii's Amaya, which I had always said I wanted to do before I died. So what if it takes a calculus equation, two graphing calculators, and a slide rule to prove my theorem. I just wanna play with the fun bags.
It's interesting though, being a fan of music that largely exists with some greater deal of vibrancy for someone else's generation. I know there are plenty of burban whiteys that love them some Wu-Tang just like me, but it's undeniable that there's a bunch of us on the hook. I know I'm not the only freak who can't live without knowing where all the Miles Davis bootlegs can be bought, but I wasn't there when he played for the NAACP voters' drive, or when it became a big deal to put beautiful black women on his record covers.
This music doesn't belong to me, but I still wrap myself around it. "Mood" off of ESP reminds me of a girl, and is on an album of abstract deconstructionist jazz, which are two adjectives I'd use to describe my crush on her to a Tee. "Superfly" off of Superfly is meant to be heard while driving, taunting white kids who think you're listening to Paul's Boutique. Coltrane's solo off of "Blue in Green" on Kind of Blue gives me pause to reconsider my life to this point, because his song is note perfect in those bars, and he did it in his early 20s, and what exactly have I done at thirty-one?
I need to drink more. Or drink less. One of the two.
I look at my books, my movies, my CDs, and it does depress me a little that I don't see my generation. I see a young black kid from Queensbridge, I see an old guy willing to spin every Bill Evans disc he can pull from the rack to prove the Evans-LeFaro-Motian chemistry is unmatched (and it doesn't even matter that he's white). I'm the guy who danced at his prom to either Led Zeppelin's "Rain Song," or maybe "Rikki Don't Lose That Number." Save the Sedaris and Vowell volumes, as well as the viciously funny (and unexpectedly gay - not that there's anything wrong with that, just creeps up on you in that book) Running With Scissors by Augsten Burroughs, most of the writers of the books on my shelves are dead. Musicians too. If you are what you read, and if you are what you listen to, I definitely don't feel like I'm part of this bullshit Pepsi generation.
Either that, or someone should just buy me the collected works of Duran Duran from Amazon and strap me down for a weekend. I could use some time to catch up with my peers.
Tic Tac Dough
So I had this little surreal moment a couple weekends ago when I crashed the home game of a couple of guys I know from work.
I had just returned to the basement poker room after a cigarette, and heard the tail end of a conversation that finished like this:
...and it's an interesting perspective, because she's a dealer at the Bellagio, and tells some great stories.
I grinned. "Linda from Poker Works?" The host said, "Yeah, do you read her?"
I did ask if he read other poker blogs, and he named off Pauly, Grubby, and Pokerati. And yes, I did mention I'm one of the group. And no, he didn't read me. I'm not surprised, when was the last time I wrote about poker anyway?
Speaking of surreal, I had this dream the other night that I was in the airport trying to find the gate for the flight to G-Vegas on my Brad-o-ween trip, and started to panic because I couldn't find it. Finally, I looked behind some sort of temporary partition, and there it was. I grabbed a seat in an empty area of the terminal to wait, and who should amble up behind me but TV's Wink Martindale. I greeted Wink like we were old pals, which really confused him, but I also mentioned I had a friend who was in TV. He asked me what this friend did in TV, and I mentioned he was an anchorman. Wink whipped out a headshot and scribbled the following autograph: To G-Rob: Maybe one day it'll happen for you too. Wink."
I need to go buy some more pants today. I think I have effectively found my maintenance weight, especially after dropping about six pounds in the past two months just by giving up pop. Again. I brought back all my cans (you do that in Michigan for a dime apiece, but can't crush them beforehand, which is just stupid) this weekend, and the vast bulk of them were either Red Bull or Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. There are very few times I wish I came from one of those homes where the mom didn't let her kids eat sugar cereals, didn't sweeten the Kool-Aid, cut up hot dogs in the Mac & Cheese, and certainly didn't bring pop into the house. Three twelve packs of Cherry Vanilla DP in March and April made me wish I hadn't ever had so much as a Faygo back in the day. Something so tasty shouldn't be so bad for you.
The food of my youth wasn't really anything astonishing. Save for her pastys (motherfucker, those aren't nipple covering discs, those are hand-held meat and potato pies), my mom's cooking was straight out of the jar. She always fell back on the old "you kids don't appreciate the effort I put in in the kitchen" shit, but it was just as much Bob's fault as anything. Kid didn't like his foods touching back in the day, and would constantly claim stomachaches when it came time to address the portions of food he didn't want to ingest.
I guess I have to blame Bob for not having any sort of decent food memories from my childhood.
And yeah, I really wish I did. I was watching "A Cook's Tour," which is the Anthony Bourdain traveling chef show on Food TV, and he returned to the small oyster village in France where his family had spent his youth. With his brother. And they spent a few days goofing around and eating all the stuff they remembered from their youth.
I suppose I have the pasty, which is quite simply ground beef, onion, potato, salt, and pepper wrapped in a shortening crust. There's also the flavor of plain Prego spaghetti sauce tossed around overcooked pasta that I can look back on. But for a guy who loves his food the way I love my food, I really don't have any sort of defining moment of culinary experience. You'd think my first rare steak, or the time I ate smoked salmon at Epcot might register, but they aren't big. Things like Prosciutto and real Parmagiano-Reggiano came along when I was ready for them, not in some sort of epiphany instant.
Goddamn... this is all I had in me today. Back for more soon enough.
What You Should Be Reading
People in my neck of the woods wear their Christianity on their sleeve (look AJ! Two cliches in one sentence!). While there is very little that bothers me about that, I saw a variation this weekend of the "Jesus Fish" on someone's car that really irked me. This one had a Jesus Fish with the word "Truth" inside swallowing the footie Darwin Fish whole. If you haven't seen one, here it is. I've heard that the complaint against Atheists is often that Atheists think they're smarter than Christians, and have that smirking self-assurance that not believing in mythology is somehow more intelligent and rational than believing in such.
I'm an Atheist, and I've got no reason to think I'm somehow smarter than a Christian because they believe in a big book of parables. I do, however, know that I am Albert Fucking Einstein compared to anyone with the gall to put a Truth-Swallowing-Darwin fish on their car. If you want to believe God created the earth and started toppling the dominoes that began the process of evolution, that's probably as good a theory as I could come up with drunk on a Tuesday night. But if you want to argue that Bible bullshit about the world being created in seven days and BOOM there's Adam and Eve, well... to quote Bill Hicks - "DINOSAURS."
And if you're not reading Ed's blog called Dispatches From The Culture Wars, you should absolutely add it to your list. Here are a couple posts from the last month worth reading - although he's usually got an excellent and informed opinion on everything else too:
· Judith Reisman claims "Erototoxins" are produced when we look at porn, and they are a poison, so therefore porn should be totally outlawed.
· Opponents of bill that gives "special rights" to gays - including the "you can't be fired from your job because your boss doesn't like that you're a homo" right - point out that it's a whole bunch of fruity gay-loving lib'rals who are sponsoring it.
· Close to my heart - Utah's Superintendant of Public Instruction is skeptical of evolution and doesn't believe there's any link between man and ape.
· A brief piece on former Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. Maybe it's just me, but it's fascinating to know (now, I didn't then) that we could have had a guy on the bench who thought: "The more private viewing becomes, the more likely is it that salacious and perverted tastes will be indulged." In other words, you're a sicko when you close your front door, and I want to know what you're doing so I can put a stop to it. Or maybe I'm just jumping to conclusions.
· A discussion as to how the term "Judicial Activism" is basically empty of meaning, because it is thrown around in soundbites to mean "that judge made a decision with which I disagree."
I've got Ed in my Bloglines roll, and can't suggest highly enough putting him on yours. Oh yeah, he also talks poker here and there.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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